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[This report was typed up by Jamie Coville, http://www.thecomicbooks.com/1954senatetranscripts.html]
JUVENILE DELINQUENCY (COMIC BOOKS)
HEARINGS BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE JUVENILE DELINQUENCY OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
UNITED STATES SENATE
PURSUANT TO S. 190
INVESTIGATION OF JUVENILE DELINQUENCY IN THE UNITED STATES
APRIL 21, 22, AND JUNE 4, 1954
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1954
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
WILLIAM LANGER, North Dakota, Chairman
ALEXANDER WILEY, Wisconsin
WILLIAM E. JENNER, Indiana
ARTHUR V. WATKINS, Utah
ROBERT C. HENDRICKSON, New Jersey
EVERETT McKINLEY DIRKSEN, Illinois
HERMAN WELKER, Idaho
JOHN MARSHALL BUTLER, Maryland PAT McCARRAN, Nevada
HARLEY M. KILGORE, West Virginia
JAMES O. EASTLAND, Mississippi
ESTES KEFAUVER, Tennessee
OLIN D. JOHNSTON, South Carolina
THOMAS C. HENNINGS, Jr., Missouri
JOHN L. McCLELLAN, Arkansas
SUBCOMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE JUVENILE DELINQUENCY IN THE UNITED STATES
ROBERT C. HENDRICKSON, New Jersey, Chairman
WILLIAM LANGER, North Dakota ESTES KEFAUVER, Tennessee
THOMAS C. HENNINGS, Jr., Missouri
HERBERT J. HANNOCH, Chief Counsel 1
1. Herbert Wilton Beaser succeeded Herbert J. Hannoch as Chief Counsel to the subcommittee on May 1, 1954.
Table of Contents:
• Day One: Wednesday April 21st, 1954.
o Morning Session:
Mr. Richard Cledenen - Executive Director, US Senate Subcommittee To Investigate Juvenile Delinquency.
Dr. Harris Peck - Director of the Bureau of Mental Health Services, Children's Court, New York, N. Y.
Henry Edward Schultz - General Counsel, Association of Comic Magazine Publishers, Inc., New York, N. Y.
o Afternoon Session:
Dr. Fredric Wertham - Author of Seduction of the Innocent.
Mr. William Gaines - Publisher of EC Comics.
Testimony of Walt Kelly, Milton Caniff and Joseph Musial - The National Cartoonist Society.
• Day Two: Thursday April 22nd, 1954.
o Morning Session:
Gunner Dybwad - Executive Director of the Child Study Association of America.
Mr. William Friedman - Small comic book publisher with some horror books.
Dr. Laura Bender - Psychiatrist working for DC Comics
o Afternoon Session:
Mr. Monroe Froehlich Jr. - Business Manager of Magazine Management Co. (Marvel Comics).
Mr. William Richter - News Dealers Association of Greater New York.
Mr. Alex Segal - President, Stravon Publications.
Samuel Roth - Publisher.
Testimony of Mrs. Helen Meyer and Mr. Matthew Murphy - Vice President and Editor of Dell Publications.
• Day Three: Friday June 4th, 1954.
o Morning Session:
Hon. James A. Fitzpatrick, Chairman, New York State Joint Legislative Committee To Study The Publication Of Comics.
Mr. Benjamin Freedman - Chairman of the Board, Newsdealers Association of Greater New York and America.
Mr. Harold Chamberlain - Circulation Director of Independent News Co.
Mr. Charles Appel - Owner, Angus Drug Store.
Mr. George B. Davis - President Kable News Co.
o Afternoon Session:
Hon. E. D. Fulton - Member of the House of Commons in Canada.
Mr. Samuel Black - Vice President Atlantic Coast Independent Distributors Association.
Mr. William A. Eichhorn - Vice President of American News Co.
Mr. J. Jerome Kaplon - Chairman Juvenile Delinquency Committee, Union County Bar Association.
• Senate Interim Report, by Sen. Kafauver, 1955
Table of Contents:
• Statement of Fulton, Hon. E.D., Member, House of Commons, Canada
• Statement submitted by --
• Eichhorn, William A., executive vice-president, American News Co., New York, N. Y.
• Fiske, Joseph J., education director, Cartoonics, New York, N.Y.
• Kaplon, J. Jerome, chairman, juvenile delinquency committee, Union County Bar Association, Union County, N.J.
• Testimony of ---
• Appel, Charles, proprietor of Angus Drug, St. Paul, Minn
• Bender, Dr. Lauretta, senior psychiatrist, Bellevue Hospital, New York, N.Y.
• Black, Samuel, vice president, Atlantic Coast Independent Distributors Association, Springfield, Mass
• Chamberlain, Harold, circulation director, Independent News Co., New York, N.Y.
• Clendenen, Richard, executive director, United States Senate Subcommittee To Investigate Juvenile Delinquency
• Davis, George B., president, Kable News Co., New York, N.Y.-
• Dybwad, Gunnar, executive director, Child Study Association of America, New York, N.Y.
• Eichhorn, William A.,. executive vice president, American News Co., New York, N.Y.
• Fitzpatrick, Assmblyman James A., chairman, New York State Joint Legislative Committee To Study the Publication of Comics
• Freedman, Benjamin, chairman of the board, Newsdealers Association of Greater New York and America
• Friedman, William K., attorney and publisher New York, N.Y.
• Froehlich, Nomroe, Jr., business manager, Magazine Management Co., New York, N.Y.
• Gaines, William M., publisher, Entertaining Comics Group, New York, N.Y. -
• Kaplon, J. Jerome, chairman, juvenile delinquency committee, Union County Bar Association, Union County, N.J.
• Kelly, Walt, artist, creator of Pogo, president, National Cartoonists Society, accompanied by Milton Caniff, artist, creator of Steve Canyon and Joseph Musial, educational director, National Cartoonists Society, New York, N.Y.
• Meyer, Mrs. Helen, vice president, Dell Publications, accompanied by Matthew Murphy, editor, Dell Publications, New York, N.Y.
• Peck, Dr. Harris director, bureau of mental health services, children's court, New York City count of domestic relations, New York, N.Y.
• Richter, William, counsel, News Dealers Association of Greater New York, N.Y.
• Roth Samuel, publisher, New York, N.Y.
• Schultz, Henry Edward, general counsel, Association of Comics Magazine Publishers, Inc., New York, N.Y.
• Segal, Axel, president, Stravon Publications, New York, N.Y.
• Wertham, Dr. Frederic, psychiatrist, director, Lafargue Clinic, New York, N.Y.
• [Number and summary of exhibits]
• 1. Letter of Dr. Robert Felix, director of the Institute of Mental Health, addressed to Mr. Richard Clendenen, executive director, Senate Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency
• 2. Survey made by the Library of Congress on Crime Movies, Crime Comic Books, and Crime Radio Programs as a Cause of Crime
• 3. Copy of article The Comics and Delinquency: Case of Scapegoat, appearing in December 1949 issue of the Journal of Educational Sociology
• 4a. New York State Legislative Document (1951) No. 15, Report of the New York State Joint Legislative Committee To Study the Publication of Comics
• 4b. New York State Legislative Documents (1952) No.64, Report of the New York State Joint Legislative Committee To Study the Publication of Comics
• 4c. New York State Legislative Documents (1954) No.37, Report of the New York State Joint Legislative Committee To Study the Publication of Comics
• 5. Copy of Brain Washing: American Style
• 6a. Publishers whose comic books have been evaluated by the Committee on Evaluation of Comic Books, Cincinnati, Ohio
• 6b. An Evaluation of Comic Books, July 1953, printed by the Committee on Evaluation of Comic Books, Cincinnati, Ohio
• 7. 555 Comic Magazines Rated, reprint from Parent's magazine
• 8a. Letter of Association of Comic Magazine Publishers, Inc., addressed to all publishers of comic magazine alleging that comic magazines are communistic
• 8b. Copy of Are You a Red Dupe?
• 9. Comics Code adopted by the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers
• 10a. What Parents Don't Know About Comic Books, reprint from Ladies' Home Journal of November 1953
10b. Comic Books -- Blueprints for Delinquency, an article appearing in the Readers Digest, May 1954
• 10c. Bound Copy of Seduction of the Innocent by Dr. Frederic Wertham
• 11. Copies of educational comic books published by Entertaining Comics Group
• 12. Copies of crime and horror comic books published by Entertaining Comics Group
• 13. Code of the National Cartoonists Society
• 14. Comic Books Help Curb Delinquency, an article appearing in The New York Times, April 17, 1954
15. Looking at the Comics: A Survey by the Children's Book Committee of the Child Study Association, reprint from Child Study
• 16. Chills and Thrills in Radio, Movies, and Comics, reprint from Child Study
• 17. What About the Comic Books?, reprint from Woman's Day
• 18. Looking at the Comics -- 1949, reprint from Child Study
• 19. List of Child Study publications available to the public
• 20. Information concerning the names of the board of directors, the contributors, and the members of the Child Study Association of America
• 21. Code of the National Comics Publications, Inc.
• 22. Letter of Dr. Carl H. Rush, executive assistant, American Psychological Association, addressed to Mr. Richard Clendenen, executive director, Senate Subcommittee To Investigate Juvenile Delinquency
• 23. Copies of crime and horror comic books published by Magazine Management Co.
• 24. List of books published by Stavon Publications
• 25. Printed material submitted by Mrs. Helen Meyer
• 26. Bound copies of several 35-cent novels
• 27. Brochure listing titles of books
• 28. Names of magazine wholesalers who have refused to accept crime and horror comics
• 29. Documents submitted by Mr. Charles Appel
• 30. Samples of ads appearing in magazines distributed by Kable News Co.
• 31. Window display and pledge card of the New Jersey News Dealers Association
• 32. Copy of interim report, juvenile delinquency committee of the Union County Bar Association of New Jersey -
• 33. Depravity for Children, a group of articles appearing in the Hartford Courant from February 14 to April 25, 1954
• 1. On file with the subcommittee.
• 2. Printed in the record.
Seduction of the Innocent, by Fredric Wertham wrote:And so it went. The writers discussed the "problems," the public thought comics were getting better, the industry flourished. One day in the Queens General Mental Hygiene Clinic I was visited by an older and very influential professional friend. After some friendly preliminaries he hesitated and cleared his throat.
"You know," he said, "you do it all wrong. Why do you have to keep on doing this work with comic books? The research is all right. But why do you have to talk about practical solutions? That is bad for your reputation. It is petty. You have stated your results. Now if you do absolutely nothing, the people will come to you for advice. But you go on and want to change something. You have written articles about comic books. Why do you have to ask for a law and get into the fight? If you keep on acting like this, you'll be marked."
It really seemed for quite a while that Superman had licked me. But then, as so often happens, things took a new turn. It came in the form of a telephone call from Washington. Would I be willing to confer with the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee to Investigate Organized Crime on the subject of crime and juvenile delinquency? I agreed to do so and a few weeks later the senator came to my apartment, for what turned into a long conference. He told me that while his committee was mainly interested in organized crime in interstate commerce, he was concerned about children. He had inquired in Washington whom to consult and several high officials had given him my name. He added that President Truman had urged him especially to look into the childhood roots of criminal behavior.
I had on my desk a speech President Truman had made a short while before in which he asked for "prevention and cure" and for "wholesome recreation." "If those children," the President had said, "have the proper environment at home, and educationally, very, very few of them ever turn out wrong.... I am particularly anxious that we should do everything in our power to protect the minds and hearts of our children from moral corruption .... We must not permit the existence of conditions which cause our children to believe that crime is inevitable and normal."
"You know, Senator," I said, "there is a strong organized force in our society which does exactly the opposite of what the President wants. It provides unwholesome recreation, it claims that many children will go wrong whatever influences they are exposed to, it exposes them to moral corruption and leads them to believe that crime is normal. Why not investigate this force, the crime-comic-book industry?"
"Oh, I've heard about them," he replied. "Those horror books that describe the perfect murder or some other crime, ostensibly for educational purposes."
The senator combined a certain dignity with what seemed to be a sincere homespun friendliness, and he seemed eager to do something for children. I told him that for a number of years I had been making clinical investigations on the subject in three different clinics.
"Can you show me some of your material?" he asked. I showed him comic books, clinical records, converted toy guns. We spent some time going critically over the evidence in a manner that reminded me that he was a lawyer.
He explained to me the tremendous power that his committee had. They could subpoena anybody and anything, question witnesses under oath, trace business transactions and scrutinize whole industries. What could the committee do about this? Was there anything the Federal Government could do?
"The Federal Government does not even have accurate statistics on murders and violent acts committed by children," I said. "Any child who can write his name can order a dangerous switchblade knife from comic books' advertisements. With these knives countless children have been threatened and coerced and injured. The Federal Government seems to be the only agency with the power to ascertain the truth. How many crime comic books are there that glorify crime? I don't mean guesses and propaganda figures, but actual printing-orders, sales, shipments abroad, and so on."
"Could something be done with interstate commerce?" he asked.
"That has been suggested," I said. "For example, Nevada has passed a resolution requesting Congress to regulate comic books by law." And I explained that I thought the evidence would show the necessity for a law -- possibly on an interstate commerce basis -- that would prevent the sale and display of crime comic books to children under fifteen.
Then and there he appointed me as psychiatric consultant to his committee. I made my co-operation dependent on some conditions: that the far-flung propaganda of the industry would be scrutinized; that there would be a careful legal investigation of tie-in sales, juvenile drug addiction and childhood prostitution; that the recruiting of children for work with adult gangs and racketeers be investigated; that illustrations from comic books would be used.
He agreed to all that, reiterating the enormous powers he had and his paramount wish to do something for children. His final inquiry was whether I thought the public would be interested in such an investigation.
Soon afterwards he wrote to thank me, sent me messages and conferred with me by telephone from Washington. Aides of the committee came to me and I outlined for them in detail preliminary steps. I can't say that I expected this to lead to a curb of the industry, but I did think that there would be at least some kind of an investigation.
Questionnaires went out to a number of people. Then the whole thing stopped abruptly -- or maybe it was just that it took a different direction.
I was on vacation when I got a wire saying that the committee contemplated publication of a report on juvenile delinquency and wanted a written contribution from me for inclusion in the report. Of course I refused, replying that such a hasty publication without investigation was certainly not in the interests of the public.
The next thing I heard was a news broadcast from Washington: "Crime Comic Books have nothing to do with juvenile delinquency, Senator Kefauver reported today." Next day there were front-page headlines: STUDY FINDS DOUBT COMICS SPUR CRIME, and: COMICS DON'T FOSTER CRIME, and: FBI HEAD DISCOUNTS HARMFUL EFFECTS OF CRIME COMIC BOOKS. Editorials elaborated. The Times editorial stated that the majority opinion of child-guidance experts was "that there is no direct connection between the comic books dealing with crime and juvenile delinquency"; that "the facts show that some comic books are read more by adults than by children" (it did not mention whose "facts"); and that "it is the emotional make-up the child brings to his life experiences that conditions his reactions to them" (in other words, it's all the child's own fault again).
The Sunday News editorial commented: "It's a pleasure to pass along the news that Senator Estes Kefauver's Senate Crime Investigating Committee has now gone deeply into the subject of the crime comic books and has brought up a mass of testimony which ought to spur the earnest souls to look around for something else to worry about.... The Kefauver Committee took its testimony largely from unprejudiced sources. . . . The verdict of the majority gave a clean bill of health to the comics. So we hope that the public has heard the last of this earnest-soul gripe."
Why is it a front-page story that comic books do not have any effect?
Ironically enough, it was I who had inadvertently given the crime-comic-book industry the biggest advertising it had ever had!
I got hold of the published report of the Senate Crime Investigating Committee and studied it. At the taxpayers' expense it prints statistical charts on the frequency of juvenile delinquency prepared by -- the comic-book industry! It reprints the whole comic-book issue of the scientific journal edited by one expert for the defense, with contributions by three experts for the defense (and one article entirely devoted to newspaper comic strips, which has nothing at all to do with comic books) and with one article devoted only to attacking me. It contains unchecked statements by crime-comic-book publishers, some of whom brazenly defy the most modest requests made by the committee: "Our organization has published hundreds of titles and issues of comic magazines during the past ten years, and it would be an impossible task to begin to answer .... " (this in reference to questions about circulation and income from comic books). There are no illustrations, although I had been assured there would be.
The report gives the opinions of eight "child guidance experts." Two of them are not and do not claim to be child-guidance experts. Both are lawyers. One of the other experts is designated editorially in the report as a doctor, although she is not, and as a psychiatrist, which she is not either. Five of the eight experts, according to the report itself, are or have been employed by the comic-book industry -- some for as long as ten years! It is these five experts who say that comic books are all right. The three independent experts condemn comic books severely. The division is clear-cut: Those connected with the comic-book industry defend comic books; those independent of the industry consider them harmful. It needed no Senate inquiry to tell us this.
The report also contains replies to a questionnaire from probation officers and other officials, most of whom had never thought of studying the influence of crime comic books. They had not even asked prisoners or children in their charge about comic-book reading. Some of them speak unblushingly about "the consistent decrease" of juvenile delinquency. There are some condemnations of crime comics, including the case example of the little boy comic-book reader who leaped from a telephone pole believing himself to be Superman.
The report bristles with all the cliches and platitudes that have ever been uttered in defense of comic books: that they are too simple an explanation; that the children would do it anyhow; that comic books are here to stay; that they give release of aggressive instincts; that children who do something wrong have "definite antisocial tendencies" in the first place; that only unstable children become unstable and comic books have "no effect on the emotionally well-balanced boy or girl"; that a judge calmed a child witness down by handing him a pile of comic books; that comic books make an impression only on "impressionable minds"; and so on and on. And all this is published without comment, without analysis, without any investigation whatsoever, and with only a minimum of editing -- and that mostly wrong.
Omitted from the report are items that would have belonged there. For example, the answer to their inquiry by the president of the Newport Council of Social Agencies, a psychiatric social worker with a great deal of experience with children, which states that from her contact with children in Washington, D.C. and in Rhode Island she had become increasingly aware of the link between comic books and delinquency and had had "contact with non-delinquent minors whose cultural background seemed solidly rooted in this literature." Omitted also is the testimony before the committee of one of the most experienced criminologists and penologists in the country, Mr. James V. Bennett, secretary of the Criminal Law Section of the American Bar Association and director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He had told the committee that crime comic books are connected with crime and asked for an investigation into the business of crime comic books, "the traffic in which now amounts to seventy million copies a month ... " (this was in 1950).
After the report was published one of the senator's aides telephoned me that the senator wanted me to know that "his whole statement had been twisted in the press," that I "should have faith in him" and that "he's determined to do it the way he said to you." That was the last I ever heard.
A few weeks after the report was out I received a letter from a prominent member and committee chairman of the American Bar Association. "I was very much disappointed," he wrote, "in the publication of the Kefauver report. And I think a serious mistake has been made in its publication. It is unfortunate that so much of it is from media sources and from persons in the employ of or under obligation to the media."
As for me, I learned a great deal from this report. It taught me that comic books really are a test of the reaction of a society not only to children's literature but to children themselves. Assume for a moment that a senate committee with such unlimited powers had investigated the raising of hogs. Would they not have informed themselves and the farmers a little better?
The further history of the Kefauver Committee's crime investigation is well known. It was referred to in television circles as "the biggest hit of the season." Arthur Miller wrote that he was struck by "the air of accomplishment among the people that is really not warranted by the facts." I do not entirely agree with this. I think these hearings actually did accomplish something: They demonstrated not only the link between politics and crime, but also the link between politics and crime investigation.
I kept on with my studies as before. There were always new comic books and always new children. I was not in the mood to participate in any more investigations. But my telephone rang again: The New York State Legislature had appointed a Joint Legislative Committee to Study the Publication of Comics. Would I collaborate with them as a psychiatric expert, help them in their investigation and testify on the effects of comic books on children?
I had become a little skeptical of investigating committees. Superman always seemed to get the best of them. So I asked to be excused. But later on when the committee got in touch with me again I changed my mind and agreed. I had convinced myself that this committee had gone at its work seriously and sincerely. They wanted to get at the facts and in all fairness had given the comic-book industry every break. They started with the premise that no law was necessary and gave the industry more than two years' time to make some kind of improvement by self-regulation.
During one of the first conversations I had with members of this committee to study comics, one of them said to me, "The general counsel of the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers said to me, 'Somewhere right now a little boy has a gun and reads crime comics. That boy will be president some day: What do you say to that?"
"All I can say," I answered, "is that that is precisely what I would like to prevent."
I testified for the committee, at length and under oath, on two separate occasions separated by an interval of a year. With many examples from comic books and children's cases I testified to what I had seen and found, what I had done and thought. The main bad effect of crime comic books on children, I said, is on their ethical development. I made it clear that I was not saying this as a moralist, but as a doctor who believes that orientation as to what is right and wrong is part of normal mental health. I explained that juvenile delinquency is only one part of the crime-comic-book question, although a very serious one. The greatest danger of crime comic books is to the normal child.
I answered the counterarguments of the industry, like the one about law and order winning. A typical crime story has this ending: "And so the story ends in blood, as it began in murder."
What about the crime comic books, I was asked, that are educational and teach children not to commit delinquencies? I have never seen one, I answered. If you find one, I shall be glad to return and modify my statements.
When I testified the second time the committee had convinced itself that the proclaimed self-regulation of the industry had completely failed and some legal control was necessary. On that occasion, again under oath, I pointed out that the cover of the comic book draws the child's attention to a crime, the text describes one, the pictures show how it's done and the advertisements provide the means to carry it out.
For years I had been seeing children who get into trouble with switchblade knives. I had bought several of these knives, signing a child's name on the order, in answer to comic-book advertisements. When I testified before this committee for the second time, I produced one of them quickly, as I was talking, flashing open its blade. A switchblade knife is a good symbol of the crime-comic-book industry as a whole. Then I outlined my idea about a public-health law against the threat comic books offer to the general mental health of children. The law is not concerned with what doctors think, but with what they can prove. Many comic-book stories are nothing but perverse and violent fantasies of adults and it is these perverse fantasies that are sold to children. Censorship legislation requires a "clear and present danger." My idea of a public-health law is totally different. Anything clear or unclear, present or future, which under any circumstances may cause damage or harm to health, can be controlled by legislation. There is only one question: Is it harmful or not? Such a law could enlighten the public, just as laws about hoof and mouth disease enlighten farmers about livestock. I am not a lawyer, but from a medico-legal point of view I would suggest that the sale and display of crime comic books to children under fifteen be forbidden.
The committee, which had taken the testimony of sixty-two witnesses, accepted my findings and my suggestions. They issued altogether three reports. In the first "Interim Report," before I testified, they made this important observation: "It is strange but true that the questions heretofore propounded to individuals charged with greater or lesser crimes by probation officers have not touched upon the question of the reading of comics." (Compare with the Kefauver committee which published unanalyzed the uninformed opinions on crime comics of just such probation officers.)
The second report concludes that crime comic books "impair the ethical development of children" and are "a contributing factor leading to juvenile delinquency." It states that "the comics which sell best are crime comics."
The third report contained the committee's legislative proposals. The chairman, Assemblyman Joseph F. Carlino, stated that the bills were the result of the failure of the comic-book industry to "realize their public responsibility and, in the cause of common decency, take up the necessary steps to set up self-regulatory provisions."
The committee's report states: "The publishers and their representatives ... completely rejected and refused to recognize the reality that children are influenced and stimulated by what they read, see and hear in the same way in which adults are influenced or stimulated."
It calls crime comic books "a threat to the health of children" and concludes that the committee "has been obliged to recommend the adoption of legislative controls. It had no more choice in doing so than it would have in suppressing disease-causing acts which were found to be a threat to the public health or safety."
Before the law proposed by the committee was voted on by the legislature, it was publicly opposed by the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers, the New York State Council of Churches, the Mystery Writers of America, the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations.
The technical aspects of the bill had been worked out most carefully by the committee. They had done research on the Winters case, the Los Angeles County case, the Chicago case and other legal cases having a bearing on such a law. Their legal consultant was Reuben A. Lazarus, an authority on constitutional law and on bill drafting. He had drafted more bills affecting the City of New York than any other person, living or dead, and is responsible for the present New York City charter. So if there was any legal authority to judge the constitutionality of the proposed law, it was this comics committee's legal consultant. The committee's bill was drafted and redrafted in many conferences; the head of the New York State Legislative Bill Drafting Committee, Theodore E. Bopp, participated and members of his legal staff passed on it.
When the crime-comic-book control bill came before the Assembly, they voted for it: 141 to 4. The Senate voted for it, too, unanimously.
So it really seemed that a step forward had been made. But Governor Dewey attended to that. He vetoed the bill, giving as his reason that "it fails to meet fundamental constitutional requirements." Superman has many disguises.
This decision was strange. When Columbia University Press published its educational comic book Trapped which deals with juvenile drug-addiction, Governor Dewey stated: "It is a superb job. I hope millions of copies are distributed." (They could not distribute more than 30,000.) If the governor thinks that a single "good" comic book can do so much good, should he not have refrained from interfering with the democratic will of the parliamentary majority which believed that hundreds of millions of bad comic books can do so much harm?
When I discussed this outcome with my associates in the comic-book research I was pleased to note that they were not discouraged by it. Nor was I. But I was bothered by something else. I had lunch one day with Henrietta Additon, an authority on delinquency and penology for whom I have the greatest admiration. She had another guest, the head of a civic committee on children and a woman with great influence in such matters. In the course of lunch I asked this guest what she thought about crime comic books. She answered, "I know there are people for them and people against them. I don't take any side. I am absolutely neutral."
At that moment it became clear to me for the first time that I was defeated. This business of not taking sides on the part of those who could help to make conditions easier for the young to grow up, was more deadly than Kefauver's desertion or Dewey's veto. Neutrality -- especially when hidden under the cloak of scientific objectivity -- that is the devil's ally.