“The ability to distinguish between fiction and reality is, I think, an important indicator of sanity, perhaps the most important. And it looks like the Australian legal system has failed on that score.”
The world is becoming more dangerous for fiction. No, scratch that–more dangerous for ideas.
Australia, I’m talking about you. While those in adult industry production, and those involved in protecting sexual free speech, know Australia has never been a porn haven (although they do produce an awful lot of the best), this one made even my jaded activist jaw drop:
An Australian Supreme Court judge convicted a man of possessing child pornography. The images in question were stored on his hard drive: explicit cartoon images modeled after Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, child characters from long-running cartoon The Simpsons, apparently having sex with their parents (also cartoon characters). Google “free hentai” a few times and I’m sure you’ll come across the same type of image–I know I have.
This type of image–a parody–is actually considered protected fair use under U.S. copyright law. In this case it would probably also be at risk of being found obscene.
“If the persons were real, such depictions could never be permitted,” Justice Adams said in his judgment. “Their creation would constitute crimes at the very highest end of the criminal calendar.” Let’s back that one up. “If the persons were real.” I’d say that’s an important distinction.
If the persons were real, every episode of South Park would be considered a snuff film. If the persons were real, Homer Simpson would be guilty of child abuse. If the persons were real…
“But Justice Adams agreed with the magistrate, finding that while The Simpsons characters had hands with four fingers and their faces were ‘markedly and deliberately different to those of any possible human being,’ the mere fact that they were not realistic representations of human beings did not mean that they could not be considered people.”
(Did you catch that one? Everyone gets to be considered people nowadays; zygotes, Republicans, even cartoon characters.
“Justice Adams said the purpose of the legislation was to stop sexual exploitation and child abuse where images are depicted of ‘real’ children.
However it was also to deter the production of other material, including cartoons, that could ‘fuel demand for material that does involve the abuse of children.’”
Okay. Let’s put our niche porn marketing hats on here and shine the red light of reason upon this logic. Someone who is looking for cartoon photos of The Simpsons characters is probably not fueling the demand for genuine child porn that does involve the abuse of children. Shock-value cartoon porn simply doesn’t tend to cross over to the screams and pain of gory reality. Many–most I’ve talked to–viewers of cartoon porn and hentai prefer it because they’re trying to get away from the gray areas of gory reality. Let’s ignore, for a moment, the obvious slippery-slope leap of logic used here and assume, for a moment, that it’s possible for fiction to inspire its viewers to enact crimes portrayed therein.
“Wow, Bart is having sex with Marge! Hm, maybe I should coerce my nine-year-old son into sex. Or talk some guy or gal on the internet into sending me some pictures of their kid in the same situation.”
Let’s ignore the patently ridiculous nature of this idea…
“Carrie set a school on fire with her brain! That must mean it’s okay for me to use pyromania as a valid way to express my righteous rage against bullying and alienation.”
Let’s ignore the fact that repeat viewings of tentacle rape pornography have left me strangely unlikely to force an octopus into a nubile, big-eyed young woman’s hoo-hah. Or, to be more realistic: that repeat viewings of fictional depictions of cartoon violence and force–including sexual violence and force–still have not caused me to molest schoolgirls on the train, rape extremely tan blonde women at gunpoint, attempt to coerce my male friends into reluctant yet strangely arousing “forced” bisexuality… Okay, that last one I have attempted, but in all fairness I was buying the drinks.
As the good Mr. Gaiman says, sane people can distinguish between fiction and reality. They know what is appropriate in real life and what is only a thoroughly twisted fantasy.
“Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.”
-Charles William Dement
I’m very lucky. I get paid to spin tales of my twisted fantasies. (Much like authors and artists, but with slightly more pay and slightly less social acceptability. It’s a tradeoff. Which begs the question–are all our attempts toward sex worker rights contributing to flooding of the market and erosion of stigma-inflated wages? I digress…) My id is healthy and well-exercised. It makes a difference. A properly (and safely) “fed” sadist is much nicer to be around.
Ideas and their fictional expression must never become illegal. We all need a place to be quietly and safely insane.
More on this censorship case (and related):
AboutSex. Porn. Politics.