American Sentenced In Canada For Possession Of Child Pornography . . . Of Cartoon Characters

200px-Dora_and_BootsThere is an interesting criminal case in Canada where American Peter Hasler, 25, of Murrells Inlet, S.C., is under arrest for possession of child pornography. However, the images were not of human beings but cartoon characters. Canada treats sexual cartoon images as pornography – a view widely rejected in the United States as inimical to free speech protections.


225px-Anthony_Kennedy_OfficialIn 2002, the Supreme Court handed down Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002), striking down two provisions of the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996. One of the provisions criminalized “any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture” that “is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.” The Court found the Act unconstitutionally criminalized “the freedom to engage in a substantial amount of lawful speech” and cites a wide array of artistic works that would be deemed child pornography under the two provisions. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in the majority decision “[t]he prospect of crime, however, by itself does not justify laws suppressing protected speech.”

Hasler was arrested at Halifax Stanfield International Airport after a search of his laptop turned up 137 animated images of characters under the age of 18 being sexually abused . . . cartoon characters. He pleaded guilty in Dartmouth provincial court to a Customs Act charge of smuggling prohibited goods and received a 90-day jail sentence. He was given credit for 38 days in custody. He will serve the remainder of days and then be deported and likely have difficulty ever again entering Canada.

The South Carolina security guard says that he had no idea that cartoon characters are considered child pornography in Canada, which is certainly believable given the position of U.S. courts but not a defense to the charges.

I do not question the description of the images of the prosecutor and judge as being “vile” and “disturbing.” However, there 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.

Source: Chronicle Herald

28 thoughts on “American Sentenced In Canada For Possession Of Child Pornography . . . Of Cartoon Characters”

  1. Actually, there are a number of cases in the US in which cartoon images leads to prison time. The most well known was the Idaho “Simpsons Porn” case. Compared to the US, this guy got off lightly.

    Courts may not rule it CP but still prosecute under obscenity laws. If there is one thing the US Courts love doing it finding ways around that pesky Constitution.

  2. Good thread. Free speech is in peril. In the US, it is whittled away in the same of “safety” the NSA overstepping and intruding law abiding people’s privacy. Liberal PC whittles it in the name of “sensitivity.” In other countries, other reasons. ALL these reasons are bogus and pretexts to dominate and control good people just trying to live their lives free of government intrusion.

  3. I have been following this line of law in the US for a while, because I think it absolutely against the 1st Amendment to illegalize images of pornography where there were no children involved in creating the pornography.
    Hence the SCOTUS decision excluding depictions of children in pornography, that involved no children.

    However notwithstanding that ruling, I would like to draw attention here of a 2nd Circuit case where they draw a line that is arguably closer to the edge of what is and what isn’t such federally prohibited pornography.

    That case involved a man who photographed children’s faces who were in the street, and then who later pasted images of those faces onto images of full grown adult pornographic actors/models, who were engaged in sex.

    The 2nd Cir. upheld the conviction for child pornography.

    Comment on this, I would interested in hearing other persons’ POV on the viability of that conviction, given the SCOTUS ruling above.

  4. Do they search the pedophile priests which come back and forth across that border?

  5. The difference in the US and Canadian laws presents an interesting contrast. In the US, the intent of the law (as I understand it) is to protect the young/innocent subjects of the photography or video recording. Hence, if there’s no actual child involved, it’s not a crime. The Canadian law seems based more on the morality of deriving satisfaction from sexual images of (apparently) underage subjects.

    As video technology gets more sophisticated and realistic-looking (think movies like Avatar), it’s going to get easier for people with these preferences to get satisfaction from the CGI realm, and possibly result in fewer actual (US-defined) victims.

    But the behavior will persist – will it allow those with a less-intense predilection to satisfy their fantasies and result in more of this kind of fetish behavior? Is there the potential to have the behavior spread from the imaginary realm to the real world and result in greater danger to children?

  6. Actually in the United States a number of people including juveniles and doctors have been arrested for drawings depicting nude children. Some of the arrest ended up as convictions and a life sentence on the registry. In one case the biology and sex education classes were removed from the schools as being in the promoting of child pornography.
    A CGI imagine in a game also caused an arrest and conviction of a person for “possession of child pornographic material depicting a child under 17.” Because it did not specify real child or animated.
    The law enforcement do not care about court ruling or in most cases the letter of the law.
    They go by their own single minded beliefs, even though people in the Holy Bible ran around in just a toga or even naked as the day they were born. One was told he had to be naked for 3 years, but then again they do not really read the scripture only do what people tell them. Mindless puppets.
    But like I wrote people in the United States of America do get arrested and convicted for animation of nude children whether involved in sexual acts or not. “Mere nudity” is not a criminal act, but it is in the eye of the law in their own belief, despite the letter of the law. But those arrested plead guilty under threat their name would be released to the public. But when convicted it is released to the public. Catch 22.

  7. Traditionally a traveller and his belongings were subject to search upon entry into the country as part of overall border control and security. The extent to which electronic devices can be searched is somewhat in flux because of the new technology, and the universe of material routinely contained within (or accessible by) those devices.. I believe the current state of the law is that customs agents can conduct a cursory search of electronic files on a device, as they can physical files. However, one case determined that shipping a laptop off to a lab for a more comprehensive search, after an initial cursory search did not identify any unlawful material, constituted an unlawful invasion.

  8. Canada: Pirate Territory. Fly over and flush. Twice. Don’t let Canadians in here anymore. Boycott their baseball team on tv today. Fart when you see their flag.

  9. The first amendment is broad enough to forbid prosecution of a number of things that the MAJORITY demands punishment for. I believe that the first amendment also bars prosecution for the POSSESSION of child pornography (remembering always that, unlike a virus, pornography has no real identity other than from subjective opinion, as Justice Stewart always knew). That protection should include the possession of photographs of real persons as well as cartoons.

    However, the law SHOULD continue to vigorously prosecute ANY sexual abuse of a child. Certainly, a photo that shows a child being sexually abused must be investigated. All relevant facts are needed in order to determine if it’s a criminal act, such as whether the subject really is underage. Clearly, however, to have children engage in actual, as opposed to simulated, sexual activity in order to make a porno film would be criminal. But the person who only possesses the pictures may have had nothing to do with that, and may not even know anything useful in identifying or convicting the abuser. However, the person who merely possesses the picture must also fully cooperate in the investigation. That person would be subject to criminal prosecution if he or she refuses to cooperate. Nevertheless, the first amendment would clearly protect citizens who ONLY possess this material, or even engage in the non-commercial transfer of it.

  10. Yeah, I was wondering that too, KC. What led to a search of the contents of his laptop?? And just how do they search for the pornographic ones? By viewing them all??

    1. KCF – My understanding is they can make you open the case, turn it on and off at the border, airport. However, if they want to look at files they need to get a warrant. There is a fairly new case on this.

  11. Nick – Fritz the Cat was clearly an adult in an adult feature cartoon. I heard there was a sequel to that but never saw it.

    1. Absolutely, ScienceGeek, and in reading further responses, American Law Enforcement apparently is crossing over the line when it comes to the absolute interpretation of the 1st Amendment rights as defined in the 2002 decision, Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition. That seems rather iron-clad to me, yet it is being tested, because some nameless gorm, cut out the heads of kids he had photographed and pasted them on top of the bodies of grown-ups having sex. Yes, it is creepy as all get out, but in the 2002 decision, one of the prior decisions struck down;

      ” criminalized “any visual depiction…photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture” that “is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.” The Court found the Act unconstitutionally criminalized “the freedom to engage in a substantial amount of lawful speech” and cites a wide array of artistic works that would be deemed child pornography under the two provisions. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in the majority decision “[t]he prospect of crime, however, by itself does not justify laws suppressing protected speech.”

      That seems pretty all-encompassing, even 13 years later, and a suppression of free speech, by my lights, as disgusting as what this man has done. So, where is the line drawn? If the children were just random children, would THAT be okay? Is it because he knowingly went out and was in the proximity of some children and took their pictures? That might be argued as violating THEIR right to privacy, I think. I’m no attorney; I’m just sky-larking; I think what he did was reprehensible, but I’m not entirely sure he could be prosecuted under the violation of the 1st Amendment, but maybe under the 3rd, 4th, or 9th. But whatever they do prosecute him with, I do wish prosecutors and law enforcement would use the law properly as it was intended and not just do “whatever”.

  12. Joe, you can’t really compare Canada’s idiotic law to the condemnation of the 2nd Amendment by Obama and the Dems; that’s apples and oranges, although I do concede that we are rather ham-handed in the way we have presented violence in the movies and promoted and contributed to many (more) deaths overseas than we are being told about. I think the number one problem with the 2nd Amendment is that the NRA has put so much fear into the populace, no one even wants to think rationally about the possibility of gun control or more stringent background checks being put in place. Wayne LaPierre is a gibbering idiot and sounds paranoid most of the time. I don’t mind guns; I would prefer that we have some sane open carry laws in ALL states and that people be properly trained in the usage of firearms. I put that paranoia squarely on the heads of the NRA, who show up at Gun and Knife shows in all 50 states and the general squeamishness of our fine House and Senate, who have nothing coherent to add to the conversation.

    Nick and Jim, by asking the questions about the ages of Fritz the Cat and LOA and her relationship to Daddy Warbucks, this just points up the utter inanity of Canada’s law. That law is as stupid as the dimwits who thought Bert and Ernie were gay and that some of the Teletubbies “might” also be gay. For crying out loud, we’re talking about puppets! Things that don’t exist or think for themselves or act of their own accord, yet people got really bent out of shape about these subjects! Why can’t people just live their lives and forget about all of this idiocy? They become so invested in this, as if it’s going to make any difference in their lives! I just shake my head.

  13. ¿ Little Orphan Annie (LOA) , “born” 08/05/1924 at age 11yr (super long gestation)

    Fast forward to 1946 or LOA’s age 33 •

    Note that LOA and Daddy Warbucks (DW) are not related by consanguinity nor affinity , since neither he nor Mrs. Warbucks adopted her •

    ¿ What if a cartoonis drew an animated cartoon of LOA and DW in a torrid , intense , earth moving affair ?
    She did not age in the real cartoon strip •
    Would Canada claim that she was still a minor ?

  14. I bet it’s OK in Canada to make computer generated images of decapitation, child rape, mayhem, etc for a movie. This faux morality is just disgusting.

    I also find it hypocritical that Hollywood makes so many movies with extreme, pornographic violence including gun deaths, such that the city might cease to exist without such movies. Then the stars loudly demonize their fellow citizens for exercising their 2nd Amendment rights. Ditto Obama and other Democrats: this is the most violent nation on earth, with military presence in over 500 foreign nations and air craft carriers planted all over the globe, even having admitted to killing 66k innocents in Iraq (per Snowden many years ago, current actual number likely 10x that…certainly we have killed many times more than ISIS, which the CIA created and financed and armed anyway). Yet Obama has the gall to lecture and condemn citizens for exercising the 2nd Amendment.

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