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!
Maybe 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, so this would not be a good week for a similar media controversy.
But the teaching moment is that:
- It is crucial to acknowledge and support the independent activist wing of the mad movement. (So donate now!)
- An inside-outside strategy can work, if our movement unites and stays united.
- 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 theand upport MindFreedom’s work.
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