Defending the Indefensible

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is currently involved in the case of Christopher Hadley, a manga collector who is facing up to 20 years for the possession of manga that prosecutors say represents child porn.  Setting aside whether or not the comics in question actually do depict under age sex, and whether or not it should count, as there were no actual children involved, this is the first time thi CBLDF has been called on to help defend a comic reader.

In addition, Neil Gaiman, a well known proponent of the CBLDF, wrote a marvelous post in his blog today about why he defends speech with which he personally does not agree.  He makes some very good points.  I personally am familiar with the ethical and philosophical parts of his argument, but even so, the anecdotes he shares are worth reading for their own sake.  I particularly loved this little summary of why it’s important to defend those we disagree with.

The Law is a huge blunt weapon that does not and will not make distinctions between what you find acceptable and what you don’t. This is how the Law is made.

This sort of question is very near and dear to my heart.  I lived for a long time in an area of the United States where people seem to have a serious problem with the idea that what their religion says is right and what’s legal don’t necessarily have to be one and the same.  As I was frequently one of the few people I knew espousing different opinions at the time, I felt a similar (though less dire) pressure to the one being fought my Mr. Gaiman and the rest of the CBDLF.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. – Evelyn Hall


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