Monday, December 8, 2008

Look out - Bugs Bunny is Coming!

Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, the courts prove us wrong. Animated drawings are now people (legally).

The item that took my eye tody is entitled "Cartoon porn kids are people, judge says in Simpsons porn case" and it is a report from

To summarize, a man was caught with pornographic versions of "The Simpsons" characters on his computer. As the item reveals, the cartoons showed characters such as Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson having sex.

Now, perverted? Yes.
In need of help? Yes.
Potentially signs of pedophilia? Maybe.

But to claim, as the courts have done in this case, that "in respect of both the commonwealth and the NSW offences, the word 'person' included fictional or imaginary characters ...," is absolutely unacceptable. It opens up a frightening vista of almost unimited possibility.

Will sex-dolls be able to sue for rape?
Will Bugs-Bunny be able to sue Yosemite Sam for abuse?
If the famous author Christopher James writes a story about three aliens in search of Jesus, will they be entitled to a share of the profits (if any)?

There are three issues at stake here - that of child pornography, that of copyright and that of the rights of non-existant beings.

In terms of child pornography, whether a cartoon, a sketch, or an assembled collection of photographs to create an image, there is a need for intercession. No child or adult has been hurt by such 'artwork' however there is evidence that it could lead to 'real life' activities. For this reason it should perhaps require mandatory psycho analysis, counseling and treatment. However it is dubious whether criminal punishment is appropriate given that this type of solution will ultimately lead to exposure to more developed pedophiles and thus reinforcement of the perversion.

In terms of copyright, while I believe there is definately a place for fan-fiction, the owners of this particular Bart-el have just cause in taking legal action against the perpetrator(s).

But in terms of the rights of non-existant beings - they have none. In a world where people are subjected to genocide, where indigenous populations are made foreign in their own countries, where 3000 children needlessly die everyday, where animals are skinned alive or tortured for profit or science, there are many creatures (human and otherwise) that have or should have rights. But Bart Simpson is not one of them. Nor is Lisa Simpson. The same applies to Astroboy, the Incredible Hulk and Bugs Bunny.

The critical point of this rant is quite simple. Inanimate objects - including cartoon characters, sex dolls, imaginary characters from books, non-existant space aliens etc - do NOT have rights and are NOT people in any sense and this court decision is ludicrous.

Some common sense must stay in control of the legal system otherwise it will become a mockery.

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