You know, I’ve been thinking …

A chat about politics is not what you come to this comic for.

Like opening a packet of biscuits and finding a mouse: whatever you may feel about the cuteness of said mouse, a mouse isn’t what you were aiming for.

However I also think that, on the eve of a general election in the country that I both live and work in, mentioning a couple of issues that relate to the comics I create is probably fair. In fact I think I’d feel like a doofus if I didn’t.

I won’t talk about the proposed policies of the varying parties involved, there are far too many to be fair and to remain relatively unbiased. Hell, I’m not even going to tell you who I’m voting for. What I do feel I should bring to your attention is two pieces of legislation that our Labour government introduced in the past few years that have had a bearing on me and other creatives working in the UK.

Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, also known as the extreme pornography ban, and sections 62-68 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, also known as the child cartoon pornography law.

Superficially both sound laudable, but in effect they are both far too vague, resulting in laws that are either ridiculous or frighteningly far-reaching. Part of the extreme porn ban means that images may or may not be illegal depending on whether the creator of that image found it arousing: in effect making a consensual BDSM film illegal whereas a far more gruesome hollywood slasher flick remains legal. Part of the child cartoon pornography law claims that an image where a child is “in the presence”  of a sexual act is illegal: because a child in UK law is anyone under 18 this means that existing publications like Alan Moore’s “Lost Girls” or “Watchmen” could be illegal, or following the letter of the law this could theoretically criminalise anything from stickman comics to bawdy seaside postcards. Aside from these and other specific objections both acts were also unnecessary: a version of the Obscene Publications Act has been part of UK law since 1857.

According to these laws my fetishman comics aren’t illegal, but that isn’t the point. The point is that whilst they may not be definitely illegal, they aren’t absolutely safe either. Although this doesn’t bother me or you, it may bother comic shop owners and bookshop buyers and magazines editors. And if it bothers them enough, then selling and promoting not-illegal-but-perhaps-not-safe comics will get a lot more difficult. To get round this artists will adopt varying levels of self-censorship, at which point everyone misses out on creative works which might have been legal, but because it wasn’t “safe” the artist chose not to run with it. For example, renaming Lactose Intolerant Boy as Lactose Intolerant Man may sound stupid but I have a hunch I might eventually be asked to do that (even though the more logical answer is of course to only ever draw him with stubble and a ciggy).

Many factors will affect how we choose to vote. Our knowledge of the local candidates, the information we can decipher from various media channels, our experiences of how their parties have previously behaved, the pledges these candidates and their parties have made and so forth. However, I also think another important fact to consider is that a recent Labour government introduced the above laws. I think it’s a reason not to vote for Labour MPs, not least because of the possibility that they may create more similar legislation if re-elected.

This is just one issue, but if I’ve added it to the many other issues that voters were weighing up then my work here is done.

Laters my lovelies!



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