This morning I was checking Neil Gaiman's blog - as I do - and wouldn't you know it? I discovered something rather disturbing that was happening here in Australia. You can read the post here. My initial laughter about requiring ethical clearance to analyse animated lions (back when doing my PhD on Disney) was perhaps not so warranted.
Of course, working in the field of children's literature, issues of sexuality are a constant minefield, but they are there, and we need to treat such issues intelligently, rationally and with great sensitivity and respect. I do fear that treating fictional characters as real children is seriously problematic in maintaining the kind of intelligent, rational debate required. Of course, I don't know everything about the case and I'm just going on the one article (and we all know that sometimes the media doesn't quite correctly represent what is actually said or done), but such apparent outcomes do make continued research in any field related to children difficult.
Added note: Someone later pointed out that the judge's opinion was based on representations of real children, not that the fictional characters were the same as real children. Some of the wording still raises questions that will need to be faced down the line, though.