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Conservative on Panel Complains It Didn’t Go Far Enough

May 2, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography has missed a ″critical opportunity″ to crack down on the porn industry in the United States, a conservative member of the panel said Friday.

In an interview, James C. Dobson said he is ″disappointed by the commission’s unwillingness to confront the pornography industry with every means permitted by the Constitution.″

The 11-member commission, which held its final meeting this week, is assembling a report urging Attorney General Edwin Meese III to direct an aggressive assault on the business of hard-core pornographic films, magazines and other types of legally obscene material.

While praising the commission’s general performance and emphasizing that ″overall I am pleased by the results,″ Dobson said the final report will fall short in several critical areas, including cable television and book publishing.

Dobson, of Arcadia, Calif., is founder and president of an organization called ″Focus on the Family,″ which produces a program syndicated to more than 600 radio stations.

He said he was especially concerned because the commission is moving toward categorizing much material as soft-core pornography, which means it would not warrant being the target of close attention by law enforcement officials. Dobson said much of the material instead should be placed in a category of hard-core pornography under which it would be labeled degrading.

On Friday afternoon as the four-day commission meeting moved toward adjournment, Dobson said that while he will endorse the panel’s conclusions, he will also write a section containing his dissenting views.

The final report, expected to be issued in June, ″will be a very effective statement about the pornography industry and its victims; I think we’ve done well,″ said Dobson. But the document ″will apparently present a somewhat bland legal analysis. ... We have not whitewashed the problem, but we have in my view missed a critical opportunity to deal with it as effectively as we might have.″

On Tuesday, Dobson abstained from fully endorsing a document prepared by commission member Frederick Schauer, which the panel agreed to use as the outline for a final report.

The work prepared by Schauer, a University of Michigan law professor, shares many of the assumptions of a more toughly worded alternative draft prepared by the commission staff.

Dobson said portions of the Schauer document ″are brilliant, ... but I am bothered by ... the way he has handled the failure of government to respond to pornography or enforce the laws.″

″The truth is the laws are not being enforced,″ said Dobson. ″There’s almost a complete paralysis in government. The attorney general and his predecessor have not enforced them.

″The Internal Revenue Service allows the Mafia to run this $6 billion-a- year industry, largely without paying taxes. In fact, pornography is the only large unregulated industry in this country, the last vestige of free enterprise.″

IRS spokesman Rod Young responded that the agency has over the years developed a number of criminal cases involving individuals who are major figures in pornography.

Dobson said he would have preferred a differently worded document that conveys ″the moral outrage of what’s going on.″ Instead, the commission ″wanted a more objective intellectual approach. I’m outnumbered and I accept that, but it’s not how I would have stated it.″

The commission this week agreed on a 6-5 vote not to urge prosecution on the basis of obscenity books that are sexually explicit, as long as they do not contain pictures or focus on sexual abuse of children.

Dobson said ″between a third and a half of all material in pornographic bookstores″ would be protected under such a definition.

The panel also narrowly rejected a recommendation that the government, through the Federal Communications Commission, regulate the cable television showing of movies characterized by the commission staff as ″indecent,″ although not legally obscene. The proposal would have covered many R-rated films with sexually explicit themes.

″R-rated films on cable ought to be under some kind of regulation,″ said Dobson. ″We could not agree that cable should be regulated to some standard of decency below the standard of obscenity.″

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