The People Vs. Larry Flynt: There is a different standard of fault for libeling a public figure versus a private figure.
The People Vs. Larry Flynt
1. What are the five (5) elements of libel?
2. a) There is a different standard of fault for libeling a public figure versus a private figure. What are these two standards and what is the difference between them? Why do you think these different standards exist?
b) Do you agree that Courtney Love’s statements made on Twitter about designer Dawn Simorangkir we’re libelous? Why or why not?
The People v. Larry Flynt is based on a true story; all the legal parts are (mostly) accurate. Answer the following questions based on your viewing of the movie:
3. In the movie, Larry Flynt is charged with pandering obscenity for publishing Hustler magazine. The trial court finds Larry Flynt guilty of this charge, but, on appeal, the appellate course reverses his conviction. Why do you think Flynt was found guilty in the trial court, only to have his conviction reversed on appeal?
4. In the movie, Larry Flynt’s character says, “If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Do you think it’s worth protecting “scumbags” like Larry Flynt in order to ensure that the rest of us maintain our protection?
5. a. Larry Flynt was sued for libel for defaming a television evangelist, Rev. Jerry Falwell, and was found not guilty. Why?
b. At the same trial, Larry Flynt was found guilty of intentional infliction of emotional distress on Rev. Falwell, but, on appeal, SCOTUS reversed this decision. Why did SCOTUS reverse the lower court’s decision and why was this ruling important to freedom of speech?
Courtney Love Libel Lawsuits:
Movie: The People vs. Larry Flynt