Ron Paul, the 2002 Szasz Award Winner

Some supporters of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign may not know that congressman Paul was a champion of civil liberties even in the era before the U.S. government legalized torture.

Paul won the Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to Civil Liberties in 2002.  He is the only politician to ever win the award (named after the legendary psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, one of the great heroes of modern liberty).

Here are the comments I made at the award ceremony in November 2002 in Washington: 

It is my honor on behalf of the Szasz award committee to present the award this year to Congressman Ron Paul.

     Ron Paul speaks truth to power.     Congressman Paul  takes the high ground – stands on principle – and he often stands alone.  

     Last year, Paul was one of only three Republicans to vote against the Patriot Act  and the only member of the House to vote against the money laundering provisions of the Patriot Act.   Paul denounced that portion of the bill as “a laundry list of dangerous, unconstitutional power grabs…”  The type of honesty that is   damn near nonexistent in Washington.

     Ron Paul has made it clear from Day One where he stands on the War with Iraq. He stands on the Constitution on this – not on the public opinion polls. He is not finessing the issue.

     One thing I like about Paul is that he is wiling to question people’s motives – something that happens far too rarely in Washington.
     Back in mid-September, I was flipping on the TV at the end of the day – after a few beers – trolling on C SPAN.  And I happened to come upon a House hearing on the pending war with Iraq.  I think I missed the first couple hours of the hearing because chairman Henry Hyde announced that it was Congressman Paul’s chance to ask a question.
Paul scorned the hearing as “very one sided” and said “This turns out to be more propaganda for war than anything else.   We’re willing to go to war over phantom weapons.”
     And then he asked the two witnesses – Richard Perle and James Woolsey – whether they would personally be wiling to risk their lives for the war they so strongly advocated.
     Woolsey answered first.  He mentioned that he “flew a desk” during his two years in the army – but then stressed that it was not up to private citizens to decide whether to go to war – it was up to Congress.
     Then Perle answered. Perle was in London at the time – and they had a giant video screen up there for him to be seen.   The hearing setting looked like a scene out of Dr. Strangelove.  And there was a giant flag just to Perle’s right  – sort of like the Fox News Network on amphetamines.
   Perle opined: “Well, I find the question a particularly troubling question because the suggestion is that somehow it is illegitimate to make recommendation with respect to what one believes is in the best interest of the country and all of our citizens except in some intensely personal context.  And if I were in a position to serve, I would do so. But, that seems to me quite the wrong question, Congressman.  The question is how do we best protect the citizens of this country.”
   Woolsey chimed in: “This so-called chicken hawk argument does seem to me to be an extraordinarily unworthy argument.  And I think Senator John McCain has put it exactly where it belongs.  For one thing it says that if an American women or an openly gay American man supports the war that an opinion is unworthy or an over age, military age, American man, that that is an unworthy and ought to be an unconsidered opinion because none of those people are going to serve in combat. And I join Mr. Perle in saying that I think that it’s an extraordinarily unworthy ad hominem argument.” 

     Now – congressman Paul had not accused the two distinguished witnesses of being chickenhawks – they were the ones that brought this up.   But simply to directly challenge them made both Perle and Woolsey go strutting as if they had suffered some terrible insult.  I mean – since they were advocating killing foreigners – of course they had good intentions, right?
     Paul has done great work for freedom for decades – as far back as the mid-70s.  His foundation for  Foundation for Rational Economic Education (FREE) has done cutting-edge work- such as its recent publication of his speech,  “The Case Against the Police State.”   His Liberty Committee has worked mightily to educate fellow congressmen on the danger of Leviathan.


12 Responses to Ron Paul, the 2002 Szasz Award Winner

  1. Mace Price November 20, 2007 at 8:23 am #

    …Richard Perle is a supremely arrogant and condescending man with no conscience, concept of decency, nor the slightest inclination toward responsibility outside his own those of his own interests, if not his demands… He is in a phrase: an Architect of Tyranny.

  2. Original Steve November 20, 2007 at 12:04 pm #

    That was one “Perle” who should have stayed in the oyster.

  3. Mace Price November 20, 2007 at 12:54 pm #

    …yeah, but he didn’t

  4. Tory November 20, 2007 at 2:53 pm #

    James Madison 1809 / Ron Paul 2009

  5. Tom Blanton November 20, 2007 at 11:16 pm #

    Perle and Woolsey are both merchants of death. They would sell their souls for a dollar. It is astounding that anyone takes these Republicrat shills seriously.

    I just came from observing the madness at DailyKos. Over there the hysterical mobs would gladly trade their freedom for a rubber welfare check and insist you do the same – with a boot on your neck.

    Surely we are living in an insane asylum when the progressives and the neocons join together to attack Ron Paul while embracing Giuliani or Hillary. It boggles the mind.

  6. Jim November 20, 2007 at 11:44 pm #

    Tom – good point on the progressives & NeoCons going after Paul.

    Sad to see how few people are drawing the right lessons from the Bush era.

    Instead, they are merely seeking a good master.

  7. Jim November 20, 2007 at 11:47 pm #

    The text I posted was the pre-event version I typed out.

    If memory serves, I adlibbed a bit on Perle during the award ceremony. It was great to see how Ron Paul’s comment drove Perle & Woolsey into full froth.

    The fact that Perle would continue to be respected in DC is the perfect index of how much contempt the media-political Establishment deserves.

  8. Marc November 21, 2007 at 2:40 am #

    “How to best protect the citizens of this country” has been, in one variation or another, the central theme used to justify the neocon’s power grabs, constitutional abuses, and foreign interventions. To quote Thomas J. DiLorenzo in his recent LRC review of Napolitano’s “A Nation of Sheep”, “There is no trade-off between liberty and security. The notion that there is, is a “one-way trip into slavery”.”

  9. Tory November 21, 2007 at 10:48 am #

    ““A Nation of Sheep”, “There is no trade-off between liberty and security. The notion that there is, is a “one-way trip into slavery”.””

    Yea !

    James Madison 1809 / Ron Paul 2009

  10. Dirk W. Sabin November 21, 2007 at 11:49 am #

    But another Strawman from these relentless fabricators. Sure, everyone is entitled to an opinion but when asked for one, as Paul specifically asked them about their willingness to serve, then those who are so free with their opinions should come forth with it rather than hiding behind an iron curtain of sophistry.

    I suggest that we repay these gentleman for their intellectual services by presenting a bill for their sorry advice….and include everyone from Wolfowitz and the entire Administration. If they are unable to pay, we surely can understand and so they can work off the collective billions by using their long-standing faility with straw. They can all be put to work on a chain gang mixing straw and mud to create bricks to rebuild the shattered housing stock.

    There are several reasons for a dysfunctional U.S. government but one of the chief ones is granting the right to dispense huge amounts of money without any responsibility for the outcome whatsoever. The Public Trust is in tatters and it is to people like Perle who are complicit in the ongoing fleecing of the Republic. The Grant and Harding Administrations were but pikers compared to these Federalist Bunko Artists.

  11. Mace Price November 21, 2007 at 1:38 pm #

    “…The Sheep are far happier of themselves than to be under the care of the Wolves.
    —Thomas Jefferson


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