Three minutes with the CAMFT board

The board of directors of CAMFT (The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists) meets once every…I don’t know how often they meet. Anyway, their all-day meeting is open to members to observe. We can also speak for three minutes on issues pertaining to our profession. Here’s a rough transcript of my well-memorized three minute speech regarding AB 1775. * Context note: the previously speaker had taken her three minutes to express appreciation for the recently increased transparency of board procedure.

“…Good morning, my name’s Graeme Daniels and I appreciate transparency, though I’m here to speak of the lack of it. I’m here to speak of AB 1775–a controversial new law–and to speak of CAMFT’s role in writing and supporting it. (Pause) I’ve heard a lot of demagoguery over the last year, from people who claim that AB 1775 will crack down on child porn, that it will protect children, when there’s no evidence it will do either. Bill supporters like to quote child abuse statistics, as if that counts as an argument. To my mind, that’s like reading out the Pearl Harbor casualty list to justify the internment of Japanese-Americans. So, to the salient matter: what happened with this law?

AB 1775 inserted three important words–downloading, streaming, accessing–into the penal code, conflating this language into an existing definition of sexual exploitation for the purposes of child abuse reporting. This was presented as a mere modernization, a technical updating, reflecting changes in technology. That’s incorrect, because these words are not synonyms for pre-existing language. The words downloading and streaming indicate data transfer, a receiving of information, not a reciprocal act. They’re not synonyms for ‘exchange’, ‘depict’, ‘distribute’, ‘duplicate’, or any of the words previously in the code. So the change was not ‘technical’. It was ideological. For the first time, the viewing of porn for personal use is reportable to police. For the first time in history, the consuming of a product that is exploitative is reportable to police. (* BTW: this comment is an allusion to broader comment that got nixed due to time constraints), and contrary to what Cathy has written in the spring edition of The Therapist, this bill is indeed a change to spirit of existing CANRA (Child abuse and neglect reporting act) law.

And if this exploitation is so heinous, then why does Cathy inform us that police will generally not investigate cases of merely ‘downloading’ or ‘streaming’. Why then are we to violate our clients’ confidentiality? Why does she write that the existing CANRA law was unclear in its language, because it was clear. It simply didn’t say what some people wanted it to say. And finally, why does she begin one paragraph with the words “it seems that the legislative intent (of the new law) is…”. It seems as if the intent was…? (pause) AS IF YA’LL DIDN’T WRITE THIS THING (yes, I did say ya’ll, with a British accent), present it to a political puppet to thrust before a legislature that, frankly, knows nothing about child abuse reporting. There’s a lot wrong with AB 1775–too much for me to say in three minutes. But above all, I want this board to look at how it gets manipulated.”

There. Just under three minutes.

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