Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

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Nobiyuki77
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Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby Nobiyuki77 » Fri Dec 12, 2008 4:00 am

This is just ridiculous! A man in Iowa is being prosecuted simply for OWNING manga??

http://www.cbldf.org/pr/archives/000372.shtml

Some editorials are available on Anime News Network as well.

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/editorial/2008-12-11/christopher-handley/jason-thompson

and

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/editorial/2008-12-11/christopher-handley/carl-horn

Excerpts:

Carl Horn wrote:In less than two months, starting on February 2, 2009, a court case will begin in Iowa. The defendant, Christopher Handley, is facing as much as 20 years in prison for the charge against him. This is, as we say on the intarwebs: serious business. Twenty years? They must claim he did something really bad. Something really bad to someone, right?

Actually, he just ordered some manga from Japan. And...that's all he did.

Some of these manga contain images that are supposedly—according to the prosecutor—"obscene." But we'll put aside what kind of images they are claimed to be for the moment, because that isn't being decided anywhere but in this court case. And although we can debate it, there's no practical point in doing so here—because debating their content on ANN won't, and can't affect the outcome.

Maybe there are certain types of manga you'd never read or buy. Maybe you've got strong feelings about some kinds of manga, and you don't think they're right. In fact, you're pretty sure you don't even have anything like that in your collection.

But again, the problem is, if Christopher Handley loses this case, that will no longer be for you to debate, or decide. Picture someone else deciding.


Jason Thompson wrote:Christopher Handley, a manga fan in Iowa, is currently in an unenviable position: he's the first comics or manga fan ever to face criminal charges for possessing manga to read in the privacy of his own home. He's currently facing obscenity charges, which could carry up to 20 years in prison. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, an organization which exists to defend free speech in comic books
, is raising money to help with his case.


Jason Thompson wrote:But Christopher Handley's case is, in some ways, more frightening than any of these cases. Most of us are not manga retailers or manga artists (although we may want to be). We're manga readers, and Christopher Handley is facing an obscenity charge for simply possessing and reading manga, like most of us. The only difference is, Christopher Handley must justify his private manga-reading choices to the world at large. Like a single person randomly picked out of a list of 10,000 file-sharers and sued by a corporation, he could be any one of us; he just had the bad luck to have the Postal Inspector search his mail. And if he is convicted, he won't just be fined or made to do community service: under the federal PROTECT act, designed for people who traffic in child pornography, he will be treated as a sex offender and a danger to his community.


Both editorials encourage us to donate to the CBLDF (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund), who is helping to represent Mr. Handley in this case. I just made my donation. Make yours.

http://www.cbldf.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=2
-Nobi

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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby phyco126 » Fri Dec 12, 2008 5:22 am

Yeah, the PROTECT act is crap.
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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby LunarRaptor » Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:08 am

Just what the heck kind of manga did he buy? Miyuki-Chan in Pornoland?! I hopre Inuyasha isn't grounds for getting prosecuted, because I own the first issue of that.
How can he be charged for 'obscenity' for something he would read privately?
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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby Sonix » Fri Dec 12, 2008 5:40 pm

Oh. my. god.
I can't believe what I'm reading. What the heck...
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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby Werefrog » Fri Dec 12, 2008 7:59 pm

I'll take the unpopular opinion that I would have to know the exact content of the manga before deciding whether this is appropriate (but apparently, that would cause me to go to jail for 20 years).

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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby Kizyr » Fri Dec 12, 2008 8:14 pm

The thing is, it shouldn't matter what the content is, since the source is fictitious (i.e., drawings, not real photographs).

There's a really great rant by Neil Gaiman while, a bit lengthy, is a very good argument of why something like this is so troubling. On an additional note, the fact that his mail was confiscated (I have a hard time believing they got a proper search warrant for this) makes it even more troubling.

Rant here:
http://syndicated.livejournal.com/offic ... 95775.html

I can offer a few more opinions on this later. But my basic stance is this: if there's no non-arbitrary way to determine what is and isn't legal, then the law just becomes a tool to abuse people. There are reasonably clear guidelines for, say, illegal pornography involving minors: if the subject is below 18 and the material can be considered pornographic.

There is no clear guideline for doing the same thing with drawings--what would you rule by? Age of the character? Age of the drawing? The character's cup size? KF
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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby Dark_Fairy » Fri Dec 12, 2008 9:07 pm

WHAT?! :shock:

That's all I can say to that. What the heck?! It's just manga...geez. What is wrong with people? It's not like its actually REAL people. >_>

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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby Nobiyuki77 » Sat Dec 13, 2008 12:05 am

The problem with the line of thought that has led to this case even happening is that they're persecuting a person for thoughts/feelings/beliefs rather than actions. I've met people in my life that I hated so much I imagined myself murdering them and making the world a better place to live.

But I didn't murder them, because I'm not a murderer.

I've been in a position where a minor of 16 years of age has wanted to have sex with me, an adult. And she was extremely attractive too (despite age, she was fully developed). I won't lie and say the thought never crossed my mind, or that I never imagined how awesome it would be to have someone that young and ripe all to myself.

But I didn't have sex with them, because I'm not sex offender.

People have evil thoughts from time to time. We all do. What those evil thoughts are very from person to person, but the difference between people who are truly evil and those who are good are whether or not they chose to act on those evil impulses, thereby creating a victim or victims in the process, or watch and enjoy as victims suffer.

Mr. Handley has done no such thing. There are no victims to speak of here; rather they are simply illustrations and nothing more. The reason it's dangerous to let something like this get out of hand is because typically, to quote a famous children's book:

"If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to want a glass of milk to go with it."

Sure it starts with sex between characters who look like they could be minors in manga.
Then it becomes all sex in manga.
Then it becomes sexiness in manga
Then it becomes violence in manga
Then it becomes any of the above for American comics
Which then becomes books
Which then becomes music
Which then becomes TV
Which then becomes Movies
Which then becomes speech.
Which then becomes how we are allowed to look, dress, act, and socialize in our daily lives (just look at how many middle eastern countries treat their woman for an example of what I mean)

You see, once you start the snowball rolling down the mountain, the ensuing avalanche becomes damn near impossible to stop, even if you started it with just an insignificant snowball no bigger than your fist. Seems harmless while it's in your hand, but let it roll out of control and the results can be catastrophic.

And this is why the first amendment exists in the first place. It protects us from the tyranny of people in power telling us how we must think, act, feel, and behave without allowing any of us to think or feel for ourselves. It protects our right to be who we are without fear of persecution so long as we obey the letter of the law.

And as far as I'm concerned, Mr. Handley has not disobeyed the letter of the law.
-Nobi

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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby Alunissage » Sat Dec 13, 2008 12:58 am

Funny you use the chain you did, ending with the comment about how women are treated in some places, to relate to the snowball of control of personal liberties. The conclusion I see from that chain is that oversexualized, pornographic content and sexist stereotypes lead directly to how women are treated today right here and now. Just saying.

I would need to know a whole lot more about this, from an unbiased (or at least less biased) source, before forming an opinion about this specific situation. But I will make the general note that pornography by definition encourages gross, widespread human rights violations -- the subjugation of half of the human race by the other half -- and I really doubt that drawing it instead of photographing it makes much difference.

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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby Nobiyuki77 » Sat Dec 13, 2008 2:03 am

Alunissage wrote:Funny you use the chain you did, ending with the comment about how women are treated in some places, to relate to the snowball of control of personal liberties. The conclusion I see from that chain is that oversexualized, pornographic content and sexist stereotypes lead directly to how women are treated today right here and now. Just saying.

I would need to know a whole lot more about this, from an unbiased (or at least less biased) source, before forming an opinion about this specific situation. But I will make the general note that pornography by definition encourages gross, widespread human rights violations -- the subjugation of half of the human race by the other half -- and I really doubt that drawing it instead of photographing it makes much difference.


Some people draw it out to vent their frustration so that they don't actually go out and DO -Dragon Diamond-. Some draw it to make a point. Some draw it because they're big mean perverts. I get that, but my point is that if you take the right to express it away, for any reason, you open a very dangerous can of worms where people in power get to decide what is and isn't "obscene", and with the conservative nature of our country that could mean women suddenly being forced to dress like women in the middle east; completely covered and not allowed to reveal any skin.

And with legal pornography (i.e. adults), the women in question agreed to take part in it as well. Hell I know some women who think porn is downright hot. Child pornography is horrible however, and I think the kids who've been abused would disagree with the part I bolded quite a bit.
-Nobi

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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby Alunissage » Sat Dec 13, 2008 2:49 am

I think you're perhaps deliberately missing the point... having a space that sanctions abusive content still encourages thinking it's okay. That's what I was talking about, the mental impact of the content, not the production of it. Although if you think that all or even most women acting in porn like doing so you're living in an extraordinarily naive dreamworld.

There isn't much difference in being required to cover up and being required to reveal (which is pretty much the way trends here go). Either way, it's an expression of women-as-property -- either only one man, the owner, has the right to see the woman, or every man does, to ogle or criticize at will. In neither case does the woman belong to herself and freely choose how to dress. And don't bother to say that that's not the case here and that females choose to dress provocatively because they like doing so... just because it's not codified into law doesn't mean the societal requirement doesn't exist. (Cf. high heels...) It's easy for you to get self-righteous about creating Art and all the reasons you have for drawing whatever you want, as if it were in a vacuum -- but by definition you're at the top of the pyramid and are not likely to have a very good idea of what the real-world effects are of that kind of privileged viewpoint.

And may I point out again that I was not commenting on the specific case or the slippery slope of deciding obscenity? I was noting that the same argument you use suggests a different (or is it?) issue to me, one to which you are probably at least partially blind due to your privileged position.

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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby LunarRaptor » Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:02 am

Just what does this have to do with the issue of the man who was arrested for owning a probably dirty comic book? Let's keep this on-topic, folks. If you need to finish about how women are not treated fairly, Alunis, you should start a new thread about it on "Almost Anything Does" board.

In any case, the people in the comic aren't real, so the laws applying to picking up certain kinds of pornography don't apply here. If this was an alblum of child porno that this was over, then the court would have an actual case against the man and I think everyone here would be fully supportive of it. The man should not go to prison for twenty years for having a comic in which a possibly under-aged girl has sex with an older man or something like that. If they're going to go after this man, then they're just gong to have to go after every other dude who owns a manga which has...ahem...sexy pictures of a girl. While its true that women don't always get the respect they deserve, I can also argue that a girl who owns a manga with a nude picture of a dude should also end up in the same trouble.
And Nobiyuki is right. This court case is dangerous ground. If it snowballs out of control, we could end up with the government deciding for us what's appropriate for public material. The Amendments were made so that people would not live in fear. I don't believe he was ever condoning the wrongful treatment of women. He never said that. He just doesn't want the government deciding everything that's acceptable for us for read and look at. Censoring what the public has access to is dangerous ground, and its one place we should not go.
And you are right, too, in that possession of such material does give rise to the thought that such behavior is okay, but this is not the answer. If you want to world to change, you have to influence how people look at an issue, not throw new laws and limitations at them.
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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby Werefrog » Mon Dec 15, 2008 1:03 am

LunarRaptor wrote:Just what does this have to do with the issue of the man who was arrested for owning a probably dirty comic book? Let's keep this on-topic, folks. If you need to finish about how women are not treated fairly, Alunis, you should start a new thread about it on "Almost Anything Does" board.


Because what we're talking about is a guy owning porn. Alunis (do you have a preferred nickname Alunissage? I've always wondered.) is just trying to show that porn has negative, degrading effects on women (in this case girls...) to counter the argument that it's okay because it's drawn and doesn't involve the abuse of real girls. Alunis has shown that there are still negative effects.

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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby Sonic# » Mon Dec 15, 2008 1:10 am

Just what does this have to do with the issue of the man who was arrested for owning a probably dirty comic book? Let's keep this on-topic, folks. If you need to finish about how women are not treated fairly, Alunis, you should start a new thread about it on "Almost Anything Does" board.


There are admin around here for policing the boards and determining what's too off topic.

To answer your question, one of the arguments for strict obscenity laws is that forms of pornographic obscenity provide negative depictions of women that result in them not being treated fairly. So, as it relates to the charge of obscenity, it is a relevant issue. Besides, Alunissage was responding to Nobuyuki.

Now more generally to the topic...

I've avoided weighing in because I'm undecided. Personally, I vacillate. For example, I'm dismayed at the manner in which women, men, and minors are depicted in pornography, but I don't think the materials themselves should be banned as a result.

However, I do make my stand on the following:

1. Arguing for the acceptance of depictions of underage sex in art because it's better than them acting out pedophilic fantasies is unacceptable. Pedophilia in fantasy is only one step from pedophilia in reality, and so at the least we should be more attentive to the effects of such artwork on its viewing bodies (in a similar way to how scientists analyze people's relation to violent video games.

2. Using the slippery slope argument in order to say that expressional freedom should always be allowed is problematic because it can be used in the reverse.

First there's perverse sex depicted in manga.
Then there's overflows of explicit sex into media channels that aren't acceptable for children.
Then the children grow up believing that perverse relationships are normal.
Then they, in turn, run the risk of physical, mental, and spiritual harm.
The cycle repeats, each generation less well than its predecessors until society collapses.

Of course the definition of perverse sex is difficult to determine, and I'm taking a few things for granted. But there's equally the risk of curtailing too many freedoms and allowing too many of them. In either case, there is a distrust of society to say when enough is enough. So your position isn't that different from the opposition's.

3. The freedom of expression for an artist must be of necessity greater than the legality of the acts they depict. Like in 1, that freedom should be limited if and when ill societal effects are the result of such artwork (judged by a series of relatively netural scientific inquiry). I don't know enough to say whether that has been the case.

4. As for whether the person should be tried for purchasing the manga, I don't know enough of the details to decide. But I think that claiming the contents are irrelevant is bogus; the contents of speech are always relevant to whether or not they should be free. Though we shouldn't restrict messages that we simply do not like, those that convey a clear and direct threat, a clear and present danger, should be restricted.

5. And though it may be legal for him to do it, I of course preserve my right to object to his purchase on other grounds. ;)
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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby LunarRaptor » Mon Dec 15, 2008 1:12 am

That may be true, but we don't know the exact content of the manga he had. I don't approve of porn, but I don't think the guy deserves 20 years of hard jail time for owning some. Besides which, its manga, its virtually impossible to tell someone's age just by looking at it (I considered that after I made the last post).
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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby GhaleonOne » Mon Dec 15, 2008 1:19 am

Nobiyuki77 wrote:And with legal pornography (i.e. adults), the women in question agreed to take part in it as well.


I don't want to jump heavily into this one, but I do want to say Alun is correct in saying you're being extremely niave on this point. I've done a TON of studying on modern-day slavery over the past year and I can tell you sexual slavery is a horrible reality and that extends into the pornography industry. Just because a porno is "legal" (i.e. adults) does not mean the girls in it agreed to take part. Many are are forced into it against their will in Eastern Europe and other locations. Hell, even within the US itself this happens.
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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby Werefrog » Mon Dec 15, 2008 1:43 am

LunarRaptor wrote:I don't approve of porn, but I don't think the guy deserves 20 years of hard jail time for owning some.


According to Wikipedia, the maximum sentence is five years. Again, this was Wikipedia, but I still think it's pretty reliable. Maybe... it meant minimum...

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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby Alunissage » Mon Dec 15, 2008 2:00 am

Werefrog: The abbreviation I'm used to is Alun, which I rather like for being an anagram of Luna... not that that's a coincidence, since my username is a French word meaning "moon landing".

LunarRaptor, in case you missed it, I specified that I was not speaking about the specifics of this case, because I don't know enough about it to judge... which seems to be a not uncommon situation here. And to reiterate, don't tell me what isn't and isn't germane to the topic and reasonable to post. For one thing, topics wander here all the time, which generally is not considered to be a problem (if it gets way off-topic, a discussion may be split off, which I have done myself sometimes), and for another, I am perfectly capable of judging whether things I post are appropriate to the topic in which I post them or if they require a separate thread. Other forums are more strict about on-topic posting within threads; this one isn't, and even if it were it's not your job to determine this.

I've little to say to most of your post, since Werefrog and Sonic have covered it. But there is this: you say that the amendments were made so that people would not live in fear. They do nothing to address the fear that every woman must live in from the males of her species. Again, I suspect you are unaware of how great this difference between males and females is. This pretty much sums it up: "Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them." And guess what, that's not a biological thing; that's societal. Where do the messages that foster this situation come from? Hint: fiction has something to do with it.

I should also add that the First Amendment was written regarding political speech and the freedom to criticize the government without reprisal. Note, however, that "hate speech" is considered a crime. People usually recognize hate speech when it's racist, whether in words or art. Hate speech which is sexist flies right under the radar.

A great example, which I've wanted to link here because I thought Sonic in particular would appreciate it: http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~evans/cs655 ... urity.html

While I'm looking at my bookmarks, here's one that defenders of pornography as free speech should take a look at:
http://www.oneangrygirl.net/pornmyths.html
This is NOT for the faint of stomach, as you might imagine. But since at least two of these have already been mentioned in this thread, it's relevant. Click on the balloons and take a look at real information and accounts, not just the rationalizations to which you cling.

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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby Sonic# » Mon Dec 15, 2008 3:12 am

LunarRaptor wrote:That may be true, but we don't know the exact content of the manga he had. I don't approve of porn, but I don't think the guy deserves 20 years of hard jail time for owning some. Besides which, its manga, its virtually impossible to tell someone's age just by looking at it (I considered that after I made the last post).


The best way you can tell is within the context of the manga. That is, it either says someone is a certain age, or the bodily features are obviously construed that way. (The line between a 14 and 18 year old could conceivably be fuzzy; that between a 9 and 18 year old isn't.)

A great example, which I've wanted to link here because I thought Sonic in particular would appreciate it: http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~evans/cs655 ... urity.html


Some people, I would say, are equally blind to racist speech as sexist speech, but the way the author blends the two in the link... very thought provoking, even if some of the ways to make gender-neutral speech still seem clunky.

I don't want to jump heavily into this one, but I do want to say Alun is correct in saying you're being extremely niave on this point. I've done a TON of studying on modern-day slavery over the past year and I can tell you sexual slavery is a horrible reality and that extends into the pornography industry. Just because a porno is "legal" (i.e. adults) does not mean the girls in it agreed to take part. Many are are forced into it against their will in Eastern Europe and other locations. Hell, even within the US itself this happens.


Yes. Sex slavery is still a big issue. It's difficult to tell just by seeing it as well (in the case of visual media) whether it was made under any kind of coercion or not. Sometimes there are places to find it out. Mostly... it could be any kind of circumstance.
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"Than seyde Merlion, "Whethir lyke ye bettir the swerde othir the scawberde?" "I lyke bettir the swerde," seyde Arthure. "Ye ar the more unwyse, for the scawberde ys worth ten of the swerde; for whyles ye have the scawberde uppon you, ye shall lose no blood, be ye never so sore wounded. Therefore kepe well the scawberde allweyes with you." --- Le Morte Darthur, Sir Thomas Malory

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Re: Possible 20 years in prison for owning manga? Support the C

Postby Nobiyuki77 » Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:14 am

I'd like to clear up a few positions that I think might have gotten lost as I was making my argument.

1) I'm not a supporter of porn.
2) I'm not trying to defend porn or people who make porn per say.
3) I know that human trafficking is still a huge problem and frankly I hate human traffickers more than murders.

What I'm trying to argue is:

1) Throwing this person in jail for owning a story in which a minor is engaged in sexual activity, manga or not, is dangerous. The reason I say this is because sometimes we have to address those issues whether we like them or not. Should we ban "Lolita", despite it being a very artistic and important book?

2) Just because someone owns a book where minors (potentially) are having sex does not make someone automatically a pedophile, nor does that mean that they're going to do anything to children as a result. To say so is making a lot of assumptions, in the same way that certain people would argue that people who play violent videogames are automatically going to be more violent people in real life. I'm living proof that this is not true.

3) Letting the justice system decide what is or isn't appropriate is dangerous, because this can lead to censorship of more important institutions like scientific findings and the media, which can lead to all sorts of terrible problems. The vast majority of countries that have serious human rights issues (like China and Russia) are countries that heavily censor what their people get to read/hear.

Also of note: The case in question is stating that Mr. Handley owned manga that had depictions of characters having sex that look like minors. They may not be minors, and just because something has sex in it does not automatically make it porn (read: something that you're supposed to get off on). Plenty of movies, books etc. have sex in them that are not pornographic in any way; it's just a part of the story.
-Nobi


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