Ian Freeman, former member of the Free State Project, creator of the Shire Society organization, liberty activist in New Hampshire, former Democratic candidate for governor in the same state, facilitator of bitcoin machines across the New England area, is a scumbag.

You wouldn’t know it to look at him though. At first glance, he appears to be a normal person. Anyone passing him on the street wouldn’t be able to pick him out as being a horrible human being. He dresses well. He is well-spoken, and often well-behaved. That’s only the mask that he wears for the benefit of others, though.

Online, in various social media outlets, he generally uses his following through freekeene.com and his various social media accounts to repeatedly take jabs at the Free State Project- a libertarian group that invites 20,000 participants to move to New Hampshire for the purpose of creating a free, libertarian state. The group, colloquially known as the FSP, doesn’t have a set plan or single idea for how this is supposed to happen. It’s up to the participants themselves to figure out how they want to proceed, if at all.

The ban came down on in March of 2016. This came roughly around the time that a radio show Freeman was associated with, Free Talk Live, was raided by the FBI in connection with allegations that Freeman might be a pedophile. Freeman’s own statements- such as children six years and older are capable of consenting to sexual relations with an adult- likely factored into the FSP’s decision and the FBI raid. Following such allegations, Freeman threatened to sue people for libel for daring to criticize him.

He was also thrown into jail for having couches on his lawn and refusing to comply with an order to remove them. He then refused to pay the fine levied against him, which ended up drawing three contempt of court charges (a thirty day sentence for each) and a 10 day sentence in lieu of the fine.

These days, he’s taken aim at the FSP itself rather than the state apparatus he has vilified so often in the past. A recent article written by him on Steemit claims that Anarchopulco displaces Porcfest as North America’s best liberty event. Although the Free State Project isn’t directly mentioned in his article, Porcfest has for years been the FSP’s annual summer festival. The implication is clear: the organization that banned him is worse off without having him in it. He also, perhaps coincidentally (or perhaps not), widely shared the article on social media during a time when the Free State Project was pushing for early bird ticket sales for Porcfest.

The home page of Shire Society features a pledge in difficult to read text with one of the provisos being, “Second: No individual or association of individuals, however constituted, has the right to initiate force against any other individual.” This follows the libertarian tenet, the non-aggression principle.

Unfortunately, for people like Ian Freeman, not being violent or aggressive towards his fellow human beings equates to being a good person. Many of his actions suggest that he is not a good person. What exactly a good person might be, or how to define such an individual, is not entirely clear. Given various differing cultural norms, it seems easiest to define a good person through an absence of bad behavior rather than that person’s repeated of good behavior.

What is often lost on Freeman, and many other libertarians or anarchists in general, is that there are ways to behave badly without using force. Taking someone to court for libel is one of those ways (and an argument could be made that such a lawsuit threatens the use of force by proxy). Suggesting that it’s okay for adults to have sex with children (because children can consent) is another. There are many other examples of Freeman’s bad behavior, but were I to enumerate them all, this article would be so long that no one could read it all in one sitting.

The ultimate point is this: for years, Freeman has been a local liberty activist and someone interested in promulgating ideas on how a free society would work or could work. He has been at the front lines (a fact he never fails to let anyone forget) of the struggle between the individual and the state. He has, for lack of a better word, been out there telling everyone not to be violent towards each other. He has not, as far as his long history of statements and articles can prove, been telling everyone to be good or decent to one another.

From a natural rights perspective, Freeman has every right to say whatever he wants to say and to dispose of his property in whatever manner he sees fit. This article should not be taken as an inference that such rights ought to be curtailed in favor of the common good. Rather, I mention all of this to suggest that a natural rights perspective isn’t enough to guide a person towards behaviors that may be generally recognized as benefiting the common good. It isn’t enough to stop a person from becoming narcisstic, sociopathic, or verbally abusive (as the case may be).

In 1983, Friedrich Hayek gave a speech at George Mason University in which he suggested that morals are not the product of human reason. Rather, according to him, they have arisen as part of traditional behaviors that have become ingrained into a society. In some cultures, depending on the traditions there, child brides marrying middle-aged men may be acceptable. In others- such as those with traditionally Puritanical values- this may be unacceptable.

I mention this because, while many of Freeman’s actions might be seen as unacceptable in America, there are other places in the world where his actions would be looked upon, if not favorably, then at least with a neutral eye. Given the differences between what’s right in one country and what’s right in another, how can good actions- those generally approved of by society- be achieved? In fact, there may be times in which an individual’s actions are considered good only in retrospect, such as when Rosa Parks told a bus driver that her feet hurt. The issue is a complicated one, mostly because morality is complex, difficult to explain, and not easily understood.

What isn’t complicated, however, is the fact that there are types of harms to human behavior that aren’t tied to violence. Repeated verbal abuse can have a deleterious effect on a person receiving it. Reducing someone’s self-esteem, telling them they can’t leave the house or spend their money, are harmful behaviors that don’t involve violence (by themselves).

(Since I don’t want to be sued, I’ll mention that Ian Freeman may or may not exhibit these traits. I don’t know him personally as a good friend, and don’t want to.)

Consequently, the non-aggression principle should not be used as a barometric reading for whether a libertarian or an anarchist is behaving well or not. This is how you get abusers in liberty movements, how liberty movements get bad names, how ultimately people from the outside looking in are not persuaded to join the cause for human liberty because they see it as a great big mess full of awful people. Ian Freeman is simply the most salient example of this- a person who behaves badly while not being violent.

If any liberty movement is going to be taken seriously, much less succeed, those involved will have to get rid of such folks. Another example is Christopher Cantwell, who turned out to be a non-violent crying white supremacist who hates women.

(Disclaimer: the author is a participant of the Free State Project and has met Freeman personally at a wine party.)