Consumers of cartoons, manga and anime are warned that the possession of “sexualised child cartoons” could hold unexpected legal consequences.
In a statement released on the 11th of November 2015, the Palaszczuk Government announced its intention to invest $3.2 million in a Queensland Police Service task force to “crack down on the online sharing of child exploitation material”.
An article featured in the Brisbane Times highlighted that by the 31st of May, six people had been arrested across Queensland as part of the pilot program.
The promise of a crackdown on child exploitation material has opened up new possibilities that even sexualised depictions cartoon children could land an individual in trouble with the law.
These unusual cases that have been documented in the Australian media include Sydney man Alan John McEwan who was convicted of possession of images of sexualised child characters from the Simpsons in 2008.
According to an article by the ABC, the man was “fined $3,000 and required to enter a two-year good behaviour bond in relation to each offence”.
Mr McEwan’s appeal against the conviction was dismissed by Justice Michael Adams in the New South Wales Supreme Court who concluded that:
“…a fictional cartoon character is a ‘person’ within the meaning of the Commonwealth and NSW laws”.
Having been exposed to patients with similar issues in the past, psychologist Cameron Covey argues that the conviction of such men as ‘sex offenders’ could hold detrimental mental effect.
He explains that this group of men are theorised to have grown up with feelings of inadequacy in relation to their peer group, which drives them to seek a connection with younger age groups.
“It is believed that they may associate their sexual feelings with younger age groups that do not provoke a sense of inadequacy.”
This group of men fall into the category of those most likely to view and save images and videos of cartoon child pornographic material without the desire of viewing images of real children.
“From a psychological perspective… I imagine that the difference is likely values based in that perhaps it is easier to self-justify being stimulated by a cartoon representation as opposed to clearly illegal child exploitation material where there is a victim being perpetrated against.”
Mr Covey holds concerns about the imminent label as a ‘sex offender’ if these men are caught in possession of such images.
“I believe serious emotional consequences could arise, such as depression, anxiety, suicidal idealization as a result.”
“If the consumer of cartoon sexualised child pornography should be classified as a ‘sex offender’, likely they will feel further marginalised by society, despite not actually victimising any person.”
Mr Covey believes that while the behaviour of viewing sexualised cartoons of children is considered abhorrent to a majority society, it is only behaviour acted out in the real world that should have legal and social consequences.