For those of you who hadn't heard about this case, or wern't following it, there was a dude in Iowa who ordered a bunch of random obscene manga off the internet. USPS seized it as child pornography, and it's been bouncing around the news few a few months. The sentancing just happened.
My initial reaction is outrage, but I don't know all the details. There is a lot of information in the ANN article, but it doesn't get down to what I feel is the meat of the subject. Is this individual a person who bears intent to physically harm real children? Does his interest in perverted Japanese crap reflect intent to harm?
He didn't have any photos/videos/etc of actual children being exploited or harmed. To me, it seems like he was sent to jail for.. not doing anything... It was more like he was imprisoned for what his peers were afraid he might do in the future. Even the psych evals didn't seem to come up with anything conclusive.
You know, most "adult" anime DvDs distributed around here have disclaimers on them that state the individuals are of legal age, etcetc, even when they look much younger. That side of the industry has been walking a very thin line for years now. the lolicon stuff isn't my thing, and I am mildly disgusted by it, but that doesn't give me the right to impose my feelings on the subject on everyone else around me. I think what you do in the quiet of your own home is your business, and as long as it doesn't hurt anyone, you shouldn't get in trouble for it.
And yes, I do consider looking at real child pornography in the quiet of your own home hurtful, since it exploited the children that were videotaped/photographed. There has to be a market for it to be made... and there's always pretty much a market for anything.
But hell... if this guy didn't want to hurt any real children.. had no interest in photos or videos of children being exploited, and was only interested in some pervy manga drawn by some other pervy guy in Japan, I don't think he should be punished for it.
I heard that the comic book legal defense fund was involved in providing an advisor for the case. Ultimately, Handly pleaded guilty last year, much to the dissappointment of many. Apparently had he pleaded not guilty and contested the definition of the content in his possession, the possible punishments would have been much, much worse.
In general, this whole business just makes me sad.