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Is naked manga child porn?

The Comics Journal delves into recent news stories regarding a manga translator being arrested in Sweden for possession of manga depicting undressed children (the images posted on TCJ’s site depict a child taking a bath).

In Sweden, all images ? be it photos, movies, animations or drawings ? depicting what one can understand to be a child (i.e. under the age of 18) in a sexual situation, are regarded as child pornography, since the legislators agreed on using the word ?image? instead of ?photo? in the law. The ban does not apply to text, though, only images. You are allowed to produce drawings of child porn, but only for ?personal use? ? distribution is criminal, as is looking at someone else?s art.

This law has been active for almost a decade, but this ruling is the first one ever in Sweden where drawn images have been deemed child pornography in a court of law, and it might thus create a precedent. This could have far-reaching consequences for comics, both for artists and readers. Serious depictions of abuse, autobiographical stories of sexual debut, or simply children without clothes on, may now be classified as child pornography. Thus, publishers who distribute comics that might be deemed child porn, retailers who sell them, libraries who carry them and so on ? all can now be criminals. Because of an amendment that was recently added to the act, it is now also just as criminal for readers who simply look at these pictures.

Under Swedish law, “Love is…” and the “Love is…” spoof in Zits a few months back could have landed Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman in jail.

Community Comments

#1 Oliver Knörzer
August/4/2010
@ 1:07 pm

Of course it is not. A drawing is not a human being. But this is just the beginning of the trend to punish citizens for committing thought crimes. The goal is to introduce so many insane laws that practically no one does not violate a couple of them (see also: ACTA / copyright laws). Of course, you can?t throw half of your population in jail, but it comes more than handy when somebody pisses off authority figures for unrelated things or to scare other people. Naturally, since most people lose 99% of their brain function when ?child? and ?porn? are mentioned in the same sentence, this is the best place to start.

Oh, by the way, ?Blankets? is full of child pornography. Better throw everybody in jail who bought it. I guess Amazon could help with a customer list… but hey, Amazon even _distributed_ child pornography!!! Better throw their compelte staff into a high-security prison so that something like that NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN!

#2 Jeff Stanson
August/5/2010
@ 6:54 am

Sure it is! At least in the US, any graphic depiction, including drawings, meeting criteria defined by the law can be considered such. Drawings have been used by predators in an effort to entice their victims. Just because something can be drawn shouldn’t make it protected as “art” or “free speech” when such a heinous crime is involved.

#3 William George
August/5/2010
@ 8:52 am

I guess the idea of “context” never appeared on anyone’s radar?

#4 zachary churchy
August/5/2010
@ 12:45 pm

I thought child pornography laws were supposed to protect the children involved, not keep what the government considers “icky people” from getting off. The idea of people buying drawings or animations of naked kids might make your skin crawl, but the fact is that that’s not hurting anyone. It’s not enough to throw someone in jail for and tarnish their reputation in their community for the rest of their lives.

#5 Gar Molloy
August/6/2010
@ 3:55 am

Yeah, it’s gross but it doesn’t actually hurt anyone. Legislating against it does rather fit the definition of Thought Police.

Thought Police: good thing or bad thing? Discuss.

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