Talking to the Man Who Brought a Gun to an Obama Event, Part Two
This is the second part of the William Kostric interview. Since most Americans (myself included) have the attention span of a… gnat, perhaps you would like to be reminded about who William Kostric is. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
On August 11, 2009, William Kostric — a New Hampshire resident and “Free State Project” participant — was seen carrying a holstered sidearm openly while participating in a protest at a town hall meeting of President Barack Obama at Portsmouth High School in New Hampshire. Kostric never attempted to enter the venue of the town hall, but rather stood some distance away, on the private property of a nearby church, where he had permission to be. He held up a sign reading, “It Is Time to Water the Tree of Liberty!”
…In [a later] interview with ‘The Ridley Report,’ [Kostric] mentioned that he wishes for “30, 40, 50, 100 open [gun] carriers” at public protests and demonstrations.
And here is a video of Chris Matthews freaking out about the above-mentioned incident:
In the first part of the interview (which you can read here), Mr. Kostric and I discussed gun-rights and Miley Cyrus (for some reason). In this second part of the interview, Mr. Kostric sits down with “The Faster Times” to debate everyone’s favorite topic…
The Faster Times: So last time, we talked about the town-hall “incident,” and about guns and stuff. (Probably a bad idea on my part, since I am that hypothetical liberal who wants to get rid of all guns.) Anyway, let’s move on from all of that, and talk about… politics! Politics, politics, politics! …So how do you feel about Obama? How do you feel about the direction that our country is headed in?
William Kostric: Personally, I think Obama is a very charismatic speaker. I can certainly see why people are attracted to him, though I’m surprised at his politics in general, since he has taught classes in constitutional law.
I haven’t felt that our country has been headed in the right direction since I first took notice of politics. In fact, it was only because I thought things were going so poorly that I took any notice of politics at all. Certainly when things are going our way we tend to become complacent.
I campaigned for the impeachment of Clinton. I campaigned for the impeachment of Bush. I’m not fond of Obama’s policies and I’m sure I’d dislike McCain’s just as much (I did live in Arizona).
TFT: See, that’s cool(-ish). I’d much rather deal with someone who just hates all politicians than with someone like Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin, who just seem robotically programmed to say: “Everything Bush did… good! Everything Obama does… bad!” I mean, we’ve got O’Reilly and Hannity and Glenn Beck complaining now that the Obama administration is trying to become Big Brother. That Obama is trying to monitor Americans and steal their computers and houses (via, in this particularly silly example, the Cash for Clunkers program.)
…But these are the same guys who supported Bush’s warrantless wire-tapping program. And they were like: “Awesome idea, President Bush, way to go! And by the way, anyone who is against wiretapping of citizens is a traitor who wants the terrorists to win…”
WK: I couldn’t agree more about people who supported Bush and his policies. The spending was ridiculous, the Patriot Act was B.S… and forget about No Child Left Behind. I’m not sure he did anything right. One of my favorite T-shirts says “Bush, the worst president in history, till now.”
TFT: …So, but — let’s just get down to “brass tacks.” (As people who use expressions from the 1920s say.) …You think our country is headed towards Fascism, right? Or Totalitarianism. Either/or. But you think that’s where we’re headed, right?
WK: Hmm, I’m not sure what we’re heading for technically falls under either of those definitions. I think maybe we’re creating a whole new category of crappy inefficient intrusive government. Is the label really all that important?
TFT: “A whole new category of crappy inefficient intrusive government.” Geez, man. I feel like you’re winning me over here. …But you are a member of a group that advocates secession — that is at least considering the idea of New Hampshire seceding from the union. So you must feel that things have gotten pretty bad.
WK: The Free State Project does not advocate secession. From their website:
“The Free State Project is an agreement among 20,000 pro-liberty activists to move to New Hampshire, where they will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property. The success of the Project would likely entail reductions in taxation and regulation, reforms at all levels of government, to expand individual rights and free markets, and a restoration of constitutional federalism, demonstrating the benefits of liberty to the rest of the nation and the world.”
I did, however, attend The Middlebury Institute convention this year.
TFT: Well, but… “The Free State Project” was started by a secessionist. In fact, the founding document of the organization starts with the words “Let’s secede!″ Although later on the founder backtracked and said that he may have “overemphasize[d] the possibility of secession.”
WK: Yeah, well, you’ll have to talk to Jason [the founder of the Project] about that. Bottom line? I didn’t sign up with an organization that claims secession as one of its goals and it’s not what I spend my time working towards.
TFT: Actually, I thought that the whole “Free State Project” was kind of interesting. Basically, what the founder of the movement said was: “Look, hard-core Libertarians only make up about 3% of the population. We’re never gonna win any elections.” So what the Project does is, it encourages Libertarians to all band together and move to… in this case, New Hampshire, so that maybe they can become a local majority. So it’s sort of like the Amish or the Mormons banding together — except in this case, instead of people who like beards or Jesus, it’s people coming together who hate the income tax and driver’s licenses.
WK: That’s the gist of it. I mean, why do we need a one size fits all plan? People have different beliefs and goals in life. Nevada has gambling and prostitution. California may soon have completely decriminalized marijuana. New Hampshire already is the only state with no seatbelt law, one of the few with no mandatory auto insurance and no state income tax, etc… If people want a nanny state, let them have a nanny state. Why do they need a nanny country? We want a free state.
TFT: I was talking to my next-door neighbor about you the other day, and I was like: “Hey, I think I finally figured this guy out. He’s like… a hippie.” And then my neighbor was confused. But it was like, “No, see, he’s part of this minority group that are just really really into the things that they’re into.” In the case of hippies: Phish and bean sprouts. In your case: gun rights, for instance.
WK: I like Phish and bean sprouts! Most hippies are cool because they generally have a live-and-let-live attitude. Some lean too much towards socialism just because they don’t understand the economics of it, or that they’re actually hurting the very people they’re trying to help. I also am concerned about the environment, I’d just rather use voluntary solutions to fix our problems instead of coercion.
It’s very difficult to pigeon-hole Freestaters as a group. We have everything from Christian conservatives to Mormons to Pagans and anarchists. The tie that binds is a belief in self-ownership. While some Freestaters might not own or even like firearms, none would support outlawing them. Many would not support drug use, but none would think that someone should be locked in a cage for doing so (especially at taxpayer expense). Follow this line of thinking for just about every issue.
TFT: It’s just nice to see someone in a group like the Freestaters acknowledge the fact that yes; they are in a minority. And look, I have plenty of weird minority views. (Like legalizing drugs, for instance.) But so often, all of this right-wing, Tea Party stuff gets pitched as: “Well, all REAL, GOOD Americans feel this way.” Well, no. They don’t. There was a democratic election, for instance. And the Republicans lost. Sorry, guys, but you did. But now so many people on the Right are complaining about tyranny, as though losing an election to the Democrats somehow equals an evil tyrannical reign. Um, no, guys. That’s not tyranny. I think Jon Stewart puts it best: “I think you’re confusing tyranny with losing.”
WK: Ah, well now you’ve gone and pushed a button. America is not a democracy. It was never meant to be one.
…At the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 18, 1787, Mrs. Powel anxiously awaited the results, and as Benjamin Franklin emerged from the long task now finished, asked him directly: ”Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic if you can keep it” responded Franklin.
“Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. Liberty is two wolves attempting to have a sheep for dinner and finding a well-informed, well-armed sheep.”
—James Bovard, Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty
For more on this, watch (and understand?) this Philosophy of Liberty video.
TFT: Oh noes! Now YOU’VE gone and pushed a button. What do you mean, “America is not a democracy. It was never meant to be one.” …And doesn’t your quote imply that “Liberty” is better than “Democracy”?
WK: I mean exactly that. People pledge allegiance to the Republic for which it stands, not to the democracy for which it stands. The terms republic and democracy are not synonymous.
…But what is liberty? Do you want full liberty? Like, no government? You want to go all Ayn Rand on our asses? You want to grow your own food? I’ve worked on a farm. I’ve grown my own food and slaughtered animals for meat. I’ll discuss how much fun that was in just a second. But, what? You want to go back to the 17th century? No centralized government? No federally-run highways, parks? No Food and Drug Administration keeping us from being poisoned by horrible stuff? No Social Security keeping old people from gradually starving to death? (As they did in, say, the 1920s.) Doesn’t the entire history of the world tell us that — yeah, government sucks. But the alternative sucks even worse. Those are our sucky options. Crappy government or even crappier non-government. In the Middle Ages, we had very Libertarian government. And people starved to death in the streets. And if life in America was so great before we had, say, a federal program to keep bridges from collapsing, then wouldn’t people have stuck with that?
WK: Umm, how long did you want this interview to be? I see at least eleven assertions that I would disagree with but which would need several paragraphs each to deal with properly. That’s part (the main part?) of the reason why Libertarianism is such a rare political philosophy. It doesn’t break down well into sound bites. There’s some serious thinking involved, tracing the presumption to its source and following conclusions to their logical ends.
TFT: I want this interview to be really long! So long that only the most committed among us can make it to the end without dying of boredom. But ANY-way. …Government is a necessary evil, is all I’m saying. Go out in a field and hoe potatoes for ten hours, is all I’m saying. Go and create your own garbage dump, is all I’m saying. Go and build your own roads, is all I’m saying. Libertarians are cute, because they never actually have to follow through on the stuff that they say they’re gonna do. I’ve stood out in the sun for ten hours digging up crops. Not fun. But if you guys want to go and try that, then no one’s stopping you, am I right? But you don’t, right? You work as a salesman, and you have a car and you drive on federal highways, and we’re doing this interview on the Internet, which started as a government-created program, and it’s all not really that awful, now is it?
WK: Well now if everything is so darn peachy, I guess we really don’t need Obama and his change, now do we? But, you don’t really think everything is hunky dory, do you? See most people agree on the problems, what I disagree with is the efficacy of the proposed solutions.
I don’t believe evil is necessary. I don’t believe slavery is necessary. I don’t believe coercion is necessary. In fact, I believe the world would be a better place without these things and that’s what I’ll continue to work towards.
TFT: Hey, well… now I feel like a jerk. Fantastic. That’s one thing that Libertarians and Liberals alike can agree on, though… the fact that I’m a jerk. Okay, we’re going to close this out with some stupid questions.
First of all, my pal Erin wants to know if girls have been hitting on you since this whole gun thing started. Also if you’ve gotten any crazy job offers or anything like that.
WK: Nah, there’s not a big demand for dudes from the lunatic fringe with beady eyes and no health insurance. …Am I gonna get paid for this?
TFT: You don’t have beady eyes! Oy. Geez. Okay, let’s move away from that. …And now… all right, let’s close this interview out with the overly-touchy-feely questions that the pretentious guy asks on “Inside the Actors Studio.” Here you go:
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What is your favorite curse word?
Fuck. It’s so versatile.
What sound or noise do you love?
The clink of high-quality poker chips.
What sound or noise do you hate?
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A dozen or so.
What profession would you not like to do?
Anything paid for by money extorted from taxpayers.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
I’m sorry. No really, that’s what I’d like him to say.
TFT: …Mr. Kostric, it’s been a real pleasure. Sincerely. You are a way nice guy, and I hope that this venture into the world of the liberal media hasn’t been too awful for you.
WK: …I’d like to thank everyone who read this with an open mind. I’d also like to thank the editors of “The Faster Times” for providing a platform on which to voice a dissenting opinion and Oliver Miller for being patient with someone who seems philosophically so far away (yet in practice, likely much closer than it would first appear).
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