Saturday, June 25, 2011

Watch out for Manga at the Border!

According to an article by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), a young man was recently taken aside at the US/Canada Border for possessing what the border guard claimed was child pornography, but which was actually a collection of manga on his computer.  According to the CBLDF, he "is facing a minimum sentence of year in a Canadian prison and being forced to register as a sex offender. Just for having comics on his laptop."

The legal costs for the young man are estimated to be around $150,000, which the CBLDF has agreed to help pay for.  "The CBLDF will also provide access to experts and assistance on legal strategy. The CBLDF’s efforts are joined by the recently re-formed Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund, a Canadian organization that will contribute to the fundraising effort."

This is truly a sad phenomenon from a country who tends to be known as being more liberal on many fronts (equal rights for LGBT people and gay marriage, for instance.)  To me it is an embarrassment that there could be so much fear-mongering regarding comic books, graphic novels, and manga.  The article by the CBLDF goes on to warn international travelers who like to read comic books:
This isn’t the only case of comics being targeted by customs officials. Last spring cartoonists Tom Neely and Dylan Williams were on the way to a convention when they were stopped at the border and art comics in their possession were seized. In fact, Canada Customs routinely seizes comics of all kinds, as you can see here. If you or someone you know is traveling internationally, please read our Advisory on traveling with comics before getting on the plane.
Come on Canada, and get your act together.  Comics are not what is going to ruin the lives of Canadian Citizens, at least not in any way I can figure out.  Be vigilant and keep tabs on what's going on at our border.  And if you want to help out with the defense of this young man, there is a link in the article that will allow you to donate.

Thanks for listening.

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