Free the Nipple 2015, Hampton Beach, NH
After making international headlines and despite a major facebook mistake and bad weather, approximately two-dozen ladies persevered and came out to Hampton Beach today to stand against the social stigma associated with women being topless in public.
Free State Project early mover Jessica Wardell traveled all the way from Henniker to join the topless ladies and their male supporters today and had this to say about the event, “It was lots of fun, there were about 20-30 girls participating, and I didn’t receive any negative criticism. Mostly people were curious about what was going on, and everyone that I talked to seemed to support the idea- especially when I brought up breast feeding.”
The event has already received coverage from the Daily Mail, which focused on the dozens of topless equality events taking place internationally, Reuters, Boston.com, NECN, as well as in Manchester’s Union Leader. Seacoast newspaper “Fosters” was dismissive of the event in their article, calling it “a bust” (yuk, yuk) and claiming only a dozen women came out. How many actually attended? Wardell claims 20-30 ladies in her estimate, with 40-50 additional supporters, including topless males. While more than 1,300 had claimed they were attending on the facebook event, facebook event attendance estimates are almost never close to the actual turnout. Many will indicate they are attending on facebook simply to show support for the event.
What day at the beach would be complete without sand boobies?
The ladies who set up the Hampton event, Kia Sinclair and Heidi Lilley, deserve a lot of credit for doing a great job promoting it and fielding media interviews in advance. Sadly, a major mistake was made early this morning when someone canceled the facebook event! The night prior, one of the admins posted a warning that they were going to cancel the facebook event this morning, but told people that did not mean the event was actually canceled. (Apparently, the FB event was canceled due to heavy trolling of the comments, however this could have been solved by only allowing admins to post.) Of course, only a fraction of the event attendees saw that post, so when the event was cancelled, EVERYONE on the event received a notice this morning from facebook saying the event was canceled with no explanation. This, in addition to the cold, rainy weather was likely a major contributing factor to the turnout. Two dozen topless ladies in bad weather actually seems really good, all things considered!
Organizer Kia Sinclair agreed, saying in a Free Keene-exclusive interview, “I am really happy about the turnout despite the weather. There were actually quite a few topless women around the beach at different times throughout the day. Because of the rain, a lot of women took shelter at the seashell stage. I will say that it was slightly intimidating being stared at and photographed by so many people. Its actually silly that just us being topless made so many people want to take pictures. If the weather was better I don’t think it would have been quite like that. But either way there were a lot of supporters despite the rain.”
Free State Project Early Mover Jessica Wardell, Graham Colson, and FSP Early Mover Matt Genack
Of course, all the mainstream media articles have been showing censored photos, or the ladies shot from behind, because the media are part of the problem. The social stigma against showing women topless runs deep, and mainstream media certainly won’t cross that taboo. Free Keene is not beholden to those rules. Share this article on social media at your own risk – you may get reported and banned for doing so. UPDATE: Facebook has targeted this article for censorship, so if you want to share it there, goto this link and hit “share” on it. That will share a version with a censored pic that uses Graham’s breasts to cover Jessica’s.
Congratulations and thank you to the ladies who went out today despite the weather. Stay tuned to Free Keene for the latest on topless equality. You can also join the “Free the Nipple” group for NH on facebook here.
Expected next is an as-yet-unscheduled civil disobedience event in Laconia where the city has illegally outlawed female toplessness.
Photo credits in order of appearance: Ashley Stoddard, Miranda Stoddard, Andrew Wardell
Topless Tuesday 2010, Keene’s Central Square
Longtime readers of Free Keene remember the controversial and short-lived “Topless Tuesdays” events from 2010. Many critics in the area still cite it as something they didn’t like that liberty activists have done. It’s relevant to point out that none of the females who participated in that were Free State Project participants. They were all townies.
Now, five years later, the topless equality movement has come again to New Hampshire, this time with over 1,100 saying (on Facebook) they will be attending “Free the Nipple” at Hampton Beach. (Who knows what the actual turnout will be.) The event is slated for all-day on Sunday 8/23. There is no specific meeting time or location besides Hampton Beach. This is an interesting approach and one of the event organizers comments on why on their facebook page:
“Even though there is no meeting spot, I have a feeling we will notice each other and make some new friends. I plan on walking around and I’ll gladly introduce myself, but I want to enjoy the beach as much as all of you! We don’t need a giant gathering or “spectacle.” Our goal is to just be normal about it. We want to show everyone that the breast and nipple can be seen without all hell breaking loose, traumatizing kids, giving old men heart attacks, or causing the apocalypse.”
Nonetheless, certain prudes in politics are making this out to be the apocalypse. Busybody state senator Nancy Styles is talking about proposing a law banning female toplessness and some local Hampton people have been whining.
Though it’s not illegal in New Hampshire to be topless as a male or female, one city, Laconia, has made an illegal ordinance banning it. News just hit this weekend that the ladies behind Free the Nipple are planning civil disobedience in Laconia.
Things are definitely getting interesting. Stay tuned to Free Keene for the latest on this social change in New Hampshire. Though people are legally free to be topless, there’s a large social stigma that needs to be broken. Thanks to the courageous ladies who will be participating in Sunday’s event, and especially to those who will eventually risk arrest in Laconia at an unknown date in the future.
Here are the two organizers, Kia Sinclair, and Heidi Lilley explaining why they’re having this event:
No Longer Illegal in NH
In a 42-page decision, the US District Court for New Hampshire has ruled in favor of protestors including Free State Project early mover and attorney Brandon Ross who violated the state’s “ballot selfie” prohibition and were investigated and threatened by the Attorney General’s office. In 2014, Ross had taken a picture of his ballot and posted it to his facebook accompanied by the words “come at me bro”. They did, and now Ross and his co-plaintiffs state representative Leon Rideout, and Andrew Langlois are victorious in their case thanks to the NH ACLU, as the law has been overturned as unconstitutional!
The defendant in the case, representing the state, was secretary of state Bill Gardener who argued that free speech (photos of ballots) should be curtailed because voters will be either induced to sell their votes or subjected to coercion if they are permitted to disclose images of their ballots to others. Judge Paul Barbadoro denied there was any evidence those speculative objections would be the case, and even if there were evidence, that’s not reason enough to restrict free speech.
State Rep Tim Horrigan, Snitch
The case reveals on page 18, that it was Timothy Horrigan, an anti-freedom state rep (rated as a “Constitutional Threat” in 2015 by the NH Liberty Alliance) that both introduced the bill banning ballot selfies AND snitched to the Attorney General’s office about Ross’ facebook post. Ross, in an exclusive interview for Free Keene said Horrigan’s behavior, “shows that lawmakers will absolutely use their laws they’ve just made to try to censor people”.
Ross also said he was surprised the state actually moved against him, saying, “I gave them too much credit, thinking they would never try to enforce that clearly unconstitutional law. Joke’s on me. But, a little healthy defiance can be a good thing now and again too.”
JP, Rich, and Jessica
JP from Cop Block and Jessica, a Free State Project early mover were married this afternoon in the most recent activist wedding in the Monadnock region.
Church of the Invisible Hand minister Rich Paul donned his pastoral garb and performed the wedding ceremony in front of many attendees on the porch of the Shire Free Church‘s Monadnock Parish House, the Keene Activist Center.
Here’s video of the ceremony with some pictures at the end:
Congratulations to the two newlyweds!
According to a recent press release from the NH ACLU, Alton town selectmen had a local activist arrested for daring to speak out at a meeting. Jeffrey Clay was supposedly given five minutes to address the board, but two minutes in was interrupted by the rude selectmen who voted to close public input when they did not like what Clay had to say to them. He was demanding they resign, accusing them of corruption, so they proved his claim and had him arrested:
The Laconia district court threw out the obviously illegal charge of “disorderly conduct”, and the ACLU has filed suit in civil court. As NH ACLU head attorney Gilles Bissonnette points out in their press release announcing the suit,
Sadly, these types of free speech violations still occur in 2015. In a free society, governmental officials are required to tolerate harsh criticism and even a demeaning attitude towards them—including viewpoints that can feel like “character assassination”—and cannot discriminate based on these critical viewpoints. As the U.S. Supreme Court has held, “[a]s a general matter, … in public debate, our own citizens must tolerate insulting, and even outrageous, speech in order to provide adequate breathing space to the freedoms protected by the First Amendment.” Thus, speech directed to and about the government is singled out for protection because speech—including opinions about how well or badly officials carry out their duties—lies at the very heart of the First Amendment.