Australian Judge Declares Cartoon Characters Are ‘People’ in CP Case

Dec 8, 2008 1:00 PM PST
SYDNEY — A supreme court judge of an Australian province handed down a decision this week that conflated animated depictions of children having sex with actual pictures of children having sex.

Justice Michael Adams of the New South Wales Supreme Court wrote for the majority in the co-called "Simpsons" case, named because the accused party involved produced cartoons featuring the characters from the long-running Fox TV show performing sex acts.

The accused man, Alan John McEwan, had been appealing a previous conviction for possessing child pornography. His cartoons show such popular characters as Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson having sex. His original punishment had been a $3,000 fine and a good behavior bond.

The larger implication in the judge's decision is his declaration that the cartoon characters depicted in this case were "people" in the legal sense of the term – in Australia, at least.

"In my view, the magistrate was correct in determining that, in respect of both the commonwealth and the [New South Wales] offences, the word 'person' included fictional or imaginary characters," the judge said, later adding, "The mere fact that the figure depicted departed from a realistic representation in some respects of a human being did not mean that such a figure was not a 'person.'"

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