Description :: This started the discussion; see "Thread" section below for responses
Following is a locally archived copy of the verbatim text from the link below. Views expressed are not necessarily the views of anyone except the author, who is not any of us.
And we're back.
Some controversial questions this week. Don't forget to swing by and say hello next weekend at Otakon!
What's the deal with all this "lolicon" stuff? it creeps me out hardcore and some of these guys who talk about lolicon stuff are just way over the top, they don't seem to care that anyone normal would look at them and think they're pedophiles. so why is this stuff so popular right now with anime fans? will it ever go away?
Well, this is a doozy, isn't it?
In my sincere, honest opinion, there's really not a big difference between a so-called "lolicon"guys and straight-up pedophiles. In defense of the lolicon guys, yeah, there's no ACTUAL children being exploited but I find it hard to believe they're sincerely only attracted to drawings and would never lust after a real 8-year old. It's such a short step from getting off to a drawing of a child being raped versus a photo of a child being raped. Either way it completely sickens and disgusts me, but these guys prefer to split hairs.
What's worse in my opinion - and why I think anime fans should be a little worried about the recent upswing in lolicon fans - is the massive, extremely scary image problem that lolicon could potentially bring about. More and more I see in message forums people talking about how much they just love lolicon shows and lolicon pornography, and how they're out and proud about being "pedos" (a term they openly use themselves) and go on and on about how there isn't anything wrong with lusting after children. For instance, here's a description of the latest lolicon anime from the fansub group that's translating it:
This is about a bunch of fifth graders and their, well, not so fifth-grade-like lives. I mean, the sexual tensions are unbearable. Ryota is such a lucky stud. I wonder why my fifth grade wasn't like that. There's a character whose hair color was completely not what I had expected, but oh well. Anyway, there are five episodes in all, and if the producers follow the manga like they did quite nicely, it'll be a good show. Just don't watch this in public, though, or else you'll be looked at strangely. Even worse, the cops would probably give you a citation. I'm serious. This is borderline child smut. But oh, it is fabulous.
Now, to people like you and me, this description makes my skin crawl and I want to go take a shower. And I think that's a pretty rational and reasonable response to have. But the guys who are in to this are more than happy to shout it from the rooftops, and that's where I think the big problem is.
Let me put it this way: we just now are getting over the public perception that all anime is violent pornography. Remember that? When you'd tell someone you liked anime and they'd scoff or look at you funny because they thought all anime was a cross between Ninja Scroll and Urotsukidoji?
How would you like it if big media got a hold of this trend and decided to do a story on how anime fandom is a haven for pedophiles? Because I assure you it's probably only a matter of time before someone in the media catches a glimpse of some of these message board posts and decides to run a sensational story about pedophile anime fans. And then we all get tarred with that brush, and the next time you tell someone you're an anime fan, you get a much worse response than just a strange look. I make my living working with anime and the last thing I want is to tell someone what I do for a living and get a gasp followed by "Oh god, are you one of those pedophiles?". Just the thought of that happening scares the living crap out of me.
Personally, while I'd like to see lolicon stuff disappear completely - not banned, but simply not published, endorsed or purchased - that isn't likely to happen so for the time being I'd much rather it stay as far underground as possible. This recent trend of some fans - and I believe they are simply a very loud, very scary but very small minority - being so open about it on very public and visible forums sincerely worries me. It just isn't good for the art form, especially in America.
This is obviously a big topic and there's a lot more to say on it but I'd imagine I'm going to get a lot of mail about this one so I'll leave the rest for future discussion.
Following is a locally archived copy of the verbatim text from the link below. Views expressed are not necessarily the views of anyone except the author, who is not any of us.
I think I managed to kick up more dust last week than I have in quite a long time. If you're wondering why I respond to controversial questions like that, it's because I think an open exchange and discussion and debate - even of things many of us just would rather ignore - is the healthiest possible way to solve problems or at least make our opinions known.
To that end, in this column I'm going to be printing many of the responses to last week's debate on lolicon. Some are straight from our forums, others are from my email box, with my thoughts or comments sprinkled lightly throughout, not unlike some kind of flame-baiting sundae.
Also, it's Otakon week and I don't even have time to think straight so we're just sticking to one issue this time and I'm letting some of you have a voice.
Why? To give people an understanding of why there's even a debate on this issue in the first place. Also, I want to get this all argued out before it becomes another yaoi/fansub topic that never goes away.
Also, it's Otakon week.
Let's get on with it.
I just read your 7/28 column and saw that you were concerned (and rightfully so) about the growing number of people who sing their praises of lolicon material to high heaven and threaten to ruin the efforts of many anime fans to remove the stigma that many non-fans feel towards the medium. I am writing to you because I am one of those people who enjoys lolicon material, and I want to try and put a different slant on the impression that people like me are making on the anime community.
First of all, I don't think it's fair for people to consider it a "small jump" from enjoying animated depictions of underage boys and girls in sexual situations to enjoying pictures of real children in those same situations. For example: there are many people who enjoy looking at pornographic depictions of rape, both real and animated. Though we may have this fetish, I cannot imagine that any one of us could ever experience the same emotions if we were to be shown a picture of a woman actually being raped. When the situation is imagined or contrived, we can enjoy it without guilt, but if the situation is real, we, like everyone else, would feel horrified and angry that such an image could exist in the first place. As an aside, and this is just my own opinion, but I believe that "age of consent" laws are a well-intentioned, but misguided attempt to protect our youth. The age at which a person is capable of making his or her own decisions regarding sex varies between people, and these laws are an attempt at "better safe than sorry" legislation. These laws take away the rights of those who are underage and mature beyond their age to choose their sexual behavior. Before you say that children can't decide these things for themselves because they don't understand the consequences, consider the number of adults who do the same thing.
Second, consider that the people who post these inflammatory statements in online forums, such as the one you quoted, can usually be sorted into two categories: newbies and rebels. I don't mean the term "newbies" to refer to people who have no clue what they're talking about, but rather to refer to people who are just coming to grips with the fact that they enjoy lolicon material. Just like with any subculture that is either oppressed or perceives itself as such, we can be fiercely proud of our obsession, and can become extremely defensive in the face of the overwhelming hostility towards it. The other group is the rebels, by which I mean "people who will say anything if it gives them an excuse to be angry or earns them attention." These people are everywhere; I'm sure there have been some people who've told their parents that they like anime just to get them angry (just to clarify: I in no way mean to imply that I believe that anime fans are only fans because it may upset their parents).
Lastly, I'd like to briefly address your quite legitimate fear that sooner or later the media could catch wind of this issue and rebury the entire medium in rumors of child exploitation and sexual vagrancy. This could be a truly serious blow to the entire anime community. It is unfortunate that the media could popularize the idea that all anime is illegal pornography, especially when, for every piece of animated pornography or lolicon-pandering material, there are at least two live-action counterparts. In fact, the quantity of lolicon material available simply pales in comparison to the truly massive selection of its real-life counterpart.
Whatever you think, remember that the US government acknowledges the difference between live and animated underage sex, and only outlaws one of them. Keep the discussion alive, but allow people their right to indulge their fantasies so long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.
So what you're saying is that we shouldn't be down on lolicon because it isn't real and it's not the same as photographs of the same things happening to real kids, and then in the same breath you argue against age of consent laws because "we should let the kids decide" how young they think they should be when they first want to be taken advantage of.
You see how easy it is to read between the lines there? At once you defend lolicon porn and then you invoke real children, stating that it should be up to them when they think it's cool for middle-aged predators to get their sticky hands on them. I thought these were two unrelated issues, in your mind?
A big part of the problem with a lot of these pro-lolicon arguments is that almost invariably they will, at some point, after vehemently saying that they don't look at real child pornography, attempt to defend it or - and this is especially common - attack age of consent laws.
You're not helping your case that "lolicon isn't the same as real child porn and doesn't invoke the same feelings" with that.
Huge props for blasting lolicon in your latest article. I'm totally glad someone decided to go public with a pretty hard line anti-lolicon stance. You pretty much summed up what I think about it. The fact that there are people actually defending loli on the ANN forums is just even more sickening...why defend animated child porn, whether it goes out of its way to be erotic or not? The world may never know.
That's sorta my question. Why bother defending it? Why even bother being so public about it? We get it, they think 8-year olds are totally hot, gotcha. Is it so hard to just keep it to themselves? Why does the whole world have to know about it?
I guess the concept of "shame" or "a remote understanding of the way people will view them once they find out they're sexually attracted to children" is a foreign one in these waters.
Indeed you were correct in saying you would likely get a lot of email in reponse to the lolicon question. I can defintely see and understand your though process on the subject matter, but you may be missing a few things on the whole. For starters, I think many, we shall call them 'outsiders', already see anime as child pornography. Quite frankly I was used to the whole violent porn thing when I mentioned I was an anime fan. But years ago, when I got stationed in England and I started to talk about how I was an anime fan, I was met with the child porn accusation. I really hadn't ever heard that insult being flung around until then. From that day on until I left, anytime I got in an anime DVD, put up a wallpaper or any other myriad of anime related activity, I was met with "I'm guessing she's what 8? Does she get naked." I tend to believe that we already have that stigma attached from a lot of people, as for making it the mainstream thought about anime fans, that is just a matter of time more than likely. Besides, what easier group is there to say bad things about than an anime fan?
Second, lolicon fans in general are starting to 'shout it from the rooftops' that they are such because no longer is it some deep dark secret. I imagine that the thought of being attracted to a young child whether real or not would create some anxiety and likely some guilt in an individual. This is the sort of thing you keep to yourself because for one you are ashamed of it personally and two, others would think ill of you. But since the internet is now part of almost everybody's daily life and even moreso in the usually technologically savvy anime fan, people have been able to find others who share this same deep secret. There is now a lolicon niche that shares this common interest through things like message boards where they can openly discuss their love of lolicon and share pictures and movies. What likely came about due to this is that a certain few of these fans have come to the conclusion that since so many (in their eyes at least) other fans are loli lovers that most others are too. So they become much more open about their loli love affair. Just my thought at least.
Will all of this eventually mark all anime fans as potential pedophiles? I'd say that coorelation is going to be made sooner than later by the news. At the same time the news has those stories all the time once they are able to find something to jump onto. Remember Columbine? Didn't they all say that Marilyn Manson was the cause of these kids anger and agression for killing? All our community needs is someone who is geniuniely a pedophile to get caught and have a computer full of lolicon and we are all wearing the scarlet letter 'L'.
Besides you have to admit, it's kinda funny when you mention a show like Cardcaptor Sakura and you hear two different camps saying "Sakura is so cute" and "Man Sakura is hot." Pure comedy gold.
Actually, I don't really find that funny. The guys saying she's hot are creepy.
I don't think the whole "anime fans are pedophiles" thing has gotten as out of hand as you say; I've never once been accused of it; it's a shame that the notion is getting around, though. That's really the scary part in my eyes.
Many pedophiles have been caught with loads of both real child porn and lolicon porn; it just didn't really break into the mainstream news. Generally the story is about a child being raped and murdered, and the culprit is mentioned as having a stash of "real and animated child porn", but they don't focus on it so much.
From the forums:
Personally, I agree 100% with Zac and others who have come down on lolicon. There is too much of a risk inherently presented by lolicon material - to a hobby that while mainstream is still looked upon by some apprehension - to say that it should be an acceptible subset of anime fandom. Almost no other subset - including normal hentai, yaoi/yuri or the "ManFaye" craze - has this kind of odium attached to it. Lolicon has almost a tangible misama of visceral, primal wrongness about it, and one that could easily bexploited by those ill disposed to anime to begin with if they hear of it.
I beg everyone here to recall the kidnapping, rape and murder of Danielle van Dam in 2002. We very nearly dodged a bullet as anime fans, inflicted by this lolicon garbage. David Westerfield was found to have had lolicon on his computer. I hope I need not tell you his connection to the case. I also hope I need not tell you what could have happened if the media had pressed further with the connection or discriptions of the lolicon content. It would have been a disaster for anime fandom and the anime industry in the United States. It almost was. [sarcasm]What a poster boy for anime fandom he would have made![/sarcasm]
I do not advocate seriously the ban of lolicon material (although I would shed no tears if it were banned), mostly because we have had a poor track record, sadly, of stopping live action child porn. And certianly the argument of "we can't stop the Japanese producers from producing it" is irrefutable. That is really a matter for the Japanese government, and one they are going to have to look into and get under control. (One would have thought that the Tsutomu Miyazaki murders would have lit a fire under their collective oshiri on that score.) But I do think that anime fandom has to ostracize those who think that lolicon is acceptible, mostly because there is too much of a risk to all fandom to embrace this even by proxy.
This brings me to the most distressing and absurd of the pro-loli arguments: The idea that since critics "haven't walked a mile in one's moccasins" that they have no right to even be critics. That is nonsense at best and misdirection and deflection at worst. All that means is that this subgroup wants to put on the well-worn cloak of victimhood and present themselves as being unfairly put upon even in the face of legitimate criticism. Such an answer gives no legitimate, let alone satisfying, response to the criticism. Simply put, it serves only as a "leave us alone" and a means to kill debate of a point of view unwelcome to the recipient. If any criminal in any court in the US used the argument of "well, you never robbed a bank, who are you to judge?" he'd be laughed all the way to his penitentary cell.
I ask people like [forums user] Steroid, since they seem to be libertarian on this issue - where WOULD they draw the line, and when? If not here, then where? Is it that everyone's niche interest is to be protected, even when there is the chance that it could harm a larger structure? Or do we actually have standards and say that some few things must be put beyond the pale for the greater good of society?
[Forums user] Steroid, you say that the mind is "all rights and no responsibilities." This I cannot accept. A person must exercise at least as much responsibility of their conscious mind (and remember, one's conscience is part of the mind) as they do their body. An ill of the mind is tenfold that of the body, as it represents not merely act but potential. As the Orator said: "Reason directs - appetites obey." Now, none of us is perfect, and certainly, there have been times where for all of us have had an unsavory appetite wriggle from out of the control of reason. But to throw up your hands and say "no, the mind exists on another plane above and beyond thoughts of and duties to others" is the ultimate narcissism. Even the inner realm of the mind must keep in mind the mutual obligations and dutes we owe each other as a society, even while pursuing personal interests. Ethics do not stop applying at the threshhold of the cranium.
President Dwight Eisenhower once said that "A people that values its priviliges above its principles soon loses both." We are at risk of losing the principle - love of the anime artform - because some want their little privilige - watching prepubescent children used as sexual objects.
Okay, well, have we had enough of this topic yet? Obviously people are very divided on the issue, and it will continue to be divisive, but rather than drag this out for months, I figured we'd get it all out of the way this week.
Description :: This whole debate puts the LOL in loli.
I don't usually write articles in response to things elsewhere on the internet, but I felt a need to defend lolicon lovers, who have been getting increasingly stomped on of late. Links to what I'm replying to in the first paragraph. You should probably go read that page first, as well as the original post that sparked the debate. I'll be right here when you get back.
Here, in the first submission/response, the submitter does, in fact, say in the same breath that it's not real and doesn't invoke the same feelings and argues against age of consent laws. I understand why AnswerMan feels that argument is disingenuous. And yet I disagree with him.
It's a common thing. The same thing happens, for example with the "downloading is stealing" debate. In the same breath I would say that downloading is not stealing because it doesn't result in a physical loss, but only a perceived loss in terms of intellectual property, and that I disagree with, not necessarily the spirit, but the way copyright and DRM are being used to shepherd people around within a given vendor's hardware-and-software-and-content rolled into a single product. I disagree with the means of distribution, so I obtain the content in a DRM-free format. In one manner it's a form of rebellion, and in another, a means of getting my cake and eating it too.
Of course, maybe you see this as one more stepping stone in the erosion of traditional American family values (which everyone knows are the same for all Americans, *cough*) and degradation of our great society (if not American, substitute country of residence). Maybe you think to yourself "what next, Romanesque pederasty being socially acceptable?" The great civilizations of the past have been notably more lax about this sort of thing (glabraria being Latin for "lover of smooth-skinned boys" and Glabrarius being a common name in Rome--a bit of linguistic proof, nevermind all the historical evidence; in fact, this aspect of their society was noted casually in my high school Latin textbook). We don't want that in our culture--fine--but I see no evidence of that happening. Because such "evidence" usually takes the form of the following non sequitur (from the same page as above, last submission):
Lolicon lovers aren't hurting anyone. You may not like the same things they like (as is the case with most niche markets)--you may even despise it and/or them--but there is demand, and supply will follow. It is their right to put their money where their mouth is, in our capitalistic society. Unless, at some point, their behavior is deemed of social harm and made illegal, they can exercise that right. To the people who "wouldn't cry" if lolicon were banned, I'm quoting this especially at you:
"First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me."
and as a corollary:
"Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted." --Aldous Huxley
And a few more relevant quotes:
"Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burned women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears."
--Louis D. Brandeis, US Supreme Court Justice
"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it."
"A civilized society is one which tolerates eccentricity to the point of doubtful sanity."
It seems to me both camps are trying to maintain the status quo and to keep something alive they care about. Maybe they could work together, in the spirit of this sentiment:
"Monsieur l'abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write."
Voltaire, letter to M. le Riche, February 6, 1770
 As an aside: I would also argue, at this point, that it is in fact largely society's fault that child-love is as widespread as it is. Is it really a wonder that people are to be found who objectify minors, when media and entertainment (including, but not just, pornography) are constantly pushing younger models as more attractive models? A major sector of porn focuses on "barely 18"--i.e., as young as they can legally get away with. "Young" and "sexy" are almost interchangeable in our society. If younger == better, would it not logically follow that people are going to start exploring even underage content? And lolicon is a safe haven for such exploration, where one can do so without guilt, because its depictions aren't real and are unaccompanied by the physical and mental trauma associated with real child porn. I'm not saying this is good or bad--just that we brought it on ourselves. "A single person is everyone's fault and everyone is a single person's fault."
 "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are only injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
 Also as an aside: I would point out here that people are stupid. Nothing you do is ever going to make you immune to stupidity. People have a tendency to immediately and angrily "point the finger" externally. They don't want to admit that the shortcoming is theirs, and they want to paint with the broad brush of generalities and stereotypes. If they want to blame something on anime, or cartoons, or Japan, or things that move, they're going to.
"People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid."
 I see your Dwight Eisenhower:
"A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both."
and I raise you one Benjamin Franklin:
"Those who are willing to sacrifice their basic liberties to assure their security deserve neither."
On one side you have those who are expressing (potentially genuine) concern over the well-being of children. Both sides notably have the security of their hobby and passion they feel to be at stake (right or wrong). But only one side (the general-anime side) is talking casually about banning the other side's entertainment.