Maybe ‘Live free or die’ isn’t so completely wonderful after all

Just recently we wrote about New Hampshire’s enduring motto, “Live free or die,” and how even the most mild threat to its existence (like not including it on highway-welcome signs) provokes outrage in the state. But now the Concord Monitor comes right out and asks: “Is ‘Live free or die’ ripe for retirement?” Predictably, the writer unearths a few craggy old dudes who claim they’ll do something rash if the line is ditched. One says: “I’ve lived here for 68 years. If they change it, I’ll move to Vermont.” Another, whose name is actually George Craggy, adds: “Yes, we live free or die. It’s part of our persona. That’s what we all believe in.” Actually, despite the line’s obvious brand equity, not everyone does believe in it. “There’s nothing free in New Hampshire. We all pay taxes,” points out one 38-year-old native. Then there’s the issue Tom Messner hinted at in the comments section of a recent post about Idaho license plates. Yes, apparently the “Live free or die” plates are still made by state prisoners. This hypocrisy irks more than a few people. Says one New Hampshire resident: “All my friends from out of state say, ‘Oh, ‘Live free or die’ is so great.’ But then I tell them it’s the prisoners who make [the license plates]. It takes them a minute, but then they say, ‘Ohhhhh.’”

—Posted by Tim Nudd