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!”

Sentinel SHOCKER: Teens at Keene High Use Drugs

52a89aa853da0.preview-300[1]Kudos to the Keene Sentinel’s Kaitlin Mulhere for telling some truth about life in the purportedly idyllic New England town of Keene, NH. Guess what? Teenagers use drugs like alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis, ecstasy, heroin, and others. In fact, drug use is common at Keene High School. The drug war is a failure.

Ok, so I added the last sentence to my summary of the Sentinel’s recent detailed piece on a study done regarding drug use at KHS. Mulhere doesn’t come right out and say the drug war is a failure, but her article is just more proof of what anyone who thinks for a short time about the war on drugs knows is true: you can’t stop human beings from altering their consciousness.

The politicians keep passing laws, increase the penalties, add in mandatory minimum sentences, and what do we get? Harder drugs on the streets and no reduction in the number of users. New dealers step in to replace the ones that are taken down by busts. The insanity of the war on drugs has gone on now for generations and destroyed countless lives of drug users, dealers, and even people who don’t use drugs. (For instance, everyone who has ever been stolen from or robbed by a drug addict is an indirect victim of the drug war, since prohibition drives the price of drugs up dramatically past what its normal market price would be.)

One of the ostensible reasons for the war on drugs is to protect the youth. However, the study cited by the Sentinel is proof the drug war has spectacularly failed in this way. What’s the solution from “the state”? Same as always. Cops, courts, jail cells. Oh, wait – now they have “drug court’. All of a sudden “the state” has gotten compassionate? Sorry, don’t buy it. Coercion is not compassion, not matter how much you dress it up. I’ve sat in on drug court in Cheshire county and watched as a single mother was locked up by the robed man because he didn’t believe her answer as to whether she had spoken with a former dealer recently.

A major failure of the Sentinel’s feature story, as well as almost all mainstream coverage of drug use is the failure to differentiate between users and abusers. The Sentinel story uses “abuse” frequently to describe ALL drug users. However, most drug users are responsible users – that’s why despite rampant substance *use*, society doesn’t fall apart. Alcohol, by far the most dangerous and abused drug, is still responsibly used by millions of Americans. (more…)

An Open Apology for Miscommunicating

Wow, have I really blown it. A few days ago I posted this article which was intended to thank the activists who did such an amazing job on the Concord BEARCAT issue. It apparently did the opposite – at least two of the activists who spearheaded the issue are apparently very upset. Why? The answer is in the last paragraph of the article where I said:

The more ridiculous and outrageous the NH state-believers become, the more people will move here and get active. The state-believers are not even close to having learned their lesson about not aggressing against peaceful people yet, so I must thank them for inspiring more influential activists like Dan to move here and concentrate their activism! Yay!

One of the anti-BEARCAT organizers shared my post on facebook, calling it a “backhanded compliment”. She apparently thought I was talking about her in that paragraph. I thought I was clear that I was talking about the government bureaucrats, but apparently I was not at all clear.

Why would she think I was talking about her with the term “state believer”? Well, after the BEARCAT activism, the activists in question were understandably a little frustrated with some of their fellow liberty-loving activists. Apparently there is a group of “anarchists” in the movement who have a habit of deriding political activism and that has frustrated the anti-BEARCAT activists in question, who are political activists and are disappointed that more people did not help with their anti-BEARCAT efforts. Worse, some of the “anarchists” apparently openly insulted the anti-BEARCAT efforts as pointless – these critics are totally wrong – the efforts were a strong success. The anti-BEARCAT activists had indicated that some callous people had called them “statists” for their small-government beliefs. So, when she saw my use of “state-believer”, she thought I was talking about her. At least – that’s what I could extract from the posts one of them made on facebook before blocking me.

I wasn’t talking about the political activists. I was talking about the aggressors – in this case, the people calling themselves the “city of Concord” and police. I can see how “state believers” did not effectively communicate that.

I have nothing but respect for the political activists in New Hampshire. They have done and continue to do amazing work. I myself am a politically active person and did the exact-same-things as did the Concord activists during the Keene BEARCAT situation – why on earth would I insult similar efforts? I hope this message reaches the eyes of anyone who took offense. Your activism was fantastic, as I poorly expressed in my original article. I’m sorry I blew communicating my ideas – I did not mean to upset you. (more…)

Sentinel Locks Down Web Content as Circulation Sharply Declines

Keene SentinelIn an apparent attempt to make themselves even less relevant in the 21st century, and like so many other newspaper websites, the Keene Sentinel is clamping down even further on their content.  Managing Editor Paul Miller wrote a recent piece explaining the changes that went live on their website this week, which include limiting non-subscribers to only viewing ten articles per month.  All this as their paid circulation rate has dropped more than 26% in the last five years.

It’s another move in a long series of desperate measures to extend the life of the 200+ year old paper.  Several years ago, the Sentinel cut costs by reducing the width of the paper as well as reducing the total page count.  They also raised prices to $0.75 daily and $1.75 Sundays.  Potential buyers were being asked to pay more for a noticeably thinner paper.  Guess what happened?

According to their certifier, the Alliance for Audited Media (aka the Audit Bureau of Circulations), the Sentinel’s paid daily average circulation numbers are seriously down in just the last five years.  As of March 2013 their average paid circulation was 8,874.  That’s down more than 26% from just five years ago in 2008 when they had 12,119.  In 2003 they had 13,998 and in 1993 the total was 15,704.  That means the paid circulation today is down 36% compared to ten years ago and down 43% to compared to twenty years ago.  Ouch.

Put another way, in the ten years from 1993 to 2003, paid circulation rate dropped about 11%.  In the next five years, to 2008, it dropped almost 14%.  Finally, in five more years to 2013 it dropped nearly 27% – nearly DOUBLING the loss of the ’03-’08 timeframe!   That huge loss happened after they chopped the paper size down and as more options for news opened up due to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets and as their older-age subscriber base continue to die off.  With under 200 digital subscribers as of March 2013, it’s clear that their digital component is not coming close to making up the difference.  The paper’s answer to this quandary is to lock their content down further? (more…)