Charles Foran writes in the Walrus (March 2006):
Sex remains a moral issue for most adults, but not in the way it once was. The movement has been away from the morality of sex itself…to the issue of harm: people getting off on the acts of those who are themselves traumatized and are being traumatized by what they are doing. Maybe terms like obscene and pornographic have lost their nuance. Words such as dangerous and humanly disastrous might be more to the point.
In an essay about the porn industry in California, Martin Amis wrote that “porno is littered–porno is heaped–with the deaths of feelings.” To be more specific, in its exploitation of personal tragedy and naivete, its misrepresentation of human erotica, especially among newly sexualized youths, who may never recover from being consumers of its distortions, in its indifference to consequence, to the causality of action and effect, both on screen and in real life, extreme pornography may be stalking one emotion more than any other. That would be the shared feelings we have for fellow humans, along with the inclination to recognize kindred suffering and even lend aid. Porn may yet be the death of empathy.
(Reprinted in Utne, September-October 2006)