Japan's House of Councillors, the upper house of its parliament, the Diet, passed a bill today illegalizing possession of child pornography (production and distribution were already banned).
But that's not enough for some people, who want the ban to apply to imaginary child pornography as well as the real thing:
They may be drawings, but critics say the images found on the pages of some of Japan's erotic manga are so disturbing they should be banned.
"I believe that this kind of terrible material is not protected under freedom of expression," says Masatada Tsuchiya, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Of course, that's been the trend in the US for decades. It's not just illegal to rape children and take pictures or video of the crime, or to possess said pictures or video. It's illegal to draw pictures of imaginary children engaged in sexual activities. One man even drew a 10-year prison sentence for fantasizing about about sex with children in his diary. Another was arrested for writing and publishing a "how-to" guide for pedophiles, even though he was at no point accused of ever having sexually touched a child.
These laws and enforcement schemes, of course, are allegedly based on the entirely unsubstantiated superstition that child porn creates pedophilia rather than it being the other way around (in my opinion, they're also based in the megalomaniac fantasies of their authors and advocates ... you'll hear calls for "gun control" and "drug control" and pretty much every other kind of "control" you can imagine coming out of the same yaps).
As I wrote in a long and defective piece some years back (it was written before I came to understand that the whole concept of "intellectual property" is just completely wrong):
The current debate centers largely around "virtual" child pornography -- depictions which are created digitally or artistically and in which no real children participate in any way. This debate obviously -- or at least it should be obvious -- is a tempest in a teapot. The advocates of suppression of "virtual" child pornography cannot produce a victim; therefore they are going to face extreme difficulty in attempting to create a crime. Equally obvious, from the standpoint of utility, is the fact that "virtual" child pornography potentially reduces the incidence of child molestation involved in producing "the real thing."
I haven't really revisited the issue of real child pornography since my conversion on the "intellectual property" issue, but I guess I should do so briefly here:
Possession of real child pornography is, at this point, evidence that one is, in some way (if only as "accessory after the fact"), party to a crime.
But I see no reason whatsoever that the product, when discovered and seized, should not be stamped with some kind of evidence cataloging identifier and turned over to the victim who, should he or she care to once he or she is an adult, sell it to or share it with anyone he or she pleases.
The aforementioned superstitionists will claim, of course, that the availability of the stuff would create more demand for stuff of its type, thus incentivizing child rape.
On the contrary, I believe it's at least as plausible, and likely more so, to conclude that the availability of "legal" child pornography, real or imaginary, would largely shut down the market for "illegal" child pornography (how many people do we hear of getting arrested for making bathtub gin lately?).
Or, to put it a little more harshly, Masatada Tsuchiya and his American counterparts seem to me to objectively support sexual assault on children, since the laws they support incentivize sexually assaulting children for profit by cutting off alternative means of generating/providing the content in question.