Hard Lesson from Portsmouth for the Libertarian Critics: Publicized Activism Offends

November 17th, 2015 - 5:46pmby FTL_Ianin

Portsmouth Herald, Spreading Hate of Activists

Portsmouth Herald, Spreading Hate of Activists

Here’s an ugly, state-worshiping editorial from the Portsmouth Herald that tries to position the area taxi companies as the little, local guys vs the big, evil national corporation. The reality is that UBER is merely a platform that individual drivers, who operate as independent contractors, can use to find people who need rides. These drivers live in the Portsmouth area, and as independent, individual businesses, are even smaller businesses than the local taxi companies. But that’s not all the derisive, snooty editorial imparts:

Incorrectly labeling “Free UBER” as “Free State Uber” – they take a dismissive tone of the demonstrations that have occurred at a local bar and last night at the city council meeting and then go on to insult the Seacoast activists in the same way the Keene Sentinel and other critics have insulted Keene activists, calling the activism a “Free State sideshow”. “You can’t make this stuff up”, the unsigned editorial whines regarding the activism surrounding the UBER controversy.

There have, within the libertarian movement, been many critics of various Keene activism over the years. We’ve been accused on more than several occasions, of having destroyed the liberty movement, not just in New Hampshire, but nationwide. The general idea is that because some people in Keene don’t like certain activism, that we have failed, and we should not be so offensive to people. Usually, the critics attack “Keene” generally, and use it as a pejorative and a scapegoat. Sometimes, you can get them to be specific about exactly *who* did something offensive to them, and what it was. If you ask a few critics for specifics, you’ll find that some critics liked the very activism that other critics found offensive. As is typically the case, you can’t please everyone (and shouldn’t try).

All the while, those of us who spend time actually doing activism (rather than attacking others’ activism), have been patiently trying to explain the truth, which is now being borne out again in Portsmouth: that activism that receives publicity is bound to upset people. It’s the nature of the thing.

Haters Gonna HateOf course, some of the critics of Keene activism would like to believe that *their* activism is done “right” and so it would not have the same negative effects as ours. So long as it doesn’t make the news, they are right. It won’t have much of an impact on public opinion at all. However, as we can now see in Portsmouth – where the Free UBER activism has been making headlines and garnering TV coverage, activists there have been confronted by hostile taxi supporters, UBER drivers’ cars have been boxed in by taxi drivers’ cars (a criminal act of “disorderly conduct” at the minimum), cabbies have snitched on the UBERS, the mayor publicly attacked them, Free UBER founder Christopher David is now facing a felony wiretapping charge as a result of his activism, and the libery activists supporting Free UBER with traditional protest and speaking to the city council, have now been insulted in a widely-read mainstream media outlet. At the city council meeting last night, one person speaking even suggested that UBER’s drivers could be child molesters and violent thugs.

This is what happens to those who challenge the status quo – and this is all only coming from one minor proposed change to the city’s transportation ordinances! The lesson should be clear now that the SAME reactions are happening outside of Keene:

The more success you have as an activist, the more publicity you will receive, and therefore the more hatred and derision will be directed your way.

Free State Project

“The single biggest threat the state is facing”

The reactions to Keene activism aren’t surprising or unusual, but for people in the liberty movement, who are used to never having received any publicity for their activism (and many of whom are totally new to doing any activism at all) – it is new. They should get used to it, because as more people move to New Hampshire as part of the Free State Project and have success at rolling back the government – even more people are going to attack us. What, did you think the state supporters would just roll over and give up their power? They are going to use all their resources to oppose you. As state-loving representative Cynthia Chase said in 2012, Free Staters are the “single biggest threat the state is facing”, and she’s right. They will act accordingly.

I recommend that you love your enemies and the critics, while not letting them get you down. Keep standing up, peacefully, for what you know is right. Do your best to counter the hatred with good information and positive, fun activism. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. In Portsmouth, they’re having fun working for change – and that makes some people MAD!