Wednesday, August 21, 2013





Sometimes, Disinformation Acceptable


Chris Hayes was not impressed, finding

Governor Chris Christie has tried to pull off a hell of a  three-card Monte on New Jersey voters, national Republican primary voters and the national local press. Check it out.

Today Governor Christie signed A3371 into law, a bill that bans licensed therapists from attempting so-called gay conversion therapy on minors.

There are no cameras or photographers present, but the governor released a statement saying, "The American Psychological Association has found efforts to change sexual orientation can pose critical health risks including but not limited to depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.

"I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate. Based upon this analysis, I signed this bill into law "Now, that`s a perfectly good thing to do. It shouldn't be a difficult decision, since minors should not be subjected to something that the American Psychological Association is basically calling child abuse

.But OK. That a boy, Chris Christie. This is, after all, what we might expect from a governor for a state that went for President Obama by 17 points in the last election.

This past Friday, however, another Chris Christie was at work and that Chris Christie did something after 6:00 pm in the summer on a Friday when all the reporters had gone for the weekend. That Chris Christie vetoed a ban on a military sniper rifle, the Baretta .50 caliber long-range rifle. Here`s the big military rifle, a weapon that has no plausible civilian use. It`s more or less a war toy for amateur gun enthusiasts.

The ban was one previously called for, wait for it, Chris Christie himself, last April. But now Christie says the bill goes too far by prohibiting current owners from keeping their guns. Or it could be that a group called Pro-Gun New Hampshire, interesting state, rallied out-of-state gun supporters to push Christie to veto the bill with 2016 in mind.This is the Chris Christie dance, and it`s the one we will get to see as he runs for re-election this year in a state with lots of liberals but positions himself with conservatives ahead of 2016, but keep this in mind, as soon as Election Day hits in November, if Chris Christie wins the second term, there will be no immediate need to strike such a balancing act.

After Election Day, as Hayes recognizes, there will be little if anything restraining the Governor. But he will win a second term because other than he and the Governor's Democratic opponent, Barbara Buono, there are few individuals calling out the Governor. And no one is listening to Buono, in part because- unlike New Jersey's Democratic senatorial nominee, she is an actual Democrat. Futher, Christie will easily win re-election because he is adept at being an ideological extremist when no one but Repub wingers are watching, while choosing his spots to stray slightly- and inconsequentially- from the right-wing script.

And inconsequential it is.  According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Southern Poverty Law Center maintains there are two- 2- therapists in New Jersey indicating they offer gay conversion therapy.   And  the SPLC has filed a lawsuit against one of them.

No, conversion therapy, even for minors, presents little threat because it is not widely employed. (It is a minor threat to minors.)  Most of the text of the bill (text, here) is taken up by a list of particulars against conversion therapy, in arguing that it is completely without merit and even dangerous. Section 1(k), for instance, quotes the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry contending the treatment "may encourage family rejection and undermine self-esteem, connectedness and caring, important protective factors against suicidal ideation and attempts."

And on and on and on.   The reasoning of the NJ state legislature and its governor may be summed up by the statement, attributed in the legislation to the National Association of Social Workers:  "No data demonstrates that reparative or conversion therapies are effective, and, in fact, they may be harmful." Support for gay minors as gay individuals, without attempting to change their sexual orientation, is urged throughout.
 
And yet, as I noted recently, Think Progress' Tara Culp-Ressler has explained 

Well over half of the states in the country are directly funding “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs), right-wing groups that pose as nonpartisan health clinics while advocating for an anti-abortion agenda. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, 34 states currently have policies that funnel money toward CPCs:...

Aside from designating family planning funds for CPCs, states can endorse them in a few other ways that sometimes slip under the radar. Some states have unnecessary restrictions on abortion that require women to undergo a mandatory counseling session or ultrasound procedure before being allowed to terminate a pregnancy, and choose to direct women to CPCs to fulfill those requirements. Or states can sell specialty license plates with pro-life messages, the proceeds of which directly fund CPCs.

For example, a recent NARAL investigation found that Virginia’s Department of Health currently refers low-income women to a list of 18 CPCs where they can receive a free ultrasound before getting an abortion. But when women visit those centers, they encounter misinformation about the abortion procedure — typically, false information about abortion’s link to breast cancer and depression. The staff at Virginia’s CPCs was also documented employing emotional manipulation, like writing “Hi, Dad” on the image of an ultrasound before handing it back to a patient. In extreme cases, CPC employees have even refused to turn over the ultrasound results to women who needed to bring them to an abortion clinic.

CPCs advertise themselves as viable alternatives to other women’s health clinics, even though they don’t tend to employ medical professionals and don’t offer the full range of reproductive health services. Multiple outsideinvestigations have caught CPCs’ lies on tape. Women who visit the right-wing “clinics” are frequently told that emergency contraception is the same thing as an abortion, birth control contains carcinogens, condoms aren’t effective at preventing STDs, abortion is extremely dangerous, and women always regret ending a pregnancy.

Those type of emotionally manipulative tactics designed to convince women not to have an abortion typically increase their negative emotions about the experience, but don’t ultimately lead them to change their mind or regret their decision. Ninety percent of women have made up their minds about having an abortion before visiting a doctor or a clinic.

These women visit a counseling clinic and are met with deceit. But most choose to go ahead with the abortion despite the active effort to convince them they are murderers. And when young people undergo reparative or conversion therapy, most (if not all) remain gay, despite efforts to convince them they are on the road to hell, suicide, or both.

There are, of course, differences.  But the most important is that the clinics or counselors now forbidden in New Jersey to ply their wares are private or non-profit institutions.  It appears neither therapist in that state take public funding nor do they in other states.  (If they do, every reporter has neglected to inform us, and has practiced journalistic malpractice.)   Crisis pregnancy centers, however, often receive public funding. They are not marketing fiction, but they may be doing it on the public's dime.

Between the two chambers of the New Jersey legislature, seventeen (17) lawmakers sponsored or co-sponsored A3371, the bill signed by Governor Christie.  We await seventeen legislators promoting a bill prohibiting the state's crisis pregnancy centers from doling out false information to pregnant, typically anxiety-ridden, women of the state.




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