Tamworth, NH Shows Why You Should Stay AnonymousWritten by: Rodney Print This Article
Use of Our Content (Reposting and Quoting)
Tamworth, New Hampshire, resident Scott Finman was upset with a local law banning citizens from carrying guns on town property. In the “Live Free or Die” state, it was an offensive law. Rather than just being upset, he took action. He blogged against the firearm restrictions that violated New Hampshire state law. He even drew cartoons and posted them on the Live Free and Comply website to poke fun at the illegal law at the tyrannical behaviors of the town government. The town’s volunteer firefighters and other residents joined him in his criticisms.
This was too much for town tyrants John Roberts, Willie Farnum, and Cassandra Pearce to tolerate. Recently, the Tamworth Selectmen (the local government council) decided to get even with Finman. They reassessed his home for $4 million and issued him a $70,000 tax bill, reasoning that since he didn’t let an assessor enter the home to inspect it that they could apply whatever valuation they wanted. This is at least the second time this year they have reassessed a property to punish a critical local resident. They did this earlier to former Selectman Tom Abugelis for writing a letter-to-the-editor criticizing the attitudes and actions of the town government.
Local residents are increasingly angered by the abusive conduct of the Selectmen. New Hampshire freedom activists have put together this very entertaining video to quickly explain to the public how outrageous the town government’s misconduct is.
Using Property Tax Assessments to Punish Vocal Critics
Scott Finman explains in more detail what happened:
My new status as a multi-millionaire arose out of a 20 second conversation with the tax assessor, Phil Bodwell, several months ago in which he asked to set up a time to meet with me so he could inspect the property and home; I replied that if I have to, I guess I have to, otherwise, we are a private family and would prefer to keep it that way. This policy of mine for nosy bureaucrats is not unique to the assessor’s office – my past experiences with the town government have caused nothing but problem and expense for me; the less they are involved in my property the better.
I have personally provided the Selectmen’s office with a septic plan, footprint of the house, a current use map, a detailed building notification form including square footage and number of bedrooms, as well as photos of each side of the four sides of the house and the barn. I cannot imagine what more they could possibly need to come up with an assessment at least bearing some semblance to reality. The Selectmen are hardly hurting for property comparison’s in Tamworth when it comes to single-family homes with agricultural uses of land – this is the theme of hundreds of the properties in town.
I have been an active observer of the town government in Tamworth for over a year now, and a four million dollar punishment for what one thinks, says, and writes in town is even shocking for what I have unfortunately come to expect out of Willie Farnum, John Roberts, and Cassandra Pearce. I have lived in large cities where mayors have been convicted for acts of corruption such as stealing thousands of dollars worth of gift cards intended for needy children, and I do not believe even they would think of pulling something so blatantly smarmy in shallow retribution for what one thinks, says, and writes.
Anonymous Speech A Safer Way to Oppose Government
As the folks at Wendy McElroy’s website explain, anonymous speech is a necessity in these times of civil rights violations and unbridled government tyranny:
(from Why Bloggers Need Privacy)
For a few years a debate has been raging — well, quietly raging — about anonymity on the Internet. Those in power and those threatened by freedom of speech insist that that there is no valid need for it, that anonymity is a cover for illegal acts, and those who obey the law have “nothing to hide.” Those fighting for civil rights and personal freedom insist that there should be no legal requirement to identify yourself online, and that anonymity is an important protection for unpopular opinions.
I’d say the latter argument just got a boost, given that Scott Finman, a blogger who has been critical of his town government, just had his property reassessed by that government at 4 million dollars and now has to pay a tax bill of $70,000 per year. Finman writes:
Selectman Willie Farnum, prior to a public meeting, openly described his policy for dealing with the few hundred privacy minded families who did not give their permission for the tax assessor to enter their homes during last year’s re-assessment: evaluate the interior of their homes at the highest level possible (assume the interior of an old Tamworth farm house is encrusted with granite countertops and $800 faucets, for example), and residents will come to the Selectmen begging to have the assessor in their home when they see their tax bill. This policy could account for the first million dollars of my assessment, but John Roberts’ motion, seconded by Farnum, to increase my assessment to four million dollars is clearly a perpetuation of their objection to folks speaking out against them that started with former Selectman Tom Abugelis’ public flogging for a letter-to-the-editor criticizing the mentality of town government. I can’t imagine the Selectmen will fess up to their assessment being a punitive measure, but a four million dollar price tag on an unfinished single-family home and a 36’x36′ barn speaks for itself.
All this for resisting a demand from the assessors to enter his house and have a snoop around. Which demand seems excessive to me; where we live, the assessors at most measure and inspect the exterior of your house. Well, I guess that’s New Hampshire for you. Time to replace that old motto, “live free or die,” with a new one, “live subservient or pay through the nose.”
For those of you who don’t know Wendy McElroy, she’s one of my favorite feminists. If that seems an oxymoron, consider that she’s against sexism, including misandry, and also opposes intrusive and abusive government. She refers to herself as an “iFeminist” which is short for individualist feminist.
In a small community such as Tamworth, it may be difficult to be truly anonymous. But anything you can do to make it harder for the tyrants in your area to persecute you for opposing them is a good thing. Scott Finman would likely be better off today if he had made his vocal and public opposition to the town tyrants more anonymous.
The article Exercising Your Free Speech Rights Despite Government Harassment explains how you can use technological tools to preserve your anonymity while sharing your thoughts with the world. If you’re careful to follow the guidelines and use the tools mentioned properly, you can view and comment on websites or even publish your own blog without revealing your identity, even if the local tyrants in your area decide to subpoena the records of web hosting and Internet service providers in an attempt to identify and suppress your criticism.
Best of luck to you opposing the local tyrants in your community!