Anime Vice News

Handley With Care: Can it Happen to You?

Does this signal a new trajectory for obscenity laws? Also, a counterpoint in the Handley case

As of last week, February 11, 2010, it was official: Iowan Christopher Handley received a sentence of six months imprisonment and five years of probation for possession of "obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children." The titles in question (which Gia has previously listed), well, they were fairly odious--I tracked down a few images from Hina Meikyuu and, let me tell you, it's not pretty. What made this case sticky is that while child pornography laws where real live children are involved are cut and dry, illustrated depictions of them engaged in sexual acts are less clear. For this situation the famous Miller Test from 1973's Miller v. California was utilized, with a title required to fulfill all three parts in order to be determined criminally obscene:

1) Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest,
2) Whether the work depicts/describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions specifically defined by applicable state law,
3) Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

 Chu-Bra!!
 Chu-Bra!!
From a glance you can probably see the artistic community's main gripe with using the Miller Test as a legal tool: it's points are all but entirely subjective and one person's art may be somebody else's filth. The fear now in the comics and manga community is whether or not the Handley case will be the occasion prosecutors around the country will seize on to bust readers of "questionable" content, leaving us to wonder to what level obscenity standards will drop. Can even the casual manga and anime fan be in danger? If you're keeping some Kodomo no Jikan and Strike Witches around the house, or you've gotten your hands on the new Chu-Bra!! anime there may be every reason to fear a visit from the cops.


 Kodomo no Jikan
 Kodomo no Jikan
 Sora no Otoshimono
 Sora no Otoshimono
In this writer's opinion, I believe that though the aforementioned titles are well beyond the limits of good taste and skirting the edge of being morally repugnant they are not criminal. Handley's titles, however, were and I for one am in support of the prosecution.
 
As we all know, existing child pornography laws are easily understood and clearly exist to protect the safety and well-being of our children. Now, while no children are exploited in the production of hardcore lolicon manga I feel the situation is more complicated than just immediate harm to children who are used in such a way. I apologize if this comes off sounding condescending, but people often forget that all things operate on complex systems. Good and evil, black and white, toast and jam are all just far too simplistic ways to meaningfully view the world. My point here is that in the short term, while no children were victimized to make these titles, lolicon porn manga still promotes the practice of pedophilia and it's not an immense leap to see how these titles can set the gears in motion leading to the real molestation of children.
 
Critics of the Handley ruling have been quick to point out how this could lead to the illustrated depiction of any illegal activity, such as drug use, being banned. I find that assertion to be as absurd as comparing apples to oranges though, as drug use is a personal decision and more or less victimless crime whereas raping an adolescent is most certainly, well, do I even have to explain? Also, something I've noticed about Handley supporters from within the comics and anime/manga industry here in American has been their tendency to be childless (except for Neil Gaiman, who has three kids). I've spoken to a few parents and soon-to-be parents about the case and their feelings on the matter are solidly in support of the prosecution, not based on legal precedent or artistic freedom, but merely because they're concerned for the safety of their children. I myself am not a parent but can imagine how having kids can change pretty much everything.

What's your opinion: where should the line be drawn in anime and manga on what is and isn't obscene? Also, I'd like to hear from any parents out there in the AV community about what they think of the Handley case. We've all had a week to digest this decision, let's get some conversation going.

Shinigami_Rideron Feb. 19, 2010 at 11:43 a.m.
My mom hates the loli genre and is happy i mostly stay away from it
NovidAnonon Feb. 19, 2010 at 12:27 p.m.
I said it before on my blog before I left here. I dont support any such work, Never will, never shall - but that doesn't mean I send people to jail over it. In My Opinion - he had to do the act before i ever send a cop at him. Its about the Action and the Intent to Act apon. Not that he had the books and wasn't corrupting anybody else, which as far as I know - he didn't do. He just possessed these items.
 
But there are many things worse the Nation (and states) has done in recent years concerning this issue: 
 
How about an Army Soldier, about to be court marshaled because a relative e-mailed a picture of that relatives daughter - one of the pictures was the kid in a swim suit coming out of the water and part of her buttocks were shown, in a non sexual matter.  (The Soldier BTW, is related to the girl and has been taken care of her since her father passed away)
 
How about what's going on now in Lancaster County PA, where we have the school's laptops being use to spy on the kids without the kids knowing about it. And making things worse - that school district is spinning it as protecting the school and the students...  
 
How about Miley Cyrus's sister Noah? Rumors of a Lingerie line for 9 year olds? Nobody saying SHIT.  
 
How about Philp Garoudo (or what ever his name is): Held a girl for almost 18 years. 18 YEARS. The Police did NOTHING every time somebody asked about the strange things going around in the home...
 
But you haven't read my blog about Handley (its somewhere there) Philadelphia had an incident where a 11 year old girl was sexually acosted in broad daylight when she was about to go to school, by some asshole.
 
You know what the streets did? 
 
Took ACTION. Everybody who was everybody was looking for him. He wasn't safe. 
 
And when we found him 
 
WE KICKED HIS ASS. PERIOD. 
 
So any of you supposed "conservatives" say we have no such morality - i scoff and laugh at your high-minded idiocy.  
 
So when any of these predacons rear there ugly head, we smack them down.  
 
Chris Handley sadly is a case of where our nation is breaking apart at the seems, because we just cannot seem to agree on reality. If he actauly hurt a Child, he goes to jail. If he showed those Manga to others younger than him or even other people - he should go to jail for being that fucking dumb but he possessed the items and had no intention of showing such work or hurting a kid. 
 
It smells, IMO to get people elected in the basis of protecting children when there really the responblity of the adult in charge of the child. It always has been that. 
 
The Supreme Court - again, and again had chances to change these rulings in the 1990's. Each time they said NO. But when it comes to the actual future of this country (Domain Laws, Election Reform etc) they say YES. So why would i trust these folks? 
 
Finally - its been long since time to have a really deep discussion about the issues that lead people into making such work. Its time to talk to them off the cuff and wonder what they are? Are they artists? Pornographers? Propagandists? Who are they? Why this work? What makes these folks tick? Its time for that industry to do some soul searching, because not enough people in the world can defend the rights of others when Governments have forgotten all aspects of reality. Im not saying about Censorship - im saying these Mangaka has got to look at themselves and wonder why am I this way? Maybe this "fad" of the Manga/Anime seane will pass - or maybe it will reach places where even certain things cannot be called for and we will, in our heart of hearts - have to leave it to wallow in its own sorrow and die. 
 
Thats all i need to say on this issue.
Krison Feb. 19, 2010 at 12:33 p.m.
Consider rape.  You're basically saying that by reading the content, the person may be more likely to commit the act.  But where drugs, etc, only harm the person using them, child molestation obviously does not.  Same for rape.  But rape is everywhere.  It's prolific in yaoi manga, including titles published in America.  Many people view rape as obscene, and clearly the actual act is harmful to other people.  If you apply the same reasoning, anyone with copies of Berserk, multiple yaoi titles, Battle Royale...are they all criminals in the making? 

I believe I understand that what you mean is when it's presented in an acceptable and erotic manner.  Is the "average person" going to make that distinction?  That's part of the problem, right there.  And I think that's part of the issue Neil Gaiman has with the ruling. 
Krison Feb. 19, 2010 at 12:38 p.m.
@NovidAnon:  I wonder if you've heard about the HS students....where a 16 or 17 year old girl will email or send via phone a naked picture (or mostly, whatever) of herself to her 18 year old (but also in HS) boyfriend...and he gets slammed for child porn.  Wish I had a link to the most recent instance I've seen of this.  That's where the law gets out of hand, again. 
crusader8463on Feb. 19, 2010 at 1:02 p.m.

My point here is that in the short term, while no children were victimized to make these titles, lolicon porn manga still promotes the practice of pedophilia and it's not an immense leap to see how these titles can set the gears in motion leading to the real molestation of children.

That is where your whole argument falls apart though. Your justifying the banning of this specific form of manga, as well as the incarceration of this man, by saying that by looking at picture of loli's having sex it will/can without a doubt lead to someone hurting real life people. If you truly believe that as your bases of argument for banning loli material, then the same thing could and will be said about banning a story about a serial killer, a chain smoker, an alcoholic or even a racist/homophobe. The depiction of all of those things in a story is promoting its use by showing how the individual gets enjoyment from it, and how they justify it as being ok. Using your argument for banning loli manga an individual could say the same thing about Death Note promoting some one going around and killing people that they deem to be bad, and use this case as a means to make it illegal.
 
I think what your getting confused with is that people are not trying to defend the idea that seeing eight year old kids getting fucked in the ass is ok as long as some one drew it, what people are worried about is this being used as a precedent for others getting things banned just because they don't agree with it. The fact that in this day and age some one could actually end up in jail just because they looked at a god dam picture some one drew is beyond repugnant, its down right criminal. Let alone the idea that a book can be banned, and the subsequent witch hunts that this precedent has historically caused (1 ) (2), is baffling. Until you can prove with 100% certainty that even one person decided to go out and rape a child because they happened upon a cartoon drawing of it, then there is no logical justification for why some one should be punished for owning such material; beyond you personally needing to feel justified in your warped beliefs that what you think is wrong and what some one else believes is acceptable. 
 
Yes i have obtained and looked at the manga the man was charged for owning. While it was far from being literary genius and as though provoking as the script of Girls Gone Wild 23, they are still just pictures. Badly drawn ones at that.
 
(1) LINK
(2)
Shay_Guyon Feb. 19, 2010 at 1:08 p.m.
(Note: for much of this, I seem to have been ninja'd several times over.) 
 
Drug use doesn't fit? How about murder, then? Or rape?

My point here is that in the short term, while no children were victimized to make these titles, lolicon porn manga still promotes the practice of pedophilia and it's not an immense leap to see how these titles can set the gears in motion leading to the real molestation of children.


I gotta say, "promotes the practice of pedophilia" is pretty vague and can easily be argued against. Specifically, I'd say "immense leap" isn't too far off. The idea that kids are in more danger because of people having this material doesn't fit for me. What, does it embolden pedophiles? Make them more pedophiliac than they were (which I doubt)? Turn people into pedophiles (hardly likely)? "Set the gears in motion" is a pretty dubious basis as well, and sets an uncomfortable precedent.

I'd much rather stick with the basis for the illegality of child pornography being actual harm to specific children. Unless causation can be proved -- and again, I'm pretty sure the causality chain runs the other way -- save the jail incentives against child molestation for people who actually DO it. No need to broaden the liability.

Also, are you sure the only difference with the people you asked was that they were parents? 'Cause I don't think their children are actually any safer with this, or would be in more danger if the court had ruled the other way. Think "security theater." Fear, even fear of an actual Very Bad Thing, can lead to some definite irrationality.
 
(One more thought off the top of my head -- if the materials discovered were purely text-based, without even drawings, would they have ruled the same way?)
NovidAnonon Feb. 19, 2010 at 1:22 p.m.
@Kris: Yes i do, but in that case its age of consent (state wide) and what each state states about stautuary rape - because i dont think any 21 year old should be asking somebody for pics - a case was made with a teacher sending a student pics of her self in sexual acts - so in cases where there were clear intent to do such acts to teens, then such a case can be made. 
 
Where as with the case you stated, that's some cause for concern.
Boddingtonon Feb. 19, 2010 at 1:32 p.m.
@Kris: It depends on the depiction of said rape. Is the act used to propel the plot or is it to titillate based on the images? The former fails part 3 of the Miller Test while the latter passes it and would be obscene.
NovidAnonon Feb. 19, 2010 at 2:33 p.m.
Look, folks. What has happened has happened. We can't worry ourselves over the details.  
 
Handley realizes maybe too late that the people he voted to serve him and protect him are only out to make him a prisoner.  
 
Remember what I said about earlier about the incident in Philadelphia? The Police would have never found him, if we - the people didn't care. We did care and we stopped him. Period.  
 
Humanity as a whole have deep phycological problems - its isn't going get solved in a day, it isn't gonna get solved in a generation. 
 
All I have been seeing, the last 5 - 10 years - is a shift from nations, a shift from states and communities into what was called communes where law has no baring on that commune. You're beginning to see it in Music where you see acts promoting lifestyles, your seeing it with Glenn Beck and The Tax Revolt/Neo Tea Revolt and Fox News.  
 
This nation and most of the western world is splitting apart as much as all of these Nations Governments are trying to bring the world as one. We reached a point where one can be so brazen that he belongs to a group that get such work as Handley did and say - im protected by this and this right - not knowing others dont care.  
 
I have a feeling that we need to investigate not on the basis of Problem, React, Solve - because that isnt working anymore. We HAVE to talk to these artists - and tell them about these cases, and wonder if they are artists etc. Because maybe if there fault - maybe its there fans fault - maybe its our fault... only then maybe we can start changing this. I dont want see another Handley in my life time, I rather see the fuckers who stole our money (and Japans Money too) Like Goldman Saks get waterboarded than to see this man go to jail.
XChileon Feb. 19, 2010 at 2:40 p.m.
It's just lines and paper and until the research positively Identifies that "loli-con" leads to the molestation of children. The Protect act of 2003 is good and fine along with the Miller test however the interpretation of those laws can get fuzzy. This is what "modern conservatives" believe because they see the logical pattern of pedophiles accruing these kinds of materials and then replicating the actions on these materials. There are a lot cases where the defense stated that the pornography "brainwashed" them into becoming a pedophile trying to exclude themselves from the normal penalties of such crimes.
 So what happens to Freedom of speech now? is this legal precedent going to apply out side of pornography? (yes)
lanaswifton Feb. 19, 2010 at 3:24 p.m.
@XChile: Of course, the problem is that such experiments are so tightly controlled that the likelihood of one being conducted without any limits that skew the results horribly is pretty much nil, so even if confirmation could be acquired (and it almost never can in the best of circumstances), it won't be. 
 
Thus, the never ending cycle...
NovidAnonon Feb. 19, 2010 at 3:26 p.m.
For all intents and purposes - and im not sure the Japanese want this idea to stick - but has everybody notice that they have become a Asiatic Amsterdam? 
Kelleth moderator on Feb. 19, 2010 at 3:27 p.m.
@NovidAnon:Nope! then again i`m Dutch >_>
sunfloweron Feb. 19, 2010 at 4:13 p.m.
 
"My point here is that in the short term, while no children were victimized to make these titles, lolicon porn manga still promotes the practice of pedophilia"
 
Where's your proof of that?  The only scientific studies I've seen come up with the very opposite conclusion, that it lowers the amount of actual sex crimes.  Handley himself is a case in point.  He's been reading this kind of manga since 1992.  17 years.  You'd think if your supposition were true he'd have succumbed by now, but he evidently hasn't.  Some risk he is.
 
You ask where we draw the line? We draw the line at an actual crime being committed.  There was no victim, there was no harm done.  You can't throw people in jail because you think maybe on a hunch that they might commit a crime someday, that their behavior might lead to them being a criminal in the future.  What kind of way is that to administer justice? 
 
It's not the way the laws in this country are supposed to work.  We have the freedom to think and read what we want, no matter how repugnant any of us find anything else.  Taking away that freedom takes away something that makes the US great, and one of the reasons this country was founded.  You want people jailed for thinking something you don't like?  Go live in some religious dictatorship.  They'll throw you in jail for a lot of the things you read.  But not here.  The minute we allow that we not only cheapen our freedoms, we lessen ourselves. 
 
(You will please note that possession of obscene material is not illegal.  In the end, he was only charged with shipping it across state lines.  And too, since the case didn't come to trial, the Miller test which is administered during a trial was not used.)  
N15PCAon Feb. 19, 2010 at 5:13 p.m.
Let's look at the one of the laws here in Iowa that was posted by Boddington. 
 
1) Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest. 
 
Here is the legal Definition of Prurient Interest= A morbid, degrading and unhealthy interest in sex, as distinguished from a mere candid interest in sex.  So dose that once a day you look at porn or twice a day is ok or not.  Where dose it stop.   
 
Other thing I don't get is why wasn't Christopher Handley dosen't have to go on a registry state's sex offender after he get's out of Jail.  If is just a danger to the community (This one of the reason why people go to jail) and he has to go to jail looking child porn manga then should he have to be a Registry for Sex offenders.  Here is the law in Iowa on this matter. 
 

§692A.2 PERSONS REQUIRED TO REGISTER.

    1. A person who has been convicted of a criminal offense against a minor, an aggravated offense, sexual exploitation, an other relevant offense , or a sexually violent offense in this state or in another state, or in a federal, military, tribal, or foreign court, or a person required to register in another state under the state's sex offender registry, shall register as provided in this chapter. 

    I have a book called  Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics I bought at boarders.  It has a chapter that shows pictures from Secret Plot.  It has underage boys having sex with school teachers.  So by the law in Iowa should I have to go to jail. 
     
    Also Christopher Handley gets to keep his other anime and manga (besides the manga in question) after he free from jail.  I don't about you but the law dosen't like keeping any porn when you are on Probation when you have comment a sexual crime of any kind.  So I don't get this one either.   
     
    I think people like Boddington and the parents that he/she talked to have good intentions, but that should not be law.              

Lanon Feb. 19, 2010 at 6:45 p.m.
" My point here is that in the short term, while no children were victimized to make these titles, lolicon porn manga still promotes the practice of pedophilia and it's not an immense leap to see how these titles can set the gears in motion leading to the real molestation of children. Critics of the Handley ruling have been quick to point out how this could lead to the illustrated depiction of any illegal activity, such as drug use, being banned. I find that assertion to be as absurd as comparing apples to oranges though"
 
I'm sorry I just cannot agree with that point. Yes, in some way it is indulging the pedophile, but that is no guarantee or solid evidence (that I know of) to show that it sets the gears in motion for the pedophile to act upon real children. I don't think the comparison to illustrated depictions of drugs is that dissimilar. It is a slippery slope we're treading on. I think the main concern is how many manga/anime titles could easily be lumped in with loli porn because it''s all subjective. There's not a perfect resolution to the situation. It's hard to determine where to draw the line; it's easy enough for me to say, "Well, I draw the line where children are being physically touched sexually or placed in explicit sexual positions." But that statement is very general and blanketing; right now, I'm reading Dance in the Vampire Bund which has one very disturbing scene where:

 
 Art is about representation. I agree with what's been said that the actual line is drawn when there is a crime committed. Representation of an act is NOT the act itself.
GodLen staff on Feb. 19, 2010 at 9:44 p.m.
So that means if I read Naruto, I will eventually become a Ninja? 
Boddingtonon Feb. 19, 2010 at 10:07 p.m.
@Lan said:
" I'm sorry I just cannot agree with that point. Yes, in some way it is indulging the pedophile, but that is no guarantee or solid evidence (that I know of) to show that it sets the gears in motion for the pedophile to act upon real children. I don't think the comparison to illustrated depictions of drugs is that dissimilar. It is a slippery slope we're treading on. "
I'm afraid I don't have a lot of time tonight to respond to all the comments here (I'm certainly interested in all opinions and am digesting them), but I did want to quickly cover this bit. Though the issue at hand is admittedly ambiguous I'm perplexed at how the depiction of drug use and child rape could be viewed as similar. They're both crimes, sure, but one is a personal choice while the other is taking choice away from somebody. Often violently or with coercion. It seems to me that they are not in the same ballpark or even in the same game.  
 
BTW, I'd still really like some parents in our AV audience to weigh in on this issue from their perspective as such. Hope to hear from you guys.
Oishi_47on Feb. 20, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.
A misconception I'm seeing is that the  legality of loli manga is under review because it is a depiction of a crime, but the case is that is is an artificial version of something that is illegal to posses. I would liken it less to a depiction of a crime, but an artificial version of it. For example, it's more like smoking fake weed or brandishing a fake gun. Neither is inherently illegal to posses, but you would still be arrested if you were seen by an officer or reported if you were witnessed by a citizen who felt it was necessary to do so because they believed you were committing a crime. There are laws in place that state that if you committed a robbery with a fake gun, no matter how unrealistic it may look, you can be charged with armed robbery as though you had used a real firearm. Of course, this still involves committing an actual crime with real victims. What Handley is accused of is being in a predisposition of possibly committing a crime.  This conclusion is reached through a flawed logic that states a non-existent commutative relationship between physical possession and psychological predispositions. For example, the arguments that video games cause school shootings. One shooter possessed a copy of GTA 3, therefore GTA 3 caused the shooting despite the millions of copies sold and obvious discrepancy in the amount of shootings. It is to say, if all As are Bs, then all Bs must be As as well, which simple logic disproves. This logic was used against D&D when a kid who committed suicide had also played D&D and the grief-stricken mother wanted answers that didn't point to her shortcomings. It's asinine that customs could pick up on this two years ago, but Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech) could order guns over the internet around the same time with a good amount of anonymity. Basically, Handley is one of many people with a particular interest who most likely would have never committed a "real" crime who is now a victim of a Minority Report-esque "future crime" system. Therefore, I submit that the only solution is to throw people through windows. *
   
    "  My point here is that in the short term, while no children were victimized to make these titles, lolicon porn manga still promotes the practice of pedophilia"  

In response to the above quote, I must say it's true in the same sense that Call of Duty promotes terrorism. Even though I open fire during the "No Russian" level, I personally don't feel like I will become a terrorist. It was an artificial representation of a horrendous crime against humanity and yet no one can positively link anyone who has committed such an act to being inspired or motivated by any such simulation. I would say that many pedophiles may have loli manga and actual child pornography, but not everyone in possession of loli manga is going to develop that particular psychological disorder. I had a cutlass I bought from a fair, but I am not a swashbuckler, yet a swashbuckler very well could have a cutlass. The quote presumes that the medium causes one to lose their ability to separate reality from that medium. 
 
 

*If you read all of that and didn't get the joke at the end, I apologize, but, foregoing the last sentence, my analysis stands. 
Lanon Feb. 20, 2010 at 12:18 a.m.
@Boddington said:
" @Lan said:
" I'm sorry I just cannot agree with that point. Yes, in some way it is indulging the pedophile, but that is no guarantee or solid evidence (that I know of) to show that it sets the gears in motion for the pedophile to act upon real children. I don't think the comparison to illustrated depictions of drugs is that dissimilar. It is a slippery slope we're treading on. "
I'm afraid I don't have a lot of time tonight to respond to all the comments here (I'm certainly interested in all opinions and am digesting them), but I did want to quickly cover this bit. Though the issue at hand is admittedly ambiguous I'm perplexed at how the depiction of drug use and child rape could be viewed as similar. They're both crimes, sure, but one is a personal choice while the other is taking choice away from somebody. Often violently or with coercion. It seems to me that they are not in the same ballpark or even in the same game.   BTW, I'd still really like some parents in our AV audience to weigh in on this issue from their perspective as such. Hope to hear from you guys. "
I'm not saying that the depictions of child rape and drug use are the same. I'm saying the core issue is the same; the issue is: does exposure to a representation of a criminal act lead to or cause a person to commit a crime. The answer is clearly no. Thus, you cannot simply dismiss that comparison as being irrelevant.
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