“Just go out and do things to promote the Free State Project. Don’t ask for permission. We don’t work like that. Just go out and be a doer.” This is the message I got, with a knowing chuckle, from Free State Project insiders nearly two years ago. I was a Free State Project newbie and everything about it was exciting. So I took their advice and, among other things, created a fan page on Facebook for the Free State Project. I added several insiders as admins and went to work. I posted, answered people’s questions, corrected misconceptions, invited people and checked daily for spam. I did my best to motivate people to move to New Hampshire. I had the help of two other FSPers for a time.
The Free State Project has a policy. They promote people moving to New Hampshire but they don’t promote any activism beyond that. I had a hard time wrapping my head around this at first. I got in trouble for creating an event as part of the Free State Project page. I posted something else that ticked off FSP officials. Life went on.
“If you want to be a Free State Project representative, you’ll need to at least want to make an effort to do so appropriately. If you don’t, then you’re violating Facebook’s terms by being an admin for an organization you don’t represent.” – Varrin Swearingen, president of the Free State Project
The page accumulated 11,000 fans. It was a great success. Then I made three posts about the Baby Cheyenne controversy. (The posts of Facebook page admins appear to be from the page itself, so the author of mine appeared as “Free State Project”.) They were among the most popular ever. They were very relevant to FSP members. But FSP president Varrin Swearingen took issue with them (and many others). He claimed complete power over the page even though he never contributed to it. His hierarchical approach conflicted with the entrepreneurial advice I was given earlier.
Varrin demanded I post only within his strictly limited guidelines. I had a different vision for the page, a more expansive one. One that had achieved 11,000 fans and considerable buzz. Varrin demanded I hand the page over to him. Then he threatened to tell Facebook I was not an official representative of the Free State Project. That could get my entire facebook profile deleted.
I posted Varrin’s correspondence to my facebook profile. He lied about the threats he made. Jason Sorens joined the conversation with the claim that upon becoming a member of the Free State Project, I agreed to do what Varrin said. Jason told me I was just a volunteer. I’m not an FSP volunteer. I’m a social media entrepreneur (among other things). I don’t remember anything in the FSP statement of intent about following the organization’s orders.
That page was my baby. I worked on it almost every day for almost two years. I did it on my own initiative, as I was encouraged to do. I didn’t do it as a volunteer for the Free State Project. I don’t invest time in something so people with official titles can take it from me with only nasty attitudes as my recompense.
“Varrin is the President of the FSP; he gets ultimate say on these because that’s what we all agreed to when we signed up with the organization. You’re a volunteer, and it’s great that you started this page, but we’re all working for the FSP, not for ourselves.” – Jason Sorens
Varrin Swearingen and Jason Sorens made me feel like crap because I played a leading role in developing a nice promotional tool for the Free State Project. They took an officious tone with me and pretended to be my boss. Instead of treating me like an equal, they dictated to me. Instead of treating me like a human being, Varrin threatened me. Instead of acting with honor, Varrin lied about his threats. He did not retract them. There is no way I will allow my work to fall into the hands of these people.
I couldn’t hold on to the page either, because Varrin could get my Facebook profile deleted. He threatened to tell Facebook I wasn’t an official representative of the Free State Project. That would be a terms of service violation. Between a rock and a hard place, and after waiting several hours for Varrin to retract his threats, I finally deleted the page.
Some might not get the fact that I won’t stand for parasites like Varrin and Jason. Lots of parasites have fed off of me in my 40 years. I don’t stand for it anymore. I don’t care if these parasites are bosses, politicians, bureaucrats or a couple of penny ante thugs with a title and a sense of entitlement. Is it childish? Prideful? That’s for you, the reader, to decide. As for me, I sleep well at night knowing I’m not food for bloodsuckers. That’s part of my liberty activism.
P.S. Varrin alleged publicly that I deleted the threads about this from my Facebook profile. That’s another lie. If you care to read the backstory, here are the private message threads and related materials. The public discussion threads are on my Facebook profile for any of my 1200 connections to see. (I accept new connections from those interested in liberty.) Some of the below images are very large and you may have to click on them to zoom in.