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A Crisis of Innocence

8. Anti-Comics Campaigns: Burnings and Trade-Ins

Efforts to protect children's innocence from the blight of comic book violence, crime, and sex were periodically taken up at the grassroots level, perhas in part because of the difficulty of passing legislation against 'harmful' comics (see section 9). These sometimes took the relatively benign form of book drives and trade-ins, at which young people could exchange their comics for more parent-approved reading materials. At other times, these efforts took rather more sinister forms, including mass, public burnings of offending materials. Local organizations, such as Church groups, school parent committees, Boy Scout and Girl Guide troupes, occasionally took upon themselves the task of ridding their communities of corrupting comics. Organized book burnings were not very common and tended to be over-reported in the press because of the spectacle they involved, so their importance should not be overstated. At the same time, it is hard to dispute the affective force of the sort of display of outrage David Hajdu describes in The Ten Cent Plague (2008). In one instance, teachers, the PTA, and some students at Spencer Elementary School in Spencer West Virginia, produced a blaze that “rose more than twenty-five feet” and that onlookers “watched for more than hour.”