The Independent has an article on the new Coroners and Justice Bill which is being introduced to parliament this week and a possible effect on graphic novels. The Bill contains a clause that is targeted towards hardcore paedophiliac pornography but my understanding is that the terms are vague enough to catch a book like Alan Moore’s Lost Girls (which I’ve yet to get).
If, as the Independent says, the Bill defines a child as under 18 years of age when the age of consent is 16 (though I think gay sex might still be 18), this poses a potential issue for writers and artists depicting an act which is legal between two consenting parties. Whilst it will of course be denied that graphica is the target, there can be little doubt that at some point this law will be applied to a book that somebody finds offensive.
“If you accept — and I do — that freedom of speech is important, then you are going to have to defend the indefensible. That means you are going to be defending the right of people to read, or to write, or to say, what you don’t say or like or want said.
The Law is a huge blunt weapon that does not and will not make distinctions between what you find acceptable and what you don’t. This is how the Law is made.”
This law is bound to be used as a blunt weapon when the next Mary Whitehouse or Daily Mail campaign begins. Not if, when.
We are seemingly heading towards an increasingly authoritarian society which I doubt would change with the advent of a Conservative government. We need to rethink, as a culture, how we respond to art that pushes our buttons and boundaries.