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January 21, 2003

Senator Kelly Was Right (fourth

Daniel Radosh

Senator Kelly Was Right (fourth item). In a dark day for geeks, Marvel Comics has convinced a judge that the X-Men are not human. (Next they'll be telling us it's just a comic book!) The debate hinges on the difference between dolls (human figures subject to 12% import duties) and toys (nonhumans; 6.8%). Some details from the full WSJ article by Neil King Jr:

"Toy Biz pulled no punches. The figures 'stand as potent witnesses for their status as nonhuman creatures,' the company argued. How can they be human, Toy Biz said, if they posessed 'tentacles, claws, wings or robotic limbs?'

"The U.S. government showed more feeling. Each figure had a 'distinctive individual personality,' the federal legal team argued. Some were Russians, Japanese, black, white, women, even handicapped. Wolverine, the government insisted, was simply 'a man with prosthetic hands.'

"Judge Barzilay... described in her ruling how she subjected many of the figures to 'comprehensive examinations.' At times, that included 'the need to remove the clothes of the figure.'"

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