While perusing through my google reader this morning*, I was to led this story:
U.S. Manga Obscenity Conviction Roils Comics World from Wired Online.
Here's the run down-
Thirty-nine year old manga collector, Christopher Handley, has been arrested because of his manga collection imported from Japan which "depicts illustrations of child sex abuse and bestiality".
Evidently the purchase of such manga is a criminal act based on the 2003 Protect Act which "outlaws cartoons, drawings, sculptures or paintings depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct which lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value".
Handley was busted by customs back in 2006. No "genuine child pornography" was found.
The maximum sentence is 15 years imprisonment.
OK, first and foremost, I personally wouldn't be interested in having these books on my shelves. The thought of the images is actually quite nauseating to me. But see, in my opinion, that's not the point here. The point is this case compromises personal freedoms and promotes censorship.
Can we check out the grey area in this law? "which lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value". Um, my biggest question - WHO DECIDES? Seriously, who decides what piece of work has merit to escape the hands of this crazy law? Aren't laws suppose to be black & white? I thought "grey" areas were only for INFJ types like myself.
Handley did not have any "genuine" kiddie porn. The article continues to say that comic fans are freaked out claiming that "jailing someone over manga does not protect children from sexual abuse." How entirely true that statement is.
And this is perhaps where some people might object with my opinion. Some might say eliminating these sorts of images will prevent (?) or eliminate (?) child pornography and abuse. I tend to disagree. This isn't a complicated "which came first the chicken or the egg" dilemma. These illustrations, stories, whatever exit because someone has thought them up. Illustrating those thoughts will not cause people to become pedophiles. **And** (I can almost here some screams at this one) who's to say that these manga books don't help curb some from acting out their desires. I'm just throwing this one out there. I want to reiterate that Handley presents himself as a collector, not as someone using manga as a catharsis for his sexual deviance.
I have some strong opinions about sexual deviance and child sex crimes in particular. I studied under a wonderful prison psychologist and we would candidly discuss these criminal acts and the treatment plans. I'm not going to go into those opinions here because ultimately this doesn't fit the goal of my book blog.
Suffice to say, no children (or animals) were harmed in any way. Personal feelings aside, I don't think that it's right to have any type of law written where someone, on a whim, can stamp "legal" or "illegal" on it.
(The manga referred to in this article is dubbed Lolicon and is huge in Asia. Obviously it's derived from Lolita. Perhaps the court should order the burning of Nabokov's book as a preventative measure of child abuse as well).
* I cannot remember who blogged about this leading me to story. If you did, leave a comment so I can give credit.