The Conscientious Objector

The Conscientious Objector

Article in The Washington City Paper
October 01, 2008

Pete Eyre has a shaved head and six tattoos, including two tattooed quotes: one from Thomas Jefferson—“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance”—on his stomach and one from Barry Goldwater—“Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice”—on his left forearm. Eyre open-carries a gun when he’s in Virginia and in other states where open carries are legal. He tells people he’s carrying the gun because he believes that if you do not exercise your personal rights, then you lose them. “They are usurped by the government,” he says.

Eyre is sometimes subject to police interrogations and nasty/scared looks, but he is a principled person and endures these things in the name of liberty.

Another thing he endures in the name of liberty: abstinence from Nats games. Eyre works as the activist arm of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank. (Disclosure: I have worked for CEI.) He doesn’t believe the government should have used $670-odd million of public money—money stolen from individuals, Eyre says—to build the stadium, not to mention the abuse of eminent domain to take the property the stadium is located on.

“In a truly free market, businesses would not have this advantage,” Eyre says. “This rent-seeking that’s going on with stadiums and other businesses such as defense contractors—it’s because of big government. People are against capitalism because they think it’s evil, but the only reason companies can seek government favor is because the government is so big.” If stadium and team owners thought baseball stadiums and teams would make money, Eyre says, they should have paid for the teams and stadiums themselves. Eyre is also, incidentally, opposed to the Nats for the same reason he’s opposed to sports in general: He doesn’t like the implications of teams dressing up in uniforms, representing particular geographic locations, and going at it while fans are whipped into some sort of nationalistic frenzy. “No matter where you’re born, you have the same rights,” Eyre explains.

So you won’t find this libertarian decked out in a red-and-white jersey, chomping on a Ben’s, and cheering the home team. Most like-minded folks, says Eyre, would agree with his principled opposition to seeing the Nats. Unfortunately, not all of Eyre’s friends are libertarians. “Seems like as soon as I made this decision,” he says. “People came out and said, ‘Oh, I have this extra ticket. Want to go?’”