26 February 2010

Stop the Radio Performance Tax!


Go here. Go now. Write to your congressman or whoever and demand that radio shouldn't be taxed. The RIAA and its ilk don't need any more money. Fuck them.

Thank you in advance.

siggy 2010

My feelings on the Chris Handley case and "obscene" cartoons.

DISCLAIMER: This post contains subject matter that will be upsetting for some of you. If you are under the age of 13 or are easily offended, then I suggest you stop reading after this sentence and go elsewhere. You've been warned.

First, read these articles in order to get you up to speed:


Now, I can't say I condone lolicon and shotacon, and trust me, neither do many others, and I am certainly not defending the idea of violating anyone sexually, real or not, but I cannot condone the actions that the United States court system has screwed over Chris Handley. I feel as though he was singled out for possessing "sick" books.

I believe he got a raw deal. Simply because he was guilty or a nonexistent crime. The "crime" is owning books that were deemed "obscene" in Iowa. This is why I really hate "states' rights". Currently, there are state laws and there are federal laws. States are allowed to set up rules of obscenity, ordinances, ages of consent, although for obscenity, most states usually follow the Miller Test to determine what constitutes as obscene. As for states' rights, Southern states were allowed to segregate and lynch black people through "Jim Crow" laws up until 1954 when the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregation was unconstitutional as it violated the 14th Amendment. Because of that analogy, it should be noted that federal law pretty much overrides state law, especially if the law is constitutional, being law of the land and all.

Oh wait, nevermind. I forgot that the PATRIOT Act and the PROTECT Act pretty much fucked everything up pertaining to individual civil liberties.

Still, shouldn't THE FIRST AMENDMENT OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION be precedent to a state obscenity law when it comes to this case!? From what I remember, free speech is protected, as well as freedom of expression, press, religion, and protest. This means that even lolicon manga is also protected speech. Now, some of you may not agree with me. I'm fine with that, but it's still legal, unlike actual child porn. Most people (such as this court and even countries like Australia and the Philippines) don't think that lolicon/shotacon and CP are different. As in content, they're right. But there is a BIG difference, and the reason WHY actual CP is illegal:


They're fictional. Child porn, on the other hand, is reviled and illegal for obvious reasons. It involves actual children, and whether it's a nude picture or if there's penetration involved, the child has gone through sexual abuse by various parties; it is very unlikely that children consent to being exploited.

Cartoons are fiction. They are exaggerations of real life, if anything. I'm not saying that Chris Handley is a child molester; in fact, he was an upstanding citizen with a clean record. He never even possessed actual child porn. He just got careless. There are worse people out there in the world, such as actual rapists, terrorists, serial killers, and Wall Street losers. Yet they single out a nerd who reads comic books with fictional girls in it. All is right with the world.

I remember reading that people who look at nude bodies, let alone pornography, will become sex perverts. Same is said about lolicon/shotacon; if you look at it, you'll become a pedophile. This is bullshit. If this is true, then by that logic, anyone who has ever watched a horror movie will be a psychotic murderer. Yet "Saw" is protected under the First Amendment and is widely seen in theaters, with children actually watching it. Personally, I find violence a lot more disturbing than simple nudity; we were born nude--it is how we naturally look. However, murder is a learned act. But according to society, killing is less harmful in children's minds than a pair of breasts. Hm.

Still, I'm glad that after the trial, Handley did get off relatively easy (six months prison, a $200 fine, 3 years monitoring, and 5 years probation) for someone who was going to be convicted of a sex crime. It's also cool that he wouldn't have to be registered as a sex offender. But all of this shouldn't have happened in the first place. The whole trial wasn't necessary. If anything, the first amendment is dead, and we have seen proof of it. Wait, correction, WAS. That died when protesters were silenced by martial law, the formation of the FCC, and the unfair obscenity trial against cartoonist Mike Diana. I wouldn't be surprised if similar bullshit happens in the future in which an individual's life is ruined in the guise of "protecting" society; it can happen to anyone.

In short, I just have this to say: Fuck you, Iowa courts. Fuck you.

If you still care about your personal freedoms, support the ACLU:

If you read and/or collect comics and want to avoid another similar case from happening to yourself or anyone else, support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund:

FINAL WORD: Cartoons are still just lines on paper. It's how you make of them. Nothing to go to prison for, really.

Until next time, stay safe.
siggy 2010

UPDATE (2010-3-6): I've received an e-mail sent to me a few days back from Eric Chase, Chris Handley's defense attorney from the case and he has given me his commentary to share with you all, the readers:

March 2, 2010
Los Angeles, California

On February 11, 2010, Christopher Handley was sentenced in Iowa for possession of Manga books and magazines. The prosecution, which began in 2006, was based on the notion that the cartoon images were obscene. My name is Eric Chase, and I am Chris Handley's attorney. I have been reading some of the comments about Chris' case and have noted some considerable confusion about the process that Chris went through as well as the state of obscenity law in the United States. In the hope that it will help others avoid Chris' situation and aid the understanding of those outraged by the outcome, I feel it appropriate to now explain the case from our perspective.

Of all the comments I have come across, perhaps the most interesting to me was one made shortly after Chris entered his guilty plea. It was a criticism of a statement I made in a Wired magazine interview. I said, "Obscenity is the only law I'm aware of, if a client shows me a book or magazine or movie, and asks me if this image is illegal, I can't tell them." The criticism was, "Lawyers who specialize in obscenity cases…track jury verdicts and can tell you with nearly 100% reliability whether what they're looking at would be ruled obscene by a jury…."

First, the idea that any lawyer can tell anyone with anything approaching 100% certainty what a jury will decide about anything is just plain silly. Jurors are people. As such, any trial lawyer will agree that the only thing predictable about juries is that they are unpredictable. Second, look at the Max Hardcore case. He was represented by Louis Sirkin, who is widely regarded as the top obscenity lawyer in the country. He is the lawyer who won Free Speech Coalition v. Ashcroft in the U.S. Supreme Court. Max Hardcore was a prolific producer of "cutting edge" pornography that many found disgusting. For example, it included urination as a form of degradation role-play. However, it occurred between, was distributed by, and was purchased by consenting adults. Despite Mr. Sirkin's exceptional arguments regarding artistic merit, freedom of speech, and community standards, Max Hardcore was convicted by a jury and was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison. (On its initial appeal, the verdict was upheld but it has been remanded for re-sentencing). In fact, that verdict, which is as ridiculous as the prosecution of Chris Handley, was particularly disheartening as we considered plea offers.

In understanding Chris' situation, you have to understand the Ashcroft opinion, which has been universally and tragically, at least for Chris, misunderstood. That case held that sexual images of virtual minors could not be prosecuted as child pornography. However, it did not hold that virtual child pornography was legal. Rather, it expressly stated that those depictions could be prosecuted as obscenity under the Miller standard. In short hand, Miller's three prongs require for conviction a finding that a depiction is 1) sexual in nature (prurient); 2) patently offensive; and 3) lacking in serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. The first two prongs are judged by community standards and the third by an objective standard.

Chris, like most everyone else who had only heard about Ashcroft from news accounts that shoddily reported that the Supreme Court had "legalized virtual child porn," believed the magazines were legal when he bought them. As importantly, Chris was not a collector exclusively of lolicon. He was a collector of all things manga. Of the thousands of books and magazines found by the Feds at Chris' home, only about twenty had questionable content and ultimately only seven were charged as clearly depicting the violent sexual abuse of obviously very young children.

What Chris did not know was that in direct response to the Supreme Court's suggestion in Ashcroft, Congress passed 18 USC 1466A, which criminalized as obscenity a laundry list of virtual depictions, including comics, that portray the sexualization of children. The big difference between 1466A and the general obscenity statute is that the former carries a 5 year mandatory minimum sentence for the more serious charge of "receipt" (and is cross-referenced in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines to child pornography so it gets the same presumptive sentence as if it were real child porn). Now, "receipt" is an odd charge that is applicable in nearly every possession case. Simply, you can't possess something without first receiving it. Yet, receipt carries the 5 year mandatory minimum sentence, while possession does not. If the case had gone to trial, the jury would have been prohibited from hearing about the minimum applied to the receipt charge, and thus, would not have considered it in determining which, if any, of the charges to convict him of. Through its choice to create two crimes with vastly different sentences for the same conduct, Congress gave to the prosecution an invaluable tool (quite similar to extortion) in obtaining pleas.

So, Chris had the following difficult options. He could defend the images which, when projected on an 8'x8' screen on a courtroom wall, an Iowa jury certainly, and any jury probably, would have likely agreed they "do not want in their community". (I note that a ban on "kids having sex" pictures, even when only drawn, appears widely supported even by many otherwise apparently liberal bloggers.) His second choice was to have the receipt charge and its mandatory minimum dismissed and focus at sentencing on his personal situation, which certainly did not merit serious jail time. His ultimate sentence was 6 months with a recommendation that his term be served in a halfway house. Unlike Max Hardcore, who opted for the trial (remember, his prosecution was equally, if not more, offensive to notions of free speech), Chris will likely never have a jail door slam behind him.

I know the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and others concerned about the defense of comic books specifically, and free speech generally, are upset that the case did not go to trial. They are right to be. The Miller obscenity test is vague, indecipherable, and clearly chills protected speech. Among its most frightening aspects is that its "community standards" element may allow "moral majority" communities to dictate to the rest of us. The extortionate tool given to prosecutors through the receipt charge, with its mandatory minimum, gives incentive to defendants to not mount appropriate "community standards" or "serious artistic value" challenges.

In defense of Chris Handley, given his choices, I suppose all I can do is ask: What would you have done?

To the CBLDF and other commendable defenders of free speech whom we may need now more then ever, there is some hope on the horizon. Louis Sirkin and Max Hardcore are currently waging an important battle in their appeal of his conviction on the issue of what the appropriate community is for the Miller test. The argument, with which some courts have already agreed, is that in an interconnected internet world, you can't allow the most repressive of "communities" to dictate what is available to everyone else. There exists a split among Federal Courts of Appeal in different parts of the country that the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to address and resolve. It may even be that Max's case is a better platform for the battle than would have been Chris' in that it does not involve the explosive element of "children" and instead can focus entirely on the fundamental shortcomings of obscenity law in its current state.

However, though it would be great for Max Hardcore, who would get a new trial, a win on the "which community" question will have little practical effect at future jury trials on obscenity. A Bible belt jury will be "instructed" to apply a national standard instead of their county's. So what? As they always have when asked what they believe community standards should be, they are still going to apply their own personal standards. This suggests a more fundamental problem with the Miller test.

That problem, which the Supreme Court has contorted to overcome in upholding the Miller test, is vagueness. "Void for Vagueness" is a constitutional doctrine that requires that a criminal law's proscriptions be ascertainable so that a person is put on notice before he or she acts about whether his or her contemplated action will violate the law. To the extent that the response to my Wired statement is correct about being able to tell ahead of a trial what a jury will find obscene, it is only correct about the extreme depictions that have, so far, been the focus of prosecutorial attention. As I have read the reaction to Chris' plea and sentence, I have seen a questioning of the legality of everything from Nabokov and "American Beauty" to Japanese Yaoi, which depicts figures that are androgynous, hairless, and clearly childlike, but not clearly children. If you asked me today whether it is legal to sell Yaoi on the Internet knowing that it would be available in Iowa or most anywhere in the south, I am not sure what the answer would be.

I am, however, certain from comments I've read that some who have heard about Chris have already destroyed literature that certainly should not be considered illegal. That "chilling effect" on free speech is precisely the reason for the vagueness doctrine. So, the question should not just be which community is being polled, but how can we rely on polling at all when such an important right is at stake and the poll results change each time they are taken?

However, the fight for a national standard is the one that has currently been joined. For now, let us wish Mr. Hardcore and Mr. Sirkin well, and let us also wish well to all those who continue the fight for all of our fundamental liberties. While we're at it, let us also wish well to Christopher Handley.

Eric A. Chase, Esq.
United Defense Group, LLP

Image © John F. Holtz. Used without permission under fair use. I just thought it was pleasant to look at. =P

The Moment I Realized That I Am Officially Old

Based on a true story.
siggy 2010

12 February 2010


What can I say? It's scary. And funny.

Seriously. Chatroulette! is a lot like Omegle, where two anonymous strangers are paired in a chat session at random. Thing is, Omegle came first, since it's basically anonymous text chatting. Chatroulette! has that, but with webcam and mic support. To put it in another way:

AIM + Anonymity + Random = Omegle

and in turn,

Omegle + Skype - private accounts = Chatroulette!

Now that you know how it works, I'll let you know why Chatroulette! is both scary and funny in my book. Chatroulette! is totally random. And anonymous. Anonymity without fear of retribution on the internet usually leads to either fucked up behavior or trolling.

By fucked up behavior, I mean finding an obscene amount of penises. It seems that every fourth or fifth video I come across is a random man masturbating from the waist down. I don't know why one would enjoy masturbating on cam--I guess some do it for thrills, but I think most do it out of pure boredom or shock value, since other targets I have found are either drunken frat boys, potheads, guidos, jailbait camwhores, and funny black guys; just rarely do you find any regular people to talk to or a pair of boobs. Another scary thing about it is that the same pair of boobs could be from some teenage girl who obviously has no business exposing herself on the internet. I've also encountered some annoying looped GIFs (think of 4chan's /gif/), a "suicide" (it's a man who's hanged himself, but the clip wasn't real after seeing it on multiple occasions and from a second opinion), and losers who hold up signs requesting boobs and not boners (lol).

You would think after seeing 39 penises in an hour that I would avoid Chatroulette! for life, but no. I come back to it every now and then. Why? Because there's trolling involved. Go to YouTube. Look up "Chatroulette reactions". Watch them. It's gold. Usually, what you do to elicit hilarious reactions is to air something unbelievably funny, scandalous, or gruesome, and let it play rather than your webcam. Then just sit back and watch the hilarity. Or, you can just wear a disguise (such as an Islamic "terrorist"), play some Arabic chanting in the background, and type "ALLAHU AKBAR!!!" on the text field and elicit some responses there. Be warned though, people switch out pretty fast. It's not easy to have everyone see you stuff; it's like fishing--there are long spells of boredom (and penises)until you score a bite, whether it'll be a reaction from trolling or a nice live pair of tits and then some.

For those who are feeling adventurous and armed with a webcam, go play some Chatroulette! at http://chatroulette.com .

PROTIP: Like everything else, don't be a retard and reveal your real name, address, shoe size, etc. The point of Chatroulette! is to remain a "stranger". If you want to try, but are afraid of showing yourself to the world, wear a disguise, such as a pair of sunglasses or bandana, and use the text feild to type your words, rather than speaking them via mic.

For added fun, try Omegle as well. Say you're 14/f/ca if some creep asks "A/S/L?". Or just spam "NIGGERNIGGERNIGGER" until they quit. Or actually have a conversation with the person. Whatever works.

Have a safe day,

siggy 2010

05 February 2010

Dog Days

I'm sorry that Life is Strange #5 isn't up this week. I hope you'll forgive me because I've been preoccupied in the past 2 days with a doggie.

How did I get one? On Wednesday, my mother picked him up from someone and we took him in. He was a small grayish-black Westie, and he was cute and oh so energetic. We gave him a bath, a makeshift habitat for him to sleep in and a dish of water and some Beneful for him to eat. That same night, we discussed about the dog and we realized that we could not keep him due to the fact that we wouldn't be around to look after him as much as we needed to and that we simply cannot afford to care for him. After the discussion, I made the decision to not give him a name. Why? I've learned in life that if you learn the name of someone or have named something on your own, you'll grow attached to him/her/it. And if you lose said person/thing, the pain of loss will worsen. This was true when I had pets as a child, with a dog when I was seven, and a few guinea pigs when I was 9 and 10. Dead pets suck; the more you had, the worse you feel after each has bit the dust or run away. Same rules apply to people. This is possibly why I don't have many friends.

Anyway, my mother found someone who would take him in permanently, so we will be rid of him tomorrow. Again, I have no attachment to this pup, but the experience was something that will stay with me for life. Today, I did make it a point to play with him since he'll be out of my life tomorrow. Playtime was fun, although it was pretty damned cold and damp outside.

Here are some pictures I took from the times we went outside. To be honest, most of them suck due to the fact that he just wouldn't keep still:

Here, here, here, and here.

If you don't believe me about him being energetic, watch this. I should warn you though--the following video contains unhealthy amounts of cute:

As I type this, he is asleep in his habitat. This is his final night here, and after he leaves tomorrow, he will be missed. Probably. Not.


siggy 2010