TESTIMONY OF WILLIAM K. FRIEDMAN, ATTORNEY AND PUBLISHER,
NEW YORK, N. Y.
Mr. BEASER. Mr. Friedman, will you state for the record your full name, address, and your profession?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. My name is William Friedman. I reside at 250 East 90th Street, in New York City. I am a lawyer by profession and, incidentally, interested in some comic magazines.
Mr. BEASER. Which comic magazines are you interested in? Are those the three, or do you publish others?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. Referring to the magazines which are on the board, I am interested in the company which controls Mysterious Adventures and Fight Against Crime.
Mr. BEASER. Have you anything to do with Beware?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. No, I have nothing to do with the magazine Beware.
Mr. BEASER. Have you anything to do with the magazine Dark Mysteries?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. Yes, but the magazine Dark Mysteries, I assist in the editing of the magazine.
Mr. BEASER. That is put out by─
Mr. FRIEDMAN. It is put out by a corporation known as Master Comics ─ that particular magazine is issued by a company known as Master Comics. I don't remember if I ever had any interest in Master Comics. At least I have no interest now.
Mr. BEASER. You have no interest now?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. That is right, sir, except as assisting in the editing of that magazine.
Mr. BEASER. That is right.
Mr. FRIEDMAN. I am not the editor of this magazine. It is edited by people which we retain, but that is not the important point.
Mr. BEASER. You are the publisher of this magazine?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. I am associated with the publisher and one of the people interested in the company as an officer of the company.
Mr. BEASER. Are you responsible for getting the magazine out?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. I accept responsibility in the sense that our corporation owns that. I don't think that there is anything wrong with the type of material which is presented on this board.
Now, this material is undoubtedly taken from a story with which at this moment I am not familiar. It is undoubtedly taken out of context in the story.
Mr. BEASER. This is the one, Mr. Friedman ─
Mr. FRIEDMAN. May I finish?
Mi. BEASER. Go ahead.
Mr. FRIEDMAN. This magazine is a magazine devoted to detective stories, crime stories, and as such these pictures and the pictures in those hooks show stories of crime and of detection.
Crime itself is not pretty. Detective work, police work, of itself is not delicate.
I heard testimony here yesterday concerning the fact that crime should not be shown in a revolting manner. Well, I disagree with that answer because I believe the more undesirable crime is shown, the more ugly crime is shown, the less attractive it is.
You can't show stories of detective work, you can't show stories of crime in a pretty state, or in a delicate state, because then I believe that it would be attractive. It would perhaps invite a susceptible mind.
Mr. BEASER. But must you show, Mr. Friedman, the knife coming out of a back of a bloody body, or a child drowning his stepmother in quicksand?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. Frankly, I am not familiar with that particular context, but that is the scene of the crime; you either hide the crime from public view or you show the scene of the crime. If you have crime stories ─ and I honestly do not know, and I say that because this investigative body, this honorable subcommittee of the Senate, is trying to arrive now at facts that perhaps I am also trying to arrive at because of what I have heard ─ have these crime stories any impact on juvenile delinquency?
The CHAIRMAN. That is the issue.
Mr. FRIEDMAN. That is the issue.
From what I have heard, because there is a question, I would also like to have that question answered.
But from the evidence that I have heard before this committee, from the very vociferous witnesses who appeared yesterday, the publisher of a book, from the evidence that I heard yesterday, he had 3,000 cases before him in a period of perhaps 5 to 6 years, and if I remember his evidence correctly, he could not point to a single instance in which he said that the particular juvenile was caused to become a delinquent because he read any particular kind of comic magazines.
Mr. BEASER. Were you here all day yesterday, Mr. Friedman?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. No, sir.
Mr. BEASER. Let me add one thing to your statement. As I recall Dr. Wertham's testimony, it related to the fact he could not find one single case that he could point to as having been caused by a crime comic, but he was testifying to the effect that it had a positive effect. But in the morning sir, we had Dr. Peck, of the Children's Court, here, who did testify that on an emotionally disturbed child these crime and horror comics would have an effect.
Mr. FRIEDMAN. Counselor, I think you will agree with me that every conceivable action taken ─ the time of day, the weather ─ has some sort of reaction, some sort of an impression on an emotionally disturbed child, and also on a normal child.
I also read the testimony, I believe, of your Mr. Clendenen. I am sorry I was not here to hear his testimony. He also asserted he could not find any particular juvenile that was led to delinquency by the comic books that he came in contact with.
I also heard the testimony, if I may, of the gentleman who was here this morning, and that gentleman in a period of his associations, years in contact with the comic books, and his study of thousands and thousands of children, in his association with Warwick, has never come in contact with one individual ─
Mr. BEASER. Are you not engaging in semantics, Mr. Friedman?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. I am not. I am trying to be honest in your answers.
Mr. BEASER. Are you not trying to say you can't point to a comic book which is a direct cause of a crime rather than talking about whether crime and horror comic books may be a contributing factor in the total scene, in the total action of a child?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. I did try to say before, and I am not a psychiatrist, that from what I have heard it appears to me that everything is a contributing factor to a child who is a delinquent, whether it is a rainy day, whether he has 5 cents in his pocket, or has not got 5 cents in his pocket, but I would like to come back to what I was mentioning before ─ this other witness who was here this morning also indicated there was no single incident.
Now, it seems to me, gentlemen, and I am honestly trying to find a conclusion, if these comics are, as a matter of fact, harming, if they cause delinquency, I would be the first one to discontinue them.
What are the facts that have been portrayed before me and before this committee that I can put my finger on to say that they do cause juvenile delinquency?
Mr. BEASER. Mr. Friedman, rather than review the testimony we have had, could I get back to the question of the manner in which you supervise the editorial production of this magazine. In other words, you are the one who tells the story writer the kind of story you want, or does that work vice versa, and what limits do you put upon what can appear in your magazine?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. The editor of this magazine had been engaged in comic book magazine editing business for many years.
Mr. BEASER. Who is that?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. That is Miss Ray. I trust her in the production of the magazine.
I will say from what I have heard in the testimony given yesterday while I was here, and today, that since there is a question that has arisen, as to the impact or nonimpact of certain types of stories of detection or police work and crime and of phantasy ─ and horror, I will say after hearing the testimony and hearing the good Senators say that they believe that a certain code might answer the problem, I will ask my editor to follow that code; not because I believe in censorship, but until ─
Mr. BEASER. Is it not true, Mr. Friedman, most of your material could not be published if you adhere to the code? You could not show pictures of a knife coming out of the back of a man, not under the code.
Mr. FRIEDMAN. I frankly do not know whether the code says that ─ I believe the code does say something about not showing the actual acts of commission of crime.
Mr. BEASER. That is right, sir.
Mr. FRIEDMAN. As I said, since there is a question that does arise, I will instruct my editor to attempt to adhere to the code, about which you spoke yesterday, a copy of which I haven't, and if you attempted to break it down I could not tell you what is in there and what is not in there, but if that is a more acceptable procedure, we will try to adhere.
Mr. BEASER. The only question I want to know is in the present preparation have you any general instructions which you give to your editor, Miss Ray, as to what should appear in this crime, horror, and terror magazine?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. Up to this time we have not given her any particular instructions.
Mr. BEASER. Have you had occasion to change any of the pictures or stories she has come back with to make them less crime, horror, and terror?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. We may have changed the pictures. I do not remember at this time whether we changed them for the purpose you state or for any other purpose.
Mr. BEASER. Do you recall whether you may have changed them to make them more horror, crime, and terror?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. I will say to you that we interfere so little in the work of our artists and script writers and editors that the changing that I might do is infinitesimal. The couple of books in which I am interested, perhaps I approach them from a legalistic attitude, meaning by that that I have done a great deal of work in the field of censorship. I have read the books written by Morris L. Ernst. I have read the book written by Mr. Hayes; I have read the book written by the professor at Harvard who did the basic work on the question of censorship.
I was interested in the famous Winters case which our Supreme Court had before them 3 or 4 times.
Mr. BEASER. None of them ever described crime, terror, and horror comic books?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. The Winters case was a crime-and-horror book.
Mr. BEASER. Comic book?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. I don't know how you can differentiate, Counsel, between the production or the envisionment of detection and crime work in a comic book as against another mass media.
One of your witnesses here yesterday ─ well, I won't go into that, but it so happened I happened to look at the same newspaper he looked at and I looked at last night's Telegram. I have last night's Telegram with me and by actual count there are 25 to 30 stories dealing with crime.
Mr. BEASER. That is the statement made by Mr. Gaines?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. It is not, counsel, because that is different newspaper.
Mr. BEASER. The same type.
Mr. FRIEDMAN. The point I am making is that we attempt to make perhaps, rightfuly or wrongfully, I don't know, but attempting to make a whipping boy out of one particular field of mass ─ not the Senators here, because they have asserted they were trying to find what the honest fact is ─
Mr. BEASER. Let me ask you a question ─
Mr. FRIEDMAN. Let me finish, counselor. That a whipping boy is being made out of one particular facet of the means of information devoted to crime and horror and detection work as such.
But there are perhaps as many titles of so-called crime pulp magazines, as many titles also as so-called true crime detective magazines and they have been in existence for more than I can remember, for longer than I can remember. There are the movie depictions, there are the television depictions, and to make a particular whipping boy out of one facet of it and say that if these were removed from sight the others would have no impact or would not have the same impact, I am not honestly prepared to state, but I don't believe that we can make such a distinction.
Senator HENNINGS. Mr. Chairman; I thought I understood Mr. Friedman to say that he did not conceive this committee to have made a predetermination of this.
Mr. FRIEDMAN. That is right.
Senator HENNINGS. I just wanted to emphasize that again and make that abundantly clear. We are trying to find out.
I think this whole business is enormously complex. You being a lawyer will know what I mean when I talk about proximate cause, not as an expert or a psychiatrist, but as someone who has been a district attorney, I have spent a great many years in criminal courts on felony cases and matters of that kind.
I wonder to what extent this sort of thing, whether simply synonymous on a newsstand by a youngster or an older man or woman who may be upon the brink or verge of doing something or other of law violation, whether this may not be just enough seeing something lurid, seeing something suggestive.
So seeing something which has implications, I wonder if in some cases, this or a television show or moving picture or any of the media, might not be that straw that may lead to violation.
Mr. FRIEDMAN. Mr. Senator, I honestly am not qualified to state. I would conclude with those observations if I may, that it is: surprising to me that in attempting to seek a conclusionary fact, some say ─ our author of yesterday in his address in which, he confounded all comic books and in which he took Superman who has been a hero to our boys and took that famous story Tarzan, and took that very interesting publication ─ that is not a sexy publication, Wonderman ─ and takes Howdy Doody and lumps them all together and says they are all bad.
Why? With this tremendous so-called accumulation, Senator, of perhaps not 40 million a month, 20 million a month, there has not been one incident to which these people who are, interested in the subject can point and say this is a juvenile delinquent, caused by X medium in the comic book or television field.
I think it makes your work so exceedingly difficult. And makes our rehashing just as difficult.
Mr. BEASER. You realize, Mr. Friedman, of course, that the experts are also unable to point to a particular child and say that be is a juvenile delinquent just because of sadism or just because of this. The single causative factor is not what the experts are saying.
Mr. FRIEDMAN. As a good lawyer you would have to come to the conclusion that you have no facts before you upon which you can make a reaction or a conclusion that the cause or the assisting cause to juvenile delinquency is the medium you might be attacking at the moment. Your very witnesses before you all came to the conclusion that came to me. First, that there was no appreciable reaction on juvenile delinquency as far as they knew, including the author. They came to the second conclusion that there be some reaction, there might be some impact, but they didn't know.
Mr. BEASER. Let me clarify one thing, before you go. You mentioned, and Mr. Gaines yesterday seized upon the fact that in many newspapers there are stories of so many holdups, so many robberies. In any of those were the actual pictures of dead bodies shown with knives coming out of the body?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. Counselor, let me put it this way as far as the newspapers are concerned. We have the finest newspapers in the world. They enjoy freedom of the press as they should.
In our democratic countries they are uncensored, as they should be. I would say to you, Counselor, that if and when these newspapers are able to get the scene of an actual crime, a Valentine massacre, a drowning, come upon a dead body, that is the newspaper photographers ambition.
You know that as well as I. Is it right or wrong, Counselor, I don't know.
Mr. BEASER. I was trying to get the total impact, Mr. Friedman, from the total number you gave. That is all.
The CHAIRMAN. Does the Senator from Missouri have any questions?
Senator HENNINGS. No.
The CHAIRMAN. The Chair wishes to thank you for your appearance this morning. The subcommittee understands it is a problem. We do not know the answer to it. But it is a very difficult problem.
Mr. FRIEDMAN. Thank you, Senator.
Mr. BEASER. Dr. Loretta Bender.
The CHAIRMAN. Dr. Bender, will you be sworn, please.
Do you solemnly swear that the evidence you will give to this subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate, will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Dr. BENDER. I do.