My journey into the appalling world of internet pornography
Published in: Daily Mail
There is one fact in the disturbing history of Roy Whiting, convicted this week of the murder of eight year-old Sarah Payne, which has not received much attention. He had kept large quantities of pornography in his garage workshop.
Indeed, there is scarcely a sex offender who has not had an acute pornography habit. In America, the FBI has reported that 81 percent of sex killers have said their biggest sexual interest lay in viewing pornography and in compulsive masturbation.
Now, no-one would suggest that pornography alone causes such men to go and commit their terrible offences; and many men who use porn lead otherwise blameless lives.
But equally, as the British sex crimes expert Ray Wyre has observed, pornography creates a climate of thought and belief which influences attitudes towards women and children. What's more, Wyre says, the more men masturbate to pornographic fantasies, the more likely they are to put those fantasies into practice.
In other words, porn has an effect on the behaviour of those who use it. Yet many think instead it acts as a safety valve. Unlike fantasies involving violence, sexual pornography is widely thought to be harmless. More than that, Tatler magazine now reports that porno-chic is the new fashion statement.
After all, our society now runs on sex like a car runs on petrol. TV, films, ads for everything from perfume to ice cream, are all sold on more and more explicit sex. So since sex is no longer taboo, isn't it ridiculous to behave like Mrs Grundy over pornography?
After all, the argument goes, English culture has always been bawdy and debauched. Just think of Chaucer's Miller's Tale; or Shakespeare's prostitute Doll Tearsheet; or, indeed, the pornography produced by the Victorians.
Who now would ban the works of DH Lawrence, Radclyffe Hall, James Joyce or Henry Miller, all of whom were once considered obscene? Tastes change all the time, along with standards of acceptability. Pornography is a legitimate form of expression which may even do some good.
Such an ostensibly sophisticated view is surely na