On the last night of his life, Ted Bundy, condemned to death for the rape and torture, maim and murder of a slew of women, copped a plea: Hard-core pornography, he told a Christian radio broadcaster, made him do it.
Bundy's confession suited the agendas of an assortment of strange bedfellows, including hard-core Christians and hard-core feminists, plus certain hard-core politicians with only a soft-core grasp of the Constitution. The resulting "Bundy bill," more formally known as the Pornography Victims' Compensation Act, would allow victims of sex crimes to sue the producers and distributors of obscene material if they could prove that the crime was incited by the porn. Ted Bundy, under such a law, would be merely the hapless agent of the real criminal masterminds who produce Playboy magazine or "Deep Throat" movies.
The bill is the brainchild of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, who hopes to blunt constitutional objections by limiting its reach to obscenity and child pornography. Neither enjoys First Amendment protection. Still, "a description of a minor engaging in or participating in sexually explicit conduct," the bill's definition of child pornography, is pretty broad. Suppose it were proved that before killing one of his teen-aged victims Ted Bundy had been reading "Lolita," which deals with sex between a middle-aged man and an adolescent girl: Then should author Vladimir Nabokov's estate compen-sate Bundy's victim's estate? Suppose Bundy had been watching "90210" or another of the myriad sitcoms that have featured episodes in which school children are initiated into sex?