Talk:Thomas Szasz

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Number of quotes[edit]

The selection of quotes taken from Thomas Szasz' "The Untamed Tongue" is being slashed from 48 down to 5 on the basis of copyright violation. I'd like to point out that this doesn't seem to be an issue with some other Wikiquote selections that I'm familiar with:

  • Frank Herbert - Dune: 55 entries
  • Robert Heinlein - Time Enough for Love: 122 entries
  • J.R.R. Tolkien - The Fellowship of the Ring: 201 entries
  • J.R.R. Tolkien - The Two Towers: 214 entries
  • J.R.R. Tolkien - The Return of the King: 310 entries (total Lord of the Rings: 725 entries)

It seems that there's something of an inconsistent standard here.

I've looked through the Szasz entries (many of which I posted), and none of them are very long, and all of them are notable and, as I said, many of them are aphoristic and therefore, by their very nature, clearly designed to be quoted. Szasz' book is 288 pages long, and the quotes listed run about 7 pages, which is about 2.5% of the book is being quoted. By comparison, The Return of the King is 544 pages long, and about 30 pages of quotes are listed, which is about 5.5% (all very rough calculations, of course, but close enough to get a feeling for the situation) -- in other words, more than twice as much.

What is the policy here, that a book cannot be extensively quoted unless it has a large fan base?

Please allow me to restore the quotes as they were, or at the very least tell me what the policy is so I can work toward making the article, and the other articles listed, adhere to that policy. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Ed Fitzgerald (talkcontribs) 05:33, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Ed, it has nothing to do with popularity, except for the difficulty in policing articles for works that editors tend to excessively quote. (That's one reason we are increasingly rejecting creative-work articles in favor of moving the material into author articles.) No creative work should have such a substantial set of quotes here. Even when the work is out of copyright, Wikiquote's focus is intended to be very selective, choosing the very best and most memorable quotes. Public-domain documents can be placed in their entirety into Wikisource. (There is no Wikimedia project at this time that focuses on the in-between situations.)
Each article you mention should be severely trimmed, just as this one has been. Copyright law does not permit such substantive excerpting of any of these works. I would encourage you and others in our community to work to reduce our copyright-violation exposure. We must not expect the Wikimedia Foundation to do this for us, as it has done on several occasions, or we might find ourselves shutdown and forced to restart from scratch as French Wikiquote had to. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 11:55, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
Questions/comments -
  • My apologies for not signing my previous comment, an oversight on my part.
  • Does your opinion concerning what does and does not constitute fair use of copyrighted material come from professional knowledge about intellectual property law and practice?
  • I'll believe that Dune and the Return of the King will be reduced to 5 quotes when I see it.
  • Good luck with Wikiquote in the future. If your view is an accurate depiction of what it is, I have little interest in sharing my quote collection, or in donating my time and energy to a project with such a stunted viewpoint. Ed Fitzgerald 22:55, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Well, it's been over a month since my first comment here, and I note that all of the quote collections I pointed out above remain as large, if not larger, as they were, and that no effort has been made to slice them down to size by removing any quotes from them. Unless I can get a convincing explanation of why those collections are not copyright violations, while this one was, I intend to restore the deleted quotes. Ed Fitzgerald 07:39, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Ed, I have already told you that English Wikiquote (and its non-English sisters) risk being shutdown because of their failure to observe basic copyright law. In fact, the Wikimedia Foundation is in the process of tallying up a recent Board election, in which several candidates (one of whom I'm sure will be re-elected) suggest shutting this project down because the nature of quotation makes it impossible to operate it as a free-content site. In the face of this, it's maddening to have hard-working editors like yourself pushing to load up articles well beyond any reasonable limits, just because the dozen or so conscientious copyright checkers can't wave a magic wand and make all 10,000 articles (or even a tiny subset) comply all by themselves.
You are one of many editors who seem to feel that if they can identify a few excessive articles, they should be able to make their pet article excessive. It is utterly impossible for the handful of current weeders even to trim only the articles such editors hold up in example, unless we were simply to delete an arbitrary 95% of each article each time someone uses it as an example. This would satisfy no one.
Instead of pushing for excessive quoting after an article has been significantly reduced, I would hope the opposite would happen: that each and every editor who found their article mercilessly trimmed would understand the need and catch the copright-compliance fever, helping us with a dozen other articles. This would allow us to build a community spirit of selectivity and prudence that would take away the best reason Wikiquote detractors have for killing the project. I beg you to consider helping us do this weeding instead of causing more work. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 09:06, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
I don't expect you or anyone else to wave a magic wand, but I *do* expect some effort to be made for there to be equal application of policy. In this case, despite your protestations, it's obvious that it's easier for you to chop out 50 quotes from a relatively obscure author like Szasz then it is to risk the ire of thousands of Tolkien, Herbert and Heinlein fans by trimming those articles -- despite the fact that they are *far* larger, and *far* more likely to be the object of legal action. The quotes from Szasz are all essentially aphoristic, intended for quotation and dissemination, while the stuff from Tolkien, Herbert and Heinlein is not, and the publishers of Tolkien, Heinlein and Herbert are *much* more apt to be concerned about copyright violations than are Szasz's. Yet *here* is where you chose to draw the line, in this insignificant corner of Wikiquote, instead of over where the action is. Ed Fitzgerald 18:38, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
It is impossible for a dozen editors to apply policy equally to 10,000+ articles. The entire concept of wiki relies on large numbers of editors splitting up an otherwise impossible amount of work. I have frequently proven that I am willing to do the hard work of trimming articles, but there is no way I can do this for every article that someone complains about.
By demanding that others apply this policy, you appear to be unwilling to join in this effort. I find this disappointing, because if I can't persuade you and my other fellow editors to help, our project is almost certainly doomed in the long run. But to encourage you to join the effort, I will tackle the worst of the offenders from your list, The Return of the King.
I'm afraid I was too much in a hurry (based on the tons of backlogged work I have here!) to properly address your question about how much is too much. Please read Wikiquote:Copyright for an overview, and its discussion page for some further insight. (Go ahead, I'll wait. ) That done, I would point out that we have no formal guideline for book excerpting. I based my "5 quotes" on our more commonly practiced trimming of TV-show quotes (5 per episode), but I believe now that I was too hasty there as well. (Again, the number of editors asking me to do things for them instead of poking around, being bold, and tackling the problems themselves, can occasionally induce me to act without sufficient contemplation. I apologize for this.)
In my opinion (and that's just my opinion, for now), we should probably try to limit book quotes to less than 1% of the material. Even this initial guideline doesn't guarantee us protection against copyright infringement, but it's probably low enough to make us less of a target. It's not as bad as it might sound, because Wikiquote focuses on pithy (i.e., brief and powerful) quotes. Memorable phrases do not usually take more than a few lines, and 20 such quotes probably wouldn't exceed 1% of a typical book. To make it easier on editors, who are mostly unlikely to do the basic arithmetic calculations, I would suggest 15-20 quotes per book as an initial target. While I am dealing with Frodo & Co., I invite you to restore some of what I deleted from this article.
Meanwhile, I really do mean it when I ask for your assistance. If you'd like to help, please see Wikiquote:Copyrights#Reports to see how we can list problem articles, note the use of the {{checkcopyright}} tag in The Sopranos that I recently added, and look at the talk-page request I posted to Talk:The Sopranos. (I'll do the same for The Return of the King within a day; I can't do justice to these things if I try to do more than one at a time.) These give the community and the articles' editors a chance to winnow down the excessive quoting before an "outsider" starts slashing. (I did not consider myself an outsider for this article because I came to it through my own interests, but I admit I could have been more diplomatic and patient. Trouble is that patience requires repeated visits, and it's often easier just to do the job when you see it if you can't count on others to do so. Yes, that's another plea for assistance.) ~ Jeff Q (talk) 20:52, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
We can live without Wikiquote. Interested parties can post quotes to pbworks or scribd, for instance, and, if challenged for copyright violations, deal with that rather than the kingdom of Wikipedia pedants. Menckenism (talk) 14:59, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes indeed, those who wish to create condensed books or literary digests, rather than collections of famous quotations, are well advised to do it elsewhere. There is room on the internet for all manner of things. ~ Ningauble (talk) 17:11, 2 January 2013 (UTC)


  • Insanity is the only sane reaction to an insane society.
  • Classifying thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as diseases is a logical and semantic error.
  • Among animals, it's 'eat or be eaten'; among humans, it's 'define or be defined.'
  • When a person can no longer laugh at himself, it is time for others to laugh at him.
  • The plague of mankind is the fear and rejection of diversity: monotheism, monarchy, monogamy and, in our age, monomedicine. The belief that there is only one right way to live, only one right way to regulate religious, political, sexual, medical affairs is the root cause of the greatest threat to man: members of his own species, bent on ensuring his salvation, security, and sanity.
  • People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.
  • Men are rewarded and punished not for what they do, but rather how their acts are defined. This is why men are more interested in better justifying themselves than in better behaving themselves.
  • The struggle for definition is veritably the struggle for life itself. In the typical Western two men fight desperately for the possession of a gun that has been thrown to the ground: whoever reaches the weapon first shoots and lives; his adversary is shot and dies. In ordinary life, the struggle is not for guns but for words; whoever first defines the situation is the victor; his adversary, the victim. For example, in the family, husband and wife, mother and child do not get along; who defines whom as troublesome or mentally sick?...[the one] who first seizes the word imposes reality on the other; [the one] who defines thus dominates and lives; and [the one] who is defined is subjugated and may be killed.
  • Men are afraid to rock the boat in which they hope to drift safely through life's currents, when, actually, the boat is stuck on a sandbar. They would be better off to rock the boat and try to shake it loose.
  • There is much that is physical in mental disorders and much mental in physical disorders.

Szasz Quotationary[edit]

  • "Psychiatric coercion is medicalized terrorism." - Szasz Quotationary (electronic book, location 957) Michael Ten (talk) 06:05, 20 December 2016 (UTC)
I have the Szasz Quotationary and its late author was a creditable person, but I don't think quotes from it belong here since they don't include primary sources. For that reason I'm deleting the entry posted. Nicmart (talk) 14:51, 4 January 2018 (UTC)