The Bulletin Board

Liberty Alliance faces backlash over choice of keynote speaker

By: - July 19, 2021 3:53 pm
State House dome

The alliance is perhaps best known for its annual rating of lawmakers and legislation on their degree of liberty. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

The New Hampshire Liberty Alliance’s annual dinner Saturday will celebrate legislative victories, award an “activist of the year” – and be keynoted by a New Hampshire businessman who has tweeted racial slurs and that a minor who disagreed on an issue could perform a sexual act on him. 

That choice has some in the organization upset. 

“I’m concerned about these tweets, but I’m also concerned about NHLA inviting him,” said Caitlin Edwards-Appell of Manchester, a lifetime member of the alliance. “Do they see him as someone to emulate or take advice from?”

Jeremy Kauffman, who owns LBRY, described on the company website as a “marketplace for digital goods,” is scheduled to give a keynote address titled, “Solutions to Big Tech Censorship,” according to the alliance’s Facebook page. Melissa Creem, chairwoman of the alliance, said in an email that Kauffman was chosen because his company “offers an alternative to tech platforms that are responding to censorship requests from both foreign and domestic governments.” She declined to comment on Kauffman’s tweets.

The alliance is perhaps best known for its annual rating of lawmakers and legislation on their degree of liberty. Edwards-Appell said that report makes a real difference. The tweets feel more attention seeking, she said.

Kauffman’s tweets were at the center of a split earlier this summer among the members of another liberty group, the New Hampshire Libertarian Party, that ultimately led to the resignation of the chairman of the Libertarian National Committee. In addition to his personal Twitter account, Kauffman was handling the state party’s Twitter feed at the time, according to party members.

His personal tweets have included profanity and attacks, often with sexual comments, against people who disagree with him. Some alliance members said the tweets, which often get praise from Kauffman’s Twitter followers, are not only offensive but also illustrate what is becoming a more militant approach that doesn’t leave room for disagreement.

“I don’t want dehumanizing and racist language to become the new normal,” said Seth Hipple, a member of the alliance from Concord who said he has become less active. He shared his concerns about the choice of Kauffman with alliance leadership. “It hasn’t been normal and accepted up until now, and I don’t want that to change.” 

Darryl Perry, a lifetime alliance member who said he has also become less active, would like to see the organization return its focus to passing legislation that limits government involvement. Kauffman’s tweets, which Perry sees as promoting bigotry, distract from that.

“(Kauffman’s) problematic views, I don’t feel belong within the libertarian philosophy,” he said. “Having him as keynote speaker of what is supposedly a nonpartisan broad libertarian organization, I think is really damaging not only to their brand but also to the philosophy of libertarians as a whole.”

Kauffman responded to a Bulletin email seeking comment with a tweet, saying he would answer questions only if they were posted on Twitter, “so that everyone can see how much you will inevitably lie.” When the Bulletin responded as asked, Kauffman posted a tweet saying the staff of the Bulletin could perform a sexual act on him.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site.

Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.

MORE FROM AUTHOR