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The greater threat: Free Staters or dictators?

January 12. 2013 11:41PM

In 2001, some libertarians thought they could secure the maximum amount of personal liberty for themselves if they convinced like-minded people to move en masse to one state. They chose New Hampshire for the combination of its "Live free or die" ethos and its small size. Their goal was to have 20,000 people move here, a state with 1.3 million people, making them a whopping 1.5 percent of the population. In 11 years, about 1,000 have come. At this rate, they will reach their goal in 220 years.

And yet this movement is what some on New Hampshire's far left consider an existential threat. Last month, Democratic state Rep. Cynthia Chase of Keene posted this comment on the liberal blog BlueHampshire: "In the opinion of this Democrat, Free Staters are the single biggest threat the state is facing today. There is, legally, nothing we can do to prevent them from moving here to take over the state, which is their openly stated goal. In this country you can move anywhere you choose and they have that same right. What we can do is to make the environment here so unwelcoming that some will choose not to come, and some may actually leave. One way is to pass measures that will restrict the 'freedoms' that they think they will find here...."

Had the comment not come from an elected state representative, it would be laughable. But when a member of the majority party in the House of Representatives openly advocates restricting personal freedoms for the purposes of molding the electorate to her liking, alarm bells ought to ring.

As demonstrated last week, some Free Staters are indeed radical. Local radio host Rich Girard included a Manchester Free Stater and city police Officer Dan Dougherty, who was shot multiple times while pursuing a suspect, in an online poll asking listeners who should be the person of the year. Some people identifying themselves as Free Staters said vile things about Officer Doughtery in particular and police officers in general.

It is true that some in the Free State movement consider themselves "voluntaryists," not libertarians. They believe that even the existence of police officers and prisons is a violation of their rights. But in our experience over the last decade, they are not representative of the movement as a whole (though they are very vocal in Keene, home of Rep. Chase, which might give her a skewed view of the entire movement).

To think that these few misguided souls are a grave threat to the State of New Hampshire is silly.

A much greater threat lies in the dictatorial impulses of legislators who find it permissible to reshape the electorate in their favor through the selective dismemberment of our liberties.

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