A former middle school teacher in Idaho is facing up to 10 years in prison for downloading Simpsons porn—that is, pornographic cartoons depicting child characters from The Simpsons engaged in sexual acts. After a search warrant led to the discovery of more than 70 such images on his computer, 33-year-old Steven Kutzner immediately resigned and pled guilty at a subsequent hearing. Unfortunately for him, this case has a precedent: In 2008, an Australian court handed down a landmark ruling when it decided that Simpsons porn counts as child pornography; earlier this year, another man was found to have a collection of pornographic drawings featuring The Simpsons, The Powerpuff Girls, and The Incredibles, and was forced to register as a sex offender.
Author Neil Gaiman had one of the best responses to the 2008 case, saying that the court had “just inadvertently granted human rights to cartoon characters,” and that “the ability to distinguish between fiction and reality is, I think, an important indicator of sanity, perhaps the most important. And it looks like the Australian legal system has failed on that score.” It remains to be seen how a U.S. court will react during Kutzner’s January 2011 sentencing. In the meantime, if you value your own job, resist the temptation to Google “Simpsons porn” right now. (Or if you do, stick to the Homer-and-Marge stuff, we guess.)