Parenting advice columnist John Rosemond was in Lexington today with Institute for Justice representatives, speaking at a press conference outside the federal courthouse, addressing the lawsuit the newspaper columnist filed yesterday in response to the Kentucky attorney general’s cease and desist order, citing his column as the “unlicensed practice of psychology.”
Rosemond said today that he hadn’t experienced anger about the attorney general’s process, characterizing his response as “shock,” at what IFJ representatives characterized as an unconstitutional threat to freedom of the press and freedom of speech. IFJ senior attorney Jeff Rowes said under this interpretation, advice purveyors “Dear Abby” and Dr. Phil would also be criminals. Rosemond said today his column is “trying my best to give people good, traditional, old-fashioned advice, and this may be something that rankles…”
John Rosemond, a licensed psychologist in the state of North Carolina since 1979, faces an attempt to bar his traditional style of parenting advice in his nationally syndicated column by the Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology and the Kentucky Attorney General, Jack Conway, prompted by a letter of complaint from Lexington retired psychologist T. Kerby Neill about a February column. Rosemond responded by filing suit yesterday, prompted by what he called today “the absurd over-reaching of the Kentucky licensing board.”
Asked at today’s press conference which Kentucky papers publish his syndicated column, Rosemond said he was only aware of those in Lexington, Danville, and Paducah. The Lexington Herald-Leader has said publicly that this is a first amendment issue and they intend to continue publishing the column. Rosemond wasn’t aware of the leadership’s plans at the Danville and Paducah newspapers.
Today, Rosemond was flanked by IFJ representatives, a woman carrying a sign that read “I support John Rosemond and the First Amendment,” and nearby, resting in the courthouse’s shade of the 90+ degree heat, a man who shouted unrelated obscenities, often drowning out the speakers at the microphones.
Rowes said, “Americans do not tolerate censorship.”
The IFJ provided copies of the February 2013 column which sparked the complaint that he was unlawfully practicing psychology in Kentucky, published in the Herald-Leader, and headlined “Time to get tough with over-indulged underachiever.” In it, the parents said they were ready to try “drastic things” in dealing with their “17-year-old highly spoiled underachiever, and asked what he recommended. He suggested that they take away electronic devices, and suspend all privileges, including driving, writing:
“when parents finally pull the rug of over-indulgence out from under an underachieving child, the typical reaction is full collapse, along with complaints from the child to the effect that since he has no privilege, he now has nothing to care about; therefore, he is not going to do anything to bring up his grades until certain privileges are restored.”
In his column, he encouraged the parents not to give in to this “manipulative self-drama, soap opera, with a heavy dose of attempted hostage-taking thrown in.”
Rosemond acknowledged that his columns are often controversial, and noted that he voluntarily submits his columns to review by a pediatrician and a PhD level psychologist, adding that when “they’ve raised red flags, I’ve pulled those columns out of the mix.”
He said today, “I believe many of the parenting problems we are having in America today, which are qualitatively and quantitatively much different than the kinds of parenting problems people had 50-plus years ago are due to the fact that the parenting voices that have been coming out of the expert community for the last 40 years have led parents in the wrong direction in this country.”