Civil Liberties

Colbert Mocks Free State Spinoff 'Free Keene' for Being Obnoxious While Paying Parking Meters


About half a year after the New York Times did, the Colbert Report on Comedy Central attack the folk of "Free Keene" (a one-town offshoot of sorts of New Hampshire's wider Free State Project, though I'm sure FSP folk are quite glad that this segment doesn't mention the larger project specifically).

It's a typical Colbert punchdown against anyone of a perceived lower social status than their audience who dares have opinions outside their pat-themselves-on-the-back herd.

It includes editing the footage in ways deliberately intended to make it seem as if their subjects are at best amiable goofballs without professional soundbite media training and with mockable appearance (one Free Keener is called by them "the Afrochist" for calling himself an anarchist while sporting an impressively huge 'fro) and at worst are literally shooting themselves in the foot, as an added sound effect to a shot of Free Keener Chris Cantwell putting his gun on his belt wackily implies he did that in front of a camera.

To boot, hardly anyone watches Free Keeners YouTube videos! Neeeeeeerrrrrrdddddsssss!!!

While mocking the notion of "iron fists of authority" in Keene with portentous editing and sound effects, the Colbert team focus on the most newsworthy element of the Free Keeners: their practice of paying parking meters before they expire to deny the city ticket revenue, and filming and harassing parking enforcement officers while doing so.

The voiceover asks, "Why doesn't anyone stop them?" Colbert's comic-news editors don't deign to mention that in fact the city hired a private investigator to harass the Free Keeners, and twice tried to sue them, over their acts of bothering meter maids. (They get an Iraq vet who quit his job as a parking enforcer over being bugged by Free Keeners to say that it was a really tough question as to which gig was worse.)

Colbert's people conclude that the Free Keeners are "huge douchebags." As I wrote about The New York Times, but it applies to Colbert as well:

To the Times' mentality, filming or speaking to people with the legal power to fine and arrest is far more declasse and objectionable than fining and arresting over what you drink, smoke, or how long a car is parked.

The Free Keene website took it well—better than I'm taking it!—commenting that "It took months for the Colbert Report to air the footage they shot back in June, but it was worth the wait. As expected, they skewered us pretty well! Here's the hilarious report on Robin Hood of Keene & Free Keene that aired last night on Colbert."

And heeeeeere's Colbert: