Handley pleads guilty
May 22, 2009 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Christopher Handley has pleaded guilty to Possessing Obscene Visual Representations of the Sexual Abuse of Children. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and a three-year term of supervised release. What Handey was arrested for was not child pornography, however, but Japanese Manga. Previously on MetaFilter.

As has been pointed out (NSFW, and previously), there is no shortage of popular comics material that could carry this same penalty currently in circulation. The CBLDF has gotten involved, but to no apparent avail; the plea and its potential consequences have sent shockwaves through the manga and anime communities. At Newsarama, Jeff Trexler explains the finer points of the law and why this case is not likely to be precedent-setting.
posted by Shepherd (79 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ok smart guy, absent brain scanning technology, how else are the authorities supposed to police thoughtcrimes?
posted by felix betachat at 1:56 PM on May 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hm. I should have said "What Handley was arrested for was not conventional child pornography," as the jury is definitely still out on what "lollicon" constitutes and I can't get a fix on what Handley was, in fact, reading. Plus I spelled his name wrong. Dumbstamp for me.
posted by Shepherd at 1:58 PM on May 22, 2009


Good Lord I don't believe in, please protect me from a trial by my peers.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:05 PM on May 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm supposed to know who Christopher Handley is? Here's a bit of news for lolicon perverts: Importing perverted magazines from Japan doesn't make you a notable figure it makes you a creep
posted by dydecker at 2:10 PM on May 22, 2009


Inside the package was obscene material, including books containing visual representations of the sexual abuse of children, specifically Japanese manga drawings of minor females being sexually abused by adult males and animals.

I wish I could form a definite opinion on this. On the one hand, they're just drawings, and as perverse as it might be, it's all in the realm of the imagination for the artist, writer, and reader. On the other hand, it's drawings of children being abused by adults and animals, ffs, which while even in the imagination, is pretty screwed up.

This sort of reminds me of an article I saw on : Kotaku yesterday, about a game called "Rapelay." It's f'd up stuff, but it's all imaginary. Of course the main point of that article was that Japan has a very low rate of real life rape cases, so the logic that sexually violent games causes people to act out in sexually violent ways was not relevant. In Japan.

Personally I don't mind what horrible things happen to people who get excited over children being hurt, even if they just spend their afternoons being stimulated by it through comic books. If it stimulates you, you can go die in a fire for all I care.

The rational person in me, though, worries about the precedent a case like this sets with regards to less offensive material.
posted by dopamine at 2:12 PM on May 22, 2009


I'm generally a pretty live and let live, "whatever floats your boat" kind of guy, but this isn't moving my outrage-o-meter at all.
posted by JaredSeth at 2:18 PM on May 22, 2009


I blame Porky Pig and Donald Duck for their refusal to wear pants.
posted by mattdidthat at 2:19 PM on May 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


I can't wait for the furries defense. "Yes your honor, the actors in this material were underage, however, they're wolves. As everyone knows, a three year old wolf is actually 21 in dog years."
posted by mullingitover at 2:21 PM on May 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


Creep yes, criminal no.
There was a kid across the hallway in my dorm years ago, who apart from being a massive manga fan was unknowingly sharing all his Limewire downloads over Bonjour on the local network. This meant anyone with iTunes could see it - so under "John Xterwunkel's Limewire Tunes" you more than a hundred videos along the lines of "Nipple XXX Rape", "Me Raping a Hot Schoolgirl", and so on.
The kid obviously had serious problems (he couldn't brush his teeth with someone else in the bathroom) but was he a danger to other people? Was he really going to go raping people? No, he was going to sit alone in his room violently fapping away to Guro while on the other side of campus student athletes who had never even heard of Guro were beating up random people and taking advantage of drunk girls.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:23 PM on May 22, 2009 [26 favorites]




I don't understand the appeal of these flavors of manga and to be frank, I find them pretty repulsive, but the thing is, no one got hurt to make it. It's all purely fabricated and imaginary. It's no more dangerous than violent video games or splatter movies.

We need to get a grip and start going after people for things they do and not shit that we think they might do based on their reading habits.

I mean, it's not like watching all that anime about mechs has made me want to build giant fighting robots or anything....

Ok, bad example.
posted by quin at 2:26 PM on May 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


posted by dopamine The rational person in me, though, worries about the precedent a case like this sets with regards to less offensive material.

As Jeff Trexler points out, "this case is unlikely to set precedent since a plea bargain is normally not binding on other cases. Moreover, although the judge in Handley did issue a previous ruling on the constitutionality of the law at issue, opinions issued by a federal district court have at best weak precedential value."
posted by mattdidthat at 2:27 PM on May 22, 2009


Given the likely consequences of pleading guilty you've got to wonder what they threatened him with to get him to plea bargain... some opretty bad stuff I'd imagine.
posted by Artw at 2:28 PM on May 22, 2009


I'm generally a pretty live and let live, "whatever floats your boat" kind of guy, but this isn't moving my outrage-o-meter at all.

It's not about whether or not you're outraged. It is about how this kind of thing extrapolates. I just chased the links a bit and found this link to a feature on Neil Gaimon where this comes up:

“Do you remember there was a law passed prohibiting making things that simulated child pornography, even if the things actually weren’t?” Gaiman asked, referring to part of the PROTECT Act (18 U.S.C. Section 1466A). (As in situations where an of-age female is in a pornographic situation, but “where she’s being presented as if she were 13.”) “They said, ‘For heaven’s sake, we’re not talking about art. We’re only talking about stuff where you’re leading people to believe they’re looking at real child porn,’” said Gaiman.

The scary question of course is who gets to decide what is or isn't art?
posted by philip-random at 2:31 PM on May 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


while even in the imagination, is pretty screwed up

Very screwed up indeed. But if this is our grounds for prosecuting people, then cartoons of children being killed in graphic ways should also be criminalized, because that's pretty screwed up too.
posted by Crotalus at 2:32 PM on May 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


South Park is SCREWED.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:35 PM on May 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


I don't understand the appeal of these flavors of manga and to be frank, I find them pretty repulsive, but the thing is, no one got hurt to make it.

That, writ large, is why the Supreme Court struck down the last iteration of this law in Aschcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 525 U.S. 234 (2002). The law previously purported to be about protecting children and the Court pointed out that it couldn't rationally be said to be doing that if not children were involved in making the drawings. The law has since been clarified and rewritten to survive a Constitutional challenge.
posted by The Bellman at 2:39 PM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


The kid obviously had serious problems (he couldn't brush his teeth with someone else in the bathroom) but was he a danger to other people? Was he really going to go raping people? No, he was going to sit alone in his room violently fapping away to Guro while on the other side of campus student athletes who had never even heard of Guro were beating up random people and taking advantage of drunk girls.
posted by dunkadunc


Yeah that's it in a nutshell. I too have a hard time with idea of jail time for someone who owns drawings.

I really love your observation on the last line; while on the other side of campus student athletes who had never even heard of Guro were beating up random people and taking advantage of drunk girls.

Spot on.
posted by nola at 2:47 PM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


This plea bargain stuff is bullshit. If it's not at all clear that what the guy did was even a crime, then how can it be reasonable for him to be in jail? The problem is that federal prosecutors can threaten to keep you in jail for years and threaten you with prosecution on all kinds of dubious points. Even if you're not guilty of the underlying crime to the point that taking a plea deal might make sense.

It's something that really needs to be reformed, I think.
posted by delmoi at 2:49 PM on May 22, 2009


This actually is not the only prosecution of perceived obscenity in recent years. The Justice Department under Ashcroft made a point of prosecuting pornographers for stepping over a line. For example, the director who made everyone's favorite shock site, Two Girls One Cup, was fined almost $100,000 for producing fetish porn with consenting adults.

Since Obama has declined to change the way the Justice Dept. operates in other matters, I'm not exactly surprised that this case went forward.
posted by shii at 2:49 PM on May 22, 2009


It's pretty depressing. Here are some common arguments I see (even in this thread):

1) This manga porn is disgusting. I don't care what happens to the guy.
A) Yeah well, I think anal sex is disgusting but I will defend your right to engage in it if no one is harmed. Being disgusted is not a sufficient reason to ban something like this.

2) He would have harmed a real child eventually.
A) I don't buy this at all. There are thousands of people who consume drawn child pornography who have a firm grasp on reality and would never in their lives think of harming a child. There are probably exceptions, but again I don't think that's sufficient justification to ban all manga with similar content. This argument is similar to complaints against violence and sex in movies/games/books.

Bottom line is, no one was harmed in the production of this manga, no one was harmed in the reading of this manga, and chances are very good that no one will be harmed (Christopher Handley aside) as a result of reading this manga. Where exactly is the crime here?
posted by rq at 3:04 PM on May 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


What I don't understand is how they can say a sexual drawing(no matter how distasteful anyone may find it) could be considered grounds for any type criminal charge by itself alone, and yet depictions of brutal murder are not. The guy needs therapy, anything else is a waste of the courts time and money. Unless there is hard evidence that had plans to rape an actual child, he being prosocuted for a thought crime which I personally find more disturbing.
posted by Sargas at 3:05 PM on May 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why can't we just be scientific about it? What percentage of manga fans go on to commit rape or sexually abuse a child versus the overall percentage of these crimes in the general population? Is there some statistical correlation?

For the sake of balance, we'll also compare these numbers to Playboy channel subscribers. And American Idol fans.
posted by JaredSeth at 3:10 PM on May 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Some of these laws were struck down in the early 2000s. Here are some cases.

San Francisco

Canada

I like one example that explained how Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet fell under the child pornography laws. This just detracts from legitimate efforts to catch child pornographers that use actual children.
posted by Pseudology at 3:17 PM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Handley's problem is that he's not a Catholic Priest.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:31 PM on May 22, 2009 [8 favorites]


His other problem is that he isn't Tom Green, Seth MacFarlane, or one of the other demented Cartoon Network/Fox Network/etc maniacs that routinely violate moral standards. Perfectly fine to tell a tale where Brian the Dog and Lois fuck like love bunnies; perfectly fine to hump a moose.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:39 PM on May 22, 2009


Okay I just thought about this. Don't the police in Handley's jurisdiction have any REAL criminals to go after?
posted by Pseudology at 3:51 PM on May 22, 2009


Maybe they wanted to get promoted/go on Oprah.
posted by Artw at 4:08 PM on May 22, 2009


He would have harmed a real child eventually. [RQ is not making this argument, just saying that others will make it.]

If the Supreme Court is to be believed, that argument has no legal merit. From Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002)(no pagination in the linked source, sorry):

The Government submits further that virtual child pornography whets the appetites of pedophiles and encourages them to engage in illegal conduct. This rationale cannot sustain the provision in question. The mere tendency of speech to encourage unlawful acts is not a sufficient reason for banning it. The government "cannot constitutionally premise legislation on the desirability of controlling a person's private thoughts." Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U.S. 557, 566 (1969). First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought.

Those are actually pretty bold words from this Court (especially when you start to think about, for example, hate-crime laws), but one hopes they mean them.
posted by The Bellman at 4:10 PM on May 22, 2009


Japan has a very low rate of real life rape cases

A very low rate of reported rape cases is a likelier scenario.

This case is very disturbing because it involves art-- not photographs, not videos, but art: drawings, paper and pen. Just because the subject matter skeeves me out does not mean that I would forbid anyone from exercising their imaginative license to draw, or read, whatever they want. So yeah, a troubling decision and one which I hope falls on appeal.
posted by jokeefe at 4:11 PM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


If he wasn't prosecuted it would encourage Japan to keep being weird and icky.
posted by Artw at 4:22 PM on May 22, 2009


What about a picture of two stick figures, one sticking its stick penis into the other stick figure? There could be little captions with arrows under them, labeling one figure "Adult Man" and the other "Thirteen-Year-Old Girl".

What then? OH WONT SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN
posted by dunkadunc at 4:23 PM on May 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


So what about people who read this stuff not because they're turned on by the thought of doing this stuff to others, but because they fantasize about it being done to them? Do we lock them up too? Are they a danger to your children?

I've known several such people (mostly women involved in BDSM in the real world) and they've all understood the difference between fantasy and reality. Do you want them to go to prison?
posted by Clay201 at 4:27 PM on May 22, 2009


Okay I just thought about this. Don't the police in Handley's jurisdiction have any REAL criminals to go after?

I think he was busted by the feds.

A very low rate of reported rape cases is a likelier scenario.

Given the rate of train groping, I would guess that's more correct.
posted by delmoi at 4:30 PM on May 22, 2009


There was a fellow here in Canada arrested for pasting his (underaged) stepdaughter's head onto the body of a woman engaged in some kind of sexual activity. Creepy, yes. Deserving of jail time? Not hardly. But apparently, now it is.

This is absolutely the prosecution of thoughtcrime. I always understood that child pornography was illegal because it was evidence of an actual crime. Apparently this is no longer the case.

And yet we can go to the movies and see depictions of violent rape against women, mass murders, terrifying violence. And on tv I can watch Sylar slice open someone's head. But that's okay, it's just fiction. :/
posted by Hildegarde at 4:33 PM on May 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


damn. I had a well written post about what Jokeefe just said. Then I lost it. One more try.

Two thirds of Tokyo women in their 20s-30s claimed, in 2004 that they'd been molested on the train. The google search I did to find that article turns up links to porn from Japan about molesting women on trains on the 4th and 5th hits.

For the most part in Japan, women don't report rape (shame factor, society that still is more likely to side with the man) or, even more fun, the police will most likely try to disuade them from filing the report.

I lost the original post when I tried to find the story about how, just last year, the government here started to think, then, well, just moved on to something else, about outlawing possession of kiddie porn. That's right, it's perfectly legal to own it here. You can't sell it, or make it. On the other hand, I think, only recently, they started talking about banning sharing it online. I'd do more searching, to find the links, but hell, I just did three or four google searches that included the line "child pornography" and, well, that makes me nervous enough.

I'm sure people will argue that there's no link to porn and the crimes committed, but, well, I'm no longer so sure. On the other hand, drawings, no matter how upsetting, they're still drawings. No one was hurt in the making. Besides, if this becomes the way things are done, even Totoro could get banned in the States (nude bath scene), let alone Project A-Ko.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:36 PM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think you must realize that society is moving towards more preventative measures, such as tests of personality traits. I strongly doubt such fetishes translate into risks factors, but that is a case that can be made in court, partially by showing that other risk factors are far more important.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:39 PM on May 22, 2009


"There was a fellow here in Canada arrested for pasting his (underaged) stepdaughter's head onto the body of a woman engaged in some kind of sexual activity."

I sure hope the words "a photograph of" should appear here and there in that sentence.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:45 PM on May 22, 2009 [13 favorites]


because speech is the beginning of thought.

I love that clause, because it can be wilfully misinterpreted in a way that explains Fox News.
posted by Sparx at 4:53 PM on May 22, 2009


“On the other hand, it's drawings of children being abused by adults and animals, ffs, which while even in the imagination, is pretty screwed up.”

Totally, there’s no precedent for this kind of filth like kids sexualized or involved in bestiality or in distress in western culture.

Please, the only reason this material is under assault is because of its form, not its content. Draw two children with wings kissing, cavorting with nymphs, raped by satyrs or gods, or tortured by Christian demons, it gets hung up in the Louvre.
Put the same thing in a comic book, suddenly themes that are thousands of years old are perverted.

I don't get how drawing something or imagining it = doing it.
Someone has a photograph (digital or otherwise) of a child being abused, that's evidence of a crime and a crime itself. Someone makes something up in their mind and draws it - sort of missing the crime there.
Oh, right, comic books are for kids. Excuse me, I'm off to put some Brylcream in my hair, soup up my hot rod, and harass some negros trying to eat in the white section of the lunch counter.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:58 PM on May 22, 2009 [10 favorites]


The law previously purported to be about protecting children and the Court pointed out that it couldn't rationally be said to be doing that if not children were involved in making the drawings. The law has since been clarified and rewritten to survive a Constitutional challenge.

How was it rewritten to achieve this? I'm struggling to understand how constitutional freedom of speech can be reconciled with citizens being prosecuted for buying books.

I realize that the rewrite has yet to face a constitutional challenge, but there are suggestions it could survive a challenge. How?
posted by -harlequin- at 5:16 PM on May 22, 2009


Wait, didn't we already do this... like fifty years ago?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:18 PM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here is an illegal depiction of a Irish Priest fucking a small child:


O
|\__o
/ | \
- - -


Or maybe that's a sheep. It can be difficult to tell. I'm not even entirely sure it's a Priest: once they remove the frock, they look like every other sheepfucker.

Bad Stick Figures

I can't help think it is obviously ridiculous to claim that an imaginary work of art should be illegal.

Leda and the Swan.

I think it is obvious that the courts have made a mistake.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:26 PM on May 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think that is one of the Martians from Seame Street. Yiiiiipyipyipyipyip.
posted by mkb at 5:50 PM on May 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


You want to know what I'm sick of?

Okay I'll tell you anyway:

Every time a thing is decided upon as unambiguously bad by Mainstream People In General these days, they go absolutely bonkers apeshit overboard in condemning it with, in order: talk shows, fearmongering news reports, punitive laws, and large sticks, to the extent that it tramples over all kinds of other things.

Is child pornography really that big a problem? Big enough of a problem to merit laws outlawing cartoons?

Meanwhile, the planet grows steadily warmer. It's almost as if all these fears are promulgated specifically to distract people from solving real problems.
posted by JHarris at 5:55 PM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I'm not even entirely sure it's a Priest: once they remove the frock, they look like every other sheepfucker."

Dammit man, Angus has build three bridges, put in a road, repaired all the plumbing in village hall and fixed the roof of the school ... but when he went to Mt. Olive - Popeye beat him up.

...ahh, I forget how jokes go.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:08 PM on May 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


How in the hell do you ID a cartoon?

Manga girl, could you please show me your state issued documents? I am sorry you are too young for my cartoon.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 6:46 PM on May 22, 2009


My pet theory is that because the War on Drugs is showing strong signs of winding down, the powers-that-be are desperately trying out all sorts of different things to replace it. Gotta make sure there's always some easily excusable reason to arrest and/or discredit whoever the hell they want, irregardless of actual guilt or harm.

Right now, I think it's a toss-up between the War on Terror, and the War on Sex Offenders.
posted by PsychoKick at 6:46 PM on May 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Manga grosses me out, but as long as no-one gets hurt, I think you should be free to be as creepy as you want to be.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 6:49 PM on May 22, 2009


My pet theory is that because the War on Drugs is showing strong signs of winding down, the powers-that-be are desperately trying out all sorts of different things to replace it. Gotta make sure there's always some easily excusable reason to arrest and/or discredit whoever the hell they want, irregardless of actual guilt or harm.

There was an article posted on the blue here not too long ago about how the real reason there's so many marijuana users in jail is because they're the easiest to catch. Kingpins shipping tons of coke and heroin are, you know, hard to catch, while a couple of punks with a dime bag in the park are an easy collar. When ICE catches an easy one like this, you're virtually guaranteed the government will land with both feet on the perp.

Won't someone think of the prosecutors with their TPS reports to fill out?
posted by fatbird at 7:16 PM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Of course the main point of that article was that Japan has a very low rate of real life rape cases

Should be "reported rape cases."

Although I wonder why the manga in this case is called "Japanese manga". If you look at the kind of porn being produced in the Valley these days (teens, anal, gangbang, facefucking, etc) you would have to conclude that the US is also deeply into kinky humiliation. Hell, just look at photos from Abu Ghraib.

The Japanese are notable and singled out as weirdos because they have slanty eyes and can't pronounce "r" or "l".
posted by KokuRyu at 7:17 PM on May 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Ghidorah: I'd do more searching, to find the links, but hell, I just did three or four google searches that included the line "child pornography" and, well, that makes me nervous enough.

Scroogle automatically make your Google search anonymous, while giving you the Google results, and stores none of your personal info. It is also available with SSL.

If your paranoia exceeds this level (a whose doesn't, these days?) you can add TOR to add an extra level of anonymity (with this Scroogle is redundant, but why not go for the gusto?)

On Firefox you can use the Tor Button to easily begin or stop browsing through Tor. You can also use Close N Forget to get rid of everything stored on your side with only a click. Stealther does pretty much the same thing, but the opposite way; when you activate it it stores everything you load into a temporary instance, and then flushes it when you turn Stealther off. Combine them for maximum tin-hattery.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:40 PM on May 22, 2009 [10 favorites]


There was a fellow here in Canada arrested for pasting his (underaged) stepdaughter's head onto the body of a woman engaged in some kind of sexual activity. Creepy, yes. Deserving of jail time? Not hardly.

Going out on a crazy limb here to say that, yes, this does deserve some attention from the authorities. This is emotionally abusive, and probably indicates other problems in that household. I find it very hard to believe that this is the only manifestation of whatever fucked up issues are driving this guy. This may be the only thing the authorities could nail him on.

HOWEVER, comics are comics, and I don't think they are harmful. The psychological difference between drawings and photographs is large. And the distance between an imaginary character and the underage girl living in your home is exponentially larger.

These two situations are not related, or equivalent.
posted by jeoc at 7:58 PM on May 22, 2009


This article (NSFW) has some details I haven't read anywhere. Caution: it has drawings of a naked young girl and it was written by a lawyer who has defended NAMBLA cases in the past and is possibly a pedophile.

Apparently, Handley didn't just collect manga with sexual imagery, and he did not collect lolicon manga (manga with young girls in erotic/pornographic situations). He had an extense collection of manga of all genres, but he owned images of female characters without pubic hair. Here's an example (not nudity, but might be nsfw). Just like in regular porn, most erotic and pornographic manga does not depict pubic hair. This character is wearing a high school uniform, so she might be underage, right?

He was also investigated for accessing webpages with references to the Gothic Lolita Bible, which is related to Lolita fashion and does not contain pornographic images or prepubescent girls (they sell the American version of these books in most bookstores), and for making an online search for GaoGaiGar, a series which has ads like: "[...] GaoGiaGar isn't aimed at those fans that have grown up and developed a taste for extreme fan-service and romantic drama; its aimed at the fans that never grew up at all. Don't hide it you know who you are...." It appears this ad was misinterpreted, because this series is just a robot tv show for boys (YouTube).

Like many other manga fans, I hate with a passion those who sexualize children. But they are not illegal (yet) and Handley might have been convicted for owning images of teenaged characters, which are not too different from what appears on "barely legal" pornography or in sexy music videos.
posted by clearlydemon at 8:40 PM on May 22, 2009


GaoGaiGar *does* appear to be intensely annoying though.
posted by Artw at 10:13 PM on May 22, 2009


Obviously the stupid "all Japanese look the same" Western blindness applies to Japanese cartoons as well, if something as innocent as frackin' GaoGaiGar gets slated as porn.

On a less snarky note, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Censors invariably seek nothing less than huge sweeping bans.
posted by PsychoKick at 10:35 PM on May 22, 2009


Just because you find something repulsive or disgusting doesn't mean it's jail-worthy. If you don't protect everyone's rights, don't expect anyone to come to your aid when yours get threatened.

Comic book characters do not have rights. Those who read them, however, DO.
posted by Malice at 11:17 PM on May 22, 2009


I always understood that child pornography was illegal because it was evidence of an actual crime.

Someone has a photograph (digital or otherwise) of a child being abused, that's evidence of a crime and a crime itself.

Evidence of a crime is itself illegal? So a security video of a bank robbery is illegal? News footage of a high speed chase? C'mon, people.
posted by ryanrs at 12:07 AM on May 23, 2009


Pseudology's link for Canada is accurate - the summary is not. The law in Canada still prohibits the "representation" of child sex, so underage comic children engaging in sexual acts is potentially illegal in Canada - however, there are exceptions, including artistic merit - which might be argued -but how successfully is unclear...
posted by birdsquared at 5:00 AM on May 23, 2009


Evidence of a crime is itself illegal?

It is when you're talking about child pornography. Possessing a photograph of a child molestation is a crime, as is the molestation itself.
posted by RussHy at 7:15 AM on May 23, 2009


If, however, the depiction is of a child being murdered, we can include the depiction in our latest Hollywood blockbuster movie.
posted by telstar at 8:11 AM on May 23, 2009


He didn't commit a crime. A drawing is not child pornography because they're no child.

This is thoughtcrime.
posted by spaltavian at 11:12 AM on May 23, 2009


It seems that the bar for violating various obscenity laws is lower than many people would like it to be. I remember reading about this case of US v. Fletcher in which a woman pled guilty to violating obscenity laws for her web publication of sexually graphic stories ... no photos or graphical depictions at all.

I agree with whoever said, up above, that this isn't getting any action out of my outrage-o-meter. I guess I am content with the fact that my view of what our freedoms should be, is not always identical to what our freedoms actually are. And frankly I find it hard to shed a lot of tears over the fate of a guy who collects depictions of child rape, whether drawings or not.

Wake me up when someone gets prosecuted over Romeo and Juliet or Lolita. Then I will grab my pitchfork.
posted by jayder at 11:48 AM on May 23, 2009


Evidence of a crime is itself illegal?

It is when you're talking about child pornography. Possessing a photograph of a child molestation is a crime, as is the molestation itself.
posted by RussHy at 4:15 AM on May 23 [+] [!]


If, however, the depiction is of a child being murdered, we can include the depiction in our latest Hollywood blockbuster movie.
posted by telstar at 5:11 AM on May 23 [+] [!]

This all makes perfect sense.
posted by Nauip at 2:38 PM on May 23, 2009


The photo of child molestation shows a physically violent offense against a non-consenting person. The Hollywood movie shows make-up and special effects and involves consenting people.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:27 PM on May 23, 2009


Not necessarily; the movie could be a war documentary containing graphic gory footage of murderous war crimes against civilians and children. Heck, shock sites like ogrish.com openly thrive on that sick shit.

Going back to cartoons, there are people out there who will only consume and support cartoon porn and outright refuse real-life porn, because even "legal" real-life porn still contains the possibility that the adults filmed/photographed were somehow exploited, especially in places where organized crime controls the porn industry.

I guess it could described as a kind of "porn veganism".
posted by PsychoKick at 5:03 PM on May 23, 2009


"Evidence of a crime is itself illegal? So a security video of a bank robbery is illegal? News footage of a high speed chase? C'mon, people."

Er, I'm pretty serious about freedom of speech, but you don't think owning a photograph of a child being raped is exploitive and should be illegal?
On what possible grounds would someone own such a thing and not destroy it?

By that logic then I can sneak into women's showers and take photos?
So under what circumstances could you have a rape, or even a non-consensual photo of a sex act for adult? - much less the rape of a child?

Plus what FFF said.

Jesus, do you people even think about ... anything?
I can be pretty acerbic at times and typically I have to humble myself and apologize for being a dick, but very rarely do I find I'm chiding myself for not getting angry or using enough acrimony.
Seriously? A defense of child porn?
So someone rapes you - it's ok if - if they take pictures - someone has photos of that? Someone slips a hidden camera into your shower broadcasts it on the web while playing "Yakkity Sax" - that's not a problem? You don't have the right to non-consensual images of your naked body?
Get a clue
posted by Smedleyman at 11:17 PM on May 23, 2009


The dude imported his hentai manga? He didn't even look on Limewire?

Clearly he deserves whatever he gets.
posted by LogicalDash at 1:29 AM on May 24, 2009


One thing that might be pertinent, with a few people here seeming to lie closer to the 'he's a pervert' end of the spectrum - do we actually know that? Consider this paragraph taken from the previous Metafilter post on this:

Once there, agents from the Postal Inspector's office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, Special Agents from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, and officers from the Glenwood Police Department seized Handley's collection of over 1,200 manga books or publications; and hundreds of DVDs, VHS tapes, laser disks; seven computers, and other documents. Though Handley's collection was comprised of hundreds of comics covering a wide spectrum of manga, the government is prosecuting images appearing in a small handful
.

Okay, so - a collection of over 1200 books alone, and he's prosecuted for images appearing in only a handful. It doesn't appear that his focus, collecting-wise, was lolicon or the more perverse stuff. Is it possible that he bought the books with the offending images for reasons other than to get off on it? (A fan of the artists involved, habitually buying new-releases unseen, etc) I haven't seen that possibility addressed anywhere - have I missed it?

It wouldn't affect the legal case, of course, but it's something to ponder for the (admittedly few) people who wrote him off as perverse, or felt little compassion.
posted by pseudonymph at 3:21 AM on May 24, 2009


What's the legal status of possession of real snuff films, anyway? Not mere footage of murder, but movies where the actual murder was for the specific purpose of being filmed.

Obviously the production of such movies is illegal, but I haven't been able to find any conclusive information about actual possession. It would be pretty damn disturbing if possession of real snuff wasn't regulated the same way possession of real child porn is.

/ maybe I should put this on Ask Mefi
posted by PsychoKick at 8:11 AM on May 24, 2009


Although I wonder why the manga in this case is called "Japanese manga".

Because it was manga from Japan, intercepted by the postal service in a package from Japan. It seemed relevant, and illustrated that Handley was enough of an aficionado to be getting his comics mailed to him directly from Japan, rather than picking it up at the 7-11.
posted by Shepherd at 6:59 AM on May 25, 2009


Don't know if anyone's still reading this discussion, but Matt Thorn's blog has additional information; among other things it seems that Handley's lawyer might not have been honest with his client.
posted by PsychoKick at 1:46 PM on May 26, 2009


> / maybe I should put this on Ask Mefi

I think it might be better if you avoid having your name connected to anything even remotely likely to not get majority support against it being illegal.
posted by prak at 6:10 PM on May 26, 2009


Thorn's blog has removed that information, PsychoKick. Can you summarize?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:28 PM on May 26, 2009


prak, I think real snuff films and real child porn are equally heinous, and thus should both be equally illegal. However, the very few bits of info I've been able to find seems to indicate that the possession of real snuff films are legal to possess (or rather, there's no law barring their possession). However, there are laws that prohibit the possession of real snuff films of animals. That's pretty damn fucked-up.

five fresh fish, I don't remember all the details. It contained correspondence between Matt Thorn and Handley's lawyer, as well as Handley's mother. Earlier, Handley's lawyer apparently requested information and possible expert witness testimony from Matt, which Matt was willing to accommodate, but for unknown reasons communications stalled and nothing came out of it. Handley's mother claims that Handley's lawyer did not properly divulge all the terms surrounding the plea bargain to Chris (including what he was specifically confessing to), and was basically not paying attention to this case at all. Other messages indicate that he was supposedly busy handling other cases. That's all I can remember.
posted by PsychoKick at 9:20 AM on May 27, 2009


PsychoKick: prak, I think real snuff films and real child porn are equally heinous, and thus should both be equally illegal. However, the very few bits of info I've been able to find seems to indicate that the possession of real snuff films are legal to possess (or rather, there's no law barring their possession). However, there are laws that prohibit the possession of real snuff films of animals. That's pretty damn fucked-up.

My understanding is that snuff films are an urban myth, much the same way pirate treasure maps are; and that were one found to exist, it would be taken as evidence for the crime "accessory to murder" or "accessory after the fact," rather than needing its own legislation.

People do kill and torture animals on film for their jollies, so those types of films have been prohibited, assuredly because it makes more sense than creating "accessory to animal cruelty after the fact."
posted by paisley henosis at 10:02 AM on May 27, 2009


There's this over at Robot 6:

Matt Kernes examines the Christopher Handley manga-obscenity case for Adult Video News, and highlights the problem with the yaoi titles that were part of the government’s prosecution.

“There is explicit sex in yaoi comics,” Handley’s attorney tells Kernes. “And the men are drawn in a very androgynous style, which has the effect of making them look really young. There’s a real taboo in Japan about showing pubic hair, so they’re all drawn without it, which also makes them look young. So what concerned the authorities were the depictions of children in explicit sexual situations that they believed to be obscene. But there are no actual children. It was all very crude images from a comic book.”

Meanwhile, manga scholar Matt Thorn has removed his correspondence with Handley’s attorney and mother that he’d posted yesterday: “It’s frustrating, obviously, but the last thing I want to do is anything that might result in a harsher sentence for Mr. Handley.” [AVN Business, via Simon Jones]


(There's links and stuff, but I didn't feel like clicking through to AVN from work. )
posted by Artw at 10:16 AM on May 27, 2009


Why defend freedom of icky speech? by Neil Gaiman
posted by Tenuki at 2:12 AM on May 28, 2009


Freedom Of Speech Balloons
posted by Artw at 10:43 AM on June 5, 2009


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