Keene’s Not Right For Everyone, Especially Advocates of Violence

A few months ago, Chris Cantwell moved to the Keene area. Chris is a talented comedian, a great activist, and an excellent writer. Over the time he’s been here, I’ve shared some of his articles on this blog. There’s a reason though that I only shared his articles rather than inviting him to blog here – Chris doesn’t believe in peaceful evolution. Chris, as he explains in his piece on why he’s leaving Keene, believes in defensive violence against the state. This belief system immediately put him at odds with those of us in Keene who believe that peace is the way.

That pro-violence belief system was the first, most immediately obvious problem. Eventually he was asked to no longer discuss violence while at the Keene Activity Center, a place for peaceful people to discuss peaceful solutions to the problem of “the state”.

I can empathize with Chris. I used to also believe violence was a solution, but I changed my perspective to one of peace after being here a while. I hoped that Chris would also be positively influenced by the peaceful activists in the community here. Sadly, he never got the chance to be here long enough due to other issues he has with cultivating positive relationships. There are two other big factors for why Chris just didn’t work in Keene: 1. He’s a loud, angry drunk. 2. He likes to argue and troll.

Chris has a drinking problem. He frequently drinks too much and then is even more likely to talk about violence and get very loud. At Porcfest he was witnessed driving drunk more than once. He says he stopped driving drunk after Pete Eyre talked to him on Wednesday about it, but I talked to him on Tuesday (since he drove drunk on Monday night) and apparently that didn’t stop him as he was driving drunk Tuesday night as well. A couple of nights he was stumbling drunk and had to be helped back to his campsite so he didn’t hurt himself. He rewarded one of his helpers by calling her some very foul names and throwing a water bottle at her. He has since apologized to her for this behavior, but Chris apologizing is a pretty rare occurrence. That’s partially because he loves to argue and doesn’t care who he upsets:

Arguing is a terrible way to communicate, and it certainly is not a good way to make friends. (Try persuasion instead of argumentation.) Since Chris doesn’t appear to care about what people think, he’ll argue whenever and wherever. The state teaches us how to argue in “debate” class, which is on its own good evidence that arguing is poor communication. Here’s how it works, for those that don’t know: You take your position and dig in deep. Lob verbal attacks at your opponent and refuse to admit you are wrong or that you’ve escalated conflict. Of course, it takes two to argue, so Cantwell’s opponents are partially at fault for allowing him to troll them into those arguments.

The Keene activist community is a good group of people who care about others. Everyone I know is dedicated to peace as the solution to problems. If you think violence in defense against “the state” is a good idea, you probably aren’t right for Keene. If you come here, you should keep that opinion to yourself. Else, please take Cantwell’s experience to heart and don’t make the mistake of moving here. Yours will be a lonely existence as you will probably be ostracized from the liberty community as fewer and fewer people will be willing to put up with you.

I personally find Chris to be a likable guy (when he’s not drunk and loud) and enjoyed doing activism with him. I really hope he gets help for his drinking problem and finds peace. I don’t think moving to another area of NH is going to solve his problems.

UPDATE: Chris has apologized publicly for his drunk driving at Porcfest.

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  1. I’ve always enjoyed your company too Ian… I hope you’re right about the way.

  2. Did he hit or harm anything or anyone while driving? I get the comments and bottle throwing but did he cause damage driving? If not then what harm happened?

  3. I would like to apologize publicly for driving recklessly at PorcFest. I do not see drinking and driving as an inherently bad thing, but it has been brought to my attention by numerous people that the situation was much worse than I thought it was. I have offended fellow activists and potentially put them in danger, this is unacceptable behavior, and I am putting some serious thought into my future.

    I say this not because of the relentless gossip campaign against me for my views, nor because of the efforts to ostracize me. I say this because people who I respect and know genuinely want the best for me, like Emberlea McCulligh and Ian Freeman and Rich Paul, have contacted me personally and privately and expressed their genuine concerns, and because people who witnessed what happened and don’t know me expressed theirs.

    As Ian Freeman pointed out in his post about me on FreeKeene, apologies from me are rare. This is because I take apologies seriously and do not issue them unless I am sincere. I do my best to practice radical honesty and I take lying very seriously, so I do not apologize unless I am truly sorry for what I’ve done. In this instance I am, and I hope that I can earn the forgiveness of those who I have offended in this particular matter.

  4. I apologized for driving recklessly, not for drinking and driving. “Drunk Driving” is thought crime. I will not endorse such ideas.

  5. Ian, it really sounds to me like the message you are conveying is, “if your opinions don’t match our opinion then stay away, we don’t want you here.” Is that how your so-called “persuasion” method works out? I think everyone, even if they don’t necessarily agree on all issues, has something to add to the pursuit of liberty even if it just sharing their opinions, time, and energy.

    I understand that you are a very dedicated activist in the liberty movement. The few times I have met or observed you I really got the vibe from you that you are a person that passionately celebrates individuality, tolerance, and freedom. When I read your article that basically is meant to deter or shame those with differing opinions but the same objective (no state/freedom) from moving to Keene I find it quite objectionable and counter intuitive to the stated goals of the FSP. Where is your tolerance to Chris’ views? Do you object mainly to his delivery of said views or just the fact that they are not close enough to your own views?

    I myself am planning to move to NH as well. I attended the last two Porcfests. What do you recommend for me as a place to live in NH? If I state to you right away that I may not agree with your views or the views of the “Keene leadership clique”, would you immediately recommend that I should move elsewhere? Or, would you welcome me with open arms and take the time to share ideas and views and perhaps help me determine how I may best serve the cause of liberty?

    Thanks for reading,


  6. as a Iraq war vet i have learned the hard way that violence is not the answer. i suffer daily with the images of death of not only my buddies i served with, but also of the Iraq people. so i would have to agree with free Keene in there assessment of Chris. in a personal message to Chris i understand that you have anger towards the state and government. but the reality is that you feel sad and betrayed by the government and u should seek some help. i would also like to give a suggestion to free Keene on how the could better prevent people drinking and driving when i was in the army we had a program that was called courtesy patrol. the program pretty much offered us a free ride home if we were drinking. i don’t know why the police don’t offer this program instead they set up checkpoints for monetary gain rather then build a respectful and preventable alternative for the people to make a better choice. i applaud the efforts of the free state project and if i was not bound by obligations here at home, i would already be in the presents of great men and women of the free state movement.

  7. There are a handful of people here who will relentlessly pursue you if you disagree with them. To Ian’s credit, he is tolerant, and confident that given time, his views will win out (and as I’ve said numerous times, I hope he’s right). This cannot be said for everyone in Keene, and that vocal minority is vicious, relentless, malevolent, and wrong. Add the facebook element and other people who don’t even live here jump into the discussion to attack strangers. Numerous other activists have fled Keene, I’m not the only one presently on my way out.

    I might be wrong about some of my decisions, but things are not going well here, and all would be well advised to reconsider their strategies.

  8. I have asked numerous times for my victim to be brought forward so that I can make restitution. None exists. But I made a bunch of people very uncomfortable and could have potentially put them in danger so I have issued an apology.

  9. Violence solves many things, you’re ignorant to suggest that it is not a valid method of change – considering historically it’s the most common and effective.

  10. in every revolutionary movement throughout history of those who wanted to live free. violence has always been a last resort defensive tactic, and resented by both parties afterwords. in modern history liberty movements have utilized peaceful tactics such as civil-disobedience and been just as successful if not more. none of us can determine the outcome of whether this era liberty movement will shed blood or a peaceful transition. but free Keene has set the ground rules for a peaceful transition and made it known over and over again that it advocates peaceful minds with a desire for a peaceful transition.

  11. Advocating defensive violence in Keene around the same time as Rich Paul is arrested and asked to wear a wire by Phil Christiana and the KAC is searched has raised red flags. Local activists have their shields raised. Can you blame them? They also see drunk driving activism as net loss. Activism against checkpoints is a win and the Memorial Day parade was a win. Just a few thoughts.

  12. Uh, no. It’s only resented by those that don’t see what is has done. For this with historical education, they’ll see violence as a very effective medium for change, from civil rights to slavery here in the united states. Neither of those things would’ve come to have been without violence.

    Even now, as the LBGT movement grows, we can see that it is only making headway when there is a violent clash. Even so, it has probably been one of the most peaceful transitions, most likely due to the not-so-long-ago civil rights riots.

    Free Keene has done nothing besides ostracize people from creating their own opinions. It is quite common for Free Keene to be outwardly hostile towards anyone with different beliefs with them. Examples of this include the political rallies, any interaction with state employees, and interactions with myself.

    I’m sorry your time in the Armed Forces left you this way. While you may have seen the sacrifices personally, I’m afraid to say that your understanding of the big picture is moot.

  13. Cantwell is an “agent p” definitely on a payroll.. prob FBI

  14. Arguing is a terrible way to communicate,

    That’s not true.


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