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TOLERANCE: "Unpopular speech is absolutely vital to the health of our nation."

Movie quote from: The People vs Larry Flynt (1996) - Alan Isaacman (Edward Norton)flynt

During these times of increasing political and religious polarity, it is wise to remember the straight-up message of the 1996 film The People vs Larry Flynt.  The film's 'hero' is Larry Flynt, the sleazy publisher of Hustler magazine who shows little of the moral characteristics that hold our culture together.  However, his dogged defense of his right to express an unpopular thought earned him an influential victory in the Supreme Court.  Speech hasn't been the same since.

Woody Harrelson plays Flynt, a self-described scum who finds a market publishing porn that Playboy and Penthouse won't print.  His publication becomes increasingly offensive to traditional values.  Eventually, his right to express offensive materials comes into legal question.

The film pushes the question of free speech into our collective faces.  Does the right to free speech include the right to offend?  Are scumbags free to speak?  The film's opinion is unwavering on this matter.  As Flynt's lawyer, Alan Issacman (Edward Norton) says, "Unpopular speech is absolutely vital to the health of our nation."  He adds, "If that right is taken away, then we wither away as a people and our individuality is nullified."

As much as I cannot respect people like Larry Flynt, I support his right to say and print things I don't like.  Without diversity, our culture will decay.  Political perspectives from the left and right must both be expressed, if we really want voters to make rational decisions.  This is not popular thought among the polarized people who think there is only one way to think.  Fortunately, where I live anyway, I am free to question those who won't tolerate any perspective but their own.          

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