The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
-H. L. Mencken
I was going to write something long and historical about historical matters, but I don’t have the time today and then this caught my eye, via The Anti-Feminist, who is well worth a read.
The second of those refers to a dirty old man who was briefly infamous as head of the long defunct Paedophile Information Exchange, having some drawings on his computer that the Ulema and Mutaween have decided are of underage persons having sex. The first of those refers to another arm of the censorious state taking it upon themselves to decide that a real human being, whose birth certificate quite clearly shows is 23 years old, “looks under 16″.
You see the problem here?
I have to declare an interest here. I draw rude pictures for a living, so, the “underage pictures” law, introduced in those faraway days of 2009, is a genuine concern. How is one supposed to defend oneself against an accusation that a drawing “looks” under 18, when even pictures of real people can be declared to be seven years different to the actual age? Drawings don’t have birth certificates. They don’t have any human characteristics at all. Because they aren’t real people.
Now at this point I’m supposed by convention to lob in some kind of disclaimer about the men convicted; vile perverts, hanging’s too good for them, and try to use an argument that it’s right to convict them but, well, innocent folks might get caught as well, and that’s why libertarians oppose it, or something. Well, I don’t like that kind of wishy washy argument. A crime is a crime when you hurt somebody. If you write a 10 million word novel about hurting people, if you draw a thousand pictures of people being hurt, those aren’t crimes. That’s the beginning and end of it.
Picking through the yellow journalism typical of the BBC on this issue, and stripping out excited words like “ring”, what we’re left with is some blokes who had collected some Japanese hentai pictures and games- all legal in Japan and all legal here until 2009, under a law designed to enable fishing by the Mutaween. This stuff is all over the web. The particular issue is that the Japanese have a big thing about schoolgirls and the like, or at least the Japs who like porn seem to; and the “anime” style of cartooning is a very broad cartoon style with a lot of neotenous (i.e. juvenile) features- large head/body ratio, big eyes, small noses and mouths. It’s impossible meaningfully to assign an “age” to any of it. They’re cartoons, extremely stylised cartoons, for fuck’s sake.
As for the fishing question, one is left to wonder how exactly the Mutaween found out about their hentai collections. It doesn’t seem unlikely that it was a case of “get our list of nonces and seize their computers, they’re bound to have something on there”. Does it?
Where this will end I don’t know. All I do know is that this man- who has harmed nobody so far as we know- has been thrown in prison and the key literally thrown away. For make believe drawings. Welcome to the free world!
And, okay, I will use that “nobody is safe” argument. Consider this. When the State has decided you can be prosecuted not for how old somebody is but how old somebody, in their opinion looks- well, make sure you haven’t got any fruity pics of that slim, small breasted girlfriend. You’ve been warned.
While I’m at it, here’s an exellent blast from the past from Sean Gabb, where amongst other things he discusses how the rule of law can divorce itself from justice, and already had done when he wrote it… in 1989.