Man arrested for possession of explicit manga
November 25, 2008 1:54 PM   Subscribe

A man -- Christopher Handler -- has been arrested in Iowa for possession of explicit yaoi and lolicon manga.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is acting as a special consultant on the case.
Mr. Handley's case began in May 2006 when he received an express mail package from Japan that contained seven Japanese comic books. That package was intercepted by the Postal Inspector, who applied for a search warrant after determining that the package contained cartoon images of objectionable content. Unaware that his materials were searched, Handley drove away from the post office and was followed by various law enforcement officers, who pulled him over and followed him to his home. 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.

Neil Gaiman comments on the case. (via a post on his journal)
posted by peacheater (156 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am shocked this happened in America. Oh no wait...
posted by chunking express at 2:00 PM on November 25, 2008


Thought police?
posted by DaddyNewt at 2:01 PM on November 25, 2008


Laser disks? He's a monster!
posted by TwelveTwo at 2:02 PM on November 25, 2008 [8 favorites]


Anthony Comstock, alive and well.
posted by cal71 at 2:03 PM on November 25, 2008


First they came for my animes, and I said nothing, because I had more animes.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I said nothing, because I had more animes.
Next they came for the Jews, and I said nothing, because I had more animes.
But when they came for the Japanese, I made a petition on the Internet, but suddenly, there was nobody left to sign it...
posted by Damn That Television at 2:05 PM on November 25, 2008 [20 favorites]


“They found his manga, and found some objectionable panels,” Gaiman said. “He’s been arrested for having some drawings of rude things in manga. I’m sorry, but if you went through my comic collection, you could arrest me if you’re going to start doing that. It’s just wrong.”

Citizen's arrest, anyone?
posted by cjorgensen at 2:07 PM on November 25, 2008


I wish that I could say without lying that I'm surprised by this.

Our society has SUCH skrewy norms/priorities/legal restrictions. Sigh.
posted by yiftach at 2:07 PM on November 25, 2008


That guy is in deep shit. Considering the current media climate I'm sure his neighbors are ready to have him flayed alive in the town square.

I've never heard of yaoi or lolicon before - I'm assuming the characters get naked? In any case would such a thing actually be illegal? I guess the DA thinks it is but this would seem to fall into a legal gray area. There's no actual exploitation of children going on. I remember some federal law being passed around 2000 or so that outlawed "virtual" child porn but IIRC that was struck down on 1st Amendment grounds.

Any legal eagles care to comment?
posted by smoothvirus at 2:08 PM on November 25, 2008


comics were what kept me from trying to buy (or steal) porn when i was kid. that said, i didn't read anything really graphic or sex-based. i hope this guy gets off. (no pun intended)
posted by memnock at 2:08 PM on November 25, 2008


What an absolutely byzantine legal system.

Also... Postal Inspector? Is this really the cutting edge for pervert police? Apparently they don't have 4chan and such in Iowa.
posted by boubelium at 2:13 PM on November 25, 2008


Just realized I typed Handler instead of Handley. I swear, this was not intentional.
posted by peacheater at 2:17 PM on November 25, 2008


Hm, I figured LOLicon would be one of those pictures of Jesus with his hand up saying, "I CAN HAZ TWO CHEEZBURGRZ PLZ"
posted by uncleozzy at 2:17 PM on November 25, 2008 [29 favorites]


Ick.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:18 PM on November 25, 2008


Does anybody have any idea how the Postal Inspector determined that the package contained "cartoon images of objectionable content" BEFORE he obtained a search warrant?
posted by steambadger at 2:19 PM on November 25, 2008


I suppose this will rest on how "old" the "girls" in the comics are. And yeah, I vaguely recall that Supreme Court decision as well-- was there a later reversal?
posted by Maias at 2:19 PM on November 25, 2008


Strange... I was really expecting the first of these stories to come from the UK. I can't remember if it go passed into law or not, but they were planning on making it illegal to own any form of representation of sexual activity where one could reasonably believe that subject was, or was supposed to be, underage. Which would make the lolicon illegal.

Somehow, this being an American arrest, I expect that the police probably arrested him for the Yaoi...
posted by twine42 at 2:20 PM on November 25, 2008


How interesting. Do postal inspectors primarily target overseas shipments, or do domestic packages receive the same scrutiny?
posted by adipocere at 2:24 PM on November 25, 2008


Packages that enter a country from abroad are routinely opened for customs and duty.
posted by Authorized User at 2:25 PM on November 25, 2008


Lolicon IS childporn. The stories portrait consensual or forced sex, usually with adults. The girls (99% are girls) are young, and I mean VERY young, sometimes 4, 5 years-old.

The point is: It's not real childporn, no children was harmed, it's FICTIONAL.

If we start to arrest people for having bad taste in comics, what will stop us from arresting people reading Nabokov's Lolita, or for finding an old VHS copy of Pretty Baby?

The guy likes to read comics about pre-teens having sex. Does it makes him more of a sex ofender as I, liking to read comics about Spiderman, am I risk of becoming a nerdy photographer?

Hard choice. Are illegal things legal when portraited in a fictional environment?
posted by cardoso at 2:26 PM on November 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


Christopher Handley rots in jail while Pedo Bear runs free? Will the tentacle rape of justice never cease?
posted by The Power Nap at 2:27 PM on November 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


doesn't square with ASHCROFT V. FREE SPEECH COALITION
posted by StrikeTheViol at 2:28 PM on November 25, 2008


Neil Gaiman, persecuted geeks and LOL-PURITAN-USA at the same time.

We're just a strip of bacon away from the MeFi singularity.
posted by rokusan at 2:29 PM on November 25, 2008 [15 favorites]


doesn't square with ASHCROFT V. FREE SPEECH COALITION

He's not being charged under the CPPA; he's being charged under obscenity law.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:29 PM on November 25, 2008


Here's a podcast interview that TalkAboutComics did with the CBLDF's Charles Brownstein last month, discussing this case and the issue in general.
posted by rokusan at 2:31 PM on November 25, 2008


...after determining that the package contained cartoon images of objectionable content.

Does this fall under some kind of 'exploitation of cartoon images act'? Just who is being harmed here? Ink and paper?
posted by Rashomon at 2:32 PM on November 25, 2008


A man -- Christopher Handler -- has been arrested in Iowa

There once was a man. A man's man. Brave. Tough. The way only a man can truly be. This man's name was Handley. Christopher Handley. And he really, really liked drawings of naked little girls. But in a manly way, o'course. Well, one day Johnny Law caught up to ol' Chris in that territory folks call "Iowa." Seems even the most manly of men can't outrun their demons forever. Now a jury has been called upon to cast judgment. But the only real judgment for a man like Chris comes from inside. And you can rest assured that even if he goes to jail, Christopher Handley won't never be alone. Them naked little girls with their gigantic eyes will live on in his mind 'til the end of days.
posted by pardonyou? at 2:39 PM on November 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


with all the animal-people in those things, i'm surprised they didn't get him on bestiality too.

this is just silly.

it was pretty clear to me when i've seen comics like that at my old comics shop that it was A) adults doing the stuff (or adult people with fluffy tails and cute ears)
and B) not depicting reality in ANY way.

i cannot believe we even NEED a Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. there are people on DEATH ROW who are innocent with DNA to prove it and our government is wasting time with COMICS? There are also actual child abusers out there. This is just more of that following to the letter rather than taking initiative and thinking outside the box.

I must stop now before full-on rant ensues.

@peacheater - thank you for posting. as much as it pisses me off, we all need to know about stuff like this.


*grrrr*
posted by sio42 at 2:39 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why couldn't his first name have been Richard?

The real question is—How old was the tentacle beast?
posted by klangklangston at 2:40 PM on November 25, 2008


"This sentence consists of a graphic description of a sexual act between an adult and a child."

There.

Now we're ALL pedophiles.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:41 PM on November 25, 2008 [10 favorites]


A few years ago but still related. Here [pdf] is the 2003 law.
‘‘§1466A. Obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children
‘‘(a) IN GENERAL — Any person who, in a circumstance described in subsection (d), knowingly produces, distributes, receives, or possesses with intent to distribute, a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting, that —
‘‘(1)(A) depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; and
‘‘(B) is obscene; or
‘‘(2)(A) depicts an image that is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in graphic bestiality, sadistic or masochistic abuse, or sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex; and
‘‘(B) lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value;
or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be subject to the penalties provided in section 2252A(b)(1), including the penalties provided for cases involving a prior conviction.
posted by tellurian at 2:43 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Earlier today I walked down the street with a baseball bat, beating everyone in my path to a bloody pulp. Must've killed thirty people and two police officers. I should probably be in gaol.

No wait, I did that in a fictional universe. Using software was advertised on a huge number of billboards from San Francisco to Tokyo.

Good thing the games doesn't have any sexy kids...
posted by Cantdosleepy at 2:46 PM on November 25, 2008 [9 favorites]


I've actually been curious about this where it pertains to teh intarwebz as well as comics.

*If you're cruising websites that have comics/panels/whatever with such content -- entirely cartoon or computer graphics -- are you "downloading" p0rn? Is that something that only comes with telling your computer to save the pic? My understanding was that anything that goes over your computer screen is, one way or another, saved SOMEWHERE on your hard drive.

If so, I'd imagine an awful lot of people are guilty of this without even knowing it. There are lots of websites that have random panels or pages that you wouldn't know are so objectionable until you've already opened it.

*Where is the dividing line? What if the characters' ages aren't explicitly mentioned? Obviously this whole thing with 4 - 6 year olds (ick!) is pretty cut & dried, but there is doubtlessly material out there where the ages are left open to interpretation. Does that ambiguity become a legal vulnerability?

*Uh... so how is it that movies depicting teen sexuality are permissible? Yes, obviously the actors are over 18, but the characters are not... how is that legally okay?

*Aren't drawings and computer graphics technically not illegal? Obviously the real thing is flatly illegal, but I seem to recall the Supreme Court stopping short of outlawing purely artificial images. Then again, I'm neither a lawyer nor a lobbyist...
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:47 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


I always thought Yaoi was about underage gay relationships between characters ripped out of other mangas.*

And let's not even talk about my shock when, as a twelve-year-old looking for stuff about the Hardy Boys online, I found Frank-Joe-Fenton slash fic.

*I only know about Yaoi because I read about it in Penny Arcade. Honest.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:48 PM on November 25, 2008


genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal

Oral-oral would just be kissing, I suppose, so that's fine, but this seems to pretty clearly okay a lolicon version of Requiem for a Dream.
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:49 PM on November 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


As an Iowan, let me just point out it was the federal government, not state or local authorities who arrested him. It could have happened anywhere!
posted by delmoi at 2:49 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is likely a violation of the PROTECT Act of 2003 which was recently upheld by the Supreme Court.

Which is reason enough never to visit 4chan if you have not yet. That and it's super icky.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 2:53 PM on November 25, 2008


Yeah, I'm not sure how that 2003 passes muster when a similar law was struck down as unconstitutional. Real pictures of children being abused: awful and criminal. Drawings of children being abused: making it illegal opens up a huge can of worms and creates a disastrous minefield for both written and graphical fiction.
posted by Justinian at 2:54 PM on November 25, 2008


Does anybody have any idea how the Postal Inspector determined that the package contained "cartoon images of objectionable content" BEFORE he obtained a search warrant?

Probably because the return address was "Shitting Dick Nipples Comics".
posted by puke & cry at 2:56 PM on November 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


McGuillicuddy: I'm not sure that the PROTECT Act applies. That case seems to involve promoting material as child porn even if the people involved only look underage and are in fact legal. This case involves no promotion of the material as depicting actual child porn. They are drawings, after all, not real people.
posted by Justinian at 2:56 PM on November 25, 2008


He's not being charged under the CPPA; he's being charged under obscenity law.

You can argue the opinion legalized the material at issue, as long as it passes Miller, which I'm guessing it should, because it can be argued to have some artistic value and to my knowledge was never explicitly banned by the state.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 2:56 PM on November 25, 2008


With the premise that I think child porn cartoons are gross and icky and baaad, it seems fairly obvious to me that depictions of criminal things should not be criminal themselves*. While lolicon may not have as much redeeming cultural value as Lolita, it is NOT the government's job to decide!!! It's is a pretty clear cut 1st amendment issue. This is one stop away from censoring mainstream art (plays, novels, etc) for antisocial themes. Then badda bing, badda bang, it's 1984 and your face is being eaten by rats because of your thoughtcrime.

*there are exceptions, such as depictions that specifically incite the depicted criminal act. For instance if the comic specifically instructed or encouraged the reader to have sex with children, then the government has a prerogative to censor it. Merely depicting or discussing sex with children does not qualify.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:58 PM on November 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


How about putting links to content rather than Wikipedia on the front page?
posted by solipsophistocracy at 2:58 PM on November 25, 2008


We have Postal Inspectors?

As long as they are at it, they should arrest all those film critics that saw Hounddog.

That caused just as much (actually, probably more) actual harm to children as drawings from Japan do.
posted by graventy at 3:01 PM on November 25, 2008


Dear Alan Moore completists: A safety deposit box is a lot cheaper than lawyer bills.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:05 PM on November 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oh noes! There are grey areas! Best not empanel a jury to make decisions about them... That would be unamerican!

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that nobody here is cool with me selling digitally altered photos of a stranger violating your four year old sister. So what makes lolicon okay? The cartoon format or the anonymity of the little girl?
posted by tkolar at 3:05 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


(B) lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value;

More people should really use the "I was looking at the obscene material to see if it made me horny for Science! defense."

I am really, really tired of hearing about people being arrested for things that are not (or shouldn't be) illegal in a sane country. WTF is wrong with us? I mean, I don't get into this kind of thing, but 1.) Was anyone harmed by this? No? then 2.) Leave him the fuck alone.
posted by quin at 3:07 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that nobody here is cool with me selling digitally altered photos of a stranger violating your four year old sister. So what makes lolicon okay? The cartoon format or the anonymity of the little girl?

Um, I'm guessing the fact that there is no proof, nor even any reasonable suspicion, that there was ever an actual little girl involved?
posted by vorfeed at 3:09 PM on November 25, 2008 [18 favorites]


Authorized User: "Packages that enter a country from abroad are routinely opened for customs and duty."

Yeah, but this wasn't a routine opening. From the CBLDF post: "That package was intercepted by the Postal Inspector, who applied for a search warrant after [itals mine] determining that the package contained cartoon images of objectionable content." This sentence reads like the Postal Inspector had x-ray vision; they knew, somehow, that it was pornography while the box was still sealed.

(Maybe this is all viral marketing for a Superman/Loli crossover series starring Postal Inspector Clark Kent? DC might be getting a bit desperate for revenue since the box office seems to favor Marvel characters these days.)

The most shocking thing about this case, to me, is that there are men who read yaoi. Well, that and the x-ray vision.
posted by cirocco at 3:14 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Does anybody have any idea how the Postal Inspector determined that the package contained "cartoon images of objectionable content" BEFORE he obtained a search warrant?

It came from Japan.
posted by cardoso at 3:14 PM on November 25, 2008 [20 favorites]


I've often wondered where the people whose job it is at Photobucket and similar sites to review uploaded content for "objectionable" stuff falls. If a 13 year uploads him or herself posing nude, is the corporate censor now in violation of the law?

From what I gather Photobucket doesn't simply delete these when found, they move them to a hidden server (the old pb5.photobucket.com "hack" was based on this, I think) for review. What are the legalities of that, I wonder?

If you've ever viewed the stream of random new photos on major photo hosts (certainly a few years back when they just dumped the raw uploads into the stream; I think most of those sites are a bit more clever about doing preliminary screening now), you've probably seen naked underage people, you disgusting pervert.
posted by maxwelton at 3:15 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


So if the drawing had been of the artist's niece, that would be wrong then?
posted by tkolar at 3:16 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


arrested in Iowa for possession of explicit yaoi and lolicon manga

I was expecting to read that Iowa had passed a law banning poor taste.
posted by GuyZero at 3:18 PM on November 25, 2008


"If you're cruising websites that have comics/panels/whatever with such content -- entirely cartoon or computer graphics -- are you "downloading" p0rn? Is that something that only comes with telling your computer to save the pic? My understanding was that anything that goes over your computer screen is, one way or another, saved SOMEWHERE on your hard drive."

No no no. There is an argument that the data is saved to RAM, but this is generally disregarded and is in any case impossible to prove. Just turn off disk based caching and you'd avoid this issue entirely, were you to be browsing lolicon/bomb making instructions/radical political material/metafilter. Oh, and if you were *really* paranoid you'd probably also do so through Tor or even Freenet. And you might even use Phantomix to trust the OS a bit more.

So it's certainly not a crazy thing. If you don't want to go to that much effort, Firefox 3.1 has private browsing mode or you can turn off the Firefox disk cache by
1: In your Firefox, type "about:config" without the quotes in the address bar.
2: Click the “I’ll be careful, I promise!” button to continue.
3: Search for the "key browser.cache.disk.enabled"
4: Double click it
5; Set to "false"

That's slightly less secure than the GNU/Linux CD, but less hassle. And obviously, you lose the cache. But that's cool. You probably want to clear your cookies at the end if you are worried about the mere site being incriminating.

I am entering a legal career, so let me make clear that the above is not legal advice.
posted by jaduncan at 3:19 PM on November 25, 2008 [10 favorites]


Correction: There is an argument that the data is saved to RAM, but this is generally disregarded and is in any case impossible to prove outside of the edge case of the machine being seized while still powered up or the RAM being kept powered *immediately* after machine power down.

But this is unlikely, it would have to be quite a quick forced entry for the trick of pulling out the plug not to clear the RAM by the time the machine was seized. The above trick may have legal implications though relating to destruction of evidence in your jurisdiction.

The above is not legal advice either.
posted by jaduncan at 3:27 PM on November 25, 2008


Hard choice. Are illegal things legal when portraited in a fictional environment?

Not a hard choice at all, or would you have me arrested on suspicion of intent to commit burglary because I watched Ocean's Eleven last night? Start thinking like that and you might as well throw out most your music, movies, television, and literature.

I grant you, if this guy's jerking off and imagining Cthulhu raping four year olds, he's probably one sick litle puppy. But to go through his mail and then drag him in on some charge that would more than likely be found unconstitutional is sick in it's own way. I'm guessing someone served a search warrant, found a 'no-no' item, and then got all excited. Without actually stopping to think about whether this guy was dangerous or breaking any laws they just ran him in.
posted by Avelwood at 3:28 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've said it before, I'll say it again, arresting someone for reading a comic book or even a piece of fiction for the crimes committed ONLY in the fiction? Seriously. I read a bunch of stuff about Hitler in history class, are you gonna arrest me for war crimes?
posted by jarvitron at 3:32 PM on November 25, 2008


Handley faces felony obsenity [sic] charges, including the receipt and possession of obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children.

I really don't understand this. The American public consumes visual representations of obscene acts every day. Yet somehow we don't arrest people coming out of a cinema for paying to see scenes of torture and dismemberment.

The word "obscene" is, of course, key here. I don't know if there's a legal definition (the quoted PROTECT Act uses the word but doesn't define it), but the dictionary definition is broad enough for one group to accuse another group of obscenity for pretty much anything they don't approve of. It's much like the definiton of "witch" in Massachusetts in 1692.

And I'm sure the 1984 jokes will pour forth, but this is the very definition of a thoughtcrime. Chistopher Handley was surveilled and found to be in receipt of explicit material that did not involve actual children in any way. He showed no intention of exposing anyone other than himself to this material. There is exactly zero evidence of any harm to society here. There is someone engaging in a private transaction, and he has been arrested for what his purchase might make him think.
posted by [user was fined for this post] at 3:42 PM on November 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


There is someone engaging in a private transaction, and he has been arrested for what his purchase might make him think.
posted by [user was fined for this post] at 6:42 PM on November 25

Eponysterical?
posted by oaf at 3:48 PM on November 25, 2008


You simply can't make the case that reading a comic about four-year-old rape is worse than, say, playing Grand Theft Auto. You can't. People everywhere regularly commit virtual mass murder playing those games, participating in unreal crimes in a more active manner than a person reading a comic book about child-rape. Drawing the child-rape is, arguably, the equivalent of killing innocents in video games, as both of those involve a real person actively participating in an imaginary crime. But the crime is nonetheless imaginary, which makes the entire exercise ridiculous.

However squeamish the idea of four-year-old rape might make you, I'm going to argue that out-and-out killing sprees are worse, and if we're going to start prosecuting the possession of imaginary child-rape, Hollywood and the video game industry better pack up and get out of the country pronto.
posted by Caduceus at 3:52 PM on November 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


Let me say first that they should let this guy go. But it does bring up an interesting question. On the one hand we say that seeing certain things can harm us and other people. Think of PTSD resulting from seeing something actual or depicted. On the other hand we say that seeing certain things can't harm anyone. Think of the sticks and stones arguments being made in this case. So which is it?
posted by MarshallPoe at 3:54 PM on November 25, 2008


The word "obscene" is, of course, key here. I don't know if there's a legal definition...

The Miller test.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:01 PM on November 25, 2008


The better solution here is just to start carpet-bombing Japan.

You simply can't make the case that reading a comic about four-year-old rape is worse than, say, playing Grand Theft Auto. You can't.

Like fuck I can't.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:11 PM on November 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


Thanks, mr_roboto, that's what I was missing. But, Supreme Court or no, I have a big problem with "applying contemporary community standards" to a private purchase that was not made available to the community in any way. A private comic collection is not a public space; why should community standards apply? By this standard, we should fear arrest for being nude in our own bathrooms.

Same goes for "patently offensive." Offensive to whom? Other than the officials who chose to dig through Handley's stuff, there was no one to be offended by these books.
posted by [user was fined for this post] at 4:14 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


On the one hand we say that seeing certain things can harm us and other people. Think of PTSD resulting from seeing something actual or depicted. On the other hand we say that seeing certain things can't harm anyone...

The crucial distinction being that there's a world of difference between "us" and "other people". Of course me seeing something can harm me. But the simple fact of me seeing something, which you do not see and do not know I have seen, cannot harm you.

It may be a crucial part of a causal chain that could harm you - say, if you suffer embarrassment when you find out I've seen your porn collection, or you die because of the killing spree I go on after seeing that particularly horrifying LOLcat - but there's always a crucial other step involved before my seeing can translate into harm for you.

And from a legal perspective, in cases where the law seeks to protect you from that harm, the emphasis is almost always on one of the other steps in that causal chain - be it the actions taken that led to the seeing (hacking into your email, say) or the actions as a result of the seeing (leaking details of your emails to a gossip column).
posted by flashboy at 4:15 PM on November 25, 2008


Man, we don't even protect women from actual rape in the military, or based on their skin color, or if they do sex work, and we're worried about comics?

How about we start with actual crimes committed before we get into fictional potential harm based on isolated cases of media?
posted by yeloson at 4:18 PM on November 25, 2008 [22 favorites]


So which is it?

Both, of course. Something which is not harmful to view or even to take part in, in a fantasy or fictional context, can be extremely traumatic if viewed in real life, or even if someone sees it and just thinks it is real. That said, I think the difference between mental trauma and the consumption of purely-fictional "obscenity" is generally pretty obvious (for one thing, mental trauma is generally associated with high-stress, low-agency situations, and voluntary enjoyment of fiction doesn't tend to be like that no matter how messed up the subject matter is). I doubt that many obscenity cases involve people who were even remotely traumatized by the material in question -- in fact, I'd say that the arrest itself is far more likely to cause trauma!

At any rate, no one is seriously claiming that obscene materials should be banned because they're traumatic; the argument is generally simply that they should be banned because they are obscene. Note that the Miller test has nothing whatsoever to do with measuring harm or the likelihood thereof, social or otherwise...
posted by vorfeed at 4:21 PM on November 25, 2008


And from a legal perspective, in cases where the law seeks to protect you from that harm, the emphasis is almost always on one of the other steps in that causal chain - be it the actions taken that led to the seeing (hacking into your email, say) or the actions as a result of the seeing (leaking details of your emails to a gossip column).

So can I sue everyone who sent me a Goatse link?
posted by Avelwood at 4:25 PM on November 25, 2008


"By this standard, we should fear arrest for being nude in our own bathrooms.

Sounds like you're Presbyterian.
posted by klangklangston at 4:34 PM on November 25, 2008


Isn't being the kind of guy who would buy comics like these punishment enough for the poor weird bastard?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:36 PM on November 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


You simply can't make the case that reading a comic about four-year-old rape is worse than, say, playing Grand Theft Auto. You can't.

stavros: Like
fuck I can't.

Do so then. I defy you to convince me that reading a depiction of any imaginary depiction of rape is more criminal than an imaginary depiction of the brutal murders of dozens or hundreds of people.

My point is that making either case is ridiculous, because it's not real, and you can't criminalize not real things without trying to suppress basic human nature, artistic expression, free speech, consumer freedom, and a variety of other things that our society is based on.

I don't want you to get me wrong here: I love GTA, and many other violent video games. I like violent movies, too. I'm not arguing that any of that should be criminalized, because, again, it's not real. But I really have a hard time with this idea weird puritanical American bullshit that graphic depictions of sex, or even sexual violence (which I certainly don't in any way approve of) are worse than graphic depictions of bloody violence and murder. I'm sorry, but they're not. Real life violence and murder is horrible beyond compare.

But you can't criminalize any of it without curtailing the basic freedoms the U.S. is founded upon and that all human beings should enjoy. As people have pointed out, it's thought crime, and you can't prove someone is going to go rape a four-year-old just because has some lolicon in his collection of 1,200+ manga volumes.
posted by Caduceus at 4:46 PM on November 25, 2008 [7 favorites]


Addendum to my last sentence: ...anymore than you can prove that someone is going to go on a shooting and vehicular assault spree because he likes playing Grand Theft Auto.
posted by Caduceus at 4:47 PM on November 25, 2008


I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that nobody here is cool with me selling digitally altered photos of a stranger violating your four year old sister. So what makes lolicon okay?

What? The issue isn't whether I'm "cool" with anything, man. The issue is whether the material is protected under the First Amendment.

You don't have to be "okay" with other people's protected speech. I don't even know what that means, honestly.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 4:50 PM on November 25, 2008 [9 favorites]


I need some googling help here, but I think I remember kiddie porn prosecutions in cases where the users simply visited websites and/or received e-mail. Browser caches, spam attachments... something like that. The judge or jury heard that it was "found on the defendant's hard disk." which was technically true.

If that's true, and not urban legend (help me, legal hive mind?) then there's a very wide opening* for some sort of porn phishing/entrapment here.

* Insert† your own 'wide opening' joke here.
† Or here.

posted by rokusan at 4:51 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


The crucial distinction being that there's a world of difference between "us" and "other people".

Note that the Miller test has nothing whatsoever to do with measuring harm or the likelihood thereof, social or otherwise...

Right, and excellent points. But I guess what I'm after here is the essence of the sticks-and-stones argument, that is, that no depiction of any sort is so harmful to the viewer and those around him/her that it should be banned. I'm not talking about just being "offended." I'm talking about the threat of harm or actual harm. Here's another boundary case: graphic depictions that are deemed hate crimes, like Swastikas spray-painted on walls. We don't seem to have any trouble criminalizing those. True, they are "public" in a way these comics aren't, but the comics are in circulation and could be public. (Again, let me say this guy should be let go.)
posted by MarshallPoe at 4:52 PM on November 25, 2008


The issue isn't whether I'm "cool" with anything, man.

Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.
posted by rokusan at 4:53 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's another boundary case: graphic depictions that are deemed hate crimes, like Swastikas spray-painted on walls.

Spray-painting anything on someone else's wall, without their permission, is potentially a crime. Not a good example.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 4:58 PM on November 25, 2008


Takes me back to 1970 again.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:21 PM on November 25, 2008


I defy you to convince me that reading a depiction of any imaginary depiction of rape is more criminal than an imaginary depiction of the brutal murders of dozens or hundreds of people.

I'm not going to convince you - and I'm not entirely behind this argument myself - but it's certainly reasonable to argue that exposure to images of sex-with-children can create pedophilic thoughts and tendencies in a person who otherwise wouldn't have them (or encourage one to dwell on those thoughts and urges, or "normalize" those urges in the mind of the viewer, etc.) which can lead to real consequences.
posted by moxiedoll at 5:23 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Does anybody have any idea how the Postal Inspector determined that the package contained "cartoon images of objectionable content" BEFORE he obtained a search warrant?

The title perhaps? Something like that happened to me recently. I got a package in the mail from the states that had been ripped open by Canadian customs. You see, Canada has rather restrictive pornography laws and I live next to the biggest gay sex store in Canada. Now the funny part of the story is that I was not buying porn. I'd ordered an Iron Fist comic book, and it seems the censors got the wrong idea.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:28 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm not going to convince you - and I'm not entirely behind this argument myself - but it's certainly reasonable to argue that exposure to images of sex-with-children can create pedophilic thoughts and tendencies in a person who otherwise wouldn't have them (or encourage one to dwell on those thoughts and urges, or "normalize" those urges in the mind of the viewer, etc.) which can lead to real consequences.

And it's just as reasonable to argue that exposure to such images could be cathartic, and keep people who might have pedophilic thoughts and tendencies from acting them out. There's about as much evidence either way, at least as far as I know, though I'm certainly no psychologist. I certainly don't know how comfortable I'd be around someone who I knew to be a hardcore loli-fan, but the fact remains that there is a principle of freedom which we adhere to, and you can't argue for the criminalization of this without opening yourself up to the criminalization of all sorts of things you wouldn't want banned.

This case is particularly absurd, because from the facts in the FPP, it sounds like this guy was more of a general Japanophile than an actual loli-fan; 1,200 plus volumes of manga sounds to me like the dude imported manga simply because it's manga, and this shipment happened to have some yaoi and loli in it. He might not have even know that was the case (though I find that last unlikely).
posted by Caduceus at 5:32 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


*Edward G. Robinson*
I’ve got a pen and colored pencils right here copper, yah.

Are you f’ing kidding me? Drawings?

“My point is that making either case is ridiculous, because it's not real”

I see. So Superman *would* get beat up by Archie because Superman is not real. Got it.

...say, how old were Betty and Veronica supposed to be anyway?

“but it's certainly reasonable to argue that exposure to images of sex-with-children can create pedophilic thoughts and tendencies in a person who otherwise wouldn't have them”

So because I wipe my kid’s ass when they crap their diapers, I’m exposed to nude children, so I can become a pedophile?

C’mon man. Oh, it’s just sex? There’s millions of images of sexualized children out there. It’s called advertising.

It’s not reasonable. I get you’re not behind the argument, but there’s absolutely no basis for this - except perhaps for the need of someone on the other side of it to excoriate it publicly because maybe they’re afraid they’ll touch little kids.
Or they just want to score cheap political points.
Reminds me of the gay bashers or the guys who tell you how much they hate homosexuals completely out of context of what’s going on.
“Hey, nice throw by Orton. I think the Bears finally got a good quarterback.”
“Y’know, a guy came onto me in the john at home depot. I kicked his ass*. I hate fags.”
“And they need an offensive line to ...uh...what?”

*not a scuff mark on his knuckles.

This is thought crime. The ‘little kids’ thing is just an excuse. Today it’s this, tomorrow it’s something bigger. Really.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:47 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Y’know too, that’s kind of what these fringe guys are - canaries in the coal mine. As soon as they start pushing - really pushing, because they always get handed some trouble - the perverts, the base, the low. Guys like Larry Flynt who, personally, I think is detestible in many ways, but who I’m also grateful to for his defense of the first amendment.

Guys like that, they sort of test the waters. Can we get away with it? Can we get away with a little more? Maybe turn the screws on someone a bit higher up the chain?
posted by Smedleyman at 5:50 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


...it's certainly reasonable to argue that exposure to images of sex-with-children can create pedophilic thoughts and tendencies in a person who otherwise wouldn't have them (or encourage one to dwell on those thoughts and urges, or "normalize" those urges in the mind of the viewer, etc.) which can lead to real consequences.

I think this gets right to the point, that is, the threat of harm b/c of exposure pure and simple. The difficulty is, as Caduceus points out, that a) it's hard to tell when it's going to be harmful (if ever) and b) there's a kind slippery slope here that could have all kinds of nasty consequences. I don't think, however, that the sticks-and-stones argument for total liberty of representation is *always* applicable, because there are several cases when we seem to not believe it ourselves. There are some representations that we think harm people, and we criminalize those.
posted by MarshallPoe at 5:52 PM on November 25, 2008


"it's certainly reasonable to argue that exposure to images of sex-with-children can create pedophilic thoughts and tendencies in a person who otherwise wouldn't have them (or encourage one to dwell on those thoughts and urges, or "normalize" those urges in the mind of the viewer, etc.) which can lead to real consequences." - Moxie

If this is the case, then the same argument is exactly as pertinent w/r/t violence and Grand Theft Auto, theft and Ocean's Eleven, cutting class and Catcher in the Rye, and so on and so on. If we accept the premise of your argument, every other artifact of pop-culture that depicts something unethical is also just as worthy of arrest-for-possession.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 5:57 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I find Manga creepy in general. And This particular lolicon stuff entirely disturbing.

But these are entirely fictional depictions. No minors are getting exploited in the production, nor directly through their consumption.

Video games we interactively MURDER fictional avatars of actual people. Hell that's a direct simulation of an illegal act.

Though I suppose it could be argued that most games are against consenting voluntary combatants (other players). I wonder how long before somebody develops a game where all you do is commit simulated rape or serial killing of unwilling simulated virtual victims and what kind of controversy that would inspire. I know my gut response would be that I would want a game like that made illegal - fictional or not. Tricky line to negotiate here.
posted by tkchrist at 6:03 PM on November 25, 2008


I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that nobody here is cool with me selling digitally altered photos of a stranger violating your four year old sister.

I'm not cool with a lot of things that are not criminal. I don't think you should go to jail for doing such a thing.

So what makes lolicon okay? The cartoon format or the anonymity of the little girl?

What little girl? Are you referring to a crude illustration as a little girl?
posted by krinklyfig at 6:06 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


I wonder how long before somebody develops a game where all you do is commit simulated rape or serial killing of unwilling simulated virtual victims and what kind of controversy that would inspire. I know my gut response would be that I would want a game like that made illegal - fictional or not. Tricky line to negotiate here.

That happened a long time ago. Well, that wasn't the point of the game, but it happened in it. Also happens in Second Life.

How does your desire to make rape-simulation games illegal square with the Constitution? Plenty of people already engage in rape simulation as consenting adults. How is a game different? I don't want anything to do with such a game, but I'm not sure I could come up with a good legal justification for banning it.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:12 PM on November 25, 2008


it's certainly reasonable to argue that exposure to images of sex-with-children can create pedophilic thoughts and tendencies in a person who otherwise wouldn't have them (or encourage one to dwell on those thoughts and urges, or "normalize" those urges in the mind of the viewer, etc.)

It is? Why, exactly?

I've been playing extremely violent video games for most of my life, and I have zero "thoughts and urges" toward committing violence against any living creature. I can say the same with some confidence for a large number of friends and acquaintances.

Is it your argument that adults of sound mind are uniquely susceptible to becoming pedophiles, while possessing the judgment not to become murderers, arsonists, kidnappers and so on? If so, what's your evidence of this?

(on preview, what Cantdosleepy said)
posted by [user was fined for this post] at 6:13 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


For those, like me, who wanted a few more hard facts, here's a pdf of the July court review in which the judge throws out some of the charges and says that whether or not the material is obscene is better left to a jury.
posted by epj at 6:13 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's another boundary case: graphic depictions that are deemed hate crimes, like Swastikas spray-painted on walls. We don't seem to have any trouble criminalizing those. True, they are "public" in a way these comics aren't, but the comics are in circulation and could be public. (Again, let me say this guy should be let go.)

Painting a swastika on someone's house is vandalism and a direct threat to people's safety. Painting swastikas on public property is usually just vandalism. Drawing a comic (making a film, painting, etc.) with swastikas is artistic license, unless, you know, you're drawing a comic for the Klan about how to incite riots on a particular date or something. But drawing a comic full of swastikas, even in a positive context, is not a hate crime nor illegal in the US.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:18 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Painting a swastika on someone's house is vandalism and a direct threat to people's safety.

I should add, that's why it's considered a hate crime. Because it's directed at someone/people in particular and is threatening in nature. It's not a creative work to burn a cross on someone's lawn.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:20 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


The stuff that he's interested strikes me as weird and pervy. Like sort of scary weird and pervy. I don't feel like defending him because he's gross. I could even construct stories about how it makes him think it's more okay to be a pedophile or something. I could tell myself those stories but those stories wouldn't be important because they were true. They're important because I'm really sketched out. But we the people need to grow the fuck up. Some fucking shit is really weird and kind of messed up. So. Don't tell yourself ghost stories. Ask where's the harm. If you can't find it move on.
posted by I Foody at 6:30 PM on November 25, 2008


Is it your argument that adults of sound mind are uniquely susceptible to becoming pedophiles, while possessing the judgment not to become murderers, arsonists, kidnappers and so on? If so, what's your evidence of this?

Well, as I said, it's not *my* argument - it's more *the* argument and I brought it up because it seems like this thread is full of people pretending (?) SHOCK at the notion that there could possibly be anything wrong with child pornography as long as no-actual-child was harmed in the creation. Which is not really culturally typical, nor is it the state of the law, so I was just providing some of the general reasoning for those newly here from space.

To address your question specifically, I do think there's a difference between violent games and pornography, in terms of the ways they are engaged with. Killing someone in a video game is exactly nothing like killing a real person as far as your physical/emotional state and response.
posted by moxiedoll at 6:33 PM on November 25, 2008


I also wonder whether the laws about receiving and possessing child pornography aren't a kind of back-door method for simply identifying pedophiles. That seems to be the function those laws serve - a convenient method for criminalizing the inclination.
posted by moxiedoll at 6:38 PM on November 25, 2008


I wonder how long before somebody develops a game where all you do is commit simulated rape

There are hundreds of full-on 3D manga (or whatever the fuck it's called) rape-sim games from Japan that are exactly this, already. Christ, one of the older ones is even called Battle Raper.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:53 PM on November 25, 2008


I also wonder whether the laws about receiving and possessing child pornography aren't a kind of back-door method for simply identifying pedophiles.

Yes, that's the purpose they serve. It's been tough ever since we found out our old methods of finding perverts don't work.
posted by Monochrome at 7:19 PM on November 25, 2008


The most perverse thought of all is that we have any right to our neighbor's imagination.
posted by kid ichorous at 7:31 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nerd, here.

Yaoi =/= child porn.

Lolicon is, by definition about young children. Yaoi isn't the same; it does often involve characters who are underaged by U.S. law, but not all of the time, and the underaged characters are in high school, rather than elementary.

In western fandom, at least, there is a separate term for explicit male/male manga that involves young boys: shotacon.

Fans of yaoi are usually teenaged girls and women who are not pedophiles. Some adult fans do try to avoid titles containing underaged characters, but others don't make much of a distinction, because the underaged-...ness isn't the point.

It's hard to generalize, but it's more accurate to compare adult fans of yaoi involving underaged characters to fans of Twilight: just because they're reading about a sexually-charged, idealized teenaged romance, doesn't mean that they want to mack on a teenager in real life.

Lolicon and shotacon freak me out, but I do know that many female fans of shotacon aren't pedophiles, either. It's not a literal desire for children, but for something that childhood can stand for--innocence, vulnerability, or whatever.

I think this is scary, because it's pointing the gun at many, many people, some who are children themselves, who are not a threat in any way.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:43 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here is an illegal picture of a lolicon's delicate anal flower: *

And here is a lolicon image that is simply too vulgar to describe: :-P(;)

Just try to arrest me, coppers! You'll never take me alive!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:57 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow. You know I was scratching my head, wondering why this was news. Then it hit me: this is the U.S..

In Canada, depictions of child sexuality are fair game for child porn charges, since R. v. Sharpe:

"This definition of child pornography catches depictions of imaginary human beings privately created and kept by the creator. Thus, the prohibition extends to visual expressions of thought and imagination, even in the exceedingly private realm of solitary creation and enjoyment."

One of the (may I say few?) ways that you Yanks are ahead of us. (You also know how to take care of your parks, or at least you did)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:06 PM on November 25, 2008


I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that nobody here is cool with me selling digitally altered photos of a stranger violating your four year old sister. So what makes lolicon okay? The cartoon format or the anonymity of the little girl?

Is this even a serious question?

In case it is, and you can actually comprehend the answer: the fact that one of them involves an actual human being and the other doesn't.

Do you have trouble distinguishing between security camera footage of violent crime and James Bond novels as well?

You simply can't make the case that reading a comic about four-year-old rape is worse than, say, playing Grand Theft Auto. You can't.

Can't you? I'd want to be very sure of profiles of viewers and interaction with the material involved. As a society we have far higher taboos against raping children than other forms of violence. That alone would give me pause about the person who would be happy looking at the kiddie rape comics.

That seems to be the function those laws serve - a convenient method for criminalizing the inclination.

Sure, that's exactly what it is. I, personally, think that's a bad road to go down, and, as others have noted, it raises a whole bunch of other problems with art and what you criminalise and whether, conceptually, you should even be doing so.

That said, I don't think I'd be letting my kid spend time around someone with an extensive collection of kiddie porn comics.
posted by rodgerd at 8:10 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


>You simply can't make the case that reading a comic about four-year-old rape is worse than, say, playing Grand Theft Auto. You can't.

>>stavros: Like fuck I can't.

>>>Do so then. I defy you to convince me that reading a depiction of any imaginary depiction of rape is more criminal than an imaginary depiction of the brutal murders of dozens or hundreds of people.


Defy away. There's not a chance in hell I'm going to get into that argument in clumsy, telegraphic text form here in this thread, nor do I feel beholden in any way to convince you of anything. Nor, in point of fact, are you being helpful by first saying 'worse' then moving the goalposts and characterizing something as 'more criminal'. It is a very long way from 'bad' to 'criminal' and from 'worse' to 'more criminal', if we wish, as one should, to define our terms up front.

Let me just say this, though. I think cartoony casual depictions of simulated violence in the media are much more troublesome than depictions or discussion of sexual activity. That said, if I see someone playing a shootemup video game, I'm probably going to wait my turn to have a go. If I see someone reading a comic book depicting the rape of four-year-olds, however, I'm probably going to punch that guy right in the goddamned face.

Which has, it must be said, nothing to do with criminality, until the point at which they arrest me for kicking the shit out of somebody. That would be fair enough. And legal.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:10 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


moxiedoll: Fair enough--I'm sure that is more or less the argument at work here. FWIW, I don't agree with your conclusion; plenty of people experience agitation, even aggression, toward opponent characters on the screen, and those emotions feel very real as you're experiencing them. When a tough boss character has beat you several times, it's possible to experience a very real and personal sense of hatred toward that character.

But a rational adult leaves all that behind when s/he gets up from the console or computer. I don't see any qualitative difference between feelings of aggression/hate/whatever toward a character in a video game and feelings of lust/desire/whatever toward a character in pornography. Different sets of feelings, yes, but no less real to the person experiencing them.

More importantly, I've seen no evidence suggesting that a well-adjusted adult is incapable of leaving those feelings behind, in either case, when no longer in front of the screen. Of course, the whole assumption here is that we're talking about people who aren't well-adjusted. I think your last point is spot-on: this is about criminalizing pedophilic thoughts as a preventive measure against pedophilic actions.

And this is what has people alarmed. Forget the 1984 comparisons. If we can criminalize people based on what we think is going on in their heads, it won't stop with suspected pedophiles. If you just got divorced and you bought a gun, maybe you're planning a little revenge. If you're walking past houses in a neighborhood where you don't live, maybe you're planning a burglary. If you're watching children at play from your own window, maybe you're planning to kidnap and molest one of them. It's Minority Report with a lot more guesswork.

Yeah, on second thought, it really is a lot like 1984, too.
posted by [user was fined for this post] at 8:25 PM on November 25, 2008


Here is a link to Wikipedia [very, very NSFW]. Is there any standard under which the painting linked to, The Guitar Lesson, is not obscene, but these comics are? Or are we all criminals now for looking at this?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:34 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


There are hundreds of full-on 3D manga (or whatever the fuck it's called) rape-sim games from Japan that are exactly this, already. Christ, one of the older ones is even called Battle Raper.

Yeah. See I draw line there. That is very fucked up.


Do so then. I defy you to convince me that reading a depiction of any imaginary depiction of rape is more criminal than an imaginary depiction of the brutal murders of dozens or hundreds of people.


More criminal? I dunno about that. But I could argue more harm, perhaps.

Well first off I think GTA IS fucked up and wouldn't let my kids play it. However, let's take Unreal Tournament or some other first person shooter and compare that to depictions of imaginary rape.

The ideas behind the simulations are in most cases entirely different. Even though in each case ( violent videos and lolicon) the acts depicted would be real-world heinous, the central ideas behind them are very different.

In, say, a first person shooter the idea is that you are playing against like combatants (Or say a war simulation). Essentially you are simulating a fairly base set of competition drives involving violence. One can entertain the notion of being a villain but one can also entertain the idea of being heroic but the root play is to compete with others like your self. The central idea is that the OTHER person has the same chance as you. The central idea is one of competition, ultimately. As one would have in real world combat sport, for instance. Certainly there other games and simulations where the violence is much more abstract and ethically problematic. I won't trouble to parse out every single outlier or case.

Where as the idea behind lilicon is the imaginary rape of a child - to simulate VICTIMIZING, by it's very essence, a helpless individual. The central idea is to victimize. This is not a healthy thing to encourage or create a platform for ideation under any circumstance I can imagine outside a carefully controlled therapists office.
posted by tkchrist at 8:35 PM on November 25, 2008


Where as the idea behind lilicon is the imaginary rape of a child - to simulate VICTIMIZING, by it's very essence, a helpless individual. The central idea is to victimize.

One of my favourite series of books has as its protagonist an assassin. I'm not sure what to do with your standard, tk.

And that's pretty tame compared to, say, some horror genre material. As a matter of fact, I find your whole argument about the need for competitive equality amongst fictional characters bizarre.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:39 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Where as the idea behind lilicon is the imaginary rape of a child - to simulate VICTIMIZING

What if you want to imagine being the victim?
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:51 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, wanted to chime in on the GTA vs. rape manga which-is-worse thing:

We as a society have very deep feelings about crimes against children, particularly sexual crimes. Evolution has placed in us a strong need to be protective toward children, more so than than toward adults. There's a reason child molesters disproportionately get beat up or killed in prisons.

Most people will absolutely find a fictional depiction of child rape to be more abhorrent and disturbing than a fictional depiction of one adult murdering another. I certainly do. (And I don't think "dozens or hundreds of people" killed in GTA has anything to do with it; the owner of lolicon books might have dozens or hundreds of them, which balances things out if it's a numbers game.)

So I agree with stavros. I'm a hundred times more squicked out by manga depicting child rape than I am by comics/games/whatever depicting violence toward adults. (We can make it "an equal number of child rapes and adult murders" if you prefer.) For that matter, I feel more sadness and anger at the news of a real child rape on TV than I do at the news of a murdered adult. I don't really understand anyone who doesn't feel the same way. It's in our genes.

That doesn't mean I think the manga should be illegal. For all the reasons stated above, I don't. But I probably wouldn't want Christopher Handler around my kids either.
posted by [user was fined for this post] at 8:55 PM on November 25, 2008


It bears mentioning that Japan not only has one of the lowest sex crime rates in the industrialized world, but also that the proliferation of sensationalistic, pornographic, and violent comics like the ones in question has coincided with a decrease in sex crimes.

Most significantly, despite the wide increase in availability of pornography to children, not only was there a decrease in sex crimes with juveniles as victims but the number of juvenile offenders also decreased significantly.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:59 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


If I see someone reading a comic book depicting the rape of four-year-olds, however, I'm probably going to punch that guy right in the goddamned face.

Oh, and, as Neil Gaiman pointed out in the penultimate link, his Sandman wouldn't have passed your test; I can't imagine what you'd think of Hellblazer.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:02 PM on November 25, 2008


I'm a hundred times more squicked out by

You're certainly entitled to feel that way (and I'm not saying I don't), but there's a reason why we don't use the "squicked out by" test for criminal justice. We don't let grieving families decide the fate of those convicted for the murder of their loved ones. We don't let legislators decide that, say, they're "squicked" out more by the murder of women than of men, or of white versus black, or infirm versus healthy. And for that matter, you, and a lot of others, may be squicked out by gay sex, or in the "bizarre laws" discussion yesterday, the use of sex toys, of adolescents having sex, of oral sex more than intercourse, of anal sex more than oral sex. It really, really doesn't matter what you are squicked out by. It matters what brings harm to people. If there's evidence that fictional porn causes harm, then ok, let's go with that. But far too much criminal justice revolves around incomplete if not irreconcilably conflicting piecemeal theories of human nature and responsibility. If it's just the squick factor, then sorry, that's not enough.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:15 PM on November 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


Absolutely, Durn, I completely agree with everything you just wrote. I wasn't in any way advocating the criminalization of this manga or any other printed material--just the opposite. I'm appalled by the idea of obscenity laws that can be applied to what people do in private. (In fact, I had planned to draw an analogy to sodomy laws, which I think are a very similar effort to criminalize things that make some people feel icky but harm no one; somehow I left it out.)
posted by [user was fined for this post] at 9:36 PM on November 25, 2008


"There are some representations that we think harm people, and we criminalize those."

"Think" to me is the operative word there. Y'know, in Victorian times people used to cover up the legs of their dinner tables because the curves of the legs were reminiscent of women's legs.
I understand the same logic is at work in some parts of the Muslim world.
I mean if a representation of a female performing sexual acts can be tempting, why not cover the females themselves?

Further - we're talking 'maybe' here. Let's cut the foreplay and talk about actual acts.
I myself actively prepare to be more effective in confrontations of physical violence.

When I pound a heavy bag all day - I'm obviously training to hit a person, am I not? That is not merely a representation, that is actively conspiring to commit what could be a criminal act. How do we know I'm only going to use it in a sporting context? How do we know I'm only going to use it in self-defense? We really don't, do we. It's implied, but not really certain.

And, as krinklyfig said, rape play between consenting adults. How do we know that's not training to do it for real?

They're actually having active sex - couldn't such an association then, far more than mere penciled images, stimulate someone into wanting to actually rape someone - by the lines of reasoning folks have taken on this matter?

As far as the realities. I know when I come off the field or after sparring, I'm a big ol kitty cat.

"This definition of child pornography catches depictions of imaginary human beings privately created and kept by the creator. Thus, the prohibition extends to visual expressions of thought and imagination, even in the exceedingly private realm of solitary creation and enjoyment."

Hi! I'm from the government. I don't like you. I think you're thinking about child porn. Goodbye forever!

"If I see someone reading a comic book depicting the rape of four-year-olds, however, I'm probably going to punch that guy right in the goddamned face."

Er..ok.
What if it's depicting rape play of a 1200 year old demon/spirit/elf/alien/whatever that only happens to look like a four year old?
What if it's skin is green?
What if has the body of a 28 year old woman, but has only a four year old mentality?

I can't say I care much for this type of material. But I get a little skittish when someone wants to give the government the power to subjectively determine the moral bounds of imagination.
I can think any damned thing I want.

Just from a practical standpoint it's ridiculous to think jailing someone is going to address that in any way. Hell I can beat on a guy all day, but how am I going to know he's not thinking about raping my kid? Never going to happen. Really, the only way to make sure is to make sure he's not thinking anything anymore.
That'd be a little extreme, no?

If he actually touched my kid, he'd be dead before he hit the ground. But not only shouldn't you police the mind, you can't.
Punishing people before they commit any crime based on so called "indicators" puts me in a category I don't like to think about. Some folks here have said the wouldn't like to live next door to a vet. Well, we're all violent killers with PTSD aren't we?
No? How do you know?
The not liking it I can understand. The wanting to punch someone in the nose, I can understand. The actual acting before someone else acts, the initiation of enforcement before any crime - that I don't understand.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:38 PM on November 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


Hey, I thought about killing a dozen people today. Maybe more. I think we can all agree that I should be arrested for murder, because it's obvious I'm just a ticking time bomb.
posted by jarvitron at 9:51 PM on November 25, 2008


*shrug*

I am far from certain about pretty much everything.

Look. I suggest you go, those of you who haven't seen some of the evil shit that comes out of Japan -- it's all over the web, if you dare to look -- and come back with more what if sophistry, if you can still stomach it.

Art is art, games are games, intentionality may be key or it may not, we can't read people's minds, precrime is jackboot fascism written on the cave walls of our skulls; there are no easy answers, it's all very complicated. Life is. We do what we can to sail closer to the good.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:05 PM on November 25, 2008


There seems to be some amount of difficulty, at least for some people, distinguishing between reality and not-reality.

Once you begin punishing people for things that are not reality, where do you draw the line? Indeed, you can not: the only line is between reality and not-reality. Once you go past that line, there are no other lines available.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:15 PM on November 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


the only line is between reality and not-reality. Once you go past that line, there are no other lines available.

What about lines of longitude? Or the line to board the Hogwarts Express?
posted by longsleeves at 10:37 PM on November 25, 2008


The more of this crap I see going on in the U.S., the more respect I get for Justice Hugo Black, who along with William O. Douglas were the dissenting voices in Miller v. California, which established the "obscenity test" generally used here.

I firmly believe that Justices Black and Douglas's stance was the correct one: the First Amendment does not contain any exception for obscenity, and it certainly could have if the authors had intended it to have one; it was written as an absolute right and should be taken as such. (If the citizens desire that such an exception exist, the mechanism for them to create one is present in the form of the amendment process.)

The exception for obscenity was crafted out of whole cloth by the court and represents the worst kind of "judicial activism" (at least on part with, if not far more blatant than anything in Roe). It is unfortunate and deeply saddens me that we have strayed so far from this, and have allowed the idea of such a limited First Amendment to become entrenched. Now that it has become thus, I doubt it will ever be corrected.

A few parting words from the dissent in Miller that I think bear repeating:
The idea that the First Amendment permits government to ban publications that are "offensive" to some people puts an ominous gloss on freedom of the press. That test would make it possible to ban any paper or any journal or magazine in some benighted place. The First Amendment was designed "to invite dispute," to induce "a condition of unrest," to "create dissatisfaction with conditions as they are," and even to stir "people to anger." … The idea that the First Amendment permits punishment for ideas that are "offensive" to the particular judge or jury sitting in judgment is astounding. No greater leveler of speech or literature has ever been designed. To give the power to the censor, as we do today, is to make a sharp and radical break with the traditions of a free society. The First Amendment was not fashioned as a vehicle for dispensing tranquilizers to the people. Its prime function was to keep debate open to "offensive" as well as to "staid" people. The tendency throughout history has been to subdue the individual and to exalt the power of government. The use of the standard "offensive" gives authority to government that cuts the very vitals out of the First Amendment.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:51 PM on November 25, 2008 [14 favorites]


First, I am pretty much a First Amendment absolutist. As Justice Brandeis wrote in Whitney v. California:
If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.
Second, I understand it, in the US the legal difference between lolicon and "The Guitar Lesson" is artistic merit. In other words, art is not obscene and obscenity is not art. And a jury decides which is which based on local standards.

Finally, the PROTECT Act was not aimed at lolicon/manga so much as highly realistic sexual depiction of virtual children. An example of the type of art targeted may be "Scout" by Richard Phillips. To my mind "Scout" is definitely art and therefore protected speech, but far more realistic and sexually graphic images certainly exist. I would not attempt to outlaw such images, but I think the desire to do so is not entirely unreasonable.

As always, "Won't somebody think of the (imaginary) children!??!" is a terrible framework for laws.

(Note to the FBI, I'm not in the US.)
posted by McGuillicuddy at 11:01 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


(bangs forehead against desk)

I am so embarrassed of my citizenship so often anymore.
posted by Samizdata at 11:22 PM on November 25, 2008


I am so embarrassed of my citizenship

While there are reasons to be embarassed to be American, the OMG AMERICA in this thread isn't entirely called for. Read the "lolicon" wikipedia link - we're in company with Canada and Australia and Norway and New Zealand and Sweden - and also UNESCO told Japan to cut it the fuck out with the kiddie porn comics. Right or wrong, the discomfort isn't uniquely American.
posted by moxiedoll at 11:48 PM on November 25, 2008


I am shocked this happened in America. Oh no wait...

Other people have mentioned it, but Canadian Customs v. Comics - particularly queer comics - takes some of the air out of your lazy generalization.

Fun Canada Comic Fact: No anti-comic legislation was passed in the US following the Kefauver Hearings. The industry voluntarily censored itself. Meanwhile in Canada, crime comics are still officially banned, right alongside child pornography.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:00 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Canada's customs laws on books crossing the border are, themselves, obscene and one of the most embarassing things this country does. We do a lot of things right, but the border laws are downright humiliating at times.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:23 AM on November 26, 2008


Fans of yaoi are usually teenaged girls and women who are not pedophiles.

The only people I've ever known to have an interest in yaoi and hentai were my teenage daughters. I'm pretty sure they grew out of it when they left their teens.

My impression of it was that it was really just romantic fiction for the 21st century. I never bothered to check out a large volume of it, though.

I'm much happier with the idea of them looking at that stuff than I am with them watching the recent movie of Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:16 AM on November 26, 2008


Here is a link to Wikipedia [very, very NSFW]. Is there any standard under which the painting linked to, The Guitar Lesson, is not obscene, but these comics are? Or are we all criminals now for looking at this?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 4:34 AM on November 26 [1 favorite +] [!]


I have a book of Balthus' paintings which includes that one, just like I have many Art books.

The interesting thing about that painting is that its owned by a shipping magnate...who keeps it in his bedroom. So, lets throw that into the discussion, shall we?
posted by vacapinta at 3:08 AM on November 26, 2008


Other, better writers have covered most of the facets in this debate, but I'd like to focus on one line:

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.

Recollect the Paul Rubens idiocy. One of the things which makes collectors vulnerable to this kind of nonsense is that, when you throw out a big net, you can catch a lot of weird little things you'd rather not eat. Among tens of thousands, perhaps more, images, Rubens had some very-old-by-photography's-standards art images which could, if you squint and try hard enough, could qualify as child porn.

Just for funzies, hit some of the alt.binaries with a downloader and grab ten thousand images. You will find some of what you like, a little of what you don't like, and a sprinkling of "Uh, yeah, I'll be deleting that now."

If you've got 1,200 manga (and DVDs, and laser discs, and ...), much of which you may not have yet even read, you will have objectionable (if you object to anything) material in it. This isn't even necessarily a "nice guy, but I wouldn't want my kids around him" thing — it's a problem that happens when you reach large numbers.
posted by adipocere at 5:12 AM on November 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Erotic drawings and comics are not real. No one was hurt or molested by these. It might send up red flags but you arrested someone for owning a drawing? I can't think of the name of the court case but it found that drawings and such do not count as child porn because no child was harmed in the creation of it. However it is creepy for someone to own this stuff. Kinda like where there is smoke there might be fire sort of thing.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 5:44 AM on November 26, 2008


Am I the only one who grew up with those Kim Casali Love Is... cartoons taped to everyone's refrigerators? My mom had one of them on a plaque on our livingroom wall. I think they are kind of creepy, but surely all those neighborhood moms weren't getting aroused by them. (If they were, I have to reevaluate my childhood.)
posted by figment of my conation at 6:03 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


MoxieDoll

I am so embarrassed of my citizenship

While there are reasons to be embarassed to be American, the OMG AMERICA in this thread isn't entirely called for. Read the "lolicon" wikipedia link - we're in company with Canada and Australia and Norway and New Zealand and Sweden - and also UNESCO told Japan to cut it the fuck out with the kiddie porn comics. Right or wrong, the discomfort isn't uniquely American.


Yeah, but every time there seems to be what appears as alarmist, reactionary, poorly planned legislature, we're in the middle of it.
posted by Samizdata at 6:42 AM on November 26, 2008


I hate it when Canadian laws takes away my ability to mock American law. WTF Canada! WTF!
posted by chunking express at 6:45 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


The best part -- or worst -- is that if convicted, Handley will be a sex offender, just like previously mentioned right here.

Pretty soon we won't have schools or churches or day care centers or children any more, because everyone will be a registered sex offender.
posted by brina at 7:35 AM on November 26, 2008


We have Postal Inspectors?

I think there's a little confusion on what a postal inspector is....they're actually more like the "internal affairs" of the post office, and normally do not have an office at the site they are inspecting. A postal inspectors job is more like an internal audit, and they work closely with threat assessment officials to determine whether the place is safe to work at (remember all the "going postal" violence in past?). The USPS is still a government office, highly beurocratic with a lot of checks-and-balance positions. Think of a postal inspector as more of an auditor than an officer.
posted by samsara at 8:47 AM on November 26, 2008


Actually would be better to link directly to the wiki on Postal inspectors. My description of them was more of what they were pre sept 11...I forgot about how they are more actively scrutinizing suspicious packages (especially foreign).
posted by samsara at 8:52 AM on November 26, 2008


Lolicon IS childporn. The stories portrait consensual or forced sex, usually with adults. The girls (99% are girls) are young, and I mean VERY young, sometimes 4, 5 years-old.

The point is: It's not real childporn, no children was harmed, it's FICTIONAL.


If we can assume people aren't buying this because they're pediatricians, then what exactly is the appeal of this? I mean, why would one want to read this kind of thing? Serious question, I'm not a manga fan.

Love Is... was pretty darned creepy.
posted by mippy at 8:53 AM on November 26, 2008


mippy, if you move a few comments up, two people have said that a big fan base for this stuff is teenage girls. I have no idea why, but i'm guessing there is more to the genre than the child porn charges.

Alan Moore did a comic book called the Lost Boys (or Girls?) about the girls from a few fairy tales getting all freak nasty. I saw it on sale in Toronto, so I'm not sure why it got a pass while this other stuff doesn't. Strange.
posted by chunking express at 9:03 AM on November 26, 2008




The prosecution of comics has been going on for a very, very long time. I've been a fundraiser and have donated a lot of money over the years for the CBLDF because, sadly, there is a huge need for that type of organization.

One of my comics got prosecuted for being "obscene", by virtue of a single 1.5" square panel, where a father barged into his daughter's room catching his daughter and a skatepunk in the act of the longest kiss, if I may use a euphemism. However, the panel was not intended to be prurient, nor was it arousing, hell...it wasn't even that well drawn. It was an eraser sized penis, buried in a 32 page comic.

Now, keep in mind, because of some of the textual content, as well as some of the artists we used, as publisher, I chose to label the book as an adult comic, and we used the same distribution channel as the actual sexy comics like Cherry. The book was labeled "For adults", it was sold on the top shelf, in the big boy section, and you had to ask for it from a clerk, because unless you played professional basketball, you couldn't have reached it. The book was not available to children, was not sold to a minor, and contained no promotion of sexuality of minors...or frankly anyone else.

The comic book retailer, who sold the comic to an undercover, over 35 year old police officer, was prosecuted for selling pornography. The book was banned. Even with the CBLDF help, we still lost the appeal.

That was 15 years ago, and the prosecution of comics, and the people who draw, write, sell and read them has only gotten worse.

I don't care for anime as an art style, therefore I don't really pay any attention to it. This particular subset of Japanese comics makes me very uncomfortable, and I wouldn't choose to read it. But because something makes us uncomfortable, does not give us the right to imprison someone else for owing it, when the something is FICTION.

The Japanese sex comic trade has been brisk for as long as I can remember. But they are not the only ones. The French have an amazing tradition of adult graphic books. Truly astounding work and packaged in such a way as to make it very clear that it's wank-material. Americans have long been producing sexually explicit comics, including a long tradition of furries comics.


The problem, I think, stems from the fact that many people who are not comics people, assume that comics=kids...in other words, that all comics are produced to be consumed by children. Therefore, comics get a much harsher penalty when they are created for and sold to an adult market.

Prosecuting someone for reading something is what is truly obscene here. Ruining a man's life over a collection of fiction is obscene. Allowing a police state which assumes it can prosecute thought-crime...that's obscene.
posted by dejah420 at 9:19 AM on November 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Sorry to misread you, [user was fined for this post]. You and I are saying the same thing.

Erotic drawings and comics are not real. No one was hurt or molested by these. It might send up red flags but you arrested someone for owning a drawing?

Canadian courts, first off, seem to want to draw a distinction between materials produced and, er, enjoyed by the creator, versus materials created by someone else. I'm not sure that's a relevant distinction, just fyi. But to your comment, playing devil's advocate, the only thing I can come up with is a kind of incitement theory. In the way that incitement to hatred or violence has been criminalized regardless of what results, usually stipulated in terms of a "likelihood" that violence will result, perhaps the theory here is that these kinds of materials are an incitement to abuse. I know that plays havoc with our theory of personal responsibility and the law, but I suppose it doesn't do so any more than these other types of incitement charges.

Which again, is at least defensible, so long as the evidence is there to back it up, rather than fear or personal distaste.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:32 AM on November 26, 2008


It was an eraser sized penis, buried in a 32 page comic

a lot of R.Crumb's work has our hero doing the mammal dance with large ladies. Peter Bagge's Hate had, IIRC, a picture of Buddy's sister in a bikini with her tampon string hanging out. Bitchy Bitch had a whole story arc involving an abortion.


That's why I was wondering why this stuff is so different. I know the climate in the US regarding censorship is different - the 'banned library books' amuse me - but I know that this stuff is available in the UK despite our recent hysteria on anything paedo-related.
posted by mippy at 9:40 AM on November 26, 2008


As far as I'm concerned, I would rather that free speech allow people to say things that I am uncomfortable hearing, or produce things that I am uncomfortable seeing, than have the federal government step in and decide what is an isn't appropriate for me to be able to hear, see, buy or consume.

Part of this that makes it even worse is that this case will take years to get a final judgment.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:25 AM on November 26, 2008


If we can assume people aren't buying this because they're pediatricians, then what exactly is the appeal of this? I mean, why would one want to read this kind of thing? Serious question, I'm not a manga fan.

Take a wild guess.

(Of course, as long as they're not doing anything illegal, they shouldn't be arrested like this.)
posted by ymgve at 10:45 AM on November 26, 2008


I think that much of the audience for yaoi (supposedly young females) is interested for the following purported reason:

In yaoi, there's typically a larger, darker male (seme) and a willowy, smaller male (uke) as the couple. They play, as you might imagine, the stereotypical romantic and sexual roles. The appeal to teenage girls is that the situation is at a remove from them, yet they can somewhat identify with the uke. It's not really a "we get off watching boys do it" so much as a way to deal with sexuality and relationships by proxy. Hence, the target audience is probably not NAMBLA and the reasoning for interest, while certainly not directly obvious, is innocuous and possibly even therapeutic.

I'm at a loss to explain why lolicon might appeal to someone, but if the Authorities are freaked out by it, let's ban all shipments of Piers Anthony's Firefly; several passages within it fit any of the qualifications you care to name, other than "drawn in a comic book."

What we have here, as we can see so often, is that some happen to equate personal feelings of disgust to some kind of universal moral wrongness. See also: Proposition 8.
posted by adipocere at 10:55 AM on November 26, 2008


So can I sue everyone who sent me a Goatse link?

I am totally suing my boyfriend for showing me Meatspin. (Super, ultra NSFW. Not safe for anywhere, really).

Noted: as soon as the sound came out of my speakers, he came running down the stairs: "Are you looking at Meatspin?"
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:43 AM on November 26, 2008


“because it's obvious I'm just a ticking time bomb.”

jarvitron’s a good cop!

“The problem, I think, stems from the fact that many people who are not comics people, assume that comics=kids”

Yeah, nail on the head there.

“a lot of R.Crumb's work has our hero doing the mammal dance with large ladies.”

There is an issue of “Mr.Natural” where he’s pacifying a baby with his penis. Granted a 6’8 moose-sized baby, of the kind of women Crumb tends to draw, but nevertheless....
posted by Smedleyman at 1:51 PM on November 26, 2008


Come to think of it, I do have that issue of Mr. Natural.
they’re welcome to come and try to take it, I’ve always loved the last scene of ‘The Wild Bunch’
posted by Smedleyman at 1:53 PM on November 26, 2008


It's real simple guys, if they want to outlaw some non-exploitive porn, then everyone should start making jesus porn.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:57 PM on November 26, 2008


My impression of it was that it was really just romantic fiction for the 21st century.

I think that it does tickle the same desire that romantic fiction does. Although, it's probably worth pointing out that "yaoi" is term that covers everything from sweet high school romances to incredibly dark rape porn.

In fact, one of the criticisms of yaoi (even among fans) is that rape is a common plot point. Some of the most popular titles contain eroticized rape scenes.

So, while being into yaoi doesn't make you a dangerous pervert, it's not all "safe"--it could be that the titles Handler bought contain graphic rape of underaged characters for purposes of titillation. Or maybe they thought it was bad enough that it showed two teenagers in love giving each other blowjobs.

If you've got 1,200 manga (and DVDs, and laser discs, and ...), much of which you may not have yet even read, you will have objectionable (if you object to anything) material in it.

Speaking completely hypothetically...

There are entire communities of fans who translate this type of stuff for other fans, and the filenames on the distribution networks aren't always informative about the content.

It's quite easy to end up with several gigabytes of manga that you haven't read yet on your hard drive, some of which is probably going to contain material that could get you into the same type of trouble as Christopher Handler.

then what exactly is the appeal of this?
mippy, if you move a few comments up, two people have said that a big fan base for this stuff is teenage girls.

I can't speak for the male fans of lolicon, but I can relate what I've heard from female fans of shotacon (that is, lolicon but with boys instead of girls): The childhood of the character isn't literal. It stands for things that they fantasize about, like innocence and vulnerability.

Importantly, many empathize with the child and not the abuser -- that is, their fantasy is to be the one being taken advantage of, not the other way around.

Who knows what male fans of lolicon have going on in their heads, but it's certainly not safe to assume that all people who read it are pedophiles.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:10 PM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


mippy said: That's why I was wondering why this stuff is so different. I know the climate in the US regarding censorship is different - the 'banned library books' amuse me - but I know that this stuff is available in the UK despite our recent hysteria on anything paedo-related.


Well, the big difference, if I understand how British law works, is that in American, pornography standards are *local*, not national.

So, for example, comics retailers in our area wouldn't carry anything like R. Crumb, and if you mail order it, you run the risk of prosecution. My sister down in Austin wouldn't have the same issues. We're in the same state, and the laws are different. American law regarding pornography is really freaking weird.
posted by dejah420 at 7:06 PM on November 26, 2008


Who knows what male fans of lolicon have going on in their heads

And more to the point, who cares?

So long as they are not acting on whatever "bad things" go on in their heads, it is really and truly no one's concern. A healthy society can not be one with thought police.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:28 PM on November 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that nobody here is cool with me selling digitally altered photos of a stranger violating your four year old sister. So what makes lolicon okay? The cartoon format or the anonymity of the little girl?
the fact that one of them involves an actual human being and the other doesn't.
So that would be the cartoon format, then? Because really you have no idea if the action in the lolicon was drawn from imagination or real life. Just like you don't with the photoshop.

However the point of my question was not whether the particular line that has been drawn is the right one -- the point is that virtually every person here believes that there *is* a line to be drawn. We can haggle about whether it's photoshops of your sister, or even actual photos of actual rapes done in locations where child rape is legal ("Hey! No crime committed!") but for all the puffing and bluffing in this thread, I'm not seeing many people really willing to commit to the idea that absolutely anything truly does go.

I'm sure we can dredge up a few people willing to say, "Yes, I support the Bungawi child rape photography industry, and in particular the right of American citizens to purchase their wares without government interference," but frankly we can dredge up a few people to say just about anything.

The point remains this: there *is* a line to be drawn. Or rather, a grey area to stake out and say "You know what? You start messing around in this grey area and the rest of us are going to start paying attention." Does lolicon belong in the grey area? I dunno. It's certainly close enough that I welcome a court case to decide one way or another.
posted by tkolar at 5:25 PM on November 27, 2008


Does lolicon belong in the grey area? I dunno. It's certainly close enough that I welcome a court case to decide one way or another.

Why should anything be in this "gray area?" Why should any words or images be outlawed strictly per se? Can we demonstrate some quantitative benefit to society that outweighs the costs of maintaining and policing this gray zone between our ears? Or are we just working on hunches, or some vague philosophical determination of contra bonos mores, or vogue religious or political tenets, or what? I'm sure there are enough fundamentalist Christians and second-wave feminists left to stage a Meese Commission part II - but what can they really, empirically tell us of words and images?

Whom should I contact to rid our airwaves of the images of terrorist attacks? I maintain that the very power of terrorism is in the creation and propagation of said images. Televising them or even writing about them makes us culpable of propagating terror, no? It certainly encourages the continued use of terrorist tactics. Should I make an exception to the First Amendment for this?
posted by kid ichorous at 9:15 PM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm sure we can dredge up a few people willing to say, "Yes, I support the Bungawi child rape photography industry, and in particular the right of American citizens to purchase their wares without government interference," but frankly we can dredge up a few people to say just about anything.

Just like the drug war, it's more a matter of vying and countervailing ills.

Are certain things or institutions linked with human suffering? Possibly, in the case of certain drugs; most certainly, in the case of child pornography. But this argument doesn't take place in a vacuum. There's another side of ills to consider.

The American prison industrial complex is a massive institution which we can most easily link to the rape and abuse of hundreds of thousands of people. Moreover, any new or specialized policing tends to cost money and rights. In the case of drugs, do they really need the wider and more expansive search and seizure powers associated with policing contraband substances? In the case of criminal pornography or terrorism, do they really need that level of control over communications infrastructure and thought itself? Do we need more pretexts for no-knock warrants, for SWAT paramilitary raids? Finally, how much can we budget for? What are we taking money away from?

It's not as simple as drawing a line of zero tolerance - it's a matter of hanging a balance.

These are nontrivial questions, but I think the last eight years have taught me that these questions have to be asked every single time we consider appealing to government to protect us from an ill. Since an overwhelming number of bad things exist to be addressed, we must consider the consequences in money, rights, and potential abuses, of drafting laws against any of them.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:56 PM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whom should I contact to rid our airwaves of the images of terrorist attacks? I maintain that the very power of terrorism is in the creation and propagation of said images.

Word.

I've a self-contradictory view: I support the laws against hate speech, yet I'm not convinced these manga should be illegal. I suppose I feel the former is an incitement to violence against others, while the latter harms no one. I don't for a moment believe loli readers are going to become predators, whereas I've seen evidence that the hate-mongers do convince dumbasses to engage in violence.

Humans are stupid.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:04 PM on November 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


A drawing cannot be criminal. Putting pencil to paper should never be a crime. What the hell are they thinking?
posted by tehloki at 1:28 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


A drawing cannot be criminal. Putting pencil to paper should never be a crime.

It was not the artist criminalized here, it was the reader.

Which is even scarier, of course.
posted by rokusan at 11:47 PM on November 29, 2008


It might be more accurate to say it was the purchaser.

Thoughtcrime is so very inquisitional.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:47 AM on November 30, 2008


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