Speech in honor of Thomas Szasz
on the presentation of the
"Golden Flashlight" Freedom Award

by the "Irren-Offensive" on Nov. 9, 2002 in Syracuse, USA.

Dear Tom,

In the name of the Irren-Offensive I present you the Irren-Offensive´s Freedom Award, the "Golden Flashlight". It is our first Freedom Award and we are proud that you accept it. This award is a symbol of our thanks to you as the first person within the suppressive shrink profession who had the courage and straightforwardness to throw light on the snakepit.

Your truth set us free, the truth that no such thing as "mental illness" exists at all.

There was always grievance against and resistance to the snakepit but the voices of the persecuted were discredited as irrational, having no "illness insight", being a griper or they were simply not heard. So more than 40 years ago your voice broke the silence and was therefore the fundamental crack in the foundation of the oppressors, who claimed objectivity. The truth will finally prevail and they will never recover.

We chose the "Golden Flashlight" to address
- first of all your sense of humor
- secondly the pathfinding value of your work and
- thirdly because of the safety and modernity of your ideas which are mostly misunderstood as dangerous, like a torch flame in the gunpowder magazine.

We chose the expression "snakepit" not only because it is a common word in America for the psychiatric prison but also as an allegory on the snake as the symbol for medicine. You demystified its evil function in medicines claim to help and heal with violence and coercion.

This freedom award is therefore also a peace award, as your work expresses a deep confidence in civil, non-violent relationships instead of violent and paternalistic, dehumanizing and degradinig conduct and its language in the command modus.

Rather you illuminated - with a spotlight instead of a flashlight - the cruel and inquisitorial practice of this new church, medical science, and therfore this freedom award is also a scientific award because you fulfilled the basic function of science, which is to criticize and speak out the truth.

Thank you so much, Tom, for being the lighthouse for over 40 years, providing orientation in our political struggle for human rights, regaining our dignity and humanity and overcoming a degrading and dehumanizing system.

Spoken by René Talbot