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Larry Flynt is growing weary. Or maybe just cautious. After his epic Supreme Court battle to gain First Amendment protection for his opinions of Jerry Falwell, and his sudden appearance during the recent impeachment wrangle as a revealer of sexual hypocrisy by members of Congress, Flynt left a different battlefield this week with at best a draw. He and Jimmy Flynt, his brother and co-defendant, cut short a trial to determine if videos distributed by Flynt were obscene by the standards of Hamilton County, Ohio. They cut a deal with prosecutors, agreeing to have Hustler News & Gifts corporation plead guilty to two counts of pandering obscenity and pay a $10,000 fine. Ultimately, Flynt’s lawyer said, the issue was whether it was worth risking 24 years in prison when prosecutors were willing to end the case without requiring him to plead guilty to a crime. So Flynt keeps his freedom. And the rest of us may have lost one repulsively splendid defender of civil liberties.

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