by Bruce David
It’s been a busy couple of months. The ink wasn’t even dry on November’s article titled “KPFK: Hate Radio?” when ZMag.org published militant feminist/talk show host Aura Bogado’s distorted and largely deceptive account of her battle with HUSTLER. She brushed over the flame wars she started (see LarryFlynt.com for the entire exchange). Then, deftly ignoring a HUSTLER-bashing radio show she participated in, Bogado went on to evoke the usual litany of charges: HUSTLER is racist, misogynistic, pedophilic as well as responsible for “hate speech” and “institutionalized gender and racial violence.” Her ZMag article went on to attack award-winning BBC reporter Greg Palast for his appearances in HUSTLER as well as to whine about Amy Goodman (host of the Pacifica radio show Democracy Now!) and reporter/author Christian Parenti’s contributions.
Though puerile and misleading, her attack was devastatingly effective: Almost immediately Goodman’s people informed us that there would be no further cooperation between their organization and ours. (Goodman allowed us to reprint her interview with John Perkins, the economic hit man, which appeared in our July 2005 issue.) Professor Noam Chomsky, a vocal social activist who we interviewed for the September 2005 issue did likewise. Others who were committed to doing interviews also backed out. If the intention was to cripple HUSLTER’s effectiveness as a voice of the Left—a voice that reaches America’s working class—congratulations are in order.
Bogado did not limit her attacks to HUSTLER; she also bashed Robert Corsini, formerly of Not In Our Name (read his report, “Caught in the Crossfire,” August 2005 issue), NION itself and moderate feminist Susie Bright. Bogado basically accused NION of being a communist front and Bright of being Larry Flynt’s pawn. NION, as unbelievable as it may seem, responded with an apology to Bogado while condemning HUSTLER. The organization ignored Corsini’s version of events—he was there, right in the thick of it—and never bothered to contact us.
Bright responded to Bogado a few days later with a convoluted rationale. In her attempt to get off the hook, she told ZMag’s readers that, among other things, we “played” her, suggesting that the interview she gave us (February 2005) was altered in some way. In fact, we only edited it for space, going out of our way to include her disclaimer regarding HUSTLER. In response to Bright we have posted the entire raw, unedited interview at LarryFlynt.com. Unfortunately no one reading ZMag will know that or anything else about our position regarding KPFK and NION.
Corsini’s response to ZMag was never published and neither was ours. Michael Albert of ZMag showed a clear bias from the start. He refused to publish our letters responding to Bogado and Bright. He also rejected a lengthy article similar in content to what HUSTLER readers got in the November issue. To describe Albert as snippy would be accurate but incomplete. He made it clear that he did not think we were worthy enough to appear on the ZMag site. And just to make sure we wouldn’t miss his smirking condescension, he e-mailed us a largely positive article he wrote about militant antiporn feminist Catherine MacKinnnon. Finally, revealing his cowardice, he refused HUSTLER permission to reprint our e-mail exchange, even unedited.
Other recent feminist attacks against HUSTLER include a sub-rosa smear campaign regarding supposed depictions of rape in our magazine, most notably the July 2005 issue in which Amy Goodman’s interview appeared. Regarding the first supposed rape scenario: In our full-page parody of a Microsoft ad, the girl pictured is presented as a willing participant, not a rape victim. You’ll note she is smiling and that the “trickle of blood” is actually smeared lipstick.
Supposed rape scenario number two is the photo feature titled, “Home Wrecker.” The pictorial does not depict an American soldier raping an Iraqi woman. Although the man is wearing military pants, he is not a soldier. He is a construction worker. That is not a gun he is holding; it is a jackhammer. We did not see the female model as a “woman of color,” we just saw her as a woman. Frankly, we have no idea why the woman is wearing handcuffs. Photographers will frequently grab anything they can to make a picture look more compelling, regardless of the headaches it may cause us later. The thought balloons accompanying the photos clearly indicate the true scenario: The woman is having her house worked on in return for sexual favors.
Between KPFK, NION, ZMag and the smear campaign, it’s sad to see what the Progressive Movement has become. One of the hallmarks of the Left used to be its willingness to debate issues in an open forum. Now, in the wake of an insane obsession with political correctness, the Left joins the Right in its zeal to suppress facts it doesn’t like. In effect, fascism has become ubiquitous; it’s just a matter of which form of it—left-wing or right-wing—you choose to join. The irony is that the media at both ends of the political spectrum suppress debate.
We at HUSTLER won’t take that from the Left any more than we have been willing to take it from the Right. Free speech doesn’t mean anything if the method of communication is controlled by vested interests. Believing that, we at HUSTLER challenge ZMag’s representative to a debate in the pages of this magazine. Although we will have to edit the debate for space, we promise to post the entire unedited transcript on LarryFlynt.com—as we did with the Susie Bright interview—and we encourage ZMag to do the same. We issue this challenge firmly believing that, like Michael Albert, the rest of the ZMag staff will prove too cowardly to put themselves on the line. They know that in a fair and open debate, we’ll rip them a new asshole.
Finally, we have to point out that Bogado has apparently gone on to create a new Web site—HustlingTheLeft.com—which seems to have as its main function, the intimidation and bashing of Leftists who have appeared in HUSTLER. While we will have more to say about this in future issues, there’s one question that cannot wait: How long is the Left going to allow one fringe group to terrorize the rest of us? That is, after all, what they do. They attack Palast, Goodman, Chomsky, Corsini, Parenti and, on their Web site, Mike Ruppert, Dr. Helen Caldicott, Danny Schecter, Mickey Z. and everyone else who has appeared in our pages in an effort to frighten them off. Can the Left really tolerate this?
No sane person believes that HUSTLER endorses or causes rape, child molestation or any of the other crazy things wacko feminists claim. Goodman knows that. Chomsky knows that. So we ask them: Help us reach the masses. Put a stop to these fringe feminists. They are the perfect example of why working-class Americans sneer at the term “liberal.” They drive otherwise receptive people out of the tent. They might as well be agent provocateur for all the damage and dissension they cause. It is only the cowed silence of good people that allows them to get away with it.
It’s okay for the feminists to express their opinions—no matter how ill-informed—but when they try to censor someone else’s activist efforts, it’s time to dismiss them as counterproductive and a threat to the movement.