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March 12, 2006 9:15 PM   Subscribe

Dwight Whorley is the first person in the U.S. to be convicted for possessing virtual child pornography in the form of Japanese anime (lolicon?) as well as photographs of real children. Anime fans are none too happy.
posted by tellurian (34 comments total)
I'm confused here. I thought that bans on virtual child pornography was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002). It appears to be a reworked version of that law. This one could get overturned.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:25 PM on March 12, 2006

Sorry, were declared unconstitutional.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:26 PM on March 12, 2006

If he's going to jail for the anime, then I guess there's alot of grandma's around the world who need to be sent to jail for bearing tea cups and what not that portray little naked kids in various playful poses.

That said, I haven't seen any of this so called 'lolicon' but from reading the Wiki article linked to, it sounds not entirely different from mainstream stuff like Sailor Moon. But I'm pretty unfamiliar with Anime fandom and culture in general. If lolicon is a seperate sub-genre of anime to the likes of Sailor Moon, dedicated solely to virtual kiddie porn, which it appears to be, then that's creepy. No more illegal than the afformentioned tea cups and dinner sets, but certainly much more creepy.

But naked photographs of real children? He should be sent to jail for that alone.
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:27 PM on March 12, 2006

Misleading summary.

He was jailed for violating one of the provisions of his parole, which was that he wasn't supposed to posses pornography of any kind. The contents of the porn had nothing to do with it.
posted by Laen at 9:29 PM on March 12, 2006

The text of that law looks like its got "overturned" written all over it. I suspect that this guy will not be the test case, however, because he had real stuff on his computer too.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:29 PM on March 12, 2006

Lolicon (Google Image Search)

I saw some of this stuff when I was over in Japan in a few shops, and it is quite creepy.
posted by SweetJesus at 9:32 PM on March 12, 2006

According to the wikipedia article, this is misleading.

"Whorley's case is misleading and has been misrepresented to a large extent. In reality, it was part of his parole requirements not to be in possession of any pornographic material, and his possession of lolicon broke that, incurring his conviction."

So... he was convicted by the terms of lolicon being considered pornography (which I would be hard pressed to find anyone whom would disagree), not necessarily that it is considered child pornography.
posted by thanatogenous at 9:32 PM on March 12, 2006

The FBI are misleading? "Whorley—who had spent time in jail on previous federal child pornography charges—became the first person in the U.S. to be convicted under the 2003 law." [From the second link]
posted by tellurian at 9:41 PM on March 12, 2006

it would appear wikipedia is misleading then.
posted by thanatogenous at 9:54 PM on March 12, 2006

as well as photographs of real children

See, that is where you lost me.
posted by LarryC at 9:58 PM on March 12, 2006

Can drawn image artwork, no matter what she subject, really be considered pornography?
Do chromed naked lady mudflaps count?
posted by Balisong at 10:06 PM on March 12, 2006

Personally, I have a big coffee table book of Tijuana Bibles, and I don't see it as pornography. Neither does my wife.
posted by Balisong at 10:12 PM on March 12, 2006

Can drawn image artwork, no matter what she subject, really be considered pornography?

If writing, which is merely words, can be pornography, drawings certainly can be.
posted by kindall at 10:12 PM on March 12, 2006

"Can drawn image artwork, no matter what she subject, really be considered pornography?"

Yes. The matter of whether someone harmed is, in the US, an additional argument against the legality of porn. Porn by definition is Constitutionally allowed to be illegalized. There's an assumption that material that is "obscene" and "without any other utility than being sexually provacative", according to local standards is bad stuff and self-evidently unacceptable. That there are laws and a legal doctrine concerning harm to a supposed victim of pornography is a seperate argument for Constitutionally prohibiting something.

So if a DA is trying to get a conviction under an anti-porn law, then the violation of some law prohibiting victimizing someone would be an additional or aggravating charge. On the other hand, a DA might get a conviction for the violation of some anti-victimization law where it may or may not be necessary for something to be deemed "pornography".

Whether something is porn and whether someone is harmed are two very related, but nevertheless distinct and mostly independent things.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:23 PM on March 12, 2006

You can go to jail in the U.S. for selling obscene comics even if there are no children involved (see Castillo v. Texas). Obscenity laws are pretty broad.
posted by bobo123 at 10:31 PM on March 12, 2006

About a decade ago a Canadian was arrested for painting naked children. He did not use models but drew from his imagination. I don't know what became of the case and at the moment can't even remember his name. Eliot something or other. Or maybe I'm completely remembering it wrong.
posted by dobbs at 11:30 PM on March 12, 2006

Eli Langer was the painter I was thinking of. More here.
posted by dobbs at 11:42 PM on March 12, 2006

I would think you'd want these people focused on drawn porn rather than having to resort to the real thing. Denying their access to drawn porn just seem counterproductive to me.
posted by Poagao at 12:23 AM on March 13, 2006

I'm totally gonna start a band called the Tijuana Bibles.

After I market my child-sized sex dolls.Better not say that, in case WRITING about it is equivalent to DRAWING it....
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:40 AM on March 13, 2006

Most anime creeps me out. Even if sometimes there is great animation quality why would adults want to watch giggling school girls?
posted by srboisvert at 12:55 AM on March 13, 2006

Because (and this is operating on the false assumption, which I'm sure lots of people who're bigger fans of the medium than I am are simply champing at the bit to correct, that all or even most anime involves giggling schoolgirls and is aimed at children), the ability to appreciate mature, complex entertainment needn't preclude the ability to enjoy simple, straightforward things on their own terms. It's like arguing that being able to perceive a million colours on a canvas makes it weird or creepy for a person to appreciate something that's just blue.

See also the perplexing tendency of adults insecure in their own maturity to accept that other adults can enjoy Harry Potter without being simple-minded or giving up their ability to appreciate and enjoy more complex things.
posted by terpsichoria at 2:50 AM on March 13, 2006

Sorry, make that be unable to accept, in the last bit there.
posted by terpsichoria at 3:54 AM on March 13, 2006

"Even if sometimes there is great animation quality why would adults want to watch giggling school girls?"
Is this a serious question?
posted by crabintheocean at 5:33 AM on March 13, 2006

Using an unsympathetic character such as Whorley to set a precedent isn't unheard of. What amazes me is that while it's legally defensible, I don't see how lolicon could hold up to the pro-safety anti-freespeech mentality of today, especially regarding such an easily villified subject.

Makes me wonder if some lawmakers have vested interest in keeping this barely legal.
posted by Saydur at 5:41 AM on March 13, 2006

BitterOldPunk: Tijuana Bibles
posted by stinkycheese at 6:47 AM on March 13, 2006

That said, I haven't seen any of this so called 'lolicon' but from reading the Wiki article linked to, it sounds not entirely different from mainstream stuff like Sailor Moon.

Its very much different from such shows as Sailor Moon, which is designed primarily for children and young teens. Lolicon is designed for adults of questionable taste.

Just to clarify, lolicon is one of several quite peverse sub-genres of anime.
posted by Atreides at 7:37 AM on March 13, 2006

I've always been interested in traditional Japanese culture, but most contemporary Japanese art including Anime & Manga creeps me out. Not only the sexual aspects, but how they always portray everyone as exaggerated Western-looking with big round eyes.
posted by mike3k at 7:48 AM on March 13, 2006

I'll thank you, Grygor, to discontinue forthwith your practice of referring to the works contained in my collection of sequential-art erotica as "dirty comics."
posted by pracowity at 8:02 AM on March 13, 2006

The "big round eyes" of anime and manga actually are derived from the "Walt Disney" of Japan, Osamu Tezuka. As he learned his craft, he was inspired by American animators, who used similiar designs, I.E. Betty Boop, Bambi, Mickey Mouse, etc. He's considered the father of animation (and manga) in Japan and so left a great impression on all following animators and illustrators. His most famous creation was Astro Boy. The purpose of the large eyes, at least in anime that I've read, is that some animators believed that they helped to convey emotion much better.

That said, there are currently many anime works which do not use this trait in their character design. For example, Millenium Actress, Perfect Blue, and Tokyo Godfathers, use a realistic design. They are all the works of Satoshi Kon. Great works, as well. You also have Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, the entire collection of Ghost in the Shell by Mamoru Oshii. For the mass marketed in America, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Neon Genesis Evangelion, among many others also do not use this extreme character design.
posted by Atreides at 8:10 AM on March 13, 2006

To add to what Atreides said, mike3k, remember that different cultures focus on different features when thinking about race. Americans focus on skin color and eye shape. But from what I've heard, what strikes most Asians about white people is their long noses, big chins, and pale hair, not their eyes or skin.

Sure enough, you'll sometimes see an explicitly American or European character in anime, and they tend to have gigantic long noses and huge jutting chins. Hair color is a little more complicated — after all, anime characters of all races can have bright blue hair — so we probably shouldn't read too much into it.

So the round-eyed, small-nosed, small-chinned, black-haired (or magical blue-haired) characters are meant to be Japanese. They just conform to Japanese ideas of how the Japanese look, not American ideas.

(Another interesting thing to notice is that Japanese, Chinese and Korean characters in anime look blatantly different, while American artists tend to draw them all more or less the same way. Again, evidence that race looks very different through Japanese eyes than through American ones.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:35 AM on March 13, 2006

Yeah, my assumption about the round eyes was that noticing it was a cultural artificact of my culture. We don't have big, huge round eyes, either. And big eyes are an innate trigger for affection for humans (also large heads) so it makes perfect sense that they'd draw exagerated eyes. Asian eye folds are something westerners notice disproportionately so the lack of them is a signal that is not a signal to Asians.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:39 AM on March 13, 2006

Anime fans should pick their battles.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:05 PM on March 13, 2006

Because one poster's link to an anime forum is the definition of the anime fan community. Woot.
posted by Atreides at 1:00 PM on March 13, 2006

stinkycheese: Dammit! (great link)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:23 PM on March 14, 2006

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