Keene State Rep Candidate Speaks Out on Chalking, Violence

varrinVarrin Swearingen is a republican candidate for state house, (Keene at-large) and also  the former president of the Free State Project.  Varrin has recently re-launched his blog. One of his first new posts is an excellent essay about the chalking and associated violence in Keene:

A few weeks ago, I wrote on my facebook wall:

 

There’s a hate group in Keene trashing the FSP because they don’t like Free Keene (or Robin Hooding, or something like that).

 

My status update included more, but the part above about the group called Stop Free Keene (SFK) got considerable attention. Some SFK members were openly hateful towards Free State Project (FSP) participants on the basis of group affiliation. Some were even promoting violence. My message and some of the comment thread was copied into the Stop Free Keene group and generally met with negative responses from SFK members.

 

In the comment thread on my status message, I noted,

 

Of course, I’m concerned someone’s going to get hurt… (more…)

Rep. Mark Warden Rails Against New Gas Tax, GPS Rules

Mark WardenThis column by state representative Mark Warden appears in the Union Leader, where he expresses frustration with the new gas tax and dumb GPS rules:

This year’s New Hampshire Legislature has launched an attack on anyone who drives an automobile. The Democrat-led House passed two major pieces of legislation that will adversely affect commuters as well as tourists visiting the Granite State.

 

The first is a four-cent (23 percent) increase in the gasoline tax. Driving to work, taking the kids to school and going on a weekend trip will all be more expensive. Then there is the impact it will have on groceries and other products because of the increased cost of transporting goods to market. Trucking and other transportation businesses will pass along higher expenses to consumers.

 

This gas tax increase will have negative effects on an already sluggish economy. While many agree that the condition of many roads is lacking, it’s not for lack of funding. The problem with this new legislation is that the money is diverted to other uses that benefit drivers in other parts of the state (such as the I-93 widening project). Only 12 percent of the new revenue is earmarked for grants to municipalities.

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Stop Free Keene, the Yin to Free Keene’s Yang

Here is the letter-to-the-editor I sent into the Sentinel which was published last Sunday.yinyang[1]
I am still interested in discussing any concerns anyone has.

Letter Below:

You may have heard about the “Stop Free Keene” group. I see this development as positive, since I believe that if someone has concerns with other people’s actions, they should let others know, a principle that Free Keene shares.

Unfortunately, my admiration for the group is offset by the rhetoric I’ve seen from the group. Often, many comments on their Facebook group are negative. They often resort to name calling, personal attacks and even advocating for violence toward bloggers of Free Keene. I’m fine with someone disagreeing and calling names, but it’s not OK to think violence is acceptable.

One Stop Free Keene member posted a picture of a Free Keene blogger with a laser dot illuminated on his head and torso. Under this picture was a rifle with a laser aiming device attached. Stop Free Keene deleted the post, but the Stop Free Keene member who posted the picture is still in the group and no public announcement was made denouncing the person or his post.Many Stop Free Keene members wear Emerson Towing hoodies. In this video, http://youtu.be/MH_APg3JcvY, an employee of Emerson can be seen threatening a former Free Keene blogger. Many Stop Free Keene members stated they support this behavior. Other Stop Free Keene members have also made threats and are still in the group. Conversely, a Free Keene blogger was removed over concerns that he may
not be a peaceful individual because of allegations regarding his language.
.

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Former FSP President Writes Letter to the Sentinel

varrinHere’s the letter to the editor published today in the Keene Sentinel by former Free State Project president and Keene inhabitant Varrin Swearingen:

Free State Project participants have one thing in common: We have signed a statement saying we’ll work towards the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of individuals’ rights to life, liberty and property. In other words, we prefer less government, more freedom.

 

That message is being drowned out by the present conflict surrounding Free Keene, which has devolved into a childish quarrel featuring lawsuits, ad hominem, and hateful bigotry. Free Keene’s opponents have included the Free State Project in their broad smears on the basis of objectionable tactics and personal behavior by a handful of Free Keene activists, some of whom are not even Free State Project participants.

 

Both sides unashamedly provide endless ammunition to each other to perpetuate the skirmish. This drama diverts attention from dialog about what’s really important: freedom.

 

I can tell the brawl has the public’s attention by the concerned questions I hear from longtime friends who are confused by misleading rhetoric. (more…)

Common Misunderstandings and Confusion About Free Keene

ericksonFirst, a thanks to whoever (Josh Erickson, I think) wrote the apology to me over at the SFK blog. I had been accused previously on their blog of contacting their webhosting company, which I didn’t do. The subsequent thread about the apology on the SFK!!! facebook group revealed a severe misunderstanding of what Free Keene is. Here’s a post from SFK!!! member Ed Lake:

An apology to Ian was needed and a great thing that it happened, But the story stays the same, just need to change the name “Ian” and replace it with a Free Keene member and blogger, requested the page be removed. At the end of the day the over all story doesn’t change, just the name of the guilty party, but Free Keene as a whole was behind it. We need to take note from this, once you are part of a group and do something for/with the group, it affects the entire group, good or bad, You are no longer an individual when you speak for a group. We succeed together and we fail together.

“Free Keene” has never been behind anything. Only individuals do things, and in this case, the company was contacted by Jay Freeville. He did this not as part of a group, or at anyone’s behest. Personally, I wouldn’t have bothered to do something like that, and the other dozen+ bloggers here all likely have their own opinions about it.

In the same way, just because SFK members Dan and Kay Georgina demolished countless chalk smiley faces over the weekend in Central Square, doesn’t mean that “STOP FREE KEENE!!!” was doing it. There may be people in SFK who don’t agree with what Dan and Kay did. Not everyone in the SFK group is responsible for what the others do or say. They can, as FK’s bloggers can, speak out and air their concerns or disagreement, but they can’t stop Dan and Kay from continuing the smiley genocide.

Ed Lake is wrong – people in groups should be seen as individuals, unless they are claiming to speak with 100% of the group’s approval. I would never blame SFK’s Josh Erickson for what SFK’s Kim Diemond says or does, and the same courtesy should be given to our bloggers. Also, keep in mind that there are far more activists who are NOT Free Keene bloggers than who are. Some of those activists are angry people. That’s one reason they’ve never been invited to blog at Free Keene. Just because they are part of the same freedom movement doesn’t mean we agree completely or that they are in any way affiliated with Free Keene’s message of Peaceful Evolution. Case in point: (more…)

Peaceful Evolution Not Violent Revolution

The-Atlas-Statue-At-Rockefeller-CenterChris Cantwell published a blog post this week in which he made the case that violent revolution is moral, possible, and practical.

To me, Cantwell’s argument comes down to: “Violent revolution is the right thing to do.” Specifically, he advocates for killing in self defense. In other words, killing police that would otherwise be killing you. He argues that peaceful resistance is fruitless because, “ideas require teeth.” He seems to assert, “Why allow our friends to be relegated to the dustbins of history for standing on principle? As long as the State can legitimately kill and cage us, we’ll never have peace or freedom!”
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