The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the right to free speech across all forms of the comics medium, including manga. The organization’s activities include everything ranging from producing discussion guides to library support to actual legal support in court.
Timed with the American Library Association’s convention in Las Vegas last week, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund released their 2014 “Banned Books Handbook” as a free download to help promote September’s “Banned Books Week” advocacy campaign. Included among the materials is also the first installment of the organization’s latest discussion guides, which include one specifically for Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball manga series:
The discussion guide starts with the first (Viz Big) volume of the series, setting things up with Goku’s original adventures. In their guide, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund lists the series’ main themes as “friendship”, “rivalry”, “victory”, and “loss”. “Violence” and “nudity” are listed as some of the reasons it faces challenges in public. The discussion questions are broken down into a series of exercises for readers to understand, analyze, and evaluate the series. The discussion guide wraps up by suggesting that readers research additional variations of the monkey king legend in other media and to create a presentation with examples.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund provides a page documenting a 2009 case of Dragon Ball being banned from all Wicomico County schools and libraries in Maryland. Joe Holloway, a member of the Wicomico County Council, stated that the, “drawings and story lines are disgusting.” Wicomico schools Superintendent John Fredericksen stated that the series would be, “…coming off the shelves as soon as I can get a phone call back to the office.” Holloway went on to provide a presentation to his colleagues, defining the series as “smut”. Mark Thompson, county school board president, defined the series as “child pornography” after viewing the presentation.
In late 1999 / early 2000, a father of his four-year-old son was outraged over the inclusion of Dragon Ball manga in a pack of comics purchased at Toys “R” Us, which he described as “borderline soft porn” images of “naked boys and girls”. Dragon Ball was subsequently pulled from Toys “R” Us store shelves.
Never even knew such an organization existed. I’m glad it does, even though I think it will achieve little.
Reading this article and all the ones it links to, I just cannot help but wonder why there’s so much censorship and book banning in a country that so proudly calls itself “the land of the free”. It’s like the 2nd ammendment is sacred but the 1st can be ignored when convenient.
I know not all of them do it, but I just wish libraries, schools, and most importantly, publishers would be more respectful of the people that actually read the books instead of people that just happened to browse through them, found “objectionable” content and thinks that their own personal opinion needs to be force-fed on everyone else. Because of Viz’s excessive political correctness, many English-translated manga never saw the light of day fully uncensored.
Makes me wish Viz was a european company. Here, we get Bulma’s breasts, Goku’s penis, Mr. Popo’s lips, gun violence, all uncensored – nobody could care less.
The second Amendment’s been hijacked from an anti-occupation tool to the civilian arm of President Dwight Eisenhower’s feared military Industrial Complex. Just ridiculous- not the gun ownership itself, just the fanaticism to which it’s defended (if the NRA isn’t the biggest national lobby, it’s in the top 3.)
On topic, yay, more non-Japanese franchise stuff. We don’t get this anymore, do we? Tried to search for the full conference online, the official info still seems to be pre-event related. Have to say the group’s attempt to draw discussion out of something as simple and silly as the opening of Dragon Ball is pretty admirable!
One person’s “force-feeding opinions” is another’s “exerting their right to an opinion”, the logical extreme of viewing forming one’s own opinions as a valuable part of personal growth. As one who finds basically the content in question both tasteless and more importantly unfunny, with perhaps one exception, I can’t really reject the complaining. Call me a prude or what have you, but I’ll take those shots.
The awkward part how about 80% of the series entire run of sex jokes are the in first volume alone, even more in the first VizBig. 🙄
Typo: “Comic Book LEGEND Defense Fund”.
So, these discussion questions… Are they meant to have people consider the story more deeply and understand why it shouldn’t be banned?