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Minding Freedom Of Expression On Campus In Gainesville Florida

I had been absent from my blog for a few days, all of last week in fact. There was a good reason for this absence. I was engaged in the Civic Media Center (a local radical library) sponsored Radical Rush at Santa Fe College and the University of Florida. My group, MindFreedom Florida, was tabling with other socially progressive groups handing out literature and information at these schools. This is my 3rd year tabling at the Radical Rush on campus.

What continues to amaze me is the difficulty students and professors have in connecting with our movement. Women studies and African American affairs have been around in education departments for years, and I would like to believe the disabilities movement is making a little progress on campus as well. Gay bisexual transsexual queer issues are even beginning to make great strides forward. The psychiatric survivor movement itself, and the mad movement, locally, are still pretty much a dark space untouched by the light of academic endeavor.

Considering the depths of prejudice we face, and how discrimination is applied in other fields of endeavor, I think there is no question as to why this is so. We’re talking about a group of people that people are so prejudiced against that the first words that pop to mind are ‘lack of charisma’. Rather than seeing ‘gators’, panthers and tigers, people think labeled ‘mentally ill’, and they envision worms, rotted fruit and bats. I think that it would help if they envisioned human beings instead. Actually, that’s what our movement is all about, reminding people that they are dealing with human beings, in these instances, and not with less evolved creatures. It’s just too easy for them to forget sometimes it would seem.

I’m hoping this deficit can be corrected over time. I’d like to see people labeled by the mental health system make progress in the real world of everyday affairs. MindFreedom International has a number of academics associated with it. MindFreedom has both a Scientific Advisory Board and an Academic Alliance. Unfortunately, none of these professionals are at Santa Fe College or the University of Florida. I want to change this situation. I guess that means tabling on these campuses in coming years. Sooner or later, maybe they will begin to get it. The “it” I’m talking about is embodied in the slogan, familiar to people in the disabilities rights movement, “Nothing about us, without us!”

The University of Florida and Santa Fe College teach psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, and pharmacologists. These schools know how to oppress people, but do they know how to liberate them? I’m all for liberation myself, and I’m against oppression. I’d like to see some forces on campus join me in calling for liberation and in opposing oppression. We are out to educate the educators because apparently there is much that has still escaped their schooling. Eventually, I have no doubt, if we keep at it, we will find a place for ourselves here in Gainesville, too.