Comic Book Defense Fund Warns of New Private Censorship Law

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund warns that a recent bill introduced in the House of Representatives could give parents the power to sue anyone disseminating any media containing “material that is harmful to minors.”

H.B. 4239, also called the “Parents’ Empowerment Act,” would allow the parent or guardian of a minor to sue in federal court anyone who knowingly disseminates any media containing “material that is harmful to minors” if the material is distributed in a way that “a reasonable person can expect a substantial number of minors to be exposed to the material and the minor, as a result to exposure to the material, is likely to suffer personal or emotional injury or injury to mental or moral welfare.” The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Xaviar Xerexes

Wandering webcomic ronin. Created Comixpedia (2002-2005) and ComixTalk (2006-2012; 2016-?). Made a lot of unfinished comics and novels.


  1. This law is so ridiculously stupid that I am hoping it will be passed, just so I can tell all those parents to go ***** themselves in the most offensive manner I can think of.

  2. And while I personally don’t mind the cover illustration, I find it ironic that you can’t say ***** on these boards but you can display it graphically. It’s a really interesting distinction that I can’t quite wrap my head around.

  3. I wouldn’t worry about it. There are extremely retarded laws put forward in the US on a daily bases. Most of them are from Texas (the land of cow and shitty presidents) and most never see the light of day.

    Also I live in the UK, so won’t don’t care if this does become law. I might need a new host outside “the land of the free” (ha) but that’s about it.

  4. Y0u C0U1D us3 l33t sp3@k t0 g3t @r0und 1t…

    But then I’d have to hurt you!

  5. While I agree that this bill is likely to never see the light of day, the current political climate in the US does allow for the CBLDF to keep an eye on it.


  6. Hey, now! I am from Texas! We do not all have cows in our backyards! Unless you’re talking about East Texas. Actually, in East Texas, the cows just wander through the house like the rest of the family. …actually, the cows may well be part of the family.

    I’ll give you the retarded laws, though. …and the shitty President.

  7. Well I had a good run.

    I doubt this law would ever stand up. For one thing they’d have to prove that accessing your material caused the kid to suffer harm and I seriously doubt they’d be able to do that.

  8. Wait, does this mean I’ll have to put underwear on my characters who are doing such offensive things like doing pushups, moping, and stepping out of the shower?!

    My lord!

  9. Y’know, I wonder what they’d do in regards to you. You’re in a different country, one that probably won’t respect the legitimacy of this law.

    Since Canada’s more advanced.

    No, I’m not being sarcastic.

  10. From what I remember seeing this sort of thing earlier- this censorship came with the program they use for the comments. They didn’t actually implement it themselves. I don’t know why they haven’t changed it – or even if they can without getting/writing something new for comments. I think ALL the staff thinks it’s a bit silly. Some of the words it censors are pretty… well, beyond tame.

  11. Hard to say, international lawsuits are a real *****. It would be pretty silly to sue a webcomic artist anyways, especially one whose day-job is playing accordion for a living. Neither webcomic artists, nor professional accordionists are known for having deep pockets, unless their names end in Yankovic or Ostanek. Those guys are rolling in it.

    Since my hosting is on a server in the states they’ll still be able to nail me but they’re not too likely to find a lawyer willing to go through the trouble of suing my Canadian ass when the pay off is going to be so small. They’ll probably just harass whoever the service hosting my comic instead and get them to give me the boot.

    This whole proposed law is nothing but politicians pandering to the religious right screaming “Won’t somebody think of the children” because they want to be able to use the internet as a babysitter so they don’t have to be bothered thinking about their children.

    As a parent and an adult webcomic artist specializing in tentacled love I can not, for the life of me, understand why anyone would allow their young children to surf the net unsupervised. If you would not drop your children off to play unsupervised in downtown Hamilton then why the hell would you drop your children off to play unsupervised on the internet which is full of just as many dangers.

    It’s not my job to protect anyone else’s children but my own. The League of Angry Church Ladies would do much better to think about their own children and leave me to think about mine. I make sure my children only surf child-friendly sites and I’m someone these busy-bodies would lable as a “pornographer” (a false lable at that, but what can you do). If someone as morally corrupt as I am alleged to be can take an active role in his children’s internet activities and keep them away from the nasty porn then why the hell can’t all these angry suburban church ladies do the same damn thing?

    There’s a place for Disneyland on the internet, but by no means does that mean the internet should be turned into Disneyland. It’s not that much work to protect your children online. Sure it involves a little time, effort, and involvement, but that’s a sacrifice you should be willing to make when you become a parent.

    Besides which, if you do a proper job raising your children to begin with you’ll be able to ensure that should they inadvertantly manage to stumble upon “pornography” during their journy through life their wee minds won’t be shattered by the experience.

    Dear sweet mother of god, won’t somebody save us from the bored, middle-class white women with too much free time on their hands.

  12. There should be an option for disabling the censorbot completely. Damnit! When do I get to live in my Star Trek world when people are no longer afraid of words and communications officers wear short red mini-skirts and black leather go-go boots?

    Mmmmmm…. TOS era Lt. Uhura…. nubianliscious!

  13. I’m sure this will astound everyone, but the politician in question is up for re-election this year. But I’m sure that has nothing to do with this proposed bill.

  14. Take it as a challenge- you have to be even MORE creative in your language.

    And though personal responsibility is a biblical and moral GOOD THING, it’s entirely too hard to get through people’s heads. People, especially in the states, think the best way to make a difference is to pass a law, even if a law by itself doesn’t change anything unless it’s enforced, and there are more effective measures to take. Passing a law to prevent your child from being negatively affected by something on the internet is about #300 on my list of ways to do the same thing.

  15. Personal responsibility seems to be a thing of the past. Why admit that you screwed your kids up by not paying attention to them when you can sue someone?

    It’s not you. It’s video games. It’s books. It’s movies. It’s television. It’s the angry monkey living in my closet.

    It’s freakin’ sad is what it is.

  16. It means “My kid ain’t a Christain no more! The Devil’s in them comics!” It’s all very ironic, because Christianity, as pure doctrine, is probably the most liberal Western religion on the planet.

  17. The proposed law won’t pass for this simple reason: it could be used to sue Disney for having produced several animated movies with scary parts….

  18. Since any material could be considered “harmful” to someone’s kid, they could really abolish any media. Even the latent homoerotic undertones people read between Bert and Ernie could be seen as justification for a lawsuit.

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