What I Learned in Public School

Although you may have been taught to believe differently, public schools tend to have very negative impacts on the development of a child’s creativity, sense of ethics and autonomy. From the first day in kindergarten until the last day of senior year, ‘kids’ are told to “treat others as [they] want to be treated.” Actions speak louder than words. Unfortunately, the staff members at public education facilities treat students as if they have “authority” over them, ingraining the message that it is acceptable to treat other people like property – though I doubt they wish to be treated that way. A ‘child’ can learn all of the skills that one may deem ‘critical’ without being subjected to the hypocrisy and demand for blind obedience in the public school system.

I believe that it is more important to teach children the difference between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ than to teach them to follow rules that someone with purported authority sets for them. Government schools teach children that they need to comply with the demands of teachers, principals, police officers, and other individuals who are portrayed to have a higher level of authority. Giving a child the impression that they are required to obey orders without question diminishes their ability to make decisions based on logical reasoning and conscience. I would prefer to teach my children to live in ways that do not aggress upon others, use critical thinking skills and come to their own conclusions as opposed to blindly following orders and accepting what they are told without question.

In addition to conditioning students to be compliant with authority, public schools prevent students from reaching their maximum potential academically, socially, and intellectually. All students are expected to learn a general assortment of knowledge and skills instead of thriving in a specific area. Naturally, different people excel in different areas and are interested in different topics of study. I’d prefer to see each of the (approx.) 1,750 students that attend Keene High School spend their time studying and improving skills in areas they are actually interested in rather than the generalized, ‘government approved’ curriculum provided (I bet they would, too). Public schools are very bad at catering to the needs of individual students’ learning speeds, abilities and interests, regardless of the subject. Although a teacher will “teach” more slowly in order to meet the needs of students with difficulty keeping pace with the ‘average’ student, someone with accelerated learning abilities will not be accommodated so that they can reach their maximum potential. I’m not even going to begin to discuss the government-worshipping, ‘government-approved’, (obviously) biased curriculum.

Public schools teach children to be dependent on ‘authority’ figures instead of giving them the skills they need to solve problems creatively and independently. Teaching children to depend on others from an early age is not beneficial to them. People learn that when they have an issue or a dispute with someone, they should tell somebody with higher “authority” so that they can deal with the problem for them (i.e. principals, law enforcement). There is nothing wrong with asking people for help sometimes. The problem arises when people become accustomed to having other people solve their problems for them. A desirable alternative, in my opinion, is to help children improve their communication and problem-solving skills so they are capable of finding acceptable solutions to their problems independently.

The most important thing I’ve learned throughout my twelve years of public schooling is that if I ever have children, there are alternatives that would be much more educational, beneficial, and preferable than public school.

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240 Comments

  1. This article is senior year last digs trash. Authority authority authority – is that all this site can ever talk about?! If you didn't like public school, your parents should have invested the time to pull you and put you into something different. There are many alternatives to public school right in Keene – even a Waldorf school (I went to Waldorf but not in Keene). Authority exists in the world – even in the revered private sector. Got a problem at work….people go to the BOSS, or the SUPERVISOR, or Human Resources etc etc. Do you think teachers in public school were made at the same Terminator Factory as cops? Like it's some government indoctrination conspiracy to teach the kids to OBEY or else. There are foolish teachers in every school in America – from Keene High, to my Waldorf School to Harvard. I wish freestaters could start enjoying life more and stop this incessant obsession with authority. Public school teachers are just people….doing the best they can – it just happens to be in a building that is funded by taxpayers.

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  2. Matt- Maybe my parents didn't consider other options – and because they didn't, I have the ability to share my conclusion that alternate methods of educating children would be more beneficial to the child's personal growth. Authority does not exist, actually. No human being can have authority over another. Even in the workplace, the boss does not have authority over his employees. He has the authority to decide what is and is not acceptable in his workplace and what he expects of his employees- but it is a mutual agreement; the employee has the ability to decide if he will comply with the boss' guidelines, just as the boss has the ability to decide whether or not he will keep an employee on the payroll. Also, I am not a free-stater and very much enjoy life. 😉

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  3. Matt, If you were to take the time and watch The Cartel, you might learn a little about why many of us have a problem with Public Education.

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  4. matt,

    I went to a Waldorf school too! Knew we were operating on the same wavelength for a reason :)

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  5. I absolutely have problems with public education. Personally, I felt I received a great education at KHS, but I attribute that to the fact that my previous schooling combined with my general attitude towards school motivated me to get the best out of what was presented to me; along with the fact that KHS is a relatively good, effective public school compared to the country at large.

    I could go on and on about the specifics of what it is I believe needs to be fixed in this country's education system, however I think I can boil it down to a few simple facts. Mainly, I don't think we place enough value on education, or on those who wish to impart knowledge (teachers). There are many countries in the world (especially Asian countries) which have much more money invested in their education system, much more respect for teachers, and, consequently, much better education results.

    While I may think the current system is broken, I do not necessarily think the fix is to eliminate it completely and opt for only private schools (I know this isn't necessarily what you were advocating for either, Krager, but I some people do). I believe there needs to be education available to all, I just think it needs to be better. I believe that taking away the public school structure would result in classist education–even more so than what we have today.

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  6. Nicely done Kager.

    The "authority" is not the problem, if the relationship is voluntarily entered into. I joined the Marine Corps voluntarily, I oppose the draft.

    The blog post is on the mark in that the introduction/indoctrination into the fact that you as an individual are owned and subject to absolute control is started in government schools. In fact the "program" is militaristic, nationalistic and designed to break the family bond as the primary loyalty.

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  7. Krager said, "Even in the workplace, the boss does not have authority over his employees. He has the authority to decide what is and is not acceptable in his workplace and what he expects of his employees- but it is a mutual agreement; the employee has the ability to decide if he will comply with the boss’ guidelines, just as the boss has the ability to decide whether or not he will keep an employee on the payroll."

    You could have made the same argument to justify chattel slavery, as chattel slavery was in many ways far more mutually beneficial for both parties than the wage system. Take a look at what happened to ex-slaves in the US South after emancipation: were they any more free than they had been before? Nope, they went back to working as cottonpickers for their ex-slave owners. Same thing happened in feudal Russia: after the liberation of the serfs, the ex-serfs went right back to working for their ex-landlords. But as chattel slaves, these people were treated much better than they were emancipation as wage slaves; since they were the bosses' property, their bosses (slave owners) were compelled to treat them well and make sure they were healthy, well-fed, and able to work, since the bosses would lose profit if they weren't. With wage laborers, bosses simply don't care about their well-being, because they can just pick more people from the unemployment pool to replace a wage slave who quits or is fired.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-YI0X36iKY

    The reason why anarchists (like myself) oppose authority in the workplace is because it is inherently authoritarian. Who has more power in these relationships: bosses or the wage slaves they hire? Who has greater control in these relationships? I think it should be mentioned that for most people, being able to "leave" (especially in this economy) is not an option. What right-libertarians do in their analysis of the wage system is single out the best possible scenario (i.e. the wage slaves having the option to leave their boss at any time and become self-employed in a totally free market where resources are available to everyone) and apply that scenario to *every single case*. Sorry, but that's just not the reality. If it was, you won't be seeing sweatshops in Indonesia or Vietnam, or labor organizers being mass-murdered in Colombia for attempts to take over the workplace. Once again, class analysis is nowhere to be found (take a look at my comment up above and tell me what you think).

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  8. …In 6th grade – what was then Keene Junior High school – all of us students took a standardized test first thing in the school year. When all the scores were tallied, students were placed in "levels", as they were called, based on their scores. The highest scores went into the "top" 3 levels, i.e., "6-1", "6-2", & "6-3"…..These were mostly college-bound / college-prep students. "6-4" -thru "6-9" were the "average kids"…"6-10", "6-11", and "6-12" were the dummies, what we might call "special ed" students, mostly…Even in 6th grade, I was surprised and puzzled that the higher the rank of the kids' scores, the wealthier the parents were, and that they were more likely to come from the "rich" part of town – West Keene….The poorest kids filled the lowest levels. It was blatant classism. *BLATANT*CLASSISM*…Julia Riber Pitt, above, is correct, as usual. It's *ALL* about class warfare, and elitism…~tKoK.

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  9. …I was typing my post above, as you were typing yours…I agree completely, Julia. The typical "FREEWEENIE" bonehead *STILL* doesn't get that reality…Thank-you.

    ~tKoK.

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  10. Much thanks tKoK. I just get pretty sick and tired when free staters and other right-libertarians ignore the obvious in their analyses of how the system works and why it works that way. It's ridiculous to assume that the only people who "go bad" when given power over others are the ones who hold the label of "politician", "teacher", or "cop" when they (most likely deliberately) overlook the power of capitalist bosses and landlords.

    Like I keep saying, why do you think that the classical anarchists all attacked capitalism and class division as harshly as they attacked the state? And for the record, Spooner was NOT the only anarchist from the 19th century.

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  11. Julia and tKoK,

    Agreed. I have read a few articles which argue that classism is really the 'ism' from which all other 'isms' in this country spring. While I don't agree completely (for example, I think even if everyone were on an equal economic playing field, people would still hold racist ideologies) I can see where they are coming from, and I definitely agree that capitalism exacerbates this phenomenon. Yes, in its purest, ideological sense, capitalism is meant to give everyone a fair shot at life, but that's simply not what happens when it is implemented in the real world.

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  12. "It’s ridiculous to assume that the only people who “go bad” when given power over others are the ones who hold the label of “politician”, “teacher”, or “cop” when they (most likely deliberately) overlook the power of capitalist bosses and landlords."

    Absolutely. Corporations are some of, if not THE most influential factors in our society when it comes to 'wielding power' over others.

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    • Absolutely. Corporations are some of, if not THE most influential factors in our society when it comes to ‘wielding power’ over others.

      Corporations, which shield individuals from responsibility for their actions, are government creations.

  13. Holy_Canole: I tend to find that the reason the right-libertarians are so reluctant to talk about social class is because 1. they associate acknowledgement of class division as advocating "statism" and 2. they assume that once you get rid of the state and/or centralized government (or made it so the state was funded voluntarily) social mobility would be so frequent that you wouldn't even need to worry about social class, or class simply wouldn't matter because without the state or centralized government (there's a difference BTW) the rich wouldn't be able to abuse the poor. The reason the latter explanation is false is because the rich would still be able to maintain their power if a centralized government didn't exist. They'd just hire private "security" agencies to secure their land monopolies and whatnot. I mean, the rich aren't stupid. They know that their wealth doesn't come from the free market but from their holdings on land monopolies, patents/intellectual property, money monopolies, and all sorts of similar things. That's why they'd be the first to resist a completely stateless society.

    So yeah, unless you find some way of draining the rich, the state will keep existing.

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  14. Kager – in your response that authority doesn't exist in private sector workplaces, you said:

    "He has the authority to decide what is and is not acceptable in his workplace and what he expects of his employees- but it is a mutual agreement….."

    Key word being – he has the AUTHORITY.

    Working for most people is not always something that is a mutual agreement, like playing house where we can just one day be a Doctor and the next a School Teacher. Bills need to be paid……there are hierarchies to contend with in the real world workplaces and if you don't play along – you get stung, and it follows you around from workplace to workplace. If you don't think my boss has authority over me and some of my day to day decisions, you must have just barely graduated high school and haven't really had to rely on work to survive. Authority exists – it has been around since before the Romans – better learn to deal with it, and choose your battles carefully as to when to question it. Questioning it is fine with me – but it can't be all the time, otherwise, you are in for a very long hard road.

    Teachers and administrators run schools, whether public or private. That is what they are paid to do and what they went to school for. Kids aren't in charge, and quite frankly, neither are there parents for the MOST part – not that they don't or shouldn't have important input or some decision making to do. Is public school weighed down with bureaucratic red tape and stupid tests? YES. But I disagree with your theory that public school teachers spend their days dreaming up nefarious ways to get kids to comply with orders and authority all the time.

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  15. Matt, I've been saying exactly what you're saying on almost every single comment I've posted on this blog.

    http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/secB3.html

    http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/secJ5.html

    It's a shame why "anti-authoritarian" libertarian types don't apply the same analysis of authority and why authority is evil to bosses and landlords the same way they apply it to those working in the state. They just assume that because you can "leave" the authority is legitimate. The problem with this is, it doesn't exactly explain how "leave-able" authority is legit in a sense, nor does it really do anything to justify the existence of that authority in the first place. If you had the resources to move to the Cayman Islands (which are 100% tax-free, I believe) that would not justify NH having insanely high property taxes. If you had the resources to move to an entirely stateless territory somewhere on earth, that would not justify the overall existence or authority of the state you live under now. It's an extremely foolish assertion.

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  16. The only time a boss has power over his employee is if that employee has overextended himself financially. If you're not in debt, your boss has no power but if you have a mortgage/rent to pay then you better get that money.

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  17. Jasper,

    How many people do you know who could survive without a source of income? Regardless of whether or not you have standing debt, you still have to eat, you still have to sleep somewhere….everyone has expenses they need to pay.

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  18. You can produce food on your own or buy it and it's cheap. I can eat on $5/day if I had to. If you have land you can sleep there. I lived in a tent for a while with my pregnant wife.

    If not for taxes you could own a large parcel of land in NH for one to two years wages and never pay anyone a dime again. Produce your own food. Be sustainable.

    You could work a job that includes room and board until you can have what you want.

    You can live with others communally. Family members or otherwise.

    There are options but you can't have cell phones, new clothes, fast cars and fast food for free.

    It all depends on what you WANT but what you NEED isn't expensive, hard to come by or even hard to obtain if you have a plan.

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  19. Jasper,

    I'm not saying what you need is expensive or hard to come by necessarily. But that doesn't mean it's free, either.

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  20. Jasper, you're falling into that same trap that right-libertarians always seem to do: taking the best possible scenario (i.e. being able to leave and sustain yourself with no problem at all) and apply it to every single scenario, as if everyone presented with the "work for a boss or starve" situation is in the exact same boat as you were.

    And let's face it: if I want to leave the landlord and homestead in the Upper Valley, I need an income to purchase land. I also need tools to cultivate my land and the know-how. Where does this stuff come from? I'm going to need an income to be able to obtain all of these things.

    Also, are you suggesting that the only way to gain one's freedom in this society is to "leave"? So if I want to become fully free, all I have to do is buy some land and say goodbye to my friends, family, significant other, doctors, the city that I love, etc. etc. all while leaving the current system which cases others who are not as lucky as me to be exploited and oppressed? You've just opened up a philosophical pandora's box.

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    • Julia,

      I think all people should have the right to defend themselves against violence and aggression of others. Don't you?

  21. "Corporations, which shield individuals from responsibility for their actions, are government creations."

    They receive recognition from the government, and are only "government creations" to the point that the state enables them to own private property and other such monopolies like patents. Get rid of the state and the hierarchy would still exist, as the rich would still be in possession of their hoards of wealth.

    Trust me, in a totally free market without the state, no firm would be able to grow very large. Owning and controlling property not intended for active personal use (like a set of factories or swarths of land) requires the state to reenforce your ownership.

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    • They receive recognition from the government, and are only “government creations” to the point that the state enables them to own private property and other such monopolies like patents.

      …. and to the point where they indemnify individuals from individual responsibility in government courts. An important distinction.

  22. "I think all people should have the right to defend themselves against violence and aggression of others. Don’t you?"

    That's a very vague statement. To what point to you define "violence" and "aggression"? Would tenants refusing to pay rent be "violence" or "aggression"? Would social anarchists spraypainting an anti-capitalist message on the wall of a bank be considered "aggression"? Would a boss who takes 90% and gives his workers 10% be engaging in "violence" or "aggression"?

    "…. and to the point where they indemnify individuals from individual responsibility in government courts. An important distinction."

    Capitalist markets don't care about morality or responsibility. They care about making as much profit as they can. Firms which engage in immoral behavior aren't going to go away simply because you view their actions as irresponsible. In a capitalist market, businesses are going to do everything they can from avoiding responsibility, state or not. Even without a centralized government there to protect them, they could easily hire PR teams to lead the masses into believing that what they do is A-okay. It's happened before and will happen again under "anarcho"-capitalism.

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  23. "And let’s face it: if I want to leave the landlord and homestead in the Upper Valley, I need an income to purchase land. I also need tools to cultivate my land and the know-how. Where does this stuff come from? I’m going to need an income to be able to obtain all of these things."

    Or the wherewithal to convince someone to provide that to you or share it with you. You can pool your resources with like-minded individuals. Nobody is claiming that you can cease being productive. Whether you're producing a product that someone will pay for or producing necessities solely for yourself, the work never stops.

    There are people in the area that would allow you to camp on their land assuming that you're respectful. Hell, some probably don't care either way. I'm merely suggesting that life is what you make it and you are responsible for it.

    Freedom is the ability to act without interference from others. I can't possibly be free in a society that's pointing a gun at me, demanding that I provide all manner of income and services to others without my consent.

    If I'm forced at the barrel of a gun to work in order to provide for someone else against my will, am I free?

    You don't have the right to compel a doctor to render you service. Nor do you have the right to compel someone else to work in order to compensate a doctor for his/her service to you. Both cases result in involuntary servitude. You do have the right to seek healthcare for yourself.

    I don't have the right to compel you to build a firearm (or anything else) for me. I don't have the right to compel you to work in order to provide me with the resources to obtain a firearm (or anything else). Both cases result in involuntary servitude. I do have the right to bear arms.

    I don't have the right to compel you to build me with a podium or venue. I don't have the right to compel you to provide me with the resources necessary to obtain a podium or venue and a microphone. Both cases result in involuntary servitude. I do have the right to free speech.

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  24. Brad,

    Are suggesting that a government-less society would preclude the formation of corporations, monopolies, oligopolies, etc., or would result in complete accountability for these corporations where accountability now lacks? What is it about your very vague "don't hurt others" ideology that insures this?

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  25. "Freedom is the ability to act without interference from others. I can’t possibly be free in a society that’s pointing a gun at me, demanding that I provide all manner of income and services to others without my consent."

    And I fully oppose that gun as an anarchist, but what you don't seem to understand is that not everyone has friends willing to pool in their money/resources or a family whose lands they can camp out on. Once again, you're hellbent on taking the best possible outcome of a scenario and applying it to every scenario.

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  26. "I don’t have the right to compel you to build me with a podium or venue. I don’t have the right to compel you to provide me with the resources necessary to obtain a podium or venue and a microphone. Both cases result in involuntary servitude. I do have the right to free speech."

    Like it or not, we all have some kind of moral obligations in society in one form or another. Human beings are not islands. We interact with others and form collectives on a daily basis, and as such we use consensus decision-making (direct democracy) every time that we're out with others.

    I'm not saying the use of force or authority is justified. In any situation the consensus should always be that authority is never *inherently* legitimate. Claiming that you can live your entire life without having to give in to anyone else is a fantasy (unless you insist on living like a hermit without any other form of human interaction). Once again, this is not an argument for authority or submission but an argument against this rabid individualism I see so often with right-libertarians.

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  27. Julia,

    Haha that was a great video…even if it is a socialist conspiracy by Obama. And Stalin. :p

    I've actually read a bit on this psychological perspective of wealth/greed too. From what I understand, it's kind of a 'chicken or egg' type scenario: does wealth breed less empathetic pathologies, or are less empathetic people the ones who will be more likely to do anything possible to gain wealth in the first place?

    There are obviously exceptions to the rule–not all wealthy people are less generous, and not all poor people are more willing to share their resources–but I think on a statistical level something clearly rings true.

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  28. "Like it or not, we all have some kind of moral obligations in society in one form or another. Human beings are not islands. We interact with others and form collectives on a daily basis, and as such we use consensus decision-making (direct democracy) every time that we’re out with others.

    I’m not saying the use of force or authority is justified. In any situation the consensus should always be that authority is never *inherently* legitimate. Claiming that you can live your entire life without having to give in to anyone else is a fantasy (unless you insist on living like a hermit without any other form of human interaction). Once again, this is not an argument for authority or submission but an argument against this rabid individualism I see so often with right-libertarians."

    YUP.

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  29. Brad: “I think all people should have the right to defend themselves against violence and aggression of others. Don’t you?”

    Julia: That’s a very vague statement.

    Me: That's an all too often repeated loaded question. (Coming up: But why Matt, why is it a loaded question blah blah blah)

    Jasper – Tents cost money, seeds cost money, matches cost money to start fires, firewood costs money (it's not an endless resource on a couple of acres), soap, potable water purifiers, pots to boil it in etc etc. There is no food to harvest after October around here, so you best hope your potatoes and parsnips don't get too soft by January or you're screwed. If you do the room and board bit, that person has to repair, update and pay taxes on the home etc etc – so you're still 'connected'. Not everyone wants to live like a fucking caveman or a traveling hobo anyways – hence this thing we call evolution and civilization.

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  30. I haven't absolved myself of moral obligation. I simply stated nobody has the right to force me into involuntary transactions. I never touched on my personal philosophy regarding voluntary transactions as it's not relevant because it's the involuntary transactions that result in oppression.

    My personal priorities are not known nor are they relevant to this discussion.

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  31. @matt

    "Not everyone wants to live like a fucking caveman or a traveling hobo anyways – hence this thing we call evolution and civilization."

    Then get a fucking job, man.

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  32. But by virtue of choosing those things for yourself, you aren't enslaved. You choose to work and live with creature comforts or expect to live the life of a hobo or a caveman. I choose not to but that doesn't give you the right to point a gun at me.

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  33. nor does it give you the right to hire someone else to point a gun at me in the pursuit of your ends or values.

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  34. Jasper,

    How many times have you, or anyone you know, had a gun pointed at you?

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  35. "Then get a fucking job, man" –

    So says the guy who lived in a tent with his pregnant wife.

    I've got a job – I worked hard to get it and even still, have a boss, who has authority over me, while I have people below me, of whom I must direct from time to time and certainly have authority over. Who the hell is pointing a gun at you? I have seen more guns on the hips of open carry freestaters than I have Keene PD. I think your over exaggerating and embellishing your point – because seriously now, who is pointing a gun at you? Explain.

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  36. Jasper, using your implied definition of "voluntary" I could claim that paying taxes (tribute) to the state is a "voluntary" transaction; after all, no one IS pointing a gun to your head and forcing you to say in NH or wherever you happen to live. Don't like taxes? The Cayman Islands are waiting for you.

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  37. "Don’t like taxes? The Cayman Islands are waiting for you."

    Or Western Sahara.

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  38. Why don't you just use the real definition of voluntary.

    Voluntary: acting or done of one's own free will without valuable consideration or legal obligation.

    You don't get to define words anymore than I do.

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  39. or proceeding from the will or from one's own choice or consent.

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  40. Jasper:

    How many times have you, or anyone you know, had a gun pointed at you?

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  41. You all know what the consequences and threats are from the state. Ed and Elaine Brown were removed form their lovely home in Plainfield for that reason.

    Is it still extortion when the mafia demands money and a business owner pays up before they make good on their threats?

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  42. Twice, once by Keene Police and once by a lunatic acting in his own capacity.

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  43. It's not carjacking if you just give up your car before the theif makes good on his threat.

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  44. "…once by Keene Police and…."

    What was their reasoning for doing so?

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  45. What about the demand that I obtain a US passport to travel abroad. Or the one that I pay tax on all assets leaving the country or the one that American citizens pay income tax on all income derived worldwide?

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  46. Mafia doesn't provide due process, or mail-to-jail, or 3 squares a day. You get a bullet in the head and a free private burial.

    If Keene Police pulled a gun on you, it wasn't without any provocation – or some form of threat that they must have perceived. When the lunatic pulled a gun on you – what did you do? It must have made you angry. Do you think people should be free to be lunatics and pull guns on people without any sort of consequence?

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  47. I was suspected of harboring a fugitive. A man had assaulted another and they thought he was in my apartment when I lived on Pearl St. They extracted me from bed at gunpoint and searched my residence. He was not there. They handcuffed my roommate (I think because he was black and big) and they brandished an AR15. When I asked the officer what crime my roommate had committed they claimed it was for their safety without answering my question.

    It's not really relevant and I don't wish to speak about this.

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  48. The cost of a passport is a small price to pay for happiness, that is, if you wish to finally leave this land of oppression. Wouldn't you agree? I mean is 80 bucks the real reason why you refuse to leave to greener pastures?

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  49. Free people take their lives in their own hands when they threaten others. Fortunately for said lunatic and myself, I'm very reasonable and the situation was diffused without incident.

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