For several years now, Keene activists have been “Robin Hooding”. Robin Hooding is the act of putting coins in parking meters ahead of the meter maid, to avoid letting the parking enforcer write a ticket to the owner of the vehicle. We’re certainly not the first ones to do it, but we’re arguably the most successful at it. It has actually become a full time paying job for a number of activists, thanks to a generous early Bitcoin adopter by the name of James Cleaveland. I’m using “we” rather loosely, despite a great deal of attention being paid to me lately, I didn’t do much of this, actually. But I wish I had.
The constant nature of this form of activism here in Keene has garnered us a great deal of publicity. CBS, Fox News, the front page of the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Esquire, Globe and Mail, Inside Edition, it was the top story of 2013 in the local Keene Sentinel Newspaper, the ACLU got involved, and honestly I can’t even be bothered to link to all the radio interviews and podcasts and the rest. Check out the “Robin Hood” category on FreeKeene.com for more. They have done a superb job of documenting every step of this entire story.
Most recently the activism saw its biggest audience yet, over a million people, on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report”. Comedy Central being a far left outfit existing for little other than making government look good, Colbert unsurprisingly tried to make us look like terrible people. We knew that when we signed the waivers, that’s comedy. We were just happy for the exposure.
Some people just don’t understand how media works. That’s understandable. What’s not understandable is the cannibalistic backlash we saw from other libertarians who just don’t seem to understand what we’re doing here. So let me explain it, since you folks seem to have such short attention spans.
The activism became such a huge loss of revenue for the city of Keene, that they sued the Robin Hooders. There is no law against Robin Hooding in Keene. Anybody can fill anybody’s meter, but the loss of revenue was too much for the city to bear. So the city instead tried to lodge a frivolous civil suit in the hopes that it would cause the Robin Hooders to back down. No such luck for the city, the Robin Hooders stood their ground, and risked their freedom and property to fight the case in court. The city ultimately got their lawsuit dismissed on first amendment grounds after sinking a ton of taxpayer money into the frivolous suit.
Robin Hood “Mastermind” James Cleaveland estimates it has costed the city upwards of $80,000 in lost revenue, which is a huge chunk of change for a city like Keene. Liberals understandably get upset about this because they obviously think the government having money is a good thing. Conservatives tend to prefer fines to taxes, so they got upset because they want their government services without paying for them. Libertarians would tend to agree that this money is better off in the hands of the motorists who actually earned it, or at least, they should, if they weren’t caught up in liberal media hysteria and trying to bring down their fellow libertarians.
This is not, and has never been about free parking. Robin Hood didn’t “steal from the rich and give to the poor” he took back from the government what had been taken from the people through taxation. Anybody who had followed the case would have known that, but since people are memorized by liberal comedians and have short attention spans, this seems to escape them.
In a free society, I imagine there will be a limitless number of ways in which people handle parking vehicles. That tends to be how markets work. People get choices, and I don’t know why that bothers people so much. Hell, maybe once we do away with the FAA we can all have personal flying machines and skip this whole “Who will build the roads?” crap altogether. In the meantime, the reality in Keene and in many places throughout the world is that states and municipalities monopolize the parking through government force, and use it as a revenue generator. In Downtown Keene, a business owner does not have the choice of providing parking for his customers, if he did, I would not have a problem with paying to park. Libertarianism is about property rights, and the owner of the property sets the rules and fee schedules.
Government doesn’t actually exist. If you think it does, then touch it. Let me know how that works out for you. This entire idea of the State means as much to me as an anarchist, as the idea of a God means to me as an atheist. That which does not exist cannot own property. Since the people claiming to be the government took it by force, they have no legitimate claim to it. Since they have no legitimate claim to it, then their threats of stealing cars from people who don’t pay meters are extortion. It is initiatory violence against peaceful people who have done nothing to harm anyone, I find this infuriating, and I think all decent people should find it the same.
I’m from New York. I have paid thousands of dollars for parking in Manhattan over the course of my lifetime. In privately owned garages. I have no problem with putting a nickel in a meter when I go to grab a soda. What I have a problem with is that money going to a government that builds prisons, incarcerates people for owning plants, kills people, and is the most local part of a global system of coercion that enslaves the entire human race, and will continue to do so until mankind’s extinction, if somebody doesn’t do something to stop it!
Call it petty if you want, believe me when I tell you I wish we had the resources to do much more against that system, but this is something that anybody can actually do to put a meaningful dent in that system. I think the desperation of the municipal government here was evidenced rather strikingly by their frivolous lawsuit against the Robin Hooders. City Councilman Randy Filiault claimed in the video the Colbert Report aired, that the city was suing Robin Hooders because they “harassed” meter maids. That’s just plainly and obviously not true, because I was the one who did all the “harassing“, yet I was not party to the suit.
This was evident not only in the Colbert video, but also in the sloppily edited mess the city put together for their lawsuit, which they pulled video for from my YouTube Channel to put together. So the city knew this, and yet I was not party to the suit. The city didn’t sue me for harassment, they sued the quiet Robin Hooders who costed the city money. I came and got my video a few times, then went on about my business. The city didn’t care that I made life hell for their employees. They only cared enough to sue when it costed their coffers $80k+.
As to that “harassment” I’ll say it flat out. Yes, I wanted to make those people’s lives miserable. I don’t approve of their behavior and I want to discourage them from engaging in it. I want people who cause harm to their neighbors to be ostracized from society, or change their ways. I’m glad Alan Givetz quit his job, and I’m absolutely ecstatic to hear that he thought being a meter maid in Keene was worse than being a weapon of war in Iraq. Maybe if we can discourage victimizing innocent people at home, they’ll be less likely to invade a foreign country and murder a million people they never would have otherwise met.
Because that’s ultimately what this boils down to, ladies and gentlemen. The State itself. We’re not fighting for free parking, we’re fighting war, and taxation, and oppression the world over. To some it might look like a small stand that has been taken here, some might even call it petty. But it’s still a bigger stand than most of you are willing to take, and I’m proud to be a part of it. Maybe you come tell me about how badly I’m hurting “the movement” after you make some headlines, run for office, suffer extreme financial hardship, go to jail, get threatened, assaulted, and sued. In the meanwhile, I’ll rest comfortably at night knowing that me and my people are doing far more than our fair share of work for the cause.
Oh, and to Carla Gericke, FSP Inc., and the rest of you “movement” image worry warts… I won’t hold my breath for a “thank you”, but you’re welcome nonetheless.
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