Assassination Revisionism

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This first appeared in The Libertarian ForumVolume XI, NO.2, March-April, 1978

Someone has, indubitably, shot and almost assassinated Larry Flynt, creator and publisher of Hustler and other publications. Why did he do it? The Establishment theory is that a lone nut Christian did it, and indeed they picked up an authentic Christian at the scene of the crime, only to find that he was not the assassin.

Let us examine the alternative possible theories: (1) the Lone Nut Christian. But why would the lone Christian, however nutty, try to kill Larry Flynt shortly after he had converted from pornography to Jesus? Maybe before, but after Larry saw the light? Why would a Christian kill a newly found brother? Of course, he might have his doubts, as we all may, about the sincerity of Brother Flynt’s conversion. But this way madness lies, for surely we can’t kill all suspect newcomers to a proselytizing Church. And if someone like Chuck Colson remains unscathed, why pick on poor Flynt? And so soon? (2) Flynt might have been shot by a fellow pornographer, sore at Larry’s desertion of their common cause to that of Christianity. Dubious, for after all pornographers tend to be more interested in moolah than in ideology or solidarity, and so any pornographer would probably bid good riddance to a formidable competitor. And that leaves (3), the fascinating hypothesis, somehow neglected in press speculation, that Flynt’s shooting may have nothing whatever to do with Christianity, but is rather related to the fact that only a few days previously, Larry Flynt had taken out ads all over the country, offering no less than $1,000,000 reward “for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the planning or execution of President Kennedy’s murder, or for information which makes it possible for the truth to come out.” Oho! The Kennedy Assassination redivivus! In fact, Flynt had become such an Assassination buff that he had recently purchased the L. A. Free Press, and made the veteran revisionist Mark Lane the major editor of a new supplement, or Special Reports, on the Kennedy murder. The first supplement had just appeared on the stands. There have been so many murders, and mysterious deaths, surrounding the assassination of Kennedy and Oswald (and of Officer Tippitt), that we would have to go with this unsung hypothesis as at least a likely explanation.

The press has hinted at a fourth explanation for those who cannot quite swallow the Lone Nut Christian theory: (4) that the Mafia gunned down Flynt for interfering with their magazine distribution monopoly. But the very raising of the point about the Mafia is dangerous for the Establishment, because there is much evidence that the Mafia was hip-deep in the Kennedy Assassination itself. So that is not likely to be a well-publicized theory.

Larry Flynt adds one more name to a growing roster of mysterious and unsatisfactorily explained political assassinations and quasi-assassinations in recent years:

John F. Kennedy; Lee Harvey Oswald; John Connally; and Officer J. D. Tippitt—all killed or wounded on or around Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas. Robert F. Kennedy; Martin Luther King; George C. Wallace; and Malcolm X. All of these were ostensibly killed or wounded by lone nuts, with the exception of Malcolm, where the top “conspirator” claims that his fellow convicts had nothing to do with the murder. And then, on the possibly political level, there are the murders of Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli, both supposed to be purely gangland killings of undetermined and trivial origin.

II. THE HOUSE COMMITTEE

How goes the House Select Committee on Assassinations? The answer, unsurprisingly, is: not very well. It looks as if the well-orchestrated ouster of Richard Sprague early last year has drawn the Committee’s teeth and assures yet another governmental whitewash of the KennedyOswald and King killings.

The L.A. Free Press Special Report Number One, co-edited by Assassination Revisionist Mark Lane, reports that, when Rep. Thomas Downing (D., Va.) established the Committee, another leading revisionist, Washington lawyer Bernard Fensterwald, Jr., was offered the key post of chief counsel. Fensterwald allegedly told Lane that the CIA had levelled a death threat at Fensterwald if he should take the post, and that three other attorneys had been similarly warned off. After Fensterwald then turned down the post, it went to the abrasive, dynamic Richard Sprague, the successful prosecutor of the famous Yablonski murder case at the United Mine Workers.

After Sprague showed signs of taking the job seriously, he was subjected to an unprecedented, and seemingly coordinated smear-campaign in the press, after which he was fired by the new Committee chairman, Rep. Henry Gonzalez (D., Tex.) after almost hysterical personal attacks directed by the Congressman against Sprague. Was there any “old boy” Texas influence working on Gonzalez?

Since then, the Committee has been quiet, which L. A. Free Press hopes is a sign that the Committee is doing effective work behind the scenes. But the signs are not good, if we can credit the report in the Feb. 20 issue of New Times. For, apparently, the new chief counsel, G. Robert Blakey, has been so low-key that he has returned almost half a million dollars to the Treasury as unneeded. Many staff members have complained that Blakey’s action has pulled punches in the investigation and has crippled its effectiveness.

There are more sinister aspects to Blakey’s behavior than simple penny-pinching. For as soon as he took over the post, Blakey cracked down on his staff, required them to sign agreements that they would not acknowledge their jobs at the committee without permission. Violation will bring instant dismissal and a $5,000 fine.

More troubling than the mere martinet aspects of the Blakey regime is its attitude toward the CIA, the self-same agency that allegedly threatened Fensterwald. For Blakey has refused to allow access to classified material to any staff member who cannot get CIA clearance. Not only that: any staff members who do read CIA documents must submit any notes they make to the Agency for review! Blakey’s refusal to call former CIA director and admitted perjurer Richard Helms before his committee, is of a piece with a statement he once made about U.S. intelligence agencies: “You don’t think they’d lie to me, do you? I’ve been working with those people for twenty years.” Hmmm.

There is also an ambivalence in Blakey’s attitude toward organized crime—which possibly had important links to the assassination (pace Giancana, Roselli, and, especially, Jack Ruby). After building a reputation as a crusader against racketeers, including a stint as Special Prosecutor in Bobby Kennedy’s organized crime strike force, Blakey weighed in with an anti-free press affidavit supporting La Costa Ranch in its libel suit against Penthouse Magazine in the winter of 1976. Things get curiouser and curiouser.

At any rate, we may now judge that another Warrengate is in the works, that the Committee may eventually peter out with yet another rubber-stamp of the Oswald-Ruby-lone nuts thesis. So what else is new?

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