I just came across an article written by John Irving in 1992 for the NY Times Book Review discussing some proposed anti-pornography legislation, in which he cites two federally funded studies that found no causative correlation between pornography and sex crimes or violent crimes. He also makes the point that rape and child molestation existed long before there was TV or film.
I've always been a little bit amazed by the strong aversion to sex that is exhibited in this country and the resulting prohibitions -- particularly related to allowing or not allowing children to see sex portrayed in film -- especially in view of the acceptance of violence. There's a tremendous amount of violence that just goes under the radar screen. What about those damn cartoons? Last I saw (admittedly it's been a few years) they were incredibly violent.
I think you're right, that there are likely to be good arguments on both sides, but to the extent that watching violence portrayed on TV or in films inures us to the horror (whether or not we are inspired to pick up a weapon), I think that is dangerous. If we view violence as normal or acceptable, it seems to me that we're more likely to just stop worrying about random violence or anonymous violence, and only care if someone we care about is the victim of violence.
~ ~ ~ All meetings end in separation All acquisition ends in dispersion All life ends in death - The Buddha