A U.S. District Judge in Charleston denied a motion last Friday to dismiss a suit against the South Carolina Attorney General and the state's 'harmful to minors' Internet statute. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has joined the Southeast Booksellers Association, Print Studio South, Inc., the Association of American Publishers, and Families Against Internet Censorship in a complaint against the South Carolina Attorney General (McMasters) and the state's Internet statute, which criminalizes any work communicated on the Internet that contains a depiction of nudity or any sexual content that is deemed 'harmful to minors.' The law, which could affect cartoonists who publish on line as well as Internet retailers, prohibits distribution to adults of material deemed unsuitable for the Web's youngest users. The law also subjects interstate use of the Web to South Carolina's regulations. The judge's ruling means that the case against the law can go forward. The CBLDF and its allies are seeking a summary judgment against the law, and the next phase of this lawsuit will probably be the judge's ruling on the summary judgment. The rational behind South Carolina's repressive and overreaching legislation is 'protecting kids,' which has become the new mantra for legislators seeking to impose censorship on the media.
The tide may be turning against another 'harmful to minors' piece of legislation, Arkansas Act 858, which regulates the displaying of material by retailers. As Little Rock retailer Michael Tierney has noted (see 'Michael Tierney Of The Comic Book Store On Arkansas 858'), the climate of public opinion in Arkansas has started to turn against this ill-considered legislation. According to Tierney, several legislators have acknowledged that they may have made a mistake in writing a bill that could have a much broader effect than they intended. Last Friday the CBDLF and its allies filed a motion in court for a summary judgment against Act 858. Stay tuned for further updates.