On this past Friday night at precisely 7:00 p.m. EST on April 18, I called into Free Talk Live to talk about Christopher Cantwell‘s latest blog post on his website entitled “Open Letter to the Free State Project Board,” in which Cantwell himself urged the board members of the New Hampshire-based organization The Free State Project to reconsider their position on him, namely their ban from any appearances he would make at the annual Porcupine Freedom Festival which is held on Roger’s Campground in Lancaster. According to Cantwell’s own open letter, he received support from the likes of FTL’s Ian Freeman, Jordan Page, Gigi Bowman, self-acclaimed “libertarian” Larken Rose, and countless numbers of other “pro-Liberty” activists (with questionable credentials to be frank) in the libertarian movement who objected to the FSP’s ban against Cantwell from attending that event and any other pro-liberty event.
Before i unleash any criticism against Ian Freeman, Darryl W. Perry, and a third co-host on Friday’s night episode, allow me to illustrate my point. Here is Cantwell’s “Open Letter to the Free State Board” (which I also provided as a link to his page in the second line of my first paragraph:
To the members of the Free State Project’s board of directors,
You surely recall an incident from last year when I was kicked out of your organization foradvocating violence in an article titled “Concord Police, Go and Get Your Bearcat“. One of your board members contacted me, asking me to retract statements, under threat of removal from your lists, and being unwelcome at your events. I refused, as I think any self respecting content producer should when met with such demands. According to your public statements, I am so removed, and I am unwelcome now at your events, such as the annual Porcupine Freedom Festival in Lancaster, New Hampshire aka PorcFest.
As I have stated repeatedly on this blog and in numerous public statements and appearances, I understand why you felt this was necessary. While our goals are ultimately similar if not identical, our tactics and rhetoric differ. Sometimes, in the course of human events, it is better to break such bonds for the benefit of all involved. I recognize your freedom of association, and I have explained to my readers and viewers that our differences do not diminish the Free State Project’s position on free speech.
In contrast, your board member, Jody Underwood, took to video with George Donnelly to label me a domestic terrorist, and to my knowledge your organization has done nothing to mitigate the damage to my reputation inflicted by your actions.
I write this letter to you in hopes of resolving our differences. It is with some sadness that I do this publicly, as I had attempted to give your organization a quiet resolution to the conflict in a private communication with your president Carla Gericke. Carla unfortunately refused to speak to me by telephone without condition, and upon being given the circumstances I wished to speak with her about, she ignored me for two more days. After two days I told her I took her failure to respond as a disrespect, and set a timeline after which I would take the dispute public. She accused me of threatening her, as if this was not exactly what the Free State Project had done to me more than 6 months prior.
That was 28 days ago. Despite my patience, despite my being a good sport about the whole thing, despite my efforts to reconcile, despite the solid moral, philosophical, and tactical grounds of my arguments, and despite outrage from your general membership, your organization still shuns this well respected member of the voluntaryist community.
If you do indeed view my writings as exceeding the limits of self defense, then I have no interest in being counted amongst you. I happen to take this issue very seriously, as do my tens of thousands of readers and viewers. I have no interest in adding myself to the number of pacifists in the world. My views have not changed. I ask not that you accept me back into your organization. I ask not that you endorse any of my views or activities. I ask not your forgiveness. I do however have to acknowledge the response I have had from my audience, as you have surely had from your membership, that barring me from your events such as PorcFest was heavy handed, unnecessary, and just a flat out PR mistake on the part of your organization.
You attempted to make the Free State Project appear to reject all advocacy of violence. The overwhelming response from your membership was in support of my right to advocate defensive force against State agents, and in many cases supportive of the argument itself. Larken Rose, a featured speaker at PorcFest who discusses use of force, made a video in support of my arguments. Ian Freeman of Free Talk Live hosted a use of force discussion featuring me in New Hampshire at Keenevention, and it was the most attended panel of the entire event. As I predicted in my article, Concord went ahead and got their Bearcat, despite overwhelming opposition from the public. This was an unmitigated PR disaster on your part, and all of you know it. In contrast, support for me, my ideas, and my content has grown exponentially by every data point available.
I have received hundreds of messages from my supporters asking me about my attendance of the Porcupine Freedom Festival. An event which I have attended for the last three years. Two at which I received thunderous applause at your Soap Box Idol event (2012, 2013). It is difficult for me to tell people that I am banned from the event, but that I still think they should go. I have done this anyway.
Many, including but not limited to Free Talk Live host Ian Freeman, liberty rocker Jordan Page, the ever popular Alt Expo, and New York State Senate candidate Gigi Bowman, have suggested that I attend regardless of your opinions. They rightly point out that the Free State Project does not own Roger’s Camp Ground, and that I would be welcome at nearly any campsite in attendance. However, being told I am not welcome at a place is generally enough to keep me away from it.
I recently had a discussion with former Libertarian Party presidential candidate Michael Badnarik, about putting on an Anarchy vs. Minarchy debate/discussion. I think this would be very entertaining, enlightening, and informative for a PorcFest audience. I have also offered to debate the use of force question with Stefan Molyneux, an event which over 300 people have expressed interest in attending. Neither you nor Molyneux have responded to my repeated attempts to make this happen.
So, in our mutual best interests, for the sake of your membership, my audience, in the interests of furthering tactical and philosophical discussion, and for the cause of liberty, I respectfully request that you reconsider your decision to bar me from attending the Porcupine Freedom Festival. I have no interest in being a member of your organization any longer, but your attendees want to see me, and I want to see them. If I’m really that far off base in my ideas, then the best way to rectify that is to expose me to people with different ideas, and to discuss these ideas in a civilized manner. Shutting down the lines of communication is how wars start, and I have no interest in anything but peace, trade, and communication with you and your members. My only enemy, is the State.
It should also be noted that Cantwell provided a copy of an email that he received from Carla Gericke, President of the FSP. Unless Cantwell altered the text of her statement to him, it reads as follows:
Did I miss the part where you provided a substantial track record of changing your position regarding the advocacy of violence? As recently as March 15th, you published a piece on your blog entitled: “Violently Overthrow The Government,” and tagged it under “Strategy.”
Let me be frank: you are seeking attention and fame by using the FSP’s brand, which was built on the backs of thousands of volunteer hours over more than 10 years, to further your own “career” as an “anarchist, atheist,” and “asshole.” You need us, we don’t need you. This is why you are trying to foist yourself on a private event where you are unwelcome due to your own actions.
In addition to your online antics, you will recall, or since you were extremely drunk perhaps you don’t, but you put several people at risk when you attended PorcFest in 2011. You drove drunk, almost hit a state representative, hit a trashcan, and then insisted your actions were defensible. Even though several people called for your banning at that time, I gave you the benefit of the doubt. I learned my lesson.
You are a smart guy. I wish you would figure out a way to become a functioning member of the liberty community. Until you learn how to separate your sense of self-worth and ego from your dealings with other people, I doubt this will happen. I don’t wish you ill, but I see no value in continuing this discussion. People can change for the better and grow and evolve, I hope you do.
Cantwell then responded to her with the following
As stated in my letter, no, my views have not changed. My views are the same and consistent with the philosophy you purport to adhere to.
Your accusation of famewhoring is baseless. I never asked you to respond to my Bearcat article, that was your decision. I had advised Jody that it would be a poor decision to go after me over the issue, and you fine folks decided to go ahead and do it anyway. I wrote a blog about an issue that was in the headlines, writers tend to do that. I am in the business of spreading ideas, for me to do that, I have to reach people. Thanks for helping me do that, but you’re mistaken, I don’t need you. In fact, despite your opposition, my website ranks in the top 61k in the US, while yours ranks below the top 70k. Far from me trying to promote myself on your backs, I see it as the exact opposite. You alienated a high profile activist and content producer to gain favor with the State.
People drive drunk at PorcFest all the time and you know it, likely yourself included. You will recall that I did not drink at all during PorcFest 2013, and all the ash cans were run over anyway. The baseless allegations you are repeating were totally blown out of proportion by my ideological rivals, and you’re well aware of that. Despite all this, I have publicly apologized for that incident, and the fact that you have to go back 3 years to a non-event to criticize me, sort of shows how petty this dispute has become.
See what I mean about Cantwell’s comments in which he justifies his rational and reasoning? Notice that he justifies the use of violence as a first resort rather than a last? Notice that Ian Freeman has, to a certain extent, taken sides with Cantwell on his right to express his views?
Before I go into my FTL scrutiny here, it needs to be said that violent speech is not protected by the First Amendment. It’s not free speech. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes stated in his landmark ruling which served as the infamous “clear and present danger” statement he made in his writings,
The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.
(See Schenck v. United States which comprises Holmes’ pioneering opinion. While I disagree with Holmes’ contention that opposing the draft at the height of America’s entry into World War I was a clear-cut violation of the Espionage Act of 1917, I concur with the thrust of his statement above. After all, yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater where there is no fire at all is not a protection of the First Amendment.)
But I’m digressing. Let’s get back to the subject at hand.
Here’s the audio clip of my chat with Ian Bernard on Friday’s FTL:
Here’s a transcript of what Ian and I talked about on Friday:
Ian Freeman: Todd is on the line in Michigan. Todd, you are on Free Talk Live talking to Ian, Ellen, and Darryl.
Todd Andrew Barnett: Hey Ian, it’s been quite a while since I last talked to ya. How’s it-
Ian: Wha’ts on your mind, Todd?
Todd: Hey, Darryl! Hey, everybody! Well, I just submitted show prep for you guys tonight, uh, which you, I don’t know if you’ve taken a good look at it yet or had any time, but it’s regarding Christopher Cantwell’s letter to the Free State Project board that he posted on his website. And –
Ian; I saw this a few days ago. The, uh, I guess the gist of it is that he would like to be invited to Porcfest. He has been uninvited as I understand it from the Porcupine Freedom Festival. This is due to some controversy over some remarks that he made on a previous blog post last year that suggested killing police, if I ‘m recalling him correctly as, uh, something –
Todd; That’s correct.
Ian: – as something that is inevitable for the Liberty movement.
Darryl W. Perry: Government officials.
Ian: Yeah, and the Free State Project has a specific prohibition on advocacy of violence. Of course Chris will make the – he would defend himself by saying that he was only talking about in, in defense but at the same time he also made it sound like that was inevitable and that was something that should happen at some point. So they asked him to, um, to correct – they have to change what he had said in his article. He refused to do that, and they then informed him that he would be, uh, disassociated from the Free State Project. He would have his membership or his participation within the Project revoked and would be uninvited from the Porcupine Freedom Festival. I guess he was trying to somehow make amends with the Free State Project, but I guess –
Ian: – that didn’t pan out.
Todd: Yeah, uh, um, I know that George Donnelly on his show was tr – was actually, uh, believe it or not, interviewing one of the Free State Project board trustees on there, and I guess this was some time ago. I don’t recall when exactly he put this up, but, uh, apparently she gave the reasons why she sent out the letter to, uh, and, um, Cantwell in his open letter basically stated that, “Well, she’s just basically calling him a domestic terrorist” because, uh, –
Ian: So, Todd, what’s your interest in all of this? I mean, really, it seems like a lot of drama and not really necessary to really even talk about it. Why are you interested in this?
Todd: Well, it’s,,,,it’s been a very big concern of mine lately –
Ian: What has?
Todd: – if you don’t mind me saying. Um, his comments that he has, um, made in his writings and so forth. And I, um,
Ian: Why is it such a concern? I mean, he’s, he’s no different from thousands of other, uh, people out there. The, you know, the kind of gun polisher types who are always talking about violence and –
Ian: – it’s gonna come to violence some day and they preparing to take the cops out before they take them out and that kind of rhetoric. I mean, what’s, what’s make him, you know, so unusual and worthy of your attention?
Todd: Well, let’s put it this way. Um, it gives the wrong impression that, a lot of us are just, “Well, let’s kill, um, the agents first and then before they start killing us.” And this is the perception that’s, that’s being floated around, and I just don’t like the idea of that perception being floated around, particularly in the movement. I mean, you’re, you’re free to disagree –
Ian: But aren’t you –
Todd: – all you want.
Ian: giving him more – uh, I mean we weren’t going to talk about Chris Cantwell tonight so….
Darryl: Giving him more publicity?
Ian: Right. You just, you know, opened up a radio show by talking about him. Doesn’t that essentially bring more attention to the ideas –
Todd: Well –
Ian: – that you find upsetting and disturbing?
Ellen: Well, sometimes it’s better to bring these ideas into the like public view so that we can dispel any myths or are about it. Like maybe –
Ian: I agree.
Ellen: – maybe he was just talking about self-defense. Maybe not particularly against police officers, but including them as well.
Ian: Well, he’ll usually make a statement like that. But the way that Cantwell writes, it comes off pretty – it almost sounds like he’s advocating people go out and kill cops, but he kinda skirts around actually saying that. Um, he usually will put it in terms like, “Only in self-defense” or something like that. But the people that come from that perspective usually believe that it’s open season because, “Well, the police are always aggressing against people.”
Darryl: They’re, they’re paid with stolen money and therefore, you know, that’s aggressive….because stolen funds.
Ian: So I agree, Ellen, that I don’t have a problem addressing this issue. I mean we’ve talked about violence countless times on Free Talk Live over the years and will again because there’s always something in the news, if it’s not Chris Cantwell stirring up drama, there’s always something happening somewhere where, you know, there’s an appropriate comment to be made about how peace is the answer. That, if you want peace, it has to be your means, uh, to get to that ends, that kind of thing. But, ultimately, I mean, you’re –
Todd: Well –
Ian: – you’re giving him more attention specifically to him by calling in like this, Todd.
Ellen: He does have a large following….already.
Todd: Well –
Ian: Does he –
Todd: Well –
Ian: – have a large following already? I mean, I guess –
Ellen: In his own words he does.
Ian: That’s what he says, and he does have about as many likes as FreeKeene.com, which he has a website for about a year, so I mean maybe that’s an indicator. And it is certainly true that there are a lot of people like Chris, which is why I said that, you know, his perspective isn’t unusual. It’s fairly common.
Todd: Well, I would…um, okay, I, I understand where you’re coming from, Ian. But the, but here is the problem though is that, um, you know, because he writes these kinds of articles, and I understand where he’s coming from on one end. Yeah, there’s gonna come a point where we’re gonna have to aggress towards the State if it came down to it as a last resort. But the problem, um,.the reason I bring it on the show tonight is, “Well, um, you, um, you, um, you, um, in fact several days ago I remember you made the point, uh, about the ten reasons Libertarians were, are, are mean to people, well, that, um, Cantwell wrote. The article that he wrote. And you were bringing attention to that, that you were trying to give him more publicity on that, so, um, so I think that –
Ian: Yeah, well I thought that was an interesting discussion, uh,
Todd – I mean, I think you’re fair game on that one. I think you’re fair game on that one, because, if I’m fair game for bringing that up….
Ian: Todd, I didn’t say that, uh, there was anything necessarily inherently wrong with bringing it up. It’s just that you made it sound like you didn’t think Chris Cantwell should get attention, and so therefore why bring him up? Uh, we brought that up because we thought it was an interesting topic of discussion, so I’m not saying you shouldn’t bring Chris Cantwell up. It’s just that if your position is that you don’t want him get attention, then you shouldn’t bring him up, and I thank you for the call tonight, and I appreciate hearing from you.
As you can tell, Ian was such a flippantly arrogant and condescending prick of the highest order. That is, he came off to me as the Biggest Douche Bags of All Douche Bags. As one can easily see, his tone was so callous and cavalier that he was a complete phony, a solid asshole of the new century. I brought up the “open letter” piece to Ian because it was a legitimate story to be discussed, a topic I found to be worthy and interesting in discussing.
First, when I brought up the subject of Cantwell’s ranting letter, Ian provided some history about what started this enormous ruckus in the first place. Yes, what Ian said was right, although I remain convinced that he embellished somewhat on his end, but it’s not that big of a deal to quibble over that part.
Second, when I mentioned George Donnelly interviewing Jody Underwood on his show (although I didn’t mention her name on the air because I couldn’t recall it at the time) and the fact that she was labeling him a “domestic terrorist” (and understandably so given his outlandish behavior he’s exhibited for months on end), Ian had the audacity to ask me, “Well, what’s your interest in this, Todd? It seems like drama to me. Why even talk about it?” It’s like Freeman (formerly known as Bernard) was egging me on by saying, “What’s the point of bringing it up? What do you care? You’re not a Free State Project member, so what makes this your business? Who cares if he’s violent or not?”
As we continued on our discussion of this, he asked this ludicrous question, “Aren’t you bringing more attention to him if you don’t want attention from him? Aren’t you giving him publicity on that?”
Really, Freeman? You’re going to lecture me about why “I shouldn’t bring more attention of him” to the masses if I’m starting the drama and the attention? No, I didn’t open up the effing radio show by giving him more attention. I don’t need to and have to do all of that. He’s succeeded in accomplishing that directive all by himself when he writes bullshit articles like the one he wrote to the FSP.
Darryl W. Perry, the ass clown who stopped talking to me over two years ago because, according to him, I was a “drama queen,” took Ian’s side all the way and didn’t apply any critical thinking and logic to his ideas. It figures as much.
Freeman and Perry have no business dictating to me whether or not I should bring up Cantwell on FTL because Ian is using FCC-licensed public airwaves and taxpayer money is financed to keep GCN on the air, although his show is 100% privately funded and operated on the air. Free Talk Live, for years was a good show until newbies started infesting the show like it contracted a bunch of incurable STDs that sexually active people gave to other people just because they can go to the doctor and get the medications for them. In other words, somewhere along the way, it lost its way, and it’s failed miserably to become the mainstreamed show that it could have been, despite the fact that it is funded heavily by radio show advertisers and a monthly subscription service. Part of that funding also entails Bitcoin funding, which is a controversial funding tool that pro-Liberty activists have adopted as part of their business models.
People who bring up pernicious characters who employ violent rhetoric as if that’s the be-and and end-all to every single problem devised by the State should know better than that. Just because Cantwell can make these public statements doesn’t mean that he’s:
- speaking for the entire Liberty movement, which comprises over 99 percent of activists, new and old;
- clearly in the right with regards to killing cops in broad daylight or at night;
- right in the head, and that he’s *NOT* off his entire rocker;
- caring about Liberty as much in person and online as any activist, and definitely not more than all of them combined; and
- really an anarcho-capitalist or a trustworthy advocate for Liberty and capitalism.
Again, I’m digressing.
Here’s a new idea to Chris Cantwell: if ObamaCare does one thing right, it’s allowed mental health parity and allowing people to get mental health as part of their insurance.
Remember to ask for a straitjacket. I hear ObamaCare will cover it by 100%.