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Remarks by Thomas Szasz, MD
on the occasion of the
2002 Szasz Awards for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties
November 12, 2002
Cato Institute
Washington, DC

Dear Andrea and Howard, Keith Hoeller and Ron Paul,

I deeply regret that I cannot be present at the 2002 Szasz Award presentation.To Keith and Ron, I send my heartiest congratulations and my sincerest thanks for their often unappreciated labors on behalf of liberty.

Actually, it is an understatement to say that our labors against Leviathan -- now robed in the sacred and untouchable garments of the doctor as the healer of all that ails mankind -- is often unappreciated. As a rule, criticism of the Therapeutic State is dismissed out of hand as unscientific, on a par with asserting that the earth is flat; if not dismissed, it is reviled as unpatriotic and morally beyond the pale, akin to asserting that there is no god.

Everyone now knows, yet refuses to recognize, that we live in a Therapeutic State, in which the functions of medicine and politics are merged as completely as the Taliban merges the functions of religion and politics. Lovers of theological and therapeutic states regard these marriages between religious and medical "truths" and the coercive apparatus of the state as so "naturally right" that articulating the phenomenon borders on heresy, and objecting to it is existential suicide (or a capital offense).

A feature article in the New York Times for October 3, 2002 is illustrative. Titled, "War, murder and suicide: A year's toll is 1.6 million," the report informed the reader that, according to a 2002 report by the World Health Organization, "Violence kills more than 1.6 million people each year, and suicide claims almost as many lives as war and homicide combined."

Classifying murder and suicide as members of the same class of behaviors, called "violence," is like classifying taxation and philanthropy, stealing and gifting as members of the same class of behaviors, called "wealth transfer." Nevertheless, classifying murder and suicide as morally and politically equivalent acts, called "violence," and treating both as problems in public health and psychiatry, is one of the unassailable, doctrinal tenets of the Therapeutic State.

All of us here and many of our friends scattered across the country are grateful -- and I am especially deeply grateful -- to Andrea for having created this award, recognizing and paying tribute to persons whose work opposes the views not only of the booboisie, as Mencken called the compact majority that is always wrong, but also the views of many people who ought to know better.

Thank you Keith, thank you Ron, and, most of all, thank you, Andrea. This Award honors you as much as it honors the recipients of the Szasz Award.



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