The (Fake) Free State Project of 1970: Turn a Texas Town Into a Haven for Every 'Wholesome Vice Known to Modern Man'

Welcome to Mad Dog, Texas.


Pull my strings and I'll go far.

Over at Historia Discordia, an entertaining blog devoted to those anti-authoritarian pranksters known as the Discordians, Adam Gorightly has posted one of the hoax articles that the Discordian crew inserted into the press—in this case, the November 1970 edition of Playboy. The piece describes a libertarian "corporate commune" called "Mad Dog, Inc." that plans "to buy a small town they can call their own and rename it, predictably, Mad Dog, Texas." The town's laws "will endorse gambling, saloons, prostitution, marijuana, dueling, spitting in public, lascivious carriage, cohabitation and every other wholesome vice known to modern man," though this code will "not, unfortunately, supersede existing state and Federal laws." Several famous figures are identified as alleged participants in the project, including underground cartoonist Gilbert Shelton, Pulitzer-winning journalist David Halberstam, former Kingston Trio banjoist Dave Guard, and Sports Illustrated writer Bud Shrake; Shrake is quoted proposing that the group purchase the town of Shafter, on the grounds that its border-adjacent location will be good for a "heavy tourist trade in expatriates, the smuggling of Chinamen and extensive trade with the Far East in jade, fine silks and frankincense."

The unsigned piece was written by Robert Anton Wilson and/or Robert Shea, two Discordians who worked for Playboy at the time. (They would later produce the cult novel Illuminatus!, which features a rather different Mad Dog, Texas, in its pages.) The first page of the article is posted here, and the remainder is here. And as a bonus, here's a piece that a Discordian (probably Shea, though Wilson may have had a hand in it) inserted into Teenset magazine. This one exposes the nefarious conspiracy known as the Illuminati, whose puppets turn out to include Lyndon Johnson, Ringo Starr, and Bob Hope.

Advertisement: These hoaxes were part of a larger project called Operation Mindfuck. You can read more about that in my book The United States of Paranoia or, if you want the short version, right here.

NEXT: Sin Taxes ad Absurdum: Why Illinois Taxes Hershey Bars But Not Kit Kats

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  1. Seems like Nevada would have been a better bet. Most of those things were already legal there…

  2. Speaking of which, I recently bought an instance of the Illuminatus card game.

    My kids loved it, particularly when the KGB seized control of the Republican Party.

    They also enjoyed my shriek of rage when I discovered that the Post office had a negative income (making my Junk Mail card all but useless).

    1. They also enjoyed my shriek of rage when I discovered that the Post office had a negative income

      …why was this at all surprising to you?

      1. Because the first organization I managed to sieze control of was the Junk Mail card, which stated that it gave me a huge advantage in seizing control of the Post Office were it to appear in the uncontrolled organization pile.

        I was sucking wind with no other organizations, when the Post Office card turned up… I was ecstatic, then endured the dawning realization that it would suck my treasury dry and that I’d have to waste one action every few turns dumping money into it.

        Meanwhile my son, with his orbital mind control lasers, the kgb and various and sundry other orgs systematically set about destroying my organization, until I announced that it was bedtime.

        Then it was the kids’ turn to shriek in rage. 🙂

    2. Illuminati is a fun game. I’ve got the card edition from the late 1990’s including these classic Bill and Hillary cards:…..tonpng.jpg

      1. Yes! I remember that, and that version of the cards.

        A friend of mine had the late 90s version of the game. When he played, if he had both Bill and Hillary, he always had Bill controlling Hillary. “See! Things aren’t always what they appear!”

  3. But there’s still that shack outside La Grange.

  4. “These hoaxes were part of a larger project called Operation Mindfuck

    I’m not sure whether its sad or apropos that the contemporary world we live in is far past the level of ridiculousness imagined by satirical writers in the 1960s and 70s;

    – what would they have thought about the fact that the government now licenses marijuana distribution centers, yet bans people from having a beer or a cigarette in a public park?

    – That one can be thrown out of office or lose your job as CEO of a major corporation for even *insinuating* you aren’t enthused about Men marrying other Men.

    – that having a friendly card game could result in a SWAT team assault, and people would think *it was justified*?


    1. That list is way too short.

      1. yeah, I know, I got depressed just starting to think about it.

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