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• Friday, June 20th, 2014

A couple days ago big news hit that Japan has made the possession of child pornography illegal. Most big countries already have such laws, however this law differs in that fiction such as animation and comics are excluded. Big media companies like CNN state the exclusion is from large powerful lobby groups that protect the interests of the anime and manga industry. The law is also much softer than most countries in where the person charged faces a year is prison or a $10,000 fine. In many countries people have much harsher penalties like Canada’s 20 years of imprisonment or public online databases.

People do not want children harmed or abused, but there is a lot of bias and assumptions floating around. Two big ones are animated or drawn depictions of children are real children and that people who like fictional characters are also attracted to real children. Comic Book Legal Defense Fund debunks the views they oppose from the CNN article linked above and what they believe what the law will do in Japan. One side accepts that fictional works are still pornographic and the other suggests there needs to be scientific evidence that such creations are harmful.

With that said the political satirist Jon Stewart from the cable show The Daily Show took a stab at the news. His views are known as liberal, but in my opinion he has always seemed “Democrat.” Someone that is on the left of center and leaning towards liberal, but not by very much since the US is not very liberal. In the video he states the new law is embarrassingly late and “How can a lobby for a harmful, destructive industry take precedence over the protection of children?” He then compares the industry lobby groups for anime and manga to be similar to The National Rifle Association in the US. They are supposedly trying to defend companies that are willing to make money at the cost of children’s lives and well-being.

I am pro-gun regulation and a fan of anime and manga, so I find his comparison of media to weapons designed to kill to be outrageous. Both have differing worlds of psychology, science, and societal factors behind what the industries produce.

Category: Anime Coverage, Manga Coverage  | Tags: , ,
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4 Responses

  1. Banning select forms of artistic expression means establishing the existence of thought-crimes. Not much to do with very real and physical guns, which are only a threat because they are material to begin with.

  2. 3
    Hogart    » Reply «

    There is a line between exploring our darker tendencies and glorifying them. Anime is an easy target because it seems to the latter a lot. And involving children in a story (a staple of anime) is just an easy way to attract attention from the worst of us: the people who turn off their brains whenever children are being discussed and just coast by on base emotion.

    In the USA this tendency has been turned up to 11, so Jon Stewart can’t take any other stance – he’s a talking head. Even daring to talk about children publicly as anything except perfect little dolls that need to be protected from everything is tempting fate, let alone trying to debate the merits of such misguided legislature.

    It saddens me when people mistake fantasy children for real ones, and devote resources into policing such things when there are real children suffering out there. It will sure be interesting once people no longer have any outlets for their darker desires except to simply take the plunge and do it in real life.

    Repression is not a safe substitute for learned experience. This is not about art, but practicality. If you remove the outlets we have that hold our base instincts at bay, some of us WILL take action. I would rather those people be given all the fantasy material they need than for them to have to use real children as their fetish fuel.

  3. The creation of laws based on offense against “public morals” was a later development in Western civilization and was a matter of ecclesiastic law (regulating morality), not tort law (which focuses on what actual people were harmed and what the court can do for them.)

    The US is based on English law, which means that we as a society are not required to agree on what is immoral or offensive, only what actions are illegal. Now, certainly the West has a particular hangup over issues of age and sexuality, so perhaps the sexualization of minors IS offensive to the majority of the populace – but fundamentally, delegitimizing tastes that offend people that is not the purpose of English-style secular law. Its purpose is making sure that people are not harmed.

    The entire basis of making actual child pornography illegal is that children are harmed in its creation. But for drawings, no actual people are harmed, so it is ridiculous to make artistic creation illegal just because we consider it in poor taste. This is a case of politics and emotion trumping good jurisprudence.

    Sadly, it’s hardly confined to the US – England itself passed an act that made possession of lewd drawings of anyone under 18 illegal, yet the age of consent was 16 there at the time. (A 16 year old could have sex with a 50 year old there and legally, no one would bat an eye, but if he drew an imaginary 17 year old in the act, he could go to jail. Truly a case of strange priorities.)

    I wrote an article on this in 2009. How sad and strange that 5 years later, we continue to slide into this populist-driven corruption of civil liberties. http://animediet.net/commentary/civil-liberties-continue-to-crumble

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