Cable Company Craziness & Manga Madness






Okay, okay, that was from The Onion, and is all satirical. But the true stories coming out lately are...well, almost as unbelievable:
Yes, ISPs are having a hard time finding anyone to actually support the end of net neutrality, so...they're making groups up. Or tricking groups into signing on. Or, you know, faking their signatures.

This is not how it's supposed to work! Cable companies have the money to push through what they want, generally speaking, but Americans have been so loud about restoring and protecting net neutrality that we're hard to ignore - so ISPs are fighting back with well-financed deception. We just have to speak up louder! If you haven't done so yet, contact the FCC directly and let them know how important net neutrality is to you!

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Okay, yesterday I said I'd talk about child pornography laws and anime/manga. Of course, that's all happening in Japan, but librarians are naturally global citizens, and it's not as though we aren't having the same discussion in the U.S. Librarians, in case you didn't know, are pretty big believers in the absolute ethic of intellectual freedom. It doesn't matter what your particular society says or does, some things are right and some are wrong, and "the right to seek, receive, hold, and disseminate information from all points of view without restriction" is always right. We believe in the right to information access, and we believe in that as an absolute ethic, as well.

All that sounds really high-falutin' when discussing anime/manga/graphic novels, doesn't it? Especially when discussing it in the context of child porn. But it's very important, I think. Do I think child pornography should be created and distributed? No - I really, really don't. In the case of illustrated literature, however, no child is actually involved in the creation and distribution - no one is hurt, no one's privacy is invaded, etc. - and that makes a huge difference, in my opinion.

Literature often portrays things we wouldn't allow discussed in the "real world" - we can read about rape, murder, bestiality, and all other sorts of violence and evil; we can also look straight into people's bedrooms, bathrooms, and private thoughts. Literature allows us to consider new angles, explore uncomfortable but important topics, and/or stretch, grow, reshape ourselves as individuals and as communities. Literature offers us windows, vitally, into the minds and views of people other than ourselves - including children. And, let's be honest, sex is a part of children's lives. (When you get into fantasy realms, it might be a very strange part of a character's life, indeed.)

Now, I'm sure some subsection of  illustrated literature would make me physically sick; my "line" is probably different from my sisters' (who tend to be more conservative) or my college friends' (who tend to be more liberal). But, as author Neil Gaiman pointed out, "If you accept -- and I do -- that freedom of speech is important, then you are going to have to defend the indefensible. That means you are going to be defending the right of people to read, or to write, or to say, what you don't say or like or want said." (I recommend reading the whole article. It's an excellent article.)

So, do I think illustrated literature qualifies as child pornography? No. Even when it depicts child pornography, it is not actually child pornography - it might be "icky," it's definitely not something that I would want to peruse, but it is not, in essence, child pornography. And that's an important line to draw.

What do you think?

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