Tag Archives: pornography

Around the Tubes

The weekend is here! I’m spending it reading comics, playing some Heroclix, and maybe watching How to Train Your Dragon 2. What’s everyone else doing?

Around the Tubes

Kotaku – Two Men Arrested for Allegedly Stealing…320 Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards – Explain that one to your cell mate.

CBR – DC President Diane Nelson Says Female Representation a Priority – Good to hear.

Bleeding Cool – Marvel Comics To Be Paid A Million Dollars To Turn Captain Citrus Into A Man – Hand. Forehead. Slap.

CBLDF – What Does Japan’s New Child Porn Law Mean for Manga and Anime? – Actually a difficult issue one way or another.


Around the Tubes Reviews

CBR – Astro City #13

IGN – Miracleman Book 1

CBR – The United States of Murder Inc. #2


CBLDF To Defend New Comics Criminal Case in Canada

Official Press Release

CBLDF Forms Coalition to Defend American Comics Reader Facing Criminal Charges In Canada

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund today announces that it is forming a coalition to support the legal defense of an American citizen who is facing criminal charges in Canada that could result in a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison for comics brought into the country on his laptop.  This incident is the most serious in a trend the CBLDF has been tracking involving the search and seizure of the print and electronic comic books carried by travelers crossing borders.

CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein says, “Although the CBLDF can’t protect comic fans everywhere in every situation, we want to join this effort to protect an American comic fan being prosecuted literally as he stood on the border of our country for behavior the First Amendment protects here, and its analogues in Canadian law should protect there.”

The CBLDF has agreed to assist in the case by contributing funds towards the defense, which has been estimated to cost $150,000 CDN.  The CBLDF will also provide access to experts and assistance on legal strategy.  The CBLDF’s efforts are joined by the recently re-formed Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund, a Canadian organization that will contribute to the fundraising effort.  Please contribute to this endeavor by making a tax deductible contribution here.

The facts of the case involve an American citizen, computer programmer, and comic book enthusiast in his mid-twenties who was flying from his home in the United States to Canada to visit a friend.  Upon arrival at Canadian Customs a customs officer conducted a search of the American and his personal belongings, including his laptop, iPad, and iPhone. The customs officer discovered manga on the laptop and considered it to be child pornography.  The client’s name is being withheld on the request of counsel for reasons relating to legal strategy.

The images at issue are all comics in the manga style.  No photographic evidence of criminal behavior is at issue.  Nevertheless, a warrant was issued and the laptop was turned over to police.  Consequently, the American has been charged with both the possession of child pornography as well as its importation into Canada. As a result, if convicted at trial, the American faces a minimum of one year in prison. This case could have far reaching implications for comic books and manga in North America.

The CBLDF’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to aid the case by raising funds to contribute to the defense and to help the defense with strategy and expert resources.

Brownstein says, “This is an important case that impacts the rights of everyone who reads, publishes, and makes comics and manga in North America. It underscores the dangers facing everyone traveling with comics, and it can establish important precedents regarding travelers rights.  It also relates to the increasingly urgent issue of authorities prosecuting art as child pornography.  While this case won’t set a US precedent, it can inform whatever precedent is eventually set.  This case is also important with respect to artistic merit in the Canadian courts, and a good decision could bring Canadian law closer to US law in that respect.  With the help of our supporters, we hope to raise the funds to wage a fight that yields good decisions and to create tools to help prevent these sorts of cases from continuing to spread.”

Find out more on the case here. To help support the case, you can make a monetary contribution here.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1986 as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of First Amendment rights for members of the comics community. They have defended dozens of Free Expression cases in courts across the United States, and led important education initiatives promoting comics literacy and free expression. For additional information, donations, and other inquiries call 800-99-CBLDF or visit them online at www.cbldf.org.

The Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1987 to raise money for the defense of a Calgary, Alberta comic shop whose owners were charged with selling obscene materials. The CLLDF has since been maintained on an ad hoc basis to provide financial relief for Canadian comics retailers, publishers, professionals, or readers whose right to free speech has been infringed by civil authorities.  Largely dormant since the early 1990s, the CLLDF is reforming to provide support for this case, and reorganizing to ensure that help will be readily available for future cases involving Canadian citizens or authorities.  To help the CLLDF in this mission, please go to www.clldf.ca.

Cartoonist Charged With Child Porn

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Josue RiveraJosue Rivera, 38, who works under the name Justiniano has been arrested in Connecticut and charged with first degree possession of child pornography.  The charges stem after he lent a funeral home a thumb drive with the images on it.  Rivera was to provide a slide show for a recently deceased friend, instead the funeral home employees found the images on July 16 and reported it to police.  One on the images is believed to be Rivera’s niece.

135 more images were found on Rivera’s home computer in addition to the 33 images on the thumb drive.  The Child Recognition and Identification System has identified 35 children in the files.

Under the name Justiniano, Rivera has done work for DC comics and Chaos, including a Doctor Fate mini-series, 52 and Reign in Hell, Countdown to Mystery, Day of Vengeance, and The Creeper.  He was to appear at this month’s Big Apple Comic Con.  I’m going out on a limb and guessing he won’t be present.

Rivera is being held on a $100,000 bond.

CBLDF Steps In and Joins Alaska Censorship Fight

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The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has announced they’re getting involved in the fight against an Alaskan law involving censorship.  They join a coalition of organizations and local booksellers against the law that “bans constitutionally protected speech on the Internet on topics including contraception and pregnancy, sexual health, literature, and art and also threatens retailers of books, magazines, movies and other media.”

The law was signed in May by Governor Parnell and went into affect July 1.  According to the CBLDF:

The law could make anyone who operates a website or communicates through a listserv criminally liable for nudity or sexually related material, if the material can be considered “harmful to minors” under the law’s definition.

Violators of this law face up to two years in prison, would have to register as a sex offender and could forfeit their business.  The CBLDF went on to call the legislation a “clear and present danger.”

Plaintiffs in the suit against state attorney general Daniel Sullivan are the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Alaska Library Association, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska, the Association of American Publishers, Bosco’s Inc. the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Don Douglas Photography, the Entertainment Merchants Association, Fireside Books, the Freedom To Read Foundation, and Title Wave Books.

The law was intended to protect children from online predators and if it is struck down the state would still be able to fight that heinous crime.

Coroners & Justice Act 2009 Kicks in Today

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If you’re in Britain you might want to be careful as to what comprises your comic book collection.  Today marks the start of the Coroners & Justice Act 2009, a law Britain’s legal system staff were caught up on this past week.  The law extends what falls into prohibited images of children.

Below is the relevant piece of the legislation:

Chapter 2 Images of children

Prohibited images

62 Possession of prohibited images of children Show EN

(1) It is an offence for a person to be in possession of a prohibited image of a child.

(2) A prohibited image is an image which—

(a) is pornographic,

(b) falls within subsection (6), and

(c) is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.

(3) An image is “pornographic” if it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.

(4) Where (as found in the person’s possession) an image forms part of a series of images, the question whether the image is of such a nature as is mentioned in subsection (3) is to be determined by reference to—

(a) the image itself, and

(b) (if the series of images is such as to be capable of providing a context for the image) the context in which it occurs in the series of images.

(5) So, for example, where—

(a) an image forms an integral part of a narrative constituted by a series of images, and

(b) having regard to those images as a whole, they are not of such a nature that they must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal,

the image may, by virtue of being part of that narrative, be found not to be pornographic, even though it might have been found to be pornographic if taken by itself.

(6) An image falls within this subsection if it—

(a) is an image which focuses solely or principally on a child’s genitals or anal region, or

(b) portrays any of the acts mentioned in subsection (7).

(7) Those acts are—

(a) the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with or in the presence of a child;

(b) an act of masturbation by, of, involving or in the presence of a child;

(c) an act which involves penetration of the vagina or anus of a child with a part of a person’s body or with anything else;

(d) an act of penetration, in the presence of a child, of the vagina or anus of a person with a part of a person’s body or with anything else;

(e) the performance by a child of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary);

(f) the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary) in the presence of a child.

(8) For the purposes of subsection (7), penetration is a continuing act from entry to withdrawal.

(9) Proceedings for an offence under subsection (1) may not be instituted—

(a) in England and Wales, except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions;

(b) in Northern Ireland, except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland.

63 Exclusion of classified film etc Show EN

(1) Section 62(1) does not apply to excluded images.

(2) An “excluded image” is an image which forms part of a series of images contained in a recording of the whole or part of a classified work.

(3) But such an image is not an “excluded image” if—

(a) it is contained in a recording of an extract from a classified work, and

(b) it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been extracted (whether with or without other images) solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.

(4) Where an extracted image is one of a series of images contained in the recording, the question whether the image is of such a nature as is mentioned in subsection (3)(b) is to be determined by reference to—

(a) the image itself, and

(b) (if the series of images is such as to be capable of providing a context for the image) the context in which it occurs in the series of images;

and section 62(5) applies in connection with determining that question as it applies in connection with determining whether an image is pornographic.

(5) In determining for the purposes of this section whether a recording is a recording of the whole or part of a classified work, any alteration attributable to—

(a) a defect caused for technical reasons or by inadvertence on the part of any person, or

(b) the inclusion in the recording of any extraneous material (such as advertisements),

is to be disregarded.

(6) Nothing in this section is to be taken as affecting any duty of a designated authority to have regard to section 62 (along with other enactments creating criminal offences) in determining whether a video work is suitable for a classification certificate to be issued in respect of it.

(7) In this section—

  • “classified work” means (subject to subsection (8)) a video work in respect of which a classification certificate has been issued by a designated authority (whether before or after the commencement of this section);
  • “classification certificate” and “video work” have the same meaning as in the Video Recordings Act 1984 (c. 39);
  • “designated authority” means an authority which has been designated by the Secretary of State under section 4 of that Act;
  • “extract” includes an extract consisting of a single image;
  • “pornographic” has the same meaning as in section 62;
  • “recording” means any disc, tape or other device capable of storing data electronically and from which images may be produced (by any means).

(8) Section 22(3) of the Video Recordings Act 1984 (effect of alterations) applies for the purposes of this section as it applies for the purposes of that Act.

64 Defences Show EN

(1) Where a person is charged with an offence under section 62(1), it is a defence for the person to prove any of the following matters—

(a) that the person had a legitimate reason for being in possession of the image concerned;

(b) that the person had not seen the image concerned and did not know, nor had any cause to suspect, it to be a prohibited image of a child;

(c) that the person—

(i) was sent the image concerned without any prior request having been made by or on behalf of the person, and

(ii) did not keep it for an unreasonable time.

(2) In this section “prohibited image” has the same meaning as in section 62.

65 Meaning of “image” and “child” Show EN

(1) The following apply for the purposes of sections 62 to 64.

(2) “Image” includes—

(a) a moving or still image (produced by any means), or

(b) data (stored by any means) which is capable of conversion into an image within paragraph (a).

(3) “Image” does not include an indecent photograph, or indecent pseudo-photograph, of a child.

(4) In subsection (3) “indecent photograph” and “indecent pseudo-photograph” are to be construed—

(a) in relation to England and Wales, in accordance with the Protection of Children Act 1978 (c. 37), and

(b) in relation to Northern Ireland, in accordance with the Protection of Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (S.I. 1978/1047 (N.I. 17)).

(5) “Child”, subject to subsection (6), means a person under the age of 18.

(6) Where an image shows a person the image is to be treated as an image of a child if—

(a) the impression conveyed by the image is that the person shown is a child, or

(b) the predominant impression conveyed is that the person shown is a child despite the fact that some of the physical characteristics shown are not those of a child.

(7) References to an image of a person include references to an image of an imaginary person.

(8) References to an image of a child include references to an image of an imaginary child.

66 Penalties Show EN

(1) This section has effect where a person is guilty of an offence under section 62(1).

(2) The offender is liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding the relevant period or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or both;

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or a fine, or both.

(3) “The relevant period” means—

(a) in relation to England and Wales, 12 months;

(b) in relation to Northern Ireland, 6 months.

67 Entry, search, seizure and forfeiture Show EN

(1) The following provisions of the Protection of Children Act 1978 (c. 37) apply in relation to prohibited images of children as they apply in relation to indecent photographs of children (within the meaning of that Act)—

(a) section 4 (entry, search and seizure);

(b) the Schedule (forfeiture of photographs).

(2) The following provisions of the Protection of Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (S.I. 1978/1047 (N.I. 17)) apply in relation to prohibited images of children as they apply in relation to indecent photographs of children (within the meaning of that Order)—

(a) Article 4 (entry, search and seizure);

(b) the Schedule (forfeiture of photographs).

(3) In this section “prohibited image of a child” means a prohibited image of a child to which section 62(1) applies.

68 Special rules relating to providers of information society services Show EN

Schedule 13 makes special provision in connection with the operation of section 62(1) in relation to persons providing information society services within the meaning of that Schedule.

Indecent pseudo-photographs of children

69 Indecent pseudo-photographs of children: marriage etc Show EN

(1) In section 1A of the Protection of Children Act 1978 (c. 37) (making of indecent photograph of child etc: marriage and other relationships), after “photograph”, in each place it occurs, insert “or pseudo-photograph”.

(2) In section 160A of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (c. 33) (possession of indecent photograph of child etc: marriage and other relationships), after “photograph”, in each place it occurs, insert “or pseudo-photograph”.

(3) In Article 15A of the Criminal Justice (Evidence, etc) (Northern Ireland) Order 1988 (S.I. 1988/1847 (N.I. 17)) (marriage and other relationships), after “photograph”, in each place it occurs, insert “or pseudo-photograph”.

(4) In Article 3B of the Protection of Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (S.I. 1978/1047 (N.I. 17)) (marriage and other relationships), after “photograph”, in each place it occurs, insert “or pseudo-photograph”.

It’s up in the air as to how this will impact various comic books but if you’re a fan of lolicon Manga, you might want to think twice about possessing it in Britain.

Attorney Eric Chase Speaks

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Attorney Eric Chase advised Christopher Handley in his case involving the receipt and possession of obscene manga.  Chase released the statement below about the case.  I encourage everyone to read it.

March 2, 2010
Los Angeles, California

On February 11, 2010, Christopher Handley was sentenced in Iowa for possession of Manga books and magazines.  The prosecution, which began in 2006, was based on the notion that the cartoon images were obscene.  My name is Eric Chase, and I am Chris Handley’s attorney.  I have been reading some of the comments about Chris’ case and have noted some considerable confusion about the process that Chris went through as well as the state of obscenity law in the United States.  In the hope that it will help others avoid Chris’ situation and aid the understanding of those outraged by the outcome, I feel it appropriate to now explain the case from our perspective.

Of all the comments I have come across, perhaps the most interesting to me was one made shortly after Chris entered his guilty plea.  It was a criticism of a statement I made in a Wired magazine interview.  I said, “Obscenity is the only law I’m aware of, if a client shows me a book or magazine or movie, and asks me if this image is illegal, I can’t tell them.” The criticism was, “Lawyers who specialize in obscenity cases… track jury verdicts and can tell you with nearly 100% reliability whether what they’re looking at would be ruled obscene by a jury….”

First, the idea that any lawyer can tell anyone with anything approaching 100% certainty what a jury will decide about anything is just plain silly.  Jurors are people.  As such, any trial lawyer will agree that the only thing predictable about juries is that they are unpredictable.  Second, look at the Max Hardcore case.  He was represented by Louis Sirkin, who is widely regarded as the top obscenity lawyer in the country.  He is the lawyer who won Free Speech Coalition v. Ashcroft in the U.S. Supreme Court.  Max Hardcore was a prolific producer of “cutting edge” pornography that many found disgusting.  For example, it included urination as a form of degradation role-play.  However, it occurred between, was distributed by, and was purchased by consenting adults.  Despite Mr. Sirkin’s exceptional arguments regarding artistic merit, freedom of speech, and community standards, Max Hardcore was convicted by a jury and was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison. (On its initial appeal, the verdict was upheld but it has been remanded for re-sentencing).  In fact, that verdict, which is as ridiculous as the prosecution of Chris Handley, was particularly disheartening as we considered plea offers.

In understanding Chris’ situation, you have to understand the Ashcroft opinion, which has been universally and tragically, at least for Chris, misunderstood.  That case held that sexual images of virtual minors could not be prosecuted as child pornography. However, it did not hold that virtual child pornography was legal.  Rather, it expressly stated that those depictions could be prosecuted as obscenity under the Miller standard.  In short hand, Miller’s three prongs require for conviction a finding that a depiction is 1) sexual in nature (prurient); 2) patently offensive; and 3) lacking in serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. The first two prongs are judged by community standards and the third by an objective standard.

Chris, like most everyone else who had only heard about Ashcroft from news accounts that shoddily reported that the Supreme Court had “legalized virtual child porn,” believed the magazines were legal when he bought them.  As importantly, Chris was not a collector exclusively of lolicon.  He was a collector of all things manga. Of the thousands of books and magazines found by the Feds at Chris’ home, only about twenty had questionable content and ultimately only seven were charged as clearly depicting the violent sexual abuse of obviously very young children.

What Chris did not know was that in direct response to the Supreme Court’s suggestion in Ashcroft, Congress passed 18 USC 1466A, which criminalized as obscenity a laundry list of virtual depictions, including comics, that portray the sexualization of children.  The big difference between 1466A and the general obscenity statute is that the former carries a 5 year mandatory minimum sentence for the more serious charge of “receipt” (and is cross-referenced in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines to child pornography so it gets the same presumptive sentence as if it were real child porn).  Now, “receipt” is an odd charge that is applicable in nearly every possession case.  Simply, you can’t possess something without first receiving it.  Yet, receipt carries the 5 year mandatory minimum sentence, while possession does not. If the case had gone to trial, the jury would have been prohibited from hearing about the minimum applied to the receipt charge, and thus, would not have considered it in determining which, if any, of the charges to convict him of.  Through its choice to create two crimes with vastly different sentences for the same conduct, Congress gave to the prosecution an invaluable tool (quite similar to extortion) in obtaining pleas.

So, Chris had the following difficult options.  He could defend the images which, when projected on an 8’x8′ screen on a courtroom wall, an Iowa jury certainly, and any jury probably, would have likely agreed they “do not want in their community.” (I note that a ban on “kids having sex” pictures, even when only drawn, appears widely supported even by many otherwise apparently liberal bloggers.)  His second choice was to have the receipt charge and its mandatory minimum dismissed and focus at sentencing on his personal situation, which certainly did not merit serious jail time.  His ultimate sentence was 6 months with a recommendation that his term be served in a halfway house.  Unlike Max Hardcore, who opted for the trial (remember, his prosecution was equally, if not more, offensive to notions of free speech), Chris will likely never have a jail door slam behind him.

I know the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and others concerned about the defense of comic books specifically, and free speech generally, are upset that the case did not go to trial.  They are right to be.  The Miller obscenity test is vague, indecipherable, and clearly chills protected speech.  Among its most frightening aspects is that its “community standards” element may allow “moral majority” communities to dictate to the rest of us.  The extortionate tool given to prosecutors through the receipt charge, with its mandatory minimum, gives incentive to defendants to not mount appropriate “community standards” or “serious artistic value” challenges.

In defense of Chris Handley, given his choices, I suppose all I can do is ask: What would you have done?

To the CBLDF and other commendable defenders of free speech whom we may need now more then ever, there is some hope on the horizon.  Louis Sirkin and Max Hardcore are currently waging an important battle in their appeal of his conviction on the issue of what the appropriate community is for the Miller test.  The argument, with which some courts have already agreed, is that in an interconnected internet world, you can’t allow the most repressive of “communities” to dictate what is available to everyone else.  There exists a split among Federal Courts of Appeal in different parts of the country that the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to address and resolve.  It may even be that Max’s case is a better platform for the battle than would have been Chris’ in that it does not involve the explosive element of “children” and instead can focus entirely on the fundamental shortcomings of obscenity law in its current state.

However, though it would be great for Max Hardcore, who would get a new trial, a win on the “which community” question will have little practical effect at future jury trials on obscenity.  A Bible belt jury will be “instructed” to apply a national standard instead of their county’s.  So what?  As they always have when asked what they believe community standards should be, they are still going to apply their own personal standards.  This suggests a more fundamental problem with the Miller test.

That problem, which the Supreme Court has contorted to overcome in upholding the Miller test, is vagueness. “Void for Vagueness” is a constitutional doctrine that requires that a criminal law’s proscriptions be ascertainable so that a person is put on notice before he or she acts about whether his or her contemplated action will violate the law.  To the extent that the response to my Wired statement is correct about being able to tell ahead of a trial what a jury will find obscene, it is only correct about the extreme depictions that have, so far, been the focus of prosecutorial attention.  As I have read the reaction to Chris’ plea and sentence, I have seen a questioning of the legality of everything from Nabokov and “American Beauty” to Japanese Yaoi, which depicts figures that are androgynous, hairless, and clearly childlike, but not clearly children.  If you asked me today whether it is legal to sell Yaoi on the Internet knowing that it would be available in Iowa or most anywhere in the south, I am not sure what the answer would be.

I am, however, certain from comments I’ve read that some who have heard about Chris have already destroyed literature that certainly should not be considered illegal.  That “chilling effect” on free speech is precisely the reason for the vagueness doctrine.  So, the question should not just be which community is being polled, but how can we rely on polling at all when such an important right is at stake and the poll results change each time they are taken?

However, the fight for a national standard is the one that has currently been joined.  For now, let us wish Mr. Hardcore and Mr. Sirkin well, and let us also wish well to all those who continue the fight for all of our fundamental liberties.  While we’re at it, let us also wish well to Christopher Handley.

Eric A. Chase, Esq.
United Defense Group, LLP

Iowa Man Sentenced to Six Months for Comic Books

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There was an uproar about Christopher Handley who pleaded guilty last year for possessing “drawings of children being sexually abused.”  Many thought he should have fought the charges but instead took a different route.

On Wednesday he was sentenced to six months incarceration today, followed by three years of supervised release and five years probation, which will include limits to his internet usage and restrictions regarding contact with children, though his defense is trying to get those last two dropped. Handley will also have to take a treatment programme, including psychological examination and polygraph readings on his release.

Handley had ordered various Japanese Manga which was seized by Post Office workers in 2006.  Some of these volumes featured drawings depicting underage sex, an aspect of manga that is not illegal in Japan.  A further raid of his home turned up more material.

This case was rallied around as an example of free speech as the material in question were drawings and no one was harmed.  Free speech you disagree with or are even disgusted by is free speech that needs to be defended.

Just another example of a failure to defend our freedom and a principle this country was founded on.

Graphic Novels Pose Problems for Libraries

The Greensboro, North Carolina News & Record has an excellent article about the growing issues libraries are facing when it comes to stocking graphic novels.  The increasing popularity of the medium is forcing libraries to stock them, and with that dealing with new headaches on who can read them.  The visual nature of graphic novels (long-form comic books) is part of why they’re growing in popularity, but also is the very thing that’s causing problems.

“It’s the same thing as when libraries started stocking videos. People seem to be more sensitive to a visual representation versus the written word,” said Sherrie Antonowicz , collection development manager for the Greensboro Public Library.

Earlier this year, the Jessamine County Public Library in Kentucky fired two library employees after they refused to check out a graphic novel to an 11-year-old, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader .  That incident sparked a debate of whether their actions was protection of children from harmful material, outright censorship, or shielding the library from possible litigation.

The graphic novel, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, which contains sexually explicit images, is the center of that controversery. Sharon Cook, one of the fired employees, checked the book out herself to keep it out of circulation and has paid a fine of 10 cents a day for her stand.  Cook, challenged the inclusion of the graphic novel in the libraries collection and when that didn’t work she decided to check it out herself, in effect removing it from circulation.

Cook’s plan ended one day when another patron requested the book, and the computer system denied her the ability to re-check it out herself.  That patron turned out to be an 11 year old girl.  This caused Cook to take her extreme actions.

On Sept. 22, Cook told two of her colleagues at the library about her dilemma, and Beth Boisvert made a decision. She would take the book off hold, thus disallowing the child — or the child’s parents — ever to see the book.

On Sept. 23, both Cook and Boisvert were fired. They were told by library director Ron Critchfield the firings were a decision of the library board.

The Greensboro libraries according to the article are dealing with that particular issue.  Antonowicz said the library did not buy The Black Dossier because it was labeled adult fiction in the publishing review material used for selecting new books.  But, the Greensboro libraries do have other titles by Alan Moore, some of which contain sexual situations, and often fall in “adult” or mature categories when it comes to comic labelling.

Greensboro often selects their purchases based on demand of their patrons with nearly all graphic novels labeled YA or young adult; those that are not, are shelved in the general book stacks. The young adult books are shelved outside of the children’s section of the library and intended for 15- to 19-year-olds.

Parents can place restrictions on their child’s library card that would prevent them from checking out some material, but not young adult books like the graphic novels. Antonowicz said the library might need to review that policy in the near future.  Patrons 15 years old or older are given adult library cards and allowed to check out anything in the library.

“It’s still up to the parent to watch what the child is reading,” Antonowicz said.

Patrons can file a formal complaint about material they find objectionable. The library will review the material and decide if it should be reclassified — moved from young adult to adult, for example — or removed from the library.

In the past 10 years , there have been four formal complaints about books. None of the books were removed from the library.

The quandary for Greensboro libraries and the incident in Kentucky raise the question of the role of libraries to protect children, walking a fine line of censorship.  The Black Dossier does not fall into the category of obscenity by law.  While the graphic novel does contain many images of varied and explicit sexual behavior, it has been the subject of academic study. It was named by Time Magazine as one of its Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2007 and called “genius,” applauded for its ability to “pluck out the strange and angry and contradictory bits that underlie so much of the culture we live and think with today.”

Also keep in mind in 1973 the Supreme Court decided that obscenity could be determined by local community standards.  What may seem like censorship to me or you it’s perfectly within the right of Jessamine County or Greensboro, North Carolina citizens to determine what they want their children to have access to.

Editor’s Opinion: When it comes to any entertainment medium it is our opinion it’s the parents duty to know what their children are ingesting.  Libraries like video game consoles, or televisions have the ability for the parents to choose what their children can view.  Parental responsibility includes not just making sure your children are safe, or educated, but also what they do in their free time.  Mechanisms are in place, take the time to use them.