Hello everyone. Now this news is a bit old but it's likely that most of the members here have not heard about this yet. Here are some links to the story.

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2008-10-10/iowa-collector-char...

or here

http://www.japanator.com/man-arrested-for-manga-collection-the-comi...

There are other similar cases as well.

In Japan there is a subculture that exists where people draw and publish their own comics and sell them at events. Sometimes people who want to become professionals do this to make a name for themselves. In other cases, it's just for fun. Because the comics are printed and sold by individuals, they don't have to meet any standards of an editor like one would normally need to do if making professional comics. So they are basically free to draw whatever they want. Also, in Japan nobody gets angry about propertry rights for a character. So that is to say, you can make your own comic about Sailor Moon, for example, and neither Naoko Takeuchi nor Toei Animation will try to sue you for selling it. So due to the limitless nature of these private comics, often times very sexual works are created. That's what this topic is about.

In this case, a man in the USA was arrested for importing some of these comics from Japan. It appears he could be looking to serve as much as 20 years in prison. This is because some of the characters in the erotic comics appear to be minors. Now this is a touchy subject for many, but I am not afraid of "taboo subjects" on this forum. I want to hear the opinion of the "godless heathens" on this issue. They are charging the man with possession on child pornography. Now, many out there will say, "Good, he gets what he deserves. One more pervert off the streets." I believe that this is a slippery slope for freedom of speech and freedom of expression. I assume that the reason that child pornography is illegal in the first place is to protect the children who are harmed in its production. In a case such as this, who is the victim? Where is the crime? The case can be made that he will attack real children soon, so we should lock him up now. It's that logic that scares me. It's the same case that was made against violent video games. It has been said that they make people more violent. Similar arguments were even made against rock music several decades ago.

In my opinion, I don't think we should be able to charge someone with a crime if there is no victim. The only crime in this case is that the people are disgusted with the material in the comics. But does that warrant 20 years in prision? If drawings that are kept in your own home are not protected by freedom of speech and expression, what else won't be protected in 10 years? In 20 years?

Any thoughts?

Views: 24

Tags: Books, Comic, Laws

Comment by Lyonel Nichols on December 2, 2009 at 1:56pm
Comment by Michel-san on December 2, 2009 at 1:59pm
Hmmmm.... so we split the issues.
1) He was in possession of indecent cartoons.
2) He might have a disposition towards child pornography.
3) He might be supporting the exploitation of children.

I'm guessing a lot of people would want to see him in jail because of (2), but no doubt (2) is the way he was born and it's inappropriate to punish someone for how they were born. If (2) can be established then it's a separate issue, and is not a criminal issue.

Next is (3), this is a serious point, if he was planning to copy and redistribute the comics that would be an issue, but the article makes it sound like he was just a collector. If it's for a private collection then there's no harm done. If there's any doubt over redistribution they can be confiscated, would be difficult to prove he'd want to redistribute.

After dismissing (2) and (3) we are left with (1) as the only issue. It makes me wonder what if he had drawn the cartoons himself? What if he had sat down with a pencil and paper and drawn and drawn, would it be possible for him to go to jail for drawing something? Then there's the issue of the quality of the cartoons, if they were badly drawn stick people it would be acceptable, but because they were coloured in and well drawn it's wrong? It's a slippery slope!

I can't see a crime unless there is proof that he intended to take actions that would have promoted exploitation of children.
Comment by Izzy on December 2, 2009 at 2:21pm
Slippery slope indeed. I agree with Michael. If child pornography takes the form of illustrated porn, it's still "indecent" and still porn, but it is not hurting or exploiting anyone so far as we know. Is it the action of exploiting children what we are policing, or is it the private thoughts of every individual?
Comment by Scott A. Hunt on December 2, 2009 at 3:22pm
There's no question for me. Child pornography involves a child. This is just drawings on paper. Doesn't matter if me or anyone else likes it, it's still just drawings on paper. Next step, thought crimes.
Comment by Apple on December 2, 2009 at 3:45pm
Thanks for the comments so far, I'll check out the Bart Simpson issue when I get home from work.

Izzy - Yes, that's the issue in a nutshell. I don't want thought police in any way, shape or form. The problem with many issues, this one included, is that there is a strong appeal to emotion. In this case it's "protect the children!" Nobody is disagreeing with that. When children are harmed, someone should be held responsible. Producing child pornography with real children harms the children. Drawing a picture does not hurt anyone. In this case, he is being convicted with "posession of obscene material." I find this dangerous because it means that whatever the general public defines as "obscene" is illegal. Our culture is still afraid of sex. A graphic drawing of murder or torture is perfectly acceptable but drawing a high school romance story that has a sex scene could warrent 20 years in prison. Food for thought. ^_~

Michael - Interesting points. Now if this person were somehow involved in exploiting actual children then there is a crime and he should be dealt with. What is interesting to me is how you say he should not be allowed to distribute the comics. I really have to ask, then, if it's okay for him to own this comic but not okay for him to distribute it, what exactly is the difference? (Don't say copyright laws!) Anyone receiving the comic from him could just as easily receive it from the place he got it from. The only difference is that he's buying directly from Japan. Is it the sale of such items in the USA that is the problem? If that's the case, I'd hate to inform you that they are sold all across the USA at Japanese animation convention vendor booths. Now, how can they sell them so openly while this guy gets punished? It seems like the same category as bootleg Louis Vuiton handbags. You see them for sale in shopping malls, and they are clearly fakes that are produced illegally. Yet, most of the time nothing is done about it.
Comment by Galen on December 2, 2009 at 5:43pm
I have always held that there is one and only rule concerning any sexual issue. If harm is caused, it it wrong. If nobody is harmed, then nothing wrong has been done. In this case, even if he really is a pervert, I can't see where he actually harmed anybody at all. I don't have a problem with perverts, just as long as those perverted thoughts stay inside their own sick brains and don't get acted out, ever. As far as I'm concerned, the man go to whack himself to underage cartoons until his penis falls off and if it keeps him away from real children, then GOOD!

I'd have to agree with everyone here that no crime has really been committed unless it can be shown that he intended to harm actual children. And, frankly, it is my understanding (and that of Wikipedia) that animated child pornography is legal in the U.S. and is protected as free speech. Unless that has changed recently, this man should have a good defense, although his life is over now, regardless.
Comment by Apple on December 3, 2009 at 9:06am
Thanks for your responses everyone. These are actually the responses that I expected on this site. You know why? Because without god we have no morals! Haha, no. But seriously, the reason is because most of the people on this site are critical thinkers. The "for the children!" claim can move a lot of people to action on pure emotion. Atheists tend to think about issues and try to see the whole picture rather than just acting on emotion.

And yes, Eric, that's exactly what I'm thinking. If it becomes the norm to jail people for "offensive" pictures, then political cartoons mocking Islam will certainly demand the death penalty.

Galen - I agree with you. Once someone tries to "act out" a situation in real life, then a real person is harmed. Then there is a crime. But this is the case for ANY media. For example, I can sit at home and play Grand Theft Auto all weekend. But on Monday morning if I go around shooting people and stealing cars then I'd expect that I deserve punnishment.
Comment by Michel-san on December 3, 2009 at 10:59am
I really have to ask, then, if it's okay for him to own this comic but not okay for him to distribute it, what exactly is the difference?

My concern with the redistribution is it may encourage child pornography. The cartoons could be a "first step" for people who get hold of them and lead to a desire for more. Any reasonably preventable action that could put children at risk should be examined closely, to see whether it's worth addressing.
Comment by Apple on December 3, 2009 at 12:01pm
Michael - I'm going to have to discuss your arguement in two parts.

1) "First step." I understand that you see these comics as a possible "first step" to could lead to actual child abuse. You are making the case that even though nobody was harmed, the viewing of this material could alter the mind of the viewer in a way that he might commit a crime that he would not have have would not have happened had he not viewed the material. You could apply similar logic to any kind of media that exists. Violent movies could cause someone to act in a violent way, therefore we must ban them. Rap or rock music that involves lyrics about illegal drug use could encourage someone to become an illegal drug user, therefore we should ban these CDs. You see where I am going with this? I understand that you have the best intentions for the children, but the problem here is that normal people can seperate fiction from fantasy. People often have the wildest sexual fantasies in their own minds, but this does not mean that people will act on them or even WANT to act on them in the real world. I'm sure you recall how people claimed that it was Marilyn Manson's music that was responsible for the Columbine High School massacre. I don't buy that for a second. People being "brainwashed" by entertainment media to do things that they would have NEVER done if that entertainment had not been there is an arguement that I will never buy without a substantial amount of evdience. Especially considering the vast number of people who seem to not be "called to action" by pictures, musical lyrics, or games.

2) Redistribution. Here's where you really lose me. For this arguement, we'll have to take it as a given that media really does reprogram people to commit crimes they would not normally have even thought about comitting. In that case, I still cannot see how you would allow this person to keep the images in his private collection but not redistribute them. What is the difference between 100 people buying these comics directly from Japan, or just this guy buying them from Japan and him selling copies to 99 other people?
Comment by Michel-san on December 3, 2009 at 2:02pm
Hmm... good points, good points!
I'm just so used to anything I purchase being age rated.

It comes down to will redistribution encourage child pornography. If it does you have to say no. If it doesn't you have to say yes. (though you can't know the future and are forced to guess)

I guess the burden for that decision comes down to rating the content. PG, 15, 18, R18 or refused etc..
Or do you think the content can be redistributed without being rated?

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