It’s truly an honor to be attacked. They say you don’t take flak unless you’re over the target. No one should be surprised that there will be vehement opposition when libertarians actually start making an impact as we have done here in New Hampshire. Most libertarians don’t understand what it’s like to be hated, because outside of New Hampshire, the libertarian movement is little more than a sideshow. They have near-zero impact with their political campaigns, and that’s about all they do besides argue on the internet.Here in the Shire, libertarian activists regularly get mainstream media coverage in newsprint, on TV and radio. Here we matter, despite the online trolls who spend their precious time trying to convince us we don’t. Of course, the fact that they spend such inordinate time on us is evidence against their own claims.
Every now and then a hater will get out from behind their computer monitor and actually make a real life appearance. Sometimes they are memorable and hilarious, like the time Sam Dodson was assaulted by a former coffee-shop owner wielding a coffee cup (both have long since left NH). Sometimes they are threatening and violent. However, very rarely are their efforts sustained for any meaningful amount of time. Every hate group that has risen has also fallen away, however one couple really stood out above all the other haters, Matthew and Jennifer Schmidt.
Over the last half-a-decade, the Schmidts made themselves into public activists after joining multiple real life events designed to target peace-loving libertarian activists in the Keene area with hatred. I first recall encountering Matt in an impressively large counterprotest in Central Square by then-new-and-energized hate group “STOP FREE KEENE!!!“. He later truly made a name for himself in the War on Chalk that happened throughout the summer of 2014. While the War on Chalk initially involved a handful of haters, it wasn’t long before Matthew “Boston Strong” Schmidt was the last man standing on their side. His dedication was unmatched. Every day before he’d go to work as a plumber in his original home of Massachusetts, he’d come down to Central Square and remove any chalkings he could find. Then later in the day, after he got off work, he’d be right back down to Central Square with his broom and bucket of water:
What kind of man makes it his business to delete not only peaceful chalkings by libertarians (including some very beautiful artwork), but also those chalkings by children and those done by a local church group trying to raise awareness of homelessness?
Had he just kept his hate-activism to deleting chalkings, maybe we’d never have gotten to know more about him, but he just couldn’t stop. Turns out, he lived just a few houses north of my home, which we discovered when he ironically came out to do his own chalking in the street in front of the Keene Activist Center! At this point we didn’t know his name, but he’d allegedly threatened a local peaceful chalk-artist and simultaneously claimed to be from Boston, so Rich Paul named him, “Boston Strong”. Later we learned his name, Matthew Schmidt, homeowner since 2005, a year before I arrived in Keene. His obsession with us grew. When he would drive by the corner where I live and at that time was also the Keene Activist Center, he’d lay on his horn and scream at the top of his lungs.
At that time, Chris Cantwell (the angry libertarian comedian Chris, pre-racism days) lived across the street from me in the “Capitalist House”. In an excellent blog by Garret Ean (who was also living on the corner in question), he describes how Cantwell and Schmidt competed to prove who was the worst neighbor in a confrontation that happened in front of Schmidt’s house between the two. Schmidt had, as was common, driven by our corner yelling something at the corner in general, so Cantwell went to confront him about his un-neighborly behavior. Matt’s wife Jennifer was also present, accusing me falsely of being a pedophile while Schmidt drunkenly calls Cantwell a “temporary resident”, among other entertaining interactions:
Normally, I wouldn’t put any time into researching or paying attention to haters, but those who go the extra mile and engage in threatening behavior should be outed publicly. Curiously, I actually had an online exchange with Schmidt later where he admitted he was upset that I’d blogged about him and his wife. I’d never have been aware of who they were had they not made it their business to target the libertarian community here with their hatred. All I did was show their actions to the world, and tried to be fair about it, despite their hatred. When Jennifer Schmidt was accused by another River St. neighbor of threatening the neighbor’s ward with a knife, I reported that she was ultimately vindicated of the charges after the neighbor failed to put her boy on the witness stand.
Later in the year, Schmidt was confronted on video by Rich Paul and David Crawford over laying on his horn, where Schmidt famously threatens to make the lives of the children living on the corner “a living nightmare” while claiming “everyone loves what I’m doing, they love it“.
In 2015, in one of Matt Schmidt’s last known public appearances, his violent side was again revealed when he threatened to JP Freeman that he was going to “rap your head in with a ratchet”:
Fast forward to this August when, while out walking my dog on a Friday evening, I noticed a full-size moving truck pulled up to the Schmidt’s house, which the couple “owned”. By noon the next day, it was gone. Two months later, according to city/county records, it was sold for under $48,000 at foreclosure. Now there’s a giant dumpster in the front yard filled to the brim with all the junk they left in the house.
Perhaps rather than targeting peaceful liberty activists with hatred they should have focused on getting their own lives in order. It’s not a surprise that people who were so mean and nasty outwardly were a mess in the rest of their lives.