According to a press release issued this morning and widely circulated across the social media, The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) will be joining the fight against Canada’s ridiculous child pornography laws, and against Canada Customs’ search/seizure powers at the Canadian border. More specifically, the CBLDF “ is forming a coalition to support the legal defense of an American citizen who is facing criminal charges in Canada that could result in a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison for comics brought into the country on his laptop.”
I’ve been aware of this case since just before I gave my talk on comics and censorship this past February, and every aspect of it makes my blood boil. That ‘manga’ is targeted as a buzzword that encourages Customs agents to do more thorough searches, that an illustration of a person or act is the same thing as the person or act under Canadian law, that Art has no legal defense in Canada anymore. It’s all awful, and I am very, very glad that the CBLDF has stepped in to provide funding and support for this case, to ensure that at the very least this man is rigourously defended, and with any luck a precedent can be set under Canadian law.
If you are a fan of any manga or anime, if you are a fan of comics, if you have even one comics page, anime clip, or “dirty” picture on your computer, tablet, or phone, this is about you. This is about you being pulled aside, searched, your electronics confiscated to be sent away for weeks and months, all because you’ve got scans of Naruto on your desktop. This isn’t about “child porn” or any variation thereof, this is about legally equating a description of a thing–written or drawn–with the real thing.
“Freedom to write, freedom to read, freedom to own material that you believe is worth defending means you’re going to have to stand up for stuff you don’t believe is worth defending, even stuff you find actively distasteful, because laws are big blunt instruments that do not differentiate between what you like and what you don’t, because prosecutors are humans and bear grudges and fight for re-election, because one person’s obscenity is another person’s art.
“Because if you don’t stand up for the stuff you don’t like, when they come for the stuff youdo like, you’ve already lost.”
If you can afford anything, I urge you to donate to The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. You can do so at this page, they even take PayPal amongst other avenues of payment: http://cbldf.org/contribute/
A Canadian group called The Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund will also be starting a Fundraising drive over the coming weeks and months, and as soon as their contribution information comes together I’ll be happy to pass it along as well.
So again, and in closing, this is about the government deciding what is or isn’t art, about what you can or can’t read, and very deliberately confusing the thought of a crime with the crime itself. This is something worth taking a stand about. Please do so, and if you can, contribute.