No, really, I'm talking to you. Yes you, the regular comic book reading, manga one or two (or several more) owning, anime and cartoon loving, graphic art geeking, individual. The postal service could call you a perv and you could go to jail. YES YOU. Yes the US Postal Service!
Don't believe me?
Meet Christopher Handley. He like a lot of people, bought some manga from Japan. The Postal Inspector (that's US Postal Service Special Police) decided he didn't like the imagery on the front. It seemed objectionable. So he opened the package. He can do this. It's his job.
Aside:I actually had a Postal Inspector come to my highschool law class and talk about his job. He told funny anecdotes. One of them involved a vibrator and batteries and mass embarrassment on all sides. That's when I personally realized that all things that can go buzz or whir, from toy cars to marital aids, shouldn't come shipped with the batteries already in them.
The Postal Inspector thus opened up the parcel from Japan and thought 'This seems objectionable to me' so I shall inform the Federal Authorities. Christopher Handley then picked up his package and drove home while the Postal Inspectors, Immigration & Customs, some Special Agents, and the police followed behind him. Kind of like what happened to a Mayor of a small town in Maryland - except they shot and killed the Mayor's two dogs in their 'follow and seize' on the WAR ON DRUGS.
When Christopher Handley got home, they (the men with jack boots) then barged into his house and seized all his comic, manga and anime related paraphernalia. That includes seven computers, various DVDs, VHS tapes, manga books and stuff aka, geeky comic stuff. And he's being charged, (he, a private owner collector and NOT a comic book shop owner) with "possessing manga that the government claims to be obscene".
Mr. Handley faces up to 20 years in prison. For only a HANDFUL of images in his ENTIRE COLLECTION.
Right about now you might be asking yourself, if you clicked the link about the Mayor, what one has to do with the other. Well, let me tell you. In the follow and seize mentioned above, the mayor of a small town got home, found a package addressed to him on his porch and took it into his house. The police had already followed the package from the post office. Once they saw someone take possession, they barged inside, killed his dogs as 'possible aggressors' and arrested the Mayor.
Now the Mayor, was a Mayor, and white. So the mix up and the realization that someone likely in the post office had been planning to intercept the package was soon discovered. Didn't help his two dogs, but he ended up fine, unlike the times the police barge in shooting in the wrong house for drugs raids and don't apologise to anyone.
Aside 2: I wanted to put up a link to one particular story that had bothered me. Where police broke into a home with several children and the man, an immigrant, thinking gangs were invading his house, tried to defend his family with a shot gun. Shots were flying everywhere and it was the wrong house the police had raided. But I can't find that link. And unfortunately TOO much comes up in Google under 'Police Raid Wrong House'.
So please, think on this, if it's that easy to frame someone in the WAR ON DRUGS and if it's that common for police to raid the wrong house - how easy will it be if Christopher Handler is convicted, to frame someone for A WAR ON PERVERSION. Hell, forget frame, how much more factual and actual and how much more power will there be FOR A WAR ON PERVERSION.
And do remember, perversion is in the eyes of the beholder.
'Objectionable material' cases tend to have to deal with the Miller Test and community standards, yadda yadda.
But you see, I happen to know a word. TWINKS. It's an innocent enough word. But when you put TWINKS together with graphic art and erotica, then you CAN get material that some community, likely anti-gay, is going to shout to the rafters is OBJECTIONABLE FILTH. And that if you squint your eyes and hold it sideways, looks like pedophilia because the smooth skinned gay male is represented graphically as underage (in their eyes). And the next thing you know, artists and gay men who like graphic art with TWINKS are dealing with possible jack booted officials coming into their home and grabbing things for prosecution.
I also have a show I like beyond all common sense. I like IKKI TOUSEN. A show full of panty shots, women's shirts ripping off, violence and a randy mother. It's funny to me and I like the background plot themes. But who's to say that my having it isn't me having OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL? The characters are in highschool. I may well be admitting online to having seen the underwear of a fictional high school girl.
O THE HORROR. The graphic HORROR!
But that's all 'Japanese' stuff, you say? Those are those strange foreigners with their strange ways? They sell sex aides in vending machines so what do you expect? Well, what about TAROT? Or EMPOWERED? Aren't those as American as Apple Pie and Superman?
And what about the many, many webcomics that titillate while telling an interesting or funny tale? You get their trade paperbacks in the mail, don't you? You download their ecomics on your computer, right?
And what about people who commission naughty or risque art? Inside joke. Private fantasy? The men in jackboots don't give a damn.
What about SLASH? WINCEST, PETRELLICEST, Captain America & Iron Man making out in a journal icon, blog image header, fanart and FAN commissions of your favourite teen characters (or celebrity idols) who're kissing? Hell, you could probably hit all sorts of objectional bells with a comic book fan art commission of Apollo and Midnighter just chilling shirtless in bed together, reading a story to a young Jenny Quarx - even though it's signed by the official artists or creators.
Don't say it couldn't happen.
Assumptions and Arrogance let Prop 8 Pass!
And please, don't tell me that this won't happen in Obama's America. Because it's happening now and THIS IS OBAMA'S AMERICA. This is what he's inheriting. And if you pay attention to the news, the people currently in charge are burrowing like viruses everywhere they can in order to keep their hands on strings of power. Besides, The O is about communities working towards change. He's shown us our power to affect the world. He's going to expect us to USE it.
We, those of us who can afford it, can start by donating to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund . As much as I dislike paypal, they've got one. We've seen how powerful small donations at a time can work too. Others, please pass this information along. Please talk about it. And for crying out loud don't mince words. Really make it hit home that this could happen to ANYONE.