Well, this could be something that determines the very fabric and liberty of something we like. A manga fan in the state of Iowa in the United States, Christopher Handley, has had his purchase from Japan labelled obscene and criminal to the point he is facing a 20 year jail sentence. The manga industry is rallying to his defense, for if Handley is convincted, this will certainly invoke a heavy regime of censorship on manga in the Western world and what is considered legal. The manga in qustion is apparently yaoi. Some of the initial charges against Handley have been dropped due to certain censorship laws drawn up in 2003 being ruled unconstitutional.
Original post and details of the US laws involved
Comic book writer and Princess Mononoke Neil Gaiman comments about the case details here
. Of major interest was Gaiman's context discussion and that if Handley was found guilty, Gaiman would feel certain he would be arrested himself for some of the works he owns.
Two editorials on the case from two prominent figures in the US section of the manga industry:
So...do you get the impression that just about any anime/manga fan would want Handley to be cleared of charges? Look, I hate sex criminals more than anything. Anyone that hurts a child in that way is the absolute scum of the universe. But as was detailed in those posts, perception of a few important people may end up being all that matters. From the available case details, Handley's material isn't exactly what a normal guy our age would have, but Gaiman's and Chase's comments seemed to indicate that the material in question didn't involve males that were minors. But the idea that it could be seen as being that by the few opinions that matter - that is concerning. The voices of a few people determining what all of us can read and watch? This is a major issue.
Let us not forget other recent comments, such as the one Mappy posted a few days ago. Some factions in Russia consider GTO and Ikkitousen to be depicting similar things. They were never quite my cup of tea, but I never found it 'obscene/criminal'. Imagine if that was banned. That would end up labelling a significant proportion of the market as illegal, perhaps a majority.
This is a big issue. The fate of Handley could end up forging the rights of all anime/manga fans. These are very concerning times we lived in. Considering two decades ago we celebrated the downfall of communism around the world and the censorship and tyranny it invoked, the fact we're regressing towards the things generations past fought so hard to prevent...it's chilling.