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A satirical comic sparks a lawsuit by Christian Lawyers and a controversy that reaches Elon Musk | Culture

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Cover of ‘Child Jesus does not hate sissies’, by Don Julio, published by Fandogamia.

The book is titled Baby Jesus doesn’t hate sissies. The statement, at least, would give rise to a debate. But the dust after the publication of the comic has nothing to do with that issue. Its promoters are accused of a crime of provocation to discrimination and hatred and another of sexual provocation, according to the complaint filed last Friday by the Spanish Foundation of Christian Lawyers before the Court of First Instance of Quart de Poblet. To which Poland Castellanos, president of the entity, adds another accusation by telephone: “Advocacy of pedophilia.” However, the author, Don Julio, the Fandogamia publishing house — and the main sectoral associations and creators that have come out in his defense — only see one outrage in this story: to freedom of expression. If anything, also to intelligence, since they insinuate that their plaintiffs have taken the obvious satire of the text literally.

The book parodies the format of a children’s exercise manual to ridicule homophobia. In it, there are two lesbians burned at the stake by a priest, a game to help Manolito tell his parents that he is gay, or it is stated: “You can get out of being homophobic.” “It’s ridiculous. Each page dismantles one of those excuses they have for hating people. If anything, the crime comes from his side,” laments Don Julio. The work circulated normally for weeks. It was launched in April, there was a press release, presentation at the Barcelona Comic Fair. The usual journey. And it was always defined as an “activity notebook for adults,” as it appears on the label’s website. Like Being a fascist is wrong, with a similar approach and by the same author, published a few weeks earlier. Right from there, in fact, came the idea for this second installment.

Pedro Medina, head of Fandogamia, places the beginning of the chaos in the video that went viral on social networks where a bookseller from Pontevedra showed the book in amazement. “Captures began to appear on various conservative profiles or those associated with the extreme right,” he says. Then, the editors discovered that the synopsis of the comic on Amazon contained an error in the recommended age: “For ages six and up.”

A page from 'Baby Jesus does not hate sissies', by Don Julio, published by Fandogamia.
A page from ‘Baby Jesus does not hate sissies’, by Don Julio, published by Fandogamia.

Medina assures that a small publisher like Fandogamia does not fill out these forms directly. It is limited to sending the basic information (author, price, number of pages) and the rest is the responsibility of the distributors. To this day, after an internal investigation, it is still unclear which distributor was wrong to publish online that information. “I understand that there could be some controversy over that cataloging failure. Obviously, it’s not a children’s book. But the corrections no longer matter, there are people who have made a decision and are going to follow it to the death. It makes me sad that hoaxes work so much and so few people try to understand what happened,” says Don Julio. Medina maintains that they immediately requested through intermediaries to correct the error, both on Amazon and Todostuslibros, the main digital sales channels. Hence, the book continues to be removed from both websites, waiting to correct the information. However, it was late.

“Many people have notified us. “It is the most barbaric thing we have ever encountered, the most aberrant thing I have ever seen,” says Castellanos. So Christian Lawyers announced his complaint. Although now the lawyer considers that the scandal transcends the recommended age: “Neither those over three nor over 18 can these contents be disseminated. “There is a drawing where a baby is sodomized!” Her actions multiplied attention to the case. And, for days, the storm has not abated. On the contrary, it grows. Same as the circulation on social networks of the page Castellanos refers to. “Activity 6: Entanglement of dicks!”

In it, the reader is invited to detect which, among all the penises of various characters, is having anal sex with the young Bartolomé, drawn on all fours. And when the Libs of TikTok account shared the image on craziness”). A message that, by the way, Fandogamia has since added to the description of his activity, in his profile on the same platform. “But the character has a mustache! All they can say is to support the foundations on which this booklet has been built,” answers Don Julio.

With the same sarcasm, Medina also questions another attack by Christian Lawyers. The foundation writes that “the notebook itself on its back cover states that the age restriction is +3 years.” But the editor believes that, once again, they are missing the irony. The book bears a seal similar to those that advise against some toys at least until the age of four; next to a price in pesetas; and the warning: “Often the most homophobic gentlemen are the ones who most want a dick in the butt.” Furthermore, the editor remembers that “99%” of his publications have been intended for adult audiences.

Meanwhile, the controversy has reached countries like Italy and Germany. Some users have claimed that the work is already used in schools, something that Fandogamia and Don Julio categorically deny. “It is very serious that the problem is more of a booklet than the rise of homophobia. These days I have received many hate messages from people who believe that I am homosexual,” says the cartoonist. At the same time, other Internet users have thanked Christian Lawyers for “the notice.” Because the controversy has triggered interest in the work, which has already sold a good part of its first 3,000 copies. It is impossible not to remember how the impact of flourby Nacho Carretero, when the court ordered the seizure of the book in 2018. “I still have to spend everything on lawyers,” Don Julio laughs.

More generally, the case joins a long list of cultural works brought to court in recent years in Spain. A few, such as the alleged glorification of ETA by two puppeteers in 2016 or the alleged hate crime of the “rebellious pussy” procession in 2014 in Seville, have ended in nothing. The conviction of musician César Strawberry, for humiliation of the victims, among other accusations, was finally canceled by the Constitutional Court. But other rappers, such as Valtònyc or Pablo Hásel, were punished with prison sentences in 2023. And Amnesty International has reiterated for years on its website: “Freedom of expression in Spain has suffered a serious setback since 2015, the year in which the Congress approved the (…) known as the ‘gag law’.

Another page from 'Baby Jesus does not hate sissies', by Don Julio, published by Fandogamia.
Another page from ‘Baby Jesus does not hate sissies’, by Don Julio, published by Fandogamia.

In any case, no copy of The baby Jesus does not hate to the sissies has been returned, according to the editor, a sign that customers knew what they were purchasing. And they do not reject it at all. Although Castellanos’ vision is very different: “If there are people who buy this book, they have a problem and the authorities should do something.”

Specifically, her complaint requests its withdrawal from the market and she believes that the author and publishers deserve prison. “Two naked nuns appear masturbating, a man performing fellatio on another, men penetrating each other anally (…). On the other hand, the images in the book also show authentic hatred towards religion, and in a very particular way an exacerbated hatred towards the Catholic Church. (…) The Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Hindu religions are pointed out as ‘fanatics’ and ‘murderers’ of homosexual people. Likewise, we read phrases like: ‘The other option would be to admit that God is shabby and that his Great Work is poorly done,’ the document reads. And the text considers it amply proven that the comic can be classified as “child pornography.”

“I am very happy with the result. I do not regret anything. We were consulting with many people from the LGTBQI+ community. All satire must raise blisters. If you are homophobic, of course it is going to offend you, the ideal would be that you take the opportunity to ask yourself certain things,” says Don Julio. “Characters come out loving each other, the book says that homosexuals deserve respect, and that religions have condemned them. What is wrong? I understand that there are people who may find it in bad taste or offended, but it is in the realm of parody,” Medina argues. Consistent with the DNA of his label, the editor has taken the controversy with humor. Although, at the same time, he is filling out his own activity notebook: an 80-page dossier on everything that happened. In case the joke becomes serious.

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