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  1. #1
    Spectacular Member PoorStudent's Avatar
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    Question Is the CBLDF actually needed?

    I don't mean to argue or debate about the mertis of the CBLDF, or suggest that they are wrong in their intent to fight for freedom of speech or fight censorship, I'm just wonder if they are actually relevant. Comics is such a small niche medium and the few censorship issues I've read about seem so rare and few and far between that I wonder if they are needed in practicality.

    In terms of other types of media, e.g; music, video games, movies; there is a ratings system and there is (supposed) restriction on what art/media is appropriate to be sold. The MPAA and ESRB both exist as products of their respective industry regulating themselves to prevent government censorship or interference. Yet comics have nothing like that. I can go to any barnes and noble in the country and pick up comics that are mature and face no restrictions. So I'm wondering why the CBLDF and other creators make such a big deal out of this? If anything it seems like the comic industry is going under the radar because there is no age restrictions, and unlike the movie industry or video games industry aren't being threatened by congress. And part of me wonders if the CBLDF might actually inadvertently make so much noise that they do eventually bring some sort of pressure to add ratings or some regulation.

  2. #2

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    I don't really recall major Comic Book Legal Defense Fund cases lately, so I can get the argument about why it's not seen as all that important, although I'm not persuaded by it.

    It should be noted that it's not about ratings systems. The legal issues they've been involved in have included Starbucks suing the artist Kieron Dwyer over a parody, a Dallas comic book store employee arrested on obscenity charges for selling adult comics to an undercover officer, a manga fan being arrested in Canada on child pornography charges due to the manga on his laptop, and stuff of that nature.

    There are several ways of looking at what's been going on with them.

    It's possible that this thread is just an example of them being victims of their own success. They're able to provide legal resources on first amendment civil and criminal cases, which may result in less prosecution and lawsuits. This could go away if they were to disband, and overzealous lawyers were to face less opposition.

    It's possible that the legal culture has changed so that we no longer have the same level of egregious first amendment abuses. There are powerful corporations with a vested interest in a robust first amendment, so if you were to get criminally charged for buying an avant garde comic (IE- Alan Moore's Lost Girls) from Amazon, their lawyers may get involved. Various online funding efforts can help with the costs of legal problems, so if an artist were to be sued for depicting a celebrity in a particular way, they could use Gofundme to cover the financial burden, and publicize their plight on social media. Many of these legal challenges are connected to identity, so there are other interest groups ready to get involved if LGBT, Black Lives Matter, etc. content is banned from libraries or something. Of course, the argument that the CBLDF isn't needed would require the legal culture to remain the same, for corporations to always have interests aligned with ordinary comic book fans, and for the first amendment arguments to be politically popular. Even if their primary focus now is education efforts on the artistic merits of comic books and the history of the first amendment, it's necessary to have the infrastructure in place for when it may be needed.

    While their wikipedia page doesn't mention recent cases, their website does cover five of their victories from last year. A New Jersey high school was sued for having the graphic novel Fun Home in its library. An early draft of United Nations guidelines called for prosecution of certain forms of artistic expression.

    http://cbldf.org/2019/12/5-cbldf-victories-in-2019/

    They had an year-in-review for 2018.

    http://cbldf.org/2018/12/comic-book-...ear-in-review/
    http://cbldf.org/2018/12/top-10-cbldf-stories-of-2018/

  3. #3
    Spectacular Member PoorStudent's Avatar
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    Thank you for the thoughtful response. You brought up a lot of areas and issues I did not consider. I looked into their website and they even have an article about specific comics from 2019 that had faced challenges.
    http://cbldf.org/2020/01/5-banned-ch...ics-from-2019/

    It seems like a lot of the goal of the organization these days is to educate and prevent would be issues instead of directly fighting legal battles. Although historically I could easily see how this could change as the political times are changing rapidly as well. I know there are also a lot of non-profit legal organizations that address other not art/media areas, i.e. housing, criminal justice, medical claims that seek to give those opportunities to fight back, so an organization that fights for first amendment is understandable as well.

    Thanks for the comment.

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