Manga Self-Defense 101

June 26th, 2011

Last week, something very important happened. An American, upon leaving Canada to re-enter America, had his laptop, iPhone and iPad searched and was detained when the Canadian border official found manga that they considered to be child pornography.

There have been several excellent write-ups of this case and I strongly suggest you read them. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund immediately took up the case. Here is the CBLDF discussion of the situation. Also, Brigid Alverson wrote a cogent synopsis on Comic Book Resources. Obviously, I urge you to support the CBLDF in their defense of this person – it could be any of us.

Which bring me to today’s topic – self-defense.

In a perfect world, adults would be free to read anything they like without fear of repercussion. This is not a perfect world. And it behooves every one of us to be smart in order to be safe.

Let me digress for a moment into an analogy. If we hear of a woman who has been attacked,  we are outraged. However, if evidence came to light that she was wearing provocative clothing, walking alone in an abandoned, poorly lit area, late at night, there are people who would become less sympathetic. In the same way, we are outraged to hear that a person’s laptop or mail was searched and they were charged with a crime by virtue of artistic expression. When facts come to light that some of the material does in fact include virtual/drawn/imaginary child porn some people will feel less sympathetic to the person charged. In both cases, there is a tendency to think “Well, then they weren’t very bright. They didn’t take precautions. They didn’t do the things a person should do to stay safe” or “Eww, that person’s a creep – they deserve it.”

The point of today’s article is not to argue with that human tendency to scapegoat. I do not in any way agree with it, but it is human. A woman should never be blamed for being attacked. No one should be prosecuted for reading a comic book.

But we can and should discuss the ramifications to our own behavior this case will bring. In the same way that, because it is not a perfect world, women need to take precautions against people who do not respect their persons, it behooves all of us in the manga and comics industry to take precautions for ourselves.

Be Aware

You might argue that no one has the right to search your laptop or mail, but this is not true. The Postmaster has every right to search your mail – Border officials have the right to search your laptop. Whatever you feel about the rightness or wrongness of this is irrelevant. These people have the right – and the responsibility – to do this very thing.

Watch What You’re Carrying

When you travel by any means that involves a security check, take some time to remove manga images from your electronic devices. You don’t really *need* that screensaver, do you? If you do need it, save it somewhere on the cloud and download it when you get there. Or perhaps you can put that presentation on a zip drive, which can be put in a bag inside your carry-on.

Be smart about manga you carry with you to read for fun. Perhaps Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivio would not be the smartest choice.

Don’t Assume a Reasonable Person Will Understand

Of course the manga you carry or the images on your laptop are not child porn. But – and this is quite possibly the biggest but you’re going to run into – do not assume that a reasonable person will understand that, or defend your right to have it.

Here’s why. In most legal contexts, obscenity is defined as something that a reasonable person would object to.

Now, seriously, go look at your manga collection. LOOK at it. Think about what your aunt or uncle might say about, say, Gokujou Drops.  Or Qwaser of Stigmata. Or Lychee Light Club.

Now, think about trying to defend those against 12 average, reasonable people. Don’t forget that right now Tokyo itself is seeking to regulate books like these. This means that any lawyer who is going to defend you with the argument that social mores are different in Japan, might be met with a prosecution that knows that, and counters that Japan is itself beginning to reject such material.

Assume the Worst Might Happen

If you gentlemen reading this shied away from the above statement with a perfectly natural “But…why?” you now know exactly what every women everywhere has to contend with every day, all the time. We are required to dress in certain ways, walk in certain places, have companions, be aware of our surroundings, maybe carry a whistle, a weapon, a phone, our keys in our hands, our hands free, in well-lit places….

And now this applies to all of us…all the time. You no longer can assume that your have the right to purchase certain manga by mail and have them shipped to your house. You cannot assume you have the right to carry a few doujinshi on your laptop to read while on the plane. You cannot assume it won’t happen to you. You *must* presume that you will be searched and that someone who is not reasonable will have the right to decide whether what you are carrying looks questionable.

If this sounds wrong to you – and it should – please support the CBLDF in their fight.  Let’s shape the future into the one we want to live in, where we have the right to read whatever the hell we want.

Send to Kindle

42 Responses

  1. oneplusme says:

    For what it’s worth (since some Okazu readers might want to visit here), the UK legal situation is arguably even nastier.

    To the best of my knowledge, any image (very much including cartoons) featuring a character which a jury considers to be under 18 (note that this is higher than the legal age of consent, which is 16) in a “sexual situation” is considered “extreme pornography” and liable to land you in jail for a long time. Likewise any image which could be construed as bestiality (like the guy who was arrested over a pornographic “joke” video featuring a woman and a cereal company’s cartoon tiger mascot) or sexual violence. (Does this cover “catgirls” and the like? Who knows? I certainly wouldn’t want to be the test-case plastered all over the papers…)

    When carrying any computing device for travel (or which might be stolen), anyone with a concern for their credit card details, let alone their privacy, should absolutely be using full-disk encryption software. Some versions of Windows 7, and most modern Linux distros, include this as standard. For older systems, TrueCrypt is effective and easy to install. (Of course, you need to use a secure password, which nowadays means at least 9 characters to resist brute-forcing.) Similarly, if you’re mailing electronic media internationally, you should always encrypt the contents with something like TrueCrypt or PGP.

    Note that encryption will most likely not keep you safe from customs officials looking at your manga collection. In many countries officials are empowered to demand that you decrypt your data (on pain of deportation or jail) or hand over your password(s).

    As Erica says, the only safe option is not to carry anything even vaguely dubious with you. And if you plan to leave files with a cloud host (like DropBox, for example), encryption is again an absolute must, as they have been known to hand over users’ files for police fishing expeditions.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Are there any reported links to theese laws and homophobic/transophobic organizations? I know that in my own country the most important child “protection” organization has claimed in the past that transexual children don’t exist. Is there any way in your opinion to stop these laws by refering to the human rights of transgender/homosexual people?

  3. @Anonymous – There are any number of organizations that track hate groups. The Southern Poverty Law Center does the most comprehensive job. http://is.gd/abutlG

    But the situation in question has nothing to do with a hate group – this is about government representatives that have been given the power to make decisions on anything that they consider “suspicious.”

  4. Kayden says:

    Thanks for the post, Erica. It really made me really think.

    I live in Canada and just a few days ago, I went to a FedEx store to pick up a Sailor Moon doujinshi that I had ordered from Japan. I was surprised to see that the package had been opened by customs and even though the book that I bought didn’t have any sexual content (it was “Tou no Naka no Himegimi” by Studio Canopus), I couldn’t help but wonder what would’ve happened to me if I had ordered a “racy” HxM doujin.

    (Technically, Haruka and Michiru are teenagers in the Sailor Moon world, but since “obscenity” is defined very vaguely in Canadian law, a “racy” doujin might be confiscated based on the grounds that it’s “pornography”, if not “child” porn.

    Even though a competent lawyer can argue that “obscenity” is a vague and subjective term,(“Ulysses” by James Joyce, “Women in Love” by D.H. Lawrence, and “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov were all banned/considered obscene in the past, and now they are considered literary masterpieces), this will definitely be a huge emotional, social, and financial burden for the accused, even if he’s acquitted/charges are dropped.

    I like supporting artists by buying their work, but how do navigate through something like this?

  5. @Kayden – I wish I had a simple answer for you, but there is no simple answer. This is a problem that is becomming more of an issue in our free societies, not less and I don’t forsee it getting better in the immediate future.

    I am now faced with a similar issue – I am going to Japan, where I hope to purchase books and attend a doujinshi event. I am not planning on buying anything pornographic, but I cannot trust the TSA or customs to be reasonable about that.

  6. Rynnec says:

    It’s times like this where I really hate the law.

    What kind of Justice system gets you in jail just for something as little as carrying around what they would deem as “underage porn” or whatever? Disgusting.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I don’t realy see how these types of laws can go unchallenged. If I have a drawn picture of Caster Semenya (intersex with an unusual appearance) in a sexual situation and I get arrested for that. Shouldn’t that count as discrimination in almost any country?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’m from Sweden.

    Yeah, remember what’s been going down here recently? Yeah. It led to situations in the courtroom where people were saying things like “Uh, no… That’s actually a guy in a dress, not a non-developed teenage girl.”

    It’s cartoons and this is stupid.

    This kind of crap is even worse for kids who grew up in an open-minded household, because I’m pretty much used to the whole “live, let live, and don’t strike unless someone is getting hurt”. It’s like we’re being treated like three-year-olds whose body and mind will be completely ruined if they are allowed see the faintest hint of a womans nipple, and it really pisses me off.

    What countries does this apply to? I’m visiting the UK in the summer, and I’ll probably be bringing a laptop, so thanks for the warning.

  9. @Rynnec – Well, pretty much every country looks at child porn and representations of child porn as indefensible crimes.

    While I will defend a person’s right to read a comic that a reasonable person might see as child porn, I do not think that it is a harmless behavior, as many do. I’m personally repulsed by adults who have a prurient interest in children.

  10. @Anonymous – Here’s how. Christopher Handley was a blue collar worker who had neither the fortitude nore the money to take on a protracted rights fight in the court. Would you have the strength of will to do so? Just because the CBLDF and ACLU offer to help you with a lawsuit, hardly means that things will go smoothly. Who will hire you? Where can you go and be safe? Nothing in life exists in a vaccuum and there are many repercussions to a decision to fight established law.The first few cases almost always lose, and only over time does the law start to bend, then eventually break.

    I agree that it ought to be challenged. Hopefully this case will be the wedge that leads to the eventual breaking of an unreasonable law.

  11. @Anonymous – Yes, exactly. There is a strong streak in government to protect us from ourselves. The hubris in that is extraordinary, but it is what many people – people who are fearful – want. And so they vote in leaders who vow to protect them.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure where this falls in the territory of “good faith” but there is an option in True Crypt to have a duplicate operating system and have a hidden drive otherwise. This way, if you’re forced to put in your password, you can boot in to a totally normal looking operating system with using one password while the other operating system is hidden. You can find out more here: http://www.truecrypt.org/docs/hidden-operating-system.

    I’m certainly not advocating this sort of thing, but I do understand the situation and sometimes you have to be sneaky.

  13. Anonymous says:

    “…Is there any way in your opinion to stop these laws by refering to the human rights of transgender/homosexual people?”

    Isn’t it homophobic and transphobic itself to claim sexual attraction to childlike images is akin to sexual attraction to adults of the same sex and akin to being born in a body of the wrong sex?

  14. Anonymous says:

    “…if evidence came to light that she was wearing provocative clothing, walking alone in an abandoned, poorly lit area, late at night, there are people who would become less sympathetic. In the same way, we are outraged to hear that a person’s laptop or mail was searched and they were charged with a crime by virtue of artistic expression. When facts come to light that some of the material does in fact include virtual/drawn/imaginary child porn some people will feel less sympathetic to the person charged…”

    That’s *especially* true when the porn is *about* a rape with the storyteller telling the story in a way that glorifies the rapist character and dismisses the character s/he rapes with “Well, s/he wasn’t very bright. S/he didn’t take precautions. S/he didn’t do the things a person should do to stay safe…” (or anything else in that “ha ha, lookit the dumb slut get tricked/coerced/forced even harder into sex!!!” category).

    “…The Postmaster has every right to search your mail – Border officials have the right to search your laptop…These people have the right – and the responsibility – to do this very thing…”

    Also, learn more about *why* they have that responsibility.

    Learn about quarantines, invasive species, tariffs, smuggling, etc.

    It’s not about manga in the first place when they open a package!

    “…take some time to remove manga images from your electronic devices…”

    This depends on the manga image in the first place. A panty shot up a junior high school uniform shirt is one thing. The cover art of Saturn Apartments vol 1 or I Am a Turtle vol 1 is another.

    “…Now, seriously, go look at your manga collection. LOOK at it. Think about what your aunt or uncle might say…”

    Already LOOKed at *mine* before letting it in *my* collection in the first place. ;)

    My aunt or uncle might say “I used to think manga was only for guys who get more upset about male geeks going dateless than about schoolgirls getting raped. Now I know better – the manga *you* read is *anti*-rape whenever that topic comes up.”

    “…do not assume that a reasonable person will understand that, or defend your right to have it…”

    …especially not if you’re one of those people who spends some non-manga-reading leisure time badmouthing average, reasonable people as “mere neurotypicals” or “sheeple” or “shallow jocks” or whatever.

    “…This means that any lawyer who is going to defend you with the argument that social mores are different in Japan, might be met with a prosecution that knows that, and counters that Japan is itself beginning to reject such material…”

    He or she might also be met with a prosecution that plays the same but-it’s-part-of-their-culture game and counters that the jury’s jjust as entitled to have a culture and call manga fans creeps in the name of the jury’s culture as the mangaka is entitled to have a culture and call girls sex toys in the name of the mangaka’s culture.

    “…you now know exactly what every women everywhere has to contend with every day, all the time. We are required to dress in certain ways, walk in certain places, have companions, be aware of our surroundings, maybe carry a whistle, a weapon, a phone, our keys in our hands, our hands free, in well-lit places….”

    EXACTLY.

    “If this sounds wrong to you – and it should – please support the CBLDF in their fight…”

    *And* support anti-rape organizations in *their* fights.

    “…Let’s shape the future into the one we want to live in, where we have the right to read whatever the hell we want.”

    The future *I* want to live in is one where we have the right to read *and* wear whatever the hell we want *without* getting hurt for it, no matter how sexy someone else drawing a comic says that would be.

  15. @Anonymous (Gosh, I wish you Anon folks would use names. You have an opinion, man up and stand by them!)

    No it is not homophobic/transphobic to acknowledge that a form of human sexual attraction is a form of human sexual attraction – even if it grosses you out.

    Human sexuality and gender issues are always hot buttons, and everyone has an opinion. Remember that homosexuality was itself considered a harmful paraphilia for many years. While I still do consider pederasty to be a harmful paraphilia, if we are not in denial about human nature, we have to admit that it *is* an form of attraction that exists. Even if we are repulsed by it, but it clearly exists in the natural world.

    Once again, I am forced to stand up for people whose behavior I myself find repugnant. UGH. Unfortunately, I *actually* believe in freedom of expression, and that also means defending expression of things I personally abhor.

  16. Anonymous says:

    In the UK/Canada/USA cultural ethos images of obscenity are still “officially” illegal, the politicians need to on the record say how bad it is to keep the votes of the 45+ age groups.

    That said the governments unofficial position is that they shouldn’t be illegal, in the US Obama has disbanded the obscene porn prosecution taskforce and not brought any new prosecutions against cases other than real child porn, although local prosecutors sometimes can but there is no federal action.

    In the UK the government managed to slip in a “must be realistic and explicit clause” to the extreme porn act meaning as the BBFC mentions in it’s 2010 report “Cartoons are not covered if they are not underage and it merely shows beastality, necrophilia etc.” this also gives a jury who doesn’t believe in obscenity law the chance to decide any extreme image is not “explicit and realistic” and the case will be dropped.

    In their consultation paper the UK government tried to put in a restriction that underage cartoon images would only be illegal if they were level 2 or higher images on some scale of child porn seriousness. However they weren’t able to get that one through the conservative MPs. That said it does demonstrate the governments intent.

    In addition the UK government requires that any image be pornographic to be illegal stating:
    “An image is ―pornographic‖ if it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to
    have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.
    Where an image forms part of a series of images, the question whether the image is
    pornographic is to be determined by reference to:
    (a) the image itself, and
    (b) if the series of images is such as to be capable of providing a context for the image)
    the context in which it occurs in the series of images.
    So, for example, where:
    (a) an image forms an integral part of a narrative constituted by a series of images, and
    (b) having regard to those images as a whole, they are not of such a nature that they
    must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of
    sexual arousal,
    the image may, by virtue of being part of that narrative, be found not to be pornographic,
    even though it might have been found to be pornographic if taken by itself.”

  17. Rynnec says:

    @Erica- True. But how far does this extend? Would I face such charges if I were to have say, a Dragonball manga, because of several panels with Goku buck naked? Would I be charged for having a Naruto manga because the titular character transforms himself into a naked lady a few times? Would they consider those cases to be “child pornography”?

  18. obake says:

    Every time I read or hear a story like this I get a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Slowly the noose is being tightened around our individual rights. Bloated government bureaucrats and their 4th estate toadies whip the public into a frenzy of paranoia about “boogie men” they need to be protected from.

    Every time I import manga from Japan I feel like I’m taking my life in my hands. Though it’s not porn who’s to say what some customs agent might think of the occasional panty shot.

    This same mindset was demonstrated the other day at an airport in Florida when a 95 year old woman in a wheelchair was forced to remove her adult diaper for some TSA thug! My God! To make matters worse her daughter, who was so upset she started crying was given a grope and search because she was acting suspiciously!

    If you believe that these police state tactics are unrelated to manga and anime you may want to seriously rethink your opinion.

    Idiots like these once tried to ban Steinbecks “The Grapes of Wrath” and Burroughs “The Naked Lunch”! (no, I’m not equating manga to these masterpieces in content).

    Your right to read what you want, when you want is a constitutional right not a privilege!

    Where are you now William Kunstler?
    We need you!!!

  19. @Rynnec – The entire point of the article is to say, yes, you COULD find yourself in trouble for those. “Assume the Worst Might Happen” -all the time.

  20. Anonymous says:

    First, thanks for the link to CBR! :) The forum for the article has lots of interesting points too. :)

    “…Remember that homosexuality was itself considered a harmful paraphilia for many years…”

    Yep, and considered that by homophobes who’d lump together your love for your consenting adult wife with someone else’s desire to rape a child.

    “…While I still do consider pederasty to be a harmful paraphilia, if we are not in denial about human nature, we have to admit that it *is* an form of attraction that exists. Even if we are repulsed by it, but it clearly exists in the natural world…”

    Is a form of attraction that exists in the natural world? Yes.

    Is a form of attraction that homosexuality and transsexuality deserve to be lumped together with? No way! (and especially not since some pedophiles rape lesbian girls, and rape transboys, in the name of “correcting” them into straights…).

    I’ve seen men get kneejerk defensive when others complain about rape, even when the complaints are about rape instead of masculinity (why would he lump himself together with rapists, when that’s what anti-male sexists do to him?).

    I’ve seen non-terrorist Muslims get kneejerk defensive when others complain about terrorism, even when the complaints are about terrorism instead of Islam (why would she lump herself together with terrorists, when that’s what Islamophobes to do her?).

    A homosexual getting kneejerk defensive when others complain about pedophilia, even when the complaints are about pedophilia instead of homosexuality, would make about as little sense.

    For that matter, it’s even weird to see manga fans getting kneejerk defensive about pics of kids getting fucked. I remember when the “all manga is child porn” line came from people who were either *anti*-manga or ignorant about manga. Now, people who claim to be manga fans are spewing that anti-manga party line.

  21. Katching says:

    @Rynnec

    In the US and Canada works can be considered child pornography even if they are merely written works using words. As recently as 2005 Karen Fletcher was sentenced for running a website which contained only text stories.

    In the US pornography can potentially be considered obscene even if it merely depicts an adult woman engaging in ordinary sex with an adult man.

    http://www.xbiz.com/news/news_piece.php?id=134756

    On the other hand even nude pictures of real children aren’t always child pornography if there is nothing sexual about them.

    With regards to fictional content the US/Canada/UK cultural standard is that if the work has artistic merit, then there is no limit as to what may be depicted (under criminal possession laws). Obviously Alan Moore’s Lost Girls is one example, it contains underage beastality, incest, gang rape etc, but the guardian newspaper doesn’t seem to mind placing explicit images from it on their website.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2008/sep/24/alan.moore

  22. Anonymous says:

    Also, from the CBR forums I learned that there’s one more bit of advice which I *thought* was too obvious to be necessary but now I know isn’t:

    Know That You’re Crossing a Border In the First Place

    from http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?t=374180&page=9 (if only I could link to individual posts!)

    mikekerrIII said
    “Drawing of ANYTHING being illegal is something I have a problem with, but the guy was a fool for assuming the first amendment applied in Canada.”

    snarkbunny said:
    “Not uncommon though, every year there are still tourists who show up with prohibited guns, or restricted guns without paperwork and are upset to find that the 2nd amendment does not apply in Canada. And it works both ways, I fill out the FDA forms when I send maple syrup as a gift to Texas.

    “There are lots and lots of folks who actually realize that we are two separate countries and read up on the regulations, and never have any problems.”

    Keep these wise words of snarkbunny in mind, no matter if the thing you want to move from one side of a border to another is manga, a gun, maple syrup, or whatever.

  23. Anonymous says:

    oops, not-so-good choice of words. a better one would be:

    “For that matter, it’s even weird to see manga fans getting kneejerk defensive about *drawings* of kids getting fucked. I remember when the “all manga is child porn” line came from people who were either *anti*-manga or ignorant about manga. Now, people who claim to be manga fans are spewing that anti-manga party line.”

  24. Anonymous says:

    BTW, here’s one more great anti-censorship link: http://en.rsf.org/

  25. Justin says:

    In a way, I never actually imagined that there would be a self-defense for reading manga. We have methods of defense for all sorts of things–this was not expected! It makes me wonder how things have changed where we have to defend what we read in Law. Sigh, we humans can be strange creatures–isn’t there more important things we should be doing?

    That being said, unless it really is child porn, I hope he doesn’t get time (Or is he supposed to?). It feels really bad to get time when you’re not actually harming anyone.

  26. @Justin – He’s facing up to a year of jail time.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I don’t see how defneding freedom of speech is defending pedophiles. If you are intersexed or a person with alternative physical development you have a difficult time to get health care that you are entitled to. Media coverage of you or anyone in similar situation is zero. One of the reason is that bodies that have physical development do not confirm to public idea of secondary sex characteristics. This means that if you government only looks at hip size breast size etc you will efffectivly censor a number of adult humans. Which has the effect that receiving proper health care will be more difficult for people with alternative physical development. I don’t see how that can be right.

  28. Anonymous says:

    How much and how little does a group’s representation in porn correlate with that group’s access to health care IRL, opportunities for more kinds of employment than sex work IRL, personal safety from violence IRL, etc.?

  29. Anonymous says:

    My mistake, instead of “correlate” I should have said “correlate (controlling for lurking variables)”!

  30. linger says:

    In this situation, I think the saying “Live free or die” applies.

  31. Anonymous says:

    “I don’t realy see how these types of laws can go unchallenged. If I have a drawn picture of Caster Semenya (intersex with an unusual appearance) in a sexual situation and I get arrested for that. Shouldn’t that count as discrimination in almost any country?”

    “…If you are intersexed or a person with alternative physical development you have a difficult time to get health care that you are entitled to. Media coverage of you or anyone in similar situation is zero. One of the reason is that bodies that have physical development do not confirm to public idea of secondary sex characteristics…”

    the blogger TransGriot said at
    http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2010/12/trans-griot-nuke-troll-4-does-this-look.html

    “…No disrespect to my sisters who earn their coins by partaking in sex work, but I am so fracking tired of transwomen, and especially transwomen of color being fetishized and defined by that sex worker ‘unwoman’ meme.

    “I have transsisters who are college professors, classical musicians, writers, world class athletes, award winning activists, politicians, businesswomen, lawyers, doctors, accountants, models, thought leaders, historical icons , reality TV stars , wives and mothers…..you get the drift.

    “It’s one of the many reasons I established this blog on January 1, 2006 in the first place. to get those stories out.

    “Know what my superdream is Lars? To permanently blow up the meme that all transwomen of color are hypersexual ‘unwomen’, and all that we can do or accomplish in life is to be sex workers or illusionists.

    “And sadly, your e-mailed commentary is confirmation of just how far we transwomen of color have to travel and how much work there is still left to be done to achieve my superdream of torpedoing it.”

  32. Anonymous says:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8264709.stm says:

    “…Thanks to the leaks and lies of the IAAF and Athletics South Africa respectively, what should have been a profoundly personal matter turned into global front page news. The result: an 18-year-old from a remote village is in hiding and suffering from severe emotional stress…”

    Is porn speech and deserving of the same free speech protections as other speech? Yup.

    Would more “hey, watch guys with pies get fucked!” and “hey, watch chicks with dicks get fucked!” speech have helped Caster be taken seriously as an athlete and an 18-year-old woman? Not likely.

  33. Tomoyo says:

    I can’t thank you enough for this article. I’ve never thought about being in a situation where my manga could be searched, but you’re right; it could happen to anyone. I’ll need to be more aware of the files on my laptop or the books in my bag when I travel. I bet even the volume of Gunslinger Girl I was openly reading on a train the other day could have gotten me in trouble had the wrong people seen the wrong page at the wrong time…

  34. Anonymous says:

    “…I can’t thank you enough for this article. I’ve never thought about being in a situation where my manga could be searched, but you’re right; it could happen to anyone…”

    Great point! It’s very true that searches could happen to anyone and anyone’s shipments, so true that it could even happen in cases with no manga in the first place!

    Remember the stuff Customs offices around the world do searches for in the first place. When they *begin* a search, they’re thinking “invasive species,” “export dumping,” “weapons,” “narcotics,” “endangered species smuggling,” etc. (even “human trafficking” when they search trucks and shipping containers!) instead of thinking “Japanese comic books.”

  35. @Anonymous – That is a very good point. The postmaster who searched Christopher Handley’s mail said he saw foreign writing and was concerned about terrorism. Japanese doesn’t look like Arabic, but he *did not know that.* He has imprimatur from the government to looks for suspicious things, and to him, that foreign scribble looked suspicious.

  36. kongetsume says:

    And that the postmaster/officer or other person performing searches and seizures is looking for terrorism because that is what s/he has been told to do and then ends up equating it with people from the Middle East that predominantly speak and write Arabic but has no clue about what Japanese writing may even look like is precisely why all this stigmatizing done in this country, in the world, needs to go away. That’s what it all comes down to, in the end, for a lot of these things.

    Another thing that is unrelated to this particular case but is another example of generalizing is drug testing to receive public assistance. Are you saying that all/most people who get those benefits use or abuse illegal drugs? What’s it really going to do more than inconvenience people and cost money that precisely is being cut?

    I get on my little soapbox but I wonder if it all falls on deaf ears.

  37. Anonymous says:

    “Once again, I am forced to stand up for people whose behavior I myself find repugnant. UGH.”

    How on Earth are you forced to stand up for them?

    You’re obviously not forced to stand up for them because of free speech. *If* you were, *then* you’d also be forced to stand up for everyone else facing challenges to their free speech too, such as journalists who risk getting *killed* in order to get the news out (see http://en.rsf.org/safety-of-journalists.html for examples), but you sure get away with not standing up for *them*.

    Therefore, you must feel “forced to stand up for people whose behavior I myself find repugnant” in the case of people making hey-men-isn’t-raping-young-girls-sexy? propaganda for some *other* reason…

  38. @Anonymous – As it happens I do stand up for journalists, and transgender folks and lots of people I do agree with. I also stand up for the freedom of expression of people who pick and choose when they think is worth defending…I even stand up for your right to be weirdly, pointlessly angry at me about something I didn’t say. ^_^

  39. Anonymous says:

    Angry with you about something you didn’t say? Of course not. :)

    Pointing out the inaccuracy in “Once again, I am forced to stand up for people whose behavior I myself find repugnant. UGH.” which you did say in your comment at http://okazu.blogspot.com/2011/06/manga-self-defense-101.html?showComment=1309196284785#c2016326170806639450 ? yup. ;)

  40. @Anonymous- As a community leader I am standing up to defend people I find repugnant and I see that as a duty, not a desire. “Forced” by my own will, not through external pressure, but forced nonetheless.

    And really, what the heck are you arguing about? It appears that you’re simply being a pedant and not making any attempt to forward the conversation. If you cannot grok that I *feel* forced by my position to do this, when my personal inclination is otherwise, oh well.

  41. Anonymous says:

    “This means that any lawyer who is going to defend you with the argument that social mores are different in Japan, might be met with a prosecution that knows that, and counters that Japan is itself beginning to reject such material.”

    Hope the lawyer of the American guy in the Canadian court didn’t use that argument!

    A Candian jury could have easily countered “but Japan is a foreign country” or “but the Lolita Complex is a foreign culture with different mores from yours” with “you’re an American, *Canada* is a foreign country to you” or “you’re not from here, *our* culture is a foreign culture to you with dirrefent mores from yours…”

    …and follow that up with “an American respecting Japan/Lolita Complex and disrespecting Canada isn’t respectful for foreign cultures, he/she’s supremacist for Japan/Lolita Complex.”

  42. Anonymous says:

    “…Human sexuality and gender issues are always hot buttons, and everyone has an opinion. Remember that homosexuality was itself considered a harmful paraphilia for many years…”

    That was back when it was the homophobes lumping together homosexuals and pederasts. Some homophobes still do that.

    “…While I still do consider pederasty to be a harmful paraphilia, if we are not in denial about human nature, we have to admit that it *is* an form of attraction that exists. Even if we are repulsed by it, but it clearly exists in the natural world…”

    So what if it’s natural?

    Gary Marcus did some thorough research on human nature for his book Kluge : The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind. :)

    “…if homosexuality is a sort of evolutionary byproduct, rather than a direct product of natural selection, does that make it wrong to be gay? Not at all; the morality of sexuality should depend on *consent*, not evolutionary origin. Race is biological, religion is not, but we protect both. By the same token, I see pedophilia as immoral — not because it is not procreative but simply because one party in the equation is not mature enough to genuinely give consent; likewise, of course, for bestiality…”

Leave a Reply