Anime Vice News

Mid-Week Required Reading: The Handley Obscenity Case

Tough times on the censorship front.

Normally I'd save this for the weekend, but this article regarding the case of Christopher Handley, a young man currently on trial for child pornography, for some manga (amongst a huge collection of manga  that mostly didn't feature any minors), is incredibly interesting-- AND very important for anime and manga fans, whether you buy lolicon or not.

The article on ComiPress starts out in great detail of the case of Dwight Whorley, a man with previous child pornography convictions who was sentenced again for finding what he'd hoped was the answer to his prayers-- lolicon, a “kiddie porn” that was not in fact kiddie porn. It didn't work out for him, obviously.

The Whorley case provided some precedence for Handley's case, which is a bit clearer thanks to his lack of past convictions, at least as far as I know. Not to mention the bungling of the pre-trial work thanks to an officer who found that Handley had “ongoing access to material that represents the sexual abuse of children,” which referred to...any anime art.

This includes, among other things, the Gothic and Lolita Bible, GaoGaiGar, and a variety of hentai titles, all of which were officially released and therefore probably not particularly kiddie-porn-ish. That said, the court still decided to prohibit Handley from viewing or buying anime “video or written material” and made to go to a therapist.

Kiddie porn?
Kiddie porn?
There's a lot of excellent material here, and a lot of reasons you should care about it-- for example, a mere image from Kodomo no Jikan in which you see Rin's pantsu “constitutes a prohibited sexual act.” Now, maybe not all of you are into KnJ, but how many anime and manga out there feature teenage girls (under the age of 18) showing their panties? Even OUTside of hentai? So by this potential definition, how many of us here could conceivably be insta-felons?

I'm not entirely sure about the author of the article, a Lawrence A. Stanley, who may in fact also be Lawrence Allen Stanley, who is a well-known child pornography lawyer who has worked for NAMBLA and has actually been arrested for child pornography himself. It's unclear at this point whether he has any relation to the case itself. Take that as you will; his legal arguments still seem rather sound. I wonder where ComiPress got in touch with him?

That said, in the midst of all the Rapelay hubbub (about which we'll have another guest blog on Friday), it's interesting to remember other cases of censorship that aren't necessarily so clear-cut to anime and manga fans. What do you think about the Handley case?
HeeroYuyon May 13, 2009 at 8:58 a.m.
I know this isn't the main issue you're addressing, but I think the definition of "kid" or "child" is almost too vague. Considering the fact that by the current definition that would mean anyone under the age of 18 though, wouldn't that mean that any pantyshots of high school kids in regular (live-action) television are "explicit sexual acts" as well?

Pardon my French, but f*** you you narrow minded dirtbag lawyers.

A case sentence of not being able to watch any more anime... my god.... I think there's already a movie showing a similar result to what I'd do...I think it's called Rambo.

Or (less likely) I'd continue with my life's work and then destroy everything and everyone while I'm a psychotic mess... it'd be like the Behemoth from Full Metal Panic all over again, except no one else would have mechs to stop me.
ganchanon May 13, 2009 at 7:52 p.m.
Thank you for posting about this, Gia.

Of further relevance to those who are outraged/scared by this:

Neil Gaiman weighs in on why we should stand up for free speech, even if we find the speech distasteful:

There is a non-profit organization called the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund which works to provde legal assistance to comics creators, sellers, and readers against censorship.  They are working hard to help Chris Handley (and by extension, all manga readers).
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