Perhaps the most famous state motto in the country, New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die”, turned 200 years old on July 31. That means, of course, that it has to go. After all, young people can’t possibly relate to having to fight for anything other than their right to party.
I warn you, if you read past this point, your head may very well explode.
Last year, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch created The Governor’s Task Force for the Recruitment and Retention of a Young Workforce for the State of New Hampshire which job it was to help keep young people in the state and to attract more new young workers. The task force issued its final report last month (click on the name of the task force for the PDF) and the state’s motto was deemed completely unacceptable.
Let me share some of the group’s findings.
Here is its summary of the horrible damage the motto has been doing to New Hampshire’s image, in the section called “The Strengths & Weaknesses of the NH “Brand’.”
The state lacks a brand that connects with a younger audience. The Task Force received several comments regarding the issue of branding the state in a way that would help attract and retain young workers. Through input and discussions, there is strong sentiment that the “live free or die” slogan does not connect with this demographic and that something else is needed.
As the New Hampshire Union Leader noted, though, “Live free or die” is not a brand or a slogan but a motto.
The commission members might like to know that “Live free or die” is not a brand. It is not a marketing slogan to be modified for maximum appeal to the ever-changing 18- to 34-year-old demographic. It is a motto, which curmudgeonly old Webster’s defines as “a sentence, phrase, or word inscribed on something as appropriate to or indicative of its character or use.”
Apparently, the task force doesn’t believe that choosing death over enslavement is indicative of the state’s character. Perhaps it’s not all that keen on having to fight for something precious.
Then again, it’s worth pointing out that this idea isn’t something the task force just thought up on its own. It got the notion from a couple town hall meetings held around the state. For instance, the task force met with “[r]epresentatives from a wide variety of backgrounds (education administrators, municipal officials, nonprofit directors, state officials)” and got this:
Our State portrays an unfriendly message that every individual has to succeed on their own, rather than count on a support system for assistance (Live Free or Die is not a friendly, supporting message that appeals to young people)
What else do you expect from government bureaucrats and people heavily dependent on government bureaucracy, wasn’t there? I’m not surprised that they weren’t all that excited about people thinking they can succeed on their own, since their livelihoods depend on a population fully inculcated with the belief that they have to have a large and intrusive government “support system”. Can’t have people thinking they can be successful all by themselves without a horde of “education administrators, municipal officials, nonprofit directors, state officials” and goodness knows what other government mooks around, can we?
Here’s a finding from another one of the meetings, attended by “Directors and representatives from nonprofit and charitable organizations”:
Rebrand NH and make it more appealing; the Live Free Or Die motto is prohibitive to what young people are looking for in their home community.
Yes, well, that may be, but the report doesn’t actually support this assertion. In fact, four of the thirteen meetings actually involved young people and not one of them mentioned the motto at all. Only one mentioned the state’s brand and that was in the context of New Hampshire being seen as a vacation spot and not a place to live and build a professional career. Their problems concerned things such as the lack of things for young people to do and lack of career opportunities in fields such as technology and medicine.
So what’s the report talking about? The task force claims that there was “strong” sentiment against the motto, but I can’t find it. Out of 13 town hall meetings the motto only showed up in two of them — just 15 percent. It would be fair to say that more people believe the moon landing was a fake than believe that “live free or die” should be replaced. In fact, whenever actual young people were involved, the motto wasn’t an issue.
It seems to me that the task force and the entrenched bureaucracy are the ones interested in making sure that “live free or die” dies under a pile of smarmy left-wing cant.
(via Mark Steyn who says, “There’s a slogan for the times: “Live Free On A Support System For Assistance As Big As You Think!” I’m happy to sell it to the “Governor’s Task Force” for $9.8 million.”)
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Category: The Rise of the Nanny State