It’s been 35 years since Joseph Paul Franklin shot and paralyzed porn publisher Larry Flynt, and he is set to face the death penalty in Missouri next month. But in an essay published in the Hollywood Reporter, Flynt writes: “I do not want to see him die.”
“As far as the severity of punishment is concerned, to me, a life spent in a 3-by-6-foot cell is far harsher than the quick release of a lethal injection,” Flynt wrote.
While he does describe how he would like to personally torture Franklin with “a pair of wire-cutters and pliers,” his main reason is that he is against the death penalty.
“And costs to the taxpayer?” Flynt wrote, “Execution has been proven to be far more expensive for the state than a conviction of life without parole, due to the long and complex judicial process required for capital cases.”
It was March 6, 1978. Larry Flynt, who has a history of political activism, was fighting obscenity charges. He stood on the steps of the Georgia courthouse when he was shot, and taken to the intensive care unit with severe damage to his central nervous system. Since then, Flynt has spent his life restricted to a wheelchair.
It wasn’t until years later that Franklin, a white supremacist, was arrested for shooting an interracial couple, leading him to confess to shooting Flynt because Hustler magazine ran a spread featuring a black man and a white woman together, which Franklin believed promoted interracial couples.
“As I see it,” Flynt wrote in his essay, “the sole motivating factor behind the death penalty is vengeance, not justice, and I firmly believe that a government that forbids killing among its citizens should not be in the business of killing people itself.”
Franklin is scheduled to be executed Nov. 20.