Yes, I’m still alive. For what it’s worth. Back when I started this blog, some kind soul raved about the number of images and said s/he hoped I didn’t end up suffering “blog burnout.” Well, I did. Until I find a much, much easier way to get images from the printed page to this page, I’m afraid there just won’t be as many images as I was uploading before.
So what brings me back from the Land of the Lost? The Christopher Handley case. To make a long story short: Handley was charged in May 2007 “with receipt of obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children”; The visual representations were manga; The few court documents currently available make it clear that “There is no dispute that the images at issue in this case do not involve real children but instead depict cartoons of children”; on May 20 of this year, Handley “pleaded guilty [...] in Des Moines, Iowa, to possessing obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children and mailing obscene material.”
For more detailed information on what actually happened and what it might mean, I recommend you read:
- Judge James. E. Gritzer’s response, dated July 2, 2008, to the Defense’s motion to dismiss
- The text of the law Handley is said to have violated
- The Department of Justice’s press release regarding the guilty plea
- The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s response to the guilty plea
- Jeff Trexler’s excellent legal analysis from Newsarama:
- And this well-researched and rather thorough article by Lawrence A. Stanley from ComiPress
Any number of people have written better commentary on the case than I could, so I would like instead to describe my own very peripheral involvement in the case.
For legal reasons, I have been asked to remove the correspondence I had posted earlier. I apologize for the trouble.
I have never met Mr. Handley, and know nothing about him as a person, other than the image painted for me by his loving mother. But whether I would like him or not, or think he is a “nice guy” or not, is irrelevant. It’s also irrelevant that I personally find lolicon manga, and a lot of other hentai manga, to be offensive and disturbing. As others have pointed out, to support free expression is not just to defend expression you like, but rather to defend expression you despise.
The chilling bottom line is that an American may very well go to prison for acquiring and looking at drawings of characters who do not actually exist.