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Koch-supported topless rights activist Cassidy Nicosia

What has gone under-appreciated in the media frenzy over John Charles “Don’t Touch My Junk” Tyner III is that he was preceded in his online activism by one Meg “Smeg” McLain, who first raised a shitstorm over her personal traumatic experience of being physically violated whole days before Tyner embarked upon his hunting trip. On a libertarian radio show to which she regularly contributes, McLain shared her Orwellian tale of being “singled out” for a body scan and when she refused, placed in solitary confinement and submitted to a 30-minute lecture about terrorism at the hands of a nasty TSA apparatchik who mocked her for having “opinions” and ripped her plane ticket in half before summoning 12 fellow agents and cops to handcuff her and drag her out of the airport. The only reason this wasn’t a wayyyyy sexier story than Don’t Touch My Junk guy was that it seemed—after all, as one of the libertarian hosts pointed out, McLain is “smokin’ hot” albeit in a “Nickelback on iPod” sort of way—was because the TSA quickly released surveillance video suggesting that maybe McLain had, in her post-traumatic state, stretched the truth juuuust a bit.

But Das Krapital would much like to see McLain re-instated as the lead star of the #tsa meme—not least because she belongs to Free Keene, an intriguing community of liberty activists in Keene, N.H., probably best-known for its organization, in warmer months, of a ritual called Topless Tuesdays, in which young libertarian ladies, led by the lovely (and libertar-ially tattooed) Cassidy Nicosia, parade through the streets exposing their nipples like the socialists used to, sometimes while carrying guns.

I can’t find McLain in the movement’s relatively chaste footage of these inspiring acts of civil disobedience, but Keene is a very small town—so small the Free Keene movement’s goal of getting 20,000 “liberty minded” people to move there would nearly double the population. So it’s no surprise that McLain and Nicosia are friends on Facebook and, most likely, judging from their mutual attendance at this 420-themed thing and probably a bunch of other events extensively documented on the Internet that I don’t have time to find right now, in real life also. But since McLain seems like the Free Keene movement’s designated airport anarchist—according to this interview she often attempts to fly without showing ID—it was probably a good idea to “opt out” of getting herself arrested for flashing her tits to the general public before she got the opportunity to be arrested for refusing to show them to the TSA.

The Free Keene movement was founded by a political science professor at SUNY Buffalo named Jason Sorens, an affiliated scholar of the ardently free-market Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which was in turn funded, and is bankrolled in large part, by famous billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. The project dates back to 2001, when Sorens, then a Yale PhD., published an essay in the Libertarian Enterprise calling for a “secessionist” project by which all the nation’s foes of big government would migrate to various clusters of freedom scattered across the union with the goal of eventually annexing territories and liberating them from laws, or something like that. The essay made the rounds, and the next year Sorens got a fellowship from the Institute for Humane Studies, which is also located at George Mason and funded by Charles and David Koch. There, Sorens had rebranded his “secession” movement into something called the Free States Project, which proceeded to host a 10-state convention tour of sorts to determine the ideal location to host a kind of Zionist movement for disenfranchised lovers of liberty. A 2003 dispatch from one of the locales in running, Missoula, Mont., attracted “a broad array of individuals”:

A gun rights leader, an anarchist, a homeschooling advocate, parents with children, a man who has skipped paying taxes for five years and turned his skin blue by overdosing on colloidal silver in preparation for Y2K, the black editor of SierraTimes.com who jokes about being accused of advocating white supremacy, a man with a swastika tattooed on his forearm, a devout Jewish couple, a closeted Wisconsin environmentalist in league with Earth First!, an angry Californian who is ready to start shooting environmentalists, secessionists from the U.S. and Alberta, a staunch constitutionalist, a man who thinks the Bill of Rights should be truncated to its first five words (“Congress shall make no law”), a guy who came to “meet chicks,” two Montana Republican legislators and somewhere, doubtless, a partridge in a pear tree.

But Sorens, who also got help from another Koch scholar named Peter Eyre, eventually fixed on New Hampshire, where according to this story the nebulous movement proceeded buying up properties under the names of various limited liability corporations.

At some point the movement migrated south from Grafton, N.H., to Keene, and Sorens delegated responsibility to Ian “Freeman” Bernard, the host of a syndicated radio show called Free Talk Live and an apparently brilliant guerilla marketing mind. Since he joined the movement, the Keeniacs have garnered national attention for stunts like Topless Tuesdays and calling for intellectual comrades to drink alcohol on public property in protest of the tyranny that is the local open container statute. On the subtler side, Bernard seems to have wooed the hearts and minds of liberty minded individuals turned off by the Tea Party Movement, like this user on the Free Keene message boards, who says:

My initial impression of the FSP was mixed.  While I liked the ideas presented and I was already interested in NH for the last few years, I thought the FSP looked like some sort of “Tea Party/Quasi Hippie” movement which didn’t appeal to me. It wasn’t until I started listening to FTL near the beginning of the year that I warmed up to the idea of the FSP and gave the site and more importantly Free Keene another look.  I think I speak for many when I say the content on this site is tremendous and all of the media is what really made a difference for me.  Seeing activism first hand and what motivated liberty-loving people can do is not only what hooked me but what gave me hope.  My exposure to Ian’s message of peace and love is what helped me move past the anger and fear that I used to have and that seemed to be pervasive in another forum I used to frequent.

Or this one, Future mover, who is planning to move to Keene from Memphis, Tenn., in response to feeling “taxed to death” and embittered over local government subsidies of an NBA stadium:

We can either sit back and wait for things to get better or worse, or we can take action and quit being victims to the advances of power the state takes every day. Sam’s incarceration has made it evident to me that we’re not living in a free country. The only reason I’m not sitting in jail myself is because I have chosen to play their game, to live my life as the establishment sees fit. We’re taxed to death here in Tennessee and most people don’t ever see it that way. There is a 9.25% sales tax on just about everything. When I struggle to pay debts, student loans, cloth, feed, and house my family, I’m also being forced to pay for a multitude of programs that don’t benefit me or my family. In fact, some of those programs I’m morally opposed to. Why should I continue to submit to these tyrannies at the expense of the family I’m responsible for?

But not so fast! As an “experienced Keeniac” quickly pointed out to the optimistic newcomer on the thread, “the poor” who rely on “government handouts” actually pay less in Tennessee than New Hampshire. And anyway, New Hampshire capital gains taxes will probably be raised soon anyway, putting liberty and freedom in greater peril than ever before, etc., etc. (Which is of course bullshit, since it was sales taxes the poor guy was complaining about, and there are no sales taxes in New Hampshire.) But anyway, maybe taxes weren’t so much the issue, after all; later down on the thread, the Memphis guy cops to the real reason he wants to leave:

I realize things won’t be much better in NH immediately, but I see hope for NH. Tennesseans are caught in this left-right paradigm and the xenophobia and saber-rattling I saw at the Memphis Tea Party really sickened me. At least in NH we can have friends that view the world the same way we do, logically and rationally.

So it goes in today’s money = speech media landscape; if one brand of Koch-funded cult of misinformation starts to seem a little too vulgar and mass for your tastes, you can always upgrade to the next one! It’s just like switching from Toyota to Lexus, or Old Navy to Gap. Except in this case, your brand loyalty won’t actually buy you anything but more of the same old kleptocracy. And maybe, eventually, if Koch gets its way, the repeal of all those silly open container laws, because there will cease to exist any more public property on which Cassidy and her fellow Keeniacs might venture to violate them. Presumably that is the utopian vision Sorens had in mind when he founded the Free State enterprise. And if the Mercatus Center freedom index he co-authored last year—proclaiming New Hampshire the “most free” of all fifty states—can be trusted, it is well on its way to being achieved.

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