Pornography: A Public Health Crisis - Part 1 (Transcript)

Dr. James Dobson: Welcome everyone to Family Talk. It's a ministry of the James Dobson Family Institute supported by listeners just like you. I'm Dr. James Dobson and I'm thrilled that you've joined us.

Roger Marsh: Welcome to Family Talk. I'm Roger Marsh, and today's topic is one that is sensitive in nature and intended for mature audiences. We'll hear a classic program featuring our own Dr. James Dobson with his good friend Patrick Trueman. These two godly men with a heart for service will discuss the dark subject of pornography and its effects on modern society. This multi-billion dollar industry is literally stealing our children, destroying their lives, breaking up families, and has cast adrift generations of men in our country as well. Did you know that most young people are unintentionally exposed to explicit images by the time they reach the teenage years? And unfortunately, we live in a culture where television and movies glamorize sex and violence. They're hurting people in the most carnal ways, not to mention the proliferation of the internet and social media too. It's like a firestorm. Once these pornographic images have been viewed, they are literally seared into a person's mind. And when the brain recalls the image later, sadly it repeats the shock and trauma initially experienced.

Our guest on today's family talk program is Patrick Trueman, the president of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. He has been in the fight for a long time seeking to eradicate sexual abuse and exploitation from every corner of the world. Now, as you might know, in the 1980s, Dr. Dobson served on Attorney General Edwin Meese's Pornography Commission, exposing the porn industry's effects on American society. And that commission ultimately delivered the 1986 Meese Report on Pornography. At the same time, Patrick Trueman was identifying some of the same information as a US attorney prosecuting sex crimes against children and obscenity crimes while working at the Department of Justice. He did so from 1988 to 1993. Patrick Trueman has also served as a lawyer for more than 40 years, and in 2015 he established the Law Center for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation to help uphold human rights in the courtroom. As I mentioned earlier, today's program contains mature content and is not suitable for younger listeners. Parental discretion, definitely advised.

And now without further ado, I'll let Dr. Dobson explain more about his work on the Attorney General Edwin Meese Pornography Commission.

Dr. James Dobson: One of the most difficult than disgusting things I've ever done in my life was serving on the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography. That was 1985, 1986. I didn't even know if I was going to survive that. I don't think I would have if it hadn't have been for Alan Sears, who was the executive director of the commission. On the first day of the commission, we bonded. We met and I saw what his heart was for; righteousness. And the two of us were allies through this. He went on to become the founder of the Alliance Defending Freedom and has been the major pornography fighter in the entire country. I love that man, and I appreciate him today.

The materials that we examined and analyzed were conducted under the most terrible of circumstances. Just we heard so many testimonies of victims of pornography and their families, and it broke my heart. We produced, as a result of that 18 month study, a 2,000-page report, which brought about 26 changes in the law. They were signed into law by Congress and then signed by President Ronald Reagan. And I was working with him throughout that time.

For a time the clock on pornography began to run backwards, but then the Gipper left and George Herbert Walker Bush was elected. Now, he also had a heart to fight pornography, and I'm grateful that he did. And he got his Department of Justice to continue the work that we had started. And Herbert Walker Bush left office and Bill Clinton defeated him and he was elected and he began dismantling the effort to defeat pornography and the industry. And the pornography industry cheered when he did. He appointed people to the Department of Justice who would not prosecute it and the whole thing unraveled and the work that we did was essentially lost. And then our findings and recommendations were largely ignored, and that filth began to grow in culture. And because the internet came in at that time, there was no stopping it.

Fast forward now many years, and everywhere you look is evidence of the pornification of America. It's in the movies, you see it in magazine covers, at every grocery store, every checkout line. And you even see it in many of the fashions sold to young girls. In fact, young girls and boys are the ones exploited and damaged by it. Everywhere, there are sexualized images targeting younger and younger children, but there are many people starting to wake up to the danger that we warned about all those years ago. It has a devastating effect, especially on boys who are captured and held in addictions, many of them for the rest of their life, having stumbled on this stuff on the internet. And more and more people are seeing this, more parents are seeing it and the fight to clean up images saturating the media.

My guest today is Patrick Trueman, who is like a brother to me. He was on the staff at the Department of Justice for the Pornography Commission. That's where I met him, 1985. And he's still a leader in that battle. He has not backed off one bit in all these years, and it has been a tough struggle. Patrick Trueman now is president of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, and you're also a lawyer. Patrick also founded the New Law Center, which is seeking to create and defend legislation to fight obscenity in the culture. He's here today to talk about some of his organization's responsibilities. And again, he was at the Department of Justice during that time that I was working there.

So Patrick, you're a lawyer who specializes in opposing this stuff, thank you for not backing off. Thank you for giving your life's work to this cause. Start by going back to those days in 1985 and '86, what do you remember about them, and how do you feel about it today?

Patrick Trueman: The first thing I remember about the issue of pornography was a film that you produced back then, Jim, the War on Illegal Pornography. I believe that was the title.

Dr. James Dobson: It's A Winnable War.

Patrick Trueman: It's A Winnable War.

Dr. James Dobson: Yeah.

Patrick Trueman: That's right. And I saw that film and pornography wasn't an issue with me at all. I had given my eyes over to the Lord years ago before that, but that struck me that we really have a problem in America. And then at the same time, the commission was going on and I was at the Department of Justice. When the commission finished its work, it had many recommendations, but two very important recommendations were to update all those laws on pornography so we could fight the pornographers. The second one was to have a special strike force of prosecutors in the criminal division to go after the major producers and distributors. And I was asked to be the number two person in that office. And then the head of that office left soon thereafter and I suddenly became the head prosecutor at the office-

Dr. James Dobson: Department of Justice.

Patrick Trueman: ... at the Department of Justice. And we had a big task because the pornography industry had never been prosecuted. The Justice Department hadn't done any cases in a number of years. But what we discovered when we began prosecuting and we went after the biggest companies, the companies that were producing the most films and distributing them to 50 states, what we discovered in jury trials is that the juries wanted to convict because they didn't want to think that their communities would be overrun by this kind of material. And as part of your prosecution, you have to take into account community standards. And the jury gets to say whether it meets their community standards or not. Juries want to say, "Our community's better than this." And so we never lost a trial.

And Jim, I think today, if the Justice Department would start prosecuting again, and we know they haven't been doing it for years, I think you would have an even more receptive jury pool because now as your comments, introductory comments point out, it's so devastating. It's really affecting in one way or another every family in America. Anyone who has kids, teen or older, they know about incidences with their own kids getting exposed or someone in their neighborhood, some incident at school, et cetera. And the statistics back us up on this because it shows that in teen boys, until you're about 24, something in the area of 90% are looking at pornography. Now, is this what parents want? Of course not. And it's like 60% of the girls.

Dr. James Dobson: And it's really difficult to treat. Once you're addicted to this stuff, you are hooked and maybe for life. And the problem that we hear is that the husband is hooked on it and the wife is not and she's offended by it. He wants her to do things she won't do and it destroys the sexual relationship for the marriage.

Patrick Trueman: And he thinks she's not beautiful because he's looking at an 18-year-old.

Dr. James Dobson: Perfection.

Patrick Trueman: He's looking at a touched up model. And so it destroys marriages, but it destroys childhoods too.

Roger Marsh: The problem of pornography truly has some very long-term consequences. I'm Roger Marsh breaking into our conversation today here on Family Talk just to remind you that today's classic program features Dr. James Dobson and Patrick Trueman as they discuss the problem of pornography and the porn industry. Patrick Trueman is the president of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. If you'd like to learn more about him or the NCOSE, you could visit our broadcast page at And if any of today's conversation is moving you to pray for a situation or perhaps a person that you know who may be suffering due to the use of pornography, we are here to pray with and for you. You can reach out to us online at, or give us a call at (877) 732-6825. Now let's rejoin Patrick Trueman and Dr. Dobson right now here on Family Talk.

Patrick Trueman: One thing we're noticing a rise in is child-on-child sex abuse. And this is not just an American phenomenon, it's a worldwide phenomenon. And the only reason for the rise is the use of pornography, the exposure to pornography of young children. It's upended society. That's why we call this a public health crisis. It's not just a problem for one family or another. It's a problem for society and we can't solve it unless we-

Dr. James Dobson: And child pornography is very much a part of it.

Patrick Trueman: Of course, it is. Yeah.

Dr. James Dobson: And that's been the one thing that the Department of Justice has been willing to kind of fight a little bit.

Patrick Trueman: Yes.

Dr. James Dobson: They won't fight obscenity.

Patrick Trueman: They won't fight adult pornography. But by not fighting adult pornography, they're allowing for more child pornography. Because as you know, when these people are looking at pornography, they always have to have something harder and more deviant. They keep moving towards something. And many of them turn to child pornography.

Dr. James Dobson: Yeah. It's progressive and it is addictive. It marches you down the road, as you said, toward harder and more violent and more gross images. And what stimulates one day will not be enough tomorrow. There was a time when seeing this stalking turn a guy on, but now it goes farther and farther in the direction of the paraphilias. That means abnormal, far out things like homosexual violence and child pornography and bestiality and all those, and violence against women. That's where Ted Bundy got his addiction. He told me that the night before he died.

Patrick Trueman: There's a study out a few years back, Dr. Anna Bridges and her team, they looked at the top 50 most popularly sold porn films in America. And they went scene by scene in it and discovered that 88% of the scenes in those top 50 movies depicted sexual violence against women. Now so when we see the sexual violence in society, we don't have to ask where it comes from. We're training young people on sexual violence. And what does it say about our society when we have such high numbers of young men looking at pornography and we know what they're looking at, sexual violence against women. These will be our leaders. These will be our what? Our ministers, our politicians. The pornography trains the brain. And that's what the problem is.

Dr. James Dobson: I'm not going to try to describe what that violence looks like, but I can tell you it will turn your stomach. And we had to sit and look at that stuff and then hear from women who had been abused in that way. I'm telling you, it's not a victimless crime. It is sexploitation of the worst order. And it's taking place on college campuses, taking place on high school and junior high campuses now. The graphicness of scripture will tell you just how evil sin is and how wicked sin is and how wicked immorality is. And it has never been more true of other forms of sin than this one because it goes to the heart of human nature and the human soul.

Patrick Trueman: Yes. We try to talk at our organization, National Center on Sexual Exploitation, about the seamless continuum of exploitation when we're feeding kids the sexually exploitive imagery as kids, the Cosmopolitan magazine that they see in the checkout corner and what's on television and whatnot. And then they're in grade schools and parents are giving their kids a cell phone in grade school and they have some excuse. "Oh, well, he needs to call me to make sure he gets a ride home." And the phone is unfiltered. But the kids are talking about sex and they look it up and they get it there.

And then you're on the college campuses in the next part of your life. And pornography is on the walls, it's everywhere, and kids are experimenting. What they see they want to do. And then they're into the military after that or they're trying out prostitution in numbers. College kids are. And with prostitution comes sex trafficking. They don't ask whether the person is a traffic victim or not. So you see these seamless connection between all forms of sexual exploitation, but it's the pornography that is the glue that holds it all together.

Dr. James Dobson: How can we put into words that will help people understand how ubiquitous this pornography really is? I mean, it is everywhere.

Patrick Trueman: Someone at one of our annual events, Dr. Gail Dines, talked about pornography as the wallpaper of our children's lives. And that's really what it is. It is everywhere. And they know how to find it. Kids today can use the internet to go anywhere in the world. They know how to go anywhere. And they know how to go to porn sites. And the porn industry knows that about them. So they have all these free porn sites out there, and parents may not be aware of it, but it's just unlimited amounts of free pornography and every, as you said, paraphilia. Whatever you are looking for and stuff you'd never know existed. But at a young age, kids... I mean an adult can't handle this. I wouldn't want to look at this, but at a young age, what's that mind like that a child has or a teenager has?

Dr. James Dobson: Men are made that way. I want to confess something to you, Patrick, that I feel I need to be honest about. We're all affected by it.

Patrick Trueman: Sure.

Dr. James Dobson: We're all vulnerable to it. When I was a very young man, Playboy and Penthouse appealed to me and I didn't buy them, but I would read them somewhere and the Lord began talking to me. I get teary eyed about it now. The Lord cared enough about me to say, "That's not my will for you." And I made a commitment and I said, "Lord, I will not touch it again." I want to tell you how vicious Satan is. But I was on a plane alone and I was married and I was on my way back and I'd made that commitment and I was living with it. And someone left in the back of the seat in front of me, a brand-new Hustler and a brand-new Playboy. There it sat. Nobody would ever know if I picked it up. No one would ever condemn me. I was on the inside seat and I didn't touch it, Pat.

Patrick Trueman: Good for you.

Dr. James Dobson: I didn't touch it and I have not picked up one since. And I tell you, that's the resolve you got to have because it'll get you. If you were looking at a congregation of a thousand men, how many of them do you think are addicted to pornography?

Patrick Trueman: Well over 50%. I would guess it's over 50%. Now, addicted is a term that people define in various ways, but let's just say this. How many have pornography in their life every day? And I'll bet it's more than 50%.

Dr. James Dobson: I would be inclined to say it's more.

Patrick Trueman: More than that.

Dr. James Dobson: I would put it as 70 and maybe 80. And I'll tell you something else. We had evidence at our ministry with a hotline that pastors could call that. That was the number one reason they called because they used to have to go into a porn shop and bring something out in a brown paper bag that people would see. Now they go in their office and say, I'm working on my sermon and they close the door.

Patrick Trueman: Yes, that is a big problem. The church has a problem, Jim. Something to be concerned about is that most churches in America, probably 90%, if a man has a pornography problem and he goes to that church to find some literature, some help, he gets nothing. There's no literature about the pornography problem. Nothing that tells them who the local counselors are or what they can do to solve that problem. And the man's suffering with his work, he's suffering with his marriage. He looks on women every place he goes in a way that he shouldn't, but he wants help. Shouldn't the church be the first place that you could get help? But here in America it isn't.

Dr. James Dobson: Hey, you know the pastors, if they're not hooked on it themselves, are afraid to talk about it because they're afraid they'll offend the men. And some of the women, more women are being involved in pornography because their husbands are pulling them into where they are.

Patrick Trueman: That's right. But if they would talk about it, and I realize it's hard for a pastor who's got a pornography problem to be talking about it, but I don't think that excuses them from having a men's group where you bring in a speaker once a year or so.

Dr. James Dobson: Absolutely not. But there are these organizations that are out there and there are counselors who know how to deal with it. You and I have a friend, Dr. Jerry Kirk.

Patrick Trueman: Yes.

Dr. James Dobson: And Jerry is another one who grabbed hold of this issue in the '80s. He came to our commission. He was pastor of College Hill Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, and he fought it there in Cincinnati to a standstill. But he's a hero of mine.

Patrick Trueman: Yes. He's accomplished a lot. There's the old guard. I'm pleased to be part of that old guard. 30 years in this work. But there's a new guard too. You'd be surprised, Jim, how many young people are standing up to this. I could have 500 interns every summer from college campuses. When we put the word out that we're looking for interns, we are overwhelmed. People want to be working on this. And frankly, it's particularly the women who don't like the college culture of exploitation that they're expected to fit into and they want to do something about it. And I'm always pleased when we see these young men who apply and they come and we've got one now working on these issues. So the young aren't necessarily all buying into this culture. They know there's something wrong and many are willing to stand up.

Dr. James Dobson: How can they reach you, Pat?

Patrick Trueman: At our website, which is

Dr. James Dobson: All right. We're going to do another program. We're going to talk right about that. Patrick, thanks for being here. Let's do it again tomorrow.

Patrick Trueman: Thank you, Jim.

Roger Marsh: Boy, what a tough subject to hear about, but absolutely necessary to discuss and not sweep under the rug. As it says in Matthew 5:28, Jesus says, "I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." God certainly can move in our lives if we are honest with ourselves and open to hear him. And remember that the great redeemer can cleanse anyone who comes to him seeking forgiveness with a repentant and contrite heart. Today's conversation was part one of a two-part discussion featuring today's guest Patrick Trueman and our own Dr. James Dobson here on Family Talk. Be sure to join us again tomorrow to hear more from Patrick Trueman and Dr. Dobson as they continue their discussion on the serious issue of pornography in the United States. I'm Roger Marsh. Thank you for joining us for another edition of Family Talk. I pray that God continues to bless you and your family as you continue to strengthen your walk in faith.

Announcer: This has been a presentation of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute.
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