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A Crisis of Innocence

7. The Other Side:Arguments in Favour of Comics

The Comics and Delinquency: Cause or Scapegoat

Thrasher's challenge to Wertham's methods.

The celebrated sociologist Frederic M. Thrasher was one of a number of academics in various disciplines who expressed unease with the dubious methodologies by which Dr. Wertham arrived at his conclusions about the threat of comics to young readers and to the American social fabric. "Wertham's dark picture of the influence of comics," Thrasher wrote in a 1949 article for the Journal of Educational Sociology, "illustrates the dangerous habit of of projecting our social frustrations upon some specific trait of our culture, which becomes a sort of 'whipping boy' for our failure to control the whole gamut of social breakdown" (195). It is worth noting that while many arguments in favour of comics reading, or at least opposed to the rationale for their censorship, circulated in the period, none questioned the foundational subject of Wertham's critique: the innocent child whose comics reading registers always by its 'effects.'