tv Carla Gericke The Ecstatic Pessimist CSPAN August 21, 2021 11:01pm-11:43pm EDT
and the freestate project . >> carla gericke is the author of this book "the ecstatic pessimist: stories of hope (mostly)". i want to ask you a question i have never asked an author before . what was i reading west and mark what was ireading ? >> you were reading a collection of my essays and short stories over time. it was an amalgamation of the work i did when i did my mfa in city college in new york. those are award-winning short stories and there's a lot of political polemic i guess in there. a lot of essays, blog posts and opinion pieces i've written over the years mostly on my wall with the free
state project. >> what is the free state project ? >> the free state project is in libertarian movement. trying to attract libertarians to the state of new hampshire. a mass migration movement so what we're trying to do and we've been around and are success stories are highly of the state but what we did is in 2001, this gentleman was a yale student at the time wrote asa and he was like what would happen if we put all libertarians in one geographic area. the problem is there are a lot of people who actually believe in freedom and the principles of freedom but there scattered all over america or all over the world. so he had this notion if you sort of concentrated together in one, you'd be able to make absolute differences and achieve liberty in our lifetime. so i read a bio back in 2003.
i started going to new hampshire to check out the scene and in 2005 when i finished my mfa at city college i decided my husband and i were like let's move to new hampshire and see what this is about so we moved out and the rest as they say is history which you can read about in my book. >> what the experience been like living in newhampshire as part of this project ? >> it's interesting, i'm an immigrant. i grew up in south africa during the apartheid era and that is something i do cover in the book. there are several creative nonfiction pieces that are based on my life so they have to do with boarding school, being abandoned as a little one and then they're moving to the states, really moving for the principle of liberty. i have one green card in thegreen card lottery in the mid-90s . i was in law school at the time . and so i always had this notion that i wanted to come to america, come to this country so we went to san francisco and then went to new york city and then
because of my experience having grown up in south africa in a, it was a nationalist totalitarian police state informed the way i look at what role the government should be and after 9/11 i feel like america's sort of going on a dark path . so being solutions driven i was like out there that forms a solution so new hampshire offered it. new hampshire is not for everyone but i do have jokingly to say people are like it's so cool. then i like it's a little warmer than mars. >> what was it like to grow up in south africa being part of a minority, being part of this apartheidsystem. did it , was it normal to you at the time? >> know, so i have a very unique background. my dad did workfor the apartheid movement .
if that's the cross i'm going to have to bear we weren't raised in a racist environment. i was raised in a diplomatic one so i travel a lot at as a child. i've always had this sort of comparison i guess to what life was like in south africa which was extremely controlled. nationalist government especially, i was growing up towards the tail end of apartheid and so the national government was clinging to their power. we saw a lot of what we're seeing now in america in terms of mass censorship, telling people their bullies. one story or one answer really trying to oppress any kind of alternative views. i actually was an anti-apartheid acted as. i wasn't famous or did anyof that . but i did go to marches, i worked with sts and i assumed my law degree at the university of pretoria.
i saw black students and i was one of the few lawyers would go into the township and represent defendants as a legal aid so i would go in and do that and that's what one of the essays talked about and how i could do that as unfortunately amy beale got murder and people were like it's not fair, you're not allowed to go do that a lot of those cases were actually also drug war related which i think is an interesting parallel to life in america. one of the essays in the book does talk about how i think black people in america actually are worse off than they were under apartheid. and i don't say that lightly but in america we have the largest incorporated population in the world. and the war on drugs has been an abject failure and that is really disproportionately affected our black communities. so in some ways it's ironic to see the extension of the work i did in south africa to
actually coming to america being like no, now we've got to do it all over again but that's the reality . it was a closed society. it was strange but because i've lived different places i also knew that there was a better future. there was really something that was worth striving for and of course nelson mandela was released in 94. i actually voted for him in the first open elections. my husband and a couple of our friends who were a handful of the white people who went to net nelson mandela's inauguration. i remember seeing he was out there with a film crew and i would love to track down that footage one day . i think south africa informed the person i became. people ask audi to become a libertarian and i was like i thought we were pretty much born libertarian and then we
get influenced or forced into some other kind of thing but for me it's just always been individualism and really trying to help the community but from an individualistic way and not from a top-down way. so with life in south africa again, we saw this censorship . words in the newspapers were bad. they were allowed to talk about certain words for the illegalborder words that were going on . we half mast deportations, my friends were forced into the military who didn't want to be there and they were traumatized by thatexperience . again, it's sad to say but i think that that experience in south africa and knowing what the telstar from the regime saying that these certain people were going to label us as either terrorists or extremists, and i've been called all those things and frankly i may be the only african-american
anti-apartheid activist who voted for nelson mandela is now frequently call the white supremacist but that's where we are in america. i think that's a move to try to silence voices that are actually genuinely trying to succeed. >> carla gericke and the ecstatic pessimist, a couple of times the fourth amendment appears . >> illegal search and seizure. >> why you write about that, why is that important to you? >> i think a sense of privacy is is important. i think that is something that's sort of the locus of who we are. so one of the things i always look at is there's where someone's focus of their locus, where are they kind of coming from. is it from a i'm a person and this is me kind of thing or as are you by your just part of the community work out visit? i look at it from a personal thing.
the sense of privacy or the sense of yourself and edward snowden talk about this as well is that sense of privacy is actually the opportunity for us to figure out who we are. so we have this notion suddenly with the canceled culture and with all of this craziness that we're seeing where people are saying you have to be full human and you have to be perfect from the start what privacy gives you is the opportunity to explore who are you and to to be wrong. some people actually start one way andand somewhere else . so what the government starting to surveillance in an active way, we all know that in the past the government shockingly and i'm shocked that the legacy media isn't talking about this more came out and said we are going to monitor not only your books, someone like me
it's hard to get my message out there but for no other reason that i think it's a threat to the regime or to the establishment that people are saying you know, we don't want to live in some kind of totalitarian and in this case we're moving towards this sort of totalitarian health regime, i don't know. it's not the plate i expected but so the surveillance is a huge issue i think so they're talking about not just looking at your public stuff but actually starting to the american government has said categorically at the press conference they're going to monitor your private messages and they're going to censor them if they don't like what you're saying . so to me that is so shocking and someone like me as you can see in the book, i've been writing about these issues is 2008. i've been thinking about them for a long time and you don't want to be that defender is like i told you so but
frankly i'm here to say told you so. we have been libertarians have, we were the vanguard on the police accountability work. we were, no one will give us the credit, everyone's like plm and the christian science monitor was like isn't it interesting that libertarians and blm have the same issue and i was like but you know, give us credit. libertarians were the ones who said same-sex marriage it should happen. we were the ones that said the drug war was a problem. where the ones who said there is an issue with police brutality within the black communities and no one listens to us for 15 years now suddenly it's due sure and people are talking about so the surveillance issues have been coming for a long time. one of the essays in the book is about pro torah protests that we did in new hampshire, it was a small town in new hampshire and they ran an open forum with the onion
network and basically what it does is it allows you secretly or anonymously to surf theinternet . i might argue that it's now being used by activists in america since we actually need a channel in order to do these things and access access protests which were a sight to behold. we had librarians, 80-year-old librarians, retired librarians from vermont had driven down and we had people from all over the state saying no, there's an element of security doesn't have the right to come into a small library and a town in new hampshire and shut down this tool that they created that people use in order to be able to anonymously search for things . it is none of the government's business. what we read, what we're interested in and what we're doing and it is deeply,
deeply problematic that we are moving in this direction and that there are not enough people who are in the mainstream speaking out against this because it's a giant, giant issue. we are moving entirely the wrong direction and i hope people will understand there are a lot of voices out there, not just my. there are smarter people with way better books of course but we've been sort of saying hey guys, we see these things coming and i think to anyone who witnessed 20/20 it's undeniable that we are right, we are calling out what the problems are and that we also have the solutions which of course i say partly is what the free state project offers. this seat even where we can build a community of people who are like-minded, who have values, that say we believe in individualism.
where excited when we don't agree on things, this whole notion that we moved towards in this country where we all have to lockstep, think this one thing and if you don't you are the out class is crazy. it's just not how the world should work. we should celebrate our uniqueness. >> you said that you were shadowland, what does that mean ? >> on facebook and various media platforms they will basically put you on some kind of list and depending on the kinds of things that you post they will either force your audience down so people don't see your stuffin their newsfeed . certain people have the platform. i certainly am not one of them. someone like naomi wolf who is speaking here this weekend at freedom fest, she was the platform from twitter simply for raising questions about this lockdown situation.
so basically shadowland means your reach gets smaller and smaller. it's a very insidious and very smart way to do things because it's hard to prove. the only way you can see if it's happening is you know, if you know i use to post this and it would get 500 laps now i posted it andit gets 40 . another example would be i do a lot of outspoken critic of the lockdowns, i'm an outspokencritic about the mask mandate . i think we should do it like countries in asia where someone specific they wear a mask and if they're not there not. we didn't have to make this huge political issue but anything i post gets a covid warning on it now. i took the post of this interview and somebody said why does this have a covid warning on it now? i think they just post one on whatever i post now, who
knows so it's an insidious way to silence voices speaking out against a regime class i want to ask about some of the people who pop up in the ecstatic pessimist . lewis. >> my husband lewis, yes. so we met in south africa. we were dating when i won the green card so we moved out to california together. he's a tech nerd. that's how i like them and we came out, he had a startup, i worked as an in-house counsel at a fortune 500 companies and worked at apple computer when steve jobs came back from apple. and so we were sort of in that tech bubble so he's my husband, i love him dearly and i wish she was here with me but he's at home. pulling down the fourth with the dogs. >> and in addition to working at apple, according to her bio card, carla gericke has been a waitress, fiberglass
maker, lecture magazine editor, nonprofit director and high-tech lawyer. has a masters degree and a laundry. another one of the essays of the ecstatic pessimist, carla gericke is about before20 rally . >> that was one of those situations where never say never. some poor kid who was a college student was covering the free state project and he was like you guys are doing this route after liberty forum which is the signatory for the free state project and he was like can i come with and then hewas like i'm kind of nervous . will there be trouble and i was like no, there won't be trouble. it will be fine. famous last words. a sickly what happened is we did before 20 rally which isa pro-cannabis rally . it was a beautiful spring day in nashua new hampshire and we had probably about 100 people there. people are just having a good
time. smoking weed, people playing guitars, it was a peaceful and beautiful and happy and just human beings too. and everyone's hanging out at the next second these two narcs popped out and they kind of pull their badges out of their shirts and they go and arrest literally one of two black kids at the rally and we were all like what is happening? this seems crazy. there are 50, 70, 80 people smoking weed and you're going to arrest that one kid so they claim that they been watching him for a while and there was an outstanding warrant and all that but basically because that happened the situation escalated fast and i will say this. i've gone to a lot of protests and rallies and marches and things in my life and things can turn on a dime . we saw in that situation immediately when it was
happening. people were very angry and they were chanting unfavorable police slogans, we'll leave it at that. so immediately i was like i think we need to shift this to no victim no crime. that's something that resonates with most people so as the arrest was happening there were several activists in front of the police car. everyone kind of and circled the situation. i think something that made it quite dramatic and slightly dangerous and slightly interesting is culturally and new hampshire a lot of people carry firearms. you can legally, we do have constitutional carry. a lot of our folks carry guns that they might open carry, they might conceal carry so when the police realized they were being surrounded a course called for backup so the next second we got 11 squad cars coming in. now the people are angry, it's getting spicy and i remember i have a video on
youtube, there's an officer who kind of goes you he's got a gun and then someone yells on our side, we all have guns . what now. and it was very interesting because what yourealized is the police stood down in terms of the level of violence . they were willing to bring to the situation sowhen we talk about gun rights , or second amendment rights, that's part of it. that's part of that leveling of the playing field. so people and certainly i come from theprogressive left . i have a lot of friends are like carla, i don't know about half the things you think about . but that's one of the things. with gun rights that we know it's levels the playing field so it changed the energy protest that day. two police kind of stood down. they were there, they were being firm but they had their police dogs but there wasn't this mast rounding up and arresting that i think would have happened had that not been the case.
they then took this child who was a 17-year-old boy to the police station. several of our community activists went to the police station. we raised money just by passing a hat in the foyer to pay his bail. we call the parents. they came to get him. that kid was out there the next week. they did follow-up protests for a while. so that's the kind of fun stuff we get up to in the free state of new hampshire course again, the drug war is not a joke. this is something where we are taking people and we're incarcerating them and not only that, we are actually creating an entire society that has this downstream problem. with destroyed families, single parents families. we know statistically don't do as well. these people have a hard time finding a job afterwards . this is for personal choices
and personal nonviolent behavior. i would just love to see america safe from a white perspective that all the states have started to liberalize their laws in this direction and i think that's great. i'm a big proponent of states rights of course, that's why we're in new hampshire but it was a nice little to the federal government and i hope will see more ofthat . so that was a great rally that was a very dramatic very traumatic day and into that poor college student who came to write the essay, i sincerely now deeply apologize. >> carla gericke, were regard to the free state project, do you all live in the same neighborhood as denmark is it spread out ? how does that work western? >> the project itself just says come to new hampshire. one of the beautiful things about new hampshire is the
perfect tiny little country and i would like tosee a speed at . we got nonsense, we got this city of auburn 20,000 people. there were these little towns everywhere, university towns. no one. it sounds. it runs the gamut so people who live according to its their flavor. the seacoast area is a little more expensive. that tends to attract more high-end families . manchester used to be an industrial city but it's very sensible. it's next to the airport and it's an hour from boston. people live in different areas. i personally bought the house five years ago in the west side of manchester. we have a community club in the area and we have hundreds of free stators that happen to live there but now more
than 5000 free stators and they pretty much lives where they want. i've got friends are off the grid. there was a big ice storm the power was out across the state for up to 13 days. mine was out for 11 and i remember stopping at my friends are in the upper valley they were like oh, the power is out? what because they live off the grid. so it's got a little bit of something for everyone. there is depending on what people like you can find something that will appeal to you. we have a huge homeschooling community. homeschooling, a lot of those people like to be more in the country and boston's fairly nearby. qucbec, montrcal is not far away. as long as you can get over the canadian border again but we're not in one geographical area but we are in one state, the state of new hampshire where did you come up with the name for your book?
>> it's from the opening story which is a short story called the ecstatic pessimist . it's about an alcoholic who turns his life around and so i just kind of i think it comes out like a bit of a shedding. the last essay which is called how to change the color of your aura i always feel like i need to tell people i don't know if auras are real, i just really like the idea of the someone, some hippie i know came up to me and i had quit drinking. i changed my diet, i change my lifestyle. i went from being angry about things to be very much more solution driven and lifestyle driven and liberty as a lifestyle . trying to be a good steward of the message and then also you know just aspirational for other people. and so the start is sort of the ecstatic pessimist and it is loosely based again from where i was at that time although it's a male narrator
and it's not me per se but there's definitely parts of me in that shortstory . then i think the ark of the book is all these essays, short story collections, flash pieces all that but then at the end of the book so it's sort of has this whole i have this change and i was thinking actually if it wasn't so expensive with the book i was like i can do ap testing and change the cover. and call it the ecstatic optimist because that's more where i am now. but i think it was just a letting go of that and so that was the title story and so i went with that. i'm working on my next book so we will see, maybe i have a chance to redeem myself then. >> is the next book about? >> it is about my court case. back in 2010 i actually got arrested for filming police officer during a late-night traffic stop. and you know, people are
always surprised. cell phones have become unique and we all have cameras with us all the time but this is 2010 and i literally had a video camera in my consul. it was my birthday present. i only had it for a month. and we got pulled over and the police office was acting weird and i said i'm going to film this, why not. and long story short, things escalated. i got arrested. they took me to the police station and changed me to a pole for several hours . it was a strange and dark experience in general including being dragged behind the police station at 3:00 in the morning by three cops who sort of held me up and were like you're never going to see that camera again. what happened was they confiscated the camera but they wouldn't give me a receipt to prove they had taken it. and i was like i'm not leaving the police station without that camera . and they had charged me with
the wholesale as they do this so being an officer and those things where it's not really , you haven't really committed a crime. you'vejust angered the authorities . so because i insisted on getting that receipt they asked actually entered ended up charging me with wiretapping which is a seven-year felony . they picked the wrong lady, not just my legal background but that sort of parental courage that i have.i was like i'm not going to let you guys get away with it. so in the book we talk about the court case, sort of in detail. it's a narrative so it's definitely like the character in your going through it with her but i'm incredibly proud of that lawsuit. it went all the way, they dropped their charges against me . and then i ended up suing them. it was an original 37 counts for violation of my civil
rights. it took four years as we were progressing over the time. my lawyers were asking what do you really care about and i was like i care about the first amendment right to film public officials in the execution of their public duties . there is no rational reason why a police officer claim that while he is in public we as citizens of the country do not have the right to film them. so that was one preceding case but i fought it all the way to the first circuit and course it's out of boston, it covers about 13 million people. 13 million people now definitely have their first amendment rights to film police officers in the execution of their duty. the other thing that was important in this case is they did and up saying there was this three-person panel of judges.and they did say the least officers do not have qualified immunity to stop because here's the
thing. qualified immunity is a weird exception in american law and it's a perversion of how it should work. basically when you and i are told ignorance of the law is no excuse, we've all heard that. ignorance of the law is no excuse. but they argue ignorance of the law is no excuse unless your an enforcer of the law and then it's an absolute defense. that is crazy. you can't hold our public officials to a lower standard than we are being held to. so they were literally arguing that well, you might have a constitutional right to film police officers in public, during the day at the boston commons which was neglect case so that was the preceding case. there were like we don't think you necessarily have the right to do it on a dark road march a winter night in new hampshire. and i mean, i said to the
opposing counsel i was like let me get this straight. you guys arts straight trying to make an argument that the constitution doesn't apply after dark? and they laughed and they were like half but what the court found is they cannot claim qualified immunity so if a police officer in america confiscates your camera, tries to stop you from filming something. >> .. about all of the things everyone is up in arms about and that cities have burned. all of that is because for the
first time in the history of mankind we can prove the truth. we had footage to show the world that they are lying. i was actually horrified, that may be the right word, in my own case and in my own experience to see the blatant lies and unnecessary framing and misconduct by the police among other things, they claimed in the police report which when i received it i started reading it and that actually laughed d because i was like this is ridiculous. i called my lawyer and i'm like are you guys, i don't know, did you send me a sliced report just to tease me? they claimed among other things i i parked my car in middle of the road, jumped out, ran down the street, this is 11:00 at night,
yelling remember the cause. first of all, i never uttered those words but but i mighty book that. they said that the camera i was using, so they instructed me, i was following another car so they told me, i said it going to go park over there and then film you from there. i got up the car and is him and a set on audio and video recording so their unnoticed, is doing everything right. i'm a lawyer seconded to what i'm supposed to be doing, right? and so they claim the video camera that i had in the police report they said that was a red light, i read laserlike light that made us think it was a scope, a laser scope on a firearm. so what turns out the brand of camera which they confiscated and held for over a year did not have any lights on it because it's the camera that people use
when the bootleg stuff. it is actually designed not to have light on it. so those kind of levels of lies in the police report, i mean, for me it was a wild wake-up call because i'm an individualist and i met someone who believes every police officer is evil. i think at this stage may be the system itself, these deep reforms, but because i believe in individualism i have to believe there are good police officers just like there are bad ones, is like everything with every form of human. but i have to tell you i read that police report and it really, really, really opened my eyes to be like wow, there's a system and bacon wholesale make things up and really devastate people's lives. now again okay, you picked on the one person and they didn't know it at the time but then you have to think about all the other people they pick on who are not like me, who are not one
to fight back, , who don't have the resources to say hell no. we know there are just a lot of people who are being harmed with where we are now. >> carla gericke has one for the new hampshire senate -- has run, three times getting 44% of the vote in 2020. she is the author of this book "the ecstatic pessimist." thanks for joining us on booktv. serious readers.
>> good evening. welcome to p&p live. i'm bradley graham, co-owner politics and prose along with my wife lissa muscatine. we have a great program for you this evening featuring journalists michael bender in conversation with columnist peggy noonan about his new book tonight. a couple housekeeping notes first. to pose a question at any point just click on the q&a icon at the bottom of the screen. in the chat column you'll find a link for purchasing c