The Pornographer and the President

  On the surrealism meter, Tuesday's events on Capitol Hill rate a 10 plus. In the afternoon, the president's lawyers began his defense before the U.S. Senate. A few hours later, President Clinton delivered his State of the Union address before an audience that included those very same senators. Even stranger was the climate in which these events took place: in a Congress that may well be terrorized by lawlessness—lawlessness the president apparently won't try to stop. By now, you're probably aware of how pornographer Larry Flynt has inserted himself into the impeachment process. Last fall Flynt took out an ad in major newspapers offering up to $1 million dollars to anyone who could produce credible evidence of an affair with a member of congress. According to press reports, several women came forward with just such evidence. lynt made his motivations clear: He believed that the president was being treated unfairly, and he wanted to expose the so-called hypocrisy of Republican leaders who called for the president's impeachment while hiding adulterous skeletons in their own closets. What was the president's reaction to this? According to press reports, when told of Flynt's offer, the president who called for an end to the politics of personal destruction simply laughed. Any doubt about the power of Flynt's threats was removed when Speaker-elect of the House of Representatives, Bob Livingston, resigned after he learned that Flynt was about to expose his past infidelities. Buoyed by their success, Flynt and his associate Dan Moldea are reveling in their newfound clout. Moldea told the editors of the Washington Times that "we have a lot on these guys, dead bang, and the evidence is clear." Moldea says he and Flynt will keep the evidence to themselves under one condition. As Moldea told the Times, adulterous leaders will not be exposed so long as they keep quiet about impeachment. The threat is clear: Do your constitutional duty as a juror and your infidelity will be exposed to your family and to the world. If that happened in any other case, it would be called obstruction of justice. In fact, the question we all ought to be asking is why Flynt isn't facing indictment. Federal laws make it a crime to use force or threats of force to "impede, obstruct, or influence" a congressional inquiry. Ironically, in the Watergate fiasco, I went to prison for violating the rights of a defendant awaiting trial. Flynt's revolting and, I believe, criminal behavior shows added contempt for the rule of law. But in poll after poll, Americans seem not to care. Eighty percent believe the president lied, and two-thirds say, "So what?" But see where this leads us? If we are prepared to give the president a pass on perjury, why not give Flynt a pass on the law against extortion? And the situation only gets worse as it begins to unravel. Once the rule of law is applied selectively, no one's rights are secured. Well, maybe most Americans don't care, but I do, and you should too. And there is something we can do. We can call our senators and tell them to raise this issue during the impeachment proceedings. At the very least, they can force the president's attorneys to disown lawlessness. Otherwise, the day will come when it will be law-abiding, not lawbreaking, that is surreal in America.


Chuck Colson



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