Psychology/Psychiatry

Activists Attempt to Shut Down Gay Conversion Therapy with FTC Complaint

Is it censorship or a fight against false advertising?

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Credit: torbakhopper / photo on flickr

Does a person have the right to tell another person they can cure that person of their homosexuality? Do they have the right to offer this therapy for money? Even though it probably doesn't work and lacks scientific support? Even though it's possibly self-destructive?

That's the conflict at the heart of the debate over gay "conversion" or "reparative" therapy, the increasingly maligned "treatment" that promises to help gay people suppress their homosexual urges. It's quackery and deserves to be dismissed. But does government need to be involved and therefore monitoring the types of subject matter therapists may discuss? Is that normal regulation to prevent harm or is it censorship?

Three activist groups, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to try to shut down People Can Change, an organization that purports to help men "eliminate or minimize [their] sexualization of other men."

The groups' complaint is that advertising a treatment to reduce homosexual urges constitutes an "unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent business practice," which gives the FTC the authority to intervene and regulate. (read the complaint here)

Here's what's concerning about the groups pursuing this attempt at a solution. It's not that I feel conversion therapy is defendable. It's terrible, and while I've never personally been exposed to it, I've heard any number of awful stories from those who have either been pushed into it by parents or tried it themselves. The issue here is that these organizations are paternalistically intervening on behalf of fully consenting adults who are making choices (stupid choices, I would agree) they do not like, approve of, or think they will work.

This is not a case about minors being forced into therapy against their will. People Can Change's website appears to offer its service to adult men, and the complaint to the FTC doesn't seem to indicate any sort of coercion or forced participation. In fact, because this is a complaint to the FTC, and not a lawsuit, there are no plaintiffs or identifiable "victims." Certainly the organizations believe that People Can Change's customers are being harmed by the treatment, but individual cases are not mentioned in the complaint, because this effort is predicated on false advertising.

Perhaps I'd feel differently about the case if there were identifiable stories from victims. The complaint makes reference to an actual lawsuit against a different conversion organization, Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing (JONAH) in New Jersey. In that case, there were identifiable victims who were able to point to the harms caused to them by conversion therapy. The plaintiffs won and shut the organization down.

That should be the correct, legal way to fight conversion therapy. If people are victimized as a result of the therapy and can prove it, they can sue. Take them for all that they're worth. But this FTC pursuit veers dangerously into using the government to police speech and particular forms of completely consensual therapy on the basis of what a majority of experts believe. And then, suddenly we're not allowed to make decisions for ourselves about our own well-being.

To put it another way: My opposition to the drug war is not because I think mind-altering drugs are necessarily good or harmless. I have seen them destroy lives. Rather, I place a very high value on allowing people control over what they do with their bodies as a necessary component of having a truly free society. And the same holds true with conversion therapy. I don't think this form of treatment is good, and I believe it can cause harm. But I do believe that consenting adults have the right to pursue it if that's what they want. I don't believe that the government has the authority to tell people on either side they can't do this just because it probably doesn't work. "Success" is not the threshold for liberty or a free society.

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  1. It’s censorship.

    Next question.

    1. Next question.

      Don’t jackboots look better in pink?

      1. [GASP]

        -Hugo Boss

  2. Even if it is false advertising, the activists don’t have standing or shouldn’t have standing to sue. If some gay guy goes to this and feels ripped off and can show harm, by all means he should be able to sue.

    This case is a great example of why our treatment of commercial speech as something different than “real speech” is such a terrible thing. This has nothing to do with advertising. This has to do with a bunch of asshole activists who want ideas they don’t like censored. That is all that is going on here.

    1. This has to do with a bunch of asshole activists who want ideas they don’t like censored. That is all that is going on here.

      Go back to Chik-Fil-A, you fucking bigot. Or that pizza place in Indiana. Oh yeah, it was shut down.

  3. Does a person have the right to tell another person they can cure that person of their homosexuality? . Yes.

    Do they have the right to offer this therapy for money?. In a free society, yes.

    Even though it probably doesn’t work and lacks scientific support? . Define “works”. And do we even know the “science” behind homosexuality?

    Even though it’s possibly self-destructive?. “Self” being the operative word there. Self-anything requires agency. Therefore it cannot be blamed on anybody else.

    1. If its false advertising, then its fraud, and dispute is between the fraudster and xis victims. No “activists” or bureaucrats need apply.

      Allowing prior restraint of speech to prevent fraud is a very steep and slippery slope. I’m sure there’s precedent, unfortunately, but that doesn’t mean we have take the ride all the way down.

      1. But when results aren’t objectively measurable, how can anything be fraud.

        See a commercial for a movie that says “it’s a masterpiece” but you think it sucks, is that fraud? Eat at a restaurant with “best chicken fried steak in Texas” on the sign other than Mary’s Cafe in Strawn, is that fraud?

        If results are not objectively measurable and there is a deliberate attempt to mislead someone, I just don’t see fraud as provable.

    2. And do we even know the “science” behind homosexuality?

      I don’t know that you need to. Just need to see if the therapy makes people not-gay. Kepler didn’t need to understand General Relativity to figure out orbital mechanics.

      But even then, they could claim that it works for some people sometimes, even if it fails in most cases. As long as they aren’t claiming anything demostrably false, I don’t see fraud.

      And I agree with the others saying that if it is fraud, it’s between the customer and the therapist.

    3. sloopy,

      Yes, and lets now outlaw ginseng, the roughly man shaped root from China with supposed healing power. Double blind tests show it doesn’t work, and now that we know that we can compel others to not sell stuff we can prove isn’t effective, lets get forceful!

      And that durn acupuncture! Oh, wait-PC Lib fascism rules are that this is only allowed for PC Lib issues, and mainly for enforcing some pro-Gay policy. So get with the Gay, looser! Who cares what you think? Shut up and obey!

      Ahhh, PC Lib fascism is fun!

  4. What is it with writers droning on for paragraphs when 2 words will do?

    Sloopy Inca nailed this (no matter where he moves, he will always be an Inca to me).

    1. We successfully escaped California, don’t force us back into that hell hole!

      1. Im not, im forcing you to be a south american indigenous family.

  5. *cough* Scientology…healing crystals…chiropractors…etc *cough*

    1. You left out AA and vaccinations.

      / no really, I am kidding on that last one.

      1. You are homeophobic.

      2. Did you guys not see the “etc” I put in there to cover the myriad of other scams that are legal (and should be) even though they’re retarded? You know, like CrossFit?

        1. Cross fit allows people to feel like they belong and have a support group when their dumb ass exercise regime causes them sever injury. Without cross fit these idiots would be out injuring themselves alone. Cross fit gives them a place to belong.

        2. Oh yeah, tuffgai? Let’s see you do this! *flails around on a chinup bar, tears labrum*

          1. This is why you need to make sure your workout area has adequate space, or lebrumsraum.

            1. I hate you so much right now.

              1. I CAN HATE MYSELF MORE THAN YOU.

                *furrows brow, concentrates*

          2. tears labrum

            “It’s the middle part of the penis”

        3. I will not reply to this because “fat shaming” is wrong.

    2. My sister goes to an acupuncturist for something and said it works. Even if it is psychosomatic, you can’t really call it fraud.

      1. There have been studies suggesting that sticking pins in people helps with pain. Not sure if the specific acupuncture techniques matter.

    3. How can a belief system be fraudulent?

      1. Doomsday cults keep making promises they never keep. Bastards.

          1. Wow, that is some classic internet.

      2. A belief system can’t be. Advertising a service that has been demonstrated not to be able to do what it promises could be. I think there is a big difference between someone telling you you can pray the gay away and someone advertising a cure for being gay.

        1. Plenty of mental health therapies don’t always work, doesn’t make the practitioners fraudsters.

    4. Dan Marino can pee standing up now that he eats saw palmetto pills.

    5. [clears throat] Politics…promises…delusional partisanship [spits]

    6. Shut up, the healing crystals I get from my scientologist chiropractor totally work. They completely cured me of that vague sense of unease

      1. I believe in homeopathic circles that is known as threat level mauve.

      2. That’s because they were crystal meth. Do you have any left? I could really use a pick-me-up right now.

        1. New Age Meth?

          KennyG Crystal Meth?

  6. Charging adults for gay conversion therapy is no different than what any homeopathy company does. Both are unscientific BS that make promises they can’t keep.

    1. Its not even that bad. With homeopathy, I know the proposed mechanism is bullshit.

    2. So a doctor prescribing a placebo to a person he believes is a hypochondriac could also be sued for fraud?

      As for gay conversion therapy, what is the science behind homosexuality that disproves its effectiveness? I’m not saying it works, but any “treatment” that deals with the psychology rather than the physical is pretty hard to label as fraudulent.

      1. If a doctor tells a patient that he’s prescribing drug X but writes it out for sugar pills, then I think the patient has a case. The doctor can refuse to write a prescription if the patient demands something that the doctor doesn’t agree with.

        1. I’m just saying if a doctor says “I’m going to prescribe X for your symptoms” and X is a placebo, he has not done anything wrong. He’s addressing the psychological ailment the patient has. And that’s a good thing.

          1. As long as the action follows the claim, then yes, I agree.

      2. So a doctor prescribing a placebo to a person he believes is a hypochondriac could also be sued for fraud?

        Yes, I think so. I’m pretty sure doctors don’t do that for just that reason. Some lying has to be involved there.

  7. How do the people against conversion therapy feel about homeopathy?

  8. If this suit is based on the legality and moral legitimacy of sexual relationships between men, what other advocacy or treatment would fall under that standard? e.g., if I promise a yoga therapy that will eliminate or minimize your addiction to sweets, would I run afoul?

    If it’s based on the spurious scientific basis of the therapy, what about services intended to eliminate or minimize the sexualization of children? If a feminist group set up shop promising to curtail sexual desires for women by preaching the gospels of Dworkin et al., should it be shut down?

  9. If it’s quakery and needs to be dismissed, then so is psychiatry generally.

    1. What do you have against the Quakers?

      1. More of a grits man, myself.

      2. Just because they sell crockery doesn’t make it a crock.

  10. I have a good friend who knew everything about conversion therapy and chose to undergo it because of his religious commitments. He had married a woman who fully knew his background, and he felt he owed it to her to try it. I do not know what he thinks of the results (although he felt that a lot of what therapists told him was crap: like telling him to look at hetero porn to learn to be aroused by it, but he just found it “gross”).

    But he chose it knowing all this. I can’t see why he shouldn’t have been allowed to try it given what he wanted to do with his life. To ban him from it would be to assume that he is not enough an agent to control himself.

    1. There are only two choices in America. Abortion and gay sex. All other choices are at the whim of the politicians and bureaucrats.

      1. Just wait till contraception isn’t just a right or a public utility but a mandate. Progressives never stray far from their eugenicist roots, it’s only a matter of time.

    2. That’s the thing that separates homosexuality from race and sex issues. You can always CHOOSE not to have sex with other men and choose to have sex with women. Could you be miserable? Sure. But people have been abstaining from sex in every culture for millenia. You can’t tell somebody not to tell a gay man he shouldn’t have sex.

      1. You can also CHOOSE not to pee sitting down if you’re a woman. Are you retarded, or did you drink some Drain-o this morning?

        1. You can also CHOOSE not to pee sitting down if you’re a woman.

          + 1 helicopter.

      2. Just turn that around to see how hateful it is.

        “The man can always CHOOSE not to have sex with women. Could he be miserable? Sure.”

        1. Where is the hate? Monks and catholic priests/nuns follow that ( in theory). Plenty of celebate people in the world.

          1. These people are going into this expecting to come out heterosexuals, not celibates.

            1. These people are going into this expecting to come out heterosexuals, not celibates.

              The problem is that there is going to be some nonzero number of people, whether you believe them to be deluded or brainwashed regardless, for whom this “treatment” is effective under those grounds. If one dude comes out of it saying it made him straight, then the whole claim of “fraud” falls apart. Unless the program promises 100% success rates, or something else that can be concretely disproven, then it’s no different from basically any other mental health “treatment”.

      3. CHOOSING to have sex with women doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Believe me.

    3. But homosexuality is good. So good that everyone should be homosexual. Didn’t you know that men having sex with women is always rape?

      1. Men having sex with men is problematic too. I can’t quite remember why.

      2. Bisexual is better. Non-discriminatory.

    4. Therapists prescribing porn. And here I thought they were all uptight squares.

      1. You should hear some of the stuff I’ve known psychotherapists to “prescribe”. One of the worst was a guy who advised his female client she to try picking up random strangers at a bar.

      2. Is that covered under Obamacare? Can I write off going to strip clubs as a medical expense on my taxes?

        1. there’s a charity in taiwan, I think, called “hand angels”, which is indeed giving disabled people handjobs.

  11. I can guarantee my own proven conversion method – you will never again have an erection while staring at a guy!

    First, take a meat cleaver…

    1. Mama, just cured a man
      Put a cleaver against his dick
      Cut his balls and now he’s straight

      1. Easy come
        Easy go
        Now he’s not a ho-mo

        1. The both of you should go to the penalty box for two minutes. And feel shame.

        2. Bismillah! No we will not let you gay – let him gay
          Bismillah! We will not let you gay – let him gay
          Bismillah! We will not let you go let me gay
          Will not let you go let me gay (never)
          Never let you go let me gay
          Never let me gay ooo
          No, no, no, no, no, no, no
          Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia let me gay
          Beelzebub has a devil put another man inside of me
          For me
          For me

  12. Even if there were actual victims, I have a hard time saying they should have an action. What harm did these people really suffer? Did it not take? And they somehow didn’t assume that risk? They feel bad about themselves now? No shit, you are a gay guy and went to conversation therapy, What did you expect? Personal affirmation?

    Scott goes too far even in sympathizing with the plaintiffs in New Jersey. Buyer be ware.

    1. I guess the damages would be the money they spent. But,I,don’t see any legitimacy to the claims here. None whatsoever.

      1. They made them stand in a circle naked and touch themselves. Seems like the JONAH people just got off on exploiting confused men.

        1. Probably. But unless they forced the men to do that, I still have no sympathy for them. Just because they started the therapy didn’t mean they had to complete it.

          I think they are all confused and all got some kinky thrill out of the whole thing. Good for them and all but if I were a judge I would tell the who lot of them to get their perversions out of my court room.

          1. I think they were taking advantage of people in a vulnerable state. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m not offended these creeps had to pay damages.

            1. So you think anyone who sleeps with a woman because she was upset and vulnerable should have to pay damages? Or a car salesman who sells a car to someone who is upset and hurt after breaking up with their girlfriend?

              These people were adults and no one made them take this treatment. You should be unhappy they won their case. That case just further eroded the respect for personal responsibility in this country.

              “Oh I was vaunerable” Too fucking bad. You are responsible for your own actions.

              1. Do you think contracts signed under duress are valid? They used a position of trust to exploit someone for their personal gain.

                1. Do you think contracts signed under duress are valid?

                  Sure but how were these people under duress anymore than the two examples I give? To say they were is to either say any form of anxiety or upset constitutes duress or to dehumanize homos such that they are now considered a form of lesser human who can’t be held to the same standards of responsibility regular humans are.

                  Sorry but “I am confused and upset” is not “duress” such that you are no longer responsible for your actions.

                  1. These JONAH people were posing as professional mental counsellors, that is a different relationship than a car salesman. These men were made to fell like there is something wrong with them and these people claimed to be offering a cure and instead were using them for their own purpose. That’s fraud to me. I wouldn’t call it criminal because the men could leave, but it’s definitely unethical.

                    1. These JONAH people were posing as professional mental counsellors, that is a different relationship than a car salesman

                      No it is not. What, are gay people too dumb to be expected to look into something before signing onto it? It is not like gay conversion therapy isn’t a big deal and something a simple google search will reveal the controversy around. These men were adults and knew what they were getting into.

                      These men were made to fell like there is something wrong with them and these people claimed to be offering a cure and instead were using them for their own purpose. T

                      Cry me a river. What were they 12? No one made them do anything or feel any way. They choose to take the therapy and thought there was something wrong with themselves long before they met these guys. You would never make these sorry ass excuses for someone who was taken in by Scientology or Chinese traditional medicine. Why are you doing it here?

                      Nothing happened here that wasn’t the result of the free consent of two adults. No one but the people involved are responsible for the consequences.

                    2. She you go to your proctologist, he sticks his finger in your butt and starts jerking it. That’s okay because you can walk out? They signed up for “help”, they were used for sexual gratification.

                    3. There’s a big difference in seeing a proctologist who sexually violates you when you went in for an examination. Sure you entered the office voluntarily but that doesn’t mean anything goes once there.

                      So if I feel violated, I have the right to leave that doctor’s office and report him to the police. But there’s a big difference in that scenario and affirmatively responding to someone that told me to start pounding my pudd in a circle, only to feel shitty about it later.

                    4. Just to clarify, I’m not against the conversion therapy in general, it’s hocus pocus, but it should be legal. I think JONAH, crossed a line. It’s easy to say “Just walk away”, but the Stanley Milgrim experiments show it is a rare person that will defy authority. Especially if the person’s family/friends/spouse have pressured them to seek help from these authority figures.

                    5. Those experiments didn’t put people in a position to be sexually humiliated or (what they perceive to be) violated, do they? “It’s a rare person that defies authority” varies by situation, I would hope.

                      But six million corpses across Europe and 20 million across Russia in the mid-20th century might prove that you’re more right than me.

                    6. They had them “shocking” other people to the point of possible death. Something like 70-80% of people went to maximum even with the person begging them to stop. Just because a dude in a lab coat said “You have too”.

                    7. peter gabriel wrote a song about it

                    8. Thus proving how gullible psychologists are.

                    9. She you go to your proctologist, he sticks his finger in your butt and starts jerking it.

                      If these people committed sexual assault, then by all means call the cops and have them arrested. That is not what happened here. The analogous situation is my doctor asks me if she can jerk me off and I say yes and then claim she took advantage of me.

                    10. What if she told you in her medical opinion it is necessary for her to jerk it. That’s not malpractice?

                    11. In all fairness, it would somewhat depend on what this female doctor looked like.

                    12. Only if I could prove harm. and only if it violated the standard of care. What exactly is the “standard of care” for conversion therapy? I doubt their is one.

                      I get it Florida man. You like gays and you hate these guys. Stop letting that emotion cloud your judgement.

                    13. Yeah. That’s why I said conversion therapy should be totally legal and only defined an isolated incident in my complaint.

              2. John, yes. Otherwise, it’s enabling all the way down.

        2. “Confused men”. If that’s not an oxymoron, it should be. If you’re still getting confused at that age and don’t have some kind of neurological disease or drug induced dementia, it’s time to call up the cosmic buttonmaker: you’re just an injury to yourself and others.

        3. Made? MADE?

          Well shit. Why am I not hearing about the kidnapping criminal trial instead of the civil one.

          Oh, that’s right. Because they were free to come and go as they pleased.

      2. The New Jersey case claims seem to be “they made me feel bad and humiliated me”. So what? You signed up for it. And if you didn’t like it, you were free to leave at any time.

        1. You forget that it’s an article of faith for these folks that they have no choice in anything. All agency is external to the self.

          1. You would think Shakelford would be offended by the idea that homos are delicate and evil straight men should not be allowed to take advantage of their vulnerable state. I would hope Shackelford has more respect for himself than that.

        2. But for some reason upstanding xtian man is responsible for keeping everyone down. Why should he get blamed? It’s in his nature to do so. It’s a geneticly determined political orientation.

    2. Yeah, he seemed to throwing his lot in with the most unseemly of people – liability attorneys.

    3. “What harm did these people really suffer?”

      Waste of time. Loss of something they’ll never get back.

      1. Like reading your comments, eh?

      2. I wish I could sue all the commercial entities that have wasted my time.

      3. If we are willing to entertain waste of time as a tort, then you best start sending me checks now.

        1. Most here are smart enough to ignore me.

  13. I question the suggestion that people can’t train themselves to resist their impulses–if that’s what they want to do.

    Buddhist monks have successfully trained to rid themselves of desire for 2,500 years. There are questions about the efficacy of that practice for western non-monks, who live live in the modern world and have no true drive to rid themselves of desire. However, that doesn’t mean people cannot train themselves not to be tormented by their desires with practice.

    I imagine it’s like heroin addiction or trying to quit smoking. If you waited until you no longer desired heroin or nicotine before you tried to quit, you’d never quit.

    I’m not saying being gay is destructive like heroin or smoking, and I’m not saying that these people wouldn’t be better off learning to accept themselves. But I am saying that regardless of whether the method of conversion therapy as practiced by any particular group is effective, I suspect it is possible for people to learn to resist their desires and not be anguished by them.

    And effectively illegalizing helping adults that want to do that (for whatever good or bad reason) amounts to using the coercive power of government to impose some people’s personal preferences on others.

    1. What gives me the willies is the notion that parents of children suffering “gender dysphoria” will someday be pressured, even required, to place their children in conversion therapy. It may or may not be the right treatment, but it’s quickly becoming the only treatment acceptable to trans-rights activists.

      1. Remember John Barrett. You can’t expect somebody to undergo months of intensive psychiatric treatment and come out sane.

        1. One of the leading theories of multiple personality disorder is that it emerges from treating borderline personality disorder with hypnosis and/or role playing.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Dissociative_identity_disorder #Therapist-induced

      2. “What gives me the willies is the notion that parents of children suffering “gender dysphoria” will someday be pressured, even required, to place their children in conversion therapy.”

        We should only interfere with parents when their children are being willfully harmed, neglected, or are in mortal danger.

        We let the Amish take their kids out of school after the eighth grade.

        We don’t let the children of snake-handlers drink strychnine.

        That’s all as it should be.

        Defer to parents who care on tough calls. I worked in a hospital where parents made tough calls both ways on their kids with heart defects. There are big risks associated with those surgeries. There are big risks associated with not having surgery. They vary case by case. Freedom from choice doesn’t help. No one’s better than the parents to make those tough calls. Sometimes they make the wrong decision. Parents are still better qualified to make the wrong decision than the government, which will certainly impose the wrong decision on some people.

    2. And there’s the fact that every one of us has to restrain himself every minute of every day. Everybody is doing it all the time, yet somehow we are to assume it’s beyond the capacity of certain classes? These gay recuperation therapies are going nowhere because they start off with implicit acceptance of sexual orientation and the idea that something other than myself gets a vote in what I do. People do things because they chuse to do so (or because they chuse to decline to chuse, embracing some disempowering belief, thereby leaving it up to random impulses of the lizard brain). These faggots are essentially saying, “Help! I keep doing X, against my will!” It’s fucking voodoo. All they done is divided their minds, and unity of the will is what characterises the ascetics you describe, which is why they are capable of levels of voluntary control that far exceed the quotidian rough and tumble. It’s made even more absurd by the fact that they won’t admit that the part that wants to do something is no less them than the part that claims to not want to do.

    3. Even in the case of the divided mind, a person is only going to do those things that he wants more strongly to do than to restrain himself from doing, and there’s no training in the world that can teach somebody how to act other than he wishes to act (even when we restrain ourselves, it’s only by virtue of that in the face of the reality principle we ultimately want more to restrain ourselves than to satisfy our animal urges: this is an essential premise of hedonism, one of the two non-useless and -stupid philosophies we get from the ancient Greeks, who were a bunch of homoes).

  14. The whole concept of sexual orientation is absurd. As is the idea that any such complex and ramifying behaviour pattern in humans is geneticly determined. Or the idea that, first, we don’t all get bombarded with impractical wishes all the time, and, sec?ndo, that sentiment somehow disengage the faculty of choice. Even Freud, the cocksucker, admitted that adaptation to thwarting was one of the fundamental first steps in the development of a civilised man. Or are we saying that homoes are a special case, like niggers, devoid of agency that otherwise characterises human beings?

    Fuck. Remember when we were youngsters and a body could fool around with another body without ever having to even consider the question of sexual orientation. It was a conscious choice relevant to the individuals involved and didn’t have some broad-ranging implications in the fucking class struggle or dick. Screw these guys.

    1. It should be remembered by more people that heterosexuality didn’t exist until the advent of psychology. It was basically a reactionary construction of what was normal–as opposed to homosexuality, which was considered a psychosis. In that sense, yes, if homosexuality isn’t a valid psychosis, then heterosexuality probably isn’t valid either–and the whole idea of orientation is suspect.

      I should say, the behaviors themselves are obviously much older than psychology. People have engaged in all forms of sex since the dawn of history. But it wasn’t until the dawn of psychology that people started thinking in terms of orientation. Before homosexual became a clinical diagnosis, it was just thought of as another form of sexual deviancy–along with other heterosexual practices. Homosexuality was thought to be deviant like heterosexual sex outside of marriage was deviant or even having too much heterosexual sex within marriage was thought to be deviant.

      With psychology came the ideas of normal and abnormal orientation, from that emerged group identities, and other evils.

  15. If this kind of thing is allowed to stand, how long before all those weight-loss programs like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc. get shut down? After all, they have a pretty low rate of success in that something like 95 percent of clients regain all the lard they lose within just a few years, and often more than before they started.

    Add to that, we already have “fat celebrating” advocates and groups who are trying to undermine the notion that there’s anything wrong with, unhealthy, or aesthetically undesirable about obesity.

    Rather than allow fat adults to make up their own minds about what treatments they can try if they wish to lose weight, these “do-gooders” could intervene and decide for everyone that commercial weight-loss businesses must be outlawed.

  16. Activists Attempt to Shut Down Gay Conversion Therapy with FTC Complaint

    Is it censorship or a fight against false advertising?

    Only those who can show actual harm can be plaintiffs.

    The groups’ complaint is that advertising a treatment to reduce homosexual urges constitutes an “unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent business practice,” which gives the FTC the authority to intervene and regulate.

    The FTC only regulates business practices that could violate antitrust laws. For instance, the plaintiffs would have to show how these “deceptive and unfair” practices present unfair methods of competition. “False advertisement” is not really something that falls under FTC law unless it can be proven the defendant used deception and/or falsehoods when describing the competitions’ products vis-a-vis his own. Saying the advertisement is unfair or fraudulent only because you don’t happen to like it does not constitute an FTC Act violation. The FTC could open an investigation but I seriously doubt they will find any practices that violate the FTC Act (antitrust violations, unfair methods of competition, unfair or deceptive acts or practices).

    1. ” I seriously doubt they will find any practices that violate the FTC Act (antitrust violations, unfair methods of competition, unfair or deceptive acts or practices).”

      Depends on who’s sitting on the panel. They are susceptible to changes in political winds, just like everyone else.

      “False advertisement” is not really something”

      By using the word ‘really’ here, you leave the barn door wide open. This is more than advertising, it’s political speech, it takes a stand on what is hotly contested political ground these days.

  17. I am conditioned; when I see the word “niggers” it’s like hot needles pierce my eyes and I cannot continue reading.

    It took me a while to gather that you are saying that people who treat homosexuals like they have no agency are like the people in the past who used the word nigger when dismissing black people as moral agents.

    1. Oops, this was supposed to be in response to Limpee Wiltstock above.

    2. ‘I am conditioned; when I see the word “niggers” it’s like…’

      That is the difference between rational thought and unreasoning association. The latter only comes to bear for those contingencies you are not rationally prepared to face, and reason is the implement of the will’s domination. It’s one of the things Bowlby had going for him, his operationally definable goal of his clients being able to face the most inflammatory and provocative of stimuli without giving up rationality or volition. I got that way pretty much with family things, but I still get kind of freakish when faced with bellicose, soulless copsuckers, though I can recognise what’s happening and generally hold off on making any determinations about anything till I’m not suffused with feeling (which is there for me to use, not to use me).

      Your total response is one reason I bother talking here (even moreso why I come to listen: in a forum where people can actually say something meaningful and be understood, people will actually say something meaningful from time to time). Try saying that somewhere else on the internet. Nobody would ever fucking get it.

  18. There is a long tradition of ascetic thought around the world often associated with religion but not always. Ken mentioned Buddhists above, but it is very prominent in Christian theology to this day. I’m a Catholic, and while I know that the prohibition on priests getting married is controversial, I think it has value and is a form of asceticism.

    Many people find value in self-discipline, in various areas of their life and for various reasons.

    So, I can see how this “conversion” therapy can be based on the principles of asceticism. Which makes its scientific underpinning completely irrelevant.

    And, of course it all comes down to consenting adults and the initiation of force, and that actually should stop any discussion of the actual practice of this therapy.

    1. How is this any different than someone suing AA for trying to covert them to a teetotaler? Whether it is drinking or ass sex, it is still just a behavior that some people find enjoyable and want to do and others don’t.

      1. You’re absolutely right John. Did you think I was arguing something else?

        BTW, when I said “should stop any discussion”, I meant of banning the practice or of its legality. Of course it is interesting to discuss it from a philosophical point of view.

        1. I was just agreeing with you and giving another example. Sorry didn’t make that clear.

      2. “it is still just a behavior”

        It’s more than just a behaviour. Conversion is not about forgoing certain behaviours, it is about the transformation of the person.

        1. Which is exactly what AA does or claims to do.

          1. “Which is exactly what AA does or claims to do.”

            No, this is not what they claim to do. AA claims that once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. There is no magical transformation. One remains an alcoholic even when remaining dry for years.

        2. All that is visible outside a person is their behavior. Internally, there are many processes going on in a rational mind to decide what behaviors to exhibit.

          If a person wishes to stop externally exhibiting a behavior, then some kind of internal change or effort is required. Is this a transformation? No one knows that but the person themselves.

          mtrueman, so tell me, what is your concern?

          1. “Internally, there are many processes going on in a rational mind to decide what behaviors to exhibit.”

            I don’t believe that one’s sexual orientation is the result of the decision of the rational mind. Once you believe that, no telling what nonsense is coming next.

            1. mtrueman, I agree that there could be low-level urges or impulses that are “beneath” the rational level of the brain. So, a person my not ever be able to stop the sexual attractions they feel.

              But the rational mind stands between instinctual impulses and external behaviors.

              I’m married, so I don’t want to exhibit the behavior of having sex with every willing woman I find (do they exist? I’m not sure). But almost every day I see a good looking woman and I’m thinking ummmm, yeah!!

              The only thing that matters is what kind of life a person wants to lead. If they want help to live their life the way they want, then they should be able to get it.

              1. “The only thing that matters is what kind of life a person wants to lead.”

                That is not the only thing that matters. Sexual orientation matters greatly. That is something that matters whether you want it to or not. You may want to be attracted to the opposite sex, but wanting it doesn’t make it so.

                1. mtrueman, are you being purposely obtuse? I never said sexual orientation doesn’t matter. I said people should be free to live the life they want to lead.

                  If, in spite of their attraction to the same sex, they don’t want to life a homosexual lifestyle, then that is their decision.

                  It’s not up to you to decide how they deal with their sexual orientation.

                  1. Choosing abstinence is different from choosing one’s sexual orientation. I wouldn’t confuse the two.

                    1. Oh, I’m perfectly clear about the distinction and it is what I’ve been talking about the whole time.

                    2. “Oh, I’m perfectly clear about the distinction and it is what I’ve been talking about the whole time.”

                      Abstinence is the word you’ve been looking for. Choosing to abstain. This so-called therapy aims at transforming the individual. It’s not like AA. It’s a different kettle of fish.

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  20. I don’t care if it is saving orphans from a fire, if that shithole SPLC is behind it, nuke it from orbit.

  21. Liberal who deny homosexual men the moral agency to choose this therapy are just like conservatives who deny women the moral agency to choose prostitution.

    1. “Liberal who deny homosexual men the moral agency to choose this therapy”

      Do you know any Liberals? I don’t believe Liberals see this as therapy. I don’t believe that Liberals see homosexuality as an illness that needs a therapist.

      1. Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the word “therapy”. What word would you prefer: class, course, indoctrination, fools errand?

        It doesn’t matter. The liberals that started this lawsuit want to shut these offerings down. Why? Because they deny the moral agency of a gay man to choose to buy these offerings.

        1. “Because they deny the moral agency of a gay man to choose to buy these offerings.”

          You’re barking up the wrong tree here. What offends Liberals, for the second time now, is the notion that homosexuality is an illness in need of a therapist, or that homosexuals are morally deficient compared to non-homosexuals. If you don’t know that much, you have no place in lecturing us on what Liberals think.

          1. But those opinions, which I mostly share, are completely irrelevant to the issue at hand.

            Liberals think being offended about something means you can go about banning it and not letting people make the wrong choice. Because, you know, liberals know all the right choices you can make, and will helpfully call for government force to assist you in making the right choice.

            1. “Liberals think …”

              I don’t think you are in any position to lecture us on what Liberals think. Liberal means a higher tolerance to heterodox positions. It’s typically conservatives who have a lower tolerance. If one has a liberal attitude towards foreigners, for example, it means one is tolerant and free of bigotry. Learn the meaning of words before attempting to lecture us.

              1. Liberal and conservatives are two happy peas in a pod.

                1. “Liberal and conservatives are two happy peas in a pod.”

                  Liberals and conservatives are different. Liberals are less likely than conservatives to view homosexuality as a condition that necessitates therapy.

          2. How, exactly, is liberal objection to sexual orientation modification different from conservative objection to sexual identity modification? And shouldn’t the libertarian response to each be the same: it is each individual’s decision to decide what to do with his or her own body, or own psyche?

            1. “How, exactly, is liberal objection to sexual orientation modification different from conservative objection to sexual identity modification?”

              Conservatives tend to stigmatize ‘non-traditional’ orientation and practices. Liberals to accept them as equally viable alternatives. Conservative see the homosexual as someone who is failing to be normal. Liberals don’t.

              1. mtrueman, it amazes me how you continue to miss the point. It matters not what either side stigmatizes or thinks is an equally viable alternative.

                The point is deploying government force to get the outcome you want. It’s wrong for the government to shut down these people and their “therapy” groups. Liberals are all over using government power to make people behave like they want them to.

                1. “Liberals are all over using government power to make people behave like they want them to.”

                  If your point is that there is a limit to what Liberals will tolerate, I have no problem with that. It’s a rather trivial point, sure, but I don’t have a problem with it.

              2. Whereas liberals see someone who runs a business, employs people and is successful as someone who is failing to normal or acceptable. Conservatives don’t.

                Liberals see gun owners as people who are failing to be normal. Conservatives don’t.

                Liberals see people who support small government and less regulations as failing to be normal. Conservatives at least pretend that they don’t.

                With a few exceptions, liberals see people who live east of Los Angeles and west of Trenton, New Jersey, as failing to be human. Conservatives don’t.

                You’ve convinced me…liberals are very, very tolerant. We see it every day on college campuses!

                1. “You’ve convinced me…”

                  You don’t need me. You need a dictionary.

                2. You fellows are arguing over the definition of what is ultimately a relative term with a batshit crazy 9/11 Truther whose comprehension of political philosophy is on par with a pretentious high school freshman. Just sayin’.

                  1. “You fellows are arguing…”

                    More to the point, they are losing an argument. Just like you lost or failed to defend whatever beliefs you entertain about the whole 9/11 thing.

  22. it probably doesn’t work and lacks scientific support…

    The Jones and Yarhouse longitudinal study would kind of go against your point that it “lacks scientific support”. What is true is that it lack popular scientific support. People don’t like seeing any evidence at all that their preconceived notions are wrong.

    1. Is there a version of the study that does not require me to buy their book?

      1. Uh, I’m not entirely sure. I last read it about 5 years ago. I didn’t pay for it but don’t remember how I got it. I just sort of remembered the title and googled it until I found the author’s names again.

        Sorry I’m not being terribly helpful; if you’re interested, keep up the Google-fu.

        1. I found this link which appears to be complete (no missing pages) but much shorter than the book.

      2. https://books.google.com/books?id=jKPWSsjC
        1swC&pg;=PA146&lpg=PA146&dq=jones+and
        +yarhouse+Longitudinal+study+text&source=bl
        &ots=UhhTQKqW2d&sig=AXPPJ76jAdyuPXV7
        MISQgQGeOg0&hl=en&sa;=X&ved=0ahUKEw
        jb4am81ZPLAhWJPD4KHW9bBsg4ChDoAQh
        MMAk#v=onepage&q=jones and yarhouse Longitudinal study text&f=false

        looks like an incomplete preview of the book. Remove the spaces I entered…

    2. Ok, so I’m still reading through the version of the study I linked. But so far I note the following:

      1. About one-third of those who started dropped out (T1-T6 retention rate was 65%)
      2. Of those who remained, roughly half of them (the “Phase 1 subpopulation”) experienced little to no change on average
      3. The other half (the “Truly Gay subpopulation”) basically went from “leans gay” to “bisexual” on average

      While I do agree with the study authors that the APA doth protest too much, I would not declare these programs very effective. Which comports with the results seen by many other “mental health” and “therapy” programs.

      1. I’m not claiming that it’s a smoking gun or anything, but it looks like there’s more change here than nothing, and probably what you’d expect from any study attempting to change human behavior (I’m not a psychologist, I don’t really know).

        Either way, the claim was that it lacks scientific support. In fact, the science here shows that it can be effective, and much more than random variability would explain. It’s just not popular to point out these things.

        1. Either way, the claim was that it lacks scientific support. In fact, the science here shows that it can be effective, and much more than random variability would explain. It’s just not popular to point out these things.

          I would agree generally, but I don’t know what “random variability” has to do with anything. Humans are not random variables.

          1. I mean that people could change their answers as to their orientation over time regardless of the treatment.

            1. Does that not presume you know the underlying distribution?

              1. Not sure quite what you mean. What I mean is that a population that scores itself a 7 out of 10 should still score itself around 7 out of 10 a few years later, ceteris paribus. Some will score higher and some lower; it will likely average out.

                1. If the mean is 5 and the standard deviation is 1, then you would expect more people starting at 7 to trend toward 5 and not away from it.

                  You have already started with a “deviant” (statistically speaking) population; the mean on the 1?7 Kinsey scale for the general population is likely in the 2?3 range, so starting with people at 5.5 you would not generally expect as many of them to go to 6 as to 5.

                  1. I wouldn’t assume that people at 5.5 are “normal” for the general population. I would assume that if you took a sample of people that average out at 5.5 one year, that 3 years later they’d still average out at 5.5 (ceteris paribus). I don’t see anything in particular that should pull them back towards “normal” (average, whatever you want to call it).

                    I suppose if you took a sample of depressed people from the population that it could, perhaps, trend back towards normal just because you happened to capture them at a depressed point in their lives. But, if you took a sample of short people, I wouldn’t think it would trend back towards being tall a few years later. Maybe I’m misunderstanding entirely, but are you, in this case, saying that perhaps some in the group at 5.5 just happened to be feeling gay at that point in their lives?

                    Either way, if sexuality is a malleable as depression is the APA is still wrong.

                    1. Well, we’ve already established that it’s “malleable”. But you said the study showed effectiveness “much more than random variability would explain” without identifying the distribution under which such variability would occur.

                      Really, you would need to look at the following distributions:

                      1. The measure itself (e.g. the self-ratings on the Kinsey scale)
                      2. The variance of the measure (e.g. standard deviation of the above)
                      3. Changes in the measure over time
                      4. Changes in the variance over time

                      But you are unlikely to get much confidence in all of the above, since as I said human beings are not random variables.

                      Put more simply, you don’t know what “random variability would explain” until you’ve brought some empirical data to the table.

                    2. Fair enough. I suppose you could get a good idea of the above if you took samples of the “average” general population over time and also any group at one of the extremes over time. It wouldn’t “prove” anything, but it would give you a good general idea.

                    3. Maybe I’m misunderstanding entirely, but are you, in this case, saying that perhaps some in the group at 5.5 just happened to be feeling gay at that point in their lives?

                      I do not know what they were feeling about why they were at a certain point on the scale, as that wasn’t measured by the study. What the study showed is that some people can move along the scale, although not by much.

                      As with any social study (the authors themselves call it “naturalistic” and “quasi-empirical”) , you cannot say for certain that the results were because of the process. They only set out to refute certain claims, concerning the immutability of sexual orientation and the alleged harmfulness of conversion therapy.

                    4. I do not know what they were feeling about why they were at a certain point on the scale, as that wasn’t measured by the study.

                      Yeah, that’s my bad. While you were talking about what the study actually said, I’m trying to explain the “why” study would turn out one way or another. Blame it on my Austrian economics studies, I’d rather have a rationalist answer for the “why” concerning human behavior rather than just the empirical data.

      2. The “qualitative” analysis paints a clearer picture of successful conversion, but the study’s authors muddle the definition of sexual orientation by relying on it so heavily. Basically, 8 of the original 98 subjects shifted from homosexual orientation to heterosexual orientation and stayed there. If you take the T6 self-responses as equal in validity to the testers’ T3 assessments, then as many as 16 of the original 98 effected conversion after 6-7 years.

        So an effectiveness rate of 9?16%, which certainly disproves the APA’s claims concerning immutability, but again leaves this process in the general realm of similar therapeutic programs. It also seems strongly correlated with the intensity of the person’s self-reported initial attraction; I differ from the study’s authors “surprise” at this result to note this is the population most likely to be emotionally insecure. Heterosexual identity in this case is a proxy for emotional security.

        The more noteworthy result, to my mind, is the “SCL-90” surveys which show a general reduction of psychological distress across the entire population. That again refutes the APA’s claims, in this case concerning harmfulness, but is also unsurprising. Many of the conversion therapists likely show a lot of attention towards and care for the participants. It is of course also possible that there has been a change in the process reflecting external criticism.

        1. Heterosexual identity in this case is a proxy for emotional security.

          I’m not sure that’s quite true as much effort has been made toward making a homosexual identity seem normal (and that should imply more emotionally secure).

          That being said I don’t otherwise disagree with you. But it is also interesting to not that if you are right and heterosexual identity is a proxy for emotional security, then that disproves another APA claim that homosexual identity is just as psychologically healthy.

          1. But it is also interesting to not that if you are right and heterosexual identity is a proxy for emotional security, then that disproves another APA claim that homosexual identity is just as psychologically healthy.

            I qualified that statement rather importantly with “in this case”. The individuals in question, in the context of the study environment (people who have chosen to undertake “conversion therapy”), may make that association. I would not generalize beyond that. The “Truly Gay” subpopulation was particularly selected for certain factors, among them intensity of identity and a large number of previous sexual partners.

            It might even be more accurate to note that “monogamous heterosexual identity” is the proxy for emotional stability; undoubtedly, given the cultural context of “conversion therapy” (conservative Christians), a promiscuous heterosexual lifestyle was not being endorsed any more than a homosexual one. That however opens up the additional and independent variable of monogamy.

  23. Does a person have the right to tell another person they can cure that person of their homosexuality?

    Are we talking about a pickup line or an advertisement for medical procedure?

    Seriously, passively and soberly advertising to ‘pray the gay away’ is being considered as a crime but directly inviting or delivering someone to a place where social pressure deliberately elevated and psychoactive substances were widely used and then trying to convince them about their sexuality specifically to have sex with the person is fair game.

    But, I suppose because one conversion “works” and the other “doesn’t” (due to the inherently fixed nature of sexuality in the one instance and it’s intrinsically fluid nature in the other) it’s all good.

  24. What’s the “cure” rate on, say, major depression (bearing in mind that the drugs most commonly used in its treatment are barely more effective than placebo)? Generalized anxiety disorder? Obsessive compulsive disorder? It would probably be a good idea for the psychiatric profession to tread lightly on criminalizing ineffective therapies.

  25. When I lived in San Francisco, one of my housemates tried to convert me to gay, but I did not shut him down.

  26. The new testament makes it clear gays or straights can change. 1 Corinthians 10:13. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” I have learned that I may die with my desires still tempting me, but one learns, with God’s help, you can live the Christian life style, while still being tempted, you just learn, over time, to choose one life style over the other.

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