In a recent video entitled “R.I.P. PorcFest,” libertarian tax protestor, author and commentator Larken Rose suggests that the Free State Project’s (FSP) annual Porcupine Freedom Festival (PorcFest) may be “dead” because, he says, the FSP Board of Directors (FSP, inc.) is attempting to limit what topics attendees are allowed to discuss.
This is a ridiculous claim. So, here are 4 reasons why PorcFest is alive and kicking. Can you come up with more?
1. Speakers Self-Select
Larken complains that the PorcFest organizers didn’t formally invite him back to speak this year. But PorcFest 2014 has a more DIY, bottom-up and unconference kind of feel. “We are really focusing on the idea that people have all these awesome skills and encouraging them to share them with others rather then us dictating what people come to see and hear,” said one organizer.
Anyone can apply to speak – even Larken! The organizers want to balance the intellectual focus of years past with a more practical, teaching focus this time. It looks like they are injecting more freedom into the event. And freedom is good.
2. Sneak in for Free (if You’re Cheap)
Larken says he is going this year – no matter the lack of an invitation to speak – but that he might not buy a ticket. It actually is possible to get into PorcFest without paying. The event is so awesome, so big, so polycentric and so dynamic, that you can enter the campground without paying for the festival and still have a great time.
You can attend the free AltExpo events. You can patronize the food, craft and other vendors. You can attend those private parties that will have you. You might even be able to sneak into the group picture!
All of this for free, and despite the fact that the FSP rents out the entire campground for PorcFest.
Of course, you won’t be able to attend the official events and you will be a freeloader – which is not cool. It takes a lot of work to make PorcFest happen.
3. Talk about Whatever You Like
Larken implies that the FSP, inc. is banning discussions of the topic of “when and to what degree we have the right to defend ourselves against government aggressors.” But nothing could be further from the truth. They’re not trying to censor your conversations. They do reserve the right to determine which events appear on the official schedule but discuss whatever you like and conversation-hungry, idea-loving libertarians and others will engage with you. That’s how PorcFest is. In fact, here’s a video of Larken Rose engaging in a vibrant conversation at PorcFest 2011.
FSP, inc. president Carla Gericke confirms that there is no censorship, simply a DIY theme this year. (click for screenshot)
A former FSP event organizer says that he was never told whom to invite or not invite. (click for screenshot)
A person affiliated with the AltExpo says that the FSP, inc. has not attempted to control their schedule, either. (click for screenshot)
4. Even its Critics Love PorcFest!
Both Larken and Josie “Wales,” who also appears in the video, say that they expect to have fun at PorcFest 2014, despite the fact that Josie hasn’t been to one before. She says others have told her about how great it is. Clearly, the event’s reputation precedes it.
Even Christopher Cantwell, the blogger and activist who started this little hubbub and is banned from PorcFest, says that it is “the signature event of the libertarian movement.” He has encouraged others to attend.
PorcFest is pretty cool! I’ve attended twice, in 2010 and 2011, and enjoyed myself both times. My son asks me every year if we can go again. Even kids like PorcFest!
Not All Unicorns and Rainbows
That said, PorcFest is not all unicorns and rainbows. There is some genuine chaos that transpires there. For example, in 2011, I rented a commercial space (an RV spot) as well as a camping space. My son planned to sell lemonade – and we did. It was fun. Someone even paid him in Shire Silver. But not until we had to ask some rude people to get out of our spot.
Said rude people also insisted on driving the wrong way down the the tiny lanes between the RV spots and blocking one of the lanes from time to time with their parked van.
Open carry of handguns is ubiquitous at PorcFest. In 2011, I was involved in a verbal altercation (while open-carrying) with someone who verbally harangued me without provocation. An argument ensued and I found myself on the receiving end of a thousand-yard stare from an uninvolved open-carrier. I honestly thought he was going to draw on me even though I had made no aggressive moves towards him or anyone else. Mix guns with excessive drinking and other mind-altering substances and I am a little concerned about what could result. All it takes is one irresponsible party to tarnish the event for years to come.
There are reports that Christopher Cantwell drove while drunk at PorcFest 2012. That’s a situation that should give pause to anyone who is camping as there is nothing stopping vehicles at the campground from driving over sleeping campers except those barriers which the campers manage to erect themselves.
There have also been problems with the campground not keeping the bathrooms and showers clean and in good working condition.
Register for PorcFest Now
It’s not too late to attend PorcFest this year! It runs from June 22nd to the 29th at Roger’s Campground in far north New Hampshire. The location is gorgeous, there’s fun stuff to do and most of the people are extremely pleasant to be around.
There’s more information available at PorcFest.com.
Bonus PorcFest Discussion (with Larken Rose)
For those of us who love to run our mouths about ideas, here is another video of libertarians engaging in uncensored discussions at PorcFest 2011. There’s Larken in the navy blue t-shirt!
7 Bonus Rebuttals of Larken’s Video
Here’s Larken’s “R.I.P. PorcFest” video and here are 7 bonus rebuttals.
- Larken wants the FSP, inc. to explain why they disagree with Christopher Cantwell on the proper use of force against government aggressors (see this interview with FSP board member Jody Underwood to understand the backstory). But they already did! (See the backstory link.) They consider that Cantwell’s advocacy of political violence exceeds their belief that the non-aggression principle (NAP) only permits simple self-defense.
- Larken thinks it is unacceptable for a liberty organization to set ground rules about what speakers may speak about at said organization’s events. But it’s their organization and their event. They can do what they like as long as they don’t initiate violence in the process. Anarchism is against rulers but not legitimately-promulgated rules. Voluntarily-enacted rules and regulations, in fact, are what make liberty work. Rules are essential to civil order. In fact, the NAP easily translates into an important rule: do not initiate violence.
- Larken says that a liberty event is not complete if a discussion on “when and to what degree we have the right to defend ourselves against government aggressors” (use of force) is left out. If that’s how Larken feels about it, then he should hold or patronize an event that fulfills his requirement. But he has no business imposing his standards on others. His claim is not only debatable, but there have also been plenty of perfectly legitimate libertarian events without that topic on the schedule.
- Larken implies that the FSP, inc. is banning “discussions” of the topic of use of force. He goes so far as to say that his and Josie’s discussions of this topic at PorcFest will be secret. But this misrepresents what the FSP, inc. has said. They don’t want to ban discussions of the topic among attendees, they simply (probably) do not want the topic to be on the official schedule. That’s a big difference.
- Josie claims in the video that “the general consensus … is that the opinion of the Free State Project board board does not reflect the opinion of almost all of the free staters.” This is an audacious claim given that there are over 15,000 people who have pledged to move to New Hampshire as part of the Free State Project. Did someone poll them? No. And this claim is frivolous.
- Josie’s claim implies that the FSP, inc. is an organization whose job is to represent FSP members. But it’s not. When I pledged to move to New Hampshire, I never agreed to any contract wherein I traded something in return for a vote in FSP, inc. matters. Verify this for yourself by pledging to move to New Hampshire today.
- Josie says in the video, “I don’t understand how the Free State board can pretend to represent or pretend to care about what these people who are moving their lives who have signed this petition to support them and move them and further their cause to kind of censor what they can and cannot hear.” But the FSP, inc. are not censoring anything. They may be exercising their freedom of association and/or they may have a vision for PorcFest that they intend to realize, but they are not censoring anything or anyone.
Let’s Get Real
If, in reality, the FSP, inc. would do whatever it takes to keep a use of force presentation off of the official PorcFest schedule, then who can blame them?
Concord, NH police claim that FSPers are domestic terrorists. FSPers actually live in New Hampshire. They have risked their lives on a noble experiment. Their kids, their homes, their work is all there. But the ones who are complaining – Christopher Cantwell, Larken Rose and Josie “Wales” – live hundreds of miles away from New Hampshire.
Here’s your Use of Force Conversation-Starter
Larken and Christopher have said that they just want to have a conversation about the use of force. They want to use PorcFest as their platform for this. But they should put their money where their mouths are and just hold the conversation. They can hold it online via blog posts, videos, podcasts or video streaming (such as justin.tv). They can do it during PorcFest but outside of the campground. Hell, they could sell tickets for it!
If they were able to draw a large number of people out of PorcFest and into their use of force event, it would embarrass the FSP, inc. It would prove their claims that people really do want to talk about this and that the FSP, inc. bad guys are suppressing it.
In any case, I threw down the gauntlet on use of force months ago but neither Larken nor Christopher nor dozens of irate commenters have managed to rebut my arguments. Maybe they can’t?
The Official Arm your Mind for Liberty Use-of-Force Conversation Starter Kit
Here it is. Rebut it – if you can.
11 Reasons to Draft-Dodge the Libertarian Guerrilla Army
The Responsibility of the Megaphone
When you become a prominent person, one who picks up the megaphone of the internet through blogs, videos, podcasts or any other media which makes your voice reach more people, you acquire a responsibility to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But Larken and Josie are careless with the truth in their “R.I.P. PorcFest” video. This only makes it harder for people to build, instead of tear down, in the liberty community. And we are in desperate need of more building. Make your name as a builder, not a destroyer, because the journey to liberty is going to be a long and arduous one.
And it’ll be a lot more fun if we can get along with each other on the way there.
Bonus: Drone Video of PorcFest
Here is some drone video of the campground where PorcFest is held, during PorcFest 2013.