VICE.com’s Feature on the Keene Spiritual Retreat & Rick Van Wickler

Rick Van Wickler VICESuperintendent 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.

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…)

Bradford “King of Keene” Hutchingson Assaults Graham

Graham ColsonIn this RAW video, former city council candidate Bradford Hutchingson encounters Graham Colson and Rich Paul on Main St in early April. Bradford aka “King of Keene” asks for change over and over and sticks his face in Graham’s camera (he did the same thing in this video with Dave Ridley). Bradford’s behavior probably has something to do with the continuous accusation against area activists that we are “shoving” cameras in people’s faces. I’ve never put a camera near someone’s face, let alone shoved it at anyone. I’ve never seen other activists with cameras disrespect people’s personal space, either.

Graham shows again that he is capable of deescalating a violent situation very well, though the conversation does get heated and loud. Graham is a good activist and has been and will get better with time. Here’s the video, much of which is very funny, thanks to Free Keene blogger Rich Paul’s role:

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!”
(more…)

Video of the Peace Roundtable @ Keenevention 2013

The Peace Roundtable was the most well-attended and controversial event at Keenevention 2013. It ran overtime by nearly a half-hour!

Is peace attainable through violence or is peace the only way? Does self-defense against aggressive state agents just make matters worse for future activists? These questions and many from the audience were discussed at the Peace Roundtable featuring Derrick J Freeman, Ian Freeman, and Chris Cantwell:

(more…)

Merrimack Valley High School Invites Free Keene Bloggers and Rep. Mark Warden to Speak!

Fellow Free Keene blogger Garret Ean, Rep. Mark Warden, and I spent over an hour discussing liberty with high schoolers at Merrimack Valley High School yesterday. We cover the war on drugs, gun freedom, jury nullification, civil disobedience, plea deals, government schools, the roads, and more! It was a root-striking, iconoclastic good time! The teens were very receptive, asked good questions, (as did the teachers attending) and grabbed several fliers on the way out. What an honor to be invited by Pam Ean, one of the school’s teachers. Thanks to all the students who attended! Here’s the full video: