For folks who fear and loathe pornography, the people in the Reagan Justice Department certainly do love to spend money on it.

Last year they forked over $750,000 for a "study" of the effects upon children of material published in Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler -- an undertaking that consisted primarily of paying about 20 people to read those magazines. Now they have outdone if not outspent themselves by shelling out $500,000 for the report of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography, a document that even by the standards of governmental commissions reaches for new depths of inanity.

The report was presented last week by the commission's chairman, Henry E. Hudson, to Attorney General Meese, who received it with what appeared to be considerable embarrassment. Small wonder. Even the redoubtable Meese, whose enthusiasm for civil liberties has always been kept under control, seems to have been taken aback by the commission's conclusions and recommendations, which range from the preposterous to the unconstitutional, with numerous local stops in between. Even Meese felt it incumbent upon himself to say, "This department, as long as I am attorney general, is not going to engage in any censorship that violates the First Amendment."

That must have come as a terrible disappointment to Hudson and most of his 10 colleagues on the commission, whose recommendations for changes in federal and state law, as well as federal and state prosecutorial policy, would do to the First Amendment more or less what Harry Reems used to do to Linda Lovelace in the movies the commission so deplores. The same can be said, and then some, for its recommendation that "watch groups" -- a nice euphemism for vigilante operations -- picket, protest and boycott in order to pressure businesses to stop producing or selling material that, in the judgment of these "watch groups," is "pornographic" or "obscene."

"Protest and related activities are entirely appropriate," the commission advises, "if citizens are dissatisfied with the work of their law enforcement officials, their prosecutors, their administrators and executives, their legislators and their judges." If that is not an invitation to vigilante action, what on earth is it? Further, it will be difficult for most citizens to escape the conclusion that it is an invitation issued with the concurrence of the attorney general of the United States. Though Meese fell all over himself explaining that he had not read the report, the fact remains that the commission issuing this invitation was appointed by the Justice Department and is commonly known, whether fairly or not, as "the Meese Commission."

So here's an invitation from the Meese Commission: " . . . at times the boycott may take the form of action against an advertiser, where people may express their views about corporate responsibility by refusing to buy certain products as long as the producer of those products advertises in certain magazines, or on certain television shows." This is interesting, considering that the focus of the commission was on "hard-core" material. How many corporations advertise in hard-core magazines or television programs? The answer, of course, is that none do -- which leads, inevitably, to the conclusion that the commission is inviting vigilante action not against pornographers but against general-circulation magazines and network television shows, which is quite a different kettle of fish.

The commission talks, ad nauseam, about an attack on hard-core pornography, but there can be little doubt that its more zealous members really have in mind an attack on what they perceive as sexual license in legitimate publishing and broadcasting. That was plain enough when the commission tried -- with no small success -- to bully the operators of convenience stores into removing Playboy, Penthouse and similar publications from their magazine racks. It is equally clear in this thinly veiled suggestion that consumers boycott firms that advertise in magazines and television shows the commission does not like. This could mean anything and everything from the National Lampoon, which has a penchant for ribaldly sophomoric humor, to "Three's Company," which delights in freshmanic double-entendres and titillating situations.

This attack on legitimate entertainment is the hidden agenda of the pornography commission; it is also Jerry Falwell's agenda. Praising it as a "good and healthy report," Falwell said: "The recent move by retailers to eliminate pornography from their inventories is not a result of government intervention. It is a result of grass-roots repudiation of the garbage called pornography, which has too long exploited the women and children of America." Falwell, make no mistake about it, is not talking about the pornography you can buy on 14th Street in Washington or the Combat Zone in Boston; he's talking about what's for sale in the 7-Eleven stores and what's shown on national television.

The Falwell agenda also tried to influence the commission's discussion of "uncommitted sexuality," which is to say sex "without marriage, love, commitment or even affection," but it was the victim of disagreement among the commission's members. In a passage that reeks of equivocality, the commission says: "Although there are many members of this society who can and have made affirmative cases for uncommitted sexuality, none of us believes it to be a good thing. A number of us, however, believe that the level of commitment in sexuality is a matter of choice among those who voluntarily engage in the activity. Others of us believe that uncommitted sexual activity is wrong for the individuals involved and harmful to society to the extent of its prevalence."

Inside that fat blob of prose is a skinny Falwell trying to get out, but he never quite makes it. Obviously some on the commission wanted to come out squarely against loveless sex, but others presumably insisted that to do so would be naive and futile: hence the exercise in fence-straddling. But if the hard-liners had won, what would they have proposed? Taking a clue from the recent Supreme Court decision in the Georgia sodomy case, perhaps they would have recommended the establishment of a federal Affectional Patrol, to be charged with enforcing the commitment factor. Crashing through bedroom doors, flashing lights into parked cars, its agents hidden away in a hundred million closets -- the AP strikes again: "Madam! Before you remove that blouse: Do you love this man?"

But there won't be an Affectional Patrol and, for that matter, there won't be much in the way of "watch groups" bullying the alleged pornographers. The Meese Commission may have given aid and comfort to Jerry Falwell, but it is most unlikely to have significant effects on anyone else. The real purpose of government commissions is not to provoke action, but to avoid it -- to make smoke, not fire. No doubt the Meese Commission will prove true to tradition. But as we bury it, and its recommendations, let this brief eulogy be said: Its irresponsibility was exceeded only by its silliness.