Fighting for Free Speech with Charles Brownstein of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
July 18, 2016
Welcome to Episode 41 of Products of the Mind. On this episode, I speak with Charles Brownstein, Executive Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
“It’s important to be able to disagree and offend…Its more important to have the opportunity to be wrong or to have the opportunity to be offended than to go through life where nothing challenges or nothing has a rough edge. “
Free speech and censorship are the topics of today’s episode. Charle has been the Executive Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) since 2002.
Charles gives us some background on how and when he became interested in both comics and free-speech issues, beginning in childhood with movies like Pump up the Volume and Batman (1989). Charles discusses growing up in the 90’s, and interviewing artists such as Frank Miller, Alan Moore, and Will Eisner for a magazine he published in high school.
Most of this interview focuses on the problem of censorship, and how First Amendment rights are at risk as a result of print-media protests. We’ll discuss a number of historic free-speech cases from the last 20 years, and Charles will talk about the importance of protecting speech rights regardless of how a piece of art makes someone feel. Charles covers vulgarity in comic books, school library books of “sensitive nature,” and why Manga is not child pornography. Lastly, we discuss the “chilling effect” or the psychological impact censoring acts have on artists and art culture, and the importance of protecting free speech at all costs.
Links and notable mentions from today’s episode:
- Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF)
- Lenny Bruce
- ACLU Director remembers Burt Joseph
- CBLDF article covering Zap Comix lawsuit
- A Short History of Comics Censorship
- This One Summer
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Products of the Mind is produced by Mana Monzavi.
The illustration accompanying these show notes is by Whit Harris.
The theme music for this episode was provided by Le Chateau. The track name is “Bury You.” Go buy it on Soundcloud!
This episode and these show notes © 2016 David Lizerbram