"People use information however they like. It's confirmation bias": Humans of FreedomFest 6

Candid portraits from the largest annual gathering of libertarians and free-market supporters.


Editor's note: FreedomFest, held every July in Las Vegas, is the largest annual gathering of libertarians and free-market supporters in the country. Taking inspiration from the site Humans of New York, Reason is happy to offer Humans of FreedomFest, a series of portraits and brief interviews with various attendees. To read previous installments, go here.

Avens O'Brien

Avens O'Brien|||Sarah Rose Siskind, Reason

"I was on a panel and a question came up about abortion and it was interesting because there were four panelists. One person didn't let their opinion be known. Two were extremely pro-life. And then there was me, who was not only pro-choice but had had an abortion. We didn't have a knockdown, drag-out fight about it, but it was clear that we were all in our spaces about what we believe and none of us were moving."

Did your informing of the audience about your abortion add to your credibility or take it away?

"The pro-choicers were like, Yes, this lends legitimacy to the issue. She can speak from experience. And then the pro lifers, who are not gonna be moved, are like, Oh she's extremely biased. People use information however they like. It's confirmation bias."

Larry Sharpe

Sarah Rose Siskind, Reason

"Do you wanna hear the weird story?"

I want to hear the weird story.

"I'm adopted. When I was born in 1968, New York state, being the progressive state it is, wouldn't allow you to be adopted unless you had the right racial match. Since I was biracial, they had to find a biracial family. That was the law back then. New York, again the progressive state that it is, would not allow me to find my parents because, well, because. We fought many times, lost every time. The judges kept saying, 'We made a promise to those people and we can't break it.' It was 50 years ago and we now know genetics matter in health. So this is now life and death. And you think some promise to someone 50 years ago matters? What is wrong with you?… When I'm governor I'm going to change that."

Editor's Note: Sharpe has announced his intention to run for governor of New York on the Libertarian ticket.

John Stagliano

Sarah Rose Siskind, Reason

"There were talks about [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions initiating prosecutions against the porn industry. And I could be a target as one of the few remaining big producers of porn in Los Angeles…. I'm a target."

Are you nervous about that?

"No, not really… I don't have that much respect for the federal government. I'm nervous that people will move on, that I'll never become a celebrity again."

"Humans of FreedomFest" is a series. Read previous installments here.