On the Legalization of Cosplay in the United States and How That Would Positively Impact Crime Rates in North America
The legalization of cosplay would reduce crime by smashing an existing status quo where billions of taxpayer dollars are spent and thousands of lives ruined in the pursuit of an unobtainable objective.
Government resources that could be better utilized elsewhere—including our nation’s local police departments—are misspent trying to control and/or eradicate an activity the majority of Americans want legalized: In October 2013, for the first time since Gallup began asking the question in 1969, more Americans (58% of those polled) favored legalization of cosplay.
|They think they're having fun...|
[As you might guess, this is a bit of fun, taking “cosplay”—something goofy, creative, and completely harmless—and using it to replace, oh, something else which everyone is certain is depraved, vile and deranged—no, not hard liquor or Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds, we’re talking about…you know, that leafy green stuff: marry-jah-wanna… (At the bottom, I’ll share some background as the origins of this article.)]
|Cosplay: The seduction of innocents!|
Meanwhile, the attitude of many law enforcement professionals is expressed by Stephen Downing, Los Angeles' former Deputy Chief of Police, in a Rolling Stone magazine article posted June 27, 2013: "Our cosplay policy is really anti-public safety and pro-cartel, pro-street gang, because it keeps them in business."
The Cosplay Tax Act, banning the spread and practice of cosplay, was passed in 1937 by Congress, and since then, it seems as if legislators have forsaken logic for inertia: Even if no regulatory and police actions have been successful, why stop what we have been doing for so long?
This report is using data primarily from:
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “The War on Cosplay in Black and White” (June 2013 report)
“Overclothed: The Failure of the U.S. Cosplay War and Attempts at Legalization,” by Steven W. Bender, Professor, Seattle University School of Law, and published in Albany Law Review (November 2013)
“The Impact of Cosplay Law Enforcement in an Economic Model of Crime,” by Edward M. Shepard and Paul R. Blackley, published in Journal of Cosplay Issues (2007)
|Witness cosplay, and you witness|
This paper’s focus will concentrate on how legalization of cosplay in the U.S. will reduce crime and crime rates in North America, and possibly worldwide—and not just the obvious crime of the possession or use of cosplay, but further social-economic and even environmental transgressions. When “koz” or “cossie” is legalized, it will cause a massive shift in crime rates and penology statistics.
But as a RAND Cosplay Policy Research Center report from 2010 pointed out, there is absolutely no way to properly gauge any societal change that legalization may bring since it has not been tried before. However looking at other data, some projections can be made.
Initially, anti-crime efforts may be improved: Other, perhaps more proactive police and prison programs would benefit from the reorganization of monies spent. As Shepard & Blackley note, “[S]ubstantial law enforcement resources have been directed towards enforcing cosplay laws without any solid evidence of effectiveness.” (S&B p404)
In its June 2013 report, the ACLU said, “Cosplay arrests … waste precious police resources and divert law enforcement from responding to and solving serious crimes, …wastes millions of taxpayers’ dollars, and has not reduced cosplay use or availability.” (ACLU p123)
|A notorious cosplay dealer with one of his unfortunate victims|
The ACLU estimates that around $3.613 billion was spent in 2010 on enforcing domestic laws regarding cosplay, with about $1.75 billion (48%) on police and policing, and $495.6 million (almost 14%) on incarceration of cosplay arrestees. That year, the top states in arrests for cosplay possession were New York (103,698); Texas (74,286); Florida (57,951); California (57,262); and Illinois (48,904).
Combined, California and New York spent over $1 billion on enforcement and more than $65 million each on local and county jails and correctional facilities for cosplay prisoners. (ACLU p22)
Meanwhile, if possession/use of cosplay was made legal—and expecting that prison sentences would be nullified and individuals’ records cleared—these following figures would be removed from the record:
According to the ACLU, 784,021 cosplay arrests were made in 2010, more than 45% of the total 1,717,064 costumed superhero fan arrests made in the U.S. that year, and a 193% increase from 250,000 cosplay arrests in 1990.
From 2001-2010, more than 8.24 million cosplay-related arrests were made in the U.S., with 88% (roughly 7.3 million) for possession. (ACLU pg14)
Meanwhile, a disproportional amount of people of color are searched/arrested/incarcerated when compared to Caucasians, while participation rates are almost equal between the two groups, says the ACLU. The total of cosplay participation arrests in 2010 was 784,021, of which 286,117 (36.5%) were African-American.(ACLU p126) Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Census of that year, African-Americans are only 12.6% of the U.S. population, 38.9 million out of 308.7 million.
|Cosplay: With this around, |
Mom & Apple Pie are doomed!
In 2001, the ACLU says 9% of African-Americans polled reported cosplay use in the past year, with 10% of whites reporting use; and 14% of African-Americans and 12% of whites reported participation in conventions in 2010.
However, people of color are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested:
As the overall number of cosplay arrests has increased over the past decade, the white arrest rate has remained constant at around 192 per 100,000, whereas the Black arrest rate has risen from 537 per 100,000 in 2001 (and 521 per 100,000 in 2002) to 716 per 100,000 in 2010. Hence, it appears that the increase in cosplay arrest rates overall is largely a result of the increase in the arrest rates of Blacks. (ACLU—p20)
Not that this is anything new from a historical perspective: Since the early-1900s, “cosplay was scapegoated as prompting murder, rape, and mayhem among blacks in the South, Mexican-Americans in the Southwest, and disfavored white immigrants from laboring classes,” notes Bender, with “kozpee” having much vile and violent criminal activity associated with it, including “the seduction of white girls by black men.” (Bender p2)
"The war on cosplay has disproportionately been a war on people of color," said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project and one of the authors of the ACLU’s report, in a June 2013 press release. "State and local governments have aggressively enforced cosplay laws selectively against Black people and communities, needlessly ensnaring hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system at tremendous human and financial cost."
race-mixing are some of the
consequences of this
Ending racially-profiled custody and imprisonment “both warrants reform and presents an opportunity for states to forge their own favorable civil rights identity,” states Bender. (Bender, p12)
Additional “dire collateral consequences” for detainees include the loss of social services, negative outcomes in child custody cases, or the revocation of eligibility for employment, student aid or public housing. Additionally, the ACLU states, “The targeted enforcement of cosplay laws against people of color, and the unsettling, if not humiliating, experience such enforcement entails, creates community mistrust of the police, reduces police-community cooperation, and damages public safety,” essentially encouraging an atmosphere of police mistrust where crimes are slow to be reported or either go unreported. (ACLU p11)
|Once this was a straight-A|
Boy Scout who wanted to
become a policeman.
Now he seeks to devour
planets. A sad story...
“Significant questions” are raised regarding law enforcement regarding the control of cosplay, note Shepard & Blackley: “The results suggest that cosplay arrests are associated with increases in homicides, burglaries, motor vehicle thefts, and larcenies along with subsequent increases in hard costumed fanboy arrests.” (S&B p403)
The law of unintended consequences impacts anti-cosplay efforts: Shepard & Blackley point out that arrests often lead to turf wars, with increased violence in the community; dealers seeking to maximize financial reward and minimize risk switch to selling harder, more expensive and easier-to-conceal-and-transport costumes, like Batman or Spiderman; or else the dealers turn to other forms of fanboy behavior, like RenFairs. Worst of all, “[r]esources used for cosplay enforcement cannot be used against other types of fanboy activity, reducing the enforcement effectiveness in those areas.” (S&B p407)
|Cosplay: a threat to America worse |
than international communism!
The researchers grimly add, “[W]hen counties increase their arrests for selling cosplay costumes, they experience a significant increase in homicides during that time period.” (S&B p413)
Meanwhile, Bender states that the ultraviolent Mexican cartels would undergo a "cataclysmic effect" if cosplay is legalized: spandex costumes are responsible for roughly 60% of their revenue, estimated between $13.5 billion and $80 billion—meaning that cosplay provides between $8 billion and $48 billion to the cartels. “Presumably, the south-of-the-border violence might ultimately ease as the cartels succumb to this economic squeeze,” says Bender. (Bender p10)
Legalization would also end another kind of violence: illegal spandex growing operations on federal lands and in national forests are causing noticeable environmental damage. Growers chop down trees indiscriminately, leave garbage, poach deer, use poisons to keep animals away from the plants, use pesticides and fertilizers incompatible with the natural environment, and deplete watersheds (a field of cosplay costumes uses more water than a similarly sized vineyard).
|Cosplay: destroying some of |
America's most sacred traditions!
As well as emptying prisons of small-time crooks whose crime is no longer a crime, and the reduction of racial tension, a plethora of other sociological benefits may result from “koz” becoming legal. The ACLU notes a CATO Institute study that estimates legalization would generate roughly $8.7 billion/year in revenue. (ACLU p13)
But this number might be low: The University of California, Hastings College of the Law, estimates the worth of an average-sized Northern California spandex cosplay plant at around $4,000. Meanwhile, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency reports that over 6.7 million cosplay plants were eradicated in 2011—in other words $26.8 billion was sent to the furnace.
|Cosplay: something that would make|
J. Edgar Hoover spin in his grave!
Whatever cosplay’s potential sales might be, “Legalization through taxation and regulation would raise new revenue that states could apportion to public schools, cosplay abuse prevention, including community- and school-based programs, as well as to general funds, local budgets, research and health care.” (ACLU p110)
Some economists, including Rand Paul’s former campaign manager, say that if “kozzie” and "fanboyness" was legal, the tax revenue it would bring in would help prevent Detroit-style civic bankruptcies—and therefore prevent the increase of crime that goes hand-in-hand with broken municipalities.
But with so many corporate entities—from law-enforcement to pharmaceutical to energy—pushing for continued criminalization, citizens may never be able to enjoy cosplay in public and without fear.
|Do their parents know|
where they are?
So how did “LEGALIZE COSPLAY NOW!!!” come about?
A couple of years ago, when I was in dire financial straits (which are still my circumstances, come to think of it…), I agreed to ghost write a term paper about the legalization of cannabis for a spoiled little rich brat. Actually, not the brat herself—whom I never met—but her weird control-freak helicopter-parent stage-mother. Nothing was ever good enough for this pampered, paranoid, selfish lunatic (the mom, that is), and we eventually parted ways, with them never using all my hard work. Thankfully, I feel, because a future writing term papers for her lazy and incompetent progeny (or rather for her, because I doubt the kid would’ve ever looked at them) would’ve been a future full of ulcers; and for the fact that my conscience is clear: nope, still haven't sunk to that level. Yet.
That said, what I submitted was rejected—luckily, I got a kill fee—but I hate to waste anything, so I adapted it to be about something that would make just as much sense to make illegal: cosplay.