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Dear John
Advice columnist muzzled by Kentucky

Date published: 7/21/2013

HONESTLY, does anyone really think Dear Abby is practicing psychology? Dr. Phil, even? No, they're giving advice. And that's why Kentucky's "cease and desist" order on columnist John Rosemond is ridiculous.

Mr. Rosemond, who does have an M.A. in psychology, is the author of 11 parenting books and is licensed to practice in North Carolina, has been writing an advice column since 1976. (No, you haven't missed him: We don't carry him in The Free Lance-Star.) The columnist has a reputation for being an old-fashioned disciplinarian--something for which many teachers applaud him, by the way.

But a retired psychologist in Kentucky objected to Mr. Rosemond's column advising someone with an overly indulged teen to remove privileges and strip the walls in his room bare until the kid's behavior improved. The complainant asked the state to make Mr. Rosemond stop referring to himself as a psychologist, since North Carolina's licensing laws aren't as strict as Kentucky's. And the state did just that. Now Mr. Rosemond is suing, saying Kentucky's demand impinges on his First Amendment rights.

Most people recognize that advice columnists primarily entertain general audiences. Information they offer may or may not be helpful. Appropriate application is really up to the reader, who is presumed to have at least a thimbleful of common sense. But if Kentucky has its way, we may, alas, have another in a long line of ridiculous warnings (like "Not for Navigation" on some maps, and "Do not use while sleeping" on a hair dryer). "Not for actual advice" on an advice column? Yes, that's possible.