[Sarah Palin] knew from the first month of pregnancy that kid [her three-year-old son Trig] was going to be Down’s Syndrome. It’s brain dead. A virtual vegetable. She carries it to all these different political events against abortion, she did it just because she didn’t want to say she’d had an abortion. How long is it going to live? Another 12, 15 years? Doesn’t even know it’s in this world.
—Larry Flynt in an interview with Johann Hari, Independent, May 27, 2011
Let’s leave politics aside. I want to look at the bigger picture here. I don’t even want to bring abortion into this. I haven’t been able to get Larry Flynt’s sickening statement out of my mind since I read it.
Flynt, if you’ve never heard of him (lucky you), is the producer of hardcore pornographic videos, the publisher of numerous pornographic magazines, including Hustler, and a self-described free-speech advocate (because nothing says free speech like downloaded porn).
Here’s the curious thing. Flynt wasn’t asked about Palin’s son Trig in the interview. He freely, without a hint of reluctance, gave his opinion on the child. The subject of Trig must have been eating away at him for some time for that comment to fly out of his mouth "a propos of nothing," as the interviewer notes.
Of course, this is the man who, in the same interview with Hari, describes his first sexual experience as that of having intercourse with a chicken when he was nine years old. He so injured the chicken that he had to kill it afterward. (Hari asked him if he felt sorry for the chicken. "What?" Flynt replied. "No. It was a chicken.") Obviously this "advocate" has been deeply disturbed since childhood.
So what’s really bothering Flynt? Does little Trig’s presence on Earth actually distress him? I’ve thought about this, and I think, when you get down to the nitty gritty, Flynt can’t stand the thought that someone chose life and goodness over death and self-interest.
Goodness to Flynt is like Dorothy’s bucket of water to the Wicked Witch of the West—and this is especially true if that goodness becomes public. Thus Flynt thinks that Palin is carrying her child to political events to make a political point. It would never occur to him that Trig, as her child, belongs with her, just as her other children do. He doesn’t think like that. He needs to grasp for explanations outside decent, loving behavior.
Goodness is an affront to Flynt. It is a mirror, and he doesn’t like what he sees in it. Somewhere in his shriveled soul, he knows the depths to which he has sunk. How can someone choose to give birth to a Down syndrome child? It must bewilder him. For his own peace of mind, he has to see that choice as something other than an act of love. He’s not capable of such an act, so in his mind no one else is, and if they appear to be capable of it, it’s a put-on, a ploy.
In Flynt’s upside-down world, he’s not the problem. He’s a freethinker, a crusader, a wise-cracking guy fighting for free speech. No, the problem is women who knowingly give birth to mentally or physically challenged children. Or believe in God. Or believe women should be treated with dignity. How weird are they?
So Larry Flynt calls evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). He marinates in the battery acid of a life lived poorly, the knowledge that there are people out there who choose light over dark gnawing at him. I’m not sure he could live in his own skin if he didn’t ridicule decency and goodness. And in the end, that makes him a man to be pitied.