Burn your comics!

Posted by on August 22nd, 2010 at 2:42 AM

The debate about the sentencing of a Swedish manga translator for the possession of child pornography still rages in Sweden (for basic information on this subject, see my previous entry).

A comment on the debate by the Swedish comics artist Liv Lingborn (originally published at her blog). Translation: Please, nurse! You must help me… Yesterday, when I picked up my daughter at kindergarten, she had made a drawing of two lumps without clothes on, and they looked decidedly minor! And they were touching each other!!! Now I’m afraid we have been contaminated with paedophilia. And my God, I don’t want her to grow up and be seen as a sex criminal. / Oh… A vaccine against moral hysteria, you say? Yes, then I want to book a time for Tuesday.

It has, among other things, become known that this was actually not the first but the third sentencing of its kind in Sweden. Due to the high amount of media interest, two other convictions have now been dug up, one from 2004 and one from 2007. These two sentenced people did not want to cause any debate, however, and have tried to just go on with their lives. The manga translator of the 2010 verdict, on the other hand, instigated the ongoing debate himself and has openly and freely revealed everything concerning the case, including his own name.

A lot of the debate has been focused on the question of what actually is illegal according to current legislation, and where the line should be drawn. No one knows because, which has been stated earlier, the evidence is illegal and can therefore not be shown, in a classical catch-22 manner. In the internal police magazine Svensk Polis (Swedish Police), the writer Cecilia Wallin-Carlsson (the expert witness in the manga trial) describes making the “fridge test” when she is uncertain. “Is it an image I would put up on my fridge?” If not, says the article, it could be child pornography.

A comment by Swedish artist Helena Bohlén. The text says: “How old are drawn characters?”

If you apply the above method and come to the conclusion that you own comics that might be illegal, then what? According to Axel Peterson at the Justice Department, you should throw away all the suspected comics and contact the police. This was confirmed by the expert on criminal law, Madeleine Leijonhufvud in a debate in the leading morning TV show in Sweden, “If you see among your acquired comic books that there are these kinds of images, then you are not allowed to retain the material. As soon as you’ve found it you must get rid of it, as possession is prohibited by Swedish law.”

Another comment by a Swedish artist; Tinet Elmgren. A full translation can be found at the artist's blog.

The debate about whether this is sensible or not rages on, and it has been fuelled the last week by the fact that someone has reported Dagens Nyheter (the major newspaper in Sweden) and Rapport (one of the most influential news programs on national TV) to the police for showing examples of comics when reporting about the case. In the TV program, the excerpts were actually shown by yours truly, and contained pages from the first volume of Dragon Ball and from Daddy’s Girl by Debbie Drechsler (the same which I showed in the previous report here…).

This is not over yet, and I will most assuredly get back to the subject again. Now it seems that the debate is spreading internationally and I am getting reports of similar debates from several countries. More on that in the next entry.

Liv Lingborn’s blog

Tinet Elmgren’s blog

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2 Responses to “Burn your comics!”

  1. Matthias Wivel says:

    Great, informative posts, Fredrik!

    I should note that the debate is also raging in Denmark, with several political parties pushing for legislation akin to that in Sweden. It was highlighted further last week by the opening of an exhibition on drawn and animated child pornography at the prominent museum Brandts Klædefabrik. I’ve written more about it here.

  2. Matthias Wivel says:

    And here’s a recent op-ed piece on the matter by cartoonist and Danish Comics Council chairman Thomas Thorhauge.