Before search and seizure, Freeman was already in crosshairs

Monitor staff
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Even before police arrived at his home and confiscated his phone and computers Sunday , Ian Freeman was taking heat for his publicly expressed views on the age of sexual consent.

In the wake of Republican state Rep. Kyle Tasker’s arrest this month for allegedly attempting to lure a 14-year-old into a sexual encounter, Freeman made several posts online arguing that some 14-year-olds are mature enough to be entrusted with the responsibility of deciding for themselves to have sex.

“I don’t think there should be some arbitrary, government-chosen age. I think each individual is different,” he said in a phone interview Monday.

Freeman is a libertarian activist and co-host of a nationally syndicated radio show that has promoted the Free State Project, a political migration of libertarians that brought Freeman to New Hampshire.

But last week, the Free State Project cut ties with Freeman, banning him from its events and ending a sponsorship agreement with his show, Free Talk Live.

In a statement, the Free State Project said Freeman’s “statements regarding the age of consent” put the larger movement at risk of being associated with his opinions.

Free State Project President Matt Philips declined to discuss the issue further Monday.

A conversation online among Free Staters revealed a rift in their thinking, with one group agreeing with Freeman. While many chastised his thinking that consensual sex – even when it includes one or more people younger than the legal age of consent – has no “victim,” others came to his defense in lengthy threads on Facebook. Many said they believe the state shouldn’t prosecute victimless crimes.

Freeman noted that he and the bloggers on his site, Free Keene, have long been controversial figures. Although some people have been “on a warpath against me for a long time,” it wasn’t until recently that the Free State Project brass was “pressured by other people in the organization” to take action, he said.

A petition, which was circulated online before it was removed, summarized a change in strategy endorsed by some Free Staters. In calling for the Free State Project to disassociate with Freeman, it noted that the need for attention diminished since the movement reached its long-awaited landmark of 20,000 participants.

“The focus for the FSP must now shift away from obtaining attention, and instead toward building respect,” the post said.

Freeman noted that he’s spent years promoting the Free State Project with his show, but “since they reached the 20,000 (signers), they don’t really have the same goals anymore, so I guess we’re not as valuable.”

Another former Free State Project member, Christopher Cantwell, said he was expelled, too, after he publicly discussed his philosophy that, at some point, it may become morally conscionable to kill agents of the government. He said when local governments arm themselves for violence against nonviolent people, “you might want to think about how you’re going to deal with this, because it’s a little late to vote when (a BearCat armored vehicle) comes to your house. . . . What’s the answer? The answer is at some point to kill government agents.”

Cantwell, who also has a following through his podcast, said in a phone interview Monday that the ideas that got him and Freeman banned from the Free State Project aren’t on the fringe.

In both cases, he said, a group protested and asked to have their names removed from the list of Free State Protect signers, which attained its goal of 20,000 members last month.

With the loss of Freeman’s supporters, some have suggested the real total may have dropped below that milestone.

Cantwell, however, said the detractors won’t be counted.

“When they ostracized me and hundreds of people go to them and say, ‘Take my name off the list.’ They don’t even reply,” he said.

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325 or or on Twitter @NickBReid.)

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