Libertarian activist, former congressional candidate, and podcaster Adam Kokesh came to Charlottesville on January 27 to tell the story of his recent arrest and prosecution for Second Amendment civil disobedience in the District of Columbia.
Kokesh spoke at the inaugural meeting of “Liberty on the Rocks” at the West Main restaurant in downtown Charlottesville.
The event was scheduled to last for two hours but extended for an additional 90 minutes as Kokesh read excerpts from a draft of his forthcoming book, called FREEDOM! (he insists on both the upper-case letters and exclamation point) and fielded questions and comments from an audience of about two dozen local libertarians and anarchists.
After the session ended, Kokesh talked with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner about his book, his plans to run for president in 2020 “on a platform of an orderly, peaceful dissolution of the United States federal government,” and about topics now in the headlines.
With regard to revelations over the last year about how the National Security Agency has engaged in domestic spying, Kokesh – an Iraq War veteran – said that “the technology behind the surveillance state is actually a wonderful thing” because it is “very empowering and gives people tools for accountability.”
At the same time, he added, “it's just really sad to see the particular technologies being applied by the NSA [are] used by government against people.”
When those technologies are used by the government “as a way of keeping track of people's behavior,” he explained, it becomes “a mechanism of control and it's kind of scary in and of itself.”
The reason for his somewhat unexpectedly rosy view of the NSA's domestic spying operation is found in “the most relevant historical counterexample,” East Germany.
Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, “the explosion of the surveillance state was a sign of a government desperately clinging to power.” Based on that observation, he said, the fact that the U.S. government is “resorting to these ridiculous violations of privacy shows that [our] government is losing its grip.”
Legalizing same-sex marriage is in the news in Virginia because Attorney General Mark Herring announced he would oppose the state's gay marriage ban in federal court.
“The idea that people would ever use government to prevent a free relationship between individuals who are adults and consenting to that relationship is obscene,” said Kokesh.
Prohibiting same-sex marriage, he said, “is absurd in any form, and the fact that people are so insecure about themselves that they have to ask the government to point its guns at people who are in a specific kind of romantic relationship, regardless of what it is, is an unfathomable moral crime.”
Noting that he prefers “to marry a woman,” Kokesh said “I don't want to point guns at people who are for gay marriage. That's fine. Good for them. I support all consensual relationships between free individuals.”
Justin Bieber's arrest
Asked about the recent arrest in Florida of pop star Justin Bieber, who was charged with drunk driving, drag racing, and resisting arrest – although some of the charges were later dropped – Kokesh expressed admiration for the Canadian heartthrob's apparent aplomb
“I'm sure he's enjoying the attention” in the wake of his arrest, Kokesh suggested, especially because Bieber seems to have “become a pawn of the big music industry and the major studios” – a situation that recently led to an announcement “that he was going to retire.”
Smiling shyly, Kokesh admitted to being “embarrassed to know this much about it but it's just so thrown at you” by the pop culture media that the news is hard to avoid.
Still, he added, “it's kind of cool to see him being able to smile through this and rebel against this.”
Bieber, he added, has “had a very stunted childhood and has been prevented from learning a lot of things. This experience with government will probably teach him something."
Even though “a lot of people hate on him for really absurd reasons, seeing a guy who can smile in a mugshot like that really speaks to me and I really appreciate that.”