Porno and Profits

Police tracked down a serial killer not long ago, only to uncover a stash of pornographic literature in his home. One videotape featured a man mutilating a young woman. The video scenes were strikingly similar to the manner in which the real killer mutilated several women.

 

Was there a connection? Did the pornographic video actually show the killer how to kill and mutilate?

 

The common-sense answer is yes. What we see and hear has the power to shape our behavior. An entire industry–the advertising industry–banks on just that power, spending billions of dollars annually to create images that influence our buying behavior.

 

The common-sense answer is backed up by statistics. An FBI study found that 81 percent of violent sexual criminals use violent pornography. The Los Angeles police department found that in sex crimes against children, nearly 90 percent of the time the criminal used pornography.

 

Just listen to these stories. Recently, a young girl was raped by a group of six adolescent boys. The boys were recreating pictures of a rape they had seen in a pornographic publication.

 

A few years ago, a pornographic magazine featured photos of Asian women being raped and tortured. They were tied with ropes, hung from trees, and killed. Two months later, an eight-year-old Chinese girl was raped, tied with ropes, hung from a tree, and killed.

 

Serial rapist and killer Ted Bundy, in an interview with James Dobson before he was executed, confessed his own battle with pornography. The stuff created a craving that grew over the years, until eventually he felt a drive to go out and do the things he saw in photographs.

 

The thrill aroused by just looking was no longer enough. The only way to get a bigger thrill was by going out himself to rape and to murder.

 

The statistical evidence is overwhelming–there’s no doubt that pornography is one cause in the sexual assault of millions of women and children.

 

In light of that evidence, should the law go after the people who produce pornography? Some legislators think so. They’ve introduced a bill into the Senate that would allow victims of sex crimes to sue for civil damages if they can prove that pornography provoked the crime. The idea is, in the words of one senator, “to hold accountable those who are getting rich off of veritable how-to manuals … for rapists and child abusers.”

 

In other words, let’s go after their profits.

 

People opposed to the bill say it violates the First Amendment right of free expression. But the original goal of the First Amendment–so conveniently forgotten today–was to protect political speech, criticism of the government. It was not to protect speech that inspired people to go out and kill.

 

Besides, this kind of legislation doesn’t inhibit free expression. It simply says, if what you express promotes death and violence, then you pay a price.

 

That’s no violation of the First Amendment; it’s simple justice.

 

The same bill was introduced into the Senate a year ago, only to die in committee. Perhaps you’d like to write your Senator to say you don’t want that to happen again.

 

But whatever its future, the bill has raised an important point: that pornography is not a “victimless crime,” as it was once called. Instead, it is a weapon of violence.

 

And those who create that weapon should have to answer for it.


Comment Policy: Commenters are welcome to argue all points of view, but they are asked to do it civilly and respectfully. Comments that call names, insult other people or groups, use profanity or obscenity, repeat the same points over and over, or make personal remarks about other commenters will be deleted. After multiple infractions, commenters may be banned.