Comics on trial.

An in-depth New Yorker article illustrates the horror that was the inquisition of comics in the 1950’s. Every time I read an account of this witch-hunt, I fear the same will happen to video games in this century. If you don’t know this story in detail, you should read this article.

An investigation conducted by senators has been compared to a court run by kangaroos, and the analogy is not unfair, except possibly to the kangaroos. The normal rules of evidence do not apply in congressional hearings: badgering is appreciated; the verdict has frequently been arrived at in advance. Perry Mason, swatting away objections like flies as he sweated the truth out of guilty witnesses, faced more stringent procedural constraints. The Senate committee, chaired by Robert Hendrickson, Republican of New Jersey, was determined to indict the makers of comic books, and the hearing was designed as a spectacle. Its authority was enhanced by the presence of Estes Kefauver, whose hearings on organized crime, in 1950-51, had also been televised, and had made him a national figure.

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