Tuesday, December 4, 2012

More on "conversion therapy"

According to this article, "A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked California from enforcing a first-of-its-kind law that bars licensed psychotherapists from working to change the sexual orientations of gay minors, but he limited the scope of his order to just the three providers who have appealed to him to overturn the measure."

The judge's reasoning seems to have been that psychotherapists' First Amendment rights outweigh the rights of minors not to be put in danger. Uh... what? First of all, I'm certainly no lawyer, but I don't see the First Amendment as applying to psychotherapy. Psychotherapy isn't an expression of opinion; it's a way of helping patients. The question here should simply be whether this form of therapy is efficacious or not.

And second of all, how on earth can the right of minors not to be harmed not be paramount? Freedom of speech has its limits; the old example of not shouting "fire!" in a crowded theater seems to apply here. My freedom of speech rights don't extend to the right to actively harm others. I don't see why these people's First Amendment rights should outweigh the wellbeing of minors, either. But it appears the judge felt that the argument that conversion therapy does damage was based on "questionable and scientifically incomplete studies," so presumably that explains that. Never mind that according to the article, conversion therapy "has been rejected as unproven and potentially harmful by all the mainstream mental health associations." The judge apparently knows better than mental health associations.

In any event, this is only a temporary injunction until a trial can be held, though the judge did state he thought they should win the case on constitutional grounds-- and he's the one who will be holding the trial. One may hope that in the long run, sanity-- and the safety of minors-- will prevail. One suspects the case will have to go to appeal before that happens, though.

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