Open Letter to The Free State Project: Stop. Platforming. Racists.

Dear Free Staters, Free State Project Board members, and Porcfest organizers,

What the fuck?!?!

Alright, let me back up because I can see how starting a letter off this way may be a tad… aggressive?

I signed the Pledge back 2012ish. Its been a long time. I have actively participated in FSP events since then, frequently attending Porcfest and Liberty Forum even from over 1,000 miles away. I volunteered every Porcfest I have attended, this is since my first one back in 2014. I volunteered at most of the Liberty Forums I attended. I have spoken about a variety of topics at both Porcfest and Liberty Forum, including my regular: Mental Health First Aid without Law Enforcement Intervention. I love Porcfest and I love contributing to my community by volunteering. In 2017 my polycule and I made the move to New Hampshire for the Free State Project and fulfilled our pledges. We’ve since been fairly active in the community, going to New Mover’s Parties and Market Days when our schedules allow, doing activism with various groups and projects, and continuing our volunteerism.

With all that being said, for years I have debated boycotting Porcfest for one reason or another depending on the year. Ultimately, each year I decided not to boycott for one reason or another. Sometimes it was because while I disagreed strongly with a speaker or topic that my feelings were less important than maintaining the umbrella of liberty. Other times it was because I thought that I could provide a counter to the anti-liberty speakers. I could go into all of the “problematic” people that have been platformed over the years I have attended Porcfest or Liberty Forum but that would likely fill a whole letter by itself and is not a good use of my time or yours.

This year, I finally am boycotting Porcfest. This year, Porcfest organizers decided to platform Tom Woods.

Yas, a LIBERTARIAN event run by and for LIBERTARIANS is platforming a racist conservative who is complicit in the creation of the alt-right pipeline. The Tom Woods who helped found the League of the South, a white nationalist Neo-Confederate white supremacist organization which is basically the KKK in bowties. Tom Woods who wrote a book laughingly called The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, which even Reason Magazine calls “an apologia for the antebellum South and its cause in the War Between the States (Woods’ preferred term).” The very same Tom Woods who in his article “Hey, reporter, look at me I’m against slavery!” doesn’t address the morality of slavery at all, instead choosing to speak about the political risks of being an abolitionist at the time. The man who has defended the Nazi dog-whistle “Blood and Soil” endlessly.

So, I must ask my community, why are you associating with and platforming this racist?

I know and love most of you, I know you aren’t racist. So, why are you ok with hanging out with racists?

Libertarianism means liberty for everyone. It doesn’t mean liberty for me and not for thee. It doesn’t mean liberty for those who look like me or think like me.

You can’t explain this away with “big tent libertarianism,” a big tent means that you disagree with each other over philosophy minutiae or policy, it doesn’t mean that you share the tent with someone who doesn’t believe in your or anyone’s basic humanity. Racism is not compatible with liberty or libertarian thought. Ayn Rand knew this, Hayek knew this, Mises knew this, don’t you?

You can’t explain this away with “free speech,” free speech doesn’t necessitate you grant someone with fundamentally differing views from you a platform.

You can’t explain this away with “freedom of association,” unless you want to associate with a racist, because freedom of association means we are also free to disassociate and we should want to disassociate from racists. If you want to hold an event by and for libertarians to promote libertarian ideas you don’t invite racists.

Personally, I am tired of being associated with racists. I’m boycotting Porcfest 2020 because the organizers don’t share my value of anti-racism and I no longer can be associated with a community who doesn’t share this core value. My libertarianism means liberty for everyone, does yours?

Yours in liberty,
Leslee Ann Petersen

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