Sunday, February 14, 2010

Why defend freedom of icky speech?

Why defend freedom of icky speech?, Neil Gaiman article.
If you accept -- and I do -- that freedom of speech is important, then you are going to have to defend the indefensible.

It started with a man sentenced to jail for a comic book.

Gaiman also discusses our recent topic, "what is pornography".
You can now get De Sade in the UK. The arrival of internet porn in the UK meant that the police stopped chasing things like that.
I loved coming to the US in 1992, mostly because I loved the idea that freedom of speech was paramount. I still do. With all its faults, the US has Freedom of Speech. The First Amendment states that you can't be arrested for saying things the government doesn't like. [...]
So when Mike Diana was prosecuted -- and, in 1996, found guilty -- of obscenity for the comics in his Zine "Boiled Angel", and sentenced to a host of things, including (if memory serves) a three year suspended prison sentence, a three thousand dollar fine, not being allowed to be in the same room as anyone under eighteen, over a thousand hours of community service, and was forbidden to draw anything else that anyone might consider obscene, with the local police ordered to make 24 hour unannounced spot checks to make sure Mike wasn't secretly committing Art in the small hours of the morning... that was the point I decided that I knew what was Obscene, and it was prosecuting artists for having ideas and making lines on paper, and that I was henceforth going to do everything I could to support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.


dave nielsen said...

I read that article and it seems the guy just collected all manga, he may not actually be into that particular stuff. I don't see how they could have a law that allows someone to be jailed for that anyway, as they are drawings. Repulsive stuff to most of us, but not featuring real children or animals. Sure, it could give someone ideas. But that makes about as much sense as outlawing violent movies because one out of every billion people who see it will be negatively affected - a potential serial killer just needed to be exposed to a little movie violence to set them off.

pahosler said...

I may not agree with the content of the particular Manga in question, but I do not understand being prosecuted in any way for a line art cartoon. As one of the comments pointed out, "what's next, people that play Grand Theft Auto will be arrested for simulating car theft and murder?" We need to focus on protecting real life children in real life harmful situations and not imaginary cartoon characters.

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

How many times do we need reminded of this?

Cristina Rodguez said...

And what about the author, publisher, bookseller, etc? Are they being prosecuted as well, or the only offence is to own the comics?

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

All of those people have been prosecuted at times.

I have a feeling though that for some reason they strike down the most at the distribution end.