The Week in Review
MONDAY, JUNE 9 This week of Iraqi upheaval, Mormon crackdowns, and allegedly felonious Facebooking kicks off in Texas, where the thoroughly discredited practice of "reparative therapy" for homosexuals has been given new life. The site of the regeneration: the 2014 Texas GOP Convention, held late last week in Fort Worth, where Texas Republicans adopted a party platform that included recognition of "the legitimacy and efficacy of counseling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle." However, as CNN points out, Texas stands alone in this recognition. "To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation... is safe or effective," says the American Psychological Association, whose opposition is echoed by both the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association. But the Texas GOP is sticking to its guns: "Nothing is mandatory," Cathie Adams—president of the conservative Texas Eagle Forum, which is spearheading the endorsement—told CNN. "If a person chooses counseling, then it should be made available. California and New Jersey have passed bills OUTLAWING it altogether, which is under litigation. It's a freedom issue."
•• Meanwhile in New Jersey, a superior court judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit seeking damages against alleged "conversion therapists." "The Southern Poverty Law Center brought the suit on behalf of four young men who claim Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH)... violated New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act when it provided conversion therapy claiming to cure patients of being gay," reports the New Civil Rights Movement blog. "JONAH filed asking the court to dismiss the suit, but on Friday, Judge [Peter] Bariso ruled if the plaintiffs can prove their claim, JONAH and the individual therapists could be liable for damages." According to the lawsuit, JONAH's antigay therapies included mandatory nudity and cuddling, going to gyms and bathhouses to be nude with "father figures," and violently beating effigies of their mothers with tennis rackets. "With Judge Bariso's ruling, JONAH will now have to defend those 'therapies' to a jury," reports TNCRM. "In addition to financial compensation, the plaintiffs have asked for a revocation of JONAH's business license and a permanent injunction against all JONAH staff from offering ex-gay therapy."
For its part, JONAH codirector Arthur Goldberg told ABC News when the case was first filed in 2012, "We have a lot of people who were a success and were healed... Our therapy is very conventional."
TUESDAY, JUNE 10 The week continues in Alabama, where an aunt's attempts to police her niece's Facebook use have resulted in chilling charges. Details come from the Alabama Media Group, which identifies the Facebook-using niece as Marissa Williams, a 19-year-old who has lived with her aunt in Fosters, Alabama, since April. According to court records filed today, the aunt/niece relationship became strained over the niece's alleged habit of inviting strangers she met on Facebook over to her aunt's house. "When her aunt asked Williams to stop inviting men she met online to her home and did not allow her to go to parties with strangers, the 19-year-old blocked her aunt on Facebook, prohibiting the woman from seeing what her niece was doing there," reports AMG. "According to the deposition, Williams's aunt decided to create a Facebook profile for a fictional man that she named Tre 'Topdog' Ellis so that she could add Williams as a friend and chat with her. The woman hoped for a rare glimpse into her niece's online activity and for an opportunity to teach Williams about the dangers of interacting with strangers online." Almost immediately, things got weird. After the undercover aunt reportedly instigated online communication with her niece, "Williams allegedly told the man she knew as Ellis that her family made her angry and that she wanted to get out of Alabama," reports AMG. "She then asked the man she'd never met to come kidnap her and take her away from her family... According to the court files, she told the fictional man how to get into her aunt's bedroom so he could kill her and the woman's fiancé first, then she asked him to shoot her cousin and the family dog on the way out." After allegedly being encouraged to execute a hit on herself, the undercover aunt called police, who soon arrived to interview Williams. After allegedly admitting to the plot and apologetically acknowledging that she didn't really want anyone to be killed, Marissa Williams was arrested on a charge of solicitation of murder and jailed pending a $30,000 bond.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 11 In lighter news, the week continues with hilariously creepy doings in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, thanks to countless news outlets reporting on the Mormon Church's recent actions against members who dared to challenge the cultish church. Church-challenger #1: John Dehlin, founder of several online forums for Mormons "who have struggled with doubt or questioned church teachings on issues including polygamy, race relations, church history, and the status of LGBT members," as Reuters reports. For his ongoing support of LDS skepticism, Dehlin this week received a letter from church leaders telling him he must resign from the church by June 18 or face a church trial on charges of apostasy. Church-challenger #2: Kate Kelly, a human-rights attorney and faithful Mormon who last year launched Ordain Women, a group that seeks to reverse the church's institutional sexism, for which they've been labeled as "protesters" by the church, with Kelly scheduled to be tried for apostasy on June 22.
Confidential to today's embattled LDS warriors: We understand you love the church and appreciate your attempts to instigate change from within. But there comes a time to stop negotiating with your abusive boyfriend and get the hell out. You can do better, girlfriends.
THURSDAY, JUNE 12 Meanwhile in Iraq, all hell continues to break loose, a tragic state of affairs well addressed by David Mixner at Towleroad. "Americans are reacting in shock this week to the rapid advance of the march toward Baghdad of the extremely radical Islamic ISIS militia. The group makes the old Taliban of Afghanistan look moderate. As the fringe group takes city after city, they are killing, raping, and burning the homes of average Iraqi citizens," writes Mixner. "Really there should be no shock about the emergence of ISIS in both Syria and Iraq... The American invasion and occupation ensure that the more militant elements would pour into the country to fight once again the infidels from the West." As for what happens next: "After our trillion dollar spend, ten years of warfare, more than 8,000 Americans killed, and tens of thousands of American soldiers left with severe physical and mental injuries, we are faced with this crisis," writes Mixner. "Cries will arise to 'Save Iraq,' and the voices of war will once again emerge from the hawks. Some will demand that we send troops once again into the war torn nation. Americans have been taken to war in the past based on lies and distortions. We cannot save democracy in Iraq. This is for the Iraqi people to solve for better or worse."
FRIDAY, JUNE 13 Nothing happened today, unless you count Friday the 13th AND a full moon, a portentous overlap that thankfully resulted in zero werewolves and/or hockey-masked murderers.
SATURDAY, JUNE 14 Weirdly, nothing happened today either, unless you count the arrest of a UW student who allegedly had dreams of becoming the next Elliot Rodger.
SUNDAY, JUNE 15 The week ends with ongoing horror in Iraq, with Sunni Islamist militants today claiming to have "massacred hundreds of captive Shiite members of Iraq's security forces, posting grisly pictures of a mass execution in Tikrit as evidence and warning of more killing to come," the New York Times reports.
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