Ted Bundy Shows Us the Crystallizing Effect of Pornography

<i> Jerry Kirk is the founder and president of the Cincinnati-based National Coalition Against Pornography, an alliance of representatives from more than 70 religious denominations and private organizations</i>

It is tempting to do our best to forget Ted Bundy, but this man and the lessons that his life offers must not be forgotten.

Bundy roamed the country on a 20-year trail of premeditated, sadistic violence--a trail marked by rape, mutilation and murder. In a chilling final interview beforehis execution, he discussed at length some of the formative influences in his destructive life. The role of alcohol abuse is not surprising, but the role of hard-core pornography in his life sheds new light.

Bundy documented his early exposure to hard-core pornography, saying that the material had a “crystallizing effect” on his violent tendencies and his eventual acting out of the fantasies he had seen depicted for so long. Bundy referred to hard-core pornography as the fuel for his fantasies.


We could dismiss these conclusions as the 11th-hour ramblings of a psychopathic murderer if the evidence supporting them were not so strong. Most Americans are unaware of a 1985 study of 36 other serial murderers by the FBI. According to the final report of the 1986 Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography, 81% of those studied “said their biggest sexual interest was in reading pornography.”

The words of Arthur Bishop, executed in June for having sodomized and murdered five boys (ages 4 to 13) in Utah, are particularly illustrative: “Pornography wasn’t the only negative influence in my life, but its effect on me was devastating. I lost all sense of decency and respect for humanity and life, and I would do anything or take any risk to fulfill my deviant desires.”

Like Bundy, Bishop went on to describe his progress in the use and abuse of pornography. Starting with addiction to common pornography, he escalated to a need for more violent, degrading material and to an increased propensity to act out fantasies portrayed in such material.

For those who have seen today’s hard-core pornography, the progression is not surprising. The range of degradation includes the explicit depiction of simulated and real rape, whipping, bondage, torture, urination and bestiality (sex with animals). The material is a far, far cry from the airbrushed centerfolds of 20 years ago. When one sees the true content of the hard-core world, it’s not difficult to believe that, as many researchers and studies have confirmed, it has contributed to the rise in the abuse and degradation of women.

Ted Bundy, like so many who have gone unnoticed before him, reminds us that the time has come to stand together in opposing pornography. In most states, laws are already on the books to prosecute this material. The Supreme Court has declared unequivocally that obscenity is not a protected form of speech. Yet hard-core pornography remains readily available on the shelves of adult bookstores and so-called “family” video outlets.

So what lesson can we learn from the death of a serial killer? That we no longer can remain ambivalent. Each of us must stand up and let our local, state and federal officials know that hard-core pornography destroys lives and must be stopped. The world of hard-core has already produced enough victims. How many more Bundys or Bishops must tell us of pornography’s destructive role? How many more studies must be completed? How many more lives must be lost before we say enough ? It’s time that the charade of hard-core pornography’s innocence ended.