Letter: Horror films not to blame for social and moral collapse

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Sir: While parental censorship of what children watch or read is sensible, Bryan Appleyard's argument supporting general censorship is shallow and badly flawed. He assumes that watching violent or pornographic material causes violent or sexual crimes. Evidence on this point is at best amibguous, but all he offers is the judge's comments at the James Bulger trial and the general societal trends.

Cases of children killing even younger children are rare but have occurred before. Eleven-year-old Mary Bell (England, 1960) killed two young children and Jessie Pomeroy (United States, 1874) murdered and mutilated 29 younger children by the time he was 14. Both did their deeds without prompting by violent videos. Some serial killers and serial rapists do admit using pornographic and violent material but so do millions of ordinary people, so this cannot be the cause of their crimes.

In fact, some killers can be triggered by virtually anything. Heinrich Pommerenke, who murdered 10 women, confessed that his first murder had happened after watching the women dancing round the golden calf in film The Ten Commandments.

Just what does Mr Appleyard suggest should be censored? As for societal trends, other societies have followed similar trends without having access to violent videos.

Yours faithfully,


Hartford, Cheshire