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.

Tempestangelon Feb. 20, 2010 at 10:32 a.m.

I dont care for lolicon but I say it depends on how bad it is.... 
EDIT: by this I mean the punishment...

Boddingtonon Feb. 22, 2010 at 9:45 a.m.
@Nanashi: Well, it's not to that level yet and hopefully never will be. I was positing whether or not the laws might slide in that direction, but I think unless explicit sex acts with a minor are shown there's no need for alarm. MInd you, Handley's collection contained just such images.
John_Martoneon Feb. 22, 2010 at 3:06 p.m.
@Kris: Interesting. I agree with you, but I'm going to try rephrasing a bit.
 
We're arguing the notion that observing such devices, even when fictionalized, will encourage such behavior. In this case, pedophilia. I think the problem is that there is a corollary between pop culture perception and behavior. My brother has had a rather large problem with an escalating casual drug abuse, and has yet to connect how it has contributed to his continual losing of jobs and failing grades, which further leads to his lack of money, etc. etc.
 
Its arguable to question if many of his or our generation are different based on what media they absorb as youths. If he grows up on a diet of only wacky stoner comedy and MTV "reality" shows, and absolutely no work that tries to sediment an alternative situation... of course he's going to be surprised when its not a simple affair to show up to school drunk.
 
So, is it impossible to be affected by reading manga like this? No. Though I would think that the only effective equalizer would be to put out products that seriously look at such situations as adults, and put "people" into them. From my understanding of Kodomo no Jikan it can actually be quite dramatic, plus, the adult youth does not support the child's advances.
 
I've seen one episodes, and it ended up being sad enough that I nearly cried. I mean, come on... the main character falls in love with an older woman, who in turn grows very ill and passes away. Not only does this destroy the man, but he puts it on himself to take care of the young daughter she had (though he is not her biological father.) Also, the child is the spitting image of a youthful version of his love, thus further reminding him of the pain of losing her. Maybe I need to read more, but I'm not sure which part of that encouges potential readers to go out and molest faceless youths
Tempestangelon Feb. 23, 2010 at 1:32 p.m.
Chris Handley may be the biggest name here on Vice... lol
Superevil225on Feb. 23, 2010 at 4:22 p.m.
I don't support these kinds of anime, nor do I hate them. The thing is that these are not real children, plus they aren't even drawn to look realistic, they're cartoons. Also, he wasn't doing anything to a child, was he? If he was it would be a different story. I don't see any harm done. It's not like the anime is live action or anything (durrr anime), and the character probably aren't even based off of real people. If no harm is done and no one is violated, what's the problem?
Oishi_47on Feb. 24, 2010 at 3:28 a.m.
@John_Martone: To say that the media one absorbs affects them is true in it's own merit, but I believe that, to some extent, we all have some control on what media we are exposed to. Our own predispositions determine what we choose to expose ourselves to. That is not to say that everyone who is into loli is a pedophile, but that someone who views it on a regular basis of their own volition would probably not be "changed" by it per se.  People don't actively seek out things they aren't interested in, and in today's society there is no shortage of ways to satiate an interest, for better or worse.  

 
The correlation between the lolicon community and people convicted of sexual crimes against minors is not very strong. Considering the millions of  people who regularly view such materials, there is not a proportional number of sexual predators to support the idea of a strong relation between the two. That is also not taking into account how many of these predators actually do look at loli manga or anime for inspiration or motivation as opposed to a substitute or not at all.  
 
In the end it comes down to character. It's relatively guiltless to look at fiction of any kind, in any context, but consider the kind of person one has to be to actually sexually victimize a minor. I doubt that viewing some sexually explicit material involving fictitious minors could be that "extra push" into actually committing such acts.
AFriendofChrison Feb. 24, 2010 at 3:25 p.m.

 I know Chris Handley personally, so I think I can provide a few details that most people do not know about.

For those who wonder what he looks like, imagine a red-haired version of the 80's-era Weird Al Yankovic. Glasses, mustache, and all.
 
http://mentalfloss.cachefly.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/tn2_weird_al_yankovic_2.jpg 
 
Got that mental picture? Good. Now moving on.

He lives in Glenwood. A town that even most other Iowans regard as "podunk" and who's only sole reason to exist is to be the home town to one of the state's 4 lunatic asylums. If such a loonie bin were shut down, Glenwood would shrivel up overnight.

Chris family has not been exactly "dysfunctional", but it's not the Bradys either. His parents are divorced and the father moved out long ago. His Mother whom he lives with is a VERY domineering, born-again type, and his younger brother was the very stereotype of a bully redneck who thinks that every problem in life can be solved by stomping on it. Think of Nelson from the Simpsons fuzed with Beavis on the genetic level. If anyone in that family was going to wind up in a Federal prison for a stretch, I thought it would have been that primate, not Chris. 
 
Chris Handly, by and large, is a very passive, almost submissive sort of personality. The emotional version of a proverbial 98 lb. weakling in the old Charles Atlas adverts. He's pretty much had to grow up under the thumb of a mother and sibling as I described above, and his way of dealing with any challenges was to simply give in, let the other guy win, and get it over with. I can't blame him either, considerring what he's been up against all his life.

I know I paint a pretty grim picture here, but believe me. It's relevant to let you know the sort of world that Chris has been stuck in for most of his life. Under these circumstances in such a dreadful, bleak environment, it's no wonder why he chose to escape into a world of fantasy at every possible opportunity. Glenwood really is another word for "Hell".

As far as Chris' tastes, the only thing I really saw that could have been hentai was the occasional "furry" comic. Certainly nothing loli in any shape or form. I was as surprised as anyone when I heard about his arrest, and what it was for. I still to this day cannot compute how Chris would ever have a preference for such stuff.

Now, as for the other players in this sad play that I feel need to be addressed:

1. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. What a freaking scam these clods are pulling! All they had offered to provide was a laughable couple of thousand dollars (Chris' legal expenses were already in the HUNDREDS of thousands at that time), and the "expert testimony" of some real-life comic book guys as "authorities" that no one outside the fandom would have ever heard of, and would have probably even backfired for Chris' attorney had he put these self-infatuated Bozos on the witness stand. When Chris saw how hopeless it was and decided to just get the 4+ year nightmare over with & plead guilty, they threw a fit about it. Obviously, Chris made the right choice, since IF he stuck it out and fought it in court like the CBLDF wanted him to, he would have had the freaking book thrown at him for FIFTEEN YEARS instead of a token six months! I'm sure the CBLDF would have just loved to have not only their poster boy but an official martyr they could use to sucker more donations to their UTTERLY USELESS organization at the next Comic-Con.

2. Neil Gaiman. Shut.up.you.stupid.talentless.prat.you! It sure is easy for him to be buddies with celebrities in the higher circles of the entertainment elite and think he knows everything, but life in the fanboy trenches is far removed from the Mini Universe that resides deep, deep up Neil's own ass. For this pretentious jibberclown to sit up in his lofty mansion and cast down a non-approving sigh of disappointment at a friend of mine who was facing a Living Hell that was getting worse by the day and simply wanted it to STOP, that not only tells me that Neil Gaiman is far too insulated from the world that you & I have to contend with, but he dissed a friend of mine. And THAT, makes it personal.     
 
So, there you have it. My two cents.
Kelleth moderator on Feb. 24, 2010 at 4:27 p.m.
@AFriendofChris:  O thats... not on topic.... The neil Gaiman thing that is 
As for comics Comicvine is that way>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>CV
Boddingtonon Feb. 24, 2010 at 4:45 p.m.
If you haven't seen the post yet, Gia's got a nice "Doodlevision" vid up on the front page further addressing this issue. That's some nice doodlin' there, Lou.
John_Martoneon Feb. 25, 2010 at 2:21 p.m.
@Boddington said:
" If you haven't seen the post yet, Gia's got a nice "Doodlevision" vid up on the front page further addressing this issue. That's some nice doodlin' there, Lou. "
^Linked for great justice^
Pokemon Black and White Looks Delicious in Motion

First video of a Pokemon battle in Black and White.

Comment & Win: One Piece Vol. 52, 53

Time for a giveaway folks! Now, act civil, we don't want anyone to get hurt in the mad rush to win.

Beginner's Guide to FLCL

Gainax's madcap, surrealist anime, broken down for new viewers.

Ballz Deep

Steve gets intimately close to Dragon Ball Z, for science!

Top 3 Awful Anime Dubs

Grit your teeth and get your ear plugs ready cause this week we're taking on the three most amazingly bad dubs of all time!

AKAME GA KILL! is... OK for a Harem Show?

Episode #2. W&L. I wish this were better.

Anime Caption Contest! -- 8/18/14

Let's party hard at the beach while it's still summer!

Does Anime Get Too 'Niche?'

THE VICE PIT. Sometimes, it feels like watching somebody else's home movies, doesn't it?

I'm Trying Really Hard to Like ALDNOAH ZERO #2

...but it's sooooo self-serious!

Listen to the JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE Rap!

Richie Branson continues his weekly anime-inspired rap series with the hip-hop tribute "Stand-Up."

DRAGON BALL -- Does the First Saga Hold Up?

THE VICE PIT. We re-visited the very first DRAGON BALL arc and wonder if nostalgia has blinded us about Emperor Pilaf.

NOBUNAGA CONCERTO #1&2 -- Special Review

A spectacle like this only comes once in a great while.

JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE : STARDUST CRUSADERS #20 -- Special Review

Eat poo... and die?

AKAME GA KILL! is... OK for a Harem Show?

Episode #2. W&L. I wish this were better.

Anime Caption Contest! -- 8/18/14

Let's party hard at the beach while it's still summer!

I'm Trying Really Hard to Like ALDNOAH ZERO #2

...but it's sooooo self-serious!

Does Anime Get Too 'Niche?'

THE VICE PIT. Sometimes, it feels like watching somebody else's home movies, doesn't it?

DRAGON BALL -- Does the First Saga Hold Up?

THE VICE PIT. We re-visited the very first DRAGON BALL arc and wonder if nostalgia has blinded us about Emperor Pilaf.

Comparing ALDNOAH ZERO #3 to CODE GEASS

Episode #3. W&L. What did Lelouch do better?

Listen to the JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE Rap!

Richie Branson continues his weekly anime-inspired rap series with the hip-hop tribute "Stand-Up."

JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE : STARDUST CRUSADERS #20 -- Special Review

Eat poo... and die?

Mandatory Network

Submissions can take several hours to be approved.

Save ChangesCancel