Today, maybe because of a MindFreedom International public campaign, it looks like the federal funders of Alternatives 2010 will allow author/journalist Bob Whitaker keynote and criticize the claims of psychiatric drug companies. A month ago, I was skeptical if this important conference would include such criticism — I’m very glad to be proven wrong!


Thanks for Proving Me Wrong!

Robert Whitaker photoMaybe some of you have been following the controversy about a federally-funded conference that boldly invited journalist Bob Whitaker — author of the provocative Anatomy of an Epidemic — to speak at Alternatives 2010.

It looked like federal officials were blocking this, but 48 hours after a MindFreedom alert went out, Bob was “re-confirmed” as a speaker. If you missed the ‘victory’ announcement, click here.

As a back-story, I have to say I’m glad to be proven wrong about something.

You see, back on 10 June I found out I will be attending Alternatives 2010. So I e-mailed some of the organizers of this year’s conference, and wrote:

“I always have a great time since I’ve been going in 1987 or so…. wonderful warm community. Fun, and renewing. That said: … conferences like this can go by and — poof, oops — no one mentioned, say, the immense power of the drug companies, or the findings of Bob Whitaker’s new book, etc. Funny how that happens. Almost funny.”

Well, I got an e-mail back that sure slapped me down in a way I sure like to be slapped down!

The e-mail reply informed me that author Robert Whitaker had been invited to keynote!

Wonderful, and then on 15 July, Bob’s invitation was “un-confirmed,” because of objections from upper-level federal officials.

On 21 July, we put out the “What About Bob” alert. A lot of people responded, and you can read some of these e-mails to President Obama and Pam Hyde, the head of the federal agency funding Alternatives 2010, click here.

I know a couple of people immediately said, “We should boycott Alternatives 2010!” But I think they missed the point. We need to act together as a united movement as never before. There is a time and place for a boycott, but it ought to be done not as a reflex, but with reflection — a number of grassroots groups ought to be consulted, there should be a strategy, and there should be some clear demands.

Remember, Cesar Chavez’s famous boycott was of grapes, not of the wine made of grapes. Why this seeming contradiction? Because his was a carefully crafted boycott based not only on the morality of “non-union grapes are bad,” but on research, strategy and the morality of winning a victory for oppressed farm workers.

Well, as you probably know, today we found out Bob was re-confirmed as keynoter. It’s hard to tell if this is because of MindFreedom’s alerts. After all, this week there was a controversy with the White House involving the firing and re-hiring of Shirley Sherrod, so this would not be a good week for a similar media controversy.

But the teaching moment is that:

  1. It is crucial to acknowledge and support the independent activist wing of the mad movement. (So donate now!)
  2. An inside-outside strategy can work, if our movement unites and stays united.
  3. We sure have some courageous folks in the system-funded world who ought to be applauded. Thanks for proving me wrong!

Way to go, everyone.

And be sure to get Bob’s book at discount via the MadMarket and upport MindFreedom’s work.

See you at Alternatives 2010!



Document Actions