In response, I rattled off a reply on Brad’s blog last night, one I still largely stand by.
However, after taking my time to rethink both Brad’s position on Wertham (see above links) and my own, I wrote the following clarification today:
The point I was (perhaps too casually) trying to make in my post about Wertham is that the period sensibilities which enabled his moral crusade against an apparently leztastic Wonder Woman in 1954 have today been neutered by a far more liberal (read as, post-1960s) mainstream American culture.
Thus, as McCarthy is now widely considered a ideologue crackpot for chasing pinko wild geese during the same era, Wertham is as much an intellectual daisy today for his misadventures in logical thinking made in Seduction (e.g. “Johnny reads comics. Johnny starts fires. Therefore, comics cause Johnny to start fires”).
Now granted, the disdain levied against constitutional freedoms by McCarthy--and others like him during the ‘50s—are still relevant, as those carried out by the Bush Administration today nearly as grave. But my comparison, were the second coming of Frederic Wertham to come along in 2008, he’d be ignored by everyone in the popular culture except, say, Bill O’Reilly.
Sure, we’ll always have local imbeciles who protest books by Mark Twain and Alice Walker, but those individuals—whose rants are almost always inevitably rejected by their local school boards under ACLU pressure--are more the exception to how pop culture is regarded in this country than the rule.