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October 12, 2015

South Carolinian Convicted in Canada for Cartoon 'Child Porn'

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia—As American producers are well aware, it's not a crime in the U.S. to create, possess or sell cartoon or graphic art images depicting minors engaged in hardcore sexual conduct, thanks to the Free Speech Coalition's victory in its challenge to a Clinton era anti-child porn law passed by Congress in 1996. Unfortunately for South Carolinian Peter Hasler, that Supreme Court decision isn't applicable in Canada, where such "virtual child porn" is still illegal. Seems that Hasler, 25, was heading back to his home in Murrells Inlet when he was arrested by police at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport on September 12 after TSA officials searched his laptop and discovered 137 "animated images of characters under the age of 18 being sexually abused," according to the Halifax Chronicle Herald. Last Tuesday, Hasler pled guilty in Dartmouth Provincial Court to a charge of "smuggling prohibited goods" and received a 90-day sentence, but was given credit for 38 days already spent in custody. "They are immature and vile images," said Crown prosecutor Tim McLaughlin when he handed printouts of the images to Judge Frank Hoslins. "Mr. Hasler is not that old yet, but he may want to grow up a bit as he moves forward." Apparently, Hasler won't be doing any of that growing up in Canada, as the conviction pretty well assures that he won't be allowed back into that country after he finishes serving his sentence and is deported. "There is no question that the depictions that I have examined in court … are very disturbing," Hoskins said at sentencing. "They’re very vile images and certainly meet the definition … of child pornography. This is illegal in Canada and will be taken very seriously. … I hope, from this experience, you’ve learned a lot." Not everyone, however, shares that opinion. "[T]here remains a serious question of whether computer generated images or cartoon images should be deemed child pornography when they do not depict any actual human being, let alone an actual child," commented noted constitutional attorney Jonathan Turley. According to his attorney, Hasler had no idea he was breaking Canadian law by bring the images into the country. "He did not come to Nova Scotia with the intent of breaking any laws or causing any trouble whatsoever," Hasler's attorney Alex Baranowski said. "He just made a grave error and certainly acknowledges the fact that he made that error and is taking responsibility today." Hasler's is the second virtual child porn case this year. Nicholas Michel Clement Roux, a 25-year-old Frenchman arriving from Germany, was found to possess 244 animated images of child pornography on a memory card. He too was sentenced to a 90-day stint. "There’s nothing funny about this," McLaughlin stated regarding the cartoon images. "These characters should be educational, they should be entertaining. They should not be debased in a vile, sexual fashion." Um, Tim? Cartoon characters aren't real; they can't be "debased" in a "vile, sexual" or any other fashion. They're imaginary. Fortunately, American courts have realized that.

 
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