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'Free staters' pick New Hampshire to liberate for sex, guns and drugs - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Oct. 1st, 2003

12:18 pm - 'Free staters' pick New Hampshire to liberate for sex, guns and drugs

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'Free staters' pick New Hampshire to liberate for sex, guns and drugs

Fringe activists hope to infiltrate vote and set up a breakaway minimalist government

Joanna Walters in New York
Wednesday October 1, 2003
The Guardian

A libertarian movement promoting "minimalist government", the free market, drugs, prostitution and gun ownership plans to infiltrate New Hampshire to create a breakaway American regime, its leaders will announce today.

The Free State Project, which has supporters in the UK and worldwide, will reveal today at a meeting in New York that its members have voted for the small but highly-symbolic north-eastern state as its target to win power.

Project chiefs will now try to persuade 20,000 people to move to New Hampshire and sway the electorate towards blocking federal "nanny" laws and social restrictions.

Jason Sorens, a lecturer in political science at Yale University and president of the project, said he wants to create an "autocratic territory" and the Free State Project will follow the examples of the Mormons in Utah, the French separatists in Quebec, Canada, and the conservative Amish religious communities.



Political sceptics have dismissed the project as the fringe cult fantasies of a disorganised shower of anarchists and internet geeks.

But Professor Sorens claims membership is soaring as people become angry over increasing restrictions on personal freedom, government surveillance of private individuals and greater state power in the justice system.

Membership of the Free State Project rocketed after an article in Playboy this year.

"I think that was a good place to find people who are socially tolerant and wary of government regulation over private behaviour," Prof Sorens said yesterday.

The FSP argues that civil government should exist only to protect life, liberty, and property. Individuals are free to do as they please, provided it does not harm others.

In a "Free State", that would translate as a green light for casinos, brothels, cocaine farms and gun supermarkets. Leaders would also do away with seatbelt laws, limits on gay marriage and most taxes.

"The classical liberal philosophy has a long and respectable pedigree. We see ourselves as a kind of chamber of commerce, promoting the state as somewhere where people will come and live freely and do business," he said.

Schools and hospitals would be entirely privatised. Prof Sorens sees new New Hampshire as having economic parallels with Singapore and Hong Kong, and social parallels to the tolerant Netherlands.

New Hampshire's state motto is already "Live free or die".

A ballot last week had members choosing from a shortlist of 10 states, each chosen on the basis that the FSP had calculated the populations were low enough and federal influence weak enough that moving 20,000 members there would give enough leverage to sway the state legislature.

Wyoming came second in the ballot. Other states on the list included Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Vermont and the Dakotas.

Members must agree to move to the chosen state.

But the New Hampshire Democratic chairwoman, Kathy Sullivan, said she considered the project "sort of a very fringe group that can best be described as anarchists".

A British member, Matthew Hurry, a 24-year-old computer technician from Brighton, was already preparing to move to the chosen state.

"It's one of the few good ideas I've seen actually put into practice with a good chance of success. Freedom is important for people, and the western world is severely lacking in it," he said.

But Francis Tyers, a 20-year-old University of Wales student, who studies in Aberystwyth but is currently on placement with the computer giant Hewlett Packard in Ireland, said Alaska would have been his first choice. "I specified on my membership form that I would move when they had legalised the cultivation of marijuana. I'm hoping that this will be one of the first things on their agenda. And secession from the United States would be great," he said.

It is this kind of radical idea that Prof Sorens emphasises is not the FSP's main thrust. "We have no wish to alienate the people of New Hampshire. We want to win them over," he said.

James Maynard, one of 150 project members who already live in New Hampshire, is currently campaigning as a Libertarian to try to win a council seat in the Keene city elections in November.

"The FSP is a mix of common sense ideas and "thinking out of the box". Within the framework of a real-life state and local politics, a group will not be afraid to try new things and take lessons from the business world to bring New Hampshire a smaller, less expensive, more accountable government," he said.

Project members are mostly men and in their 20s and 30s. Many own small businesses and half of them have a university degree, with 18% possessing doctorates and 40% earning more than £40,000 a year.

Comments:

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From:kittles
Date:October 1st, 2003 09:30 am (UTC)
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I was greatly amused by the spin on this article. :)
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From:crasch
Date:October 1st, 2003 09:42 am (UTC)
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Spin? Whose fringe cult fantasies don't include hookers and guns? And I find being a "man of the earth" appealing--cocaine farming here I come!
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From:tdj
Date:October 1st, 2003 10:54 am (UTC)
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I'm not so sure it's all spin, considering:
Jason Sorens, a lecturer in political science at Yale University and president of the project, said he wants to create an "autocratic territory" and the Free State Project will follow the examples of the Mormons in Utah, the French separatists in Quebec, Canada, and the conservative Amish religious communities.
You picked a great bunch of examples there, Sorens. There's nothing that the Libertarian movement needs like a bunch of members emulating French separatists.
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From:crasch
Date:October 1st, 2003 11:22 am (UTC)
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I strongly doubt that Sorens used the phrase "autocratic territory". As for the examples, he's probably also mentioned the American Revolution, the Baltic state's independence, and other more appealing examples of states seeking greater freedom and autonomy (his dissertation was on modern seccessionist movements). However, given the context, do you think that this reporter was going to mention them?
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From:tdj
Date:October 1st, 2003 11:39 am (UTC)
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Since "autocratic territory" is in quotes, I'll assume in good faith that it is actually a quote until I hear it denied. Though report does have a none-too-subtle bias, that doesn't mean that the movement it describes isn't crankish - the Libertarian party has more than its fair share. From the article alone, I'm suspicious of both the reporter and the reportee.
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From:crasch
Date:October 1st, 2003 12:03 pm (UTC)
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The FSP no doubt has it's share of cranks. However, I've been impressed with the leadership, so far, and the basic strategy seems sound.

The AP report is more balanced:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2003/10/01/new_hampshire_named_free_state/

If you haven't read much about the FSP before, the FSP FAQ is a good place to start:

http://www.freestateproject.org/faqs.htm

Why Sorens thinks the FSP could be successful (this is where the Quebec example comes from):

http://www.freestateproject.org/strategies.htm

I've read most of Jason's articles and many of his public e-mails, and he comes across pretty credible to me, as do most of the other leadership members. Of course, a crank would say that about a fellow crank, and I'm probably not the most objective judge of my own crankiness, so take it for what it's worth.
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From:tdj
Date:October 2nd, 2003 03:00 pm (UTC)
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They definitely seem less wacky reading from their home page, though I'm still on the fence as far as their current strategy goes. It's an novel idea, and I'm still kicking it around in my head.
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From:vyus
Date:October 1st, 2003 10:03 am (UTC)
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Hey, I didn't see mention of the rampant polyamory.

Heathens.
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From:gentlemaitresse
Date:October 1st, 2003 10:26 am (UTC)
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I see they are calling him *Professor* Sorens now. :-)

But the New Hampshire Democratic chairwoman, Kathy Sullivan, said she considered the project "sort of a very fringe group that can best be described as anarchists".

That's really pathetic. I guess she has to discredit us some way just because we don't want *her* version of government.

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From:madbard
Date:October 1st, 2003 10:42 am (UTC)
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FSP aside, this is one of the reasons the Libertarian party will never be more than a fringe group. They have the worst PR and spin control imaginable. This article probably reflects the average person's concept of libertarian priorities, and the libertarians probably do little to dispell it. I've seen libertarian political posters that actually focus on things like legalizing pot, which may be a noble cause, but it is an insane thing to put on a poster and prioritize above (say) fighting taxes.
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From:crasch
Date:October 1st, 2003 11:40 am (UTC)
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This was the most biased article I've seen so far. I posted it because it was the first one I saw. The AP report (which most papers carry) was much more balanced.

And yes, the LP has a lot of embarrassing kooks and people who choose to fight the wrong battles at the wrong time. However, from what I've seen so far, the FSP leadership has emphasized reducing taxes, school choice, and other less controversial steps.

I suspect that part of the problem is that LP candidates have never had much of chance of winning anyway, so why not push the most buttons? It's more fun that way.
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From:mindwalker
Date:October 1st, 2003 05:47 pm (UTC)
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Heh, I'm so used to seeing articles that are basically negative about freedom that the article didn't even seem abnormally biased to me. It was pretty much what I'd expect from the mainstream press. Then again, I guess I'd be one of those embarrassing kooks if any press were actually paying attention :)
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From:crasch
Date:October 2nd, 2003 03:41 pm (UTC)
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Hmmm...I was thinking of the guy who turned himself blue with a quack medicine. I doubt you're that kind of kook.
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From:jayfo
Date:October 1st, 2003 10:44 am (UTC)
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I'm in. I'll even buy her a ticket to go to vermont.
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From:knosos
Date:October 1st, 2003 10:54 am (UTC)
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Oh my god! I hope the Federal Political Police arrest the leaders of this dangerous freedom movement before they can spread their evil concepts of personal liberty!
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From:crasch
Date:October 2nd, 2003 03:45 pm (UTC)
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If they can push their geek fantasies this far as shower of disorganized anarchists, just imagine if they got organized?
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