According to Isabelle Rose, Pho Keene Great’s part-owner, not only has the sign been approved, but it happened without them having the meeting that was scheduled with the city manager to discuss the manager’s concerns over the supposedly “offensive and not appropriate” name of the business.
It’s unfortunate that the new city manager, Elizabeth A. Dragon created the ridiculous situation in the first place, but apparently cooler heads at the city gang prevailed and Dragon has backed down. Good choice, considering the “City of Keene” would only continue to be ridiculed by people and headlines around the world if they continued to push all the way to court, where they would likely lose, just like they did when they tried to crush Robin Hood of Keene’s free speech.
The City of Keene happens to own the building in which Pho Keene Great will be opening, but that shouldn’t give them any further rights to control the name of a business. Especially after that same city manager had signed a lease agreement back in April of 2018 knowing full well what its name would be. They then collected rent from Pho Keene Great for the rest of the year before Dragon called Rose on Christmas Eve to object to the name and demand her temporary sign be taken down.
Pho Keene Great – T-Shirts Available at Rt 101 Local Goods!
“We stood our ground regarding our business name. And, on the basis of the First Amendment, we defended it. The City cannot regulate content. Further, no where in the contract did it stipulate we could not use that business name. The government cannot demand or require us to do anything that supersedes our baseline rights. We are deeply grateful to everyone that offered and gave their support and appreciate all opinions and input, even with those that were offended by our business name. Thank you.”
That’s not the only win for Pho Keene Great, however. The city’s predictable stupidity led to a media explosion with coverage coming from countless major media from all over. You can’t buy advertising that good and as a result of the publicity, the Pho Keene Great official t-shirts have been flying off the shelves at Route 101 Local Goods.
The little local shop was slammed with orders both in real life and on the internet from as far away as Australia and Afghanistan. Route 101’s owner Chris Rietmann says his shop has never been so busy and he’s shipped out well over 1,000 shirts so far. The story went so big, there were even people trying to sell knock-off shirts on other websites. However, only the official shirt sold at Route 101 Local Goods is the one where profits benefit Pho Keene Great, so get yours here online or stop in at 661 Marlboro St. in Keene!
Isabelle Rose, at her food truck in 2016.
Route 101 Local Goods was the location of Rose’s original bitcoin-accepting Vietnamese food truck, which is where she got her start serving delicious Pho noodle soup to people in the area and led to her teaming up with another local business owner to upgrade to a full sit-down restaurant – Pho Keene Great. Though NHPR ran a story this week suggesting some kind of conspiracy between me and Rose, the fact is that I’m merely the property manager for Route 101 Local Goods and I had nothing to do with the naming of her new restaurant. Though, I do love the name and when I heard about it last year, I predicted the city might step into the trap. And they did.
Now rather than gearing up for a protracted legal fight that would only hurt the taxpayers of Keene, Pho Keene Great’s owners can focus on opening their doors in the heart of downtown Keene’s Central Square, next to the City offices this March as planned, with an awesome logo and name intact. Hooray!
In my last article about him, written shortly after his arrest in Charlottesville at a white nationalist hate rally, I explained that despite Chris’ libertarian activism being covered by this blog in the past, he had never been a blogger at Free Keene, nor was he ever invited to be. When he came to Keene in the early part of this decade, he was just crass libertarian comedian Chris Cantwell from Long Island. He wasn’t a racist, but still caused much controversy for his hatred for the police.
Today, Chris has embraced the police as his potential tool of oppression, even though they recently threw him into a jail cell for months in Virginia. As he revealed in our conversation Tuesday night, he literally wants to become the state. Shortly after 2 hours, 22 minutes in he actually says he wants to force his beliefs on others, and then moments later says, “I want to be the government, yeah.”
His dramatic shift to statism isn’t a first for the Free State Project libertarian migration, which was the original reason Chris chose to move to New Hampshire. Early mover to Manchester Amanda Bouldin went from being an anarchist to a hostile-to-libertarians leftist. Conversely, Chris has gone from being an anarchist to a actual NAZI. There’s not a shred of a libertarian left in him. Libertarians, voluntarists, and liberty-loving anarchists believe people should be judged as individuals, by their words and actions. Chris is obsessed with race and admits in the conversation that it’s lazy to judge people based on the group into which they are born, but nonetheless runs with the idea anyway, as he considers the laziness of racism to be an efficient filter for his ideal society.
Previously a libertarian against the war on drugs, he’s now for prohibition.
Further, Chris actually seems to believe he has some chance of becoming the state, by leading some kind of white nationalist takeover of the government. About the only thing we agree on is his support of secession. Politics does indeed make for strange bedfellows. Of course if NH were ever to secede, we’d be at odds again as I support open borders and he supports a closed-border police state.
The conversation we had on the Twitch-only show (though I’ve since exported it to Youtube here) had some particularly bizarre moments including Chris holding the confusing position of having used cannabis while supporting continuing prohibition against it. He speaks out of both sides of his mouth by acknowledging the benefits of harm reduction and decriminalization but refusing to advocate for policy changes in that direction. It’s a perplexing perspective. Despite his own personal knowledge of the ineffectiveness of prohibition and the various studies proving it is an abject failure that creates the opposite of its intended results, he rejects all that on the near-religious belief that outlawing something reduces its use. It’s a belief wholly at odds with how he used to think on the issue.
At one point in the conversation he actually refers to himself as a caricature. What does he really believe? Outside of another total personality shift to a communist, that which he currently hates, or perhaps maybe going transgender, it’s hard to imagine where Chris will go from here.
Speaking of transgender, Chris also had a segment with the Anarchist Shemale, Aria DiMezzo. Aria wrote about it on her blog, and was disappointed she didn’t get more time on-air to fight with Chris. I’d invited her there with the expectation that Johnson wasn’t going to stay through the whole show and that Aria could take his chair later. Turns out, Johnson stayed the whole time. She was also upset that we didn’t go toe-to-toe with Chris on trans issues, which I honestly know next-to-nothing about.
Only advocates of peace are allowed to blog at FreeKeene.com
Others, Aria included, wanted to see more challenges from Johnson and I, and were upset that I laughed at Chris’ sick jokes. I’m the first to admit, I laugh at inappropriate things and I’ve always enjoyed Chris’ sense of humor. But Johnson and I definitely challenged his racist and insane statist beliefs. People will hear what they want to hear, of course, and people are highly emotional when it comes to Chris. They give him way more power and weight than he actually has. Some say we shouldn’t give him a platform, but then widely share the very video they say we shouldn’t have made.
Others, like me, can see the value in giving enough rope to Chris to verbally hang himself. We don’t think that bad ideas should be shut down, but instead they ought to be countered publicly. The answer to ugly speech is more speech, not de-platforming or censorship. If you don’t think I was the best person to counter Chris’ ideas, that’s fine. If you hate me because I’m kind to Chris, that’s fine too. Hate only hurts the hater. That’s ultimately the true irony here, that hating Chris only makes you more like him.
Chris has become what he once hated – an arch statist. He has rejected the libertarian principle of non-aggression and instead embraced coercive, institutionalized violence as his tool. Of course, violence begets violence and he will reap as he sows.
Though Chris is certainly responsible for his horrible beliefs, he’s ultimately a creation of a society that has long embraced the aggression of government as a tool to control their neighbor. If you hate Chris but you support the coercive state, you ought to look in the mirror. People cover their support for state violence by believing in nonsense like the “social contract” and refusing to see the threats of violence that back all government programs. They hold conflicting positions, like supporting the state while believing they themselves support peace. To his credit, at least Chris is honest about his reasons for supporting the state. He knows it’s a tool for the violent to control others and is eager to use it for his purposes. If you support the state, you helped make Chris into a monster.
The audience had great questions and Vin and Chris provided excellent answers. The over-an-hour-long video is an excellent introduction to some very important concepts with cryptocurrencies. Highly recommended!
The video DiMezzo was parodying involved a hulking trans person who made an outrageous scene at an Albuqueque, NM Gamestop over being called “sir”. In that video, the brutish Tiffany Michelle bellows at the poor Gamestop employee and kicks over a display while storming around and shouting profanities. As the original, now-viral video begins, Michelle was upset with the Gamestop returns process then flips out on another customer for using “sir” when referring to Michelle and turns and targets the Gamestop employee when he referred to both customers as “guys”.
Aria DiMezzo files for Cheshire County Sheriff as a Libertarian
DiMezzo made her parody video to counter the perception that all trans people are as easily offended as the ridiculous Michelle. She told me in an interview for Free Keene, “It was to show that not all trans people behave that way and that her behavior was more a reflection of her character than her being trans. Because the stereotype has grains of truth in it, I’m now in facebook jail because said people don’t know how to take a joke.” Keene’s Gamestop staff appreciated the humor and the DiMezzo’s video ends with a handshake with the clerk.
After DiMezzo posted the video to her Facebook page, she was given a seven day ban within 24 hours for “hate speech” and the video was pulled down by Facebook. DiMezzo appealed the decision and Facebook admitted they were wrong to consider the video as “hate speech” and restored the video, while bizarrely leaving her account banned.
If you’re looking to escape Facebook, you can follow DiMezzo’s account over on the decentralized Mastodon social media network. Also, check out our previous article showing multiple alternatives far more useful for communication than Facebook.
As the New Hampshire Freedom Migration continues into 2019, the liberty movement needs a better way of communicating than facebook. Many still cling to facebook for reasons like, “that’s where everyone is”. Besides the fact that is demonstrably not true, the fact is facebook has made it increasingly difficult to actually reach people without getting your credit card and actually buying reach to the people who you already thought were connected to you or who “like” your pages.
The good news is there are multiple platforms on which people both inside and outside the Shire are meeting online that are much more useful than facebook. Of course, the more people use them, the more useful they become, so consider this your invitation. Facebook has thrown so many features into its platform (then purposely crippled their usefulness), it will require multiple other, better venues to replace it. Here are the key activist-related aspects of facebook and superior alternatives to replace each of them that are already excellent, effective, and free:
Facebook Groups – They were never better than forums but used prolifically, “because people are on facebook”. Forums have always been better at organization. Forums can have subforums and posts can be easily moderated and moved between subforums, whereas on facebook the groups are completely separate and no cross-moderation is even possible. Worse, the search function on facebook groups is garbage. However, older forum software feels clunky today, but newer ones like the “Discourse” software that runs the Shire Forum are snappy and user-friendly – it’s a very modern forum experience and people have been loving it. New people planning to move to New Hampshire are coming there every month and posting their introductions – they want to meet you! Please visit and sign up here. You can even use existing logins from other sites like google and github to easily create your account.
Activists are leaving Facebook, for good reason.
Facebook Messenger – This still one of the least-crippled aspects of facebook. They couldn’t really take away your ability to directly message people, so that’s still useful. However, it’s also centrally managed by the mega corporate monster of facebook, is unencrypted, and they’re more than happy to turn all of your chats over to law enforcement. Activists in New Hampshire’s western region of Keene have been using Telegram instead for direct and group communications. Telegram is super-useful and has been adopted and continually used here for years to help organize various activities. Similarly, encrypted texting app Signal is widely used for one-on-one communications across New Hampshire.
There’s also the New Hampshire room on the LRN.FM Discord server, perhaps the most active libertarian Discord server.
Facebook Pages – The original idea behind facebook pages was to allow your fans to connect with your brand or organization. You’d create a page and people who “liked” the page would get updates from the page in their feeds. Over time this system seemed to get less effective. Now you are lucky if a fraction of one percent of the people who like your page will see your posts. Of course, Facebook will happily charge you to reach your full number of likes – something you originally got for free. To replace facebook pages I recommend the much more effective and decentralized Mastodon platform. You can easily create a Mastodon account on the server of your choice. There are thousands of servers from which to choose, but many libertarians are posting on the Liberdon server. Here’s what the Free Keene page looks like on Liberdon. Or, if you know what you’re doing, you can just start your own server. Because it’s decentralized and federated, you can still connect your server to most of the other servers out there, unless they don’t want you or you don’t want them connected to you.
Liberdon is the Libertarian/Voluntarist Server running Mastodon
Facebook Events – Yet another crippled feature that once was useful for making people aware of events. Now it’s rare people will see event invitations on facebook in the first place. Frequently events are held where despite being on facebook hardly anyone who attends will say they saw it there. Telegram has been much more effective at communicating events, especially when tied into a Telegram bot that links a Google Calendar so whenever an event is coming up, the bot posts the event details in the relevant chat room for the activists as a handy reminder.
By no means is that an exhaustive list of alternatives to replace facebook and do what facebook once did, and better than facebook. There are many other useful platforms, but these have been working well for us so far. Be part of the solution and join us on the alternatives. Start with the Shire Forum. It’s free and an effective way to communicate with people both inside and outside of New Hampshire.
Gavin Andresen Visits the Bitcoin Embassy NH (L to R: Gavin Andresen, Mark Edge, Ian Freeman, Chris Rietmann)
Happy tenth birthday Bitcoin! On January 3rd, 2009, Bitcoin’s code was released to the world by Satoshi Nakamoto. To this day, Nakamoto is still anonymous. It is not known whether Nakamoto is a he, she, group of people, or space aliens. However, what is known is that before completely disappearing from public view, Nakamoto turned over the keys to Bitcoin to his chosen successor, libertarian computer programmer Gavin Andresen. Andresen denies being Nakamoto, however he’s one of the most important people in the history of cryptocurrency.
In 2011, Andresen came to Keene for the first time and met with the hosts of a certain libertarian radio show, Free Talk Live, to tell them all about Bitcoin. I am one of the hosts of that show. When we spoke on-air about Bitcoin, Roger Ver, then a successful dealer of computer memory and advertiser on Free Talk Live, was listening. Ver saw the vision and spent tens of thousands of dollars buying Bitcoin (BTC) when it was under $1 each. Today one BTC is worth nearly $4,000. As a result of his early success, investments in multiple Bitcoin-related companies, and his constant advocacy of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency as a way to undermine the power of the state, Ver became known as “Bitcoin Jesus”.
Corner News’ owner Roberta Mastrogiovanni poses with her store’s Crypto Vending Machine!
Not long after, Ver came to Keene to the local libertarian meetup and gave away 10 BTC to anyone willing to install a bitcoin wallet on their phone. This was when BTC was worth around $1 each.
Keene has always been a cryptocurrency hotspot. Not only have some of the key players been here in physical reality, it’s also arguably the top location in the world for the highest concentration of bitcoin-accepting businesses. Though this year Portsmouth challenged us and for a time had more businesses accepting crypto, Keene has once again surpassed its Seacoast sister city. Plus, Portsmouth excelled in the first place because Keeniac Derrick J Freeman and his partner Steven Zeiler made it happen by launching merchant crypto provider Anypay. Derrick J originally settled in Keene when he moved here as part of the NH Freedom Migration.
Keene’s first business to accept cryptocurrency was the century-old, main street icon Corner News, taking bitcoin all the way back in 2013. Now a variety of businesses including various restaurants and food trucks, a dentist, automotive repair, web design, computer sales, advertising venues, and more all accept multiple cryptocurrencies. Our concentration of crypto-accepting businesses per-capita is higher than anywhere else in the world, that I can find. We handily defeat major cities like San Francisco and New York City by multiple factors.
Street N Savory food truck is the latest business in Keene to accept cryptocurrency!
The Bitcoin Embassy is offering “Bitcoin 101” classes and they’ll schedule one whenever is convenient for you. There is no cost to attend, though donations are encouraged. Get in touch with head ambassador Chris Rietmann through their website at BitNH.me. Though we’re already ten years in, this is still just the beginning. It’s definitely not too late for you to get involved with cryptocurrency. Step one is educating yourself. Bitcoin Embassy NH can help.
Come celebrate the tenth anniversary of Bitcoin today at 2pm at Local Burger, one of Keene’s premier businesses that accepts cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and DASH! If you can’t make it today, join our Meetup group as we meet every six days at various locations in the Keene area.