Convicted for Manga

A manga collector has been convicted of possessing obscene materials.

In an obscenity first, a U.S. comic book collector has pleaded guilty to importing and possessing Japanese manga books depicting illustrations of child sex abuse and bestiality.

Christopher Handley, described by his lawyer as a “prolific collector” of manga, pleaded guilty last week to mailing obscene matter, and to “possession of obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children.” Three other counts were dropped in a plea deal with prosecutors.

They do have those kinds of comics in Japan, but not knowing which books they are referring to, it’s hard to know if they were really about kids since they draw a lot of characters to look that way.

The problem here is these comics are not based on anything other than the authors own fictional work. But there is a stupid law that says any drawing that looks like child porn is child porn. The reason it’s stupid is it opens a door which will make it easier to prosecute a lot of things that aren’t even close. It also sets a precedent for worse laws to come.

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  1. And crap like this is why I absolutely hate the limited and distorted American view of manga. There are people who think that manga is ONLY about sex of the extreme kind!

    I just hope that it doesn’t turn into some national witch hunt. This is only helping to damage manga in the US, more than it already has been in many ways.

    It could be worse; I see forums with pornographic drawings of American kids’ cartoon characters (especially underage ones!), and they get off quite easily!

  2. I was contacted by the lawyers last year regarding this case to help them get some background on manga. However, I rapidly discovered that any logical discussion was preempted by the idiocy of the laws involved. Basically, if the prosecutor can convince a jury that a drawing of a manga character depicted in a sexual act resembles an actual human child (even if they have neko-mimi, are working at an office job, are superhuman, etc), then IT IS SO. End of story. Then the jury will be asked if they consider that image (now defined as “children in sexual situations”) is “obscene” under the MILLER test. I think we can all guess how that would come back in Iowa. No wonder the poor SOB pleaded out.
    The Handley case is a bit of a strange one, though, especially when you look at the details. It seems his primary jail time will come not from the loli manga charges, but from transporting obscene materials (not specifically loli) over state lines. Apparently had he just downloaded the stuff and it had been found on his computer, he would have faced much less severe charges. I’m also told the “worst” comic he had was by an artist called Henmaru Machino. I’m acquainted with this guy’s work, and he’s not much of a loli artist. Schoolgirls, yes–but of course the moral crusaders on both sides of the fence would consider them “children” anyway, I suppose. He’s into what I’d call “grotesque art,” with women that turn into giant mounds of breasts and the like. Really weird stuff. But if they can look at his work and clain it to be CP, that’s scary.
    Worse, the PROTECT Act of 2003 states that child sexual exploitation can occur even when no actual victim exists. (I’ll give you a moment to wrap your head around that astounding concept.) The legal decision states this as “It is not a required element of any offense under this section that the minor depicted actually exists.”
    Bottom line, it’s amazing to me that we now have the first legally enforceable victimless thought-crime in America, but the issue it’s been built around is so nuclear that no one wants to admit it. Even though the concept could apply much more generally. Let’s see: the 2003 law says child sexual exploitation can occur “even when no actual victim exists.” Suppose I turn on TV and watch a murder movie. Even though no actual victim exists, it depicts an act that would be a crime if you actually did it. So now, under the equal application of the law, I can be charged with “accessory to murder.” I utterly fail to see how you can argue “child sexual exploitation” is somehow so special that you can’t extend the law to encompass “murder” or “torture and rape” or whatever. (Unless one applies the judicial technique of “Because I said so.”) Maybe a lawyer can explain this to me.
    However, the fact that the law exists and is being used is scary. And there are a lot of anime manga out there from the big companies that have chargeable material in them, if looked at in light of that law. All it would take is some crusading district attorney to decide to go after “people who are selling KP to our children” and whoa nelly. One look at the neotenic features of the average manga or anime character and the average jury will simply conclude there are no adults anywhere in any of the stories.
    All we can do is hope this case is an aberration and we don’t see many more. The good news is that the PROTECT Act has run into quite a few legal challenges already and at some point will need probably to be replaced with something that makes more sense. Finally, to end this overlong post on yet another hopeful note, the case is so complex and jumbled that there seems to be large chance the “manga as CP portion” may be tossed on appeal and in any case does not set a precedent nationally. So for now, your Urotsukidoji DVDs are legal.

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