Reason's Brian Doherty Wins Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties


Freedom fighter

I am pleased to announce that beloved Reason Senior Editor Brian Doherty has won the prestigious and well-deserved Thomas S. Szasz Award, named after one of the world's true heroes of freedom. Here's the write-up from the Center for Independent Thought, which administers the award:

Journalist Brian Doherty and psychiatry professor Henry (Zvi) Lothane have been named recipients of the 2011 Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties. Doherty, a senior editor at Reason magazine, won the award in the general category. Lothane, Clinical Professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, won in the professional category.

The Szasz Award, named for the prominent opponent of psychiatric coercion and other forms of oppression in the name of health, is a tribute conferred annually on persons or organizations, American or foreign, judged to have significantly advanced the cause of civil liberty. The award is intended to encourage civil libertarians to persevere in the battle to protect personal autonomy from state encroachment. The General Award is given to an author or activist who has done exceptional work to advance and popularize the importance of civil liberties. […]

Doherty is the author of many articles and book reviews in support of civil liberties and the work of Szasz in particular. His acclaimed book Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement features an 11-page discussion of the importance of Szasz's work to the cause of individual liberty, autonomy, and dignity. He is also the author of This Is Burning Man and Gun Control on Trial.

Doherty (read his Reason archive here) joins such distinguished past winners as Nat Hentoff, Richard Epstein, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), and our own Jacob Sullum. Speaking of Ron Paul, that's why you haven't seen Brian around here much lately–he's working on a major biography of the man and his movement, with the reported (and awesome) title of Traitor in the Empire of Lies: Ron Paul's Revolution…but the actual working title (according to Doherty's update in the comments) of Gold, Peace, and Freedom: The Ron Paul Revolution and the Future of American Politics

Reason's voluminous archive on Thomas Szasz here. Congratulations, Brian!

NEXT: Too Smart for Our Own Good

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  1. Traitor in the Empire of Lies: Ron Paul’s Revolution.

    Kind of puts Declaration of Independents to shame, doesn’t it Matt?

  2. Isn’t Szasz the emo Batman villain?

    1. No, you’re thinking of Egghead.

        1. Yes, Hugh are strange.

    2. Aye. He cuts himself.

  3. That’s a fucking awesome title.

    1. Epi, I have and will take your advice / cue on that matter that can not be named.

      Your post made sense and as you suggest, I should not and won’t look at this as surrender / being servile-whether it is reason, me or other posters.

      1. I think that’s the right move here. It’s over.

        1. Thank fuck.

          1. No fantasy football update in the morning links?

            Are you trying to hide the 2-0 surprise team?

  4. As strongly as I disagree with Szasz’s views on both the philosophy of mind and science of psychiatry, I still want to congratulate you on winning this award. Well deserved.

    Sorry for the preamble, I just can’t help it where Szasz is concerned.

    1. SHIT! Forgot to use my real handle!

      1. Szaz is awesome, baby!!!

        1. Congratulations to Brian Doherty, but I hardly consider Szasz to be a hero.

          For example, according to Szasz, schizophrenia is a “fake disease.” He’s one of the most influential medical cranks of the 20th century.

          1. Szasz is heroic in many areas, but shameful in that one.

            1. Szasz is wrong about schizophrenia? Pray tell, what is the biological evidence for this putative “disease”? As with all psychiatric diagnoses, it can’t be confirmed by any physiologic or anatomical test, and even psychiatrists don’t agree on a uniform cause.

              As notes, “Currently, there are no specific laboratory tests for diagnosing schizophrenia.”

              Information about schizophrenia testing is conspicuously absent from the site of the National Institute of Mental Health:


              WebMD is unintentionally amusing and revealing about diagnosing schizophrenia:

              “Diagnosing schizophrenia is based on observing patients’ actions. But doctors use certain tests to make sure nothing else as at the root of the symptoms.”


              Nothing else, like, say, something physically abnormal.

              There is every bit as much evidence that schizophrenia is a disease as there was that homosexuality was one. Which is to say, none.

              1. You know your not a doctor, nurse, or even a fan of House when you think that all diseases have tests. Hell, there are INFECTIOUS diseases that you can’t run lab tests for with indeterminant pathological slides.

                But hey, I guess they probably aren’t real either.

                1. Are the infectious diseases without confirmatory tests diagnosed solely by the behavior of the infected person? At the infected people sent to psychiatrists?

                  Again, psychiatry is the only ostensible branch of medicine that has no test to confirm ANY diagnosis.

      2. This never gets old. It’s as if you don’t think two people could share extremely common views.

  5. Congratulations, Brian. Maybe it’s time I pull the book off the shelf and give it a read.

  6. Doherty is the author of many articles and book reviews in support of civil liberties and the work of Szasz in particular.

    This seems like a “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours” type of situation. Naw, I’m just taking the piss. Congrats, Doherty.

  7. Well done, sir.

  8. (and awesome)

    Not awesome. No pun.

    And it’s ambiguous. Lefties hate that. “Outreach!”

    Feet of Foot: What’s that Shit in Ron Paul’s Texas Republican Mouth

    Ron Paul’s Hidden Cock: Dr. No or Dr. JOO?

    Huh? Eh? Huh?

    1. Now maybe we can get some Reason live blogging confirmed?

      1. Nah. I get the impression they won’t bother with liveblogging until the general election.

        1. They did the first one in SC so maybe Gary Johnson is the key.

          1. It was actually (topically!) only Brian Doherty who did it, and it was “Not Quite Live Blogged”. It was still a great time though, and I’d love to see Brian do it again. I’ll be here, probably with a fractionally smaller amount of snark, what with Johnson getting a few minutes of air time.

  9. Congratulations Mr Doherty.

  10. While Nick is correct about the originally announced title, the book is now going by the name GOLD, PEACE, AND FREEDOM: THE RON PAUL REVOLUTION AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN POLITICS. While the original was poetic and evocative–and direct from a quote from Dr. Paul himself in his book THE REVOLUTION–the new one is thought to be more explanatory about what the man’s all about.

    1. Dude! That would have been golden! Can you sub-subtitle it? Or at least make it the name of a chapter that can be excerpted for magazine publication.

    2. Dude, the Empire of Lies title is totally awesome. You should really use it. I’m no publishing expert, but an interesting and poetic title on a book is a lot more intriguing than a long bland one. The former makes the book sound mysterious and provocative, while the latter makes it sound dry and boring.

      1. Agree. Traitor in the Empire of Lies (without the colon) is chock full of awesome.

        …and congrats.

        1. Traitor in the Empire of Lies: Without the Colon

    3. Yeah, I’ll add my support for the original title.

      Oh, and congratulations! A very well-deserved honor.

      1. I also vote for the original title…

        1. Oh, and a hearty congratulations, Brian. Is it the kind of award where there’s an acceptance speech? Becuase if there is, you should definitely shout out the Hit & Run commenters. Just keep going, too, until they cut you off. “I’d like to also thank Warty, SIV, Latter Day Taint…” [Music starts playing loudly, drowning you out]

          1. Yo, wrap it up B!

  11. Sorry to Matt and Nick, I mistook this Matt written post for a Nick-written one.

    1. Only because Matt was channeling the power of the jacket while writing the post.

      Also, congrats!!!!1!1!!1!!!

      Looking forward to the new book… Now I just gotta manage to finish the previous masterpiece.

  12. Congratulations to Brian!

  13. The original title is cool, but I think the new title is more likely to catch a broader audience.

    Hey, guys I’ve got a new movie coming out but I’m struggling with a title. It’s about how money should be replaced by Twinkies. Help me out a bit, huh?

  14. Nice. Now who does the Scientology prize go to? You know. Because mental illness isn’t real and stuff.

    1. The “mental illness” case that Szasz worked with the Scientologists on wasn’t real. It was a man involuntarily committed because he spoke gibberish, or as they call it in Szasz’birthplace-Hungarian.

      1. Was that man named Tom Cruise?

  15. ‘Traitor in the Empire of Lies: Ron Paul’s Revolution’ is a book I’d buy just for the title. I wholeheartedly agree with Epi on this one — an enthralling title that ALSO describes the book’s primary subject is a universe better than a three-item list of what probably sounds like a handful of political banalities.

    Seriousy, Mr. Doherty. The original title’s better in every way.

    Unless you’re planning for this book to be sold in places where there are no Americans on frontal lobes, like Chicago, you should bring it back.

    1. *or

      1. Well OK then! I always take advice from anonymous losers in the comments section!

        1. 1) Just sharing my opinion.

          2) Fuck off, moron.

          1. RPA, do please know that that “Brian” above is not me. I do appreciate your thoughts, and I actually agree. I loved that first title, but the publisher had some issues with it.

            1. The Man still keeping us down, eh?

  16. Congratulations, Brian!

    Indeed, well done, sir!

    And I like the original title, too, fwiw.

    … Hobbit

  17. How long until LRC declares Brian an apostate for daring to depict The Prophet as a mortal man?

    1. Bwah ha ha ha

  18. folks have their very own preferred gemstone or like birthstone which they ordinarily where in rings and earrings.

  19. I’m struggling with a title. It’s about how money should be replaced by Twinkies.right?

  20. I would read Doherty’s biography of Paul whatever the title.

    But I prefer Empire of Lies.

    Or Dr. What-Part-of-No-Don’t-You-Understand?

    Or Maybe-He-Edited-Those-Crappy-Newsletters-But-He-Still-Sucks-Much-Less-Than-Those-Clowns-He’s-Running-Against.

  21. You don’t need to buy all of Szasz’ argument to see that he absolutely raises a valid point: The demarcation of what constitutes mental illness is problematic and dependent on the cultural enviroment where the decision takes place. Consider the inclusion of homosexuality in the ICD-9 for example. Especially libertarians should see how this might lead to oppression. He also wasn’t opposed to non-coercive psychiatric treatment AFAIK.

    Having said that:
    Congratulations, Brian.

  22. Congrats, Brian! No time to rest on your laurels, apparently– do us all a favor and pace yourself, please! We need you!

  23. Congrats, Brian. For a moment I was elated when I thought you were working on a bio of Tom Szasz. It’s a book worth writing.

    1. I would love to write a bio of Szasz. Perhaps. My RP book is more a profile of the man and the action around him since 2007 than a full-on bio—his early years and career will be dealt with pretty quickly to get to the action of the current “Ron Paul Revolution.”

  24. Great work Brian. And I agree with everyone else that someday you *must* write “Traitor in the Empire of Lies”, even if it’s only about Jeffe and TC’s time at the LAT.

  25. How many lies, half truths and distortions will it contain?

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