On the subjects of rape, Ted Bundy, and pornography, Rod Dreher writes

Bundy isn't blaming porn for making him a sex killer. He says it's his own fault. But he also points out that constant exposure to pornography wore down the "very strong inhibitions against criminal and violent behavior" that kept the antisocial impulses within him in check. The point isn't that every person who develops a porn habit will turn into Greg Goben or Ted Bundy. That's absurd. But it seems inarguable to me that no good can come of pornography, and whatever weaknesses we struggle with in relation to sexual and emotional health will be amplified by porn. Put another way, can anybody imagine that using pornography makes you a better or more emotionally healthy person? 


Leaving aside the inherent problem of determining what makes someone a "better" person, there is some reasonably good evidence to suggest that increased access to pornography and violent entertainment make society better off by providing an outlet for aggressive, anti-social urges. Here's Steven Landsburg summarizing the evidence that porn reduces rape at Slate:

A 10 percent increase in Net access yields about a 7.3 percent decrease in reported rapes. States that adopted the Internet quickly saw the biggest declines. And, according to Clemson professor Todd Kendall, the effects remain even after you control for all of the obvious confounding variables, such as alcohol consumption, police presence, poverty and unemployment rates, population density, and so forth.

Landsburg also notes a study by University of California professors Gordon Dahl and Stefano DellaVigna that suggests violent movies produce a comparable effect:

What happens when a particularly violent movie is released? Answer: Violent crime rates fall. Instantly. Here again, we have a lot of natural experiments: The number of violent movie releases changes a lot from week to week. One weekend, 12 million people watch Hannibal, and another weekend, 12 million watch Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

University of California professors Gordon Dahl and Stefano DellaVigna compared what happens on those weekends. The bottom line: More violence on the screen means less violence in the streets. Probably that's because violent criminals prefer violent movies, and as long as they're at the movies, they're not out causing mischief. They'd rather see Hannibal than rob you, but they'd rather rob you than sit through Wallace & Gromit.

I say that's the most probable explanation, because the biggest drop in crime (about a 2 percent drop for every million people watching violent movies) occurs between 6 p.m. and midnight-the prime moviegoing hours. And what happens when the theaters close? Answer: Crime stays down, though not by quite as much. Dahl and DellaVigna speculate that this is because two hours at the movies means two hours of drinking Coke instead of beer, with sobering effects that persist right on through till morning.


Meanwhile, similar trends — albeit somewhat more broad — exist with regard to violent video games. Between 1993, when the first video games with explicit violence hit shelves, and 2002, when they had become common on PCs and game consoles, murders committed by those aged 14-17 dropped substantially.

Needless to say, none of this is proof positive. Correlation does not prove causation. And when it comes to human motivations, a measure of uncertainty is inevitable: It's almost impossible to prove definitively why anyone does anything, much less why they don't. But the evidence is strong, and it makes sense that pornography and violent entertainment might serve as exhaust valves for our aggressive impulses — that, in most cases, they would help regulate our instincts rather than amplify them. If there's anything that history has taught us about human nature, it's that it's almost always far better to provide safe, structured, non-destructive outlets for our impulses than attempt to suppress them. 

Steve Chapman looked at the connection between rape and violence here. Charles Oliver wrote in praise of porn here