As many people know, during the recent American Library Association national convention, the FCC released a statement declaring their intent to ban the import of specific books into the United States. The new ruling is to be similar to bans in the Weimar Republic back in the 1930’s. The law looks to target certain books based on the number of foreign words or pages in them and while not naming Manga comics directly, it has indicated that books that serve no ‘entertainment purposes’ would not be permitted into the states.
Many publishing companies currently import books from outside the US and then replace some of the foreign words with English so that it is ‘modified’ here in the US and thus sellable at book stores everywhere. Books that do not meet specific entertainment criteria (as set forth by the FCC and not based on any public input) such as ‘crudely drawn pictures’ or ‘funny sounding words that have no inherent educational value to 3rd graders’ or possess too many foreign parts like a foreign made dust cover or spine will not be ‘banned’ per se, but unavailable to be sold, purchased, traded, or owned.
While Freedom of Speech advocates were quick to rally against the proposed regulations, supporters of the law claim that the wide availability of books printed in the US and written in English meant that there was little chance of running afoul of the First Amendment.
“Some of these foreign books can hold literally thousands of pages. There is no entertainment purpose for that many pages as most Americans have a hard enough time finishing a Reader’s Digest,” said one FCC official who wished to remain anonymous. “There’s just no reason for such books to be brought into the States. I, nor anyone at the FCC, can see why someone would want to read such rubbish and therefore are moving to ensure it cannot be brought in.”