How NOT to do Illegal Liberty Activism

If you’re going to engage in activism that’s illegal, be prudent. Don’t videotape it. Don’t publish it on your YouTube account. Don’t show yourself doing it. Don’t leave fingerprints! Don’t show your silhouette at the scene of the crime. And whatever you do, don’t publish evidence of your presence at the scene of the crime at the time of the crime! Going to jail is not fun. It’s expensive. It’s painful. If you can avoid it, don’t incriminate yourself. At least make the thugs break a sweat.

I am a huge fan of Pete and Adam, but they screwed up with this video. They incriminated themselves in vandalism of stop signs in the Atlanta area. Libertarian activists often find ourselves in the grey area between lawful and legal. If your activism might be illegal, don’t talk about it with untrusted associates. Certainly don’t broadcast it to the world. Oh and don’t allow a third party to post to your website the name of the person who is distributing the stickers! Come on people. Discretion is the better part of valor.

Pete and Adam are happy with their video as it stands. But if anyone is thinking of repeating their work, my hypothetical advice is do the op, shoot the video but don’t show the stickers being placed. Show them only after they’ve been placed. Use gloves so there won’t be fingerprints. Place them somewhere you are never known to frequent. Don’t show any landmarks in the area. Before you publish the video, make sure to remove any metadata that might connect it to you or your camera. Publish it through a proxy or Tor using a one-off throwaway YouTube account. Let someone else discreetly break the story in social media.

Going to jail for a cause is noble. Going to jail because you weren’t discreet is a downer. Choose wisely.

P.S. Don’t get me wrong. I love Pete and Adam. I’ve learned a lot from them. They are at the cutting edge of liberty activism, especially for accelerating it with online video. For some of their other videos, see:

25 October 2010
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