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Alaskan Prosecutors Cite Anime in Virtual Child Porn Ban Push

posted on 2009-10-12 08:38 EDT

Prosecuting attorneys in Alaska have cited anime, among other works, as a reason to ban "sexually explicit drawings of children." In the United States, sexually explicit photographs of real children are outlawed, but the First Amendment protections on free speech allow sexually explicit depictions of fictional children, which are also known as "virtual child pornography."

Aaron Sperbeck, the crimes-against-children prosecutor in the Anchorage District Attorney's Office, is pushing for the ban and has the support of the chair of the House Judiciary Committee (Rep. Jay Ramras, R-Fairbanks) and others in the State Legislature. According to the Anchorage Daily News paper, the proposal is not intended for "children in bathtubs or Lolitas with their shirts off." Howver, Alaska Assistant U.S. Attorney Audrey Renschen said, "When you talk about anime, even though a real child wasn't used, it still sexualizes the child. And cartoons are naturally conducive to attracting a child." She added that she has not charged anyone with possessing anime images in her five years of prosecuting child pornography cases.

Joan Bertin, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship in New York, said, "That represents someone's fantasy life. When you start regulating that kind of matter, you are getting into thought control and that is very dangerous." The judges of the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals voted against reviewing the 2006 conviction of Virginia resident Dwight Whorley for possessing child pornography, including images of real children and anime. However, one of the dissenting judges, Judge Roger L. Gregory, urged Whorley's attorney to petition the Supreme Court to hear the case and decide on the legality of the prohibition on possessing obscene images that do not involve actual children.

The Japanese parliament decided last year to study the issue of virtual child pornography rather than passing a bill to amend the country's child pornography laws to include these depictions. The Congress of the Philippines' Joint House Committees on Justice and Welfare of Children approved a bill in April to ban the possession of what the bill authors describe as "Japanese pornographic cartoon that depicts children in explicit sexual activity."

Thank you to S Logan for the news tip.


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