Porning Japanese

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It is getting to be dangerous to be a fanboy these days. Word has come to me that an American enthusiast of Japanese manga has now been convicted of child porn due to his collection. There is no question that there is a lot of erotic imagery in manga that tends to traverse a much wider spectrum of decency and good taste then is common in the US, especially these days. You will not find too many people in the mainstream western world who will say that comics of massively breasted alien schoolgirls having tentacle sex with hell creatures while performing fellatio on demons with penises the size of Shetland ponies are PG-13…But CHILD PORN?

I would be fascinated to see what the manga importers and the companies that actually create the art and make a nice piece of change from US collectors have to say about all this. This will be hard for the Japanese public to understand, since women there will read hard core demon-screwing manga on the train on their way to the daycare center and business executives will read androgynously romantic manga while waiting for high level meetings. There it is cultural, in the US I guess it is just more smut. Sad but not surprising.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to go encrypt my Hentai folder.

The following is reposted from Wired.

U.S. Manga Obscenity Conviction Roils Comics World

By David Kravets

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.

The 39-year-old office worker was charged under 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.” Handley’s guilty plea makes him the first to be convicted under that law for possessing cartoon art, without any evidence that he also collected or viewed genuine child pornography. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Comics fans are alarmed by the case, (.pdf), saying that jailing someone over manga does nothing to protect children from sexual abuse.

“This art that this man possessed as part of a larger collection of manga … is now the basis for [a sentence] designed to protect children from abuse,” says Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. “The drawings are not obscene and are not tantamount to pornography. They are lines on paper.”

Congress passed the Protect Act after the Supreme Court struck down a broader law prohibiting any visual depictions of minors engaged in sexual activity, including computer-generated imagery and other fakes. The high court ruled that the ban was overbroad, and could cover legitimate speech, including Hollywood productions.

In response, the Protect Act narrows the prohibition to cover only depictions that the defendant’s community would consider “obscene.”

“It’s probably the only law I’m aware of, if a client shows me a book or magazine or movie, and asks me if this image is illegal, I can’t tell them,” says Eric Chase, Handley’s attorney.

Chase says he recommended the plea agreement (.pdf) to his client because he didn’t think he could convince a jury to acquit him once they’d seen the images in question. The lawyer declined to describe the details. “If they can imagine it, they drew it,” he says. “Use your imagination. It was there.”

The case began in 2006, when customs officials intercepted and opened a package from Japan addressed to Handley. Seven books of manga inside contained cartoon drawings of minors engaged in sexually explicit acts. One book included depictions of bestiality, according to stipulations in Handley’s plea deal.

Frenchy Lunning, a manga expert at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, was a consultant in the case. She says the books were from the widely available Lolicon variety — a Japanese word play on “Lolita.”

“This stuff is huge in Japan, in all of Asia,” Lunning says. Handley, she adds, “is not a pedophile. He had no photographs of child pornography.”

Handley remains free pending a yet-to-be scheduled sentencing date. Mike Bladel, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa, declined to state what kind of sentence the government would seek, but claimed there were hundreds of obscene panels in the seized manga.

Chase says he’s hoping the judge will take into account the circumstances.

“He was a prolific collector,” says the lawyer. “He did not focus on this type of manga. He collected everything that was out there that he could get his hands on. I think this makes a huge difference.”

Adam and Eve ban

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