Posted by: audioofamber | December 2, 2008

Neil Gaiman on freedom of speech.

So when Mike Diana was prosecuted — and found guilty — of obscenity for the comics in his Zine “Boiled Angel”, and sentenced to a host of things, including (if memory serves) a three year suspended prison sentence, a three thousand dollar fine, not being allowed to be in the same room as anyone under eighteen, over a thousand hours of community service, and was forbidden to draw anything else obscene, with the local police ordered to make 24 hour unannounced spot checks to make sure Mike wasn’t secretly committing Art in the small hours of the morning… that was the point I decided that I knew what was obscene, and it was prosecuting artists for having ideas and making lines on paper, and that I was going to do everything I could to support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Whether I liked or approved of what Mike Diana did was utterly irrelevant. (For the record, I didn’t like the text parts of Boiled Angel, but did like the comics, which were personal and had a raw power to them. And somewhere in the sprawling basement magazine collection I have Boiled Angel 7 and 8, which I read back then to find out what was being prosecuted, and for owning which I could, I assume, now be arrested…)

In this case you obviously have read lolicon, and I haven’t. I don’t know whether you’re writing from personal experience here, and whether you have personally been incited to rape children or give inappropriate hugs by reading it. (I assume you haven’t. I assume that Chris Handley, with his huge manga collection, wasn’t either. I’ve read books that claimed that exposure to porn causes rape, but have seen no statistical evidence that porn causes rape — and indeed have seen claims that the declining number of US rapes may be due to the wider availability of porn. Honestly, I think it’s a red herring in First Amendment matters, and I’ll leave it for other people to argue about.) Still, you seem to want lolicon banned, and people prosecuted for owning it, and I don’t. You ask, What makes it worth defending? and the only answer I can give is this: Freedom to write, freedom to read, freedom to own material that you believe is worth defending means you’re going to have to stand up for stuff you don’t believe is worth defending, even stuff you find actively distasteful, because laws are big blunt instruments that do not differentiate between what you like and what you don’t, because prosecutors are humans and bear grudges and fight for re-election, because one person’s obscenity is another person’s art.

Because if you don’t stand up for the stuff you don’t like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you’ve already lost.

The CBLDF will defend your First Amendment right as an adult to make lines on paper, to draw, to write, to sell, to publish, and now, to own comics. And that’s what makes the kind of work you don’t like, or don’t read, or work that you do not feel has artistic worth or redeeming features worth defending. It’s because the same laws cover the stuff you like and the stuff you find icky, wherever your icky line happens to be: the law is a big blunt instrument that makes no fine distinctions, and because you only realise how wonderful absolute freedom of speech is the day you lose it.

Link to the whole article here.

In honor of that…. MOE TUESDAY :P

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Responses

  1. […] last week’s post in my blog about what Neil Gaiman has to say on freedom of speech. Filed under: News   |   Tags: censorship, […]


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