Tag Archives: free speech

CBLDF Signs On with the NCAC to Support Simon & Schuster and Milo Yiannopoulos

CBLDF_LOGOThe Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has come under fire for signing onto a letter with the National Coalition Against Censorship to defend Simon & Schuster‘s plan to publish a book by controversial alt-right/hate personality Milo Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulos is reportedly being paid $250,000 for the deal which will see the book published under the Threshold Editions which specializes in conservative personalities/books.

The NCAC joint letter/statement described Yiannopoulos as “a self-described “super-villain”, is notorious for comments and views that are deeply offensive to many.” A nice sanitized description of a ringleader and “voice” behind online harassment campaigns aimed primarily at women, minorities, and those of the liberal persuasion and language that many describe as “hate speech.”

It should also be noted the Yiannopoulos’ self-published book of poetry contained plagiarized lyrics unattributed to musician Tori Amos.

The announcement goes further to state:

NCAC’s statement supports the right to boycott a book or a company for any reason. It underlines, however, the chilling effect the response will have on authors and publishers who want to tackle topics and ideas that some may find disfavorable. The statement argues that “the suppression of noxious ideas does not defeat them; only vigorous disagreement can counter toxic speech effectively.

The CBLDF is joined by the American Booksellers Association, Association of American Publishers, Authors Guild, Freedom to Read Foundation, Index on Censorship, and the National Council of Teachers of English.

The announcement by the CBLDF of the support has led to a backlash with individuals questioning the need for the CBLDF to get involved in the first place, the focus on equating boycotts with censorship, and the lack of recognition that Yiannopoulos and his ilk are an actual threat to the lives of marginalized individuals. There’s also irony since the alt-right and their affiliated movements like GamerGate regularly coordinate in attacks to censor the left or anything they disagree with. The

The comic industry recently saw that in a dust-up concerning writer Chelsea Cain and the Marvel series Mockingbird. These same organizations were silent during that not issuing a statement of support. In fact the CBLDF has been silent towards the attacks on and sustained harassment women and marginalized communities in the comic industry in an attempt to drive them out.

The backlash to the CBLDF’s decision was bad enough that they felt the need to further clarify their support again conflating a boycott with censorship. They are not one and the same since a boycott occurs after something is released and has a goal to drive further decisions through the manipulation of the free market and capitalism. A boycott of South Africa was not a censorship of Apartheid as an example.

Read the “clarification” below or directly on Twitter.

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The response was not positive as many noted this is more akin to the hate speech that actually threatens lives, stirs hatred, and advocates for the stripping of rights and protections from groups. They also remind the CBLDF by paying money and publishing a book, that is an endorsement of the ideas within the book and a debatably worse reality of profiting from hate. You become an enabler to the hate speech giving it a platform. There’s also a valid questioning that since censorship is not happening, again a boycott is not censorship, of why the CBLDF didn’t sit this one out.

As a donor to the CBLDF, I do question where dollars are being spent in this case (UPDATE: No money has been spent on this). One Tweet said it best, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

 

Around the Tubes

P1060324The weekend is almost here! Some of our team is heading to the Marvel museum set up in Las Vegas! What geeky things are you all doing? Sound off in the comments!

While you decide on that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

Cleveland – Self-published zines are now in Cleveland Heights-University Heights main library – Awesome to see this.

One India – Rohit Sharma launches first superhero cricket graphic novel ‘Hyper Tygers’ – We await the graphic novel to explain this sport to some of us.

CBLDF – Organizations Urge U.N. To Take Action Against Free Speech Violations in Turkey – Sign us up for this fight!

Newsarama – Millennials Are Fleeing Movie Theaters…Or Are They? – Who cares, just stop looking at your cells and chatting during movies!

SKTCHD – The Long Article to End them All: On Ending SKTCHD and Riding into the Sunset – Another geek site shuts down.

The Beat – Awesome Con report: will this be the next fifth biggest convention? – A solid report. We’re a bit behind in ours.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Alibi – Kaptara Vol. 1

The Outhousers – The Wicked + The Divine #20

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day! What’s everyone getting? We’ve got reviews going up throughout the day, and some already up!

While you figure out what you’re going to get, here’s some news from around the web to keep you entertained.

Around the Tubes

CBLDF – Palestinian Authority Issues Warrant for Cartoonist’s Arrest – Very interesting read and situation.

CBLDF – Lawyer Challenges Egyptian Constitution over Racy Excerpt – Another very interesting read.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Geek Dad – Captive of Friendly Cove

CBR – Weirdworld #1

Comic Vine – Weirdworld #1

Banning vs. Censorship vs. Pulling, There’s a Big Difference

CensorshipWhile many agreed with our statement that Image ComicsAirboy #2 written by James Robinson contained material that was transphobic, some also did not support our call to pull the comic from shelves (virtual or physical). They decried censorship, hid behind free speech and artistic expression, and some trotted out the 1st Amendment. In doing so, they played into the hands of individuals defending the status-quo, and conflating the concepts of banning, censorship, and pulling an item. These are three concepts that are all very different.

When it comes to banning or censorship, banning is the easiest of the two to debunk as an argument. The act of banning is usually an act determined by a law, official decree, or some official. Last I checked we at no time addressed the situation to government officials, asked for governmental interference, or a law to be passed, so in that essence it’s absolutely not the correct term at all to be used.

There’s also the other definitions of the term such as prohibiting an action or forbidding the use of something, or refusal of allowing someone to go somewhere, do something, or participate in something. Can’t say we called for any of that either. The comic was already out in the public, and at no time did we say folks should never have access to the comic.

So, to everyone that used the word “ban,” you are factually incorrect in your hyperbolic statement(s).

Censorship is a more interesting one to discuss and debate. The ACLU defines censorship this way:

…the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are “offensive,” happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional.

I think we can all agree on the above definition. Immediately we can get rid of the part of this being “censorship by the government.” As much as I’d like to run for office, I am not the government, so no matter what, hiding behind this as unconstitutional is again factually incorrect. Anyone claiming so shows a lack of understanding about the 1st Amendment and what it actually protects.

Bill_of_Rights_Pg1of1_ACThe 1st Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” We’re not the government, case closed on that part of the debate.

Censoring is actual deletion or prevention of an idea or feeling. We never asked for the deletion of the comic at all. But we asked for was something much broader, and actually a form of free speech. That gets us to our actual “ask,” for Image Comics to pull the comic.

Pulling is a completely different thing. It is asking the petitioned to engage in speech themselves through a specific action. Like a sit in, chaining yourself to an item, the act of pulling an item is actual speech through action. We most recently saw this as Bree Newsome acted through civil disobedience to pull the Confederate flag down from a pole on the grounds of the South Carolina state Capitol. Our ask wasn’t to that level, or the other examples I gave, but such actions are similar in nature. So for those denouncing our ask, I guess you can call them hypocritical on the subject.

People need to remember that free speech does not equal freedom from criticism, nor does it mean freedom from consequences. Free speech does not guarantee one a platform to engage in that speech. The platform in this case is digital shelf space, physical shelf space, and promotional plans. We critiqued the work for over 36 hours without response. We engaged in free speech spinning out of that criticism. When it was clear we were being ignored, we asked others to engage in free speech through action. That action, for a publisher to exercise their own free speech in whether to support a comic or not. But not giving the comic a platform, Image would themselves be expressing free speech.

This act would also not prevent the comic from being able to be obtained elsewhere. The creators would be free to sell the comic themselves, submit it to other platforms, and use the many other distribution methods they have access to. This is not a case of a comic never being able to be obtained again. Stores would still be able to make their own decisions as to what to do with it. Digital platforms too would be able to make their own decisions as well.

I think Laura Sneddon says it best in her take on the situation:

A comic that is sexist, misogynist and transphobic has every right to exist. But it does not have every right to be bought or supported. And when a publisher produces such comics my opinion of them is severely lowered. And of the creators too. And any shop that carries the title knowing the contents therein? Yup, you as well.

The thing about free speech is that everyone is free to utilise it. Go ahead and publish your own comic full of whatever you want! But if that comic contributes to harmful ideas that have real life counterparts and results they help bolster, you are also completely free to receive the criticism coming your way. And if you’re a publisher putting out such content? Don’t be surprised if people start to question the other titles they buy from you.

I also want to remind folks we were the site that rallied creators, other blogs, and some publishers against internet censorship during the SOPA/PIPA fight in 2012. This was an actual fight against government censorship, and the power of corporations to censor what they don’t like. Many sites and creators who are wrapping themselves in the 1st Amendment and free speech were silent then. Some others said they supported that action, but couldn’t speak publicly as their publisher didn’t. Some also repeated similar statements in private emails showing support over this.

We as a society live under a social contract as to norms and behaviors. Every single day we self censor as individuals, holding back what we might think, or wording things in a particular way as to not hurt, offend, or worse, those around us. WE ALL CENSOR OURSELVES. In our thought. In our actions. The idea of free speech is a myth we tell ourselves to make us feel good about society. In our bringing up this topic, we asked Mr. Robinson to think about and reflect on that social contract, and how the material he produced fit into that puzzle. The troubling scene in particular, and discussions and actions within by characters, brought no special value to the art. There are many other scenarios that would have gotten the same points across and done so without treading into dangerous myths and tropes that are used in the real world to justify violence against transgender individuals. And no, I’m not saying Robinson advocated for such violence. The social contract I’ve mentioned has a primary goal being the desire of protection of those around us. That protection does come with the surrendering of some personal liberties, and results in the self censorship we all do. Every action we partake in has some of that sacrifice.

As far as the specific ask, and those who felt it went too far. I hope one day I get to negotiate against you in some way, because going in with your specific goal/want is exactly what you shouldn’t do. You need to leave room for negotiation. “Pulling” was the extreme ask to leave wiggle room for that exact negotiation. I’ve never gone into a negotiation with exactly what I’ve wanted, I’ve always asked for more to leave room to get what I really want. I think that was lost on a lot of folks. It’s also not exactly something you can say publicly.

Overall, for those focused on the ideas of banning, and censorship, you’re falling for the talking points of those against progressiveness, openess, and a welcoming attitude within the comics community. You’re being distracted from discussing the material itself and engaging in debate on THEIR terms, not OURS.

But, when it really comes down to it, it’s also not factually correct at all.

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
 

-Frederic Douglass

12 Years in Prison for a Cartoon

Atena FarghadaniAtena Farghadani, an Iranian artist and activist has been reportedly senteced to 12 years and nine months in prison for a caricature she drew lampooning a debate about a bill that would ban some forms of contraception. She was charged with “insulting members of parliament through paintings.”

The bill Farghadani lampooned would ban voluntary sterilization procedures such as vasectomies and tubal ligations in an effort to reverse Iran’s falling birthrate.

Atena-Farghadani-Cartoon-375x230The artist posted a video on YouTube where she described beatings, strip searches, and threats from guards. In January, she went on a hunger strike in prison, and suffered a heart attack three weeks later. She has also be beaten just for speaking out about her mistreatment.

An appeal is in the works.

This case is just one of the numerous examples of cartoonists being jailed or attacked for doing their jobs and expressing free speech.

(via CBLDF, Washington Post)

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What are you looking forward to? If you’re undecided, we’ve got our suggestions coming up in a few hours.

Around the Tubes

Total Film – Marvel’s Kevin Feige updates on Guardians Of The Galaxy, Thanos, Ant-Man, TV shows and Doctor Strange – There’s some solid info here.

CBLDF – Pakistani Political Cartoonist Mourns Free Expression – Sigh.

Kotaku – Magic: The Gathering Cards Designed By Star Video Game Designers – Very cool.

GamePolitics – Humble Store Generates $1 Million for Charities – Congrats!

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

CBR – Fatale #23

CBR – The Manhattan Projects #21

BOOM! Studios Welcomes 2014 as CBLDF’s Newest Corporate Member!

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) has announced that BOOM! Studios has joined the organization as their newest corporate member!

BOOM! Studios Founder and Chief Executive Officer Ross Richie said in a release:

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a vital champion for the rights we as publishers, and our retailer partners depend upon to do business.  We have always believed that their work helps make it possible for the direct market to support the diversity of content we’re able to publish, and we’re pleased to make a meaningful impact in their important worfk with this support.

CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein added:

BOOM! Studios has distinguished itself for its commitment to the direct market by publishing one of the fastest rising and diverse publishing lines in comics.  As CBLDF’s latest corporate member, they are taking a leadership position in helping us protect the freedom to read comics.  We’re thrilled to have them aboard.

BOOM! Studios joins industry leaders Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, Dark Horse, DC Entertainment, Discount Comic Book Service, Diamond Comic Distributors, IDW Publishing, Image Comics, Random House, Valiant, and TFAW.com as Corporate Members supporting the CBLDF’s important work of protecting the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers. The CBLDF provides legal referrals, representation, advice, assistance, and education in furtherance of these goals.

Make a contribution to this important organization today!

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Preview: CBLDF Liberty Annual 2013

CBLDF Liberty Annual 2013

Story By: Tim Seeley
Story By: Corinna Bechko
Story By: Joshua Williamson
Story By: Steve Seeley
Story By: Michael Moreci
Art By: Joe Eisma
Art By: Emi Lenox
Cover By: David Marquez
Price: $4.99
Published: October 2, 2013

A COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND BENEFIT BOOK!
“TALES OF BLOOD & COURAGE!”

CBLDF LIBERTY ANNUAL returns with Dark Horse editor-in-chief SCOTT ALLIE pulling together an all-star roster of writers and artists to battle censorship with 48 PAGES OF ALL-NEW stories! Tim Seeley brings Hack/Slash back for what might be the most bizarre tale in the series, and legendary creator Richard Corben tells the story of an underground cartoonist bringing back his most famous (and well-endowed) hero.

Everyone has a story to tell, but what happens when a story gets taken away from its creator? LIBERTY ANNUAL 2013 looks at the creative costs of censorship, either through the sort of outside interference the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has fought for 27 years, or through more private forms. The Hoax Hunters battle a cable news program for the life of sasquatch, a young punk rock journalist examines Pussy Riot, and Masks and Mobsters writer Josh Williamson answers the question, “What If Wertham Were Right?”

All proceeds from this book benefit the important First Amendment work of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, who’ve been fighting censorship in comics for over 25 years!

CBLDF-liberty-annual_CoverA_Marquez

Video Games and Media Don’t Cause Violence

take actionWith recent tragedies on everyone’s minds, some people are looking for a cause and culprit other than the shooters and perpetrators of the Aurora and Sandy Hook tragedies. Unfortunately some are blaming media, including video games, for violent behavior in individuals. We know this isn’t the case; banning or regulating media content even more won’t solve the issue.

As if a repeat of a television show we’ve seen before, there’s talk of more hearings and federally funded studies. Christopher J. Ferguson, the chair of the Texas A&M International University’s department of psychology and communication, among others including federally funded studies, have shown there’s no link between violent video games and real world violence like mass shooting, bullying or youth aggression. There’s no need for more federal studies, when there’s been federal studies completed. Past research has been mixed, at best, and often weakened by substantial methodological flaws.

The facts also back up no connection. While video game sales have increased, according to the FBI’s own statistics, violent crime has been steadily decreasing. In 2011, violent crimes nationwide decreased 3.8% from 2010. Since 2002, it’s decreased 15.5%. This is all during the time when games like Call of Duty and Halo have dominated sales.

CensorshipAt the same time, federal courts – including the Supreme Court – have routinely held that government regulation of media, including video games, is unconstitutional.  Funding more studies – or passing laws that then get fought out in courts – costs taxpayers millions of dollars. That’s money better spent on treating the mentally ill or shoring up and improving background checks for weapons purchases.

We’ve seen these same conversations before. In the 1950s comic books were blamed for truancy, violence and homosexuality in youth. This lead to hearings in the United States Senate. We look back on this piece of history and laugh out how ludicrous this claim was then. It’s just as ludicrous today when the conversation turns to video games and their affects.

Act Now!

The Entertainment Consumers Association has put together an easy to send email that will send a message to your Representative in the House, two Senators and President Obama. It takes less than a minute to do and adding your voice to reiterate that entertainment does NOT cause violence might help the focus turn to factors that actually do.

There’s no easy solution to prevent violence like these events. But focusing on the wrong things isn’t the answer. Make your voice heard today.

Full Disclosure: Brett Schenker is a consultant for the ECA
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