I hate to get all serious and controversial, but I see a growing global trend of preposterous legalities. There has recently been a man in Australia jailed for buying/watching animated sex involving characters like children. It shouldn’t be surprising given Australia’s zero tolerance position (that and more found in this wikipedia article: legal status of cartoon pornography depicting minors). But a whole cacophony of details make this story icky all over.
Before we launch into the meat of them let’s consider how damning the man’s legal/behavior history is with previous convictions for assaulting teenagers. Now that we’ve considered that let’s stop thinking about it. It is not the point here.
The point is the worrying trend of treating the production/consumption of creative depictions of incorporeal fantasy as a criminal offense against a real person or persons. And this isn’t the first alarming case to make the news on this issue. The lolicon manga case where a man was taken to court under accusations of violating child abuse laws by buying comics, was/is worrying to comic fans for a long while.
And yes, you may qualify that these two cases involve depictions of characters/creatures who could be labeled as minors or children. I think pedophilic fantasies are gross and rank out there, in my mind, with bestiality and necrophilia: also gross. I also think that every human is bound to think/dream up some pretty nasty fantasies at some time in their lives. But fantasy is important, nasty or not. I think it is perfectly natural to indulge in fantasy, especially where entertainment is concerned. And I think that if this indulgence doesn’t hurt or involve anyone else unwillingly then its OK by me. Really, it’s none of my business.
I’m sure there is also an argument that indulging in non harming fantasy also deters people from acting it out on others, but I won’t go in to that ’cause the flip side is that indulging will lead to acting: just like how violence in movies makes kids kill each other (tongue firmly in cheek).
Back to treating the production/consumption of creative depictions of incorporeal fantasy as a criminal offense against a real person or persons. Let’s take a look at two parts of that sentence: creative depictions and incorporeal fantasy. Regardless of the circumstance, it is never alright to censor or criminalize creativity as long as it ‘doesn’t hurt or involve others unwillingly.’ No matter how fervently any one case is labeled as an isolated case or a special case, censoring/criminalizing creative output of any kind is a gateway for more censorship.
Today it will be sexual depictions of minors, tomorrow it will be bestiality and necrophilia, and soon enough it will be BDSM, homosexual relations, and plain old porn. It will be anything that any politician needs it to be because the public and the courts once said it was OK to censor and criminalize. That’s called precedent people, and it actually has weight in law and government.
Today it is animation and comics of sex among minors, tomorrow it will be fiction describing sex among minors. Can you imagine how this will decimate the Young Adults section in the bookstore where the sexuality of minors is often written about by adults? Can I leave this dangle here? Whether the picture is painted with words or drawn, the creator is simply depicting and sharing a fantasy with a willing audience.
The creator is sharing a fantasy that is incorporeal, that is: not physical; didn’t happen outside of a person’s head. History shows us that defining what fantasy is alright to express and which is not lends to black markets for taboo items (hullo Victorians!). And the censorship of creative expression lends people to label the originating thought and/or fantasy as alright or not alright to have. While this type of guidance is often part of religious practices it can’t effectively be tied to governance. George Orwell’s Thought Police hunted and arrested people based on politically approved opinion, will we first hunt and arrest people based on public decency approved opinion?
The point is: using laws that are built to protect us from physically harming each other to censor creative products that physically harm no one is just censorship, plain an simple. Censorship is an evil beast that should be avoided at all cost.