David Weigel reports on the colorful libertarian activists of Keene, New Hampshire:
This city is one of the epicenters of the Free State Project, the decade-old effort to build a libertarian beachhead of 20,000 like-minded souls in New Hampshire. So far, 909 people have fulfilled the pledge and moved to the state, and around 50—Freeman thinks—currently live in Keene.
That number undersells the impact this city and these activists have on their movement. Freeman’s FreeKeene.com is a catalog of arrests, protests, and inspiring interviews, most of them in Keene. This is where one activist, Pete Eyre, spent days in jail for wearing a hat in a public hearing, and another activist, Heika Courser, was arrested for displaying her breasts after an artist painted them.
Some more background comes from the New Hampshire Union Leader:
People from the Free Keene and Free State movements have met daily in Central Square since last summer, generally to publicly smoke marijuana. In recent months, the Free Keene group has instituted “Topless Tuesdays” which also takes place in the Square, across the street from Keene Middle School and city hall. …
Dodson said Sunday’s gathering was part of a new event called “night cap,” with people gathering in Central Square at 11 p.m. every night to drink openly in protest of laws prohibiting open containers of alcohol. … The night cap is an offshoot of the daily 4:20 p.m. rallies held to smoke marijuana in protest of state and federal drug laws.
These sorts of hijinks certainly aren’t representative of libertarians in general, or even of the Free State Project itself: as Weigel notes, the Keene wing of that movement is particularly prone to confrontational acts of civil disobedience.
It’s not easy to see what the Keene activists hope to accomplish with these stunts. One of the aims of the libertarian movement is surely to convince others that people can live together peacefully and responsibly without criminal laws forcing them to do so. Holding “Topless Tuesdays” and pot-smoking rallies next to a middle school might not be the best way to achieve this. These sorts of hijinks only make sense if their aim is to persuade all the non-libertarians to move away.