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Hide Your Manga: you are a criminal in the US

PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 10:48 pm
by Jennifer Diane Reitz
If this doesn't scare you, little will:

Nutshell: a guy collects all kinds of manga, one small portion of it is lolicon - 'lolita comics', or your basic tentacle/kink porn featuring line art illustrations of girls, many of which could be considered to be underage, or who appear underage, at least to western eyes.

Someone turns him in, and he is in criminal, several years in the slammer sort of trouble. Because he owns line art. Made of lines. On paper. Not photographs. Drawings. Of utterly unrealistic manga girls with eyes that take up two-thirds of their skulls, and heads that make up a fourth of their body weight.

This man may do years in prison, because of cartoons about impossible beings that could never exist in the real world.

Welcome to America.

Re: Hide Your Manga: you are a criminal in the US

PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 11:20 pm
by Relee
That's kind of crazy, his lawyer must really suck. It says right there "the 2003 Protect Act, which outlaws cartoons, drawings, sculptures or paintings depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, and which lack “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”" and Manga has both serious literary and artistic value.

Re: Hide Your Manga: you are a criminal in the US

PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2009 6:32 am
by Coda
Hmm... I know a number of online communities that need to get their definitions updated, then; they've been consistently arguing that it's not child porn if it's not a real human.

Re: Hide Your Manga: you are a criminal in the US

PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2009 8:09 am
by draque
Elements of the PROTECT Act very clearly show that the drafters of the law forgot what laws are made to do. They're made to protect individuals within society and ensure upkeep or social order. No matter how much a drawing of an underage person might squick anyone else, it doesn't actually harm either individuals or society. The law specifically forbids computer generated images that are realistic enough to be indistinguishable from photographs, and I can understand that element of the law. If that weren't in place, there would be a loophole for anyone selling actual photos of kids being abused. They could just claim that they weren't aware that they were directly supporting child abuse.

Re: Hide Your Manga: you are a criminal in the US

PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2009 10:53 am
by Relee
Decency laws are pretty messed up to begin with. OHNOES! A NAKED MAN! HIS COCK WILL SHOOT LASERS AT US AND WE WILL DIE FROM COCK LASERS!

Re: Hide Your Manga: you are a criminal in the US

PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2009 10:56 am
by Skatche
Well, this is a long-needed step in the right direction, but it's not gone nearly far enough. We should continue by banning all pornographic comics featuring small-breasted women - even if said women are obviously adults - since these could be used to fantasize about children. Next we can ban depictions of women altogether; it's all too easy to undress 'em in your mind. This would require extra legislation to make it effective: in order that men have absolutely no idea what to imagine when fantasizing about women, we should introduce the burqa as mandatory fashion statement for all women of any age. But that's kind of a digression. More to the point, comics in general have got to be stopped. Webcomics in particular are frequently smutty and shameful and should be stamped out to the greatest extent possible, especially if that requires enacting draconian internet-censorship laws. But that's not going far enough: the final solution will be to outlaw writing implements altogether. Our population will become agreeably docile and powerless and, because illiterate and uneducated, unable to even conceive of the idea of a slippery slope argument.

Seriously though, I strongly suspect that the whole growing uproar about pedophiles in the last decade or so has been engineered in order to have an excuse for the aforementioned draconian internet censorship laws. I read about one bill (don't know if it passed or not) which would have cracked down on porn sites featuring consenting adults in order to protect children from online predators. Makes no goddamn sense unless you're one of the techno-illiterates in the government, I guess.

Re: Hide Your Manga: you are a criminal in the US

PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2009 1:17 pm
by Wic

Anyway, the guy made a mistake and listened to his dumb ass lawyer and pleaded guilty.

Re: Hide Your Manga: you are a criminal in the US

PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2009 1:42 pm
by Kosmonauta
1 - How did this end up in burqas? (they make no sense in the quran, by the ways)
2 - Are we overreacting a bit maybe?
It's not manga that is illegal, it's representation of children engaged in sexual activities with no “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”
Obviously that line is stupid, since I could argue all day long on what is literary and artistic value. I wonder how would a representation of children engaged in sexual activities be of scientific or political value, thou. Lolicon and Shotacon are expressed children representation, NOT women with little breasts. They are kids, no questions in there, therefore all you yaoi and hentai lovers can rest, this law is not endangering your porn. This law aims specifically on pedophile niches, not porn in general. Now, does Lolicon and Shotacon deserve to be banned?

Is this law appropriate? I'm not sure. Many countries do ban representations of children in sexual activities. Personally it feels a bit like "if you see too many bank robbery movies, you are likely to rob a bank". I can definitely understand the concern that such niches will attract pedophiles and might help them in finding each other and networking. However, there is NAMBLA already and no one seems to ban them. I'm dead sure that there are those inside it who have really illegal images. Maybe, in this new law, NAMBLA is allowed to have representations of children engaging in sexual activities in their sites because it's of political value.

However, I just thought this, I see little problem with visual representations of bestiality (drawings or 3d or whatever), and do not, ever, consider that it would make anyone in fact engage in bestiality. There is no animal harmed and I see no chance of harming an animal. So why do I not see it the same way with kids? Because if kids get access to such material, unlike animals, they could try to copy those situations? But then wouldn't regular porn have the same results? Hm. It's a though issue, really.

Re: Hide Your Manga: you are a criminal in the US

PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2009 4:37 pm
by Coda
The law itself isn't the problem. Read one of the linked articles: ... wing-manga

Specifically, read the second account. The slippery slope is where things start getting dangerous.

Re: Hide Your Manga: you are a criminal in the US

PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2009 7:05 pm
by Jennifer Diane Reitz
The problem for me is that it is not possible to define pornography, or for that matter child pornography.

Romeo and Juliet. She's 14 years old, he's 17 (if I remember) and they have sex in the play (unless the performance omits that, and merely implies the act as having occurred) and this was acceptable in Shakespeare's day and culture. Indeed, at 14, Juliet is considered leaning a bit towards the 'old maid' side of things, most girls were on their second child by her age, if not their third. Child pornography? What if you had a manga version of the play (such exists, by the by)?

National Geographic. Photographs of naked tribal girls in the Amazon, or in Africa, sometimes acting seductively, all well underage - because in their culture this is normal. Breasts and thighs and boyfriends too, penises popping out - child pornography? It shows sexually active children, after all.

Lewis Carroll - the Reverend Dodgson - truly loved photographing underage girls, naked or in skimpy clothing, in very provocative, rather openly erotic situations. This was considered charming in his day, and he was in demand by parents to photograph their girls. Books of this were published. Child pornography? It was meant to be erotic, after all.

I could go on with various famous historical figures, classic works, and modern works too, but the point becomes even more obvious when one realizes that pornography is always defined arbitrarily, by personal fiat:

"I shall not today attempt further to define the
kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand
description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing
so. But I know it when I see it..." -Justice Potter Stewart on Jacobellis v.
Ohio (1964)

This is the most famous Supreme Court definition of pornography, and the one used to this day.

Is any given work pornographic, devoid of any redeeming value? It entirely depends on whoever is doing the judging that day, and what their personal whims happen to be.

That means that whether you go up the river, or go free, is determined not by logic, reason, or fact, but by whether or not a given judge likes you, or gives a crap that day. 20 years getting ass-raped in prison, for no reason at all other than the Judge is feeling mean and, say, hated studying ancient classic literature in school, and this is whimsical revenge time. Or the Judge is a prude. Or the Judge just doesn't approve of 'that sick Jap crap". Arbitrary. Pure, arbitrary judgment based on personal taste and whim.

This is why I am against all censorship.

So, why is it impossible to define pornography?

Because what is pornography, including age-related pornography, depends always on arbitrary things: the cultural milieu, the current attitudes, the current dominant religion, what is proper and improper at the current time and place, the current status of women, the local history and custom, local traditions and feelings, the personal feelings of anyone involved - it all ultimately is a matter of feelings, arbitrary and without permanence.

What was good 200 years ago became evil 100 years ago, then good again 50 years ago, and now it is evil again. What is explicit and hardcore in one age -or culture- is fine for children in another. And yes, this can apply to full-on rompty-bompty intercourse where the poles fill the holes as much as whether, for example, exposed breasts are fashion (Renaissance England) or worthy of prison time (Victorian England).

The issue of whether sex is not to be seen or not is utterly arbitrary. It is exactly the same as whether a person can pee in public, or go topless, or show their ankles. Whim. There can be no rule that will stick. Morality about sex is fashion, like hemlines, and it changes constantly. You can't just argue that one act is within the boundaries of decency, and another is not, because decency itself changes like the wind. Decency itself is just made up -arbitrary, meaningless, and whim.

Therefore it is insane to try to legislate something that has no real existence.

There should be law that protects all people from exploitation and abuse, of course. But instead of saying that photographs and drawings are thought-crimes, how about just limiting the issue to 'has everyone involved been paid properly, and did anyone get physically injured at all?'. If not, then no harm, no foul. It should never be the business of government to regulate arbitrary things.

That is tyranny.

Over-worry about children is a wonderful political tool to generate fear, thus strong emotions, and thus motivation to support campaigns and elections. There is far too much such fear, and people live more in fear, than in sense these days.

Re: Hide Your Manga: you are a criminal in the US

PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:39 am
by Relee
I'd say the real problem is that most people don't give a flying fuck. They're happy, almost eager to be oppressed, so long as they have their Alcohol and Media. Or, Beer and Sports, or Absinthe and RPGs, or Cocktails and Nightclubs, or Wine and Cartoons, or whatever is your bag.

Re: Hide Your Manga: you are a criminal in the US

PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 10:00 am
by Plasman
Just watch, you'll be arrested for owning the Sears catalogue next... :sweatbead:

Re: Hide Your Manga: you are a criminal in the US

PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 10:12 am
by draque
The truly frustrating thing is that defending free speech in cases like this is that Joe Average will see someone defending this and instantly assume that the person making the defense is a pedophile, themselves. The amount of emotional investment and feel-first, think-later reasoning going on makes it a minefield that very few people are willing to get involved with, especially the career politicians that have the power to actually do anything about it.

Re: Hide Your Manga: you are a criminal in the US

PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 5:37 pm
by Kosmonauta
Jennifer Diane Reitz wrote:(...) But instead of saying that photographs and drawings are thought-crimes, how about just limiting the issue to 'has everyone involved been paid properly, and did anyone get physically injured at all?'. If not, then no harm, no foul. (...)

Jennifer, kids should not be threated as adults in some matters. They are weaker, not only physically but emotionally. Even limiting such idea to physical damage would be questionable, and open to interpretation. The law has to be more protective over a child, there are many moments, even as adults, that we are so fragile that we let ourselves fall into abusive relationships. The damage a abusive relationship does in an adult is huge, but at least as an adult you are able to process it and get over it easier than as a child. Awareness of the abuse can be hard for an adult, not unusually needing outside interference, imagine for a child.

Sure kids have sexuality, that differs from being sexually active. And sure, kids can be interested and even actively seek sexual activities, but they are not mature yet and cannot be expected to deal with it as mature adults. 'Sides, there is an age group where consent can be questioned (for lack of experience, parameters, etc etc) and there is an age where consent cannot seriously be understood as valid (as in, a 5 year old cannot seriously understand what s/he is consenting to). Many countries have lower consent ages, with other laws to grant those teens protection enough to stop abusive relationships without making every relationship illegal. I find that model a better way to deal with it than the current U.S. law, and rather than an 'anything goes' perspective.

Historical and cultural perspective do, indeed, change constantly. It cannot serve as an excuse for us to simply allow anything to happen, since no value stands the same forever.

Coda wrote:The slippery slope is where things start getting dangerous.

Now, I can understand the concern, specially after Jeniffer quoted the legal definition of pornography, but I still feel there is some overreaction. We cannot qualify a law that prohibits depicting children in sexual activities as the same as a law that intends to ban any porn 'cause it can potentially be seen by kids at some point (as was quoted somewhere). Those are very different in nature. And I don't feel any danger of that law actually banning, say, Naruto. So manga and anime are still safe, even if certain niches fall in questionable points.

I can understand that the idea of not being able to represent sexuality in kids or teenager can be a harm to the freedom of speech. I mean, even the neo-nazis are allowed to express themselves in this country, from what I hear. It can be seen as something like the papal initiative of covering the genitalia of every classical painting or sculpture. Many comics I read could fall to that law because of how a judge decides to read it, since there is not very clear definition on pornography. But I would say it's best to get the law to be more specific than to throw the whole law in the garbage.

Re: Hide Your Manga: you are a criminal in the US

PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 6:14 pm
by Wizard CaT
Back when I was a kid, you had to actually have abused a kid to be arrested for child abuse.

Despite what you see in anime, Japan is not full of raping pedophiles, and they are the ones that produce this stuff.

The problem is the lawyer was smart to make him take a deal. Rather, because our justice system is so flawed, no jury would even deadlock on an issue like this.

Re: Hide Your Manga: you are a criminal in the US

PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 6:33 pm
by Jennifer Diane Reitz
Children should be protected, of course. To suggest otherwise would be akin to supporting the sledgehammering of bags of helpless puppies.

But crimes need to be committed before people are prosecuted. The moment we become so frightened, as a society, that we begin imprisoning people for what they say, think, write, or paint, because we fear what has not and may never happen, is the moment we, as a society, put ourselves in jail.

Fear must be tempered with reason. The social terror about many crimes, including abuse crimes, often far outstrip the actual level of the problem, and the end result are poorly conceived laws that ultimately serve to punish the innocent. That is just wrong. That is always wrong.

To have any freedom at all in the world, there must be an accepted level of risk, acceptance of things we find scary or disgusting, because to try to completely eliminate risk, the scary, or the disgusting, leads only to abuse and misery; this necessity is not nice or fun, and it does not serve our fantasies. But it is true.