Images that depict underage girls and boys are about to be banned in the UK.
First, some context (quotes from experiencefestival.com:)
“The United States Supreme Court decided in 2002, and affirmed in 2004, that previous American prohibition of simulated child pornography under the Child Pornography Prevention Act was unconstitutional.” The main issue was that there was no harm to any actual children, and the court found that viewing of this material had no causative link to harming children. True, someone sexually attracted to children would enjoy this kind of pornography, but the converse was not true: someone who enjoyed it would not necessarily harm, or have any feelings for, real children.
“UK law has dealt with simulated images quite differently since 1994, when the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act introduced the legal definition of an ‘indecent pseudo-photograph of a child,’ which is prohibited as if it were a true photograph.” This act was originally interpreted to apply only to photorealistic images; drawings that were clearly not based on any real children were permitted.
Now, however, things may be changing.
Japanese “loli” manga appears to be the focus of the recent ban. In the Japanese cultural context, youth is merely a way of depicting or denoting innocence and the capacity for wonder. Japanese pop idols are deliberately made to appear childlike and cute, deliberately choosing voices, attire, mannerisms, and so on with this in mind. This does not necessarily mean that the average Japanese are actually attracted to children; rather, they value such characteristics in adults as a symbol of being “a child at heart.” It is, after all, one thing to have a deep faith in humanity when you are eight, and quite another to have it when you are twenty-five.
Japan is not a nation of pedophiles, but rather a nation that values innocence and has chosen to depict that innocence with physical characteristics, the result of which is disturbing to some Westerners. (This is a simplification for the purpose of clarifying cultural context. Individual Japanese may, of course, actually be pedophiles, but then again so may individual Westerners. I have no idea if there is a statistical difference in pedophilia between Japan and “Western” countries.)
None of this changes the fact that it is still porn, but it does not have the same connotations as child porn, which is a loaded term. Since porn is not banned in the UK, this is not a discussion of whether or not loli porn is objectionable, but rather, whether it is any more objectionable than other forms of porn and whether the law should recognize this.
A few observations:
– Obviously this is most relevant to the UK, but as it is a very visible implementation of law, it will no doubt be watched by legal scholars throughout the rest of the European Union and in the States (to a limited extent.)
– English Law has always been less about first principles and logical progression from such, and more about the expression of what the English find unacceptable. Naturally, UK law follows this tendency strongly. Ideas about trial by jury and such derive from that principle, as traditionally if a jury found someone’s behavior technically illegal but reasonable under the circumstances, they could find him innocent.
– This is related to the concept of age of consent as a whole as simply an antiquated cultural construct. The debate about the many problems inherent in legally-enforced arbitrary ages of consent has been going on for years, however, and not much headway has been made.
– There is no proof whatsoever that loli images in any way alter the incidence of real pedophilia, for good or for ill. After all, the US court found that some who enjoy “loli” works either have no feelings for actual living minors or have the restraint to not act them out. And if pedophilia is a mental illness or inherent compulsion, then discouraging related artwork has little bearing on incidence, anyway.
– If society asserts that the conflation of youth and sexuality is unilaterally bad, does that carry through to the sexualization of qualities associated with minors (youthful energy, rosy outlook on life, etc.)? Are those bad too? Is there something inherently wrong about a girl saying, “I want an energetic boyfriend?” Is there something automatically bad about a boy saying, “I want to date an innocent and pure girl?”
– Are things legal only because society expects them, approves of them, and considers them normal?
All in all it would seem that this is the United Kingdom taking a step back away from modern democratic ideals. It is entirely possible to paint this as one of many curtailments of individual liberties in the UK, though whether that is really the case is beyond the scope of this article. Things could get a bit uncomfortable for British otaku.
9 thoughts on “Arthur Kirkland hates lolis”
Arthur Kirkland is probably most upset that he may have to explain why he has all those albums full of photos of a certain young Alfred F. Jones.
“In the Japanese cultural context, youth is merely a way of depicting or denoting innocence and the capacity for wonder.”
Come on, you can’t be serious. ^^;; Yes, Kodomo no jikan is all about innocence and capacity for wonder… 😀 Besides, we’re talking about fap material not everything with underaged children in it. Afaik the bill would only affect manga with lolis (and shota) in obviously sexual situations, stuff like Kodomo no Jikan, Boku no Pico, eromanga/doujin, etc. Not Ichigo Mashimaro and the like.
“Is there something automatically bad about a boy saying, “I want to date an innocent and pure girl?””
Well, yes, when under “innocent and pure girl” he means “a girl under fourteen ahh delicious lolis haa haa.” Fantasy is one thing, reality is something else.
It makes me wonder if this is all riding on the back of the paranoia whipped up by the media – if you were to be stupid enough to believe the papers you’d assume there’s a kiddie-fiddler living in every street across the land, and YOUR child is going to be the first to be kidnapped or worse. A paediatrician was a victim of protests at the hands of what must have been a semi-illiterate mob a few years back.
The writer Neil Gaiman (whose opinions I hold in very high regard) made a good post on his personal blog about the issue, proving that some people here like to think rationally. It’s called “Why defend the freedom of icky speech?” for those curious.
Sadly he’s right that we don’t have the same freedom of speech that you stateside folks do: I disapprove of lolicon as much as he does but the heavy-handed and thoughtless way in which this legislation is being pushed through saddens me. How can it defend people’s rights when innocent people are being dragged through the courts and given a criminal record on what is merely a technicality rather than a genuine crime? It’s making a big show of effectiveness when the errors will outweigh the benefits…a common scenario in Britain today!
Kuromitsu – You group Kodomo no Jikan, which goes out of its way to subvert genre and stereotype, and thus has some literary merit, with hentai doujinshi, which are merely pornographic. Perhaps it is my turn to ask – are you serious?
The entire point of Kodomo no Jikan is that, given the roles typically assigned in the genre, the girl is supposed to be innocent and pure, and she is not. You have just proved my point about cultural awareness. If you do not read the work with the expectation that the girl will act in a certain manner, then the work cannot contradict your expectations, and thus its literary significance in challenging those expectations is lost. Kodomo no Jikan, in subverting the conventional roles, asks why the roles exist. Missing this point and asserting there is no literary merit is akin to suggesting the Song of Solomon is merely a bawdy tale rather than an allegory of divine love.
There is another legal principle that I did not mention above, and it is that the law should not cast too wide a net. You are very cavalier about all the non-pornographic manga and anime that may become illegal under this act. A great many include fanservice moments, which could be said to be “sexual situations,” even if in context they are meant as comedy, as with Love Hina, Excel Saga, or Negima. Under this bill it is quite easy for an overzealous prosecutor to send even the typical non-H anime fan to trial. Is this an improvement of existing law? I submit that it is not.
“Fantasy is one thing; reality is something else.”
That is precisely what is wrong about this law.
Martin – Of course it is good that some celebrities are speaking up for what is reasonable, but can you truly expect every judicial agent to display the understanding and open-mindedness shown by Mr. Gaiman? (I follow his twitter myself, incidentally.) More to the point, should it come down to that?
I think your assessment is correct. Generally, hastily conceived and framed legislation is to some degree driven by media furor.
I (the person that ordered the phone in the last link) am not British, the cover-design program is only available in the UK so I’m getting my UK friend to bring it back to Canada. I don’t think that changes anything though, the lolicon represents a good number of Otaku worldwide.
Regarding laws though, although this is bad news for British Otaku, the severity of the situation in the UK is still to be determined. Loli material is technically illegal in Canada, though it is not strictly followed, so unless you’re stupid you can get away with it.
Welcome to the age of thoughtcrime, where you can be jailed for exploiting fictitious children, and also you can be both the perpetrator and the only victim of a sex crime.
tai – I responded at your site (and I’m glad you’ll be able to use the phone case you went to so much trouble to order), but I basically think that having to hope for lax enforcement of the laws is a terrible legal situation.
Foomy – Well said. Though let’s be frank, thought crime has been with us as long as there has been society. It just hasn’t always had the weight of law.
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