Comic Art, Creativity and the Law
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Comic Art, Creativity and the Law

Marc H. Greenberg

The creation of works of comic art, including graphic novels, comic books, cartoons and comic strips, and political cartoons, is affected, and at times limited, by a diverse array of laws, ranging from copyright law to free speech laws. This book examines how this intersection affects the creative process, and proposes approaches that encourage, rather than limit, that process in the comic art genre. Attention to the role comic art occupies in popular culture, and how the law responds to that role, is also analyzed.
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Chapter 11: The bigger picture: obscenity, the First Amendment and the moral education of the young

Marc H. Greenberg


When I was a law student in the fall of 1977, I took a class in Constitutional Issues Before the Supreme Court, taught by former US Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg. In this small seminar-style class, students read cases pending before the Supreme Court that term, and presented mock oral argument on behalf of one of the parties. Justice Goldberg sat as Chief Justice, and the rest of the class offered commentary. Justice Goldberg chose which cases would be argued by each student. He assigned me to present, on behalf of the National Socialist Party, the argument that this group, which was the American version of the Nazi party, should be allowed the right to conduct a political march through the neighborhood of the village of Skokie, Illinois, to promote their anti-Semitic viewpoints. Skokie had a large population of elderly Jewish residents, many of whom were survivors of the Holocaust in Germany during World War II. I am certain that Justice Goldberg knew I was of the Jewish faith, and that he purposely assigned this case to me to help me learn that one of the purposes of the First Amendment is to protect speech that we may personally find distasteful, even repugnant. Lesson learned.

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