Sunday, February 14, 2010

The CLDF and People's Icky Rights

A manga collector in the United States has been sentenced to six months of jail time after pleading guilty to charges of obscenity. The obscene works? Manga books with illustrations involving child sex and bestiality.

My immediate reaction is 'ew'. It's a reaction a lot people have, from what I've read on sites, but it's possibly knee-jerk. There are a few reasons this is not a fair ruling, one of which has been 'how do they determine which cartoon characters are eighteen, anyway?' The CLDF - the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund - supports cases like this. A lot about comic books is still misunderstood. Neil Gaiman, a strong supporter of the CLDF, has written a long argument as to why people should defend the 'icky' rights of others in response to a letter he received.

You ask, What makes it worth defending? and the only answer I can give is this: Freedom to write, freedom to read, freedom to own material that you believe is worth defending means you're going to have to stand up for stuff you don't believe is worth defending, even stuff you find actively distasteful, because laws are big blunt instruments that do not differentiate between what you like and what you don't, because prosecutors are humans and bear grudges and fight for re-election, because one person's obscenity is another person's art.

Because if you don't stand up for the stuff you don't like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you've already lost.


Post a Comment