California's Law Banning Conversion Therapy, And The Problem Of Evil

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221 Responses

  1. Kevin Clark says:

    It's not exactly on point, but this post reminds me of "Dred Scott and the Problem of Constitutional Evil." It wrestles with the notion that Dred Scott was correctly decided based on the Constitution as interpreted and understood at the time. So what do we do with a "correct" result that we can definitely point to and call "evil"? Fascinating stuff.

    http://www.cambridge.org/gb/knowledge/isbn/item1173573/?site_locale=en_GB

  2. enneract says:

    To preface, IANAL. However, I think that framing this as a problem of 'evil', or 'regulating evil' is a bit disingenuous. It would be akin to framing a discussion of fake stem cell treatment centers as one of 'evil' and not fraud or medical malpractice.

  3. Lizard says:

    Yeah, this is one of those issues where I have a plethora of mixed feelings, alongside mandatory vaccination. Rationally, I know the one legitimate role of government is preventing people from harming each other. I also know that the definition of "harm" can be excessively broad and easily corrupted. Should the government prevent parents from feeding their kids a diet consisting solely of Big Macs? Plenty of religious fundamentalists would insist that failing to instill in your child a strong faith in God is "harmful" to them. How about letting them watch "violent" cartoons, or exposing them to "anti social" values, however defined by the current majority? Etc, etc, etc. An exact formula to set boundaries is not easy to come be; the dominant factors are objectivity (physical, measurable, harm) and degree of certainty and immediacy (increasing someone's chance of becoming obese 20 years down the line is not the government's concern; having a child who is, right now, at risk of death from complications of obesity at least possibly is; hitting your child in the head with a cast iron frying pan because he said a naughty word absolutely is.)

    "Conversion therapy" is a)absolute rubbish, and b)psychologically harmful. However, we allow greater leeway for parents to inflict worse things on their children which are physically harmful. (I do not claim psychological damage is "all in your head" or that it's trivial or even possible to repair it, but any mental trauma is still easier to recover from than *death*.) If the government bans conversion therapy for minors, it must justify NOT banning all kind and manner of quackery for physical illnesses, including parents denying medical care at all. (If you enjoy litanies of horrors in this area, check out http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/)

    I'd love an internally consistent logical construct that would support letting the government ban conversion therapy, while preserving the rest of my worldview, but I'm currently at a loss to create one. The only options I can see would require the government ban a whole hell of a lot of other things, and interfere in child raising to an extremely dangerous degree, especially when you remember that the power of the government remains when the people whom you trusted with that power are gone, and it will then be in the hands of people you DON'T want with that power. Asking the government to make laws regarding junk science, when the "science committee" is staffed with Young Earth Creationists, is self-evidently ridiculous.

  4. Lizard says:

    Almost by definition, any form of religious practice can be classed as fraudulent. Even leaving that aside, you have a huge swathe of "alternative" medical practices, all the usual New Age bullshit and "holistic" crap, that are objectively, provably, worthless. But trying to ban or regulate all of them runs into a huge host of legal issues, not the least of which is the basic right of consenting adults to be self-destructive morons.

    We don't want the government deciding what is and isn't "real" science, and enforcing that by law, even if it seems self-evident to anyone with a room temperature IQ…. because most voters aren't that bright, even in Celsius, and thus, the government that represents them won't be, either.

  5. perlhaqr says:

    I dunno. I mean, I get what you're saying, but… if it was a law preventing the practice of bloodletting in minors, would you still feel that way?

  6. Grifter says:

    I'm very confused. This seems to me that it isn't about speech, but about treatment.

    The law lets them say gays are as evil and wrong as their tiny malformed brains and hearts think it is, right? And lets them, outside of their practices, tell people to stop being gay.

    What it seems to prevent them from doing is engaging in efforts to change that sexuality within the confines of their medical practice, and while there is some language in that law I don't particularly care for (well, I agree with it but I don't like to see it in a law), isn't the real point here that the law predicated on the fact that reparative therapy has not been shown to work?

    (k) The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in 2012 published an article in its journal, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, stating: “Clinicians should be aware that there is no evidence that sexual orientation can be altered through therapy, and that attempts to do so may be harmful. There is no empirical evidence adult homosexuality can be prevented if gender nonconforming children are influenced to be more gender conforming. Indeed, there is no medically valid basis for attempting to prevent homosexuality, which is not an illness. On the contrary, such efforts may encourage family rejection and undermine self-esteem, connectedness and caring, important protective factors against suicidal ideation and attempts. Given that there is no evidence that efforts to alter sexual orientation are effective, beneficial or necessary, and the possibility that they carry the risk of significant harm, such interventions are contraindicated.”
    (l) The Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health Organization, issued a statement in May of 2012 and in it the organization states: “These supposed conversion therapies constitute a violation of the ethical principles of health care and violate human rights that are protected by international and regional agreements.” The organization also noted that reparative therapies “lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.”

    I look at folks like the reparative therapists (or Burzynski, who recently got off from charges that would have finally revoked his medical license with head-scratchingly execrable reasoning) as folks selling snake-oil. If they could show in real scientific journals that their treatment worked, they'd have a case, but in the meantime, they're peddling quackery to the desperate. They're selling woo at a premium, and I am okay with laws that make them either choose to either stop pretending to be doctors, or use real science.

  7. Grifter says:

    @Lizard:

    "We don't want the government deciding what is and isn't "real" science, and enforcing that by law"

    We do that already. There are standards of care, and deviating outside of them carries penalties. I can think that Red Bull IVs will cure heart attacks, but if I start doing it in my ambulance, I'm going to jail.

  8. Aaron Weiss says:

    I try to run challenging ethical issues like this through a simple filter: You should be free to do what you want to do until your actions cause harm to others who didn't consent to be harmed. (Smoking? No problem. Smoking around kids? That's a problem.)

    In the case of reparative therapy of minors, the "patient" is legally incapable of consenting to the therapy. Therefore, if you can establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the therapy causes harm, those responsible for causing that harm (the therapist who performed it and the parents who ordered it) should be held legally (and criminally) accountable.

    Because it involves minors, this goes way beyond providing information which a patient can choose to receive or ignore. If this is a medical treatment which causes harm, and the patient cannot opt out of it, it's absolutely appropriate for the government to step in to protect minors from harm caused by their caregivers.

  9. Grifter says:

    And, not to be Multiple-Posting McGee, but the law defines its terms:

    “Mental health provider” means a physician and surgeon specializing in the practice of psychiatry, a psychologist, a psychological assistant, intern, or trainee, a licensed marriage and family therapist, a registered marriage and family therapist, intern, or trainee, a licensed educational psychologist, a credentialed school psychologist, a licensed clinical social worker, an associate clinical social worker, a licensed professional clinical counselor, a registered clinical counselor, intern, or trainee, or any other person designated as a mental health professional under California law or regulation."

    While it's a broad category, it doesn't seem to mean all reparative therapy (My bile raises every time I type that disingenuous statement, btw) is completely banned, but that you can't be a "real" mental health professional and peddle your quackery. Become a "reparative therapeutician" if you want, it doesn't seem banned; you're only banned if you're practicing as a "real" doctor (or other licensed professional). Clergy, for example, seem noticeably absent (though they sometimes are also licensed as marriage counselors etc.).

  10. Lizard says:

    @Grifter: The fact that it's still legal to provide reiki, "psychic healing", aromatherapy, homeopathic medicine, etc, etc, etc, shows these "standards of care" are so lax as to be non-existent.

  11. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    One problem is that if there existed a therapy, short of Soviet-style brainwashing, that would allow a person who went in experiencing himself as Gay to emerge experiencing himself as heterosexual, a vast segment of society would be absolutely determined to pretend that such a therapy did not exist.

    I would also like to ask those who are sure that the law in question is just; when are we going to arrest the several intellectual pillocks who have (over the years) attempted to raise genetic boys as girls? And if we aren't going to arrest them, how is what they did different from what you are so excited about?

    A third thought; If homosexuality is a genetic issue, then what do those who are in favor of it propose to do when parents start to abort 'Gay' fetus(es?)?

    I thin that, in the end, my position is that Government is bad at anything that requires subtlety, and should therefore stay the hell out of this mess.

  12. Peter H says:

    Just a thought as I was reading this, would there be any first amendment issue with California creating a special clause of civil action for malpractice whereby a former patient of a conversion therapist could seek damages and revocation of licensure? In that case, it would seem to hold better water in that the State would be saying that to have the consequences foisted on you, you both a. have to have engaged in this type of therapy they think is worthless, and b. have actually harmed a patient?

  13. En Passant says:

    Grifter Dec 5, 2012 @12:36 pm beat me to the point. I think it's a good one:

    While it's a broad category, it doesn't seem to mean all reparative therapy (My bile raises every time I type that disingenuous statement, btw) is completely banned, but that you can't be a "real" mental health professional and peddle your quackery. Become a "reparative therapeutician" if you want, it doesn't seem banned; you're only banned if you're practicing as a "real" doctor (or other licensed professional). Clergy, for example, seem noticeably absent (though they sometimes are also licensed as marriage counselors etc.).

    The statute only prohibits state licensed therapists from "conversion therapy" practice.

    It's very simple: practice the verboten therapy, lose your license.

    Clergy, or just plain quacks who don't claim a state professional license, are free to practice "conversion therapy" for any condition they want to "convert".

    Does your non-licensed counseling practice seek to convert left-handers to right-handers? Or cilantro haters to cilantro lovers? Or chocolate lovers to chocolate haters? You are free to practice it. You just aren't free to claim you are licensed by the state to do so.

  14. En Passant says:

    I should add that some of the reported "conversion therapy" as practices on minors seems very abusive. As such, any (unlicensed) practitioner might also be subject to child abuse laws, entirely independent of what personal trait they are trying to "convert", or why they want to "convert" it.

  15. Charles Collom says:

    Generally I hate the sort of "what if positions were reversed" whining, but really what would the courts say if gay men and lesbians had their minor children in therapy trying to convert them to homosexuality?
    If the State cannot keep children from being tortured by mental health professionals under the guise of conversion therapy, then it is time to pack up California's health regulatory system and call it a day.

  16. Grifter says:

    @Lizard:

    You're right that those things exist, but don't confuse the existence of such therapies with their use by actual medical professionals. No MD will "prescribe" homeopathy and expect to keep their license (and if there are such doctors, they should have their licenses revoked). And the way this law is written, no MD would "administer" reparative therapy. But homeopathy still exists, and so, undoubtedly, would reparative therapy.

    If I sell you a cure for cancer, and it's tap water, should that be legal? Is it more legal or less if I say "I'm a doctor, and I prescribe my expensive magic water to cure your cancer"?

    If I sell you a cure for TEH GAYNESS, and it's torture with no proven benefit, should that be legal? Is it more legal or less if I say "I'm a licensed health professional" right before I administer the electric shocks?

    While I think I agree this law was possible poorly constructed, as I read it and the opinions, I do think the idea behind it is sound.

    @C.S.P. Schofield:

    That's not a valid criticism, really. Such a thing doesn't exist, so you have no idea whether people would or wouldn't be for it. I, for example, would think that it would be great as an option for adults, since undoubtedly there are some who would be glad to have some pill to magically become straight.

    But I wouldn't want it imposed on children. Of course, I am also against female and male circumcision, and other permanent changes with potentialities for great harm undertaken for reasons the child may grow up to abhor. I suspect that's a larger, far afield debate for another time and place, however.

    I would also like to ask those who are sure that the law in question is just; when are we going to arrest the several intellectual pillocks who have (over the years) attempted to raise genetic boys as girls? And if we aren't going to arrest them, how is what they did different from what you are so excited about?

    There are several different awful people who've done that sort of thing, I think you'd need to be more specific. If you're speaking of those who made the specific choice to try to force traditionally "feminine" qualities onto boys (or vice versa) for no reason (in other words, let's leave the intersexed out of the debate for the time being), then I agree that they should suffer similar consequences as the ones in this bill. I think. However, reading the bill, I've realized that I don't know what those consequences are.

    Can one of the fancy lawyer-folk here help me understand? The law as I read it on legislature.ca.gov doesn't actually say what the consequences for violating it are?

  17. Lizard says:

    @Charles: According to Scientologists, all psychology and psychiatry is "torture". So once you give the state that power, what happens when Tom Cruise is elected governor? (Go back to the 60s, and you'll find that Ronald Reagan's political aspirations were fodder for comedians, not because of his policies, but because he wasn't seen as someone who could actually be elected because he was an actor, not a politician. Repeat with Arnie and Jesse Ventura.)

    @Grifter: I doubt that the issue of license matters much to people who practice "conversion therapy"; their clients, almost by definition, are those who distrust the government for all the wrong reasons[1], and thus assume that a government-granted license is something to take as a sign of evil intent, not of meeting some minimum bar of competence. This law serves as further "proof" that the government is plotting to turn everyone gay, probably because of Agenda 21 or something. ("The government won't let its controlled puppet so-called doctors cure innocent children of the vile disease of homosexuality! Only those of us who stay free of the government's control can save your child! That will be $5,000.00 please. Per session. In cash. Credit cards are all microchipped and connect to the orbital mind control lasers.")

    [1]I used to have a .sig file that read "Just because you hate the government and own a gun doesn't mean you're a libertarian."

  18. Lizard says:

    Oh, and @Grifter: Selling tap water and saying it cures cancer IS legal. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeopathy

  19. W. C. Taqiyya says:

    A pox on both houses. One one side we have, presumably, parents concerned about their child's perceived homosexual preferences who wish to coerce them down a heterosexual path. On the other, we have interested parties who want the government to further restrict parental decision making. I'm not very sympathetic to either.

    First, since we are speaking of children, I must observe that it is unlikely that their sexual identity has been firmly established yet. Children have no more finally decided their sexual orientation than they have their political views or choice of occupation. Sure, children may still claim final choices in all of those areas but we, as adults, know from our own experiences that such decisions are not final. If it were otherwise, we would be overrun with fireman and astronauts. So, forcing children to behave or act heterosexual because they are acting 'queer' or 'butch' or 'effeminate' is probably an over reaction. Most likely, such dubious 'therapy' will result in the therapist counselling some patience and calm. Better perhaps, since the proponents of such therapy cite religious objections to homosexuality, that they seek counsel from their trusted minister or rabbi and pray. I would include priests but… On those occasions when charlatans get their hands on gullible parents, the therapy can be counterproductive and maybe even harmful. Parents need to be responsible enough to avoid charlatans and if they aren't, new laws won't help. I'm sure many readers can remember times when they played with dolls or made forts or did something not exactly in keeping with the strictest definition of male stuff and female stuff. It's called playing for a reason. So, there's that.

    Next, the people who want the government to ban something that is better left to the realm of parenting and the ethical conduct of the related professions are also foolish. And much more dangerous. Other people's children are none of their business. And, the government has no proper role absent probable cause that actual harm will befall the child. Properly conducted, by ethical and honorable professional family counselors, it is more likely to be helpful, than harmful. I assume some high standards, but even if they have low standards, the government's involvement would be worse. Further, the politically motivated movement to outlaw the 'treatment' at issue seeks to 'normalize' homosexual behavior and force the law to accept, protect and enforce their world view that homosexuality is good, predestined through genetics and safe for children and pets. I reject their platform in it's entirety. There is no evidence that sexual preferences are anything other than choices, made either affirmatively or passively. And no, the self serving and coached testimony of adult homosexuals does not attain the status of evidence. As for being benign, the experience of the Catholic Church with it's long infestation of homosexual pedophilia priests is sufficient answer. Sexual abuse of children is a hallmark of homosexuality and the harm it causes is not a matter for dispute. It's a soul wrecking experience. So that's that.

  20. Grifter says:

    @Lizard:

    I said "should", because I'm well aware of the current legality of that particular quackery (and disagree with its legality entirely…or at least, on its legality without the caveat of "though I think this does X, I can in no way prove it", which is my semi-libertarian view on consumer protection; all I really ask for is that folks don't mislead or pretend they have proof of efficacy).

  21. Grifter says:

    @W. C. Taqiyya:

    This:

    "Sexual abuse of children is a hallmark of homosexuality"

    Should have been the first thing you said. That way I could have known sooner that I shouldn't bother reading your post.

  22. Stephen Glynn says:

    Since it's illegal in California (I imagine; I don't know) to sell alcohol or cigarettes to a minor, or have sex with him or her, even with the parents' permission and encouragement, why's prohibiting giving him or her "conversion therapy" such an issue?

    If, when the child is no longer a minor, she or he takes the mature and considered decision — unwise though it might be — to seek "conversion therapy" that's one thing. Allowing adults to inflict it on minors is quite another, at least to my mind.

  23. M. says:

    Trying to get the gay out of California is like trying to get the stupid out of the Internet.

  24. Moses says:

    My son came out as gay at 13. Soon after, he had a girlfriend. I asked him about being gay. He said he decided he was bisexual. He has never had a boyfriend. Gender and orientation are not as black and white as you all think. If a teen (or adult) is bisexual, an intense early same sex relationship may have convinced them they are gay. I am not advocating reparative therapy, but there is also nothing wrong with a bisexual individual wanting to engage only in heterosexual relationships (and seeking supportive counseling), is there?

  25. Lizard says:

    I believe it is generally legal for a parent to permit their child to drink or smoke. It may be illegal for someone to sell such items to the child, but I do not think it's generally illegal if a parent gives them to the child, though age may be a factor. As came up quite often when discussing the CDA, a "child" in the law is anything from an infant to someone 17 years, 364 days, 23 hours, and 59 minutes old; there's a huge range of activities that the mythical "reasonable man" would deem grossly improper for a parent to permit for an infant that the same "Reasonable man" would not care about when applied to a 17 year old, and very few absolute, simple, definable, bars as to when that changes. The general presumption is that a parent, more than anyone else, is best qualified to judge the readiness of a child to handle a given thing, and it is also presumed (despite all news reports to the contrary) that a parent is most likely to have the child's mental and physical well-being as more of a concern than the guy running the 7-11. (There is also, of course, a large gap between what a parent believes is best for the child, and what IS best for the child; however, it's impossible to argue that the gap would be any smaller with the government making such choices, and all evidence suggests it will be an order of magnitude larger.[1])

    [1]Obviously, there are extreme and obvious cases where this is not the case, where a parent's actions, regardless of their claims of good intent, are objectively harmful and possibly fatal to the child, but those are generally self-evident enough that there's little reason to enumerate them.

  26. Charles Collom says:

    Lizard: You've proved my point. If the State cannot ban an abusive practice with no basis in science that is condemned by professional mental health organizations without people popping up to say, "Well, Scientologists would condemn all psychiatry" then it's time pack it all in and call it a day.

  27. Lizard says:

    Uhm… then, call it a day. Once you grant the government power to ban "abusive psychiatric practices", you have to consider what might be considered "abusive" 10 years down the road, or 20, when power bases and social norms shift. Failure to consider "What would my enemy do with this law?" is a great way to get bad laws into place.

    As Ken notes, the people who support "conversion therapy" are just as passionately convinced that it's right as any sane person is convinced that it's wrong. Assuming they'll never gain political power is foolish. Establishing a precedent that "The government can ban therapy with it believes is harmful" gives them the power to decide what might be "harmful", according to their precepts. It does not take very much effort to find plenty of religious fundamentalists who believe a failure to teach children their brand of faith is a form of child abuse.

  28. Lizard says:

    Also, as I noted, the state currently cannot ban countless sham medical practices, equally harmful, more easily shown to be harmful as it's easier to measure physical damage than mental (again, I am not discounting the reality of mental damage, just the degree to which it can be measure objectively), and with just as little basis in science. However, many of these practices are more widely embraced among California voters than conversion therapy, so they're less likely to be targeted. Change that voting balance, which is not nearly as unthinkable as some people seem to believe, and you hand the power to ban over to those people least fit, IMO, to wield it.

    Government can be seen as a lever that greatly amplifies power. I want to be sure that when my enemies come to power, they have as few levers to push on as possible, even if it means my allies are also rendered less powerful. People come and go; the levers remain.

  29. William says:

    I'm a psychologist and, honestly, I don't see what the big deal here is. "conversion therapy" hasn't been shown to work, isn't consistent with any of the major theoretical frameworks from which psychotherapy tends to be practiced (most of the common theoretical orientations would place such therapy somewhere between "pointless" and "actively dangerous"), and has been declared unethical by the APA.
    Moreover, it seeks to treat something that isn't generally recognized as pathological by any modern medical or psychological standard, using methods that have not generally been exposed to peer review, without a significant body of literature to guide practitioners, in the absence of effective training contexts. To be blunt, conversion therapy is quackery. I see no problem with prohibiting licensed individuals from engaging in quackery. Prohibiting the general public from offering it? That seems to step on speech, but the purpose of licensure is to provide some basic professional standards.

    The specific context of conversion therapy for minors is also cause for significant alarm. Suicide rates (both attempted and completed) are very, very high in the LGBT community and adolescence appears to be the developmental period in which LGBT persons are most at risk of serious self-harm. When you couple that with the fact that the closet and, more specifically, the social stigma around otherness is a significant contributor to these suicide rates you end up with a situation in which you engineer a more dangerous course of sexual identity development. Children who are born Catholics and later leave the church just aren't at the same kind of risk as LGBT youth. This is an evil, ineffective, actively dangerous technique aimed at restricting an individual's freedom of conscience before they have the ability to say no.

  30. Orv says:

    @W.C. Taqiyya: The majority of pedophiles are not gay men. And the majority of gay men are not pedophiles.

    I think what the Catholic Church's experience proves is if you sexually repress men, and then give them access only to young boys, some of them will take advantage of the power dynamic. To think otherwise is like deciding that the frequency of male-on-male prison rape means that gay people are criminals and rapists.

    I'm hoping in a generation or so we'll view conversion therapy with about the same level of incomprehensibility that we used to view forcing left-handed children to become right-handed. To my mind it's abusive, but then I think *many* of the teachings that religion inflicts on children are abusive and damaging.

  31. Grifter says:

    @Lizard:

    Are you against all professional standards or laws against malpractice?

    And, for the record, your comment about the forms of quackery which are semi-legal (but which, I continue to maintain, are in the same realm that this law is attempting to put conversion therapy) is a sort of tu quoque fallacy; we can't make any bad thing illegal because we haven't made all bad things illegal.

    I don't think that it's unreasonable to force quacks to stop selling quackery; if there are legitimate studies showing positive results, then the discussion changes, but in the meantime, I think it's perfectly within government's wheelhouse to say "if you can't prove your product does X, you can't sell it saying it does X".

    @William:
    "I see no problem with prohibiting licensed individuals from engaging in quackery."

    "the purpose of licensure is to provide some basic professional standards."

    Thank you.

  32. Stephen Glynn says:

    @Lizard. As I understand it, the law is saying that a parent cannot consent, on a child's behalf, to the child receiving "conversion therapy" from a therapist, just as the parent cannot consent, on the child's behalf, to the child receiving alcohol from a bartender or cigarettes form a shopkeeper. Quite possibly, the parent can't consent to the child getting a tattoo either, or several other things an adult might choose, perhaps unwisely, to do.

    What's the harm in adding "receiving conversion therapy" to the list of possibly ill-advised and harmful activities that should forbidden to minors, even with parental consent?

  33. Lizard says:

    @Grifter: I'm against neither in general. In this era when people who claim the Earth is 6,000 years old, or that vaccines cause autism, are allowed to not only live outside of controlled institutions, but can be elected to government, I'm very leery of giving the government too much power to decide what's quackery and what isn't.

    I'm also leery of having the government tell people what to believe, even when what the government says is correct and what people believe is moronic and self-destructive. That sexual orientation is primarily inherent (few things in humanity are 100% nature or nurture, and sexual orientation isn't a simply binary; it's a multidimensional axis) is settled science, but if someone wants to believe otherwise, that's their right, just like it's their right to believe there's an invisible magical man who lives in the sky, or that communism only failed because the wrong people kept taking power, over and over and over and over… but I digress.

    I also think the government should be empowered to protect children from abusive parents, and I'm also concerned as to where the line is drawn. Reality is filled soft edges; laws draw sharp lines. I like to think really carefully about how I would advise those lines be drawn, and consider the long term consequences over my short-term impulse to "do something!". The desire to save children from harm is about as deep-seated as it gets; and that's why it's a desire that must be suborned to the most careful analysis and thought.

  34. M. says:

    @Moses: Did you mean that to sound so condescending?

  35. Orv says:

    @Lizard: Yeah, I agree this is a difficult gray area. I think an analogy might help explain why people don't see eye to eye on it.

    (a) There are parents who do serious psychological damage to their children by telling them they're worthless and will never amount to anything or be able to support themselves. That's not illegal, even though such children are suicide risks and often suffer greatly later in life due to their learned helplessness.

    (b) There are parents who submit their children to questionable and frequently injurious medical practices (chelation, etc.) in the hopes of curing them of various mental disorders; the government tends to intervene by forcing such clinics to close down.

    Someone's reaction to this law is going to depend pretty much entirely on whether they see "reparative therapy" as more like (a) or (b).

  36. W. C. Taqiyya says:

    @ Orv. "The majority of pedophiles are not gay men. And the majority of gay men are not pedophiles."

    Actually Orv, you have no basis for your conclusion. The available literature on the topic strenuously avoids making any quantitative comparison between homosexuality and pedophiles. It may be most, some or all, we cannot know. And I didn't allege it was most or all, as you falsely claim. But, the literature does admit that most offenders favor one sex over another. Since it's politically incorrect to state the relationship between homosexuals and pedophiles who abuse boys, they don't. But, since most offenders favor one sex and homosexuals prefer males, you can draw your own conclusions. I conclude it is a hallmark, the literature supports me. As for those poor priests being restricted in their sexuality, I can't recall the last time anyone was forced into the priesthood, can you? Further, they are adults and responsible for their actions. The power dynamic indeed. Silliness. I guess making excuses for pedophiles, as you do, is acceptable when personal responsibility is rejected and people are seen as nothing but reflections of whatever the 'power dynamic' inflicts on them.

    @ William. "Suicide rates (both attempted and completed) are very, very high in the LGBT community and adolescence appears to be the developmental period in which LGBT persons are most at risk of serious self-harm." Is that true? How about that. Very, very high you say? So glad to see you blame the 'closet' and this new, rarely attempted therapy for that. You are so empirical in your faith. Sure, let's not examine the nature of sexual perversions, that just wouldn't do. There's nothing to see there, everything is rosy. Pedophiles in the Church, high rates of suicide? Let's blame the 'closet' because conscience can't possibly play any role, nobody is supposed to have a conscience, it's unscientific.

  37. BCM says:

    @ W. C. Taqiyya – you make some valid points which are painfully being ignored by the other commenters here.

  38. Lizard says:

    @Steven: It's a reasonable analogy. I see the distinctive point being that we're moving from things that do measurable, physical, damage to things that do psychological damage, much harder to measure or control, and that opens a tremendous number of doors. (I believe in most states, a tattoo artist can provide tattoos to older teens with parental consent; I'm not sure if there's a lower age limit or not.)

    @Orv: Unless there's aspects to "reparative therapy" that I'm unaware of, it definitely tilts to "a". It's a form of purely mental abuse which, for reasons more practical than moral, tends to be legal.

    @WC: "conscience" does play a role; the problem is, people are made to feel guilty over something that should not inspire guilt. Being attracted to the same gender, or to both genders in varying proportion, is not criminal, immoral, unethical, or anything else that should invoke conscience, in a sane society. Ah, who am I kidding? I'm with Grifter on this… the minute someone starts tossing around "gays are pedophiles", it's time to remind myself of what Mr. Swift so wisely said: "You cannot reason someone out of what they were never reasoned into."

    @Moses: If sexual orientation were purely a matter of "convincing oneself", logically, most people would be bisexual — as Woody Allen noted, it doubles your chances of a date on Saturday night. Obviously, that's not the case. People who are wholly or exclusively homosexual must contend with a dramatically smaller choice of potential partners, not to mention the myriad social/cultural/legal obstacles. That's just in the relatively liberal West. Why would people in parts of the world where homosexuality is a capital crime EVER "choose" to be gay? (I found Orson Scott Card's "explanation" for this to be very… telling. He posited that gay sex is much better than straight sex (so good, apparently, it's worth risking the death penalty) and gay couples, being of the same gender, get along much better than heterosexual couples, who are, he thinks, inherently incompatible and have to constantly struggle to stay together, while same-gender couples have no such issues. Yeah. Yeah, Mr. Card. So, since you're that deep in the closet, tell me, what's happening in Narnia now?)

  39. Orv says:

    @W.C. Taquiyya: If someone feels sexual urges that they believe will send them to hell if not repressed, I would imagine the priesthood with its prohibition on sex of any kind would seem like a pretty appealing choice. For that reason I suspect the priesthood has a higher percentage of both pedophiles and homosexuals than the general public. I would be leery of assuming it's representative of society as a whole.

    As for your comment to William, all I can say is personally I'm much less depressed and less prone to suicidal thoughts now that I'm not in a religion that forced me to constantly pretend to be something I'm not. I've seen this on other people too. But I recognize this is argument by anecdote and YMMV. Some people put on false masks more easily than I do, and those people are probably happier in the church than I was.

  40. jb says:

    The question, then, is whether the conversion therapy works. If it works, then it's evil but outside the bounds of medical regulators. If it doesn't work, then it's snake oil and can be banned by the State, if nothing else for the "protection" of homophobe parents who would otherwise be swindled.

  41. Orv says:

    @Lizard: I liked the Doonesbury strip where, when asked why someone would "choose" to be gay in the face of heavy discrimination, a character said, "I hear the food is very good." ;)

  42. W. C. Taqiyya says:

    @ Orv. Whatever our individual opinions may be of the LGBT lifestyle, it is exclusively the proponents of that lifestyle who seek the police power of the state to quash any parental choice in therapy for their children. The LGBT folks are tolerant of everything they like and agree with. Congratulations for being successful infants. But, they are totally intolerant of other peoples lifestyle choices. Ironic much?

    As I made plain in my original post, I do not favor coercive therapy to cure homosexual indications in children who are by definition unsure and confused about their sexuality. But, parents need to parent. The government, if permitted to micro-manage parenting, even more than it already does, will be very dangerous. I'm quite sure if the shoe was on the other foot, the LGBT folks would not want the government to forbid all efforts to indoctrinate their children as they choose. Or to punish them for their lifestyle or whatever. Which could happen once that door is opened and the political winds change. What would the limits be? Think.

    The talk about being ostracized, persecuted and closeted is an old, tired cliche that never had much basis in reality. Those old sodomy laws were enforced mostly not at all. As in very, very rarely. So, get over the imaginary victimization and stop crying. What people do in their personal lives is their problem. I don't care if you are in the Church or out of it, I don't shill for a corrupt institution. Keep the police out of family counselling, go about your business and stop trying to force everyone into your sterile vision of Utopia.

    This discussion kinda reminds me of the South Park episode wherein the 'smart set' determined it was cool to reverse the flow of the alimentary canal. OK, smart set, keep on trucking. It's not my concern what other individuals do or how they raise their children and it's none of yours either.

  43. A Different William says:

    Why not treat it like California's cancerous materials. All practitioners of conversion therapy must wear a badge that says "This mental health professional is known to the state of California to be an abusive quack."

    More seriously I agree with refusing to license people who perform conversion therapy. I agree with most of Lizards points, but there is already good precedent for banning harmful drugs, chemicals and practices.
    There are some quite fuzzy edges in reality, and we should draw a line in some of them. However our legal system is designed to be malleable. We place the line as best we can, but if we misplace it there is a process for moving it.

    I do not quite agree with Lizard's leavers argument. In my experience 'my enemies' tend to build their own levers into the law when they are in power. Better to put in a well designed lever with safety catches now than wait for someone to put a poorly designed one in the same spot.

  44. Grifter says:

    @W.C. Taquiyya:

    Can you define what you mean by "hallmark", then? Because I interpreted it the same way Orv did, so clearly I just don't understand.

    @Lizard:

    I very much think the A/B is useful here, because I lean far more towards B, since I believe that licensed medical professionals have more obligations as regards their treatment than, say, priests in general. Do you agree with jb's point?

  45. Grifter says:

    @ W.C.:

    The talk about being ostracized, persecuted and closeted is an old, tired cliche that never had much basis in reality. Those old sodomy laws were enforced mostly not at all. As in very, very rarely. So, get over the imaginary victimization and stop crying.

    I'm going to try not to piss of our hosts by simply hurling invective. However, I think I can say this at least: You are misinformed and clearly bigoted.

    Just a simple two second search provides:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Shepard

    It may only be 2 examples, but I could easily and quickly find quite a few more if you continue to insist on things that are plainly and simply factually inaccurate.

  46. Lago says:

    Touchy subject.

    I suppose I would support such a law for the same reasons I would support a law banning genital mutilation to minors. The thing is, that's only assuming that's what the law actually does. I don't think the government should be able to tell you you can't seek such therapy as an adult.

  47. John David Galt says:

    Arguments about the value of "conversion therapy," and whether or not the therapists make promises they don't keep, are entirely beside the point.

    This issue is about the misuse of parental authority to force teenagers to go through a traumatic, coercive process that is likely to screw up that young person psychologically for the rest of his life. The only comparable recent issue in politics, therefore, is the attempt to force teenagers' parents to be told before they can get an abortion (which California voters have quite rightly voted down three times now).

    Perhaps a better answer would simply be to start a list of "choices" that parents have no right ever to force upon their offspring because they have effects lasting a long way into that person's adult life. Or simply lower the age of full adulthood to 16 or so. Or both.

    It's long since time that freedom included teenagers.

  48. Deadly Laigrek says:

    Ah, how I long for the day when none of this is necessary, and when the LGBT community is simply accepted as normal. Exactly 0 of my friends care about your sexual orientation, since it has no bearing on your worth as a human being. Hopefully, 20 years from now, the very things these laws are trying to legislate will be woefully obsolete.

    @ W. C. Taqiyya – I don't know if you know any people in the LGBT community, but I do, and I can tell you that they are a sight more tolerant than YOU are. My girlfriend is bisexual, and she demands tolerance, even tolerance of bigoted twats like you. But I can tell you, from personal experience, the LGBT community is just like the rest of us. It seems to me that power is more important to pedophiles than sexuality is – we just give adult males more access to young males than we do to young females, because we (rightfully) recognize that power (in any form) is a dangerous drug. I guarantee that if you gave most pedophiles access to only young girls instead of young boys, they would still go on being pedophiles. It's just what they do. Every gay person I've ever met is attracted to people who are an appropriate age for them (except for my friend who likes older guys, but that's a totally different story).

  49. Um, no.

    There is no such thing as a "First Amendment right to engage in fraud" or a "First Amendment right to engage in malpractice." Full stop.

    One can dance on the head of a pin all one wants regarding how malpractice should be defined and by whom — industry self-regulation, the legislative-administrative complex, the courts, or some combination thereof. But nowhere in the multiverse does this even remotely rise to the level of a "constitutional question."

  50. D1ll says:

    Hello Popehat crowd, longtime lurker first time poster here. I work in state politics in California, and have been following this bill for quite some time. It might be interesting to note the author of this bill has a reputation for carrying a legislative package that emphasizes media attention, often at the expense of policy. Sillier recent bills include banning specific kinds of hound hunting, prohibiting minors from using tanning machines, an anti-Westboro funeral protest bill (which was vetoed), and most recently, proposing to return the car tax to the pre-Gray Davis levels (this is perhaps the singularly most unpopular idea one could suggest in CA).

    Now that this bill is being discussed at sites like this and Volokh, I feel like I'm feeding the troll just by making my daily blog rounds. I try to tell myself I was here first, so it doesn't count.

  51. El Suerte says:

    I have a problem with all this pearl clutching.

    One of the big LGBT catagories is 'questioning.' This encompasses people with unresolved gender and sexual orientation issues. Ultimately they could be either trans or cis, or straight or gay. Or even switch back and forth as some people do as they continue to pursue their 'true' identity.

    Suppose we have a confused 'questioning' person who goes to a therapist to figure things out. Under the schema endorsed by this thread, if the person and his therapist wanted to explore his possible homosexuality, that would be fine and virtuous. But if they wanted to explore his possible heterosexuality, that would be perverse and evil.

  52. AlphaCentauri says:

    It's a difficult question. I think the only way to address it is to try to stick to precedents.

    You can't advertise a service you can't provide. There are laws against false advertising.

    You are responsible for medical/psychological malpractice to minors for their entire minority and several years after they become adults. That time could be lengthened by statute in cases where people typically do not become aware of harm immediately and where there are presumably good records available to protect the therapist.

    You can't abuse children regardless of the motivation. It doesn't matter if you're trying to make them heterosexual or trying to make them take out the trash; certain types of discipline are considered abusive.

    There are licensed therapists treating the same conditions for which clergy provide professional counseling already, and anyone can predict that the advice offered will differ based on which religious sect's clergy is doing the counseling.

    If you write a law to prevent child abuse, if you write laws to prevent professionals from advertising treatments that have not been demonstrated safe and effective in studies published in peer-reviewed literature, if you write laws to provide a sufficient level of legal responsibility for harm from therapy, then you will control the problem without having to get into the issue of telling doctors/therapists what they can discuss privately with a patient in the consultation room.

    BTW, as far as pedophile priests: Don't delude yourself into thinking the Catholic church is in any way unique. Sexual predators among the clergy of all denominations use their positions of influence to get access to children or to abuse their therapeutic relationship with adults. In the case of the Catholic church, there is a strong institution with vows of obedience, and people once believed they could report crimes to the institution and get appropriate action. After all, the Catholic church has the ability to reassign a man somewhere he'll never have contact with minors again, with no need for it to go to a criminal court. But the Church failed to exercise that power. Other faiths never had the power in the first place. The families of victims have to think long and hard about reporting abuse, since by going to the police, they will likely be known publicly as the people who sent a popular minister or rabbi to jail. Therapists who deal with adult victims of abuse see survivors from all religious faiths.

  53. Kevin says:

    @W. C. Taqiyya – Please go away. Preferably from Earth, but at a minimum from this blog.

  54. Kevin says:

    The talk about being ostracized, persecuted and closeted is an old, tired cliche that never had much basis in reality.

    @Ken – I don't mean to tell you how to run your blog – your living room and all that – but don't you think it's about time to pull out the "I eat paste" hammer?

    @W. C. Taqiyya @BCM – I would like to hereby request, for the entertainment of the Popehat readership, that the two of you snort each other's taints. Simunltaneously, 69-style. Pics or it didn't happen.

  55. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Grifter;

    First off, let me say that I think putting a teen into therapy to modify their (legal) behavior is a mistake that is highly likely to backfire horribly on the parents.

    But, having said that, I do not believe that in the present political atmosphere it is possible for a layman to know whether an effective 'Conversion Therapy' exists. The social forces arrayed to deny the possibility are powerful and not amenable to reason. The multiple assertions I read here that such therapy does not exist do not strike me as persuasive. In effect, while I do doubt that a real therapy exists, and further doubt that if it does it is a good idea, I also believe that the assertions I see that it does NOT exist are based largely on emotion and not on proof.

    Moreover, I think that to pass the smell test the proposed law should have to pass muster under BOTH assumptions.

    Again; I simply think that this is a matter where the State's historical ham-handedness makes its involvement ill-advised.

  56. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Thought; how hard would it be for a minor child to petition a California court to become an emancipated infant?

    Anybody know?

  57. AlphaCentauri says:

    I think any minor child with the courage to petition the court to be emancipated probably isn't one of the ones at risk of psychological collapse from this type of therapy. You're talking about parents so oblivious to their child's innate nature that they don't see the harm. These are parents who expect to impose their wills on children they see as blank slates, children whose slates were improperly inscribed by people with a "gay agenda" who "recruited" them. These kids have been raised from infancy to be afraid to express independent thought.

  58. PSniddy says:

    @Kevin

    So, you are asking the the state (Ken) to ban speech that you are uncomfortable with?

    You wish others gone because of what they are saying?

    You wish an interesting discussion stopped because one side doesn't comform to your point of view?

    Those actions seem to carry the faint whiff of censorius asshatery to me.

    As part of the readership of this blog, I find the give and take interesting.

  59. Ken says:

    @Glenchrist: Even the judge who denied the injunction conducted a lengthy analysis treating it as a serious question. Of course, that judge didn't have the benefit of a comment from you starting "Um, no." Maybe if you followed up with one starting with "Sigh . . . " it would sway me as well.

    @Kevin: I find the line of argument both familiar and revolting, and find it distasteful to have such creatures in my living room, but at the moment others seem to be dealing with the expression adequately.

  60. Lizard says:

    @Psniddy: Ken is not the state. Ken is the owner of private property, and we are his invited guests. He wants his guests to be happy, and that means occasionally tossing out the obnoxious drunk who won't shut up.

  61. Joe Pullen says:

    I’ve been watching this from afar so far having not felt the need to weigh in until now. I may not agree with certain viewpoints such as . . . .

    W.C. Taqiyya – is no There evidence that sexual preferences are anything other than choices, made either affirmatively or passively.

    But I would simply state conversely there is also no evidence that it is predominately a choice. Studies have been done to determine whether sexual preference is a choice or determined by other factors (genetic, hormonal, etc.). At this point all anyone can state with absolute fact is that question remains scientifically unanswered. While I might find someone’s comment interesting, it won’t carry much credibility with me unless it is backed up with facts. And, while I may personally believe homosexuality is predominately NOT a choice, I make that statement knowing it is opinion not fact.

    I think the more interesting point here, irrespective of certain viewpoints on homosexuality, is that it appears pretty much everyone has arrived at the same conclusion regarding the vileness of conversion therapy while also questioning the constitutionality of laws passed banning it. I like posts that make you think through issues in ways you might not have considered before.

    Mostly though I haven’t posted anything because I agreed 100% with Lizard’s posts – including eliminating legal levers that could be used for other purposes. Putting a law on the books to simply preclude a poorly constructed law later still creates issues.

  62. Grifter says:

    @C.S.P. Schofield:

    I don't think anyone here has attempted to rigorously prove that the therapies don't work, in much the same way neither me nor Lizard has posted proof that homeopathy doesn't work. However, it is a key point of the debate, considering it factors into the relative "quackery".

    If you're sitting there thinking "I do not accept that premise" despite the fact that this law in question specifically lists supporting evidence that it does not work, I would ask first whether you've done even a modicum of your own research on teh googles, and second what you would require.

    These supposed reparators have no data to back themselves up, and no science to support their position. The absence of good evidence of efficacy does not, in itself, prove something is ineffective (can't prove a negative!), but it does call the efficacy into question. Further, every "real" professional organization (APA, AMA, etc., which are organizations that you can certainly find fault with, but which are generally regarded as authoritative) condemns the practice completely.

    You can say "Well, they only say that because of TEH GAYZAGENDA", and perhaps you'd be right…but the burden would be on the reparators to show that their treatment works, and they have not done so. By trying to shift this debate away from the fact that their therapy does not work and, in some cases, causes clear harm, to the concept of their "First Amendment rights" is, on some level, disingenuous (though I do agree that that law seems to be flawed in its phrasing, not in a way that changes the practical application of it, but that nonetheless is problematic). Back when homosexuality was considered a mental illness, they tried to use these same techniques to "cure" them. They didn't work then, and they don't work now.

    @El Suerte:

    You would do well to actually read the opinions and/or the law itself. You are flatly incorrect that

    Under the schema endorsed by this thread, if the person and his therapist wanted to explore his possible homosexuality, that would be fine and virtuous. But if they wanted to explore his possible heterosexuality, that would be perverse and evil.

    The law itself is orientation-neutral, so you are flatly incorrect about the dichotomy's existence. And, in point of fact, the situation of "exploration" as you described it is not prohibited either way, nor should it. It prohibits attempts by a professional to change a person's orientation from one to another thing, because they don't work and can cause harm and are not accepted practices by any legitimate professional medical organization. If the orientation is not already known, and the provider is attempting to help the person explore their own self, that's as I read it perfectly fine by this law.

    "This bill would prohibit a mental health provider, as defined, from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts, as defined, with a patient under 18 years of age. The bill would provide that any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a patient under 18 years of age by a mental health provider shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall subject the provider to discipline by the provider’s licensing entity."

    (2) “Sexual orientation change efforts” does not include psychotherapies that: (A) provide acceptance, support, and understanding of clients or the facilitation of clients’ coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and (B) do not seek to change sexual orientation.

    @Lizard:

    Did you see my last to you? I'm still curious about whether you agree with jb's point.

    @Everybody:

    I was confused before about the consequences for violating this law; it seems to me that the worst that could happen is you lose your license to practice. Is that correct, or do those licensing agencies generally have broader power of, say, jailing?

  63. Dictatortot says:

    The problem that strikes me is, this is a psychological "treatment" whose PRIMARY outcomes–intended and actual–are intangible. One can empirically show that homoeopathy, Reiki, etc., are shams in a way that one can't for "conversion therapy." The APA's judgments aren't empirical in the same way that the AMA's usually are. By the same token, whatever direct harm these procedures do are arguably in the eye of the beholder (from a legal point of view). Real-world "secondary" outcomes (such as later depression, suicide, etc.) are impossible to trace empirically back to the procedure. So it seems to me that whatever our moral intuition tells us, the state doesn't have enough evidence to infer malpractice or harm here, and needs to reserve judgment accordingly … however maddening we may find it.

    P.S.: In a way, I'm not even 100% sure that empirical evidence of psychological harm would justify banning the practice. There are moral issues at work here–and depending on the religion or ethical system, morality and mental/emotional well-being can find themselves at cross-purposes. I don't care for the notion of a state that can enjoin its idea of the latter, at the expense of my idea of the former.

  64. Grifter says:

    @Dictatortot:

    There are all sorts of laws (although, as Lizard keeps correctly pointing out, the list is by no means comprehensive) relating to the proper practice of medicine. Again, it's worth pointing out that the law doesn't outlaw the practice, but rather says that it shall be considered outside the scope of professional conduct for which these people are licensed. The therapy will still exist, just like Reiki and homeopathy still exist. But it will not be legitimized by the licensing of the state.

  65. William says:

    W.C. Taqiyya: "Sure, let's not examine the nature of sexual perversions, that just wouldn't do."

    Was that present anywhere in my statement? More to the point, you've already tipped your hand talking about "sexual perversions." Out of the box you're engaging in judgement and acting indignant that someone might not share your values. I talk about sexuality on a daily basis with my patients, we talk about the nature of their desires, we try to understand where they came from and why. What I don't do, and what I hold would be deeply unethical to do (especially with a minor), is come to the consulting room with a judgement and an agenda. If I have a patient who is anxious about their sexuality my goal is to help them understand their sexuality and get rid of the anxiety, who they end up deciding to have sex with once they have all the information is utterly irrelevant to me.

    "Conversion therapy" fails because it runs contrary to what we know about human sexuality, lacks any kind of internally consistent or coherent theoretical framework, and seeks to change human behavior in the absence of harm. Thats a fairly unique cluster of traits. Maybe it would be appropriate in a religious context, but it has no more place in a clinician's work then trying to change someone's political opinions or religious beliefs. Psychologists aren't there to enforce mores or influence choices, they're there to allow patients to make more informed choices about their lives.

    El Seurte: "Suppose we have a confused 'questioning' person who goes to a therapist to figure things out. Under the schema endorsed by this thread, if the person and his therapist wanted to explore his possible homosexuality, that would be fine and virtuous. But if they wanted to explore his possible heterosexuality, that would be perverse and evil."

    Not really. That happens in therapy all the time. If you're working with adolescents you're practically guaranteed to have this discussion at some point with virtually every patient who comes to your couch. The difference between exploring sexuality and conversion therapy is the actions of the therapist. When I have a patient who is questioning the goals of my treatment are unchanged from any other situation: I try to help a patient understand their experience in order to reduce anxiety which will in turn reduce unpleasant symptoms. Who they end up wanting to have sex with is important only so far as it informs the patient about themselves. With conversion therapy, there is a preordained goal: make them straight. That kind of approach isn't likely to reduce symptoms or anxiety even if the patient ends up keeping his hands off same sex partners.

  66. piperTom says:

    Charles Collom said "If [something], then it is time to pack up California's health regulatory system and call it a day."

    Yes, yes it is. Government is doing a lousey job of health related regulation. The market place of information can do better.

  67. Grifter says:

    @piperTom:

    No, it can't. Because without meaningful regulation to protect consumers, the "information" found will be worthless. Garbage in, garbage out, as they say.

  68. W. C. Taqiyya says:

    @ Kevin. "Please go away. Preferably from Earth, but at a minimum from this blog."

    Thanks for proving my point buddy.

  69. Dictatortot says:

    Grifter: Ken said simply that the California law "banned" the practice–which, to my mind, implied a tout court proscription. If we're merely talking about state licensing, that does complicate things a bit. Still, I'd the relative impossibility of determining psychological "quackery" with any rigor should maybe make the state correspondingly less cavalier in withholding licensure, whatever the APA has to say about the practice.

  70. Grifter says:

    @Dictatortot:

    Well, like I said, read the law yourself; SB 1172.

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201120120SB1172

    And while I think you dropped a word or so from your statement, I think I get the gist, and I disagree wholeheartedly that you can't determine psychological "quackery". I would concede it is often harder to determine, but the many of the mechanisms are the same: Are you ignoring the scientific method? Are you willing to ignore things that go against your premise because you want your premise so much? Do you have absolutely no rational framework for your treatment? Then you're probably a quack.

  71. Lizard says:

    @WC Assuming your point is "When people say silly things, they will be laughed at", then, I do not think anyone disagrees, especially on a site that tends to draw people prone to sarcasm and not prone to feigning tolerance in the name of sparing someone's delicate feelings.

    ("But what about teh gayz???", you ask. My tolerance for gays is not feigned, and it's not motivated by my concern for their feelings, except to the very generic extent that as a semi-civilized human being, I prefer not to act like a jerk towards people who haven't done anything I consider offensive.)

    More generally, I am still having a hard time drawing a line between the thousands of psychologically atrocious things people are, and must be, allowed to do to each other in our society (allowed by law, not free from social opprobrium), and paying someone else to inflict psychological harm on a child. What's the difference, in the eyes of the law, between a parent saying to their child "Homosexuality is sin and if you're gay, it's because you're possessed by gay demons and will go to hell, and every time you think lustful thoughts about someone of the same gender, you make Jesus cry and Satan smile!", and having a "psychologist" tell them the same thing? We can't ban the former; can we ban the latter, if the harm inflicted is equal? Does the source of the harm matter more than the harm itself? I know what my instinctive, gut, reaction, is — but my brain knows not to trust my gut, even if it is an order of magnitude larger.

  72. Lizard says:

    @Grifter: I think one of the issues that makes it harder to judge psychological quackery is that while it's easy to establish physiological norms (test enough people, see what their body temperature is, boom, that's "normal"), psychological norms tend to be measured by conformity to whatever the prevailing culture demands. (I ought to note, to quiet the usual suspects, that since homosexuality has existed in every documented human culture, it's pretty much as normal as any human behavior can be, lending further support, as if it were needed, to the fact the sexual orientation is heavily determined by biology. Sperm meets egg, and your general tendencies towards what turns you on are set. Nurture lets you extend the curve of attraction to either side of that initial setting, but it ain't moving, and the curve can only stretch so far.)

    It's harder to apply the scientific method to psychology, as humans can lie (knowingly or otherwise), and how do you establish control groups? What's a suitable "placebo" therapy that will still convince the subject they're being correctly treated?

  73. LT says:

    @WC Hold up, hold up, hold up. I don't generally throw on my social-worker/psychologist hats on, as I left the professions a while back, but you're making me do so now. Assuming that all those who molest children have an actual sexual attraction to children is an ENORMOUS fallacy. The majority of them don't. Also, not all boys are molested by men. There are women offenders as well. So blanketing them all with the actual paraphilia is, while easy, completely wrong.

    Now. Homosexuality and chance of being a pedo are not related. Full stop. No empirical evidence exists from reliable sources. From hysterical religious idiots who want to believe that being gay is a sin, maybe, but they're not actual experts.

    Child molestation stems from, like rape, the need for power and control. Few actually do it because they're attracted to the prepubescent body. They like the feeling of authority and control and power they get. Which has nothing to do with sexual orientation and everything to do with being a sick bastard.

    I suppose what I'm trying to say, WC, is that your arguments are, frankly, dripping with prejudice and misdirection and I find them revolting.

    So with THAT clared up… conversion therapy. No. I've had too many gay/trans clients and have too many gay/trans friends to believe for a second that 1) being gay is a danger to society or 2) that conversion therapy is anything other than a ruse for people to try and rid their children of the things they are so horribly prejudiced of. It'd be like trying to treat cancer with arsenic. We know it's dangerous and unhealthy, so we don't allow it; why allow this?

  74. Jyjon says:

    Evil hm? I'm surprised you didn't scream 'think of the children' as well. The concept of evil is subjective and metaphysic mental masturbation.

    This isn't my preferred topic for mental masturbation. I prefer my mental masturbation not to include children.

  75. W. C. Taqiyya says:

    @ William. First of all, please reread my original post. Because we seem to be in substantial agreement regarding the conduct and purpose of family therapy. Maybe not in every particular; but I also disapprove of coercion, especially of children. And I explained why. I also explained why legislating against such charlatanism is even more dangerous. We will not agree on that point and that is OK. We simply draw the line between parental authority and that of the State at different places.

    Which reminds me of the newly revived popularity of scared straight. You may have seen this 'therapy' displayed in all it's glory on TV. I remember the first time they dredged up this Pavlovian behavior modification crap. It's chicanery at it's most repulsive. I wonder, do you approve of inflicting terror on teens to coerce them into being 'good' little citizens? If not, I wonder if you have fully analyzed the dangers of a legal framework which glorifies such a spectacle? And, if you have considered the dangers inevitably created by the micro-legislation of parenting and child rearing? No response is required, just think about it.

    To your most recent question about where examining the nature of sexual deviance or perversion entered into the discussion. The short answer is, I got it from you. Right here:

    "The specific context of conversion therapy for minors is also cause for significant alarm. Suicide rates (both attempted and completed) are very, very high in the LGBT community and adolescence appears to be the developmental period in which LGBT persons are most at risk of serious self-harm. When you couple that with the fact that the closet and, more specifically, the social stigma around otherness is a significant contributor to these suicide rates you end up with a situation in which you engineer a more dangerous course of sexual identity development. Children who are born Catholics and later leave the church just aren't at the same kind of risk as LGBT youth. This is an evil, ineffective, actively dangerous technique aimed at restricting an individual's freedom of conscience before they have the ability to say no."

    Leaving aside our basic agreement about the ineffective and misguided coercion therapy which you repeat, you seem to largely ignore the beast in the room. Specifically, the very, very high rate of suicides in the young LGBT "community". Within which, as "communities" go, each group has about as much affinity for each other as cats and dogs. But, that's a point that can wait. You brush aside the very serious problem of suicides by saying the cause, or some of it, is the "closet" or the, "social stigma around otherness". Then, you place some indirect blame on the Church and this new, seldom used 'therapy'. I won't bother much with your very clumsy use of the phrase, "born Catholics". It's just too much. Anyway, my question was indeed pertinent because your non-explanation, non-analysis about the cause of all those suicides falls a good bit short. Come now professor, surely you can do better than blame "social stigma" and the "closet"? For instance, how does the suicide rates of other socially stigmatized groups compare with the allegedly stigmatized LGBT's? For instance, drug addicts, convicts, alcoholics, homeless veterans, hookers, Christians, Jews, etc? Inquiring minds would like to know. If the suicide rates are comparable and if not, why not? In addition, at what rate are those suicidal youths also afflicted with substance abuse, prostitution and poverty? I don't expect a cogent reply. It might be far too politically incorrect to fill in those relevant blanks.

    Finally, speaking of lines, where would a modern 'tolerant' person like Kevin draw the line on sexual deviance? Is it sex with birds? Children under ten years old? Would it be 'safe' to say sex with the dead is a perversion? I ask because some people are upset by the mathematics of it. You see, deviation from the norm is a question of numbers. Pretending to be normal, while deviating from it, is an offense against math. How deviant are the hetero couple who like a bit of bondage? A little? How about those into feet? Just a bit? If only we could get the government to construct a bell curve for us, we would know exactly how deviant everyone is. More importantly, Kevin would be happy because he could tell us when it's OK to use certain descriptive words and when it isn't. Winning!

  76. En Passant says:

    C. S. P. Schofield wrote Dec 6, 2012 @6:37 am:

    Thought; how hard would it be for a minor child to petition a California court to become an emancipated infant?

    Here is a synopsis:

    California law states in order to get a declaration of emancipation from a judge, the minor have to prove ALL of the following criteria. The minor must be at least 14 years old, the minor must not want live with their parents and the parents do not mind if the minor moves out, the minor can handle their own money, the minor is employed and has a legal way to make money.

    Synopsis of the synopsis: It's harder without parent's permission.

  77. Deadly Laigrek says:

    @LT – I couldn't have said it better.

    @WC – It's okay. I understand where you're coming from now. You clearly just don't understand the LGBT community at large and are instead content to default to monkey behavior – fear what we don't understand. And I think your comments are transparent and insipid, especially at the end there. I think we all know where anything deviating from your "norm" (which, by the way, is a complete fallacy, and has never actually been the norm) would fall on your bell curve.

  78. PSniddy says:

    @Lizard

    I'm well aware that Ken is not a state. I failed to see the need to add a lengthy disclaimer explaining that I do indeed acknolwedge that this is Ken's House and His Rules.

    I (incorrectly) figured people would see what I did there and maybe chuckle, roll their eyes at the stupidity, wonder why i bothered to even post such drivle or some reaction I can't come up at the moment. That is assuming they even gave it a thought. However, in full disclosure, I did fail to forsee that someone would actually think I really thought Ken was a state.

    Thanks for teaching me a lesson. And for that, I thank you.

  79. Lizard says:

    @PSniddy: I plead Poe's.

  80. Ken says:

    Now I've lost track. Am I a state or not?

  81. Waldo says:

    I'm trying to think of the parade of horribles that could come about by upholding this law. I'm having a hard time imagining all the bad things that state legislatures could do if California is allowed to criminalize reparative therapy.

  82. W. C. Taqiyya says:

    @ LT. Yadda yadda. Fine, the data sucks, no argument. So slapping another label on it makes it better? Now you say power motivates pedophiles. That changes what, pray tell? That illuminates our understanding how? That's the trouble with you mealy mouthed pseudo scientific shamans, you think the labels are what matters. Yet, they explain nothing. Get thee to a place of study and do your homework, get some reliable data and when you come back be prepared to explain something. Swapping sexual desire with power might be considered some slick insight where you come from, but I wasn't born last night. Hey, if it's motivated by power, can we call it a baseball crime? Better yet, let's call it the 'politicians syndrome'. That sounds almost scientific. Go now. When you return I want a complete explanation as to when, where, how and why pedophiles lose control of their urge for power, sex or baseball. Kids these days…

  83. PSniddy says:

    @Lizard

    It's on me. I should have used a winky or something. i'll try better next time.

    @Ken

    Far be it from me to tell you what you are or are not. I'm not here to judge. I confess I may have put you in a state of confusion.

  84. Lizard says:

    How Not To Earn Respect On The Internet: When someone enters a debate between on a technical field primarily between laymen, but is not a layman, and is, in fact, an actual professional in the field under discussion, and he states the prevailing knowledge in that field, be sure to reply, "Yeah, whatever, smarty-pants. Your professional experience and training conflict with what I think I heard once from this guy I know who read some article somewhere about it, so, nuts to you!"

    For extra credit, freely admit your data is poor, incomplete, and possibly mythical, but you still believe it, and if he were smart, he would, too.

  85. Grifter says:

    @Ken:

    I think of you more as a Principality.

    @W.C. Taqiyya:

    You really, really don't undestand anything about these subjects do you?

    To answer your question ("That changes what, pray tell? That illuminates our understanding how?"): The point being made was that these people, this subclass of monsters that LT was referencing are not, per se, homosexuals. They are monstrous pansexuals. I don't use bi, the more common term, because I want to clarify very much that to these people (and I use that term loosely) do it solely for power dynamics, are not sexually attracted to the boys necessarily, but to the power dynamic which the sex involved is incidental at best.

    You keep making assertions and comments with no basis in fact and showing that you don't have a firm grasp of the reality of other people who are different than you. You asserted that there is some direct link between homosexuality and pedophilia, then tried to back away from it and claim you never said it, but never actually explained how " Sexual abuse of children is a hallmark of homosexuality" was meant any other way, even when asked. But I'm also trying hard to give you the benefit of the doubt, as you seemed to be trying to defend your use of "deviant" on the basis of it being "different from the norm" while completely ignoring the connotative load that word comes with.

    @Lizard:

    How many points was the "mealy mouthed pseudo scientific shamans" line worth?

  86. Mary says:

    @WC many things are motivated by power. Internet commenting, certainly. Happily, motivation does not make things criminal. Actions do.

    Then again, you insinuate that sex with birds follows logically from sex with consenting adults, and invoke 'math' and 'statistics' with the understanding and grace of a particularly dim cargo cultist so I'm at peace with ignoring your legal insights.

  87. Kevin says:

    @W. C. Taqiyya

    Thanks for proving my point buddy.

    I'm not your buddy, pal.

    Finally, speaking of lines, where would a modern 'tolerant' person like Kevin draw the line on sexual deviance? Is it sex with birds?

    Personally, I would draw the line at sex with you.

    More importantly, Kevin would be happy because he could tell us when it's OK to use certain descriptive words and when it isn't.

    I have no problem with words – words are just tools for communicating ideas. It's your ideas that are idiotic. By all means, use whatever descriptive words you feel most effective to communicate your ideas… otherwise, how would we know that you're an idiot?

    Honestly though, "idiot" doesn't really capture it… it's not a lack of intelligence that's the problem here. Someone who can, with a presumably straight face, claim that "the talk about being ostracized, persecuted and closeted is an old, tired cliche that never had much basis in reality" is someone who has completely lost touch with reality. Trying to rationally argue someone out of such a belief is like shouting at a deaf man. Originally I was going to compare it to Creationism, but that isn't even strong enough… it's more like Flat-Eartherism: disproving it doesn't even require any inductive/deductive step, it just requires direct observation of the world in front of your face.

    In conclusion: less talking, more taint-snorting.

  88. LT says:

    @WC – I speak not just as an abstract student of psychology regarding the subject. I speak having counseled child molesters and pedophiles directly in a professional manner, and from personal family experience. Power motivates because these creatures feel a lack of power, or were abused themselves, or have a pathological need to be validated, or need to be dominant- all this is documented in interviews with molesters themselves as well as with victims. Do a damned Google search and you'll find books upon books from psychologists, Christian psychologists, every walk of life who will tell you exactly what I just did.

    And please, do ignore the difference between child molesters and true pedophiles some more. It increases your look of ignorance some more.

    As this is a topic I can very easily get over-emotional and very, very angry about very quickly, I'm going to rein myself in here. Though it hurts to see someone dismiss the idea of caring and empathy in psychology as a mere tool of 'pseudo scientific shamanism'… well, my current job is helping to protect your freedom of speech, so I won't demand you stop doing so. I can feel sorry for you being so ignorant, and I'd invite you to snort my taint if I actually wanted you within ten feet of me, but I'll defend your right to insult me. Not that I'm particularly thrilled with it, but still.

    @Lizard- Thanks. I got a good laugh out of that one.

    @Ken- Maybe you should look into that. I hear being a state has its privileges. Though then you'd have to send delegates to Congress, and that'd get old real quick.

  89. W. C. Taqiyya says:

    @ LT. Dude, I just have one more question. Why do you feel in the least bit competent to counsel those "creatures" when you clearly lack any objectivity? "Creatures", really? Not to worry, nobody else noticed that your self-control is shattered. And, don't worry, I take no offense, it's just words. Words from a guy I hope gets himself back together sooner rather than later. I like to count to ten. Thanks for the Google hint and your voluntary confirmation that paying 'professionals' like you is a complete waste of money.

  90. Joe Pullen says:

    Now I've lost track. Am I a state or not?

    @Ken, nope only in a "state" of confusion. But not to worry I hear conversion therapy can clear that right up :-)

  91. LT says:

    @WC- Who said I lacked objectivity? Having a personal opinion =/= being unable to be objective. I despise pedophiles. That in no way impeded my ability to give them the best assistance I could. If I didn't think I could push my own feelings aside, I would have recused myself from the caseload. It's called 'being professional'. Lawyers do it too- they may loathe who they represent, but they still have to put that aside and do their best to represent them.

    You have no real argument besides 'I hate science and homos, raar', so it's down to snide comments? OK. Whatever makes you happy. <3

  92. Lizard says:

    @LT: Great little heads I win, tails you lose, game they've got there, eh wot?

    If you despise pedophiles, you lack objectivity.

    If you DON'T despise pedophiles, you obviously sympathize with them.

    Either way, your professional knowledge can be safely dismissed, right?

  93. AlphaCentauri says:

    Actually, I would also draw the line at using dehumanizing language when describing a client. You can and should find his crimes disgusting, and as a professional, you have to be able to compartmentalize that emotion while providing treatment, just as you would if you were a physician and a drunk driver who'd caused an accident arrived in the ER with his eye dangling from its socket and his jaw ripped off.

    But I think it's important to try not to lose sight of the fact that you are treating a human being and to try to identify that spark within him that rises above the term "creature." Many of the perpetrators are former victims themselves. We don't understand much about the process that creates the mind of a child molester. Our unwillingness to see them as humans may stem in part from our need to reassure ourselves that they are not like us and that no one we love could ever turn out like that.

  94. A Different William says:

    I am sorry to burst the bubble, but taint sniffing is counter productive here.

    The relationship of disgust to social conservatism is very strong.
    (Reference: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02699930802110007)

    Having WC sniff your taint is only going to increase her/his social conservativeness. That is, unless you keep your taint very clean, scented, and appealing.

    Yes, I know with the cited article I am confusing cause and effect, but there are peer reviewed studies to support both directions. I am just too lazy to google the other ones.

  95. Grifter says:

    I would like to point out that I was using the term "monsters" and said I applied the term "people" only loosely. So using creatures is a step up from the level of dialogue I was at.

    It's also a relatively common shrink thing (no offense, LT).

    My own made up guesstimate of why that is:
    Creatures is a way to distance oneself while slightly condescending (I hear it most often when professionals are talking about kids…"Newborns are remarkably complex creatures" and such). There was an archaic use of the word to refer to people below one's social station (liberal sprinkles of "the pitiful creature looked so sad in his rags" etc.)

    I doubt LT calls them "creatures" to their face and probably wouldn't if talking about a specific client.

    Part of compartmentalizing sometimes is establishing a distance between treatment mode and regular life, and part of that is being able to express that which you compartmentalized away when you were actually doing treatment.

    But LT can do his or her own defending, I'm sure.

  96. W. C. Taqiyya says:

    @ LT. This is too easy, he thinks, gently patting LT's head and softly speaking the healing words of comfort and justification he needs to hear. Now, now nobody said anything about losing control dear boy, I feel your pain and will help you make everything unpleasant go away. You have complete control over your emotions. You can forget about those hateful creatures you hate so much because they abused your child or you were abused as a youngster or — fill in the blank. You are a professional who can speak and think and feel professionally, on demand. Even if you lose control, you don't really because you can speak professionally and act professionally. Now, and only if you must, give yourself ten whacks with the paddle. That's a good boy. Now sleep, sleeeeeep.

    "As this is a topic I can very easily get over-emotional and very, very angry about very quickly, I'm going to rein myself in here."

    Sure dude, whatever you say. You are very objective. For the record, if you eat a bullet, it's not my fault. I think you are aces and completely competent in every respect. Your wisdom supersedes everything, your control and knowledge of all things pedophile related is almost Godlike. You have the power to control when you feel and how you feel. Nothing about baseball or sex or power can alter you from your complete objectivity. In comparison to your professional expertise, Google can only wonder. See? You guys are so right, LT's "power dynamic" totally worked. I'm cured! And I promise not to ignore the differences between pedophiles and child abusers, just as soon as LT tells me what they are.

    Just one more thing, who was I supposed to hate again? I lost track.

  97. Kevin says:

    @W. C. Taqiyya : I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree. I ate paste once in kindergarten, and I distinctly remember it having quite an unpleasant flavor.

    To each his own though.

  98. Ken says:

    OK, WC: you're a dick. You're not welcome. Please go away.

  99. Grifter says:

    @Kevin:

    Your school must have had that toxic stuff. First thing I learned to read was "Non-toxic". And I swear, there was some kind of paste or glue that tasted kind of sweet.

    Crayons, however, never taste like their color.

  100. Deadly Laigrek says:

    @Ken – About time you asked that question.

    Also, I think we should secede from the United States of America. They're so last year. We could form The New Republic of Ken, wherein censorious asshats are forced to snort your taint :P

  101. princessartemis says:

    Kevin clearly never tried the kind with wintergreen in it. If they didn't want people to eat it in kindergarten, they shouldn't have made it taste good!

  102. Deadly Laigrek says:

    Retraction: "told him to bugger off" instead of "asked that question". Turns out sleep is kinda important for the whole paying attention thing

  103. M. says:

    Paste is delicious. I'm a connoisseur of paste myself. Have y'all checked out Williams-Sonoma's collection of fine, gourmet pastes? I have this fantastic vintage library paste from 1979 that I'm saving for the next time the gay comes up here. I mean, now that I know what happens when it does.

  104. M. says:

    Well, anywhere on the Internet really

  105. ThOR says:

    Dear Ken,

    For many years I worked as a volunteer basketball coach at a neighborhood grammar school. The enrollment at the school was primarily Hispanic and Asian, though there were whites and blacks, as well.

    In what became a regular early-season routine, year after year, mothers showed up at my practices dragging their reluctant sons along, insisting that they join the team. Why did these mothers (it was always mothers, never fathers) want their sons on the team? Because they had become horrified by the feminization of their male offspring – if there is something our schools do really well, it is to feminize boys. I heard these motherly concerns numerous times and expressed in different ways. A few of the mothers were honest enough to tell me, sometimes tearfully and in broken English, that they feared their son was becoming gay.

    Turning passive and timid – and often openly effeminate – boys into competitive and confident basketball players was not an easy task, but it became a regular part of my job. Have you ever seen a bunch of passive, timid boys try to rebound a ball? It would appear comic, if it weren’t so tragic – these are nothing like the boys of my youth. At the beginning of each season, I couldn’t even get started on basketball drills and skills until I could coax a modicum of competitive behavior out of them. How did I do this? By choosing drills that emphasized physical contact and by turning every drill into a contest. Getting them to yell seemed to work too. There were winners and losers every day at practice. Even the most effeminate boys seemed to enjoy the competition and the rough and tumble.

    The experience my players had in the gym was completely different from their experiences in the classroom and on the playground. The school’s administration had made sure that there was no yelling, no physical contact, and absolutely no games that involved winners and losers on their playground. They didn’t even have an honor roll at this school (honor rolls, they felt, singled out winners and was cruel) and took great pride in handing out bumper stickers that read “All students are winners” at our school.

    I never promised a parent I would transform their child into anything other than a better basketball player, but I can’t think of a single player who didn’t leave the team a more confident and aggressive individual. I also can’t think of a single worried mother who wasn’t thrilled by the transformation in their child.

    I guess the question for you Ken is: Am I an evil-doer too? I’ve spoken with many other coaches who have had similar experiences. Are they counted among the loathsome too? Are we part of the pattern of sick and despicable abuse of vulnerable children?

    We live in a culture that feminizes boys and that tells us that homosexuality is “way cool.” Our children respond. I don’t see what’s wrong with a little intervention.

    Yours truly,

    ThOR

    Ps. I knew there was something wrong with our schools the day my son came home from kindergarten wearing fingernail polish that the teacher painted on him. When I groused to friend about it, he told me his son had experienced the same thing at a different school.

  106. M. says:

    Aggression and competitiveness are not uniquely male and haven't been for a long time. My college-age father circa 40 years ago was reluctant to play basketball with his female comrades because of their ruthlessly inefficient brutality – it was usual for him to leave the court with bruises and abrasions. That's why women's ice hockey leagues have stricter rules about physical contact than men's – we'd probably kill each other.

    Males wearing nail polish is merely turnabout. Not only is it common for highly masculine male celebrities to wear nail polish now, but there's actually a line of nail polish marketed towards men.

    Do you have daughters as well? Your perspective seems one-sided. Gender roles (or sex roles if you're being pedantic) are archaic and gradually lose relevance as culture evolves. It's your choice if you don't want to get with the program, but to those of us who aren't prone to giving a darn what people do as long as no one is harmed without consent, you look like some dude with his pants around his ribcage shouting at the kids to get off his lawn.

  107. M. says:

    *ruthlessly efficient, rather

  108. Scott "Exceedingly Enraged" Jacobs says:

    W.C., you vile, loathsome creature…

    Why do you feel in the least bit competent to counsel those "creatures" when you clearly lack any objectivity? "Creatures", really?

    So you have trouble viewing gays as people, but if someone should hold a poor view of a child molester or a rapist, you're going to cast about for a fainting couch?

    I really don't have the words required to express my hate of you and those like you. You are less of a person than the most vile of predators, because you couch your words in a pretext of rationality. You are like the racist that does, in fact, use code words to deliver their message under the radar of normal, decent society.

    If you were on fire, and I had a bottle of water, I would drink the water.

  109. Ken says:

    I guess the question for you Ken is: Am I an evil-doer too? I’ve spoken with many other coaches who have had similar experiences. Are they counted among the loathsome too? Are we part of the pattern of sick and despicable abuse of vulnerable children?

    Not necessarily, ThOR. You seem kind of prone to conflating different concepts, though.

    Athletic ability is neither masculine nor feminine. Some people — people I regard as tiresome losers — think that way, but it's a stereotype not worthy of respect.

    Athletic ability is not "gay" or "straight." Junior high school boys, and people with the mentality of junior high school boys, sometimes think so — that's why losers snigger at jokes about female athletes being lesbians — but there are plenty of straight female athletes, and gay male athletes, and men with no athletic ability whatsoever who would nail every women in sight if they could.

    Schools do, indeed, increasingly discourage running and jumping and exuberant behavior — for boys and girls. I've made fun of it for years. But characterizing it as "feminizing" is Coulter/Limbaugh-level dreck, not worthy of being taken seriously. The notion that schools are trying to turn boys gay is, well, hysterical. Schools are paralyzed by liability issues and by a mentality of increasing individual subservience to the state, which is neither gay nor straight. Or are you suggesting that banning honor rolls — something I've seen as well — is somehow "feminizing?"

    You say that you transform kids into better players, which is great. You say you make them more aggressive — which, if you mean more confident and determined, is great. (If you mean you turn them into deliberately-fouling elbow-throwing entitled bad-sportsman dipshits, then it's not. Know what I've noticed? Kids trained to play dirty are usually the ones who cry when they lose.)

    So I guess what I'm saying is that you are jumbling a bunch of stuff together, ThOR. If you're telling yourself you're preventing kids from turning gay by teaching them basketball, I think you're deluded and silly but relatively harmless. If mothers of the kids you trained are thrilled because now little Johnny won't be gay because he can sink a 3-pointer, they're deluded. If you think you're fighting against boys being "effeminate," I think you're kind of an asshole, but not necessarily evil, depending on what you do about it. If you single out boys you see as "effeminate" for abuse, then yes, you probably are — a grown-up bully, not worthy of any respect.

    I have no problem with competition. I have no problem with excellence. I have no problem with some people succeeding and some failing. Thinking that gays don't like competition is, well, kind of gay. It was the great Gore Vidal, most definitely not straight, who said "It is not enough that I succeed — others must fail." Of course, I learned that by reading, which some people in our culture — people not worthy of respect, people not to be taken seriously — think is kind of gay. Books and words and thoughts and ideas — all so very terribly gay. Sports! That's never gay.

    Fondly, but not in a gay way,

    Ken

    P.S. I understand that you're upset, but I really don't think a school can turn your son gay by painting his nails. But it's silly for a school to be painting anybody's nails, girl or boy, isn't it?

  110. Chris R. says:

    I hear electroshock therapy does wonders for the gay. "Ride the current to a more heterosexual you."

  111. William says:

    W.C. Taqiyya: Leaving aside your…backhanded style of argumentation (being an adult I'll call you a passive little prick so we can move on) I'd like to address some of the points you seem to not expect a reply on.

    1) Let me be clear: I don't have much more respect for the authority of parents than for the authority of the state. Rights come with our births, not our voter ID cards. If a kid desperately wants to pray the gay away they can wait till they're 18 when their consent can be meaningful. Or they can go see a priest. I don't think either of those is going to amount to much, and I won't be a party to either, but I don't much care what consenting adults do in their spare time.

    The problem, here, is that minors don't really get to consent. They don't get to say no. These are treatments which, for at least some significant portion of the minors who experience them, will be inflicted. Thats wrong, its unethical, and I won't shed a tear for the lost authority of a parent so morally repellent as to entertain the idea. I'm not claiming to be non-judgmental, I'm judgmental as hell here. I judge parents who would harm their children because of the vile prejudice of men who died thousands of years ago. If their rights come into conflict with the rights of their children I have absolutely no qualms with using the coercive power of the state to slap them the fuck down anymore than I would have a problem with banning female (or male) circumcision.

    2) Scared straight is a foolish program but I'd hesitate to call it therapy. Not everything designed to change behavior is a therapy. Hell, the best therapeutic techniques I've encountered don't intend to change behavior at all. I find the legal framework unjust and unfortunate. I also have the ability to think with enough nuance that I can recognize the difference between the state terrorizing children into ersatz compliance and the state choosing not to license individuals who would help parents terrorize their own children into a similar state of feigned submission. Frankly, I rarely fret too much when one group of bastards assaults another group of bastards because both tend to be substantially weakened.

    3) The scare quotes around "communities" tells me a lot about your position. I take solace in the knowledge that, you know, your farcical moral judgments are dying and you'll soon find yourself in the company of eugenicists, white nationalists, and communists, screeching at a world that no longer even finds you interesting and distracting yourself from your crushing irrelevance by plotting a glorious return to hegemony that will always be just a few years away. Your tears are delicious.

    4) You're right, no one is "born Catholic." Much like conversion therapy, someone has to be dragged kicking and screaming by their parents before they can be beaten down into being ashamed of their junk.

    5) If you want to talk about intersectionality, I'm game. Feel free to form a cogent idea and say what you mean instead of pussy fotting around with intimations and bullshit. I'm not terribly interested in playing "gotcha."

    6) When it comes to deviance, I take a pretty simple view: we're all polymorphous perverse and I don't really much care what gets you off so long as everyone is capable of informed consent. Anything else leads to the powerful picking winners and assholes on the internet trying to manufacture a right to oppress others by claiming the government is oppressing the poor, powerful tyrants.

    7) You seem really fixated on pedophilia and bestiality. Do you need a referral?

  112. Scott Jacobs says:

    Banning the practice for use against those under 18 is not an issue. If it were banned in it's entirety, that would be a different matter, as an adult can seek out whatever ridiculous, moronic, ineffective treatment they wish.

    Just ask Steve Jobs.

  113. Scott Jacobs says:

    Or they can go see a priest.

    Dunno, seems like that might backfire, you ask me…

    /cheap-shot

    Do you need a referral?

    To a mental-health professional, or to websites?

    Because I wager the prig has plenty of the latter bookmarked…

  114. Deadly Laigrek says:

    @Scott Jacobs – That was brutal. I love it. Please continue to lay the smackdown. I'm currently preparing some popcorn with extra butter for all involved. It's on the house.

  115. Deadly Laigrek says:

    Even WC. But he has to wear a gag if he comes. More pleasant for all involved (probably especially him) >:)

  116. Scott Jacobs says:

    Am I a state or not?

    Well, we hadn't wanted to say anything, Ken, but you have put on some weight since Thanksgiving…

  117. Kevin says:

    I don't understand why y'all won't lay off WC… just because YOU don't enjoy eating paste is no reason why he should be prevented from doing so in the privacy of his own home. Sheesh… show a little tolerance for differing tastes people!!!!

    @Scott Jacobs

    Just ask Steve Jobs.

  118. Jess says:

    @Kevin – good one :-) But also geesh – sorry I just ran across this today and had to um – well try to correct some of this poor persons "fatcs".

    There is no evidence that sexual preferences are anything other than choices, made either affirmatively or passively.

    @W. C. Taqiyya – there is no evidence that homosexuality IS a choice either.

    And no, the self-serving and coached testimony of adult homosexuals does not attain the status of evidence.

    Well now we begin to get a real clue about WCs bigoted viewpoint – anything a homosexual says must be coached. God forbid that we trust anything a gay says. W.C. Let me convey a story to you. Growing up (I was around 11) I had a girlfriend that realized she was different and was attracted to other girls. Yep that’s right – at age 11. She grew up in a very traditional home and was never exposed to any outside influences that would have led her down that path. Over the years I watched as she struggled with her feelings. She desperately wanted to NOT be gay. I suspect she would have gladly attempted conversion therapy. She clearly did not “choose” to be gay especially since she clearly did not WANT to be gay. But hey thanks for being dismissive of facts just because you think anything a gay person says can’t be “real”.

    As for being benign, the experience of the Catholic Church with its long infestation of homosexual pedophilia priests is sufficient answer.

    Sufficient answer to what? Oh wait that’s right we have the ridiculous follow up sentence from W. C. Taqiyya

    Sexual abuse of children is a hallmark of homosexuality.

    No it’s not. Just because a large contingent of pedophiles who happen to be of a homosexual persuasion ended up in the Catholic priesthood is not empirical evidence that homosexuals therefore predominately engage in sexual abuse of children. Note that WC is unable to cite any facts to support their flaming hypocritically bigoted viewpoint.

    W. C. Taqiyya then starts to contradict themselves as follows.

    The available literature on the topic strenuously avoids making any quantitative comparison between homosexuality and pedophiles

    Right – that’s because there isn’t a quantitative comparison to be made and therefor no evidence to back up your bigoted viewpoint. But that doesn't stop W.C. Taqiyya from twisting the facts.

    It may be most, some or all, we cannot know. And I didn't allege it was most or all, as you falsely claim.

    @ W. C. Taqiyya – but you DID allege just that. By stating sexual abuse is a “hallmark” of homosexuality – your exact words – you are alleging “all”. To state something is a “hallmark” is to state it is a defining characteristic of “all” of whatever subject is being related. Go pick up a dictionary and learn what “hallmark” means.

    But, the literature does admit that most offenders favor one sex over another.

    @W. C. Tamiya – that’s because homosexuality and pedophilia are not the same thing. Surely you’re not doing something so stupid as to state they are, or are you?

    Since it's politically incorrect to state the relationship between homosexuals and pedophiles who abuse boys, they don't.

    @W. C. Taqiyya What does being politically correct have to do with anything. Do you really think the people here on this forum give a shit about being politically correct?

    But, since most offenders favor one sex and homosexuals prefer males, you can draw your own conclusions. I conclude it is a hallmark, the literature supports me.

    @ W. C. Taqiyya What about female homosexuals? You’ve completely ignored that part of the homosexual population so your conclusion is incorrect and the literature does not support your warped interpretation of it. Nor for that matter have you made reference to any peer reviewed literature I would take as fact.

    In closing I conclude through the evidence W. C. Taqiyya has so thoughtfully provided via their commentary that W. C. Taqiyya is an ignorant bigot.

  119. Jess says:

    Oh and Fatcs =– fatuous crap & shit

    I totally meant to make that mistake :-)

  120. flip says:

    Please forgive the long comment, it's taken me a while to read this post from start to finish…

    @Lizard

    The problem with vaccines is that it doesn't affect only the individual. In this case, it doesn't fit in with the rest (ie. junk food, conversion therapy, etc) and because of the wider issue of herd immunity, vaccination needs to be implemented across the board.

    It's not 'forced' by the way. Exemptions are obtainable, and it's only required for some sections of society (children attending public schools, doctors/nurses/etc, and the military), and also only required if you don't have a medical reason (allergy towards the vaccine). Vaccines are a totally different issue and can't exactly be put in the same boat as the rest.

    As a reader of Respectful Insolence, I'm surprised you don't seem to realise this.

    Personally, I am conflicted. I think the law should side with the science, and if the science says something is medical fraud, or completely implausible to the point of being fraudulent, then regulation should be in place so that consumers aren't totally ripped off. I'm all for choosing to undergo stupid, implausible, risky, or having-no-benefit treatments (for one's self, not forced on children or others) if and *only if* there is oversight of such things and the consumer is given information for and against such things. However, I absolutely despise the people who get away with pseudoscientific claims, especially in cases of "reprogramming". What I take issue with the most is that invariably these people never provide both sides (benefits and risks) when describing their wares, never provide evidence and often lie or obfuscate around the truth of efficacy. These are all things I think need regulating. Basically I agree with Aaron Weiss and William, The Glenchrist Law Firm, and most of Grifter's comments.

    I think a way of compromise is to ensure that advertising of such wary treatments be given a quack miranda and increased FDA/consumer watchdog oversight. I believe education is more important than banning outright, there will always be cranks and quacks but if you deprive them of their oxygen (a faithful audience/consumer base) by educating people, then the harm is greatly reduced. As Ken would say, fight it with more speech.

    It's harder to apply the scientific method to psychology, as humans can lie (knowingly or otherwise), and how do you establish control groups? What's a suitable "placebo" therapy that will still convince the subject they're being correctly treated?

    The fact that many psychological conditions have a chemical basis does away with a lot of the old idea that "it's all in your head". Placebo therapy can be just as easily achieved with sugar pills, if SSRIs for example. I'm sorry, the scientific method applies just as much to psychology as it does to everything else.

    @C S P Schofield

    A third thought; If homosexuality is a genetic issue, then what do those who are in favor of it propose to do when parents start to abort 'Gay' fetus(es?)?

    I'd start off with doing what was done with children that had Down's syndrome. Start educating people that there's nothing wrong with their child, just different.

    I thin that, in the end, my position is that Government is bad at anything that requires subtlety, and should therefore stay the hell out of this mess.

    Yes, because we did so well without regulation before:
    http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/WhatWeDo/History/ProductRegulation/SulfanilamideDisaster/default.htm
    (Also aimed at PiperTom)

    In effect, while I do doubt that a real therapy exists, and further doubt that if it does it is a good idea, I also believe that the assertions I see that it does NOT exist are based largely on emotion and not on proof.

    That's not how it works. First you have to prove that homosexuality is a medical issue requiring treatment. Then you have to prove efficacy and safety of that treatment. Nobody has to 'disprove' that the therapy does not work. (Also aimed at Dictatortot)

    @Grifter

    If I sell you a cure for cancer, and it's tap water, should that be legal? Is it more legal or less if I say "I'm a doctor, and I prescribe my expensive magic water to cure your cancer"?

    If I sell you a cure for TEH GAYNESS, and it's torture with no proven benefit, should that be legal? Is it more legal or less if I say "I'm a licensed health professional" right before I administer the electric shocks?

    If the evidence says that it doesn't work, or hasn't been found to work, I think you should be forced to say so within your marketing materials. And/or be taken to court for fraud.

    @W C Taqqiya

    Children have no more finally decided their sexual orientation than they have their political views or choice of occupation

    Are you saying that homosexuality is a choice?

    There is no evidence that sexual preferences are anything other than choices, made either affirmatively or passively.

    Nevermind. I see you've answered my question. (WTF does it have to do with children and pets?) I'd like to know why you think it's a choice. I never 'chose' to be heterosexual, why would it be the opposite for homosexuals? And homosexuality exists in other animals – but somehow it's incredibly wrong for us apes?

    And, the government has no proper role absent probable cause that actual harm will befall the child

    And the scientists quite clearly stated that this 'therapy' causes harm.

    Sexual abuse of children is a hallmark of homosexuality and the harm it causes is not a matter for dispute.

    [Citation needed]

    Sure, let's not examine the nature of sexual perversions, that just wouldn't do.

    What, exactly, is 'perverted' about being homosexual? If you take out the false assertion that it has anything to do with paedophelia that is…

    Let's blame the 'closet' because conscience can't possibly play any role, nobody is supposed to have a conscience, it's unscientific.

    For the record, if you eat a bullet, it's not my fault.

    Victim blaming much? Also, you're a dick. (Nothing like devolving into ad hominems to make your case sound ridiculous)

    Whatever our individual opinions may be of the LGBT lifestyle, it is exclusively the proponents of that lifestyle who seek the police power of the state to quash any parental choice in therapy for their children.

    Yes, couldn't possibly be that there's no scientific evidence that it works, and therefore it's 'quashed' like so many other forms of quackery.

    But, they are totally intolerant of other peoples lifestyle choices.

    This isn't a lifestyle choice, but a medical one.

    What people do in their personal lives is their problem.

    Unless of course, it involves *harm*.

    Keep the police out of family counselling, go about your business and stop trying to force everyone into your sterile vision of Utopia.

    By the way, what police? All they're doing is ensuring medical practitioners aren't involved in quackery. That doesn't usually involve the police.

    @Moses

    I think the issue is that counselling usually involves helping someone work through an issue towards a goal *they* wish to seek; whereas this 'therapy' is a goal that is forced upon someone.

    @Lizard

    Establishing a precedent that "The government can ban therapy with it believes is harmful" gives them the power to decide what might be "harmful", according to their precepts.

    Unless of course you ensure that instead it's "the government can ban therapy which *science* shows is harmful", which is a far better standard. It's also why there needs to be more concern over who we vote into power, when it comes to science and separation of religious faith from policies involving scientific input.

    @Grifter

    By trying to shift this debate away from the fact that their therapy does not work and, in some cases, causes clear harm, to the concept of their "First Amendment rights" is, on some level, disingenuous (though I do agree that that law seems to be flawed in its phrasing, not in a way that changes the practical application of it, but that nonetheless is problematic).

    Indeed, a lot of the screaming about medical freedom is just coming from the people who want to promote quackery. They do this for the very reason that they can't prove efficacy, or won't, and governments crack down on them for doing so.

    @Thor

    We live in a culture that feminizes boys and that tells us that homosexuality is “way cool.”

    Perhaps you need to get over the stereotype of gay men acting feminine. There are plenty of 'butch' gay men too. (Exactly what is it about the culture that feminises boys, but also manages to create lesbians? And heterosexuals…)

    At any rate, anyone who thinks women are not competitive or aggressive have obviously not spent any time with a bunch of bitchy girls. (Also, what Ken said)

  121. Grifter says:

    @flip:

    I was trying to make more of a philosophical point there, which admittedly probably fell flat. I tried to clarify myself later about the relative legalities, because I agree with you that most things shouldn't be truly banned, because people have a right to try what they want, but at the same time the sellers can't make claims that aren't true.

    And I think it's perfectly appropriate to also say "and if you're licensed you can't do it, because the license confers a certain confidence from the state that isn't present for this".

  122. LT says:

    *scrolls up*

    … I'm rather glad I left the conversation where it was last night and decided to go play video games. There's no real comeback to that kind of paste-eating rhetoric that's worth the time. Though thank you to all who have been thoughtful and logical in your arguments against him. It's refreshing to see people stand by reason in the face of extreme trolldom.

  123. William says:

    Flip

    The fact that many psychological conditions have a chemical basis does away with a lot of the old idea that "it's all in your head". Placebo therapy can be just as easily achieved with sugar pills, if SSRIs for example. I'm sorry, the scientific method applies just as much to psychology as it does to everything else.

    I'd argue this a bit. While many psychological conditions almost certainly have a chemical component, the idea that a big part of most psychopathology is experiential rather than neurochemical is still the dominant paradigm, especially in clinical psychology. The truth is that actual clinical work doesn't lend itself well to hardcore empiricism because there is so little consistency between cases. I have two kids on my caseload right now who both come from the same geographical area, are of the same class, same gender presentation, same general family constellation, same race, same culture, same age, same sexual orientation, very similar behavior/symptom histories, very similar medications, and identical Bipolar II diagnoses. In any reasonable scientific study they would be about as ideal of a matched pair as one could ask for, but when you actually get to the consulting room its pretty obvious that they demand somewhat different treatment strategies because of soft factors like temperament and relatively subtle historical and family dynamic differences. Trying to do hard research tends to require manualized treatments which very few therapists would actually commit to holding to when they see a better way of addressing an individual patient.

    That doesn't mean that the scientific method cannot be applied to psychotherapy (Jonathan Shedler's "The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy" paper is an excellent example of how it can be done well), but it does mean that it is substantially more difficult to do well and that we need to accept that the kinds of questions we are likely to be able to meaningfully answer will tend to be more qualitative than quantitative in character. Its not as easy as the old control group, experimental group model.

    There is also the problem of the DSM's symptom-cluster model not working especially well in understanding what is really happening with a patient, but thats a derail for a different day.

  124. Lizard says:

    @flip — On immunization, I'm aware of the facts, and I use facts as inputs into a value system to produce an outcome. The simple idea of "do what you want, as long as it doesn't harm anyone" is a nice principle that most people will agree on in theory, but the sticky bits are "harm" and "anyone". Direct, obvious, harms are well-settled in society, but there's an infinity of indirect harms where you have a sort of mental calculus of probability * scope= X, and if X>Y, the use of force is justified… and of course, X, Y, and the degree of justifiable force are also up in the air and subjective. Our social institutions and legal system mostly exist to try to convert the vague, fuzzy, analogue sense of "what's OK" that our monkey brains spit up into laws that be applied in an objective and knowable fashion.

    Not vaccinating your kids puts innocents at risk — how much risk, though? It's complicated further because it falls into the horrible class of "virtually no risk if only one person does it, but greater risk if many people do it". My highly individualistic tendencies makes me instinctively recoil at banning or controlling something when any given individual's actions are not, in themselves, harmful… but as noted many times above, you have to use your rational brain to override and examine your instincts. (Those who let their emotions inform their arguments tend to end up being very silly and immune to facts. We have a case study in this thread.)

    To use another example: I can see a lot of reasons why letting some experiment with, and store, C-4 in their studio apartment in a crowded city might be prohibited, as the degree or risk he's exposing others to is very high, even if I believe, generically, that private individuals should be allowed to own explosives. By the same reasoning, allowing the same person to perform the same actions when he's working on an isolated farm ten miles from anyone else ought to be legal, since he's only putting himself at risk. (We assume no criminal intent in either case, just a harmless passion for making things go "Boom!")

    So does the risk posed by letting non-vaccinated kids mingle with vaccinated ones rise to the level where intervening force is necessary? The recent outbreaks of once-forgotten diseases seems to indicate that it's so, because some of these diseases can kill, and that means the potential harm is very high, even if the odds are relatively low. The ultimate test for any law is "Would you kill someone to enforce this?", because all laws rest, at the extreme, on lethal force. Would someone be justified in killing someone else whose willful and deliberate actions exposed innocent children to even a 1% chance of severe injury or death? Four billion years of evolution says "Yes".

    Would I shoot someone to prevent them from, under the guise of "therapy", destroying a child's mind, creating in them such self-loathing at their own nature that they become incapable of leading as normal and fulfilling a life as most of us ever manage to muddle through? Still working on that. This thread has been informative. I really can't object to it as a limit on licensed professionals.

    (Also, yes, we "should" pay attention to whom "we're" electing, but many people deliberately and with ignorance aforethought choose to elect people whose idea of "science" comes from the ramblings of desert nomads 6000 years ago. Since we can't deny people the right to vote on the grounds they're inbred redneck goobers, we have to look at limiting the harm government can do. Even punting it to "If scientists say it's harmful…" fails, because the government chooses which scientists to listen to, or even who is a "scientist", since pretty much anyone can call themselves that — it's not a formal title like "Doctor".)

  125. Dictatortot says:

    Please correct me if I'm wrong on this point, but I'm pretty sure that's precisely how it works. Virtually no psychological treatment can rigorously prove that it has any direct benefits, or that it isn't causing direct harm–under your criteria, no one should be able to offer psych treatment for much of anything.

    The big issue here is that like it or not, parents have broad privileges that the states have always shrunk from intruding upon. Rearing children is an unlicensed endeavor. It is our legal prerogative to be bad parents, and always has been. To a huge extent, it's legally our prerogative to inflict massive degrees of psychological harm upon our children, in a hundred different ways. This is deplorable, but pace William, the only way of avoiding it is to vest power in the sort of bureaucrats whom I trust less than I trust the average parent … or even the sub-average parent.

  126. Dictatortot says:

    Dammit, I fouled up the HTML in my post above, and can't figure out how to edit it. Let's try again:

    That's not how it works. First you have to prove that homosexuality is a medical issue requiring treatment. Then you have to prove efficacy and safety of that treatment. Nobody has to 'disprove' that the therapy does not work. (Also aimed at Dictatortot)

    Please correct me if I'm wrong on this point, but I'm pretty sure that's precisely how it works. Virtually no psychological treatment can rigorously prove that it has any direct benefits, or that it isn't causing direct harm–under your criteria, no one should be able to offer psych treatment for much of anything.

    The big issue here is that like it or not, parents have broad privileges that the states have always shrunk from intruding upon. Rearing children is an unlicensed endeavor. It is our legal prerogative to be bad parents, and always has been. To a huge extent, it's legally our prerogative to inflict massive degrees of psychological harm upon our children, in a hundred different ways. This is deplorable, but pace William, the only way of avoiding it is to vest power in the sort of bureaucrats whom I trust less than I trust the average parent … or even the sub-average parent.

  127. Grifter says:

    @Dictatortot:

    I'll let the shrinks among us discuss with you the concept of rigor as regards to psychiatry.

    However, don't confuse the rights of parents with the rights of medical professionals to sell treatment. William was speaking about when you can offer treatment as a licensed professional; if you're going to offer a treatment for a disease, you better have a good reason to think it works. Remember, this law only affects licensees. Parents can still be as monstrous as our society unfortunately lets them, if they really want to do this to their kids, they still can.

  128. Dictatortot says:

    Point taken, Grifter, and I'm content to let better legal minds tha mine address the detailed rights & wrongs of licensure. However, a re-read of William's post suggests that he's indeed talking about parental rights, period. And a lot of the counter-responses to Ken's original post have directly tackled the question of parental prerogatives w/r/t their minor children.

  129. flip says:

    @Grifter

    It's ok; as the conversation progressed, I think my impressions of what you were trying to say changed. — One reason I hate coming late to a conversation is that you end up getting a lot of thoughts out at once that deal with a discourse that changes along the way. We probably agree for the most part.

    @William

    I can't speak for the literature, not having read much. I can speak from personal experience of having a mental illness though, and can appreciate the true murkiness of science vs subjectiveness. And to be honest, I agree with you (and I don't know enough really to speak about it really). I studied high school psych, and was left with an impression that a lot of evidence was based on subjective stuff. I am assuming though that with neuroscience, things will change or have changed, and that doesn't defeat my point which is that the scientific process is the only way we're going to get a smattering of decent information or treatments, and that it's possible to apply it for some things. My comments were probably not quite nuanced enough for what I intended to say or the difficulties faced with treating psychological issues.

    @Lizard

    Not vaccinating your kids puts innocents at risk — how much risk, though?

    This type of calculation is almost impossible to create, because there are zillions of factors. I did think I had a link to some info about this, but it doesn't seem to be there, so I'll have to hunt around and post it later.

    However, if you trawl Respectful Insolence, or many of the vaccine awareness sites, you'll find heaps of news and info about outbreaks. Many of the recent ones have been due to unvaccinated kids, returning from overseas, to bring home a disease and then infecting other local kids. Or, measles skyrocketing in the UK due to the anti-vaccine scare via Wakefield and his fraudulent science. We can't calculate it per individual easily, but from a glance at what's happening in communities, it's easy to see that the risk increases quickly and readily.

    Not to mention that there are people in society who can't benefit from a vaccine themselves and must rely on herd immunity: the elderly, AIDs patients, cancer patients, and children who are too young to obtain them; plus those with the medical exemptions listed below.

    Besides, as I've already pointed out: in most cases you can obtain exemptions. In most US states there are 'philosophical' or 'religious' exemptions. This is nothing to say of having a *choice* to not put your kid in public school, and also being able to receive a medical exemption if you're allergic or otherwise unable to have it. (I will note that here in Australia there's no such thing as home schooling, so the idea that it's 'forced' has slightly more validity here)

    In addition, this only considers the risk of the vaccine. The risk of obtaining an illness is far more costly in terms of both health, finances, and the strain on the medical system.

    By the same reasoning, allowing the same person to perform the same actions when he's working on an isolated farm ten miles from anyone else ought to be legal, since he's only putting himself at risk.

    In these modern times, I can't see how a person, even living in the middle of nowhere would *never* come into contact with another person. Isolation is pretty near impossible.

    As for the analogy to explosives, that's a false one. Let's not mix up one issue with another as if they are the same things.

    The ultimate test for any law is "Would you kill someone to enforce this?", because all laws rest, at the extreme, on lethal force.

    Er, no. There are exemptions, as stated above. Even if some authority would get involved, it wouldn't require lethal force, just time spent in jail (for the parents) for negligence – at worst. For people who promote FUD, such as Wakefield, there's being stripped of their medical licence. For ignorant followers, there's more speech. I'd love to see what kind of evidence is up your sleeve for proving that lethal force is involved.

    Lastly, you seem to forget that before vaccinations, life expectancy was far, far lower; that people were crippled or had other long-lasting issues due to the diseases they had. And that most families expected to lose at least one or two offspring to 'childhood illnesses'. The fact that pockets of the disease spring back up every time vaccine uptake diminishes says a lot: what do you propose we replace the program with, in order to prevent more deaths, disease, and long-term medical issues?

    Would I shoot someone to prevent them from, under the guise of "therapy", destroying a child's mind, creating in them such self-loathing at their own nature that they become incapable of leading as normal and fulfilling a life as most of us ever manage to muddle through? Still working on that.

    Part of the pervasive stigma of mental illness is that somehow it's not as bad as being in a wheelchair. I can attest that that idea is bull hockey. Just because you can't see the damage does not mean it does not exist in the same, very real, very destructive manner as a 'physical' illness.

    Having said that, I do also struggle with where the lines in the sand need to be drawn. For me, it always comes back to "if it's got no basis in science, then it shouldn't be practiced".

    Even punting it to "If scientists say it's harmful…" fails, because the government chooses which scientists to listen to, or even who is a "scientist", since pretty much anyone can call themselves that — it's not a formal title like "Doctor"

    I agree for the most part. But I guess I'm more optomistic in that I think we can always keep on the government's backs and vote them out of office or scream them down/shame them into doing what's right. And again, this goes to my reason why I think education is important. The people who want to ignore science are loud, but in a minority (well, except climate change) for the most part. The longer these people are in a minority, the lesser chance they have in achieving any significant change or power. Like science, law can self-correct.

  130. flip says:

    @Dictatortot

    Please correct me if I'm wrong on this point, but I'm pretty sure that's precisely how it works. Virtually no psychological treatment can rigorously prove that it has any direct benefits, or that it isn't causing direct harm–under your criteria, no one should be able to offer psych treatment for much of anything.

    See my above comment to William, as some of my reply to him covers your points.

    However, you misunderstood me: I was stating that you can't prove a negative. In medicine, you have to prove that a treatment works. Not the other way around.

    The other sentence about homosexuality being an illness goes towards people simply claiming that behaviour they don't like is a sickness. That is quite different to being ill and claiming to be so. (Again, some of my comment above to Lizard applies)

    The big issue here is that like it or not, parents have broad privileges that the states have always shrunk from intruding upon. Rearing children is an unlicensed endeavor. It is our legal prerogative to be bad parents, and always has been. To a huge extent, it's legally our prerogative to inflict massive degrees of psychological harm upon our children, in a hundred different ways. This is deplorable, but pace William, the only way of avoiding it is to vest power in the sort of bureaucrats whom I trust less than I trust the average parent … or even the sub-average parent.

    I'm an odd one out here, as I come from a pretty left point of view. I generally agree on the principle of rights of the individual over the group though, and so I have a tough time figuring out where exactly my mind rests on issues like these.

    Having said that, I think people here are forgetting one thing. There isn't "2 parties" to this conversation – the parent and the child. There are three. The parent, the child and the health provider. It is up to the health provider to offer services – like any business – that are not fraudulent or harmful. This is exactly where government normally puts their two cents in. I don't see this is any different than saying "if you're going to be licensed to operate in the ER, then you need to actually know what you're doing and not use a chainsaw on your patients".

    I don't trust government either. I do trust the science though, and if the law follows the science I'm ok with that – in this case at any rate.

    … Ah, I see Grifter got there first! — Although I have to add that in regards to parents, I do think they should be held accountable in cases of preventable death. There was a young girl here in Australia that died from eczema (sp?) because her parents refused to listen to medical advice and used homeopathy instead. She could have been fine if given a topical cream, but instead died from dehydration, malnutrition and other things. I think there are limits to how much 'abuse' is given.

    And not to detract: but do kids have any rights at all in this world of yours? Because I have a feeling that abused children everywhere would pretty much hate the idea that their parents had a 'right' to do such things to them.

    The whole reason we have a government is to help protect those who can't protect themselves.

  131. Lizard says:

    Just a few quick points:
    a)People who can't be vaccinated, and thus are at higher risk, is something I'd forgotten. Thanks for reminding me of that.

    b)The idea that all rests ultimately on lethal force is this: At each step of resistance, the state is morally permitted to up the odds. You get a fine; you don't pay it. You're summoned to court; you don't appear. A cop comes to arrest you; you resist. You resist too well, he shoots you. That's what I meant, not "The guv'mint will kill you for not letting the evil pharma illuminati place their death drugs in your child! For SATAN!" It's a philosophical point more than a literal one, and I'm not the only to use the analogy; PJ O'Rourke and Penn Jillette have also done so. I used it before I ever saw it used elsewhere, but I also "invented" the bubble sort in high school.

    c)The explosives example was just an effort to use a model not tied to existing reactions and discussions. You can't be 100% absolutely sure your actions will not harm others, but we live, every day, with "acceptable risk". The legal lines are drawn where the chance of harm and the severity of harm, taken together, reach a level we, as a society, find unacceptable.

    d)My wife suffers from chronic, extremely treatment resistant, depression, and has for a decade or so, and there's really no hope of that changing, so I am very well aware of how much harm psychological illness can do, as well as the fundamentally physical nature of most of it. She can no more "snap out of it" than she could will an amputated limb to grow back. (The cocktail of pills that keeps her just barely on the right side of not suicidal also have multiple side effects, which, because the universe loves a good laugh, are themselves causes of depression because of how they limit her life and ability to participate in the world.) I am, perhaps, ignorant of if "conversion therapy" can cause these kinds of physiological changes, and the degree to which they can be measured without relying on subjective self-evaluation. (Of course, a trained professional is, I presume, skilled at interpreting self-evaluation in ways the patient himself is not, or what are they getting paid for?)

  132. Lizard says:

    @Flip

    Ah, you're Australian. That might make you less familiar with the kind of loonies we have in America, and why a lot of us are leery of giving government increased power because we fear it in the hands of those loonies. For example, there are many people on the right who believe that having gay parent is "harmful" to a child, and the government should act to prevent this harm. Many likewise believe it's "harmful" if a mother works outside the home instead of focusing on the children, and/or that it's "harmful" if a child isn't given a "proper" moral education (meaning, a fear that the invisible magical man who lives in the sky will torture him forever if he does something wrong). Evoking "But…. science!" as a limit fails to persuade, because of how easy it is for these people to dredge up some "scientist" who will "prove" what they want, at least to the satisfaction of the majority, and in a democracy, everyone gets what the majority deserves.

  133. LT says:

    As I'm on lunch break, I can't tackle this as I'd like, but a note on the efficacy of psychological therapy- as having been one of said professionals, I've noted that the mind and mental illness cannot be equated to an infection or other physical illnesses. While both are serious and very real, bacteria and parasites have definitive medical treatments. Antibiotics, etc.

    The human mind, OTOH, is so very diverse and complex, what with cultural and personal differences, that the therapy that may work for one person may not necessarily work for another. I think this is why there's not as much conclusive, definitive, 100% 'THIS IS THE CURE' treatments to, say, depression or schizophrenia. Certainly, medications can help alleviate symptoms and correct chemical imbalances, but the sheer number of causes and the intricacies of the human psyche mean that there has to be a multi-disciplined approach to treating mental illness. Not all professionals focus on being jacks-of-all-trades when it comes to therapy, but that's something of a matter of dissent in the ranks. Some think behavioral training will fix all, while others take a more humanistic approach. (Personally, I think a good therapist should be ready to match their therapy style to match the needs and learning style of their client.)

    As for parenting styles, don't forget that the leeway only goes so far legally. There are boundaries set up to prevent all aspects of child abuse- verbal, psychological, physical, etc. What constitutes verbal and psychological abuse is pretty damned hard to define, both for good and for ill. For good in that it prevents people from accusing others of abusing their kids by treating them in ways they don't like (say, someone raising their child in a gay household and the grandparents/nosy neighbors throw a fit). For bad in that it makes it much harder to prove and assist those who are actually in bad situations to be helped. (In the end, it was the ambiguity, the lack of ability to help those who needed help, and the lack of resources for those who needed them that led me to leave that career and go down another path. Being helpless to help those who desperately need it is a terribly depressing feeling.)

  134. Dictatortot says:

    LT's post above addresses much of what Flip said: psychology and psychological treatment are very real indeed, but by their very nature cannot meet the same burdens of proof that physical medicine can. Unfortunately, that makes a solid diagnosis of quackery equally slippery, and gives the government shakier grounds on which to draw distinctions.

    And to answer Flip's final question: children have several well-enumerated rights, which tend not to extend directly to the care, feeding, and hygiene of their psyches. The wicked, daft, or regrettable parent ye have always with you … and the state isn't competent to pass judgment on such intangible, though real, elements of its free citizens' households. I often hate the results, but there we are.

  135. flip says:

    @Lizard

    Thanks for reminding me of that.

    You're welcome :)

    The idea that all rests ultimately on lethal force is this:

    Yeah I understood what you meant. I still don't see how it applies any differently than most things the government enforces. But then, we don't have guns in Australia so perhaps that's just my cultural background showing…

    You can't be 100% absolutely sure your actions will not harm others, but we live, every day, with "acceptable risk". The legal lines are drawn where the chance of harm and the severity of harm, taken together, reach a level we, as a society, find unacceptable.

    Yes and I'm saying that in these cases, the level of harm is too great to be ignored.

    Honestly, I come from an odd POV. I'm for regulation and oversight of businesses, and initally saw consumers as ignorant and misguided, and lead by FUD by bad business practices. Then I had enough of dealing with so many ignorant and misguided consumers who seemed to go out of their way to not bother doing their own research – and getting suckered into dealing with bad businesses (illegal and/or unethical) because they couldn't be assed learning about how things really worked. On the one hand I think people deserve what they get if the info is out there but they ignore it; and on the other hand I get how they can genuinely be mislead by frauds even if they're knowledgeable.

    Anyway, my point is that one needs to make the best decision possible, and that the 'fault' lies with both parties. We, as consumers, need to demand as much accurate info as possible to make the right decisions; and quite often companies have to be forced into compliance.

    I do not intend to make the issue as black and white as I probably have in previous comments. I'm afraid I don't quite know where or when the lines are drawn myself.

    My wife suffers from chronic, extremely treatment resistant, depression, and has for a decade or so, and there's really no hope of that changing, so I am very well aware of how much harm psychological illness can do, as well as the fundamentally physical nature of most of it.

    My apologies for presuming.

    I am, perhaps, ignorant of if "conversion therapy" can cause these kinds of physiological changes, and the degree to which they can be measured without relying on subjective self-evaluation.

    I guess I take it from a different tack: a big part of depression is lethargy, and if you pile on victim blaming – which is what conversion therapy basically does – then it only makes things worse. I don't for a second believe that the therapy can cause physiological changes itself, I do think though that it makes a bad situation far harder to deal with in an appropriate manner.

    That might make you less familiar with the kind of loonies we have in America, and why a lot of us are leery of giving government increased power because we fear it in the hands of those loonies.

    Actually, I avoid all TV and newspaper reporting and because of the numerous blogs I read, most of which are by Americans, I'm far more versed in your issues than I am in mine. I do totally understand your point about not wanting to put in place laws that the 'bad guys' can use. At the same time, that doesn't help the many people who are affected by these issues *now* or in the future. It does sound like a tu quoque argument.

    Plus you have to keep in mind that we have a universal health care system in place here. Americans seem to go on about liberties far more than any Australian I've ever met. We're far more European in that sense, considering perhaps social issues of more importance than individual ones; because raising the average standard has the effect of raising the individual standard at the same time. — At least, that's my summary of it anyway.

    The numerous problems you have mentioned with various arguments coming from groups is just as true here as it is for you (though they're softer and less able to gain traction/media) but again I see that as a small minority of loud people.

    As an interesting side thought: the majority of Australians believe that we should allow LGBT people to marry each other. Last I looked it was something like 70% or more. Our atheist female partnered-but-not-married Prime Minister refuses to change the law. Why? Mostly because she's scared of backlash from the far right. Naturally, we have just as many problems in this regard as you guys do.

    PS. One of the reasons I enjoy *and* get annoyed reading this site is because of the complete opposite spectrum of politics this site discusses. It has forced me to think a lot about my own positions, despite not really moving much from the left.

  136. flip says:

    @LT

    The human mind, OTOH, is so very diverse and complex, what with cultural and personal differences, that the therapy that may work for one person may not necessarily work for another.

    Sigh… Should have kept my mouth shut. Basically you're attacking a strawman, as I agree with most of it. Again, having a tough time putting my words into a subtle and shaded response…

    @Dictatortot

    See above.

    children have several well-enumerated rights, which tend not to extend directly to the care, feeding, and hygiene of their psyches.

    From the point of view of someone who has been told all their lives that they are immoral, sick, disgusting, etc, to the point of making that person want to kill themselves, why is that *less* harmful than say, burning them with a cigarette?

    Doesn't the parent have a responsibility to ensure their child is safe and unharmed in *all* cases?

  137. Dictatortot says:

    Depending on the context, it might not be a whit less harmful, and a parent's moral responsibilities towards his offspring obtain both in the physical realm and otherwise. Legally, however, establishing harm is much trickier. Besides, if we erase the distinctions between the two kinds of harm, then insulting words between adults ought to constitute assault & battery by all rights. You okay with going there?

    Moreover, psychic trauma is a highly subjective phaenomenon. I have absolutely no idea whether we'd agree on what words or attitudes constitute emotional abuse in every case, and a dozen men might come to a dozen different conclusions.

  138. AlphaCentauri says:

    Speaking of gender stereotyping, how did we decide that W. C. Taqiyya is a guy?

  139. Ken says:

    It's uncouth to talk about a commenter if they have respected my request and left. Let's not.

  140. Kevin says:

    Not to mention, even if he/she/it does come back, it would be unwise to continue feeding the troll, which is what I was trying to get at with my last couple of posts, but I guess I expressed it a bit too cleverly</strike subtly stupidly to get my point across.

  141. Kevin says:

    Damn you wordpress!!!!

  142. Lago says:

    @William: Glad somebody else caught the similarities between this and circumcision as well!

  143. Zoe Brain says:

    I hope this isn't bad manners – but here's an abstracts of a scientific papers on the subject.

    Sexual Hormones and the Brain: An Essential Alliance for Sexual Identity and Sexual Orientation Garcia-Falgueras A, Swaab DF Endocr Dev. 2010;17:22-35

    The fetal brain develops during the intrauterine period in the male direction through a direct action of testosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hormone surge. In this way, our gender identity (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and sexual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. However, since sexual differentiation of the genitals takes place in the first two months of pregnancy and sexual differentiation of the brain starts in the second half of pregnancy, these two processes can be influenced independently, which may result in extreme cases in trans-sexuality. This also means that in the event of ambiguous sex at birth, the degree of masculinization of the genitals may not reflect the degree of masculinization of the brain. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender identity or sexual orientation.

    My interest is in Gender Identity rather than Sexual Orientation, but as the two are peripherally related – as much as handedness – I may know enough to make useful comments.

  144. Zoe Brain says:

    Here's what "reparative therapy" on minors actually entails. In this case, part of a US Government sponsored program of experimentation at UCLA on "sissy boys". The idea here was to change Gender Identity rather than Sexual Orientation, as the two concepts were not viewed ass distinct at the time.

    Parents who brought their children to Rekers had to agree to participate in the "curing" of them. "Kraig," a four-year-old who participated in the UCLA Feminine Boy Project, was also monitored in the clinic's play-observation room. Only this time, it was his mother who wore the bug-in-the-ear, listening for her behavioral cues from the folks behind the wall. While playing, "Kraig would have seen her suddenly jerk upright, and look away from him toward the one-way window," Burke reports (based on transcripts of his case):

    His mother was being prompted, through the earphones, by the doctor. She was told to completely ignore him, because he was engaged in feminine play. Kraig would have no understanding of what was happening to his mother. On one such occasion, his distress was such that he began to scream, but his mother just looked away. His anxiety increased, and he did whatever he could to get her to respond to him, but she just looked away. She must have seemed like a stranger to have changed her behavior toward him so suddenly and for no apparent reason . . . He was described as being in a panic, alternating between sobs and "aggressing at her," but again, when his distraught mother finally looked at him and began to respond, she stopped mid-sentence and abruptly turned away, as if he were not there. Kraig became so hysterical, and his mother so uncomfortable, that one of the clinicians had to enter and take Kraig, screaming, from the room.

    Kraig's treatment continued in this vein. He was also put on the "token system" at home. Inappropriate, feminine behaviors earned him a red token, masculine ones, a blue token. Each red token earned him a spanking from his father. After more than two years of treatment, Kraig's behavior had turned around. He was now described by his mother as a "rough neck," and he no longer cared if his hair was neat or his clothes matched. But when he was eighteen, after years of being held up (under a pseudonym) by Rekers as "the poster boy for behavioral treatment of boyhood effeminacy," Kraig attempted suicide, because he thought that he might be gay.

    "Kraig",like many others from that program, eventually completed suicide. NARTH still has an article on their website claiming that the treatment was a success. They don't do follow-up studies on patients as a matter of policy.

  145. flip says:

    @Dictatortot

    Depending on the context, it might not be a whit less harmful, and a parent's moral responsibilities towards his offspring obtain both in the physical realm and otherwise. Legally, however, establishing harm is much trickier. Besides, if we erase the distinctions between the two kinds of harm, then insulting words between adults ought to constitute assault & battery by all rights. You okay with going there?

    Moreover, psychic trauma is a highly subjective phaenomenon. I have absolutely no idea whether we'd agree on what words or attitudes constitute emotional abuse in every case, and a dozen men might come to a dozen different conclusions.

    Ok I see where you're coming from now – and I agree, sort of. I'm really not sure what I think about the issue; so I guess I'll be keeping my mouth shut until I have a better idea of what I'm saying.

  146. Ken says:

    Zoe, you might have missed the links early in the post to posts about Rekers, in defining what reparative therapy is.

  147. bw1 says:

    CSP Shoenfeld made some excellent points – what about parents who decide that their 6, 8, 10, or 12 year old is transgendered? Do we really want to go down the road of saying that it's not a parent's right to attempt to raise their kid not to do things that kid might otherwise be inclined, for whatever reason, to do? Most of us either know from personal experience or that of friends that parents do an awful lot to mess up their kids, and also know that some of what we see as positive traits are viewed by others as negative traits caused by bad parenting. In the end, this is a conflict of beliefs and the way those beliefs are passed on to our kids. If you REALLY have confidence that your beliefs are right, then you'll be content to allow others to raise their children in accordance with THEIR beliefs, no matter how alien they seem, trusting that the success/failure/influence/etc. of your children/grandchildren/etc. relative to theirs will serve to expand the credibility of your beliefs and degrade the credibility of theirs over the course of time. The alternative is to erode their freedom to influence their kids' lives for what you see as the worse, which, in turn, will erode your freedom to influence your kids' lives for what you see as the better.

    Then there is the mental health industry at the center of this controversy. SO WHAT if this reparative therapy doesn't work, or is even harmful? If effectiveness or lack of harm is to be any sort of standard, 95% of the mental health industry needs to be incarcerated. Name ONE social pathology that social scientists claim to address that hasn't increased in glaring correlation with the number and influence of social scientists in our society. Most of psychology is junk science if held to the yardstick of deterministic predictive ability by which hard science is judged. If the prosecution of those Italian seismologists worries physicists, chemists, and biologists, it should have the psychologists, sociologists, and even the economists peeing their pants in terror. So what if reparative therapy is something of a procrustean bed, what mental health therapy ISN'T? How is this any different from pumping a kid full of ritalin because he doesn't fit our template of quiet attentiveness, or dosing another one with SSRI's because she doesn't match our pre-conceived notion of a suitably sunny outlook on our admittedly depressing world? If there's a problem with sending kids to a therapist to break them of engaging in legal consensual conduct, doesn't it follow that, in WA and CO, parents should be barred from sending their kids to rehab? Psychology is as much a religion as it is a science, probably more so. William is naive if he thinks his claimed neutrality is the rule in practice within his industry.

    Are there some scary people parenting? Sure – we let Scientologists breed. Does that mean some kids are likely to live a lousy life based on who sired them? Yes, and so it will always be, unless you'd rather let the eugenicists have their way and start sterilizing the poor. The problem is, children either belong to their parents, or they belong to the village, i.e. the STATE, and we all know how brilliantly the government does anything. As has often been pointed out on this blog, freedom can be messy, and sometimes allow people to get hurt, but it beats the alternative.

  148. Scott Jacobs says:

    what about parents who decide that their 6, 8, 10, or 12 year old is transgendered?

    a) What if the parent is wrong, and b) What the precise fuck is wrong with being transgendered?

    I'll say it again – an adult can for for all the soul-crushing, ruinous, suicide inducing quackery they want.

    But to subject a child to a "treatment" that has absolutely no demonstrable success rate that can be distinguished from "random chance", and is in fact more likely than not prone to causing more issues, that is a form of abuse.

    To attempt to suggest otherwise is to display a rampant level of homophobia I'd thought would be lacking at this blog, and more's the pity for my error.

  149. M. says:

    @bw1: " Do we really want to go down the road of saying that it's not a parent's right to attempt to raise their kid not to do things that kid might otherwise be inclined, for whatever reason, to do?"

    It sounds to me like you're conflating homosexuality and transsexuality with, say, murder and grand theft auto. I hope I'm mistaken.

    Or, to put it another way: Would you say that a parent has the right to use damaging "therapies" in an attempt to raise his or her kid to, for example, prefer chocolate ice cream to vanilla? If not, why are consensual sexual preferences more of a menace to society than ice cream preferences? The only reason I can think of is the danger of the child enduring bigotry. Surely you're not saying we should "let the terrorists win" by inhibiting the natural sexual preference of our fellow human beings?

    I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here. If you do actually think that homosexuality and transsexuality are more comparable to crimes than to preferences, do let us know. We definitely want to clear that up.

  150. William says:

    bw1:

    what about parents who decide that their 6, 8, 10, or 12 year old is transgendered?

    Theres something of an open argument about what to do in that situation. While people like Ken Zucker might disagree, best practices seem to be moving towards supporting the child and engaging in reversible therapies until they can turn 18 and make their own damned decision. I'm absolutely comfortable with an adolescent receiving hormones so long as they're consenting to it. Depending on the age of the kid I'm not terribly concerned with their parent's opinion. As far as I'm concerned everything ought to revolve around the consent of the patient, even if the patient can't yet vote.

    The alternative is to erode their freedom to influence their kids' lives for what you see as the worse, which, in turn, will erode your freedom to influence your kids' lives for what you see as the better.

    I am absolutely comfortable with eroding the freedom of parents to do life-threatening violence to their children in an attempt to force them into submission to this more or that. My opposition to oppression doesn't stop at the state. This is not a conflict between the rights of parents and the power of government. This is a conflict between the rights of parents and the rights of children. I do not believe that the parent-child relationship is one of unlimited authority. You can't beat your kid with a broomstick because they say they're going to vote for the Democrats when they turn 18, why should you be able to shame them to suicide for wanting to play with the "wrong" set of genitals?

    Most of psychology is junk science if held to the yardstick of deterministic predictive ability by which hard science is judged.

    Agreed. Still…it works.

    William is naive if he thinks his claimed neutrality is the rule in practice within his industry

    That doesn't mean it isn't worth fighting for. And, for the record, my neutrality is the rule in both modern psychodynamic and client centered therapies.

    The problem is, children either belong to their parents, or they belong to the village, i.e. the STATE, and we all know how brilliantly the government does anything

    Or, perhaps, they belong to themselves and parents, like the state, occupy the position of temporary and limited trustee. Sure, they can decide the day-to-day affairs but there are limits to their power. The power of parents is not unlimited: certain kinds of physical violence, sexual abuse, and neglect are all verboten. Just as a trustee cannot liquidate the assets of a trust and use them to buy a new yacht, a parent should not be able to harm a child in the service of their religious eccentricities.

    If a kid wants reparative therapy, no damage will be done if they wait until they're 18. The reverse simply isn't true.

  151. Grifter says:

    @bw1:

    Children are not chattel.

    But, if you really wanted to go down the road of "children as chattel", then you'd have to defend how, exactly, you believe the state has no say in the raising of children that the state contributes a significant amount of money towards, in terms of public schools, food programs, etc.

  152. Kevin says:

    @bw1

    Does that mean some kids are likely to live a lousy life based on who sired them? Yes, and so it will always be, unless you'd rather let the eugenicists have their way and start sterilizing the poor.

    This statement would seem to be premised on the assumption that "the poor" have a monopoly on bad parenting. As a person raised in an upper-middle class family, I can assure you that this is not the case.

  153. Zoe Brain says:

    Theres something of an open argument about what to do in that situation. While people like Ken Zucker might disagree, best practices seem to be moving towards supporting the child and engaging in reversible therapies until they can turn 18 and make their own damned decision. I'm absolutely comfortable with an adolescent receiving hormones so long as they're consenting to it. Depending on the age of the kid I'm not terribly concerned with their parent's opinion. As far as I'm concerned everything ought to revolve around the consent of the patient, even if the patient can't yet vote.

    It's worth noting that Dr Zucker, in an exclusive interview for the arch-conservative site "LifeSiteNews", an organ of the Campaign Life Coalition stated that he "…expects it will be five or 10 years before there are any large studies on the effects of early labeling on children with gender confusion."

    Rather ignoring studies like this one:

    The treatment of adolescent transsexuals: changing insights. Cohen-Ketternis et al, J Sex Med. 2008 Aug;5(8):1892-7.

    In several studies this protocol has been evaluated [16–18]. From these studies it appeared that the youth who were selected for early hormone treatment (starting between 16 and 18 years) no longer suffered from gender dysphoria, and that
    1–5 years after surgery, they were socially and psychologically functioning not very different from their peers. Their scores on various psychological instruments, such as a shortened Dutch form of
    the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and the Symptom Check List-90 [19], were considerably more favorable than scores of a group of subjects who had been treated in adulthood in the
    Amsterdam clinic, and scores were in the normal range as compared to normative samples.

  154. bw1 says:

    @Zoe: "The fetal brain develops during the intrauterine period in the male direction through a direct action of testosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hormone surge. In this way, our gender identity (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and sexual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. "

    Yeah, that's it – blame the mother – Freud never quite dies, eh?

  155. bw1 says:

    @Kevin:"This statement would seem to be premised on the assumption that "the poor" have a monopoly on bad parenting."

    Not at all – pay attention to context. The first sentence of your quote was "Does that mean some kids are likely to live a lousy life based on who sired them?'" That speaks to ALL causes of a reduced quality of life, or which poverty is just one in a long list that may also include various parenting practices.

  156. bw1 says:

    @Grifter: you assume I support those contributions by the state. That's a poor assumption on a blog frequented by libertarians.

    My point was that, unless you eliminate the concept of being a minor entirely, children effectively ARE chattel – the only question becomes WHOSE chattel – the parents' or the state's.

  157. bw1 says:

    @Scott. "a)what if the parent is wrong?"

    My and CSP's point exactly. The point was that many parents DO make that decision these days, and it's essentially the same sort of decision, with the same potential for negative outcomes, as the reparative therapy decision.

    "But to subject a child to a "treatment" that has absolutely no demonstrable success rate that can be distinguished from "random chance", "

    That describes the majority of what goes on in the mainstream mental health industry. It seems you've focused on one sentence in my comment, ignored the context, and completely missed the point of that sentence.

  158. bw1 says:

    @M "I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here. If you do actually think that homosexuality and transsexuality are more comparable to crimes than to preferences, do let us know. We definitely want to clear that up."
    The only branch of psychology I accept as remotely scientific is behavioralism. I don't know or care if therapy alters preferences, I see it all as a matter of behavioral outcomes. Most parents seek to influence the lifelong behavioral patterns of their children in many ways that don't even touch on statutory crime.

    Murder and auto theft are rather extreme, I suspect intentionally on your part for maximum shock value. There are a lot of societally harmless behaviors that libertarians believe should not be classified as crimes, in which even libertarian parents might prefer their children not engage.

    "Would you say that a parent has the right to use damaging "therapies" in an attempt to raise his or her kid to, for example, prefer chocolate ice cream to vanilla? "
    Why not? A lot of parents engage in parenting practices that modern psychology sees as damaging in order to influence their childrens' eating habits. Most kids and quite a few adults view brussels sprouts and liver in the same light as waterboarding.

    As a teen I was subjected to completely ineffective psychological counseling to get me to dutifully do my homework. I didn't consider it a crime.

    "Surely you're not saying we should "let the terrorists win" by inhibiting the natural sexual preference of our fellow human beings?"
    Why not? Parents have been striving to inhibit the natural sexual preferences of their kids for all of human history. Humans are naturally driven to start acting sexually like wild dogs in an alley from the onset of puberty, and most parents try to curb that.
    Follow the context – in two states, marijuana is legal, and in some countries, 16 year olds can drink. Should parents be allowed to send their kids to rehab?

  159. Zoe Brain says:

    @bw1

    Yeah, that's it – blame the mother – Freud never quite dies, eh?

    I can't tell if that's supposed to be a joke – but apart from cases where the mother has taken various drugs that modify foetal development – infant alcohol syndrome and "crack babies" being the most obvious – I don't see how any blame can be attached.

    Even in the case of DES, where administration in the first two trimesters causes a 500-fold increase in the rate of MtoF transsexuality, as well as increases in rates of various Intersex conditions, this was not known – at least by the mothers – at the time.

    Cite:

    Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol(DES) in males and gender-related disorders:results from a 5-year study Scott Kerlin. Proc. International Behavioral Development Symposium July 2005

  160. bw1 says:

    @Kevin: "I'm absolutely comfortable with an adolescent receiving hormones so long as they're consenting to it."

    Isn't the entire concept of a legal age of consent premised upon the idea that they CAN'T provide meaningful consent and are assumed to be subject to influences they don't understand?

    "This is not a conflict between the rights of parents and the power of government. This is a conflict between the rights of parents and the rights of children."

    Unless you endow children with all the freedom and responsibility of adults, it's absolutely between the parents and the government. One or the other gets to determine the child's best interests.

    "You can't beat your kid with a broomstick because they say they're going to vote for the Democrats when they turn 18, "

    But the government can do far worse for their advocacy of certain views prevalent in certain middle eastern countries,

    "Agreed. Still…it works."

    In the aggregate, it doesn't, otherwise, with the growth in the number of psychologists in the last century, we'd have achieved utopia by now.
    "a parent should not be able to harm a child in the service of their religious eccentricities."

    Define harm. Germany recently outlawed circumcision. Psychology is as much a religion as anything else, and its definition of harm isn't particularly credible. On balance, the benefit/harm quotient for the so-called social sciences is no better than that of traditional religions, including even Islam.
    Either children are subject to the widely varied religious, philosophical and other eccentricities of parents, or they are subject to the one-size-fits-all beliefs du jour of the state. Which approach do you think will maintain that robust marketplace of ideas to which this blog seems largely dedicated? That includes ongoing lively disagreements as to exactly where the line between morally acceptable and morally unacceptable sexual behavior should be drawn.

  161. bw1 says:

    @Kevin – you spoke of life threatening violence – to exactly what were you referring? Children have died during "rebirthing therapy," but do you have any cites for people killed during reparative therapy?

    Like I said, freedom is messy. I accept as a given there are violent human deaths with a causal relationship to adherance to the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments. I can accept the risks these limitations on government carry, even though some of those risks are to my own safety.

    We should each parent to the best of our abilities and leave others alone to do the same, and let the successes and failures of the next generation be our only judge. If you're worldview is more valid, then your kids will be well adjusted and successful, and the children of the reparative therapy advocates will be maladjusted failures, and their ideals will fade away in a generation or two. Have enough faith in your beliefs to make that bet and roll the dice.

  162. bw1 says:

    Kevin – one other question: You said you supported hormone therapy for teens who personally consented, and also spoke of client guided therapy. What is your position on the scenario where a teen walks into a therapist's office, and credibly without parental involvement or prompting, REQUESTS reparative therapy?

  163. M. says:

    @bw1: I chose extreme examples because the Internet is the domain of people who don't understand subtlety, and I've long since forgotten how to turn off "relatively small words and colorful metaphors" mode.

    In any case, it would seem that you're not concerned with individual rights, so we're unlikely to have a meaningful conversation about what is, fundamentally, a rights issue – specifically, a person's right to express his or her sexual identity without being persecuted.

    I do find it disturbing, however, that you equate homosexuality and transsexuality to "acting sexually like wild dogs in an alley." You are aware that it's possible to learn responsible sexual behavior regardless of your orientation? What's so bad about accepting your child's sexual preferences and teaching them not to act like "wild dogs in an alley?"

  164. M. says:

    Oh and I'm fairly sure no one has ever committed suicide over being prodded to eat Brussels sprouts.

  165. Zoe Brain says:

    @bw1:

    We should each parent to the best of our abilities and leave others alone to do the same, and let the successes and failures of the next generation be our only judge.

    I agree.

    If you're worldview is more valid, then your kids will be well adjusted and successful, and the children of the reparative therapy advocates will be maladjusted failures

    That seems to be the case from 22 year follow-up studies, yes, though rather a lot suicide instead.

    , and their ideals will fade away in a generation or two.

    That does not follow, and is against historical precedent.

    A NYC survey showed that 1/3 of all homeless children were GLBTI. The average age they were kicked out of home was 14 for Gays, 13 1/2 for Trans, and Intersex even younger.

    The kind of people who refer their children to such "therapists" are all too often ones who would prefer a dead son to a live daughter. Those who are not get told that it's all the parents' fault.

  166. Zoe Brain says:

    @bw1

    but do you have any cites for people killed during reparative therapy?

    Cites for many who have died after or while undergoing it, yes, though proving a causal link isn't possible. All one can say is that chances of self-harm in cohorts who have undergone this therapy is higher than for similar cohorts who have not.

    See for example the risk factors identified in
    The Relationship Between Sexual Orientation and Risk for Suicide: Research Findings and Future Directions for Research and Prevention McDanie et al Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior Volume 31, Issue Supplement s1, pages 84–105, Spring 2001.

    Other cites are mentioned in the legislation we're discussing.

    See also "Reparative" Therapy: Whether Parental Attempts to Change a Child's Sexual Orientation Can Legally Constitute Child Abuse K.A.Hicks 49 Am. U. L. Rev. 505 (1999-2000)

    We can say the same for Transsexual children where the recommended therapy was refused. But again, proving causation isn't possible, therapy may have been refused because of psychological instability.

    When she was 12 her mother tried to have her put onto hormone blockers to delay puberty. She didn’t want to develop body hair, a deep voice or have wet dreams. She had already self-harmed when young, trying to slice her penis off with a pair of scissors. However, in what was clearly a borderline decision, the psychologists decided to that she should not be given these drugs. She should be given counselling instead. In despair her mother, a single parent, tried to take her to the United States, but the air fare and the £200 a month cost of these drugs was way beyond her means. Her father had no money either and both sets of grandparents didn’t want to know.

    Two years later the talking therapy failed. Juliaantje took a massive overdose and died, having self-harmed, abused alcohol and other substances for more than a year before that.

    “She was an intelligent and lively girl.” Her mother tells me through the tears and a large glass of Genever in a nearby café, probably the only thing that can deaden the pain of losing her only child. “She had a great future ahead of her, she could have done anything, been a doctor, a lawyer her teachers said…” Her voice breaks. Her happy nature had disappeared when male puberty really hit. “Her voice broke and she started to get facial hair and hair on her chest. She wore make up and turtle-neck jumpers to hide it all, but she simply couldn’t deal with the way her body was developing…”

    Did she blame the psychiatrists? No. Psychiatry is never going to be an exact science, there will always be people who don’t fit into their categories. She does however, feel that they could have given her the benefit of the doubt. “The effects of hormone blockers are easy to reverse, you just stop taking them…” There would have been no risk to her daughter if, at any time she decided that she did not want to be a girl she could simply have stopped, and male puberty would have started.

    Hormone Blockers are essentially a way for young trans people and children to leave their options open. They open an extended open window of choice, which gives them time to think about their future, a time during which young people can decide whether they wish to remain the sex they were assigned at birth, whether that be male or female, or whether they need gender reassignment surgery after the age of 18. Talking to mothers of transgender children in the UK who have been prescribed hormone blockers, usually at great cost (£200 a month plus the cost of a consultation in and flight to the United States) one thing comes across loudly and clearly; “I would rather have a live daughter than a dead son.” One of them told me. One mother had remortgaged her house to pay the cost of these drugs knowing what her child was like, she realised that this would probably be the only way to keep her alive.

    Another mother talked of how her young child had been prescribed a cocktail of a dozen drugs, including Ritalin, because of behaviour problems at home and at school. Yet when her child was recognised as transgender everything changed. As soon as she was treated as a girl, the tantrums, the bedwetting, the crying, the screaming, the hyperactivity, the violence, just stopped, as did the need for any of the drugs. “She became happy and contented almost overnight, just because we treated her like a girl! The psychologist who spotted this probably saved her life.”

    Those are the stories behind the statistics.

  167. Zoe Brain says:

    Full Disclosure at this point – my objectivity here is questionable.

    While technically I'm Intersex rather than Transsexual, it really is a technicality. Any Intersex condition precludes a diagnosis of Transsexuality under the ICD-10, or Gender Identity Disorder under the DSM-IV-TR.

    I was born looking male (mostly), and brought up that way. I knew at age 10 some mistake had been made, I was a girl despite what I looked like, but trusted that things would develop normally in a few years.

    "A few" turned out to be 37. The BHSD form of CAH usually causes sex-reversal in the womb, but rarely remits. When it does, a "natural sex change" – partial – results. The change is similar to the FtoM sex-reversal at puberty in 5ARD or 17BHSD, but can be MtoF as well as FtoM.

    Anyway, despite the diagnosis of "severe androgenisation of a non-pregnant woman", I am for most intents and purposes, transsexual. The fact that my transition was from natural rather than therapeutic causes is inconsequential.

  168. flip says:

    I am not sure whether to post because BWI hit a nerve. I will only say a few things and not reply to most of the points I'd like to…

    @BWI

    You have a lot of black and white thinking. There is some grey, where the child actually does yes, have some individuality and decision-making abilities. It's not "all the state/parent" or "all the child". You seem to fall for both the nirvana and "what's the harm" fallacies.

    In addition, I'm not sure whether or not you think mental illnesses exist at all; but your misconception that all childhood problems are inventions to keep unruly kids at bay is incorrect.

    Thirdly, it works both ways: if you as a parent force me to undertake treatment (which is harmful and ineffective) that I do not want, you likewise have the 'right' to deny me effective and safe treatment that I do want or need. This is no different than parents giving faith healing instead of proper science-based medicine.

    Personally, I'd like the freedom to not be given quack medicine when I'm vulnerable or unable to decide for myself.

    Lastly, the fact that only behavioural modification works: I'd like to know how do I alter my behaviour in order to prevent myself from feeling suicidal? How do I alter my behaviour to stop crying every 5 minutes at random shit? How do I alter my behaviour to prevent panic attacks which come on suddenly and without warning?

    You seem to disregard the fact that whilst over-diagnosis and over-medication are problems, many many people live better and more fulfilling lives *because* of the meds they are taking.

  169. Grifter says:

    @bw1:

    You can't focus completely on rights and ignore responsibilities altogether.

    Children are not chattel, they are not property. Parents are expected to be stewards of their children, not masters. To think of them in such a way is to ignore the responsibilities of the parent to the child. Your argument is one which can, with only a modicum of effort, be applied to any form of abuse. "Parents should be able to sexually abuse their children! They're either the chattel of the state or the chattel of the parents, and I say they're the chattel of the parents, therefore the state has no right to intervene".

    And, to ignore the fact that every civilized country in the world has the state becoming invested in children just because you don't agree with it is ridiculous. There is no assumption that you support them, there is only the fact of the reality of the situation. There are many instances where, due to a law a person may not necessarily agree with, another law that a person doesn't necessarily like gets passed which the person supports only because of the reality of the situation. It's sort of like taking a medicine to deal with the side effects of another medicine.

    This debate is very interesting, overall, in that it keeps diverting to whether parents have a right to do this at all, as opposed to what this law actually does, which is prevent licensed professionals, and licensed professionals only, from engaging in what is a harmful and fraudulent practice. There are a million other laws regulating the conduct of licensed professionals; perhaps better written ones, to be sure, but nonethelesss they exist. Parents are still free, under this law, to pursue reparative therapy. They just can't go to a licensed therapist to get it.

  170. Zoe Brain says:

    @flip

    You have a lot of black and white thinking. There is some grey, where the child actually does yes, have some individuality and decision-making abilities. It's not "all the state/parent" or "all the child". You seem to fall for both the nirvana and "what's the harm" fallacies.

    For an example, see Sally's testimony, in RE: SALLY (SPECIAL MEDICAL PROCEDURE) [2010] FamCA 237.

    It's an example of 5ARD. For some, the (technically not transsexual, but may as well be) boys, it's a release from hell, no longer having a female body. For the girls… a nightmare.

    1. Sally was born into a loving family in 1995. She had no health difficulties at birth and, to all intents and purposes, appeared to be a happy and healthy baby girl.

    2. That remained the case until she was about 11. At that time, her mother deposes

    … she told me that she’d found two lumps; one in the right side of her abdomen, and the other in her left labia. She asked me if they were “nuts” meaning testes. I immediately said no, but due to [Sally’s] concerns, I arranged for her to see our local GP. The GP examined [Sally], and said that the lumps were a normal part of the puberty process. I thought nothing of it after that.

    3. Sally’s mother goes on to depose,

    When she was in grade 7, she asked me why she had not started her periods, as most of her friends at school had started to get periods. I told her that girls start to have periods [at] different times, and not to be too concerned about it. [Sally’s] breast development appeared to be normal.
    [Sally] had also raised the concerns regarding a deepening of her voice.
    The deepening of [Sally’s] voice had happened gradually. I had never really given it any thought; as far as I was concerned, it was [Sally].

    4. In early 2009, behavioural issues manifested themselves at school. Ultimately, Sally consulted a paediatrician. Initial tests revealed that Sally had XY genotype, did not have a uterus, and had gonads present in her pelvis. That initial investigation led to further specialist medical consultations, to which further reference will shortly be made.

    5. Ultimately, specialist medical and psychiatric opinion aligns in recommending a surgical procedure which 141/2 year old Sally also seeks, and in which she is supported by each of her parents. That procedure is the performance of invasive and irreversible surgery; a gonadectomy, which would see removal of her gonads, and, thus, all vestiges of her, as it were, “maleness.”

    6. Orders are applied for by the Hospital who would have responsibility for those doctors who would perform the mooted operation. That hospital applies for orders, relevantly, that the proposed surgery, involving the bilateral removal of her gonads, be authorised by her parents and that this authorisation operate as all such authority as is needed at law, by which to perform that operation.

    .

    The Judge in this case was tasked by Australian law with deciding what was right. He took into account the wishes of the child, expert medical and psychological testimony, and also that of the parents.

    I wonder what bw1 would have decided?

  171. Scott Jacobs says:

    and it's essentially the same sort of decision, with the same potential for negative outcomes, as the reparative therapy decision.

    No, not the same potential – if you were interested in intellectual honestly you'd see that.

    But you'd much prefer to be a bigot, which is totally your choice but I think that after today I'll no longer waste time speaking to you.

    "But to subject a child to a "treatment" that has absolutely no demonstrable success rate that can be distinguished from "random chance",

    That describes the majority of what goes on in the mainstream mental health industry. It seems you've focused on one sentence in my comment, ignored the context, and completely missed the point of that sentence.

    No, you homophobic pile of shit, I did not "miss the point of that sentence".

    You are gleefully advocating actively causing serious harm to children, and then justifying it by claiming that all psychology is bunk so perfectly fine.

    Were you not so busy trying to justify your disgusting beliefs re: teh gheys, you would bother to do at least SOME research first – a great many forms of therapy DO have a demonstrable effect on patients.

    And that ignores the tiny little detail that people don't generally try to kill themselves if they can't get over a fear of spiders, while suicide is a common after-effect of people have been subjected to Reparative treatment.

    Look, like I said, you're free to dislike gay people and think they are "wrong". That's totally up to you.

    I just wish you would be invited to do it far, far away from here.

  172. Lizard says:

    re: Being forced to eat brussels sprouts.

    Suicide? No.
    Homicide, specifically, matricide? I considered it.

  173. Geoff says:

    @Lizard,

    Same here. To the teenage me, the sprout was indeed a cruel and unusual vegetable.

  174. William says:

    bw1:

    The only branch of psychology I accept as remotely scientific is behavioralism. I don't know or care if therapy alters preferences, I see it all as a matter of behavioral outcomes.

    And here you've displayed your woefully inadequate understanding of the basic state of clinical psychology today. The behaviorists nearly died out until their movement was resurrected as the various streams we call Cognitive Behavioral Therapy today. It became quite popular because its appears faster (and thus cheaper) than other forms of therapy. Long term outcome studies show that its very good for some things (phobias, skills training, transitory depression) but not very durable for others. The problem is that behavioral outcomes often shift and sometimes are irrelevant; if you have a 14 year old in your office who has attempted suicide by hanging half a dozen times in the last four years you can't just try to get them to stop tying nooses, you need to address why they want to die.

    Follow the context – in two states, marijuana is legal, and in some countries, 16 year olds can drink. Should parents be allowed to send their kids to rehab?

    Your analogy is badly flawed. Alcoholism is harmful, homosexuality is not. Rehab is known to be somewhat effective in treating substance abuse, conversion therapy is ineffective in altering sexual identity. Rehab addresses not only the behaviors of substance abuse but also the underlying reasons for that substance abuse, barring hardcore (and, today, outcome neutral) psychoanalysis you can pretty much give up on the idea of any treatment even getting a glimpse of the roots of sexual identity because its basically in-born. Finally, there isn't a huge body of evidence suggesting that people who go to rehab are likely to have serious dysfunction later in life as a result of shame from having had a drink.

    More to the point, conversion therapy isn't about stopping children from having sex. Parents absolutely have a valid concern in preventing their children from having sex, but thats not really what conversion therapy is. Conversion therapy aims not at the behavioral outcome you like so much but at sexual preference and expression. Imagine hearing a story about a pair of lesbian parents who had a daughter and wanted to send her to conversion therapy to stop her from being straight. Imagine that the LGBT community became deeply militant and this became something of a cottage industry. Imagine that a number of suicides, and a near universal experience of depression and anxiety, became associated with these straight kids of gay parents who were subjected to a treatment designed to make them gay. Imagine if your parents sent you to a therapy designed to violently shame you until you at least tried to like men. Can you honestly say "well, freedom is messy, but my parents absolutely had more of a right to make me jerk off to gay porn than the state did to tell them they couldn't"?

    In the aggregate, it doesn't, otherwise, with the growth in the number of psychologists in the last century, we'd have achieved utopia by now.

    You're arguing that psychology isn't scientific enough for you but, when presented with a methodically sound, high power, enormous sample study displaying the efficacy of a particular branch of modern clinical psychology you handwave it away with magical thinking and utopian bullshit.

    On balance, the benefit/harm quotient for the so-called social sciences is no better than that of traditional religions, including even Islam.

    Careful there, I think you're starting to show a bit more than you perhaps intended.

    Either children are subject to the widely varied religious, philosophical and other eccentricities of parents, or they are subject to the one-size-fits-all beliefs du jour of the state. Which approach do you think will maintain that robust marketplace of ideas to which this blog seems largely dedicated?

    You can't sell Red Label in a Blue Label bottle and call it Blue Label, that would be fraud. Conversion therapy is a form of religious counseling, not a form of clinical psychology. All California did was demand that it be labeled as such. There is no crime, no one subjected to the state's monopoly on force. All the state did was regulate licensure in a specific profession. Psychologists can still do reparative therapy with adults, parents can still bring their children to (the universally religious) quacks, no one is going to be fined or arrested. The only change is that the state has decided that licensed individuals cannot do reparative therapy for children. What this is, at it's core, is about truth in advertising.

    You said you supported hormone therapy for teens who personally consented, and also spoke of client guided therapy. What is your position on the scenario where a teen walks into a therapist's office, and credibly without parental involvement or prompting, REQUESTS reparative therapy?

    That was me, not Kevin. In that situation my response would be simple: I'm not trained in reparative/conversion therapy so it would be unethical for me to enter into that kind of treatment. I'd then advise them of the risks and lack of efficacy and offer to more directly discuss the distress they're experiencing around their sexuality. I'd probe to see if this was a sincere desire or if they're being pressured and offer them therapy with me as an out if they're being sent to me by their parents. If they were still dead set on conversion therapy at the end of the session I'd do my best to find them a referral as it isn't my damned place to judge someone's decision about themselves.

  175. Lago says:

    @Grifter: bw1 is ignoring the evidence and the reality of the abuse and the harm, but I despise your line of reasoning that the state should have such a vested interest in child rearing. That logic takes us places we don't want to go.

  176. Lago says:

    Also, I think William is subtly digging at this, but is it even possible to genuinely WANT conversion therapy? I know adults seek conversion therapy, but I would assume it's because of peer pressure, and beliefs, not because of a genuine desire to be attracted to a different sex. Sexual orientation is a more defining characteristic than physical appearance, it's a huge part of what you want in your life. If you can't control what you want, is it truly possible to want the opposite of what you want? How does that work?

  177. AlphaCentauri says:

    The description of reparative therapy, and the parents' roles in carrying out the protocol, sounds horrific. I wonder how many suicides were due to the therapy itself, and how were many due to having the type of parents who would subject their child to that type of torture as if they were merely molding clay to get a sculpture that met their expectations? I can't imagine any parents putting up with their child's pain more than a day or two before deciding the doctors are totally fucked up.

    BTW, there is currently a similar controversy with profoundly deaf children of deaf parents. Cochlear implants can give them enough hearing to learn spoken language fluently. If the implants delayed until later in life when the child can consent, the ability to acquire speech is much more limited. Hearing doctors often feel it is abuse to deny the children this therapy and cases have gone before judges to compel parents to allow it. But deaf parents who are members of the Deaf community have no problems communicating in sign language. Their children tend to acquire written English more fluently than deaf children of hearing parents, who don't acquire fluent sign language (or any language at all) as early in life. And they wish their children to grow up part of their own community, not the community of hearing people that is relatively foreign to them and which considers them disabled.

  178. Grifter says:

    @Lago:

    Which part do you despise, the idea that children aren't chattel our the idea that the state has an interest in ensuring parents don't abdicate their responsibility while exercising their rights?

    And i'd point out

  179. Grifter says:

    … Disregard the junk sentence, my phone decided that i must have meant to click submit

  180. Zoe Brain says:

    @Lago –

    is it even possible to genuinely WANT conversion therapy? I know adults seek conversion therapy, but I would assume it's because of peer pressure, and beliefs, not because of a genuine desire to be attracted to a different sex.

    Yes it is possible.

    Case in point – two women, happily married for 30 years, still very much in love, but both straight. They'd both like to be at least bi in order to be physically (rather than just emotionally and intellectually) attracted to each other.

    Many straight trans women would prefer to be lez, it dramatically decreases the chances of them being torture/rape/murdered.

    Too bad such physical attraction can't be induced to order. Reduced, yes, given enough damage. Many straight women have been rendered asexual due to sexual abuse. For that matter, nearly everyone goes through puberty, where the potential orientation set in the womb is activated, but the potential has to be there first.

    While we control our actions, we cannot control our attractions.

    I was asexual, situationally lesbian, until age 48. Puberty – anomalous though it was – gave me a sexual orientation. Instinctive, physiological responses to pheremones and other cues, no higher brain functions involved. Rather scary, but at least now I understand 99.9% of the human race better, and a lot of things previously inexplicable now make sense.

    Not the orientation I would have chosen, had it been a choice. Rather fun though. The thing I found most surprising was how much of human sexual behaviour is instinctive, my body knew what to do even though I was clueless. Remember, I'd had 47 years of having a masculinised body, the device drivers didn't fit the peripherals. Everything had to be an intellectual exercise, and while pleasing my partner gave me an emotional high, it was always a bit mechanical, I had to think about what I was doing and maintain concentration.

    Sex is now completely different, the exact opposite, just living in the moment and experiencing it. Conscious thought and control isn't just un-necessary, it soon becomes impossible.

  181. Lago says:

    "you'd have to defend how, exactly, you believe the state has no say in the raising of children that the state contributes a significant amount of money towards, in terms of public schools, food programs, etc."

    This bothers me. Social programs absolutely CANNOT be used as a justification for the government telling parents what they can and cannot do. If the government says it can make laws in its own interests because it has invested in your livelihood, then what else can it say? I would side with bw1 and say I'd rather we didn't have those programs at all, if that's going to be the case. This line of reasoning makes it sound like it's some kind of exchange, "give me your life, I bought and paid for it". We don't owe them our freedoms for those services, even for something as despicable as conversion therapy, rather we make the laws in the child's interest.

  182. Grifter says:

    @Lago:

    bw1's argument was that children are their parents slaves, and no one has any say whatsoever in how they are raised. My point was that, first off, they aren't that, but if you say they are, you have to justify why my money is taken at metaphorical gunpoint to educate your slave, but I can't say "hey, maybe you shouldn't torture them to death".

    We institute these things for the child's benefit, and we intervene when parents abuse their rights for the child's benefit. I don't see a massive difference between the two. The state should always be erring on the side of non-intervention when there is any question, but to argue that the state can never intervene in abuse is, to me, ludicrous.

  183. Lago says:

    @Zoe: thanks for that, though this one – "Many straight trans women would prefer to be lez, it dramatically decreases the chances of them being torture/rape/murdered," is a pressure put on them, similar to the pressure of having an erroneous belief that you're going to hell if you're gay. It's a much more real pressure than that, but still an external pressure.

    I'm not sure I really agree that it's too bad we can't change ourselves so dramatically. Empirically, it makes sense for some people, but I think most of us would be terrified with the prospect that our desires are so malleable.

  184. Lago says:

    @grifter: As long as that's not the justification you're using for making such laws, I think I see your point. It's more like a "you exist within a society that has a government tasked with making laws to protect its people, so deal with it" kind of thing.

  185. Zoe Brain says:

    OK, I know everyone else knows this, but to me it was a surprise, OK?

  186. Zoe Brain says:

    @Lago

    I'm not sure I really agree that it's too bad we can't change ourselves so dramatically. Empirically, it makes sense for some people, but I think most of us would be terrified with the prospect that our desires are so malleable.

    Yet nearly everyone goes through puberty. Yes, our brain changes, our minds change, radically. We've already been through this process once. It does appear to be a once-only though, for men anyway. Perhaps, as you say, that's just as well, it does bring up troubling questions of identity only usually faced by those who have suffered severe brain trauma.

    It's only by realising that the mind is a process, not a thing, that such troubling issues can be dealt with. You're not (quite) the same person when you wake up than when you went to bed. There are changes in your neuro-anatomy, memories being laid down are just the most obvious.

    The hormonal surges in puberty cause massive physical changes. So do the hormonal surges in pregnancy. Mothers get their minds altered not once, but twice. After that, hormones don't do much.

    I'm more aware of this because my brain got re-wired when I was 47 rather than 12, and in fast-forward, both physical and mental changes obvious to myself and observers in superquick time. I'd look perceptibly different (just) when I came to work on Monday morning than when I left Friday afternoon.

    Terrifying? Yup. Like trying to surf a 1000ft wave. It's just that you don't get a choice, you have to hang on and hope for the best.

  187. AlphaCentauri says:

    The state has a right/responsibility to protect the well-being of children for the same reason it has a right/responsibility to prevent people from being murdered or robbed. We have given up part of our right to self-determination in exchange for protection from being preyed upon by roving bands of rapists and thieves.

    Children receive protection in their capacity as individual citizens entitled to the services of the state, even if the people trying to harm them are their own parents. The difficulty is finding the sweet spot between the state interfering with the integrity of families and the state allowing a person to be tortured by another person simply because she is physically or financially dependent on that person.

  188. Putting aside the merits of this law (which as a Californian I fully support), I'm concerned about how effective it'll actually be in preventing psychological harm to minors. Perhaps somewhere, there is a parent who believes that a therapist practicing conversion therapy was safe to bring their child to because of their state-licensed credentials, and they will no longer labor under that illusion. But I fear the vast majority of them, desperate to fix what they perceive to be a very serious problem in their children, will seek help from a new cottage industry of quacks who will continue to provide the same services at the same elevated rates.

    I don't know if more laws are the solution to this – it is a very tricky endeavor to decide where to curb a parent's psychological abuse of their own children – but ultimately the practice has to be eradicated one way or another, for the sake of the vulnerable children who are irreparably hurt by it.

  189. William says:

    Lago: I think its certainly possible for people to genuinely want conversion therapy. Back when I was a student, I briefly treated a patient who, it later turned out, wanted exactly that because their sexual preference didn't jibe with their religion and had ruined their marriage. Thats part of the danger of the closet.

    Derrick Coetzee: Actually, not allowing licensed people to do conversion therapy might reduce it's overall use. Without a license you can't get insurance to reimburse for treatment, you can't get malpractice insurance, and at least some parents will be deterred by the lack of perceived authority that will come with someone being unlicensed (and, likely, uncredentialed). I would also suspect that unlicensed conversion therapy will eventually run into some legal problems. There is an enormous difference between a doctor talking to a teenage patient about the patient's sex life and sexual fantasies and some other adult talking about the same things with the same kid.

  190. princessartemis says:

    @Zoe, for what it is worth, being an asexual woman (of the variety that has experienced sexual attraction three or four times in her 37 years and so *knows* she hain't never did otherwise and therefor finds saying "heterosexual" altogether misleading), asexuality is often an orientation as well. Not a common one to be sure, but it is an orientation. I am uncertain whether or not you intended to suggest it was only a state that people experienced against their natures or was only a state people experienced before they "bloomed", but that is what I saw from your post.

    Anyhow…this has been an interesting and a bit disturbing comment thread to follow. At times I have been reminded how the modern practice of psychiatry is a major contributing cause of my disability. If I had never seen that one psychiatrist as a teenager, my body might work correctly today. But then if I had not seen any, I might have committed suicide. For my parents, the shades were very, very grey. So, this comment thread has been a little hard to follow.

    As for the post, if it is a matter of licensure, that strikes me as acceptable.

  191. bw1 says:

    @flip, ultimately, our society does not hold children as the final authority regarding their own best interests, and most of us can recall decisions we made as kids that tend to validate the wisdom of that. If not the child, then SOMEONE must fill that role, and between the parent and the government, I prefer the parent, if only because it limits the impact. Keep in mind there was a time that the government would almost certainly gone the other way on this, and the unprecedented freedom gays currently enjoy would not have been possible if THAT government had exerted the level of oversight over parents that you're advocating.

    Please explain where you got the idea that I don't believe mental illness exists, or that "all childhood problems are interventions to keep unruly kids at bay."

    "This is no different than parents giving faith healing instead of proper science-based medicine. "

    A right I support which has enjoyed some measure of support from the courts.

    I share your feelings regarding being vulnerable and subjected to quack medicine. I am very thankful that my parents never did anything like that. However, I am also thankful that I've never been shot, but that doesn't mean I don't support the 2nd Amendment. I am thankful that I've never been victimized by a prior offender who escaped prosecution because of a botched search warrant, or a failure to read him his rights, but that doesn't impact my zealous support for due process. I am also sympathetic to those who have experienced the downside of these risks of our system of limited government, but I don't harbor any illusion that abandoning those principles would be an unmitigated improvement.

    "You seem to disregard the fact that whilst over-diagnosis and over-medication are problems, many many people live better and more fulfilling lives *because* of the meds they are taking."

    I don't disregard that analysis; I disagree with it.

  192. Lago says:

    @William: See that's what I consider a very disingenuous reason to want conversion therapy.

  193. bw1 says:

    @Grifter, I don't ignore responsibilities; I accept that in a free society, the downside of some peoples' failure to meet their responsibilities is, as you put it, an unavoidable reality of the situation. I do not believe any human has achieved perfection in parenting, and I further believe that imposing a template for parenting, however well intentioned, may suppress the evolution of better parenting by removing what I call the natural selection of ideas from the equation.
    I accept the reality of a need need to act against tightly defined direct lethal violence by parents, for starters, but at the same time, I don't trust government to do so effectively or not to abuse even that limited power. To say I am conflicted regarding with what level of government intervention I am comfortable is an understatement. However, I know it's far short of this piece of legislation.
    As far as what "every civilized country is doing," I don't see that as any measure of legitimacy. Every civilized country, minus one, suppresses free speech (and the one is slipping) most of them have capital punishment, they all use their military intelligence organizations to spy on their own citizens – I could go on at length. "Everybody's doing it" ceased to be a persuasive argument for me sometime around 3rd grade.
    As for the law being limited to licensed practitioners, I'm not alone here in my contempt for the existence of such licensing systems.

  194. bw1 says:

    @Lizard re: Being forced to eat brussels sprouts.

    I'm with you there, but now I actually like them, properly prepared.

  195. Lago says:

    "However, I am also thankful that I've never been shot, but that doesn't mean I don't support the 2nd Amendment."

    How is this analogous at all? The second amendment does NOT give you the right to shoot people in the same way being a parent doesn't give you the right to kill your child. That is a terrible analogy.

  196. bw1 says:

    @William: "Your analogy is badly flawed. Alcoholism is harmful, homosexuality is not. Rehab is known to be somewhat effective in treating substance abuse,"

    Sure, and that's why so many people go through rehab so many times they should have a frequent flyer program. Many kids who go through rehab are not addicts, but recreational users whose parents think they need it, and there are people of all ages who go as part of a plea bargain.

    The point is, while the analogy may not seem right in your therapeutic paradigm, from a standpoint of the proper role of government (and remember, we are discussing a piece of legislation here) it's very applicable. In a context where the drug of choice is legal, both reparative therapy and drug rehab involve teens being forced into an ostensibly therapeutic situation designed to reduce their tendency to engage in a perfectly legal, arguably harmless activity. It's very likely that the rate of dysfunction and/or suicide among those who've been through rehab is comparable to that for graduates of reparative therapy. As Zoe pointed out, you can't prove/disprove causation in either case. The rate of dysfuntion/suicide among combat veterans is unacceptably high, and causality is highly likely, but I don't see SCOTUS ordering the dismantling of the Selective Service administration.

    "Conversion therapy aims not at the behavioral outcome you like so much but at sexual preference and expression."

    I disagree – I think that's a distinction that you and I see, but most of the target market doesn't. I'd bet that most of the client parents would be very happy if their kid simply didn't engage in the behavior,

    "Can you honestly say "well, freedom is messy, but my parents absolutely had more of a right to make me jerk off to gay porn than the state did to tell them they couldn't"?"

    I can honestly say that is my sentiment – I've been fortunate, but I do not think I had any right to be. Throughout the course of my life, I've displayed an outrageously strong tolerance for unpleasant situations and resistance to influence, so I don't think such efforts would constitute end of the world experiences for me. I'll admit, though. that if such were my formative circumstances, I might have a different worldview today, and feel differently about the role of the state.

    "Careful there, I think you're starting to show a bit more than you perhaps intended."

    Not really. I was paraphrasing Camille Paglia – who I'm pretty sure you would agree is very far from what you're implying.

    "You're arguing that psychology isn't scientific enough for you but, when presented with a methodically sound, high power,"

    Medical science can show a steady increase in measurable life expectancy. Physics has similar achievements. Social scientists can't show a single social problem that has significantly decreased as their influence in society grew. While it's possible to show cases where therapy achieved the intended outcome, that doesn't mean that the intended outcome was necessarily an improvement. Further, your industry's impact takes far more forms than the mere outcome of individual therapeutic processes – it includes its pontification on matters of public policy, and the results of that influence.

    "All the state did was regulate licensure in a specific profession."

    Something I don't support either. In the case of that profession, the very existence of licensing and regulation, is, in my opinion the state's establishment of an official orthodoxy in an area where truth is an undecidable proposition.

    "If they were still dead set on conversion therapy at the end of the session I'd do my best to find them a referral as it isn't my damned place to judge someone's decision about themselves."

    Cool – I can get behind that.

    "and at least some parents will be deterred by the lack of perceived authority that will come with someone being unlicensed (and, likely, uncredentialed). "

    The rhetoric of vaccine opponents betrays a strong capacity for the opposite – to change their perception of the value/legitimacy of the authority.

  197. bw1 says:

    @Lago, I am not ignoring anything. I simply don't see it as grounds for the state having, as you put it, such a vested interest in child rearing.

    "If you can't control what you want, is it truly possible to want the opposite of what you want? How does that work?"

    If you believe that what you want is harmful, it's possible to want to be rid of the desire in question. Every nice guy has met hundreds of women who desperately want not to be attracted to mysogynist scumbags. There's an entire literary and cinematic genre devoted to the phenomenon.

    "This bothers me. Social programs absolutely CANNOT be used as a justification for the government telling parents what they can and cannot do."

    Now there, I have to go in the opposite direction – paying the piper, in my view, does justify calling the tune. That is the danger of those programs.

  198. bw1 says:

    @Grifter: "bw1's argument was that children are their parents slaves"

    Not exactly, but we draw the line differently enough that I can see where you might lean toward that characterization.

  199. bw1 says:

    @Derrick: "I'm concerned about how effective it'll actually be in preventing psychological harm to minors. Perhaps somewhere, there is a parent who believes that a therapist practicing conversion therapy was safe to bring their child to because of their state-licensed credentials, and they will no longer labor under that illusion"

    You raise an interesting reason for opposing this law, even if you didn't intend to – wow, an unintended invocation of unintended consequences – a licensed therapist is subject to some oversight, and this law may drive parents to practitioners with NO oversight, and no limitations on their methods. It's similar to to the idea bans on abortion will send women to back-alley abortionists.

  200. Lago says:

    Yet you continue to ignore the mountains of evidence to the contrary. Just because you can't link causation in suicide rates doesn't mean the causation doesn't exist. Your claim that people who go to rehab for alcoholism probably have a similar suicide rate belies your delusion that conversion therapy isn't any more harmful than any kind of therapy. It's just convenient that the statistics aren't firm, so you can disagree with them as you like.

    And government programs do not necessitate governmental self importance. I don't think so.

  201. bw1 says:

    "No, not the same potential – if you were interested in intellectual honestly you'd see that."

    So, taking a kid who is NOT transexual, pumping them full of hormones and making them live as the opposite gender doesn't have the same potential for harm as reparative therapy that is limited to a few hours a week in an office? Um, sure, if you say so.

    "No, you homophobic pile of shit, I did not "miss the point of that sentence"."

    You most certainly did, since it had nothing to do with sexual orientation, but with the mental health industry. It wasn't an endorsement of reparative therapy, but rather a condemnation of the entire mental health industry as profoundly unscientific.

    "You are gleefully advocating actively causing serious harm to children"

    I most certainly am not. I am advocating the position that it's none of the government's business, one way or the other. You'd think with all the time spent on this blog, reading Ken's careful expositions of the difference between approval of something and supporting the proposition that government has no role in curtailing it, that you'd be able to muster a few productive synapses and comprehend that difference. Apparently that's not a valid assumption.

    Let me help you out with an example. I enthusiastically support the victories for legalizing pot in CO and WA. That does NOT mean I advocate getting baked. In fact, I've never tried any recreational drugs, my annual alcohol consumption is less than most peoples' daily consumption, and if I caught any kid of mine getting high, he'd wish he'd never been born.

    I'll fight to defend your right to get it on with whatever flavor of person you want and to raise your kids to believe that there's nothing wrong with that, and at the same time, I'll defend the right of others to believe there is something wrong with that, and raise their kids to believe as they do.

    By the way, I haven't expressed an opinion re: "teh gheys." Your vitriol is revealing of one thing, though – you and Fred Phelps share a common belief that decent, reasonable people cannot be allowed to disagree on the positioning of the line between moral and immoral sexual behavior. If that's the company you want to keep, far be it from me to stand in your way.

  202. Lizard says:

    "I don’t disregard that analysis; I disagree with it."

    This is rather illogical.

    If therapy is worthless, then, it will not have an effect. If it has an effect, it is not worthless. You can't have it both ways — you can't claim that psychology is just homeopathy with better press, AND claim that psychology is destroying people by altering their personalities.

    Indeed, I can offer an eyewitness account of the value of psychiatric drugs. For the first case, without them, my wife would be dead by now. Her life with drugs is not great, but her life without them is, literally, unlivable. For the second case, I offer myself. A few years ago, I finally confronted the slow decline in my ability get *anything* done, got a prescription for adderall, and found my productivity improving dramatically — including my ability to do creative, imaginative, work. The idea that ADD treatments turn people into mindless drones who conform to the will of their masters is myth. Adderall has enabled me to actually work on the things I choose to work on, instead of spending all day looking at lolcats.

  203. Grifter says:

    @bw1:

    First off, you can't say your argument wasn't that children are slaves.

    You said they were chattel:

    My point was that, unless you eliminate the concept of being a minor entirely, children effectively ARE chattel – the only question becomes WHOSE chattel – the parents' or the state's.

    And the definition of chattel?

    Definition of CHATTEL

    1
    : an item of tangible movable or immovable property except real estate and things (as buildings) connected with real property
    2
    : slave, bondman

    So, with that dealt with, we move on to:

    "many many people live better and more fulfilling lives *because* of the meds they are taking."

    I don't disregard that analysis; I disagree with it."

    That statement alone shows that you don't know anything about psychology except, perhaps, what you've invented (or heard from Scientology, perhaps?). It's a verifiable fact, inasmuch as it's possible to have any sort of verifiable fact about people's brains, that there are many people helped by meds. You can easily argue overmedication, and I'm not even presently defending the discipline as a whole, but to disagree that there are many people meds help is simple foolishness. Heck, looking at just severe schizophrenics shows many people whose lives are only possible thanks to their meds.

    Your equation about how someone comitting a crime with a gun (2nd amendment doesn't let you just shoot people, you know) being similar somehow to parental rights has already been pointed out as ridiculous.

    And this:

    I know it's far short of this piece of legislation.

    Is flatly wrong in the context you're presented it, relating to parental rights.

    This legislation does nothing to curtail parental rights; it deals only with the "rights" of licensed practitioners. You may hate such licensing systems, but don't try to make it something it isn't.

    You keep advocating for parents to be able to abuse their children, as though the children have no rights whatsoever. That is abhorrent to me. If a parent is waterboarding their kid daily for no reason, that parent has abused their responsibility to their kids, and those kids should be taken away. You don't think that's the case, because you don't think children have rights in their own way, but rather are property to be disposed of as their owner wishes. That is a fundamental disagreement, and it's one where I find it hard to "agree to disagree", but rather find that line of thinking abhorrent. Again, parents are stewards, they bear a responsibility.

    As regards to the "everybody does it argument", thanks to Lago I hope you can see it wasn't as simple as that. My point was that we have an interrelated society, and the government intervenes to protect; as children are not their parents' property, to be disposed of in whatever manner the parent wishes, there are going to be limits, set by the government. It will always be a balancing act, there will always be a place to draw the line.

    If children are chattel, then even murdering them would be okay, as they're your property, after all. Or how about amputating their legs so they don't run around so much? Sew their mouths shut so they can't talk back, etc.

    Moving on to:

    It's very likely that the rate of dysfunction and/or suicide among those who've been through rehab is comparable to that for graduates of reparative therapy.

    How about you look it up, before you make up comparisons? Because I doubt you're correct. I would look it up myself, but frankly the burden is on you when you make such a hard-to-believe claim. Considering that rehab doesn't usually use electroshock therapy, I find it unlikely you'll find similar numbers.

    But then, you apparently have trouble with facts. For example, you talk rehab for kids In a context where the drug of choice is legal…like what? Not a lot of kids being sent to actual rehab for sugar, and both booze and cigarettes are illegal for kids. And prescriptions are illegal to abuse. So what legal drugs do you think kids get sent to rehab to get off?

    Also, you really think "most people" drink every day? I fear that shows a decided disconnect between what you think and what reality is. (For your reference, NIH says only 2.45% of women and 5.78% of men are daily drinkers…the largest category is the "no drinking in the last year" category, which is 39.13% and 23.09% respectively) .

    I'll end with a quote that I find awful enough that I have trouble formulating an appropriate response:

    "Can you honestly say "well, freedom is messy, but my parents absolutely had more of a right to make me jerk off to gay porn than the state did to tell them they couldn't"?"

    I can honestly say that is my sentiment

  204. bw1 says:

    @Lago: "How is this analogous at all? The second amendment does NOT give you the right to shoot people in the same way being a parent doesn't give you the right to kill your child. That is a terrible analogy."

    It's a fine analogy if you remove emotion and analyze it conceptually. The limitations we place on government, including limitations on intervening in parenting practices, have real life negative consequences – I acknowledge those consequences – kids will suffer, sometimes fatally, at their parents hands, people will be shot by others with guns, and people will be harmed by those who would already have been incarcerated if not for our due process protections, but I consider the benefits of liberty worth those liabilities. I consider myself fortunate to have not had any such consequences fall on me, but I don't believe I have any manifest right to be free of such consequences.

    I don't pretend liberty is without a downside, but I also don't pretend it's possible to organize a society without downsides. In my view, and the view of those who founded this country, liberty has the least onerous downside.

    "Yet you continue to ignore the mountains of evidence to the contrary. Just because you can't link causation in suicide rates doesn't mean the causation doesn't exist."

    I ignore nothing – I hold that it doesn't justify this degree of government involvement in parenting.

    "Your claim that people who go to rehab for alcoholism probably have a similar suicide rate belies your delusion that conversion therapy isn't any more harmful than any kind of therapy. It's just convenient that the statistics aren't firm, so you can disagree with them as you like."

    No, it belies my belief that if a lack of firm causality demands government non-involvement in one area, it does so in another. The government allows parents to send their kids to rehab, in part because causality to suicide has not been established. I hold that, at the very least, that implies that the government should have to demonstrate the causality you admit doesn't exist in order to intervene in parental decisions regarding conversion therapy.

    For crying out loud, is everybody really that dense? I DO NOT HOLD THAT CONVERSION THERAPY IS HARMLESS. Heck, I don't hold that ANY psychological therapy is harmless. As far as I am concerned, psychology is a pseudoscience that allows people to characterize the choices they make as something happening TO them. I simply hold that the arguments against it can be made against a number of parental choices in which most people would never suggest the government should intevene.

    "And government programs do not necessitate governmental self importance. I don't think so."

    You're entitled to think what you like – our current fiscal crisis is an inevitable result of government assuming financial responsibility for the consequences of peoples' choices without exerting adequate control over those choices. If you think you can have socialism without authoritarianism, history is against you. The government that can give you everything you want can also take everything you have. You can't have your cake and eat it, too.

  205. princessartemis says:

    @Lizard; To pick a nit–something can be without worth and also have a negative effect. That would tend to confirm the thing in question's worthlessness as a product touted as one with a positive effect. That said, absolutely, bw1 is talking out of their ass. They can disagree, of course, and demonstrate of what worth is their personal opinion on the subject.

  206. William says:

    bw1:

    Sure, and that's why so many people go through rehab so many times they should have a frequent flyer program. Many kids who go through rehab are not addicts, but recreational users whose parents think they need it, and there are people of all ages who go as part of a plea bargain.

    I think it borders on malpractice to bring a patient into rehab who is a recreational user. I know it happens, and happens a lot, but (as you pointed out earlier) "everyone was doing it" doesn't cut it as an excuse.

    It's very likely that the rate of dysfunction and/or suicide among those who've been through rehab is comparable to that for graduates of reparative therapy

    No, it is not very likely. Depending on the study LGBT youth are between three and six times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. At least one study showed that familial rejection increased lead LGBT youth to be eight times more likely to attempt suicide than their more supported peers. Conservative estimates put the overall rate of suicide attempts for LGBT youth at 30%. Trans* persons are more likely to have attempted suicide than not. The numbers are devastating and bleak. Even without conversion therapy its not inaccurate to call the situation an epidemic and its really not hard to trace why that may be. Although substance abuse is a major risk factor for suicide, I'm aware of absolutely no data to suggest that people who have been through rehab have anywhere near the suicide risk that LGBT youth have. More importantly, it isn't generally the substance abuse or the social stigma around it that causes suicide but that both substance abuse and suicide tend to have similar etiologies.

    I get it, you have an opinion and think its special but the data doesn't back you up.

    The rate of dysfuntion/suicide among combat veterans is unacceptably high, and causality is highly likely, but I don't see SCOTUS ordering the dismantling of the Selective Service administration.

    That might have a little something to do with there not having been a draft in the US in a shade under 40 years. Avoid analogies, they are not your strong suit.

    I disagree – I think that's a distinction that you and I see, but most of the target market doesn't. I'd bet that most of the client parents would be very happy if their kid simply didn't engage in the behavior,

    What the rubes who buy it think has nothing to do with anything. The goal of conversion therapy is to alter desire, its in the name. If all you wanted to do was to keep your son's hands of other kids cocks you could solve that with more supervision.

    I can honestly say that is my sentiment – I've been fortunate, but I do not think I had any right to be.

    I find your sentiment disgusting and have very little difficulty suggesting, to your face, that you're either intellectually or morally bankrupt with a rule out for dual diagnosis.

    Not really. I was paraphrasing Camille Paglia – who I'm pretty sure you would agree is very far from what you're implying.

    You're right, this is no time for implication. That you felt the bizarre need to drag Islam into this discussion suggests to me that you're arguing in bad faith from a position that is primarily informed by religion. Other possible options include a thought disorder or a complete lack of basic rhetorical skills.

    Social scientists can't show a single social problem that has significantly decreased as their influence in society grew

    I'm not here to solve the problems of society. I'm here to solve the problems of individuals. I have a kid on my caseload who hasn't been hospitalized or attempted suicide since I began to work with them and is now in the longest stretch of time spent out of the hospital since their first admission, a kid who hasn't had a serious incident of self injury in over a year, a kid who was a strong candidate for long-term residential treatment and is now likely to begin mainstreaming within a year. Sure, people will continue to kill themselves and the universe will continue to slouch towards it's inevitable heat death, but by the time I'm done a kid who was largely considered a lost cause will have their life back. Maybe that doesn't impress you, but its enough for me.

    Something I don't support either. In the case of that profession, the very existence of licensing and regulation, is, in my opinion the state's establishment of an official orthodoxy in an area where truth is an undecidable proposition.

    The state doesn't tell me how to do my business by threatening to withhold my license. All a license means is that I've had appropriate training, hold appropriate credentials, keep current in my education, and am accountable to the basic ethics of my profession. At no point was I asked if I'm an analyst or a behaviorist, nor does anyone inspect my records to ensure I conform to some imagined orthodoxy. Still, just because truth eludes us does not mean we cannot recognize error. I can't tell you whats right but I can tell you whats fucked.

  207. Grifter says:

    And my vote for the win for the day is:

    "I can't tell you whats right but I can tell you whats fucked."

  208. bw1 says:

    @Grifter: "And this: I know it's far short of this piece of legislation. Is flatly wrong in the context you're presented it, relating to parental rights. "
    Let's not play games – the intent of the legislation is to limit access to this sort of therapy, and thus to restrict the ability to obtain it. I stand by the statement, and I'll clarify it for your nitpicking – While I do not advocate the degree of parental freedom you disingenuously continue to assign to me, despite my direct statements to the contrary, and I find the exact point at which to draw the line difficult to determine, I know it's far short of the point implied by this legislation's intent.
    So what if the law doesn't make it impossible for parents to subject their child to this therapy – the Controlled Substance act doesn't make it impossible to obtain pot or cocaine, but we all know that's the intent.
    "If a parent is waterboarding their kid daily for no reason, that parent has abused their responsibility to their kids, and those kids should be taken away.You don't think that's the case,"
    Again you assign to me a position I have not put forth – strawman, anyone? Funny how you claim to not only know with godlike certainty where the line should be drawn, but also to know where I would draw the line with more certainty than I do. But just for the sake of argument, what if the kid is 17, planning to enlist on his 18th birthday and pursue a special operations role, and has anxiety about being waterboarded during SEER training, and asks the parent for help in preparing himself?
    "It will always be a balancing act, there will always be a place to draw the line."
    And we differ on that place, on opposite sides of this particular parental choice. That doesn't mean I support parents' rights to murder their children. Of course you just ASSUME it does. Maybe you should ask more questions before you jump to conclusions. For instance, I fully support prosecuting a parent who has intentionally murdered their child. I might support prosecuting a parent after the fact for putting their child through this reparative therapy, if there was a means to prove causality in the child's death. I firmly believe that government should not restrain actions based on speculative likely outcomes, and that, in a free society, government intervention must be retroactive. A free society does not act on what someone is going to do, or what they speculate is going to happen. While establishing specific causality is perhaps sufficient for prosecution after the fact, as long as one individual survived this therapy without significant harm, you can't establish the deterministic relationship I would require as an absolute prerequisite for the prior restraint that is this law's intended effect.
    "Also, you really think "most people" drink every day?"
    Wow, talk about focusing on irrelevant minutiae – OK, you caught me in a mistake – I meant to say most people's WEEKLY consumption, but if more than 50% of the population exceeds NIH's per capita figure of six ounces of ethanol per week, daily would also be accurately be reflective of my adult lifetime average of less than an ounce per year. The really funny part is that my annual consumption could be zero, and your pouncing would be in vain. That'll teach me to proofread better. Do you feel better now? So what's the relevance of this that you felt the need to go to so much trouble researching it, but you can't be bothered on much more relevant points? How does any of this negate the point of the statement, which is that my support for legalization of pot clearly doesn't mean I support the wisdom of using it?
    "I'll end with a quote that I find awful enough that I have trouble formulating an appropriate response:"
    That's your logic problem. Like I said, the fact that I was fortunate enough to have avoided some undesirable situations in life doesn't lead me to believe such was my right, or more to the point, that it's the role of government to remove the risk that I might have faced it. We strongly disagree on the role of government, and you assume that means I support the slaughter of children. My belief in liberty and limited government causes me to tolerate a higher risk of certain negative outcomes – that doesn't mean I find those outcomes desirable.

  209. bw1 says:

    "I think it borders on malpractice to bring a patient into rehab who is a recreational user."

    And yet, that is what the government does, coercively, every day. That is why I'm not comfortable with its involvement. I've WATCHED judges give recreational users a choice of rehab or jail.

    Regarding the incidence of suicide/dysfunction, you compared all LGBT teens to all hetero teens. The comparison implicated was all graduates of reparative therapy versus all graduates of rehab. You note that substance abuse is a major risk factor, but no one on either side has asserted the ability to show causality specifically from the ostensibly therapeutic efforts. My point is the data doesn't back up EITHER side sufficiently to legitimize government involvement.

    "That might have a little something to do with there not having been a draft in the US in a shade under 40 years. Avoid analogies, they are not your strong suit."

    They are when you stop ignoring context. The context here is whether the a correlation between one thing and suicide warrants government acting to curtail that thing. The courts have not found cause to dismantle the Selective Service or lift the requirement for registration, and not for people's lack of trying to make the case for doing so.

    "What the rubes who buy it think has nothing to do with anything."

    Again, context – the question was what effect this legislation would have on the actual market demand for the therapy. What the rubes believe has everything to do with that.

    "That you felt the bizarre need to drag Islam into this discussion suggests "

    Only that it is the one faith people are most likely to assign the lowest historical benefit/risk quotient. It certainly has nothing to do with my views on Islam. Like you said, this is no time for implication, and yet, you keep doing it.

    "Maybe that doesn't impress you, but its enough for me."

    It does impress me, but I attribute it more to your inherent traits like empathy than any psychological gnosticism. You also can't express a success rate without a denominator.

    "All a license means is that…… "

    …you're not allowed, under current legislation, to engage in certain sorts of therapy with certain patients. You seem to have forgotten the topic under discussion in your list of ways the state doesn't tell you how to do your business. If you really think that it will go this far and no further, I'd love to ask you about that in 5-10 years.

  210. Grifter says:

    @bw1:

    Now you're being disingenuous. You claim I'm assigning positions you haven't taken, when you have explicitly stated children are their parents chattel and that you "…accept the reality of a need need to act against tightly defined direct lethal violence by parents, for starters, but at the same time, I don't trust government to do so effectively or not to abuse even that limited power"

    Waterboarding is not lethal (provided it's done correctly). Therefore, by your own statements, it seems you would be opposed to legislation preventing parents from doing it to their children (you said "for starters", I'll grant, but you never elaborated on that, and said you didn't trust the government to even handle legislating against murder properly).

    If you would like to clarify yourself, feel free, however, to pretend you didn't say things I can damn well quote is to be disingenuous of you.

    To continue the parade of "please stop talking about things you don't know anything about", The Controlled Substances act, in point of fact, DOES make it legally impossible to obtain pot (a Schedule 1 drug). This legislation does not make it wholesale illegal to engage in this quackery, only to do so while licensed as a legitimate care provider. (Cocaine, btw, is a Schedule 2 drug, and therefore actually can be prescribed under certain pretty-much-never-happens circumstances, technically). Once again, your analogy fails as a matter of fact.

    Your SEER example is ridiculous, since my example specifically said for no reason. To help a kid who wants to train for something is a reason. To paraphrase you, are you really that thick?

    A free society does not act on what someone is going to do, or what they speculate is going to happen.

    So I can fire my gun wildly into the air, and I cannot be stopped until such time as the bullet actually hits someone? I'll be back in a little while…

    As regards to "so much trouble to research it", it took three goddamn seconds of Googling, something you've shown yourself unwilling to do. My point was that you keep spouting things that are demonstrably, and trivially demonstrably, false. Much like your flippant cocaine and marijuana comment.

    We strongly disagree on the role of government, and you assume that means I support the slaughter of children.

    When you call someone chattel, and make the claim they have no rights, then yes, the logical outcome of that would be the allowance of torture (I recognize you have disallowed murder, however, I believe that that is an inconsistency, but it's one I won't harp on).

    As regards to licensing: I accept that you feel that any licensing of any sort is immoral. However, take for a moment the idea that licensing isn't the worst thing ever, and give a reason for this statute to be so offensive?

    You seem to be using this law to attack the framework of licensing as a concept, whilst appearing to attack only this law.

  211. Grifter says:

    And, for the record, I don't believe the intent of this law was to prevent parents from being terrible people, which is why there are so many loopholes to continue receiving this "therapy" (if you don't think some churches will continue to offer it, I'd call you naive).

    I think it was to prevent licensed professionals from selling a treatment that both does not work and is harmful; it doesn't even prevent them from doing it overall, just for children.

    I base that on the fact that the law is aimed at those licensed professionals, and only affects them. If you want to make the point that it was actually aimed at parents, you have to actually establish that. To use the analogy you botched so badly in a way that is actually analogous, it would be like if it became illegal for a doctor to prescribe coke under any circumstances…but perfectly legal to for anyone who isn't a doctor to just sell it over the counter.

  212. Zoe Brain says:

    @princessartemis

    asexuality is often an orientation as well.

    Well yes, of course.

    Not a common one to be sure, but it is an orientation.

    Self-evidently. Sorry, to me this is so obvious I didn't think to state it. My apologies, I should have.

    I am uncertain whether or not you intended to suggest it was only a state that people experienced against their natures or was only a state people experienced before they "bloomed", but that is what I saw from your post.

    NO! Emphatically not. That's why should have clarified, to preclude such a misinterpretation of what I meant.

    My apologies.

    I move in unusual circles – Trans people of various kinds, those who are not just asexual in orientation but a-gendered too, those who are gender fluid, androphillic, gynephillic… so to me asexuality is, as you said, just an uncommon sexual orientation. Just as blue is an uncommon color for eyes. Many babies have blue eyes at birth, that darken later. That's not to say that children whose eyes remain blue are defective in some way.

    I do realise a lot of asexual people, like a lot of bisexual people, get stick for being who they are, so there's no excuse for me not mentioning this. I should have been more careful, sorry.

  213. Zoe Brain says:

    bw1 :

    So, taking a kid who is NOT transexual, pumping them full of hormones and making them live as the opposite gender doesn't have the same potential for harm as reparative therapy that is limited to a few hours a week in an office? Um, sure, if you say so.

    Unfortunately, this isn't illegal, though people like myself are trying to make it so. It happens too, it's not a hypothetical.

    It is, however, viewed as unethical and thus very uncommon unless the child is Intersex, where until recently, it was standard practice. Now it's merely commonplace.

    With very good evidence now that arbitrary assignment of sex causes Gender Dysphoria in one in three patients, the practice has declined, except in a few places. Johns Hopkins for example still decides the target sex based on input from paediatricians, parents, and religious groups. Other religious hospitals don't involve the parents.

    Yes, the potential for harm here may even exceed that of reparative therapy, and is certainly comparable.

  214. William says:

    bw1:

    We can argue about the difference between rehab and conversion therapy until one of us gets bored and the other declares themselves the winner, but I've neither the time nor the interest. It isn't productive and it has become obvious that this isn't really a discussion.

    I'll be blunt: your constantly shifting arguments, disregard for the rights of children, and constructions of the discussion have lead me to believe that you're not arguing in good faith. You demand empiricism but, when faced with it, fail to actually investigate the data and instead retreat to an imagined criticism of what you assume will be contained within. From empiricism you pivot, though only temporarily, to a poorly formulated relativism, asserting that nothing can be proven with the implication that all must then be equally false. Again and again you construct the fundamental issue here as being a battle between the rights of parents and the tyranny of government, always either avoiding the well-tread limitations government justifiably puts on parents (prohibitions on various kinds of abuse) or simply hand-waving away the reality that the children we are discussing are real people with real rights. You refer to children as chattel as if it were settled. You clothe yourself in the language of liberty while disregarding the most vulnerable parties in the discussion as if they were below your notice.

    Underneath these repellent, self-serving arguments you have repeatedly shown that you value power and control. Your arguments shift to create a situation in which parents are left to do what they will to their children. You criticize psychology for not adequately "solving" social problem, casting the entire exercise into a battle between right and wrong. You criticize therapy in specific for not making the changes you would like to see made. You argue for a strictly behavioral approach to psychology, an approach which necessarily disregards the desires of the patient in favor of the desires of the society around them. The entire thrust of your argument seems to be that, when given a choice between the government imposing a mild restriction upon a parent and a parent imposing a major restriction upon a child, deference ought to be given to the parents because the government is bad and liberty is messy.

    All of this has happened in the context of a discussion in which real people are subjected to real danger by those more powerful than them. A principled commitment to liberty would demand more than a shrug when clear oppression occurs in the absence of consent or agency. There is nothing voluntary about a parent dragging a child to conversion therapy. The legal rights of parents are every bit a creation of the state you so loathe as the licensing rules for therapists. What you are doing is arguing for a specific legal system and against another. The state is going to choose winners and losers here, all we're doing is arguing over which scheme will create less harm. I find it absolutely telling that you are constantly shifting in order to argue in favor of parents taking children to conversion therapy. Maybe it isn't homophobia, maybe you believe that only the state can meaningfully oppress, maybe you find the idea of children having rights repellent, maybe your don't see children as full human beings, maybe you just like the idea of a more ordered society, I do not know. To be frank, I don't care to know.

  215. Lizard says:

    @princessartemis: To clarify, I did consider your point, but my screeds already go on long enough without me adding in all possible qualifiers. For example, homeopathy, does no good, but does harm only indirectly, by letting whatever is being treated continue untreated. BW1's viewpoint is that pscyhotherapy doesn't simply let things continue as-is, but actively creates negative changes — which means, it's having an observable effect, one which is so strong and consistent (meaning, it passes a first stage of being scientific — we do not need to understand the mechanism of how something works if we can verify that it does; Newton could calculate the laws of motion without knowing what actually CAUSES gravity, for example) that he uses it to condemn "the psychiatric industry", whatever that is defined as this week.

    So, either psychiatry is scientific (if it consistently causes negative effects which would not be caused in its absence), or it's a fraud (if it has no effect).

    (IAE, the argument that, "If psychiatry worked, everyone would be happy!" is about as sound as "If the germ theory of medicine was true, there'd be no diseases!". Hell, it's about as logical, and shows as much knowledge of the subject matter, as "If men evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?" It's not so much as sign of a lack of argument in good faith, as a lack of sufficient understanding to even participate in the argument. I happen to agree with a lot of BW1's points as to why it's safer to trust parents than the government, but when he conflates this was attacks on psychiatry as a whole, it weakens the main argument. Government should intervene when a specific level of harm is reached, but the harm done by reparative therapy is less than the harm done by many other things which are already tolerated by the government. Denying it as a practice recognized and authorized as safe is a different thing; provided people are still allowed to practice it without claiming they are licensed, and that their vict^h^h^h patients are informed of the fact they are not dealing with someone whose professional credentials have been vetted by anyone even marginally competent to do so, I do not object to this law on legal grounds, regardless of my contempt for the practice. Permitting things we despise is the price of freedom.)

  216. Scott Jacobs says:

    I think we all just need to vow – from this day forward – to never respond to a single thing bw1 says.

    He's a homophobe, this much is clear. No one could argue as he has unless they were disgusted by gays and wanted them gone.

  217. princessartemis says:

    @Zoe, thanks for understanding. I hoped and suspected that you didn't mean it quite the way it came across. I have just unfortunately learned that my hopes and suspicions don't often correlate with reality as often as I'd like on the subject.

    @Lizard, it appears the nit I was picking was a nit indeed to be so missed. It's too small to bother with twice :)

  218. princessartemis says:

    Eh, I guess the nit isn't to small to bother with twice. Lizard, I spent the entirety of 2001 doing little else than withdrawing from an SSRI prescribed to treat depression. It had done so, but SSRIs are not for long term, even though that is how they are prescribed. An entire year might seem a long time to withdraw from a psychiatric medication, but for me, the withdrawal effects were so debilitating and so severe that I have been permanently adversely affected by the experience. The suggestion that it is logical for psychiatry to have worth if it has an effect is patently absurd in light of my experiences. Worth is subjective value. If something has a negative effect, it sure as hell can be worthless.

    That said, I am well aware that this is just my experience, and not only that, it's not my only experience with psychiatry. My experiences have, slightly, tipped the scales from wholly negative to sometimes positive with a lot of negative. I know that some people cannot live satisfying lives without it. So I won't say it's all bad, as some do. But I will poke at faulty logic that suggests if it has an effect it must, logically, have worth when I see it.

  1. December 7, 2012

    [...] —– Ken, the First Amendment besotted lawyer/blogger/libertarian/wit who reigns at Popehat, writing about his doubts regarding California's ban of so-called "conversion therapy." [...]

  2. January 14, 2013

    [...] 2. Conversion Therapy and the problem of evil [...]