Sometimes I forget that Rilo Kiley did an acoustic tour in early 2004 (which was basically just Jenny and Blake). And sometimes I forget they did covers of Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible” and David Bowie’s “Rock ‘n’ Rock Suicide.” So when I remember that both of these actually happened, it pleases me all over again.
The Handley case has been causing quite the stir on the comics blogs these past few days. Even if you’re not a comics or manga reader, this is a serious threat and violation to the First Amendment that should not be taken lightly. Someone claiming to be a friend of Handley has been commenting and speaking out over at Japanator, with some interesting bits here:
His lawyer had told him a month or so ago that if he took the plea then he would be plea bargaining down to possession of obscene materials. Nothing mentioning obscene materials with children in them. Also that he would not serve any time in jail because he’s been a good boy while he was on probation, and that his fine would be under a grand. His family is rather upset over the whole thing and is like every one else, in wishing that he hadn’t taken the plea. However, it all came down to what his lawyer wanted to do. His lawyer didn’t want to fight it. So, he threw Chris under the bus.
If the feds are able to go after people for cartoons, and that’s what they are folks, cartoons, then what is going to stop them from going after other forms of art?
The thing of it is, the four comics that started this whole mess, he didn’t even see what pictures were inside of it.
It’s all quite terrifying actually. Am I going to have to worry about what’s depicted in books I order online and fear being arrested before even seeing these books? If anyone orders Alan Moore’s “Lost Girls,” you could very easily be next. It seems to be as simple as that.
Source: The Beat, who, as usual, has done a wonderful job of keeping tabs on this subject.
CBLDF Disappointed By Guilty Plea in Handley Manga Case
This is so disturbing on so many levels.
According to a press release issued by the Department of Justice, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has learned that Christopher Handley, the Iowa manga collector, has pleaded guilty “to possessing obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children and mailing obscene material.” CBLDF had served as a special consultant to Mr. Handley’s defense. The government’s press release states, “Handley faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and a three-year term of supervised release.” Additionally, he forfeits all property seized in his prosecution.
The CBLDF became special consultant to Mr. Handley’s defense team last October. In this limited role, the Fund facilitated access to First Amendment experts; recommended expert witnesses on manga; and funded expert research pursuant to an eventual jury trial. The CBLDF spent $2,400 on that research, and had allocated up to $15,000 for expert witness expenses.
"Naturally, we are very disappointed by this result, but understand that in a criminal case, every defendant must make the decision that they believe serves their best interest," CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein said. "Because the set of facts specific to this case were so unique, we hope that its importance as precedent will be minimal. However, we must also continue to be prepared for the possibility that other cases could arise in the future as a result."
Brownstein adds, “Mr. Handley now faces the loss of his freedom and his property, all for owning a handful of comic books. It’s chilling. The Fund remains unwavering in our commitment to be prepared to manage future threats of this nature wherever they arise. This is the unfortunate conclusion of Mr. Handley’s case, but it is not the end of this sort of prosecution. For that reason, the Fund stands steadfast in our commitment to defending the First Amendment rights of the comics art form.”
Mr. Handley’s case began in May 2006 when he received an express mail package from Japan that contained seven Japanese comic books. That package was intercepted by the Postal Inspector, who applied for a search warrant after determining that the package contained cartoon images of objectionable content. Unaware that his materials were searched, Handley drove away from the post office and was followed by various law enforcement officers, who pulled him over and followed him to his home. Once there, agents from the Postal Inspector’s office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, Special Agents from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, and officers from the Glenwood Police Department seized Handley’s collection of over 1,200 manga books or publications; and hundreds of DVDs, VHS tapes, laser disks; seven computers, and other documents. Though Handley’s collection was comprised of hundreds of comics covering a wide spectrum of manga, the government is prosecuting images appearing in a small handful.
Handley has chosen to plead guilty and I’m curious to know why. There’s obviously more to this story that we don’t all know, but it’s still very frightening that someone is being persecuted in this country for basically owning manga. One of the more interesting sentences in the above paragraph is that the Postal Inspector applied for a search warrant after coming to the conclusion that the package had objectionable material. How does a package that contains books look like it has “objectionable material”…? I’m quite puzzled by that one.