As 2012 comes to a close, the CBLDF team would like to offer a huge thanks to our members for their support throughout the year. Because of our members and supporters, CBLDF was able to make important strides in protecting the First Amendment rights of comics creators, retailers, fans, and librarians around the nation.
“We are privileged to have so many generous and kindhearted supporters who believe in the Fund’s important mission” says CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein. “In a year filled with censorship challenges in courtrooms, classrooms, and libraries, it was our community of supporters who made it possible for us to fight back. CBLDF’s supporters demonstrate an immense enthusiasm that’s hard to match, and they inspire all of us at the Fund to make 2013 our most vital year yet!”
Because of your support, we were able to provide the following in 2012:
Expert Legal Defense: When a First Amendment emergency becomes a criminal case, CBLDF springs to action. Thanks to our efforts, earlier this year Canadian authorities dropped all criminal charges in the case of Ryan Matheson, an American citizen who was wrongfully accused at the U.S. / Canadian border of importing child pornography on his laptop, when in fact, what he had on his computer was humor and fantasy manga. CBLDF provided substantive support in the form of legal resources and expert witnesses. We also contributed $30,000 to Ryan’s legal fees, and we are currently working to pay off the remaining $34,000 in legal defense costs. Ryan appeared at NYCC to tell his story. You can read his words or listen to a recording of the panel to learn how CBLDF members made a difference in his life here.
Preventative Legal Action: The CBLDF is most successful when you don’t hear about our work. That’s because our powerful legal team is working to defuse First Amendment emergencies at the first sign of trouble. For instance, this summer, we were successful in ending an investigation involving a comics reader in Idaho who was turned into police by an intimate partner. That partner maliciously alleged that the comics this reader owned were child pornography and obscene. They weren’t. Our lawyers asserted that truth and made the case go away before it went to court. CBLDF’s expert legal team is available at a moment’s notice to respond to First Amendment emergencies like these thanks to the monetary support of our members.
Proactive Library Support: Comics are an important, and often misunderstood facet of 21st Century libraries, making them the target of frequent challenges. CBLDF stands up for the freedom to read when these challenges happen. Most recently, we sent a letter of support to Bill Ptacek, a Seattle area library director commending the library for standing up for the intellectual freedom of its patrons in the face of an attack in the media for offering manga in the library’s adult collection. In September we spoke out against the ban of the graphic novel SideScrollers in Connecticut, and published dozens of resources as part of our sponsorship of Banned Books Week. Efforts to ban specific comics titles keep happening and constant vigilance is necessary to keep them accessible to the public. CBLDF members make it possible for us to do that work.
Commitment to Education: The modern era is bringing more readers to comics from more places than ever, but it’s also bringing new threats. That’s why CBLDF is committed to providing a growing education program that elevates awareness of the rights that the people who read, circulate, and make comics are guaranteed by the First Amendment, and how those rights are endangered. We do this by delivering presentations to lawyers, librarians, students and readers all over the United States. We also maintain a website that strives to be the internet’s best resource for information about comics censorship. CBLDF.org maintains a daily news blog and a rich and growing resources section, with case studies on Banned Comics, Case Files that include a growing library of original court documents, rich historical sections on Comics Censorship History, the Comics Code, and manga censorship, and much more.
This holiday season, The Will & Ann Eisner Family Foundation is encouraging everyone who believes in the CBLDF’s important work protecting the freedom to read comics to become a member or give a gift membership in the organization. When you do, they will contribute $10 for each new membership and $5 for every renewing membership made from now until December 31, so join today!