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.
The bill allows compensatory damages starting at no less than $10,000 for any instance in which a minor is exposed to "harmful to minors" entertainment products. The bill also allows that punitive damages and reasonable fees may be awarded to the prevailing party at the discretion of the court….
"This bill is troubling on several levels," explains [Comic Book Legal Defense Fund] Director Charles Brownstein. "It appears to allow for civil actions against any, or every, member of the dissemination food chain, from the retailer to the distributor to the publisher, of work that an individual parent may object to. So any citizen, using their own sense of what is obscene or harmful to minors, can bring suit. Considering that comics still suffer the cultural and legal stigma of being perceived as a juvenile medium, this bill could become a dangerous weapon in the hands of an individual who walks into a comic book store and is shocked to find that comics offer much more than Archie and Superman."
Frightening events create openings for attacks on civil liberties.
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