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Commentary :: Environment
Advice for Free State carpetbaggers -- Go home
18 Jun 2004
Libertarian doctrine dictates freedom for all, not to impose your will on others. What, then, are they doing in imposing their will on an entire town and state?
IT SOUNDED pretty benign on paper: "The Free State Project is an effort to recruit 20,000 liberty-loving people to move to New Hampshire."

Since the Granite State is probably 100 times freer than most other states, we figured, sure, come on in if you love winter and can appreciate our brand of freedom and lifestyle. But it soon got ugly. In a public forum on the Free State Project's Web site, outsiders who had never set foot in New Hampshire began to criticize the state government because it didn’t fit their definition of Libertopia.

The more vocal members promised, while they sit in their armchair prisons in places like New York, Florida and California, to "liberate" the people from tyranny.

Things continued to deteriorate with the launch of the Free Town Project, where members strategized about moving en masse to one town. When Grafton appeared in their crosshairs, they pulled the trigger for reasons ranging from Grafton having no zoning to its low population to it having as a resident state Libertarian Party Chairman John Babiarz.

The Free Towners began to plan the best way to "take over" the town, and divvied up the responsibilities. One thoroughly combed through state RSAs for building and voting restrictions, one with deep pockets began snapping up large parcels of land, and others researched economical living quarters.

Eventually, speculation among the Free Towners turned to the inevitable resistance they'd face. One response: "We don't want their honey, we do want them out of their hives. If they sting we swat, and if they don't wise up we torch the hive." This same individual offered that while he was technically a resident of New Hampshire, he didn't actually live in the state. Someone asked, "Do we actually have to live in Grafton in order to vote there?" The general feedback was no, you could "cleanse" the town of non-believers while still living elsewhere.

First they'd privatize the roads and the schools, eliminate mandatory recycling, and wipe out taxes for their fellow cultists but not for the "statists," that is, those of us who were already here. Once that's done, they’d legalize drugs, prostitution, incest and other crimes they refer to as "victimless."

One particularly imaginative Free Stater suggested once they ruled the state they could name one road in each town Drega Avenue. Yes, as in Carl Drega, the madman murderer of the North Country.

Libertarian doctrine dictates freedom for all, not to impose your will on others. What, then, are they doing in imposing their will on an entire town and state? And why are they surprised when we slap a "Free Staters Go Home" bumper sticker on our cars?

Though the intentions of many Free Staters and some Free Towners may be undoubtedly benevolent, the open hostility and outright physical threats by some in a group that supposedly preaches non-violence should make every New Hampshire resident wary of all newcomers.

Given the vocal outcry from Graftonites, Jason Sorens and the Free State Project have actively distanced themselves from the Free Town Project. Recruitment is way down, and the FSP has recruited less than a thousand new members since New Hampshire was christened last fall. In response to a special town meeting to be held in Grafton this Saturday about the Free Towners, the Free State Project is sending its president, self-described anarchist Amanda Phillips, from her home in Massachusetts to do some serious damage control.

She'll have her work cut out for her. The Free Towners who have been scouting out the town since its selection in February have, as a whole, been obnoxious, demanding and disrespectful. One actually stood at town meeting and accused a long-time resident of being a socialist. Grafton landlords have already refused to rent apartments to Free Towners, and residents have rejected their offers to buy homes and land. Support for Libertarian causes and its advocates in Grafton has plummeted from a couple hundred to fewer than 10.

Call me a xenophobe, but if you care at all about New Hampshire, you should do everything in your power to cause the Free Staters and Towners to abort their mission. They're nothing but a selfish group of anarchist carpetbaggers whose sole purpose is to destroy a place and people they don't give two hoots about.

Gregg Ramsay is a professor at Pace University in White Plains, N.Y. He lives in Cornish and owns a home in Grafton.
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