There's something that's been eating me up for a while. I'm not sure what to do, so I'll just lay it out there.

Earlier this year I had to take my father to the hospital for a couple of nights. I'm a women in my 40s, and he's in his late 60s. He's a miserable old crank, but we have a polite enough relationship that I could take him to the hospital. He asked me to take in the mail while he was there. I did. While I was at his house, I decided to clean up some. I was scooping old newspapers and magazines off the floor and looked under the sofa to see if there was more under there. There I found a few magazines and videotapes. I grabbed those too and headed for the garbage. I glanced at what I was holding, and it was porn. I was grossed out enough, but then it dawned on me what I was really holding. This wasn't just porn, it was snuff porn.

I stood there paralyzed with disgust. Then I threw it away.

I never mentioned what I found to anyone. My father has never mentioned my little clean-up. But, I can't forget what I found. Months later I'm still sick and revolted. I know that stuff is illegal, should I have called the police?

More to the point, is my father a sociopath? My parents' divorce was bitter and nasty, mostly owing to his rigid dictatorial nature. I know he thinks little of women, but now I think he must hate them, and has possibly had violent fantasies. What do I do? Therapy? Drop my sick father from my life? Please help Dan, I'm truly stumped.

Sick Over Porn

My response after the jump...


Which installment of Saw are we on now?

Saw, Hostel, Human Centipede, Dexter, Last House on the Left, Right, and Center—Hollywood generates more than enough snuff porn to meet demand. I can't understand why would anyone would run the legal risk of actually owning any actual snuff porn when there's so much pseudo snuff porn playing down at the multiplex.

More to the point: Is your dad—that old sick bastard—a whole lot sicker than you thought? Maybe. He's clearly got issues, it sounds like he's always had issues, and he'll go on having issues for as long as he lives. (And exactly how much longer do you think that will be, SOP?) But however horrifying-to-you and harmful-to-others his tastes in porn might be (the consumption of snuff porn, like the consumption of kiddie porn, could create demand for more, which results in the creation of more snuff porn, which creates more victims; that said, all of the snuff porn out there is fake*, so...), just because your dad is watching a particular kind of porn it doesn't automatically follow that he's engaging in the sex acts on display. There's a growing body of evidence, in fact, that porn—including violent porn—actually helps to "deter sexual violence." (Even as porn has become more widely available over the last twenty years—even as porn has become pervasive, and quite a lot of that porn is extreme—rates of sex crimes have fallen.)

That doesn't make what you discovered any less upsetting, or what you now know about your dad any less disturbing. And it doesn't make owning a snuff film okay, of course. All I'm saying is that finding snuff porn under dad's couch isn't proof that you'll find dead Girl Scouts under dad's bed.

If I were in your shoes, SOP, I would let sleeping dismembered dogs lie and never bring the fucked up subject up. But if hearing your dad deny that the porn was his will help you get over it, tell him what you found and ask him what the fuck that fucked up shit under his couch was all about. And even if your father hates women in the abstract, and even if he's plagued by violent sexual fantasies (many people with violent fantasies feel tormented by them), it doesn't follow that he hates the non-abstraction that is his own daughter. It's a cold comfort, SOP, but it's the best I got.

*And because I know some of you will bring it up: According to Snope, all of the snuff porn "out there" is fake. That doesn't make SOP's predicament any less upsetting; fake or not (the porn, not the question), her father is still into it.