An experiment beyond the scope of even the most lavishlyfunded sociological researchers would be to wipe out pornography completely in a large American city, then study it in the ensuing years to see if sex crime rates dropped below those of cities with thriving adult businesses. There is, in fact, such a place.

Long before the Meese Commission was even a synapse between Republican brain cells, Solicitor General Hinson McAuliffe of Fulton County, Georgia, won his 12-year crusade to drive adult theaters and bookstores out of Atlanta. The February, 1982 issue of Video Review carried the complaint of local Video Warehouse owner Steve Goodman that he was warned to get rid of the R-rated Brooke Shields movie The Blue Lagoon and anything else that contained nudity. McAuliffe retired in 1981, but remained active against porn as a Baptist layman. His successor, Jimmy Webb, made sure anything more risque than Playboy and Penthouse stayed out of the city. Both men won praise from the Meese Commission.

Has Atlanta become a safe haven for its female citizens? Hardly. In 1989, the FBI’s annual statistical summary, Crime in the United States, revealed that of all the American cities with a population greater than 250,000, the one with the worst rate of rape–one rape for every 617 people–was Atlanta.

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