“In the mid-’80s, Meese asked Dobson to serve on a blue-ribbon commission on pornography. For the next 14 months, the preacher’s boy from the heartland immersed himself in the world of hard-core porn.
Times Square was Beelzebub’s turf in the mid-’80s. Buildings bathed in the red glow of XXX signs, blocks of “adult bookstores,” and businesses offering sex aids and cellophane-wrapped magazines. Deciding they needed to sample their subject matter firsthand, members of the Meese Commission descended into the belly of the beast. Commission member James Dobson, middle-aged and beefy, ducked into one of the adult bookstores, which in other cities might offer visitors a private cubicle and 90 seconds of pornographic video. But in Times Square the fare was more, well, sumptuous: Customers pushed coins into a slot and a screen rolled up revealing an orgy. “Everything that is possible for heterosexuals, homosexuals, or lesbians to do was demonstrated a few feet from the viewers,” Dobson later wrote. “The booths from which these videos or live performers are viewed become filthy beyond description as the day progresses. Police investigators testified before our Commission that the stench is unbearable and that the floor becomes sticky with semen, urine, and saliva. Holes in the walls between the booths are often provided to permit male homosexuals to service one another.”
It would be an understatement to say such spectacles were a mind-warping experience for Dobson, who had been switched, paddled, and pummeled for sassing back and forbidden from saying “geez”—a man whose courtship with his wife included passing notes in soda bottles.”