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Library of Congress Opens Records of Anti-Comic Book Shrink

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the sum-of-old-fears dept.

Books 257

eldavojohn writes "Some light is being shone on comic book history today as the Library of Congress opens up the 222 boxes of a German psychiatrist's evidence and papers against comic books. Dr. Fredric Wertham is well known by comic book fans as the author of Seduction of the Innocent, a bestselling book linking comic books and juvenile delinquency — leading to a full blown congressional investigation (some say witch hunt) of the comic book industry. Wertham was long involved with criminal trials before campaigning against comic books and promoting industry and government censorship for children. Ars adds a little more context for the younger crowd and notes that he later tried to move against television violence but couldn't find the publisher backing he had against comic books."

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257 comments

Ah yes, Wertham (4, Interesting)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 3 years ago | (#33416720)

As much as Dr. Dickhead and Congress should be excoriated appropriately, let's not forget that the Comics industry bent over backwards to censor itself. If they'd shown a little more backbone, imagine what Lee and Kirkby could have done with the "Marvel Way" in the sixties. Imagine not having that fucking glut of saccharine Archie products.

Mind you, we probably wouldn't have gotten Mad magazine if things had turned out differently, so it's hard to be judgmental.

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (4, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#33416838)

I don't know, it seems to me that often the best stories are written when the authors hands are tied a little bit. Typically, code or no code, the author will get the message out that they're trying to get out, but with the code in place it puts a check on the author, preventing him or her from taking the easy way to make their point. It encourages authors to look at both sides of situation more thoroughly than they would have otherwise which in my opinion adds more depth to the story.

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (2, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#33416874)

It gives them the luxury of looking at both ways better, while preventing them from doing things the second way, regardless as to whether it's the best way of expressing their message. Genius.

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (3, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#33416982)

regardless as to whether it's the best way of expressing their message.

Close, but that isn't quite what I said. More accurate would be "...regardless as to whether it's the easy way of expressing their message". There will always be times when going against the code will make the better story, but I feel that rather than making the story better it often just makes the story easier to write, which is a hard thing for most authors to resist.

If you want your main character to be a criminal for instance, the easy way to do things is to have the criminal succeed and get rich off his crimes. With the code you can't do that, a criminal can't profit from his crimes, so what to do? You have to come up with other ways of having him 'win', through personal relationships, character growth, overcoming adversity, etc.

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (2, Insightful)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417258)

But you have to look at what comic book writers were trying to accomplish, and what Dr. Wertham was trying to accomplish. This guy thought he found a correlation between violent media and delinquency. Did it ever occur to him that the naturally violent children will be attracted to the comic books and later become criminals, regardless of what they are subjected to. This man compared leaving the responsibility of controlling media for parents to anarchy. It would be more accurate to compare the restriction of freedoms of all for the sake of protecting few to despotism. Every outlet of entertainment you look at will always create a market for those who are drawn to violence, and quelling it can only make the problem worse in the same way that prohibition made drinking worse. It's fine to create rating for parents to select which media to subject their children to, but eliminating it completely not only takes away the opportunity to do so, but it also makes people neglect teaching their children to use violence appropriately. There's nothing wrong with violence if used moderately in self defense or in the defense of others (one of the reasons my kids will learn discipline from martial arts). I guess some people still think they can create some utopia that operates in the absence of violence, like it hasn't failed countless times in history.

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (1)

Kidbro (80868) | more than 3 years ago | (#33418004)

Close, but that isn't quite what I said. More accurate would be "...regardless as to whether it's the easy way of expressing their message". There will always be times when going against the code will make the better story, but I feel that rather than making the story better it often just makes the story easier to write, which is a hard thing for most authors to resist.

Let me rephrase what you said, or perhaps draw this to its conclusion (which you may or may not already have thought of): This may force bad and mediocre authors to be slightly better (by spending slightly more effort), but deprives good authors (those that wouldn't just simply chose the "easy" way regardless of arbitrary rules, those that realize how to write to make the better story) of their most useful tools.

I must say that I agree with the sarcastic tone of GP: Genius.

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (2, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 3 years ago | (#33416932)

Tied an artists hands a little bit can be good, but the code was a straitjacket--especially in the original incarnation. And attempting to publish without the CCA logo was suicide. Many distributes wouldn't even carry your product, and towns enacted ordinances making non CCA tagged comics "adult material" and illegal for distribution inside of the town boundaries. It took decades for the industry to recover, and even now comics retain the stigma of "kids stuff about moralistic superheroes and fluffy animals", despite the eventual backlash and proliferation of adult targeted (and non CCA approved) comics during the 80s and beyond.

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33417070)

Really? The stigma comic books have been associated with in my area is "darker and edgier gunisher RAaaahggging characters".

So basically the stigma got updated to the eighties and nineties.

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (2, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417000)

And it makes kids think "Evil" is robbing a bank without guns, and yelling "Drat!" or "Curses!" when a superhero shows up. Instead of Evil being a man with an axe holding a severed head. Sometimes the best way to portray a villain is not with subtlety.

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417386)

Actually, it's funny. The Joker started out as a homicidal lunatic, but of course when the comics code got done with him he was robbing banks without guns and saying "Drat!" and "Curses!"

Now he's back to being a homicidal lunatic again.

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417434)

I didn't know you had to decapitate people to be considered evil! I think robbery is pretty bad even when performed without a weapon (which actually happens quite often).

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (2, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417908)

I didn't know you had to decapitate people to be considered evil! I think robbery is pretty bad even when performed without a weapon (which actually happens quite often).

There's evil, and there's Evil.

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (1)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 3 years ago | (#33418042)

Yes, but to make the point the post above yours did. The Joker was originally a homicidal lunatic, he's Chaotic Evil incarnate with a veneer of perverting the clown image as clowns are supposed to be bright and entertaining characters. This is entirely to make him a strong contrast to Batman, who is all about Order above all and generally acting for the good of the people who if not respecting the law per se still has a fairly rigid code about which lines he will and will not cross, coupled to a dark and intimidating visage.

The CCA-effected Joker was less violence, Chaos, and perversion of all that is good for personal gain and amusement, making the contrast less severe. He was meant to be *disturbing* if you actually thought about it too much (kinda like everything in the TV show Dollhouse, if you thought about the concept behind the show for more than 10s, you should have been well into Nightmare Fuel territory, even from the first episode).

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417724)

I think the best way to portray a villian is with subtlety. That's how they're portrayed in Real Life, anyway.

A guy with an axe and a severed head is just a homicidal lunatic that likes lopping heads. He can be stopped with a handful of lead or a quick maser beam or a mutant power.

If the evil is an enourmous corporation or a government, how can you stop that? What could Superman do against BP or the RIAA?

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417818)

What could Superman do against BP or the RIAA?

Melt their eyeballs with heat vision? They don't own any Kryptonite.

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417920)

What could Superman do against BP or the RIAA?

Given that Superman has been documented on many occasions to be a super dick, he'd probably destroy Earth to deal with BP and the RIAA.

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417960)

If the evil is an enourmous corporation or a government, how can you stop that? What could Superman do against BP or the RIAA?

They way he solves all the world's problems, by tossing them into the Sun!

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33417994)

you need to read 'Superman: True Brit' then, Superman versus Rupert Murdoch

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417892)

Yeah, without the MPAA's ridiculous rules, South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut wouldn't even have a fucking point.

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417006)

Yes, and let us remember this lesson when the question of self-regulation comes up in any context.

Re:Ah yes, Wertham (3, Informative)

DMiax (915735) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417012)

Actually, it was just Hays code [wikipedia.org] all over again. Funny how these things happen at decades of distance for different mediums. Let's see if the plot repeats with videogames...

You're not seeing the past correctly (4, Insightful)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 3 years ago | (#33418014)

As much as Dr. Dickhead and Congress should be excoriated appropriately, let's not forget that the Comics industry bent over backwards to censor itself. If they'd shown a little more backbone, imagine what Lee and Kirkby could have done with the "Marvel Way" in the sixties. Imagine not having that fucking glut of saccharine Archie products. Mind you, we probably wouldn't have gotten Mad magazine if things had turned out differently, so it's hard to be judgmental.

The problem with this is that you are applying modern behavior to events that happened over 50 years ago. Or to put it another way, what you suggest is kind of like going back in time to the 1950s and getting angry because nobody has a cell phone. (That's "mobile phone" to you non-North Americans).

I've read some books that talk about the era, which was before I was born. One of the problems is that people and American society were a lot less litigious back then. Sometimes people screwed you over and you didn't go to court over it. You just took it and moved on. People didn't run around suing each other over everything like they do today. I guess, in theory, Bill Gaines of EC and publishers of similar fare could have tried to stand up, but the reality was that the distributors wouldn't touch books that weren't blessed by the "Comics Code" and the Code was specifically written to put companies like EC out of business by forbidding them from doing exactly what they had done. And keep in mind too that plenty of publishers of what I will call "family safe" comic books such as Archie, various Disney comics (these are a lot better than many realize - look up Carl Barks for more info) and others were more than happy to play along with the Comics Code because they didn't do what it forbade and they were really happy to see competitors driven out of the business. Some people probably really did believe that comics turned kids into juvenile delinquents and those people thought that the Code was just doing a public service. There's always been a rumor that John Goldwater, the publisher of Archie Comics, was infuriated by Mad's (then a comic book not a magazine) parody called "Starchie" and he vowed to put EC out of business. Goldwater did substantial work for the Code and it's probably no coincidence that a lot of what the Code forbade applied to EC directly.

Mad became a magazine specifically to evade the Code. It was a huge gamble that worked. But many artists, writers and others in the comic industry lost jobs and had to scramble to find new ones thanks to the Code. I'm pretty sure that if Bill Gaines and others could have stood up to the Code they would have.

Comics and Video Games (5, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33416738)

I love how some of the most outspoken people against video games (as well as comics, porno, etc) are often the same people who are against government expansion. Government intervention is always bad...unless it regulates something these people don't agree with.

I'm looking at you, Mitt Romney...amongst others.

Re:Comics and Video Games (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33416934)

You have an excellent point. Hillary Clinton and Joseph Lieberman are as red-state as it gets, am I right?

Re:Comics and Video Games (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417348)

> You have an excellent point. Hillary Clinton and Joseph Lieberman are as red-state as it gets, am I right?

He was probably talking about the Family Research Council.

They have some interesting ideas about The Smurfs and Carebears...

Niggers stink! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33417014)

But something we can all agree on is that niggers stink. The only good nigger is a lynched nigger.

Re:Comics and Video Games (5, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417238)

Government intervention is always bad.

There is the problem. I know a lot of people reject propositions with a boring and overly-simple argument of "government is too big," but that doesn't mean that all people who are in favor of a small [federal] government take that route, and it doesn't mean that they think that all government intervention is bad. You're unecessarily reducing a viewpoint to a ridiculous. Claiming that those who are against "government expansion" are in favor of anarchy (if government intervention is always bad, then anarchy would be good, because it would be no government intervention).

Of course, you are probably just exaggerating to make your point, which is probably what the people you're arguing against are doing, too... meaning we're all arguing against exaggerated opinions of the other side, which means we're not even really arguing about something real ;)

I'm a "small government" sort of guy. Didn't Romney do the health care thing in MA? Isn't that "government intervention?" Doesn't he still claim it was a good idea? Of course, that was at the state level, not the federal level... but still.

I suppose I'm nit-picking. But the exaggerations on both sides make any sort of meaningful political discussion impossible. Democrats, according to some Republicans, quite literally want to drive America into the ground and give our land over to Muslim countries. Republicans, according to some Democrats, want to literally milk the people's money out of them through corporations and wouldn't mind if [insert large corporation] actually ran the country. Usually, these are supported by huge jumps from a given action to a motive. Actions are easy to see. Motives are pretty difficult.

As an example, from my own ideological POV's typical party member, "Obamacare" is clearly an attempt to set up a completely socialist government in America. It's also, clearly, an attempt to ruin America and give it to Iran. It's also clearly an attempt for Democrats to gain more federal power. Of course, some of those clear motives are rather mutually exclusive, but we'll ignore that. The action that caused all this was a health care bill, but we clearly know the motive behind it.

The same goes for Democrats. They clearly know the motives behind Repuplicans blocking a given bill (it is undoubtedly an evil and nefarious motive, like wanting to get more money from corporate lobbyists, or wanting to ensure they get re-elected, etc). My whole point? We are so caught up in ascribing motives that we can't even argue about the real substance - the legislation itself.

And, to wrap up, exaggerations about POV's - including "small government" folks being against any government intervention at all, which then boils any discussion down to "well what about [something the government does that is necessary]???!?! you insensitive clod!" and including "all 'socialists' want to control ever single area of your life just like Russian communism!" - is a part of the can't-have-rational-discussion problems...

IMO, of course. ;)

I like Adam Smith's critique of small government (4, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417580)

"Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all."
The Wealth of Nations,Book V, Chapter I, Part II, 775

If Government is stripped of all other functions save the defense of property, it is a tyranny of the rich. I believe that is why the rich nearly invariably favor small government. The more desperate the have-nots are, the more they will put up with and the less they will demand. Taking away social safety nets favors the rich employer who desires a pool of desperate, starving, cheap workers.

But the truly rich make up less than one percent of our population. Why do the non rich desire smaller government? Is it out of some philosophical principle? Well, if humans were commonly genius-saints, perhaps. But we aren't. Most of us start from our assumptions and reason backwards to find support. And most of the upper middle class assume they will be rich one day, despite the lack of any evidence that this is likely. The gap between an upper middle class person making $100,000 to $250,000 per year and an actual owning class person is tremendous. We do not have as much upward mobility in our society as we would like to believe, but everyone believes we do. Why? Simple: anyone who says they don't think they can make it is obviously a failure. Who wants to admit to being a failure? The myth says hard work will make you rich, what, are you lazy?

This is how the rich fool the middle class into defending the rich from the poor, even though the middle class has far more in common with the poor than the rich.

Re:I like Adam Smith's critique of small governmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33417780)

Great post. It's funny how the people who tend to claim Adam Smith to their side the most clearly never seem to have actually read fully what he wrote.

Re:Comics and Video Games (2, Interesting)

locallyunscene (1000523) | more than 3 years ago | (#33418012)

Most people don't want to move the discussion beyond that. They want to believe that their set of principles is more "right" than any given policy. They like calling themselves Democrat or Republican and spouting out of context talking points. They can participate in Democracy by simplifying it down to a few axioms and anyone that disagrees is naive, jaded, or just wrong.

Re:Comics and Video Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33417246)

I'm looking at you, Mitt Romney

No! Don't make eye contact! That's how they take over your brain and make you vote for them.

Re:Comics and Video Games (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417700)

Mitt Romney is only against government expansion when the "other guy's" are in charge. Mitt Romney is not a conservative, he is a political opportunist.

Re:Comics and Video Games (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417774)

Which is a real shame, because financially (just based on his employment record), the guy knows what he's doing. Being smart about money isn't the only requirement for being president though, so...

I think he'd make a good choice for Treasury Secretary or something like that...but I still can't believe he's considered by many to be the Republican front-runner for 2012.

William Gaines at the Senate Subcommittee (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33416792)

Chief Counsel Herbert Beaser: Let me get the limits as far as what you put into your magazine. Is the sole test of what you would put into your magazine whether it sells? Is there any limit you can think of that you would not put in a magazine because you thought a child should not see or read about it?

Bill Gaines: No, I wouldn't say that there is any limit for the reason you outlined. My only limits are the bounds of good taste, what I consider good taste.

Beaser: Then you think a child cannot in any way, in any way, shape, or manner, be hurt by anything that a child reads or sees?

Gaines: I don't believe so.

Beaser: There would be no limit actually to what you put in the magazines?

Gaines: Only within the bounds of good taste.

Beaser: Your own good taste and saleability?

Gaines: Yes.

Senator Estes Kefauver: Here is your May 22 issue. [Kefauver is mistakenly referring to Crime Suspenstories #22, cover date May] This seems to be a man with a bloody axe holding a woman's head up which has been severed from her body. Do you think that is in good taste?

Gaines: Yes sir, I do, for the cover of a horror comic. A cover in bad taste, for example, might be defined as holding the head a little higher so that the neck could be seen dripping blood from it, and moving the body over a little further so that the neck of the body could be seen to be bloody.

Kefauver: You have blood coming out of her mouth.

Gaines: A little.

Weasel words (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33416818)

Dear Slashdot editors:

Regardless of whether you're right or wrong, the phrase "some say witch hunt" is a weasel-faced cop out. It's a device commonly seen on Fox news to to inject opinion into otherwise factual reporting. If "some people" say it, tell us who. Otherwise, let us know it's your opinion.

Regards.

Re:Weasel words (3, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33416842)

I would normally agree with that, but in this instance the term "witch hunt" is commonly used to describe this period in comic (and law) history. The "some people" is referring to the culture in general.

If you're looking for a wikipedia-style source to be cited, open a phone book.

Re:Weasel words (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#33416948)

If "some people" say it, tell us who.

Hordes of comic book fans, and large numbers of the /. regulars.

Re:Weasel words (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33417276)

and large numbers of the /. regulars.

The same ones who have been declaring the "Year of the Linux desktop" for going on a decade? Yep, some credible source.

Re:Weasel words (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417388)

>> and large numbers of the /. regulars.
>
> The same ones who have been declaring the "Year of the Linux desktop" for going on a decade? Yep, some credible source. ...I had no idea that John Carpenter and Robert Zemeckis were such Linux fans.

Re:Weasel words (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417018)

I say it was a witch hunt. They were looking for a scape goat for society's ills rather than taking any responsibility themselves for what their children were caught doing at the time, which is a pretty good definition of "Witch hunt". Is that good enough for you? Anyone else care to back me up?

Re:Weasel words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33417432)

You've misunderstood. I was objecting to "some say", not to "witch hunt".

It's My Fault, I Apologize, I Was Wrong (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417156)

Dear Slashdot editors:

Regardless of whether you're right or wrong, the phrase "some say witch hunt" is a weasel-faced cop out. It's a device commonly seen on Fox news to to inject opinion into otherwise factual reporting. If "some people" say it, tell us who. Otherwise, let us know it's your opinion.

Regards.

I wrote that summary and CmdrTaco posted it without editing so I guess some if not all of the blame should be on me. And I'll concede that the statement is not accurate. There were staged comic book burnings [wikipedia.org] and during the testimony, Kefauver and Wertham (a German doctor no less) opened their testimony with statements calling Hitler a "beginner" when compared to the comics industry as well as flat out claiming comic books affected children to the same way Nazi propaganda indoctrinated children. Several books on the history of comics detail this testimony including Bradford Wright's Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America.

So I must confess I was wrong to use that phrase, clearly "a witch hunt" would have more sound logic than what was used in an attempt to have the government replace the parents in guiding their children. Tell me though, if you don't think it was a witch hunt, why did backing dry up when they tried to move on to television to clean up all the violence that children saw in the moving pictures? The unrealistic violence of Larry, Moe and Curly is okay because ... ? Also, you do know that after the reformation of the comic book industry, juvenile delinquency did not plummet, right? We can still purchase said comic books today. So it seems you have the public burnings to spread fear and you have the oddly selective nature of who is guilty but the "worse than Hitler" testimonial logic is probably more faulty than "weighs as much as a duck" so I don't know what the right label would be.

Perhaps a better label would have been "insanity?"

Re:It's My Fault, I Apologize, I Was Wrong (2, Funny)

Hylandr (813770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417356)

Dewd,

Grow a backbone and don't candy coat the truth please.

It's Politic season and this witch hunt is just more grandstanding for votes the same way craigslist is under attack by AG's of various states.

The only way to hurt these bastards is to vote them from office, and vote away their expensive pensions just for having served a single term.

Just my honest .02 - Don't Mod me bro!

- Dan.

Re:It's My Fault, I Apologize, I Was Wrong (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417550)

Tell me though, if you don't think it was a witch hunt, why did backing dry up when they tried to move on to television to clean up all the violence that children saw in the moving pictures? The unrealistic violence of Larry, Moe and Curly is okay because ... ?

There was much more money made with television than with comics at the time. I doubt that Magnavox and RCA would have taken kindly to a witch hunt in their money growing fields.

Re:It's My Fault, I Apologize, I Was Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33417578)

Thanks for your well-written response.

It wasn't my intent to affirm or deny that it was a witch hunt. My only objection was to "some people say", which is at best lazy journalism, at worst insidious. I assume you're not a professional journalist, so it's an easy mistake to make. I didn't read through the summary properly, and thought it was Taco's writing.

Regards.

Re:It's My Fault, I Apologize, I Was Wrong (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417932)

Perhaps a better label would have been "insanity?"

It's not insanity. Witch hunts are behavior that perfectly normal people in good mental health engage in. It's part of what it is to be human. I'm not saying that it's not wrong and evil and all that, just that this type of evil is part of the human condition. Scapegoating, xenophobia, confirmation bias, all completely normal.

Congress: The New Superhero! (4, Interesting)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#33416828)

Is Congress the new superhero, defending the rights of comic book readers everywhere? Um, no ...

Dr. Wertham is just an early predecessor to Jack Thompson. These idiots think that anything they don't understand or enjoy should be banned because "clearly it has no moral value". It's a myopic view of art and entertainment that would lead to everyone buying and enjoying the exact same things. Sure, the RIAA, MPAA and big radio would love that but it would kill creativity as we know it.

Comic books and video games aren't my cup of tea but that doesn't make me think they should be banned because those who enjoy them are delinquents and dangerous. If everyone who didn't share my POV was labeled dangerous ...

Re:Congress: The New Superhero! (4, Insightful)

Nukky Cisbu (1738668) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417048)

Dr. Wertham is just an early predecessor to Jack Thompson. These idiots think that anything they don't understand or enjoy should be banned because "clearly it has no moral value". It's a myopic view of art and entertainment that would lead to everyone buying and enjoying the exact same things....

I take a possibly more cynical view that like so many other politicians, pundits and activists, their "cause" is nothing but a horse they've hitched their career cart to.

Actually, it's even bleaker than that (3, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417278)

Actually, it seems to me like that kind of idiots has an even bleaker view of it all.

They didn't just think that a violent comic or a violent game just "clearly it has no moral value", but rather that people and especially teenagers will mindlessly do whatever comics/games/tabletop-games/anything tells them to. Let's not forget that the book was called "Seduction Of The Innocent". And really that was the whole thrust. They think that if a 16 year old sees a comic cover where a guy with an axe is holding a woman's severed head, they'll go like mindless zombies and do a verbatim copy of the deed.

Or in more modern days that if some 16 year old spends an hour a day sniping in some FPS, next thing you know he'll climb on the school and snipe people, because he's just that mindless and unable to distinguish between reality and video games. Or that while a 17 year old may be old enough to be trusted to do that sniping (M rating is good enough there, see?) God forbid that he ever sees a boob, 'cause he's not ready for _that_ yet. He'll probably go on some rape spree than ends up with him giving the town council a facial shot. Or, really, dunno what.

And if you thought _that_ is stupid, well, at least one Chick Tract seems to be based on thinking that AD&D actually teaches children to cast real spells. But I digress.

Re:Congress: The New Superhero! (4, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417492)

It is not accurate to lump him in with Jack Thompson, did you read the article linked to Ars?

In the 1940s he opened an outpatient mental health clinic in Harlem for the poor.

"Wertham was an eloquent critic of Jim Crow segregation. His research on its harmful psychological effects was cited in the 1954 Brown versus the Board of Education Supreme Court case. And he spoke out for the welfare of people behind bars, including Ethel Rosenberg, who was eventually convicted and executed for espionage, along with her husband, Julius."

He was trying to help society and try to make the world a better place, he just added 2+2 up and got 5.321 when it came to violence and comic books.

Bad idea (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33416830)

Damnit, you're not supposed to open the shrink wrap. Do you know how much value this has lost?

Re:Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33416882)

So now it's worth less than zero?

Inaccurate Headline & Summary (3, Informative)

Blackeagle_Falcon (784253) | more than 3 years ago | (#33416878)

It's not Congress opening up these records, it's the Library of Congress.

Re:Inaccurate Headline & Summary (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417554)

Well, the Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, so it is the Congress of the United States opening these records.

Re:Inaccurate Headline & Summary (1)

kungfugleek (1314949) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417596)

Which one? I mean, there are something like 10,000 of those things on my hard drive alone.

Re:Inaccurate Headline & Summary (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417720)

Don't be silly -- the Library of Congress is just a unit of measurement! Would you ever hear about a megabyte opening up records?

futu (2, Insightful)

mestar (121800) | more than 3 years ago | (#33416962)

"(some say witch hunt)"

For example, all of us.

--
I'd like to say you are wrong, so I will.

Worst story EVER (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#33416978)

Worst story EVER!

Rest assured, I was on the internet within minutes, registering my disgust.

X-Ray glasses (2, Insightful)

bit9 (1702770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33416990)

The only juvenile delinquency that comic books ever made me want to delve into was with the X-Ray glasses they always advertised on the back page of the comics. For a little boy, I apparently had quite the dirty mind. The thought of being able to see through girls' clothes held more awe and wonder for me than any amazing stunt Superman or Batman could ever pull off.

Re:X-Ray glasses (2, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417090)

The only juvenile delinquency that comic books ever made me want to delve into was with the X-Ray glasses they always advertised on the back page of the comics. For a little boy, I apparently had quite the dirty mind.

Didn't some of those Xray spec ads show a guy leering at his "skeletal" hand with young women in dresses in the same field of view? The ad was begging you to think of the logical conclusion to the picture-story.

Re:X-Ray glasses (1)

singingjim1 (1070652) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417184)

You have it exactly correct. Right next to the dude getting sand kicked in his face. That x-ray spec ad always titillated me as well. I also had quite the dirty mind as a young boy...hell, I still do.

Re:X-Ray glasses (1)

bit9 (1702770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417912)

Yeah, but it wasn't the girls' skeletons that I wanted to see, and I'm pretty sure that the thoughts that went through my head were precisely the thoughts the advertisers wanted me to have.

Re:X-Ray glasses (3, Insightful)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417102)

The only juvenile delinquency that comic books ever made me want to delve into was with the X-Ray glasses they always advertised on the back page of the comics. For a little boy, I apparently had quite the dirty mind. The thought of being able to see through girls' clothes held more awe and wonder for me than any amazing stunt Superman or Batman could ever pull off.

I hear the TSA has a few job openings.

Re:X-Ray glasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33417286)

1. Children can't be hired for the TSA, sorry :-)
2. You would be surprised with what's advertised/explained on the Interwebs [google.com], not that I've tried it out for that particular purpose myself, but infrared cameras or mods for them are pretty cool for other applications (e.g., looking for heat loss in your house using a mod to a cheap camera).

Also amazing on the Interweebs are the other odd things you come across while looking for something else.

Demonization? (2, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417024)

Until we can synthesize Wertham in his time, he will be demonized by historians for changing the comic-book industry and affecting the way generations of adults see comic books.

And why should an enemy of freedom such as this man not be demonized? The trauma this man has inflicted on American media culture -such that entire media are still seen, more than 50 years later, as fit only for children- should be viewed with no other lens than pure, unadulterated contempt. There is nothing wrong with demonizing a demon.

Re:Demonization? (2, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417496)

Seriously, "enemy of freedom?" Oh, I don't know about. Werthan wasn't some power mad dictator who unilaterally banned comics. He reflected the concerns of parents at the time and was an eloquent spokesman for the censorship position. Its important to realize what mainstream American society was in the 1950s and 60s. A lot of media at the time was fairly sanitized, except for comics, which kids bought and often broke down into two categories. Detective stories which may involve adult themes like rape and murder and horror comics that was pretty gruesome.

I don't think we should dismiss the people in the past, even Werthan, as mindless automatons hell-bent of censorship, but people with a political position that may very well be valid. Should comic buyers, especially when most of them were under 14 or so, be exposed to such things? How can a 10 year old process rape, murder, etc? This is what people mean to put him in context of his times, the same way we put George Washington's slave ownership in the context of his time.

The real issue is that the comics code was too encompassing. Instead of the rating system we have for movies and tv, the comics code was really the only rating and it meant that if you wanted to publish enough to make real money that you had to follow it.

I think all human societies must have some level of ratings or censorship. It crops up everywhere and even purposeful experimental societies draw the line somewhere especially when you deal with children. Some nudist societies don't allow children, for instance. A bad implementation is a bad implementation. Shame people didn't care enough to better implement comic ratings.

Re:Demonization? (0, Flamebait)

kwbauer (1677400) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417980)

the same way we put George Washington's slave ownership in the context of his time.

Most progressives seem to put it into this context: "He owned slaves so anything he did or said is evil and is to be ignored.

Re:Demonization? (1)

kungfugleek (1314949) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417654)

The trauma this man has inflicted on American media culture -such that entire media are still seen, more than 50 years later, as fit only for children...

I'm not so sure about that. I was into adult-oriented comics for a while, got out of it in college when money got tight, then just recently I went back into a shop specifically to try to find something kid-oriented that I could use to try to hook my 7-year old. I mean, yeah, they were there, but I had to look pretty hard. I might be an exception, but I've flip-flopped. Now I view almost the entire media as being fit only for mature readers, where the kid-stuff is the exception.

Re:Demonization? (2, Informative)

dargaud (518470) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417750)

I wouldn't call all all those super-hero comics 'adult oriented'. In 99% of the cases, their stories are so puerile that only children would want to read them. Or maybe brain-damaged adults. I've read about 10000 adult comics. By adult, I mean not porn or gore, but the same kind of 'adult' who enjoys a good drama movie that is clearly not intended for children. But those kind of comics, while thriving in other countries, are almost non-existent in the US.

How far back you want to go? (4, Insightful)

Zaphod-AVA (471116) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417092)

Those dang kids and their __________, it's ruining them!

Video games
Magic the Gathering cards
Dungeons and Dragons
Comic books
Rock and Roll
Jazz music and dancing

How far back you want to go?

Re:How far back you want to go? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33417266)

Christianity

Re:How far back you want to go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33417310)

Can we go back to pre-Victorian, pre-Puritan times, before this stuff was trendy?

Re:How far back you want to go? (2, Informative)

kungfugleek (1314949) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417688)

You skipped movies and playing cards (the standard kings, queen, aces, spaces, clubs kind -- they were/are viewed as being too tarot-like or too close to gambling).

Re:How far back you want to go? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417856)

That is still the case for a lot of kids, I wasn't allowed to play monopoly because of the dice as a child, and I wasn't allowed to watch ETV because it had that evil evolution promoting show NOVA. That was in the 80's.

Public domain golden-age comic downloads (3, Informative)

dameron (307970) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417140)

Golden Age Comics [goldenagecomics.co.uk] has many of these pre-code comics in friendly formats (i.e. not pdf) and available free downloads. Registration is required, however, as they are quite strapped for bandwidth, especially considering a single comic can easily be 30-50mb.

They also have a donations page [paypal.com] if you're feeling generous wrt the free service they provide.

So check out some of these pre-code comics, they vary in quality immensely, but it's an interesting look back at what was considered vulgar and damaging to children 50+ years ago.

Pro-censorship crackpot (3, Interesting)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417196)

Video games are corrupting our youth! Comic books cause delinquency! The internet is limiting our attention span!

Whatever. Save the children: brain-wash them to be "pure and innocent".. or the world will come to an end.

I know for a fact that I wouldn't be where I am today had I not had comic books when I was little, games like the Lucasarts point'n'click adventures when I was a teenager and the internet later on. I literally taught myself to read and write English and French (2nd and 3rd languages) through those things, and was given an incentive and the means to learn about computers and programming, which I happily and successfully make my living off today. There is no doubt in my mind that I would be a completely different person had Dr. Wertham and his minions deprived me of those.

So, I want whiners like that guy to just shut the hell up. I don't want them to censor my comic books, ban my video games or disconnect my internet, and I will fight tooth and nail to make sure my kids (if I ever have kids) will have unfettered access to all the stimuli I had when I was young (be those "good" or "bad" in Dr. Wertham's view).

I would go as far as to say, film ratings are stupid. What if a 12-year-old watches a 18+ movies instead of just Disney cartoons with rainbows and flying unicorns?

Good thing Dr. Wertham is already dead, because he would just HATE webcomics (omg, comic books on the internet! It's the work of the devil!)

How he died (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33417204)

He must have died watching TV.

I'm Ok (2, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417218)

I read these "so called" violent comic books in my youth, and I never became a violent person. If you keep saying so, I'll hunt you down and beat you to a bloody pulp!

Re:I'm Ok (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33418024)

...and meet an ironic and bloody end on the last page.

I win. Society wins. Justice is served. At least in the comic books...

20 years from now... (1)

TheRedDuke (1734262) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417330)

In 20 years, I hope to see Congress open up Lieberman's boxes of evidence linking video games with juvenile violence, only to find some MINT copies of the classics - MKII, Night Trap, Doom - man, you could sell 'em at auction and pay down the national debt!

Re:20 years from now... (2, Funny)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417546)

Let's make sure a copy of "Daikatana" doesn't slip in there, lest future generations not think too well of us.

Re:20 years from now... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417824)

Lieberman had *no* evidence, and by his own admission never even played Night Trap. It was 100% political gamesmanship, which quite accurately sums up the rest of his political career.

Re:20 years from now... (0, Flamebait)

kwbauer (1677400) | more than 3 years ago | (#33418044)

Or, Al "AGW" Gore's boxes as well. After all, he backed Tipper when she was running that campaign right before they figured out that they could climb higher by joining Bill and his crowd than in fighting them. if we are going to repudiate evereything someone has done because they promoted some censorship, let's be fair across the board.

Wait for the review. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417372)

This is just the unboxing article. Wait for the review, after someone has read through the papers. Or at least scanned them in.

Re:Wait for the review. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33418036)

You have to wonder if there are a few mint copies of otherwise nonexisting titles in there...

Book on the history of this (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417684)

David Hajdu's "The Ten-Cent Plague" gives a good, readable history of the reaction against comics including the events discussed in in the summary and TFA. The book becomes slightly polemical at points but overall is a good read.

How fragile the mind of a human must be (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33417894)

Video games, television, music, comic books, and virtually every form of entertainment ever conceived is somehow 'linked' to violence. In other words, blame everything *but* the person doing the violent acts. It doesn't take a video game to show you that you can hit someone with a bat and hurt them. The people that would do these things likely would have done them anyway. Correlation doesn't equal causation. There's no such thing as a 'bad' word, as all words are merely strings of letters with meanings. What's offensive to some likely isn't offensive to others.

Censorship is truly worthless.

Irony? Hippocracy? Or Just Plain Stupid? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33418032)

I find it odd the great champions of keeping children safe from sex, violence, drugs, etc... are all for
sex ed for 8 year olds,
defend newcasters right to show violence on the news and Nazis to march in jewish neighborhoods,
demand pot be legalized (yet wage war on smokers...),
and are all for giving every kid with energy a disorder, complete with medication.

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