Sherman, set the wayback machine to Halloween night, 2004. On that evening, Gordon Lee decided to give away 2,000 free comic books to the children of Rome, Georgia.
Among those he distributed was “Alternative Comics #2,” which included drawings of Pablo Picasso’s allegedly erect penis. A copy was handed out to two brothers, a 6-year-old and a 9-year-old, according to court documents. The boys’ mother objected to the drawings of the penis, claiming it was inappropriate for her children. (source)
So far, so good. “Inappropriate for children?” I can live with that. Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is, but when you are a slack-jawed yahoo conservative (or a politically correct whining liberal), I can see how a drawing of a penis might freak you out. Meanwhile, the rest of us sit around and suffer as collateral damage in the culture wars.
Ol’ Mr. Lee decided that the mom was right though, and offered an apology. This wasn’t good enough for her though.
The boys’ mother refused to accept an apology from Lee and went to police. Days later, the comic book store owner was arrested and charged with seven counts, including two felonies for distributing material depicting nudity or sexual conduct and misdemeanor charges of exhibition of harmful materials to a minor. (source)
Dig that… a drawing of a nude Picasso was harmful to a minor. For this, the Georgia authorities want to put Mr. Lee in prison.
“We are talking about art here. We are talking about a historically based narrative, and we are talking about material that is not sexually explicit in any way in its nature,” [Charles] Brownstein [Executive Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund] said.
“This needs to be a clean win because Mr. Lee didn’t commit a crime,” Brownstein said. “At worst, a mistake was made in the dissemination of the comic, and it was a needle-in the-haystack case.
“This should have been solved with an apology, not three years of legal action with charges that don’t apply and could have a precedent in danger of hurting comic book creators and sellers throughout the state of Georgia,” he said.
Floyd County district attorney Leigh Patterson and defense attorney Paul Cadle were not immediately available for comment.(source)
I bet they weren’t immediately available for comment. They were probably too busy shining their jackboots.
Big fat kudos to my First Amendment Lawyer’s Association Brother Alan Begner and his co-counsel Paul Cadle, The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund counsel on this case.