02/12/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

What Do Torture and Porn Have in Common? More Than You Might Think.

Not long ago, Wired's Clive Thompson wrote an article with an eye-catching title: "Why We Need More Torture in Videogames." Using World of Warcraft as his example, Thompson proclaimed video games should not only include torture, but more of it. "I think we need more torture in videogames." He adds, "And better torture."

Thompson's interest isn't in promoting torture: "In the real world, I'm unconditionally opposed to torture." While many Americans have seen the photos that emerged from Abu Ghraib, many Americans have turned a blind-eye to the realities of their country's position on torture. Video games, says Thompson, encourage us to engage deeply with complicated questions, torture among them. "Which is why we need more torture in videogames."

In "Porn Up, Rape Down," Northwestern University law professor Anthony D'Amato ventures a parallel provocative theory. The increased availability of pornography over the last quarter century and the 85 percent decrease in sexual violence (according to a 2006 DoJ study) over the same time period are interrelated.

D'Amato writes: "My theory is that the sharp rise in access to pornography accounts for the decline in rape." To wit: "the more pornography, the less rape." And yet: "The American public is probably not ready to believe it."

If Thompson and D'Amato are correct, what America needs is more torture and more porn. Although, if more Americans spent their time attempting to understand why virtual torture and hardcore sex are what tames the beast within, they might have a better understanding of what makes them human.