The censorship controversy over at Fictionmania and Crystal’s Story Site

10 02 2010

There is an interesting discussion going on over at the TG Fiction Yahoo! Group. One of the people running Crystal’s Story Site , Ave, took down a server serving new stories. Apparently she did so after several authors asked her to have their stories removed.

They had found stories containing under aged having sex, and would not like to be associated with that kind of literature. At least one of the protesters have had experiences of being molested as a child.

It seems most of the discussants agree that the stories in question are of no literary value. However, many of them fear that if you start to remove one type of stories, it will become hard to stop further demand for censorship.

Over at Crystal’s Story Site, Crystal has posted a longer post where she defends the policy of allowing a wide scope of stories:

“These people find something ‘morally objectionable’ and have to ‘take action’ to ‘correct’ the situation, never realizing that all they’re doing is making the situation worse. The self-righteous moralists will get you every time. Instead of just ignoring a small story, and letting it fade into the background, they jump up on their soapboxes and sow discord and discontent. This was just a story, folks, a fictional event played out in the mind of one individual who transcribed it to hard copy. No child was damaged in any way. (…)

“Finally- To the people who stated and fueled all the controversy, and you know who you are, you’ve threatened to go elsewhere. So please do. We don’t need or want you here. If you are an author who has requested that your stories be removed, they will be when I reach a point where I can do so. In this way you won’t be ‘tainted’ by one author among the thousands who have stories on this site.”

One of the writers who have asked to have her stories removed, gave the following comment over at TG Fiction:

“I now feel fully at ease with the idea of pulling my stories from that site. Crystal, like so many others, has read a threat and blackmail into authors wanting to pull their stories. They, if they are like me, simply don’t feel the site is a good fit any longer.

“Don’t change a thing (except by respecting the wishes of those wishing to remove their presence). I make no demands that either site remove any one else’s stories other than my own. Was Ave threatened if Ave didn’t pull the stories? We’ll never know, that Admin has taken the ball and gone home. I trust Crystals word on taking the requested stories down eventually. Once again, no threats and no demands of policy change.”

When I visited the site today, the new stories section seem to be up again, although there have been no new stories posted since February 2.

On the other side of the TG web Fictionmania.tv, the largest transgender fiction site on the planet, has been taken down by the host.

A representative for the Fictionmania task force says today (February 10):

“…since this afternoon (CET) FM was disconnected by the current provider. The notification note was sent a minute before end of the providers office hours and so far no one has responded on the question for the reason and the request of reconnection.

I hope this issue is solved as soon as possible. Since this is a controlled disconnect of the server nothing could be done until the provider returns access to it.”

It is unclear whether this has anything to do with the censorship-discussion going on the two sites.

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5 responses

11 02 2010
AJ Rose

I was one of the many who were vocal against creating a new category and allowing more child-erotica on Fictionmania.

I wouldn’t consider my stance as having been blackmail. I never once said “Take down ____ or I’m leaving,” and I didn’t see anyone else say it either.

I wouldn’t consider my stance as having been high-and-mighty up-on-the-soapbox either. I live in Canada where child erotica is illegal well-policed. My complaints were that it would become much more dangerous for me to visit once the new category was added.

I did eventually leave, after exhausting myself on the message board. I never did believe it was wrong to write stories like Noah’s, or even to share them, but Fictionmania was THE TG library and as such they should have exercised caution to avoid illegal materials.

Their server was supposedly based in Germany, where child erotica is also a hot-topic and possession (i.e. on a hard drive) is very much illegal; and where server-owners will be quick to remove anything even a little bit dangerous to themselves. It’s not a stretch to imagine that the hosting company disconnected them as soon as they became aware of the issue. Given the heat of the arguments and the mention of the events on Wikipedia, it comes as no surprise that they caught on. Someone could have even tipped them off.

It’s also not a stretch to imagine that someone from the Task Force or otherwise associated with Fictionmania could have accessed and shut down the server themselves or have called and asked to have it done. Mindy did say she suggested something “drastic” to the task force in her post.

Of course, that’s speculation. What matters now is those who wanted to leave find a new home and the Task Force works to rescue the library of stories so that they can be shared again someday.

11 02 2010
Some_guy

I’ve never been attracted to stories or captioned images that involve children, so maybe I’m not entirely up on the subject.

I’m unclear on where the law steps in and considers child erotica. The written word is very different than kiddie porn — it’s adults exploring themes that may be extremely inappropriate, but in themselves, do not involve children, and therefore, I would assume, there isn’t really a crime.

If AJ Rose is correct, and simply *talking* about the subject is illegal, I have to wonder what other laws are possibly broken by posting such content. Is it conspiracy to commit rape when someone posts a story under “forced/blackmailed”? And where does the line get crossed if it’s an Age Regression story — if it’s an adult mind in the body of a child, is it child erotica?

In an area of literature that is morally unacceptable to so many, I have to wonder how much is moral discomfort and how much is a clear understanding of the law.

11 02 2010
AJ Rose

In Canadian law, no distinction is made between fiction and non-fiction; or the written word and images. People get into trouble for trying to import hentai magazines that feature children just the same as if they had a hard drive full of photographs of naked children. Erotic literature has to follow the same laws as all other pornography in Canada, and so it too is subject to age restrictions. We have what are known as the obscenity laws here, and they are written expressly to apply to all types of media.

My family’s priest was tried for possession of child porn, and there’s not one photo involved. His collection supposedly consisted entirely of cartoons and children’s faces photoshopped onto older models. He was found guilty by the way and registered as a sex offender.

As for the other types of stories, rape is another thing that’s considered “obscene” in Canada. Again, photos, simulated images or erotica are all weighed equally. There’s a big “but” coming. Images and stories featuring rape are legally Obscene, BUT they are also legally defensible. Because the characters are adults, they can consent. All a porn studio has to do in that case is add a disclaimer saying that it was a simulation of a fantasy and that all persons and the characters characters they portray consented to the actions shown in the film. In some cases, a work can be released without a disclaimer where it can be assumed that all parties (including fictional characters) consented, that’s usually how it works with erotica.

The consent trick doesn’t work for characters which are children or real animals because they CANNOT legally consent.

You can also find scenes in books and in other media that would legally be obscene if published on their own. That’s because for a work to be declared obscene, it has to primarily contain the content in question. That gives a writer or artist the freedom to tell a story which includes obscene things, so long as it is only a single part of the story.

In an age-regression story, I’d have to say the line is often pretty blurry. It’d depend on the story and how it’s told. A judge or jury would have to weigh the wording of the story and the spirit of what’s actually happening in the plot.

The German laws, which should apply given that the server seems to have been located in Germany, are very similar to the Canadian laws, but the maximum punishment is less severe. Note that it is also likely that the hosting company specifically states that a website cannot contain child porn, child erotica, etc… in which case the law is not needed for them to make the decision to pull the plug.

I’m not going to argue the right and wrong of it, but child erotica is very much illegal in many countries and most of the countries that haven’t yet specifically outlawed it have pre-existing laws which can be applied. Don’t assume that it’s not illegal in YOUR country either, check the your nation’s, state’s, and even your city’s laws! You’ll likely be surprised.

There’s no question that some of the stories about children that have always been on Fictionmania would be categorized as obscene by some courts, and openly accepting erotic stories about minors takes away their ability to deny that they knew about it.

I wouldn’t call TG fiction to be as widely considered morally unacceptable as you imply. TG erotica get’s it’s share of hate because it is viewed as falling somewhere to being a perversion of both homosexual and straight themes. Those aren’t valid reasons to consider it morally wrong and the wide acceptance of gender-bender themes in popular media shows that it’s better accepted than you might think. I think it’s only a few biggots that make it seem like everyone hates TG and TS everything.

26 02 2010
Rhonda Wagram

I am a member of the FM task force and a lawyer in Germany where the server of FM is located. I agree fully with AJ Rose’s comment.

When the hoster pulled the plug on FM I informed the other task force members as follows:

The situation is this:

There is no general ban on pornography in Germany. But in § 184 paragraph 1 of the German Penal Code (Strafgesetzbuch, StGB) there is a long list of things you are not allowed to do, such as sell or rent it to minors, play it in movie theaters against a fee and the like. Generally German prosecutors are rather lenient and take not a very big interest in prosecuting this so called “simple prornography”.

The law speaks of “pornographic writings”, but § 11 para. 3 StGB constitutes that this also comprises all kinds of picture, sound and data storing devices and materials.

However:

In § 184 para. 3 StGB the so called “hard pornography” is dealt with. It states there that whoever publishes, deals in, exhibits, distributes or makes available in any other way pornographic writings that deal with brutality or violence, the sexual abuse of children or sexual relations between humans and animals is punishable by a jail sentence up to three year or a fine, if the writings contain abuse of children, the penalty is three months in jail minimum and up to five years.

§ 184 para. 4 says: If the pornographic writings (see § 11, 3 StGB) deal with actual or realistic abuse of children, the penalties are six months up to ten years in jail.

Again: “pornographic writings” are not limited to films or photographs of abused children, but also comprise simple texts, such as stoires on FM.

§ 184 para 5 says: whoever undertakes to provide himself or a third person with pornographic writings that deal with child abuse, which describe actual or realistic events shall be punished with jail up to one year or a fine. The same punishments apply if you have possession of such material. The material will be confiscated.

That is the law in Germany. Knowing this, I had warned against posting stories which contain descriptions of child abuse. Unfortunately nobody wanted to hear it. Now the shit evidently hit the fan.

It is nice and honorable to fight for the Freedom of Speech, but it is another thing to violate existing laws, which we seem to have done — and, what’s more, have pulled other people into it. The web hoster people probably are terribly afraid to get a visit from the DA (Staatsanwaltschaft) and therefore will be reluctant to let us go online again, especially as there was a big political campaign against “Child Prornography on the Internet” during the last year or so. I can imagine that our hoster’s people are in a blue funk.

(End of quote)
—————————-

It is one thing to discuss Freedom of Speech and all kinds of ethical questions pro and contra, but it is another thing to put the person, who signed the agreement with the hosting company in danger of actually going to jail up to five years if stories on FM are found to complete the material facts of the penal statute quoted above. Nobody can take the responsibility for that. The people, who come out for Freedom of Speech with no limitations at all and condem all, who are cautious and rather pull stories that are clearly in violation of the law quoted above do not put their head on the block and risk their civil existence. When FM decided to pull the stories that evidently had caused the intervention of the hoster, it had no alternative. This is not ambiguous or equivocal censorship but a matter of preventing a clear infringement of the law and thereby the danger of destroying somebody’s existence.

19 04 2010
eighthdwarf2002

Being a German myself, I have to second Rhonda’s reply.
In Germany even drawn (pencil) pictures, 3D pictures (as made with DAZ or Poser) or some virtual world avatars that resemble children within a scene that can be seen as pornographic is considered “child porn” or “child abuse”, and is illegal content. There even has been a lawsuit against the virtual world Second Life because of a filmed scene (whether it was staged or not doesn’t matter) where one of the avatars was shaped in the proportions of a child, and dressed as a child. It didn’t matter that the graphic is not so perfect that you would consider it life-like, it didn’t matter that it was consensual roleplay among adult users – it was (in the eyes of the lawyer) a sexual scene with a child.
The same is with Hentai or written stories where also no real child is involved. One of the DAs stated that it were “known” that offenders would use this as appetizer for real crimes.
Actually the German government even has made a (kind of) internet censor law (despite a majority of the germans were against it) after which websites that are suspected to contain child porn (per the German definition of it) can be blocked, and the IP of the (german) internet user who tries to access this site would be added to a list at the German Police database. They claim that this would be the best way to find offenders and to safe children from being abused. Nonsense, I know – but it’s their cover for the mass media. And they are eager to accuse everyone who is against censorship to be a supporter of child abuse.
So, from my understanding, to pull the stories in question off the hoster was the only reasonable decision – in every other case Fictionmania (where I like to read, and even uploaded a few texts) and maybe Crystal’s Story Site as well could have become blocked for containing illegal material, with every reader trying to access these sites being listed somewhere as potential suspected sex offender…

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