James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, was abused as a child, according to a recent profile in Denver magazine 5280. He also enjoyed a family life punctuated by shin-kicking contests and dogfights, and his formative view of gay life seems to come from these earlier experiences and his participation in Ed Meese’s commission on pornography, in which he experienced, first-hand, the lurid Times Square sex shops of the mid-80’s.
A couple of choice excerpts, the first on how he was brought up:
“Myrtle Dobson was an amiable and social woman, but she didn’t hesitate to whack her son with a shoe or belt when she felt it was required. Consequently, Dobson writes, he learned at an early age to stay out of striking distance when he back-talked to his mother. One day he made the mistake of mouthing off when she was only four feet away and heard a 16-pound girdle whistling through the air. ‘The intended blow caught me across the chest, followed by a multitude of straps and buckles wrapping themselves around my midsection.'”
His high school years:
“…Dobson had two years of high school left, and when he started classes he found himself the target of a couple of bullies. Rather than turn the other cheek, Dobson wheeled around and threw his schoolbooks in the face of one annoying youth. ‘By the time he could see me again I was on top of him,’ Dobson writes. Dobson also tried a little bullying himself, targeting a boy whom he sized up as a “sissy.” But the boy gave him such a thrashing that Dobson concluded bullying wasn’t for him.”
And, after the jump, his experience with Attorney General Ed Meese during the Reagan Administration:
“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.”