12/10/12: The Tolerance Vigilantes Again…

Gil Bailie writes on 12/10/12:

Let’s say a man with same-sex attraction—having reviewed the dismal physical and mental health statistics associated with a sexually active homosexual lifestyle—decides to try to avoid these dangers with the help of psychotherapy. If he lives in California, and if a law recently passed by the state legislature is upheld, he will be out of luck. For therapists would be violating the law if they consent to a request to counsel someone wanting to overcome his same-sex attraction.

How’s that for diversity and tolerance? If you want to change your sexual orientation from straight to gay, heaven (religious scruples) and earth (anthropological reality) will be moved in order to make it happen. But changing one’s sexual orientation in the other direction is so ideologically unthinkable that laws must be passed to prevent it. It’s just one more indication of the totalitarian mentality of the sexual Left now that its goals seem within reach.

My initial reaction to this was a protracted groan that caused my sleeping cat to look up at me in alarm. Once again, Mr. Bailie has shamelessly exhibited a level of cluelessness that can only take one’s breath away, considering the ready availability of accurate information on the Internet. His lack of diligence barely conceals an underlying malice toward homosexuals and an eagerness to denigrate them at any opportunity. For not only does Mr. Bailie persist in claiming that homosexuality causes physical and mental health problems—in spite of all the evidence to the contrary—but he appears to believe that the “sexual Left” is bent on converting straight people to gayety. In all my years of following gay political culture, I’ve never heard of such a project. Nevertheless, to be fair, I decided to investigate. You can do it, too. Try googling “straight-to-gay conversion therapies” and see what you come up with. Make sure you type “straight-to-gay,” not “gay-to-straight.”

See what I mean? All you get is the opposite of what you searched for. Google thinks you made a mistake. Yes! You must have been thinking of “gay-to-straight.”

I actually have never known a gay person who thought that heterosexuals should (or could!) become gay. I have never heard of children being taunted by their classmates for being straight. I have never read a news story about a man who committed suicide after his friends and family rejected him because was straight! I have never heard of a religion that teaches the sinfulness of heterosexuality and encourages straight people to live lives of abstinence.

Mr. Bailie’s grotesque misconceptions, which verge on the hallucinatory, are symptomatic of a severe mimetic capitulation to the Groupthink of the religious right. Time for a reality check, and here it is:

First, some background. The new California law that Mr. Bailie is referring to is known as the ban on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts, or SOCE (SB1172). The law was challenged in two separate cases: Welch v. Brown and Pickup v. Brown.

In the first of these, the plaintiffs were two mental health professionals, Mr. Donald Welch and Dr. Anthony Duk. Mr. Welch is a licensed marriage and family therapist and an ordained minister. Dr. Duk is a medical doctor and board certified psychiatrist. Both men stated that their views about homosexuality were based on their religious beliefs (remarkably enough, not on science!) and that the SOCE ban violated their first amendment rights. On 12/3/12, the judge in this case, William Shubb, blocked SB1172 temporarily, but only for these two plaintiffs.

In the second case, Pickup v. Brown, the judge concluded that the law did not violate the plaintiff’s first amendment rights because it did not prohibit them from mentioning SOCE or referring patients to out-of-state conversion therapists. Furthermore, he found that the law imposes a reasonable restriction on what sorts of treatments mental health professionals may provide. The purpose of such restrictions is to protect the public from damaging or ineffective therapies.

So, are conversion therapies actually damaging and or ineffective? Yes, say this country’s medical and social care associations. Homosexuality is not a mental illness. It is not a disorder. Many of what Mr. Bailie calls the “dismal physical and mental health statistics associated with a sexually active homosexual lifestyle” are the effects of stigmatization by churches such as his own Catholic Church, whose catechism describes homosexuality as “objectively disordered” in spite of a broad-based scientific consensus that says otherwise.

Mr. Bailie finds SB1172 to be an expression of the “totalitarian mentality of the sexual Left.” But Mr. Bailie sees totalitarianism everywhere, even where it’s not. (More about that another time.) SB1172 is simply California’s effort to protect its citizens from costly-but-ineffective therapies that are often damaging to patients. There’s nothing sinister here, unless you take the view that all government decisions are by definition sinister. (I am currently working on the hypothesis that Mr. Bailie does indeed think this.)

To paraphrase Mr. Bailie, let’s say that an unusually tall young man, attending school in California, is constantly taunted and ridiculed for his height—so much so that he decides to seek professional help. Let’s say that his “mental health professional” turns out to be an unrepentant quack whose religious beliefs take precedence over his scientific training and whose religion tells him that abnormal height is a sign of a satanic spell that can only be broken by surgically shortening the legs. What if he persuades his young patient that this will solve his problem? Should the state of California tolerate such therapies? (See the illustration in the next post, above.)

I cannot elaborate on this more persuasively than Truth Wins Out, which issued the following statement concerning Judge Schubb’s ruling:

We are disappointed, but not deterred by the initial ruling by judge William Shubb. This is the beginning of a process that we feel confident will end in our favor. We have a powerful and incontrovertible case that reparative therapy is a dangerous practice that brazenly stands in direct opposition to standard mental health guidelines and procedures. It erroneously portrays homosexuality as a mental illness, gay people as mentally ill, and is consumer fraud by definition because its practitioners offer false hope and empty promises to their clients for a fee.

The idea that SB1172 is a violation of First Amendment rights is unfounded and wrongheaded. Medical and mental health professionals are held accountable for their speech and simply can’t say whatever they want if the results bring harm to their clients. For example, a doctor can’t tell a patient who is recovering from a recent heart attack to run a marathon. To do so would be to engage in speech that leads to malpractice. Similarly, a reparative therapist should not be able tell a 14 year old client that he or she is suffering from a mental illness and needs psychiatric care to transform from gay to straight. Therapists in clinical settings have always been expected to uphold professional standards and are held accountable for dangerous advice or deceptive practices that harm clients, or have the clients harm themselves.

Reparative therapy is social engineering with no medical basis and operates in an alternative reality. It was founded and solely based on the anti-gay prejudices of primarily deeply religious therapists who cruelly project their unscientific views onto vulnerable clients at a considerable financial price, as well as a significant cost to mental health. Rather than do what is in the best interest of their clients, such unethical ‘therapists’ routinely treat their clients as guinea pigs and have them in engage in bizarre treatment regimens that would be laughable if they weren’t so psychologically harmful.

For these reasons, we view the temporary ruling as a speed bump in the inevitable process of protecting LGBT youth and their families from quacks. We look forward to the next round. The simple fact is, the more people learn about what reparative therapy truly is and what such therapists actually do in the clinic, the less they support it.

Finally, here, not to be missed, is Stephen Colbert’s take on the recent ruling.


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