« Obama calls for minimum wage increase that would still result in abject poverty | Main | Two groups of cops mistakenly fire on each other, kill bystanders in the middle »

Frederick Werthem, who destroyed the American comic book scene with his testimony to Congress, faked his research

Comic books were blamed in the 50s for all sorts of societal ills. Just like video games and that darn rapping music are these days. Wertham was a moral crusader who wrote a scandalous tome attacking superhero comics for promoting homosexuality, horror comics for desensitizing kids to violence, and romance comics for turning kids into sluts.

Dude hated comic books. And Congress listened to him and worked with publishers to put in place the Comics Code Authority, a frankly insane censorship system that banned all comics that weren't Archie or superheroes.

And lo and behold, Wertham faked his research, it turns out, to make his points.

Keep this in mind when moral crusaders target any medium. Even video games.

BAM! WAP! KA-POW! Library prof Bops Doc who K.O.'d comic book industry | News Bureau | University of Illinois

As she pored over his files, she began to recognize the case notes of children referred to in “Seduction,” and typing their quotes into her laptop computer. But when she returned to her hotel room and compared her notes to Wertham’s book, she found numerous inconsistencies. “I thought well maybe I’ve missed something, maybe I typed incorrectly,” Tilley said. So she began photocopying portions of Wertham’s files and comparing them closely to his book. “That’s when I realized the extent of the changes.”

For example, in “Seduction,” Wertham links “Batman” comic books to the case of a 13-year-old boy on probation and receiving counseling for sexual abuse of another boy: “Like many other homo-erotically inclined children, he was a special devotee of Batman: ‘Sometimes I read them over and over again. … It could be that Batman did something with Robin like I did with the younger boy.’ ”

What Tilley found in Wertham’s notes, however, was that the boy preferred “Superman,” “Crime Does Not Pay” and “war comics” over “Batman,” and that he had previously been sexually assaulted by the other boy – all information that Wertham left out.

He had an extensive case file on a 15-year-old boy named Carlisle, whom he was counseling for truancy, petty thievery and gang membership. Carlisle brought three comic books to one counseling session, and the transcript in Wertham’s file shows that Carlisle said one of the comic books, called “Crime Must Pay the Penalty,” was instructive on ways to commit burglaries and holdups. However, in “Seduction,” Carlisle’s quotes appear to come from five different boys, ranging in age from 13 to 15, in different settings and contexts.

And Tilley found one quote from Carlisle’s transcripts that Wertham chose not to use, in which the boy described learning about robbery “in the movies. Movies help a lot.”