The Christopher Handley case (the Iowa man charged and convicted of possession of child pornography for his collection of lolicon manga) finally came to a conclusion with the sentencing hearing having concluded. The result, covered by many online and print outlets including Wired News, is six months jail time.
I'm not going to go into hysterics about the case, the conviction, or the sentencing. That's been going on for a long time by other bloggers and Manga lovers for a long time now. What I am upset about is this: though many are saying no legal precedent has been set, I think there has been. Every time a work or set of works gets labeled obscene, we all lose. It's that simple. Where are we when owning a published work can be equated with committing an illegal act upon a child? I know it's a slippery slope fallacy, but I'm wondering what's next...owning Adam Rapp novels is the same thing as being a child molester? I have a collection of Dennis Cooper novels--do I get brought up on charges of kidnapping, rape and mutilation? Do you see what I'm getting at? I personally may not like the idea of looking at [insert whatever particular thing one finds offensive based on ideological underpinnings], but the problem here is that a court of law decides that owning a published text that depicts [that thing mentioned above] is on the same level as committing the act.
I care about this for a number of reasons, not least of all because I write transgressive fiction. I have in more than one conversation I'm sorry to say had to deal with someone accusing me of writing terrible things as wish fulfillment...that Stealing Ganymede is somehow erotica. I deal with it, like most people who work in dangerous art, but I think we absolutely have to get serious about our conversations when a guy gets a conviction and jail time because of the Manga he wants to read. Do we then proceed merrily to locking up the gallery owner who purchases Charles Ray's latest piece? See what I mean?
Art, at its best, pushes buttons. I am very afraid to live in a country that begins prosecuting people because of their taste in and/or collection of art.