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08/15/2003 Entry: "CBLDF, ACLU and our goofy obscenity laws"

Well, here are my two cents on the "Demon Beast Invasion" trial.

Firstly, I have a definition of and a solution for obscenity and obscenity laws in the US: If you don't like my peaches, don't climb my tree.

Consenting adults should be able to read and look at whatever they want. Foisting, um, compelling or otherwise material on others, such as proselytizing, is obscene. No one forced the police officer to buy that comic from a guy who was only doing his job at this place of business. Can we all grow up now?

What I have gleaned from my reading around this case is that the CBLDF didn't make the case that "Demon Beast Invasion" was not obscene under the law as it now reads. I assume Mr. Castillo was charged with promotion of pornography or something like that. This law is badly abused and interpreted differently from location to location, but until it changes, these kinds of cases are going to happen all over the country.

In an essay on Molly Kiely, I wrote about the "Answer Me, #4" obscenity trial. In that trial, the attorneys, supported by the ACLU were able to prove that "Answer Me, #4" was not obscene and therefore the booksellers had not broken any laws. The booksellers, owner Ira Stohl and manager Kristina Hjelsand of Newsstand International in Bellingham, Washington, were facing $10,000.00 in fines and five year sentences. Not to belittle Mr. Castillo's situation, but five years in the jail house and ten grand for a small business is life destroying. (And, based on what I've read around the blogs, I'm not clear if Mr. Castillo was convicted on a felony or a misdemeanor. I think a misdemeanor should never have gone to trial, but been plea bargained. Sometimes winning is more about picking your battles well.)

Now, I realize that "Answer Me" could never be construed as a comic book and possibly fall into the hand of children. In the same way the "Demon Beast Invasion" was being kept in the adults only section and could never fall into the hands of children. I also realize that the "Answer Me" trial took place in relatively liberal Washington state and the "Demon Beast Invasion" trial did not. But all juries are human and can be swayed by testimony and lawyering. Please remember CBLDF couldn't get Mike Diana off in Florida, with a judge only trial, either. So, I am beginning to feel that the CBLDF should integrate or work more closely with the ACLU because the ACLU has a better track record on this stuff. It will also bring comics into the mainstream, adult arena. This will probably get me in trouble, but once you're born, you're pretty much in trouble already and only the degree varies.

Lastly, I read that Jim Henely just shelled out $16.95 for a copy of "Demon Beast Invasion" which just proves, once again, that You Can't Buy This Kind Of Publicity.

Corrections and comments are very welcome here.

Other readings:

Which headline has more sizzle: "Supreme Court strips porno-comics of First Amendment Protection" or "Man convicted because his lawyer failed to object"?, by Beldar Blog

Jim Henley

Amused in Review

 

 

 

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