I look forward to participating in what will be the second annual Keenevention this weekend. The forum taking place at the Best Western Plus Sovereign Hotel on Winchester Street will feature panels and speeches by New Hampshire’s activist community. In addition to a panel focusing on Direct Action that I will be hosting on Sunday, I was also asked to speak on Saturday’s media panel by organizer Mark Edge. When I agreed, I was not informed who else would be on the panel, though I expected that organizers would only select participants of honorable reputation when showcasing the most effective activists that New Hampshire offers.
While there is certainly a need for diversity of perspective within the activist community, there are standards that a reasonable person would expect individuals would hold each other to if we wish to make any sort of collective impact. As a peace activist, anyone who directly advocated or applauds the use of violence can be objectively classified as having beliefs counter to my own. For myself, I am wasting my most valuable asset, my time, if I support those working against my interests, those who are promoting ideas that are the opposite of my own.
It was once consensus within the libertarian and anarchist community of greater Keene that embracing peace was equally imperative to embracing ideas of social liberty. For whatever reason over the past year or so, that sentiment has changed as some formerly positive spirits have darkened amidst of heightened wave of reactionary opposition. (more…)
Local independent newsman and viral video sensation Jared Goodell sent a press release a few days ago announcing his decision to not file suit against Pumpkin Fest organizer Ruth Sterling, despite being approached by multiple attorneys with offers. Good on Jared for dropping the matter rather than continuing conflict with the poor, exasperated lady.
Ruth Sterling has already faced consequences for her aggression. Here’s one of her memes by Bill Walsh on Facebook. lol!
Rather than grandstanding with a lawsuit, Jared instead uses the opportunity to remind us of the value of freedom of speech and of the press:
From the moment that Ms. Sterling came onto the live TV set during the Pumpkin Festival, I cited the First Amendment of the Constitution of The United States and my right to report on the violence occurring at the Pumpkin Festival. Ms. Sterling’s threats to “pull the plug” on my report seriously undermined Freedom of the Press.
Since the founding of this country, town commons across the United States have served as the place where any person could share their opinions and views. From soapboxes to gazebos, TV cameras and reporters, all viewpoints were accepted without prejudice at this sacred community gathering point. I find it fitting that last Saturday, the First Amendment was tested in Keene’s downtown common.
If there is any lesson to be learned from this video (more…)
There’s a restaurant in Keene called The Stage. But there’s no stage quite like the one that sits adjacent to it: Keene Central Square. Made famous by dozens of courageous arrests, Central Square plays host to the most bizarre encounters ever to be imagined.
In this video, activist and FreeKeene.com blogger Garret Ean records as he and members of the group “Stop Free Keene!!!” are locked in a never-ending chalk-removal battle. Some people are chalking while others are removing the chalk with water.
Local cop (and occasional persecutor for ‘the State’) Jason Short arrives and asks if there is a problem. Immediately the cries come from both sides, like children reacting to daddy coming home and finding siblings fighting.
“We are just trying to clean up the park, and these mean people keep making it dirty!”
“They sprayed water on me! Don’t we have a right to the first amendment?”
“Yes, yes, calm down children. Behave. You’re both right. Now just get along, will you?”
“Don’t tell us what to do!”
One girl with bleached and fading pink hair faces a much taller Jason Short as if confronting a bully, and then, teary-eyed, dramatically walks away. Hamming it up.
Crass comedian Christopher Cantwell has made the move back to New Hampshire, though this time not as part of the Free State Project. Chris is one of a handful of people to be kicked out of the FSP in over a decade. However, he is still a believer in the idea of moving liberty-oriented people to the same place so we can be more free together, and he knows that NH is the place to be to be around others who care about freedom. So, he’s back, having left New York, ostensibly for good this time.
I wrote this editorial when he left originally, explaining what went wrong with his first stay in NH.
Many of the personal issues that Chris has, including anger, are still present. However, he has gotten his drinking under control, which I am happy to see. Many within the liberty movement are very understandably upset with Chris over various things he’s said over the years. Many wonder why I’m so friendly to him.
The reason I’m friendly to Chris, despite the bridges he’s burned in the liberty community, is the same reason I’m friendly to the police. I want to communicate the ideas of peace and liberty to others, even with those I disagree, and yelling or being mean doesn’t build bridges. I want to be forgiving and model peaceful evolution. (more…)
UPDATE: You never know who’s watching. Vigilant videographer Garret Ean captured the moment with his video camera. The video is so funny, I made it a GIF:
Superintendent Rick Van Wickler of the Cheshire “House of Corrections” aka the Keene Spiritual Retreat has been featured on this blog several times in the past for his heroic advocacy for ending the insane war on drugs. He’s no stranger to press coverage and now has been made the subject of a recent VICE.com feature that focuses on both his support of drug legalization and his more-humane manner of running a jail.
In the article when asked about drug users, he relates,
The majority of people who drink alcohol in this country have no problems with it. They’re alcohol users: They drink on the Fourth of July, and barbecues, and at the Super Bowl. Then think about somebody who is an abuser of alcohol, meaning that they use alcohol much more than they should. But they’re still working. They still have a house. They’re still in a relationship. Finally, think about an alcohol addict—an alcoholic. Their lives have been destroyed by alcohol. Now, you can take the exact same analogy and just replace alcohol with drugs. Heroin? Cocaine? Meth? You have users, abusers, and addicts in pretty much the same ratios. Let’s not be so damn naïve and say that we in America don’t have professional people that are addicts, because we all know that’s not accurate. We have professional people who are heroin addicts, who have been heroin addicts for years, and are meeting the standards of their employment. That’s happening, and to deny it is an atrocity.
Interestingly, Van Wickler is listed as “Formerly” part of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of mostly former law enforcement who now speak against prohibition. I wonder what the reasons for the split were. I’ve emailed Rick with the question and will post the reasons if he chooses to make them public.
UPDATE 6/2 9pm Eastern: Van Wickler says VICE got that fact wrong and that he is still a part of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Here’s the piece from VICE.