Civil Rights and Comic Books: What’s on YOUR Laptop?

The Beauty Platform and Sequential Art

First they came for the guys and gals

with skeevy comic books.

But I don’t buy skeevy comic books,

so I shut up and kept my head down.

Then they came for the guys and gals

with graphically violent comic books.

But I don’t buy comic books with graphic violence{1},

so I shut up and kept my head down.

Then they came for the guys and gals;

with “adult” gay and lesbian comic books.

But I don’t buy adult gay and lesbian{1} comic books,

so I shut up and kept my head down.

Then they came for the guys and gals

with “excessively” adult comic books of any sorts.

But I don’t buy excessively adult adult comic books of any sort,

so I shut up and kept my head down.

Then they came for the guys and gals with politically and socially radical comic books.

And the legal precedent was already set, so it was an open and shut case.

And that’s what I’m in for.

……………………..

That is, in any event, the dystopian future scenario. Right now we are still in a position to push back against the “North American Taliban”, and that is what the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund aims to do.

{1. OK, ok, on some of these sites my sig says otherwise with respect to yuri manga, and some science fiction dystopian manga has some pretty graphic violence, but stick with me here for dramatic effect}

Here’s the story from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund:

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund today announces that it is forming a coalition to support the legal defense of an American citizen who is facing criminal charges in Canada that could result in a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison for comics brought into the country on his laptop. This incident is the most serious in a trend the CBLDF has been tracking involving the search and seizure of the print and electronic comic books carried by travelers crossing borders.

CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein says, “Although the CBLDF can’t protect comic fans everywhere in every situation, we want to join this effort to protect an American comic fan being prosecuted literally as he stood on the border of our country for behavior the First Amendment protects here, and its analogues in Canadian law should protect there.” …

The facts of the case involve an American citizen, computer programmer, and comic book enthusiast in his mid-twenties who was flying from his home in the United States to Canada to visit a friend. Upon arrival at Canadian Customs a customs officer conducted a search of the American and his personal belongings, including his laptop, iPad, and iPhone. The customs officer discovered manga on the laptop and considered it to be child pornography. The client’s name is being withheld on the request of counsel for reasons relating to legal strategy.

My support for the rights of this fellow has nothing to do with whether I think that the comics he had on one or more electronic devices are fine art with redeeming social value. Having to carefully navigate various genres of Japanese anime and manga to find what I like in amidst a large amount of stuff that I find to be icky, I would be very surprised if a large proportion of it was what I would view as fine art with redeeming social value. The big question to take from this situation is whether the manga was actually depicting children. The style that manga is drawn in often features doe-eyed short people with cute hair and trendy clothes which could explain how a drawing of a grown woman could be mistaken for that of a younger person. It’s not exactly like midget porn, where it can be easier to tell that the actor in question is an adult just by looking at them. Plus manga and anime are cartoon-style drawings and as far as most westerners are concerned that means it’s all kid-related. Whereas in Japan where this stuff comes from, they can be targeted towards adults, and we’re not exactly talking adult adult, that’s a whole different category known as Hentai. Hentai which is basically adult porn in manga and anime can be found on many adult porn websites like fuckedtube xxx and these websites only show adult pornography and are 100% legal. With this incident in mind does that mean that anyone with electronic devices showing they’ve visited a legal adult porn site that contains manga be accused of watching child pornography, are they also going to be arrested?

No, its that these are drawings. Indeed, they are not drawings that he is displaying in public, but drawings which he had in his own personal collection, so the general question of whether they are obscene should not enter into it.

And I find it an outrage at the quite real and quite grotesque abuse of children done to produce child pornography to use child pornography laws as an excuse to suppress drawings.

Some things I can write, some things I cannot. My outrage at the obscenity of these Customs Officials using child pornography laws as an excuse to try to throw a comic book reader into jail because they do not like the drawings on his laptop and/or ipod and/or ebook reader … that’s not something I think I can express.

And this blurring of boundaries by authorities to steal the authority to suppress what they have no reasonable right to suppress … all that a Customs Officer has to do to suppress any comic book that they disapprove of for being too sexually explicit is to decide that one or more of the individuals protrayed is underage. Pity the poor fool that has bought some digital copies of classic R. Crumb out of sixties and seventies nostalgia.

And it is, of course, not limited to material where child pornography laws can be abused. Its a fine trick of authoritarian government everywhere to provide a narrow pretext for a law, but then in practice to rely on the broadest possible interpretation. We all know that sites like sexm xxx are fine, but pushing the line is something we should be watching out for. Non-violent protesters get to be treated as violent terrorists, so people organizing a boycott get to be treated as non-violent protesters, which is to say terrorists, so people discussing what can be done about shoddy food quality at a supermarket chain get to be treated as people organizing a boycott, which is to say terrorists.

And so free people push back against the unwarranted and unjustified expansion of government powers beyond the reasons that we granted them.

And if we have any sense, we don’t wait until we see things passing over some dimly perceived “boundary” between democratic and authoritarian governance. We push back from the get go.

How to Push Back in this particular case

Two ways to push back in this case is:

.

Since I have to wait until my 2 and a half classes level of pay starts coming in at the start of the month before I can do step 1, this here diary is me doing step 2.

Utsukushikereba sore de ii ~ Ishikawa Chiaki

And then, sometimes there is substantial redeeming artistic value …

the countless flowers enveloped in light

gaze at tomorrow with eyes free of doubt~

everyone wishes for me to be pure, but

waiting in the sky that’s about to be worn out

picking flowers to make them their own

they’re all just sinful people

I stopped making promises with the future

because even if I try to run far away from pain

look, the chill wind is shaking my hair

where should I search for the answer?

even if I take a break from this selfish destiny

I feel as if somewhere I was saved

as if one day even this past that can’t be remade

can be put away in a small box

the countless flowers enveloped in light

gaze at tomorrow with eyes free of doubt

the white bell that quietly overlooks us

as long as it’s beautiful, it’s fine

is this the dream’s continuation?

is this a dream I won’t awaken from?

I murmured countless times

I stopped making promises with the future

because even if I try to run far away from pain

look, the chill wind is shaking my hair

where should I search for the answer?

1 comment

    • BruceMcF on August 16, 2011 at 2:11 am
      Author

    … get everybody and his stuff together.

    OK, 3, 2, 1, let jam.

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