What would Jesus Castillo do?

Texas is not without it's share of stupid shit. Man I love Austin, but we got some uber-winners when it comes to the governing body of this state.

I'm sure most of you across the nation have by now heard about the Dems that have left the state to protest/avoid/delay the special session called by Gov. Perry to work on redistricting. That's national, that's debated, that's up to each person to decide what's right and wrong.

What you probably haven't heard is a little known case dealing with one Jesus Castillo, a comic book retailer in Texas. Castillo was convicted for selling an adult comic to an adult from a store that handles its adult material very carefully. However, the stores proximity to a school and in one counsel's remarks, comics being for kids, the jury ignored expert testimony and followed the trial with a guilty verdict based on an emotional closing argument.

For those with little kids, please cover their ears.


Here's an excerpt from the close.

"And, again, why are we here? ... This medium, the medium that this obscenity is placed in is done so in an appealing manner to children. Comic books, and I don't care what type of evidence or what type of testimony is out there, use your rationality, use your common sense. Comic books, traditionally what we think of, are for kids. This is in a store directly across from an elementary school and it is put in a medium, in a forum, to directly appeal to kids. That is why we are here, ladies and gentlemen. I want to re-emphasize that the fact that all this smut is out there, does not mean it's acceptable and is decent by our community. We're here to get this off the shelf."

I'd like you to look at two things. First, comics are traditionally for kids. Yes, traditionally, in the 1950's! The average comic book subscriber is now late 20's early 30's, works a steady job and is more often then not married or has kids of their own. Getting a conviction on the opinion that comics are for kids isn't any better than getting a conviction for a Wal-Mart employee found selling an adult video game, rated R movie or firearm to an adult. Where does it stop?

Secondly, the phrase "and I don't care what type of evidence or what type of testimony is out there...use your common sense." What? WHAT? You don't CARE what kind of evidence is out there? This asshat needs to be careful what he says, he's going to end up setting Rules of Evidence cases back 30 years with this bullshit. And as a juror, would you listen to a lawyer that said that? I don't care what kind of evidence is out there. I don't care about this airtight alibi, or the eyewitnesses, or the lack of forensic evidence, or the fact that the defendant wasn't in the country, doesn't your common sense just tell you that he's guilty? Look at him? Jack McCoy would be having a FIELD DAY with this case.

On the heels of just printing up my own, PG-13 comic book (no sex, mild violence) I'm really worried about this case. If a retailer can't sell it, what does the creator do? Why aren't these guys attacking the adult video stores? Why is sex even a problem in this country? The Italians are just laughing at us. Now that we have Reverend George Bush in the White House, this kind of emotional legal crap is going to slide down that slippery slope like Peekaboo Street coated in KY. This absolutely infuriates me. What's worse is both the Texas Court of appeals AND the Unites States Supreme Court have refused this case. So this poor schlep just trying to make a dime by selling comic books gets to spend a year under supervised probation, and pay $4000.

Now before you get up on your rebuttal soap box and say, "But Mr. Austin, don't YOU have a child? Would you want her exposed to this kind of filth?" Let me say this. First, the material in question was clearly marked, away from general viewing and required a photo ID to purchase. If you're under 18, you wouldn't have been able to even see it on the shelf. Second, I know what is bad and what is good. I know what's best for my child. I know how to watch out for her. I know what I'll tell her when she's older so she can appreciate adult material for what it is, adult material. I can't stop her, but I can educate her. It's the parent's job to teach and protect their children. I'm insulted that the legal system feels it's their job to not only obliterate my 1st Amendment rights, but to assume that my child may be in danger from a threat no worse than the Playboys in 7-11. This case is an abomination and shouldn't have gone as far as an appeal to the USSC, it should have died in the grand jury. The judge should have taken one look at this case and said, "You're kidding right?" But on the heals of the Minor Protection/Put Your Child In A Government Funded Bubble actions being taken in Arkansas right now, I fear the life of the comic book industry is slowly coming to an end. Meanwhile, prostitutes and crack heads are free to walk the streets. Yeah, I don't see the distinction either.

On a separate note, but relating a little to first part of this entry, Mrs. Austin and I met Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Travis County) last night at our local National Night Out event. Mrs. Austin had some question for him about his stance on the Dems breaking quorum and he said he was totally for it and in fact they're having a rally this Saturday to protest Gov. Perry's 2nd special session in the house. Mrs. Austin knows her stance, knows it's wrong to waste money on these sessions while the budgets are being cut. I'm not so sure. I want to cheer the Dems on, but I have no reference for it. I don't know enough about it to make a stance. The last couple months I've had tunnel vision and haven't paid much attention. So Mrs. Austin will be at the rally while I'm in Chicago. Please, if you're in Austin, come by the south steps of the capital at 11:30am on August 9th and make yourself heard.

If you're not, well then go find something in your state to fight for.

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