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No, this is not an Admiralty Court.
September 23, 2013 6:06 AM   Subscribe

Canadian self-described "Freemen" in Alberta have recently attracted a great deal of public attention to themselves. The justice system generally takes a very dim view of their shenanigans, as laid out in one of the most comprehensively researched and bizarre judgment issued in recent memory. Here's a general overview and debunking of the arguments they use.

For example, from the judgment linked above:

5. Moorish Law

[189] Edmonton is home to Sean Henry (typically styled “:Chief : Nanya-Shaabu: El: of the At-sik-hata Nation of Yamassee Moors”, or less commonly, “Sean Henry Bey”), one of Canada’s very few Moorish Law OPCA litigants. He has frequently appeared in this Court.

[190] The exotic nature of the Moorish Law movement and its claims warrant some comment, as casual exposure to a Moorish Law litigant may lead an observer to suspect mental impairment or disorder. The Moorish Law community is a predominately American offshoot of urban American black muslim churches such as a Nation of Islam. They claim that black muslims who self-identify as “Moors” are not subject to state or court authority because they are governed by separate law, or are the original inhabitants of North and South America.

[191] In the case of Henry, he claims that the At-sik-hata Nation owns North America (now renamed “Atlan, Amexem, Turtle Island, Land of Frogs”) as a result of his treaty with the Olmec people, an early culture that existed in meso-America from 1500-400 B.C. and who are noted for their large sculptures of human heads. Justice Sanderman of our court, who had reviewed the documentary foundation of Henry’s many claims observed:

...it would be an affront to the dignity of this Court and an affront to the dignity of any Court to allow a document such as this to stand and to force individuals to come to court to have to answer this, as I say, just absolute gibberish.

posted by thewalrus (142 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
There seem to be an increasing number of them in the UK too, judging by how often I've been hearing them arguing about whether they can get out of paying council tax. Here is a freedom of information request one made and a rather patient response from the local council.

And this is what happens when they try it in court.
posted by knapah at 6:12 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wesley Snipes is one*, too, having written a "bill of exchange" in satisfaction of his tax liabilities.

* "One" intended to be inclusive of all the various batty pseudo-legal theories that purport to explain how one can exist outside of the jurisdiction of the state.
posted by jpe at 6:18 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


And people say the US doesn't export anything anymore. We make the best crazy found anywhere and ship worldwide!
posted by Thorzdad at 6:19 AM on September 23, 2013 [25 favorites]


No, this is not an Admiralty Court.

What, Metafilter? Of course it is. This is represented by the gold bar at the top of the page. Your username is simply a false corporate fiction, if you switch to the professional white background the moderators hold no power over you. Simply post to Metatalk the words, "I *real name*, being a true and individual digital soul, due by oath declare myself a Freewoman (or Man) on the Server."

Read the FAQ, people, it's all there.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:20 AM on September 23, 2013 [66 favorites]


I wondered if the so-called "freemen" were the same as the sovereign citizen crowd, but the third link distinguishes them by calling freemen "hilarious and somewhat less threatening."
posted by Gelatin at 6:24 AM on September 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


On July 19, 2012, Martin Jonassen, who had described himself as a sovereign citizen, was found guilty by a jury in a federal court of kidnapping his 21 year old daughter, whom he allegedly had sexually abused, and of obstruction of justice.[55] During the incident, the daughter escaped from a hotel room where Jonassen had been holding her, ran naked into a store and begged for help. Jonassen was caught on surveillance footage chasing her, dragging her out of the store and pushing her into his car.[56] The daughter reportedly "had never been to school and only read books about religion, history and the government approved by her father." She had seen a doctor only once in her life.[57] On February 19, 2013, Jonassen was sentenced to forty years in federal prison.[58]

uhhh... yeah....
posted by thewalrus at 6:27 AM on September 23, 2013


The more I look into it, this "Freemen" movement is to crazy as vodka is to potato juice. The distilled essence of crazy.
posted by thewalrus at 6:35 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wondered if the so-called "freemen" were the same as the sovereign citizen crowd, but the third link distinguishes them by calling freemen "hilarious and somewhat less threatening."

They use the same arguments, in any case. There was story some years back about a judge lecturing a group of African-American criminal defendants who'd used a similarly frivolous argument to the effect that the most of their arguments had originated among white supremacist groups. I seem to recall it being posted here, even, but darned if I can find it.
posted by kewb at 6:36 AM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sovereign Citizenism is endlessly hilarious and endlessly sad.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:40 AM on September 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


What I find interesting here is that it looks from the FPP (I have not been able to read all the links yet), is that it's the Moorish (Orthodox?) Church, of which Hakim Bey is apparently a member of or at least spiritually affiliated with. I have not heard of overlap between these two movements before.

Look I'm all for ending racism, but I was kind hoping it wouldn't be the far ends of the political spectrum that decides to get together on their weird theories. But then again, all the so called "hippies" that turn Alex Jones and Ron Paul into some sort of knights or saints of "TRUTH", deviating far far far from any left-wing analysis of anything.

As much as I love RAW and think he has a lot to offer, I think a lot of people take him too literally on his concepts and start to believe up is down and act as if that's a perfectly valid thing to do. Unfortunately there are real world ramifications to your crank theories.

Like poor old ladies having you "seize" their house (look I hate landlordism too, but seriously guys, your little actions are impotent and stupid and ultimately a stunt, but you don't care, because you're so far down the hole you don't even know what truth is anymore). Or, wait, is it Truth. Or is it TRUTH? Or... TrUtH. The U is at the center of TrUtH. YOU ARE THE CENTER OF TRUTH! (Am I doing this right?)
posted by symbioid at 6:43 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


These folks, honestly, terrify me. It's like Pacific Heights, but instead of running amok in a nice SF duplex, they're running amok across the country.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:45 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


While I have everything against the Freemen/Sovereign Citizen movement, from the first link:

Attempts to get help from the police and politicians have been referred to the civil courts on the grounds that it's a landlord-tenant problem.

So she wants this guy out, understandably, goes to the cops and they refer her to the landlord-tenant act. She sounds like she hasn't done any of that. Which as a landlady is her responsibility. She has to give him written notice, go to the board and possibly the court, and then call the sheriff who can evict him. It's not a hard task, and it's the law. Why hasn't she done it?
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:46 AM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


What I find interesting here is that it looks from the FPP (I have not been able to read all the links yet), is that it's the Moorish (Orthodox?) Church, of which Hakim Bey is apparently a member of or at least spiritually affiliated with. I have not heard of overlap between these two movements before.

Hakim Bey is that special kind of "anarchist" who doesn't give a fuck about anything but ensuring that nobody is ever allowed to tell him what to do. Specifically, in Bey's case, he's into "anarchism" because the authorities won't let him molest children.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:46 AM on September 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


It's reminiscent of mystery cults, secret legal hermeneutics to exempt you from the laws of god or man. Desperation and greed breeding crazy. The Mary Elizabeth: Croft (PDF) document, cited as being the foundation of the Freemen, in particular:
The only way out of this mess is to remove ourselves from the Commerce Game – completely – so that we are no longer dependent upon banksters. Their sole agenda is to control and destroy us. The only way to win is not to play. Compensation which involves the banks is hazardous; we can create for ourselves all that is way bigger and better – love and light, peace and joy, compassion and forgiveness – that which we were meant to Be, Do, and Have. By remembering who we are we will learn to do what we love to do and serve ourselves by serving others, thereby leaving the banksters completely out of our new way of life.
Woo is right. This is an escape for fear and responsibility by self-actualization and following your inner bliss. At least for Mary: Croft, this is dressed up as spiritualism as much as legal and tax avoidance.
posted by bonehead at 6:54 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wish there was a way for us to pick up everyone of these idiots and put them all in their own enclosed area so they could see how well their principles work when there are no government built roads, hospitals, justice systems, food regulatory agencies, drug regulatory agencies, workers' protection laws, automobile safety standards, or any other sort of government intervention involved in their lives. These assholes want to have their cake and eat it too: give them all the benefits of government intervention, like ensuring their cars won't crumple like a tin can if they get into an accident and their aspirin doesn't have rat poison in it, but don't make them pay taxes or follow rental laws or not have sex with children.
posted by schroedinger at 6:57 AM on September 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


Puts one in a special frame of mind to be reading this after watching another episode of The Tudors last night.

"Boy, fetch me my sword."
posted by ocschwar at 6:58 AM on September 23, 2013


They use the same arguments, in any case. There was story some years back about a judge lecturing a group of African-American criminal defendants who'd used a similarly frivolous argument to the effect that the most of their arguments had originated among white supremacist groups. I seem to recall it being posted here, even, but darned if I can find it.

Bam! I remembered that one as well.
posted by LionIndex at 6:58 AM on September 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


From today's Globe: Alberta pensioner fights to reclaim home from ‘sovereign citizen’

I note that these douchebags have no problem using the tools of the state whose authorities they reject to do things like register bogus liens against other people's property.
posted by Dasein at 7:06 AM on September 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think it was this one that somebody referred to above: How black Baltimore drug dealers are using white supremacist legal theories to confound the Feds.. Found in the comments section of the Metafilter 2010 post on the same general topic.
posted by thewalrus at 7:08 AM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think the key explanation of the problems with this starts from the following statement in the RationalWiki entry: Freeman methods fail to understand that the law derives its authority from the fact that the state has the means and the will to use force to impose it.

"Freeman methods" rest on a basic misconception about the nature of power and politics, and part of what distinguishes it from other sorts of arguments against the legitimacy of the state or the law is both that it shies away from taking on ethical notions of legitimacy and, more deeply, that the causes and people who gravitate towards "freemen methods" suspect and reject anything that smacks of a priori collectivity, sometimes up to and including the notion that one might ever be responsible to others.

It's what happens when atomistic notions of individuality or separatist ideas of ethnicity encounter critiques of power that elsewhere rest on some sense of open or shared commitment. The fantasy is that the Freemen can merely pit their wits and words against someone else's and come out on top, that power is semantic and thereby capable of being challenged by the sophist or the wizard. I once saw the tax-resister versions of these arguments described as "magic spells" wielded by people who imagine that the force of law rests as a metaphysical quality in the terminology of legal proceedings and documents.

The notion that the force of law proceeds from the body of people who offer it social consent or even the body of armed enforcers and incumbent politicians and others behind the law requires an admission that you will probably have to submit to some unpleasing responsibility, that your individual or self-separated group can be held responsible to others you don't wish to be held responsible to. Behind the "Freeman" argument is the demand that you can will yourself into a position outside even basic bonds of reciprocity and social being; the "freemen" insist that their actions should produce only the responses from others that they voluntarily accept. In short, it is a child's version of desire or will, a notion that context and history are empty categories, and that the word "no" (or its esoterically worked-out synonyms) is an incantation that changes material and political reality.

So, for example, white supremacists employ these arguments because most of the other arguments against the legitimacy of the state cannot accommodate or even cohere with the underlying assumptions of racist supremacism. They require an acknowledgement that your cause might be common with some Other bunch of people you already reject, or that you might have to see your own mythology from some other perspective in the name of solidarity or compromise or plain inclusiveness to achieve your ends.

Less horrifically, some hardcore libertarian anarchists adopt these methods because the moral argument or the forcible response both seemingly require them to accept shared, non-voluntary commitments that precede any discernible statement or moment of consent. And some, like tax-refusers (as opposed to those who argue against the morality or economic value of taxation) and certain flavors of generic sociopath adopt them because they imagine they can now finally elude the obligations that come with being in the world where others also are.

The inanity and vacuity of the Freeman method are arguably reflective of the inanity and vacuity of an underlying solipsism.
posted by kewb at 7:10 AM on September 23, 2013 [53 favorites]


This Court has developed a new awareness and understanding of a category of vexatious litigant.

"Category of vexatious litigant" is an awful lot of fun to say.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 7:10 AM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Those god damn freemen hopped up on their spice melange, dubstep and their all night crysknife fights, hell.. who would tell those guys they needed to pay their taxes or rent or whatever.

It's not like hiring the imperial sardaukar as your own personal constable is getting any cheaper these days. I say we just heavily tax the materials used for stillsuit production and call it a day.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 7:10 AM on September 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


"Freeman ideas are so far-out that even arch-crackpot Alex Jones thinks they're 'quackery.'"
posted by docgonzo at 7:10 AM on September 23, 2013


But hobo gitano, where are you going to find an admiralty court on Arrakis, a desert planet? One with the correct fringe on the flag?
posted by thewalrus at 7:14 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I may just spend the rest of the day reading RationalWiki like it's TVTropes. It's wonderful, like Encyclopedia Dramatica for grownups.

Awesome link, the of the family walrus.
posted by davros42 at 7:17 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


So you're saying that if I don't agree to the laws, then I don't have to be bound by them?

Sweet! I'm going to go get that parking spot I've always wanted!
posted by blue_beetle at 7:28 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


We have one of these guys in our town. It is sad because he markets himself as a human rights defender. He befriends locals who are up on hunting/fishing charges and stands up in court as their lawyer. He tells the judge she has no jurisdiction over his client. Then he seeks a peace bond (restraining order) against the officer who arrested his client. He doesn't see the irony in that.

The letters to the paper are batshit insane. I could write a book.
posted by Brodiggitty at 7:32 AM on September 23, 2013


Your local judge hasn't thrown him in jail for practicing law without a license?
posted by thewalrus at 7:33 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Vexatious Litigant dROU (absconded)
posted by Slackermagee at 7:35 AM on September 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


No - he stands up in the viewing area and talks from there. The judge has been very patient with him so far but I can see her patience waning. The Crown lawyers on the other hand have been very vocal. One guy told the judge it was easily the most absurd thing he'd seen in 30+ years of practicing law.
posted by Brodiggitty at 7:37 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also - if you want to read the BEST judgment on one of these guys - read this one. The judge pretty much mocks him as he writes it. It references Lewis Carroll. The term "Down the Rabbit Hole" gets thrown about by just about everyone who encounters them.

"Thus it was that the trial began with Mr. Duncan objecting to us proceeding on the basis that I had no jurisdiction over him. Mr. Duncan provided me with an “affidavit of truth”, a rather substantial volume that appeared to me to be the result of somebody doing a Google search for terms like “jurisdiction” and the like and then cobbling them together in such a way that it makes James Joyce’s Ulysses look like an easy read."

posted by Brodiggitty at 7:46 AM on September 23, 2013 [21 favorites]


I wonder if they don't have have some cognitive defect here. Certainly the unwelcome tenant sounds like he has underlying psychiatric issues. But I mean the broader movement. It's like they equate the law with some kind of fantasy magic: "Ha! You are powerless against me, for I know the counterspell!"

You want to say, "Bro, think about it: if the global conspiracy is that powerful and that evil they'll just shoot you and damn the law." You'll be a freeman under the land. Justice has never been created by, nor injustice ever prevented by, the goddamn fringe on a flag.
posted by tyllwin at 7:48 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Brodiggitty, that is great, and I've only been reading it for one minute... I think that judge missed their calling writing for Harpers or The New Yorker.

It has been said that, given enough time, ten thousand monkeys with typewriters[2] would probably eventually replicate the collected works of William Shakespeare.[3] Sadly, when human beings are let loose with computers and internet[4] access, their work product does not necessarily compare favourably to the aforementioned monkeys with typewriters.[5]
posted by thewalrus at 7:50 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pirelli is listed on his LinkedIn social network page as Senior Chief Justice at Tacit Supreme In Law Court for Sovran Nations Embassies and as Supervisor-Co-ordinator-Estimator of CPC Universal Group of Calgary Division.

Nobody's ever just a worker bee.

Respectfully,

jquinby
(His Excellency the Grand Imperator, Vizier of the East, Supreme Commander and Maximum Leader)
posted by jquinby at 8:00 AM on September 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


"His Royal Highness The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland, Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Great Master and First and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Member of the Order of Merit, Knight of the Order of Australia, Companion of the Queen's Service Order, Honorary Member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, Chief Grand Commander of the Order of Logohu, Member of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Canadian Forces Decoration, Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty"

That's an actual, legit title...


Most Honourable Order of the Bath?
posted by thewalrus at 8:04 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sovereign Citizen nuts refer to themselves as Freemen, and I think the two are only dIstingushable in general by degree. The roots of the movement are in the White Power gangs ( can't find the article for that atm ) and in the US, they are considered linked to terrorism
posted by Bwithh at 8:04 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can actually buy the idea of the law not applying. I mean if the government tries to insist that the law is secret, then what legitimacy can the law have? The problem is that what happens then is not individual law, but reversion to the raw, naked violence that law was designed to replace.

I can't begin to say it with anything approaching the clarity and insight of kewb. But yeah, the core problem here is a complete misunderstanding of what it would mean if society were to accept the assertion that there is no law, or at least that it doesn't apply to you.

The original meaning of "outlaw" was not someone over whom the law had no power and thus could do whatever they chose. It was someone from whom the law had withdrawn its protection and so they could be legally killed.

In other words, if the law has no interest in you whatever, then why don't I just kill you with this shotgun and toss your free corpse the hell out of my house?
posted by Naberius at 8:06 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if they don't have have some cognitive defect here.

I think the defect is a sort of naive solipsism; they just can't imagine that their ideas might need to have reference points beyond their own desires and thoughts.
posted by kewb at 8:06 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bwithh: "...in the US, they are considered linked to terrorism"

More from the SPLC, including this bit:

The weapon of choice for sovereign citizens is paper. A simple traffic violation or pet-licensing case can end up provoking dozens of court filings containing hundreds of pages of pseudo-legal nonsense. For example, a sovereign was involved in 2010 in a protracted legal battle over having to pay a dog-licensing fee. She filed 10 sovereign documents in court over a two-month period and then declared victory when the harried prosecutor decided to drop the case. The battle was fought over a three-year dog license that in Pinellas County, Fla., where the sovereign lives, costs just $20. Tax cases are even worse. Sovereign filings in such legal battles can quickly exceed a thousand pages. While a normal criminal case docket might have 60 or 70 entries, many involving sovereigns have as many as 1,200. The courts are struggling to keep up, and judges, prosecutors and public defenders are being swamped.
posted by jquinby at 8:08 AM on September 23, 2013


Sovran Nations Embassies

Wait, is it spelled like that because he doesn't know how to spell sovereign? Or is it because some other whackjob is already using Sovereign Nations as their own crazyface land?
posted by elizardbits at 8:11 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


The guy's business website as a bizarre bit of legalese on it:

Discontinued on behalf of the Authorized Representative of it and no authorize use or legal determination may regarding it, are here by revoke.

I the Authorize Representative hereby give this PUBLIC NOTICE to the prejudice of any and al Executor De Son Torts in their personal public and private capacity.

And those making of use of it, must do so under Jurat Affidavit under the pains and penalties of purgery of the Authorize Representative.


...and then:

Subscribe to Our Monthly Brunch Meetings!
posted by jquinby at 8:19 AM on September 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


They really should just call these people the "I really don't want to pay my taxes" citizens.
posted by gyc at 8:19 AM on September 23, 2013


This is not only or even predominately an Alberta thing. I don't get why you framed it this way. Completely false way to describe it. Completely.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:20 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if they don't have have some cognitive defect here…like they equate the law with some kind of fantasy magic: "Ha! You are powerless against me, for I know the counterspell!"

Magical thinkers are in the majority. Heck, some Presidents have employed astrologers. Or look at the billion dollar homeopathic industry. The people that play lotteries using a "strategy". And, frankly, there's a whole lot of magical thinking in religions. The Freeman loonies aren't much crazier than anyone else.

That said, we should ship them off to any place that will take them. If they wish to reject our governance, they shouldn't benefit from all that it provides… which is, essentially, most everything.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:22 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most Honourable Order of the Bath?

Medieval purity ritual for knighthood, specifically, in this case, for knights made by the Kings themselves. The Knights of the Bath are the English royal's homeboys, but b-table. The Garter is where it's at.
posted by bonehead at 8:24 AM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


It is actually not that difficult to buy a commercial airline plane ticket to Mogadishu, if you want to experience what is effectively a land without a government. Many US cities have direct flights to Dubai. Fly to Dubai, buy ticket to Djibouti. From Djibouti, fly to Mogadishu.
posted by thewalrus at 8:26 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Most Honourable and Excellent Order of the Jockstrap.
posted by thewalrus at 8:26 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


BC and Nova Scotia both referenced here. This is not an Alberta phenomenon.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:30 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Discontinued on behalf of the Authorized Representative of it and no authorize use or legal determination may regarding it, are here by revoke.

I the Authorize Representative hereby give this PUBLIC NOTICE to the prejudice of any and al Executor De Son Torts in their personal public and private capacity.

And those making of use of it, must do so under Jurat Affidavit under the pains and penalties of purgery of the Authorize Representative.


Obviously these guys have no idea what they're actually saying. They just pass this shit around amongst themselves and like a game of telephone, the text starts to break down after a while.
posted by Naberius at 8:31 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great Master and First and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath

Talking about rabbit holes. It almost makes Freemen look sane by comparison!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:31 AM on September 23, 2013


(Hakim Bey is that special kind of "anarchist" who doesn't give a fuck about anything but ensuring that nobody is ever allowed to tell him what to do. Specifically, in Bey's case, he's into "anarchism" because the authorities won't let him molest children.

I did not know this. The linked essay is quite good, it's by the guy who used to publish Guinea Pig Zero a long-running and rather well-known zine by and about people who make part of their living participating in human subjects trials.

I always thought Bey was pretty pretentious and annoying, but did not know that he founded Semiotexte, lives on trust-fund money and is apparently an advocate for pedophilia. There isn't much of a vogue for his work anymore in the anarchist circles I know about, but everyone was reading him in the nineties. People in my circles did not know any of this.)
posted by Frowner at 8:34 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


"His Royal Highness The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland, Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Great Master and First and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Member of the Order of Merit, Knight of the Order of Australia, Companion of the Queen's Service Order, Honorary Member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, Chief Grand Commander of the Order of Logohu, Member of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Canadian Forces Decoration, Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty"

That's an actual, legit title...


The artist formally known as Prince.
posted by vbfg at 8:35 AM on September 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I wonder if they don't have have some cognitive defect here. Certainly the unwelcome tenant sounds like he has underlying psychiatric issues. But I mean the broader movement. It's like they equate the law with some kind of fantasy magic: "Ha! You are powerless against me, for I know the counterspell!"

Well, there are three sorts of people involved with this "movement": suckers, hucksters and white supremacists. The suckers are the people who actually try this shit in court, prey for the hucksters who sell this shit and useful idiots for the white supremacists, who are mostly engaging in classical Orwellian doublethink on this: well aware it doesn't work in real life, but a good way to give a little bit of respectability to their racism. These last are the most dangerous element in the movement.

For the supremacists it's actually a good thing when suckers end up in court and their magic spells end up not working, creating more "victims" of the Zionist Islamist Occupational Government or whatever shit they're peddling this decade. Even better for them if people get killed over this. Remember Waco! Ruby Ridge!
posted by MartinWisse at 8:35 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


As for the suckers who buy into this, should it come as a surprise that some people treat the law as others treat science, as something that can be denied through essentially magical means?
posted by MartinWisse at 8:37 AM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


[misspelled jumble of pseudo legalese deleted ]

It's the cargo cult version of law!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:37 AM on September 23, 2013 [16 favorites]


"Cargo cult law" is a perfect description.
posted by jquinby at 8:38 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


So looking through this, these are people who want to have their society and eat it too? They want the trappings of modern/semi-modern structured society but they don't want to obey the laws that make that system work.

If they really wanted to be free of society (and not just the laws/taxes part), they would have just wandered off into some truly remote stretch of woodland, hoping that some forest ranger wouldn't stumble across their cabin.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:44 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, is it spelled like that because he doesn't know how to spell sovereign?

"Sovereign" is a slave word. SC's play a variety of language games designed to magically subvert the letter of the ZOG. The best known is David Wynn Miller who invented his "Quantum-Math-Communications and Language" for "the stopping-claims of the Theft, Cheating, Fraud, Slavery and War."

Wittgenstein would've had a field day with them.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:44 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mostly, this reminds me of Timecube.
posted by thewalrus at 8:58 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


but did not know that he founded Semiotexte

Is this true, though? Sylvère Lotringer gets founding credit in all the histories of the company. As to Bey's affinities, I remember hearing all that back in the day.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:58 AM on September 23, 2013


Calling this stuff a "cargo cult" and "magical thinking" lets us label and then abandon the people and the problem they have; the real question is about why how the cargo cult or the magical thinking persists, or in the case of sovereign citizen/freemen rhetoric, how it spreads.

The original, literal cargo cults grew out of a kind of circumscribed or limited set of experiences and ideas making superficial and fleeting contact with a much different set of the same. The people discussed here are in the midst of the ideas and experiences involved, not remote from them, yet they behave as if the rest of the world has interrupted a kind of autonomous, closed system of reference.

Surely it might be useful and interesting to consider how and why that sort of epistemic closure can persist, and even paradoxically spread in circumstances that would seem to make that nearly impossible. (Seriously, the idea that so particular method for epistemic closure spreads suggests an opening somewhere else, doesn't it?)

Put another way, does anyone ever come out of the other side of the "freemen" rhetorical universe? How might someone do so? The people invoking this rhetoric may not understand working with or being responsible to others, but if we're so much better, shouldn't we try to answer some of these questions? If such people suffer from an intellectual or a cognitive "defect," doesn't that suggest we respond to it as we would any other such "defects"?
posted by kewb at 9:05 AM on September 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


They're even formed their own "police": Canadian Common Corps Of Peace Officers (C3PO).

I'm not certain why naming themselves after a golden fussbudget is supposed to be bad-ass, but there you are.
posted by bonehead at 9:11 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Canadian Common Corps Of Peace Officers (C3PO)

Fringe, society relations.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:20 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always thought Bey was pretty pretentious and annoying, but did not know that he founded Semiotexte, lives on trust-fund money and is apparently an advocate for pedophilia. There isn't much of a vogue for his work anymore in the anarchist circles I know about, but everyone was reading him in the nineties. People in my circles did not know any of this.)

A. this is not a defense of Mr. Bey (Lamborn Wilson)

B. he calls himself a poet-anarchist -- so of course he's pretentious and annoying

C. I didn't know about the trust fund but it does make sense. But so what anyway? You would prefer he just hung out a country clubs, with his own kind.

D. he was introduced me as a brilliant if annoying thinker, and an unrepentant pedophile, so when I first read TAZ, it was with eyes wide open

E. TAZ is nevertheless a brilliant chunk of mad agit-prop, and one which has had deep impact on our culture whether we want to acknowledge such or not ...

For instance, that phrase "random acts of kindness" -- I'm not saying Bey came up with it, but TAZ is the first place I ever heard it.

Also, Boycott Cop Culture, and just the notion of the TAZ itself -- the Temporary Autonomous Zone. The idea that utopias aren't just unattainable, the pursuit of them is dangerous to humanity. And yet we do sometimes stumble upon passing phases of genuine freedom. So the secret isn't to try to make them sustain but just to accept them, make the most of them as they pass, let them nourish us so we can survive the fallow periods to come ... and so on.

I'm not up on all the terminology for correct argument, debate etc. But there is the one about discrediting your opponent by going after his character as opposed to his ideas. This is all too easy to do with a guy like Hakim Bey, but it's still wrong.

Break down how the weakness of his overblown "poetic terrorism" is informed by his transgressive sexual politics and I'm all ears.
posted by philip-random at 9:24 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why are elements of the legal system "swamped" by these folks? Seems like it would be easy: "Hi! You're a vexatious litigant, and you lose. Thanks, we're done. Next?"
posted by aramaic at 9:25 AM on September 23, 2013


The legal system generally gives people a lot of rope before they hang the vexatious litigant sign on them. Probably because the legal system is seen as the last resort and so blocking people from it shouldn't be easy lest it be abused. They may have to rethink the balance, though.
posted by tavella at 9:39 AM on September 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is all too easy to do with a guy like Hakim Bey, but it's still wrong.

Bey wasn't a genius with distasteful habits, though. He was a sort of carnival barker with really distasteful habits. Nothing he ever said wasn't said better by someone else before him, so I don't think dismissing him is too great a loss to culture.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:41 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Newfreeland: Mr. Show called it first.
"Y'all don't know what it's like to be judged!" (slyt)
posted by isopraxis at 9:49 AM on September 23, 2013


his transgressive sexual politics

Is that a fancy word for child-raping?
posted by empath at 9:50 AM on September 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


During the incident, the daughter escaped from a hotel room where Jonassen had been holding her, ran naked into a store and begged for help. Jonassen was caught on surveillance footage chasing her, dragging her out of the store and pushing her into his car.

So was the store completely empty or something? That is the only reasonable explanation for why no one actually helped the naked crying girl.
posted by ymgve at 9:59 AM on September 23, 2013


Tasers are remarkably unconcerned with the finer points of semiotic debate.
posted by Skorgu at 10:04 AM on September 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


"It appeals to the angry male whose life isn't working out very well," says Usher. "You get this spiral of legal mess that the only person that's benefited is the person who's taken their money for the seminar teaching them how to do all this.

"It looks like desperate people spending their last nickel on bad advice."
Tax-dodging 'Freeman' movement growing in B.C. (autoplaying video with story)

Most of these folks (excluding predatory sex-offenders) already seem to be at the bottom of the barrel. I suspect that's why they get the lattitude they do with the courts. There are a growing number of self-representers in Canadian courts. Of course, the self-represented don't succeed very often. Some "guru" comes along offering cheat codes for the legal system, which hasn't worked out for these folks, and we are where we are now.

Freemen-on-the-land is a personal dysfunction, ethically and practically, even leaving aside sex offenders and apologists like Bey. They can do real harm to others, like the pensioner in the first-linked article. A distant relative got hit by a similar scam in Toronto about a decade ago. It took her, also retired, the rental also her major source of income, more than six months and well into six figures to get rid of the parasites. This was devastating for her, several years of her income.

However, the growth of these sovereign citizens is also a symptom of growing inequities in access to the Canadian justice system. Fixing access issues could go a long way to both handling these volleys of claims for the victims of the freemen and for correcting the attitudes of the freemen themselves.
posted by bonehead at 10:05 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The more I look into it, this "Freemen" movement is to crazy as vodka is to potato juice."

A Libertarian by any other name...
posted by markkraft at 10:18 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The only way out of this mess is to remove ourselves from the Commerce Game – completely – so that we are no longer dependent upon banksters. Their sole agenda is to control and destroy us. The only way to win is not to play."

Atlas shrugged... so we locked him away, confiscated all his stuff, and forced him to break rocks for the next twenty years.
posted by markkraft at 10:27 AM on September 23, 2013


his transgressive sexual politics

Is that a fancy word for child-raping?


I have no interest in pursuing this any further, or in any way justifying Mr. Bey's sexual acts, because I find them reprehensible at best. But this remains a classic Red Herring fallacy. No?

I actually did a bit of research there
posted by philip-random at 10:33 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find it so weird that these "OPCA"* types place such a huge weight on "Contract Law", and none at all on Criminal Law. They give false names, rewrite their citizenship, and refuse to participate in the minutia of court proceedings lest they be forced into an unfavourable contract with the State. This leaves me with two questions:

First, why should the government need their (individual) permission to subjugate them? Are they trying to appeal to Human Rights or something? Or are they hoping that they've found a loophole that will force the government to respect their sovereignty, under it's own rules? (well they did say "homebase!")

Second, why do they care what agreements they make? If they are going to exempt themselves from the system, why not go all the way and say that nothing they do has consequence? Are they afraid that exiting the system completely will bring more severe consequences? Or do they honestly believe that contracts are a higher power?

*(term borrowed from the informative and thorough decision in Meads v. Meads, 2012 ABQB 571, referenced through Brodiggitty's link)
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:47 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find it so weird that these "OPCA"* types place such a huge weight on "Contract Law", and none at all on Criminal Law.

It's especially interesting given Libertarians' insistence on all rights being property rights, isn't it?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:51 AM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I had never heard of "Free Citizens" feeling outright entitled to steal another private citizen's property before; I always thought their beef was primarily with the state. I mean, this guy's ideas would be crazy in any context, but stealing some random person's home? It would be easier to justify squatting on Crown land and building a house yourself and making a stand there. I mean you'd still be wrong, but at least you could claim it was the fruit of your own labor to some degree. Just grabbing things that belong to people that built and saved is ridiculous. Even crazy Free Citizen people should definitely want to distance themselves from this guy.

These people sometimes go after governments at all levels with absurd law suits, too. They claim ridiculous amounts of money and specify they would like it paid in gold bullion. Reading the Notice of Claim for these is simultaneously scary and hilarious.
posted by Hoopo at 11:01 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Atlas shrugged... so we locked him away, confiscated all his stuff, and forced him to break rocks for the next twenty years.

Epistemically-closed pseudophilosophy somehow makes the only appropriate sort of "defense" for epistemically-closed pseudolaw.
posted by kewb at 11:06 AM on September 23, 2013


I have no interest in pursuing this any further, or in any way justifying Mr. Bey's sexual acts, because I find them reprehensible at best. But this remains a classic Red Herring fallacy. No?

Not if he really is actively endorsing child rape. When someone pontificates on how society should be structured, it's fair game to bring up the fact that they also actively endorse pedophilia.

It would be a Red Herring if, say, Hakim Bey had secretly been a pedophile, but this activity didn't show up in his writing.

Either way, child rape could certainly be described as transgressive. Many transgressive things are bad.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:10 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seriously, if you haven't read the link posted by Brodiggitty above, please do so.

Brodiggitty's pull quote is just one of the gems. I personally believe the judge saves the best for last:

Mr. Duncan is entitled to his acquittal and none should begrudge him it. In assessing how much of the “freeman of the land” type of philosophy that he wishes to adopt in future, a philosophy that appears to focus to an unhealthy degree on freedom from societal obligations, he might, however, wish to contemplate some more productive reading on the internet, reading which emphasises the importance of responsibilities as much as society’s ongoing and sometimes exclusive fixation on rights. None of us is the centre of the universe, or, as best expressed by John Donne, “No man is an island entire of itself; every many is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” Mr. Duncan did not strike me as a fool and individual acts seldom define people, but the red binder he offered to the officers and the “affidavit of truth” he offered to me in court were regrettable descents into foolishness and Mr. Duncan would be well-advised to be more discriminating on what parts of the internet he models himself upon in the future
posted by bumpkin at 11:21 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have a very dear friend whom I am doing my best to avoid these days because of things like this. She was very left wing and very new agey and when she had her first child about 5 years ago her politics went in some weird directions. Federal reserve, Ron Paul, now the Sovereign Citizen movement.

When I was called to jury duty last spring and couldn't afford it, she suggested that I declare myself a Sovereign Citizen and opt out that way.

This seems to be something that a certain amount the new age healing journey crowd eventually find their way to as far as politics ho. The same magical thinking, as it were, in play.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 11:24 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Canadian Common Corps Of Peace Officers (C3PO)


I am so lost as to what they feel their relationship is to the state. Why would a "Freeman" or "Sovereign Citizen" need to add "Canadian" to their title? I thought the whole point was that they were sovereign!

The Canadian Common Corps of Peace Officers is an answer to a question that is starting to plague many: is Canada becoming a police state? Regardless of whether or not police powers are growing, or if there is less and less accountability, or even if there is some dark ominous and evil plan to dominate the world, there are many who are fearful of that potential, and that must and can be addressed.

Thank Heavens! These self-appointed peace officer dudes with no oversight who feel they are not bound by laws will finally bring accountability to matters of policing!
posted by Hoopo at 11:26 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Am waiting to join the Rough Riders Defending Democracy (R2D2) myself.
posted by jquinby at 11:36 AM on September 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


This seems to be something that a certain amount the new age healing journey crowd eventually find their way to

The Mary Croft document comes out of that community. It's a strange mix of feel-good Buddhism-lite with not-quite libertarian economics. It's deeply weird, and not at all drawing from the same places as the White Power stuff mentioned above. It's political self-discovery by the realization that the individual has to be self-governed. Very lefty and woo, but ends up at a traditionally right-wing destination.
posted by bonehead at 11:41 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Surely it might be useful and interesting to consider how and why that sort of epistemic closure can persist, and even paradoxically spread in circumstances that would seem to make that nearly impossible.

Isn't it weird how ideas of responsibility and sharing wealth with others are the most memetically challenged?
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 12:03 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"His Royal Highness The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall..." etc., etc.

*bonk!* "ARISE, Sir Loin of Beef!"

But in all seriousness, they're like spoiled children. I mean really, just because one has swallowed a thesaurus, the arguments still boil down to "Nyah, nyah, you can't make me (leave this woman's house, stop me from raping my kid, make me pay taxes)!"

When has "Nyah, nyah!" ever worked? I suppose after all this media, judges' and lawyers' ink and time wasted in the courts, they probably do feel powerful. Any moment now, annny moment now, they'll figure out the magic words and win! Right? Right? But they aren't anywhere near as clever as they think they are. They are not Bugs Bunny convincing the Sheriff of Nottingham to build a house in the King's rose garden.
posted by droplet at 12:19 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Am waiting to join the Rough Riders Defending Democracy (R2D2) myself.

I'm picturing a droid wearing a watermelon hat...
posted by bumpkin at 12:23 PM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


"how ideas of responsibility and sharing wealth with others"

"Sharing wealth with others" would be their framing of the issue, when, in fact, it's a matter of sharing the costs of a functioning society.
posted by markkraft at 12:27 PM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Having spent my morning trying to resolve a paperwork problem that has thus far embroiled two multinational mortgage companies, two sets of attorneys, two real estate agents, the probate court of Shelby County Alabama, various title offices, and a buyer who seems to have never heard of email but insists that I fax everything like its the fucking middle ages or something, I can see the appeal of declaring myself a sovereign citizen, free of these petty legal encumbrances.

I also would like a rocketship to the moon and a swimming pool full of delicious pudding.

Fuck these whiners.

It's funny how these dimwits are usually the "you get what you pay for" hard-headed types when it comes to everything but civilization itself, then they'd rather freeload.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:30 PM on September 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


elizardbits: "Wait, is it spelled like that because he doesn't know how to spell sovereign? Or is it because some other whackjob is already using Sovereign Nations as their own crazyface land?"

Huh, it's a movement of some kind. He was like...a franchisee?
posted by jquinby at 12:31 PM on September 23, 2013


And...here are a bunch of Youtube videos featuring the, uh, tacit chief justice himself.
posted by jquinby at 12:41 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fascinating thing about this is that if you have money or come from a privileged background there really are magical incantations you can utter that allow you to get away with stuff like not paying taxes, or ripping off pensions. What makes these guys 'dumb' is that they think that it's the words that matter, rather than the power that the person saying them wields.
posted by empath at 12:47 PM on September 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


It's funny how many lawyers don't even realize, or don't admit it anyway.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:52 PM on September 23, 2013


Aramaic: Seems like it would be easy: "Hi! You're a vexatious litigant, and you lose. Thanks, we're done. Next?"

Or perhaps: Wrong, sir! Wrong! Under section 37B of the contract signed by him, it states quite clearly that all offers shall become null and void if - and you can read it for yourself in this photostatic copy - "I, the undersigned, shall forfeit all rights, privileges, and licenses herein and herein contained," et cetera, et cetera... "Fax mentis, incendium gloria cultum," et cetera, et cetera... Memo bis punitor delicatum."! It's all there! Black and white, clear as crystal! You stole Fizzy-Lifting Drinks! You bumped into the ceiling, which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get...nothing! You lose! GOOD DAY, SIR! [bang gavel] Next case.
posted by Naberius at 1:06 PM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


droplet: They are not Bugs Bunny convincing the Sheriff of Nottingham to build a house in the King's rose garden.

The decision I linked upthread suggested a similar mindset:
"Gurus claim that their techniques provide easy rewards – one does not have to pay tax, child and spousal support payments, or pay attention to traffic laws. There are allegedly secret but accessible bank accounts that contain nearly unlimited funds, if you know the trick to unlock their gates... All this is a consequence of the fact gurus proclaim they know secret principles and law, hidden from the public, but binding on the state, courts, and individuals.

[74] And all these “secrets” can be yours, for small payment to the guru"
I'm thinking now that I'm giving the OPCA adherents too much credit by looking for an underlying coherence in their arguments. Their only frame of reference is "does it help me get away". The implications of their arguments are obfuscated and mostly unexamined. I'm a bit disgusted by this realization. Are there really people who think so shallowly?

On the other hand, the decision also suggests the following reason for to the appeal and resilience of OPCA methods:
"Another uniform OPCA characteristic appears to be a belief that ordinary persons have been unfairly cheated, or deceived as to their rights. This belief that the common man has been abused and cheated by a hidden hand seems to form the basis for OPCA community members perceived right to break ‘the system’ and retaliate against ‘their oppressors’...

The OPCA litigant may not be able to explain his or her actions for the very same reason that a judge is confused by the documents, submissions, and in‑court conduct they provide. Neither really understands what is going on, but for different reasons."
So maybe I should be a little more charitable. When the adherents don't feel like they have any control over their legal troubles, and they don't understand the court process, is it any wonder that this snake oil sounds plausible to them? What can we do to help enfranchise these people so they don't turn to the crazy?
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:14 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


> there really are magical incantations

Look at Bush v. Gore for instance. The ideas of having "standing", of "remanding" a case rather than deciding it, of charging a person with "resisting arrest with violence" and "resisting arrest without violence" at the same time are just a few that make me close the browser. Incorporation of the bill of rights by states-- never taught in my high school U.S. history class.

So, not surprising that cargo cult law would emerge.

> The people discussed here are in the midst of the ideas and experiences involved, not remote from them

Yes, it's not precisely the same as the U.S. military packing up & leaving and the supply of tools and food drying up, but just because the mysterious high priests of law walk among us, doesn't make it much harder for false prophets to gain followers. When lawyers charge $300/hour and Nolo Press is harassed a little DIY law looks like a sane response.

And, sometimes it works
posted by morganw at 1:19 PM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's the trick, isn't it. Sometimes it does seem to work, and after you've gotten out of paying for a pet license or some other minor thing, or you've worn down the local city attorney on some pissant thing and he or she just throws it in and gives up, well, why wouldn't you just keep on keepin' on? I watched a couple of those videos above and it's not at all hard to imagine desperate folks signing up.

You're immediately under the "diplomatic protection" of the 'nation', nothing can hurt you now, we'll help you ease through the transition as you unplug from The System and into one of your own making, etc. The surprise isn't that people do it. The surprise to me is that someone hasn't redone one of these websites into something a little less gonzo and applied tighter messaging to prevent the crazy bells from going off sooner.

Popular Ethics: "When the adherents don't feel like they have any control over their legal troubles, and they don't understand the court process, is it any wonder that this snake oil sounds plausible to them?"

I don't think it's that they don't understand...I think they believe they understand it better than any of us. That they alone understand the real underpinnings of the law, that these underpinnings are fraudulent, and that they are therefore not bound by it. So maybe it's closer to some sort of legal esoterica along the lines of Patrick Henry Trismestigus rather than a cargo cult.
posted by jquinby at 1:31 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


side note: I love this bit from the hilarious decision linked by Brodiggitty: "The prospect of disentangling Mr. Duncan’s adopted argument and his volume of internet-derived gibberish made me wonder if, for some reason, the gods had me in their cross-hairs. This concern, however, was dissipated in mid-September, 2012 when the gods made their benevolent nature clear. [with the arrival of the Meads v Meads decision]
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:37 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


So looking through this, these are people who want to have their society and eat it too?

Clearly you've never had a chat with any Libertarians.

I don't understand why this mindset is so alien to everyone. From the Puritans to Mormonism to the Confederacy, declaring your independence from the civilization that reared you is an American tradition. Municipalities spend billions every July in celebration of this spirit.

And it's not as if the TAZ-as-psudeointellectual-cover-for-human-rights-crimes is a new thing either. The three groups I just mentioned declared their autonomy precisely to give license their exploitative impulses. The Pilgrims moved to Plymouth so they could flog Catholics and other impure Christians in peace. Mormons decamped for Utah in search of more child brides. And the South seceded because they weren't being allowed to found new empires of human chattel in the territories.

Declaring your independence so you can avoid paying taxes and fuck people you shouldn't is MORE American than apple pie.
posted by clarknova at 1:51 PM on September 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


It looks like the dispute between Caverhill and Pirelli is a little more complicated than a disagreement over rent. When he moved in she agreed to let him "spruce up" the property in return for three months rent. But when she went to look at the duplex three months later, Caverhill discovered that he'd done major renovations and might have extensively damaged the property. That's when she ordered him out, and he started pulling the Freeman shit. Since then he's paid no rent, and his company sent her a bill for $26 000 in renovations. When she didn't pay it, the company put a $17 000 lien on the home.

So there's two issues in dispute: the rent issue, which he obviously owes her, and the somewhat murkier issue of the home renovations, which she didn't want and won't pay for. I guess she's afraid she'l lose the home to him because of the lien. He's in the wrong, but if they didn't sign a contract beforehand specifying what "sprucing up" meant, it might be quite difficult and expensive for her to fight him in court.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:52 PM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Straight Dope has a great article on one of the OPCA arguments - that your income tax applies to a corporate person from which you can opt-out. The so called "A4V" argument. There are some great lines in the article, but the final one stung a bit:
Now, now. It wasn’t sovereign citizens who dreamed up the idea that the 14th Amendment created fictional persons. It was that hotbed of extremism, the Supreme Court.
posted by Popular Ethics at 2:02 PM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


jquinby: I don't think it's that they don't understand...I think they believe they understand it better than any of us. That they alone understand the real underpinnings of the law, that these underpinnings are fraudulent, and that they are therefore not bound by it.

I thought that at the beginning too, but the decisions I've been reading describe adherents doing dumb things like citing the American constitution in a Canadian court. I don't think the adherents understand anything except what they've been told - that there is a trick you can use to get a free cookie. I don't think the Gurus leading them understand anything more than how to con suckers for cash.
posted by Popular Ethics at 2:15 PM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Calling this stuff a "cargo cult" and "magical thinking" lets us label and then abandon the people and the problem they have; the real question is about why how the cargo cult or the magical thinking persists, or in the case of sovereign citizen/freemen rhetoric, how it spreads.

The original, literal cargo cults grew out of a kind of circumscribed or limited set of experiences and ideas making superficial and fleeting contact with a much different set of the same. The people discussed here are in the midst of the ideas and experiences involved, not remote from them, yet they behave as if the rest of the world has interrupted a kind of autonomous, closed system of reference.


I think part of the problem is that, while technically lay people live in the same society as those well-versed in legal language, in actuality many people perhaps don't know and never have any significant interaction with any lawyers or people capable of reading and understanding legalese, have no training in reading or understanding legalese themselves, and have no resources for obtaining any such training or for even figuring out where to start obtaining such training, or that such training might in fact exist in the first place. Canada is not quite as class-segregated a society as the US, but it's not great for that either. Perhaps the "suckers" described upthread come from these ranks?

It does seem to be a belief system that ascribes magical incantation-type abilities to legal language, which definitely seems anachronistic to me. But then, I also have a sufficiently privileged status that I know lawyers and have a sufficiently similar academic training that I can make some sense of legalese.
posted by eviemath at 2:17 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


jquinby: "The guy's business website as a bizarre bit of legalese on it:

Discontinued on behalf of the Authorized Representative of it and no authorize use or legal determination may regarding it, are here by revoke.

I the Authorize Representative hereby give this PUBLIC NOTICE to the prejudice of any and al Executor De Son Torts in their personal public and private capacity.

And those making of use of it, must do so under Jurat Affidavit under the pains and penalties of purgery of the Authorize Representative.


...and then:

Subscribe to Our Monthly Brunch Meetings!
"

How did you miss the WEIRDER part of it? It is linked right off the main page!

The funniest part of it all is that everything is TM. How do you enforce a trademark without a national government to provide enforcement assistance?
posted by Samizdata at 2:22 PM on September 23, 2013


Great Seal of Excellence?
posted by thewalrus at 2:25 PM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Freeman "legal" arguments are not merely exercises in solipsism and conspiracy thinking. They're also exaggerated forms of much more common legal misunderstandings. Many people in common law systems (such as Canada and the US) don't quite understand how the common law works. Many people are confused by the ideas of precedent and judge-made law. The very idea that you could win a case on the merits by slipping in this "secret" law, unbeknownst to lawyers and judges alike, is pure hogwash. Nobody cares that Joe Blow of 123 Anywhere Street has some idiosyncratic interpretation of Moorish Law, as it applies to the present case. What matters are the relevant statutes and binding precedent in Joe Blow's jurisdiction.

A more common (and more reasonable) version of these misunderstandings would include, say, a pro se defendant who looks up "extortion" in Black's Law Dictionary and thinks that that definition is all they have to work from in their defense. They think that that definition is What The Law Is, and now all they have to do is argue one way or another about that Law. "Well, it's not really 'extortion' because xyz," and they go off on a tear about what would or wouldn't be extortion, and really they had a good reason for their so-called extortion, and blabbity-blah. But, they're not citing their jurisdiction's definition of "extortion," they're not citing any relevant binding case law on extortion, and they're not going element-by-element through the definition of "extortion" to counter what the prosecution is saying.

That said, these Freeman arguments do sometimes have an effect similar to SLAPP suits. If it's too expensive for a defendant to counter their ridiculous lawsuit, then that defendant may well settle, or give up.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:25 PM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


jquinby: "Am waiting to join the Rough Riders Defending Democracy (R2D2) myself."

Me? I am awaiting for the High Kingdom the 47th myself.
posted by Samizdata at 2:35 PM on September 23, 2013


I think part of the problem is that, while technically lay people live in the same society as those well-versed in legal language, in actuality many people perhaps don't know and never have any significant interaction with any lawyers or people capable of reading and understanding legalese, have no training in reading or understanding legalese themselves, and have no resources for obtaining any such training or for even figuring out where to start obtaining such training, or that such training might in fact exist in the first place. Canada is not quite as class-segregated a society as the US, but it's not great for that either. Perhaps the "suckers" described upthread come from these ranks?

That's been my suspicion, looking at these things. They kind of remind me a little of the sort of junk mail that I tend to get more often when my credit rating is low -- stuff labeled FINAL NOTICE with a bunch of discursive text on it that amounts to hiding an offer to buy something useless and expensive in a form that looks a bit like a bill. It gets sent out because it works, presumably, and probably it works because it sometimes lands in mailboxes with a number of other similar-but-real documents where the person receiving them is easily intimidated by jargony demands and isn't skilled at processing written information.

Personally, I'd certainly have to rely on a lawyer to understand what was going on in any court proceeding more complicated than a traffic ticket -- but I do have the background to know that I would need a lawyer, to know how to find a lawyer, and to not find the lawyer equally incomprehensible and unrelatable. It's not such a far stretch from there to get to where a person sees one pile of gibberish as the same as the other, except that the freeman folks are promising better results and a more satisfying narrative.
posted by sparktinker at 3:43 PM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


aramaic: "Why are elements of the legal system "swamped" by these folks? Seems like it would be easy: "Hi! You're a vexatious litigant, and you lose. Thanks, we're done. Next?""

Well, some jurisdictions have something like this - the provisions have been on the books in mine since the 1930s, and we also recently had a Parliamentary Inquiry into the subject.

Giving full and frank hearings to these claims is an important part of maintaining the legitimacy of our institutions and a powerful argument against those who would say that the courts only provide justice for the rich, privileged or "in the know". By according unusual claimants dignity, respect and due process, we ensure it is there for others for others in the future ("honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve" as another lawyer put it).

It's a big step to declare someone vexatious, because access to the courts is a basic right and marking some people as somehow unworthy of a basic right (or requiring permission to access it, as is the situation for vexatious litigants here) is a kind of civic excommunication and the thin end of the wedge for all kinds of abuses. Regardless, I believe VL's always retain the right to challenge their designation as such for obvious reasons, and unfortunately this is a process that could also be hypothetically abused.

Finally, even a stopped clock is occasionally correct - David James Lindsey was found to have some arguable points to make even after years of nuisance litigation, and I think at least one Victorian VL has successfully demonstrated to the court that they had snapped out of it and mended their ways.
posted by curious.jp at 3:50 PM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Jonassen case mentioned above is really sad, especially since his daughter still appears to be in thrall to him, or at least her family, and repeated "I don't remember" to all questions during his trial. Fortunately, the jury had video and other testimony to go on, and he was convicted and sentenced to 40 years.
posted by tavella at 4:54 PM on September 23, 2013


Nothing he ever said wasn't said better by someone else before him,

Close up the site mathowie, we are done here.
posted by Chuckles at 5:09 PM on September 23, 2013


three observations -

"The only way out of this mess is to remove ourselves from the Commerce Game – completely – so that we are no longer dependent upon banksters. Their sole agenda is to control and destroy us. The only way to win is not to play. Compensation which involves the banks is hazardous; we can create for ourselves all that is way bigger and better – love and light, peace and joy, compassion and forgiveness – that which we were meant to Be, Do, and Have. By remembering who we are we will learn to do what we love to do and serve ourselves by serving others, thereby leaving the banksters completely out of our new way of life."

if this had been written by a member of occupy, some of you would be quite pleased with it

secondly, what we have here is an individual-sized version of american exceptionalism - like parent, like child

last of all, we all seem to think rectangular pieces of mostly green paper with presidents can buy us things - i wonder what they think about that in zimbabwe

and that a piece of paper saying what the government can and can't do will protect us

this same piece of paper claims that congress must be the one to declare war, even though our military system is set up so that the president must respond within 10 to 15 minutes to activate our nuclear defenses - which is not enough time to call 535 people, must less get them together to vote on the idea

this piece of paper says that our government is created by "we, the people", but the current interpretation of law seems to be that corporations are the people who actually create it and the rest of us are spectators

we are also told that "In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved" and yet, how many legal civil proceedings have been conveniently redefined as infractions that don't go to jury trial? - (and isn't it interesting that out of all the bill of rights amendments that our federal courts have found apply to the states, that this isn't one?)

we are told that we are free from unreasonable searches and seizures - is that really true?

so, what's more ridiculous? - the insistence of "freedmen" and "sovereign citizens" that the law doesn't apply to them? - or our belief that this piece of paper is actually being applied to us the way we believe it is?

one absurdity confronts another

of course, i'm not stupid enough to tilt at legalistic windmills in a vain attempt to win against them, because i know it's not going to happen - no, i go along with it

but i don't have to BELIEVE it
posted by pyramid termite at 6:01 PM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


so, what's more ridiculous? - the insistence of "freedmen" and "sovereign citizens" that the law doesn't apply to them? - or our belief that this piece of paper is actually being applied to us the way we believe it is?


Maybe the SovCits aren't making the mistake of believing law doesn't apply to them. Maybe they're making a categorical error in believing that it does.
posted by clarknova at 6:04 PM on September 23, 2013


I've learned three things today:

(1) There's such thing as The Saskatchewan Order of Merit.

(2) Prince Charles (KG KT OM GCB SOM AK QSO GCL CD PC ADC(P)) is a member of said order.

(3) The Saskatchewan Order of Merit sits between Knight of the National Order of Quebec and Member of the Order of Ontario
posted by flyingfox at 6:24 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, but you need to formally declare yourself a member in good standing of the Medicine Hat Chamber of Excellence (which you already are, although they don't want you to know that) in order to gain a hearing in the secret Court of Railroad Law/Cour du Chemin de Fer, which absolves you from having to pay GST on produce, lumber, and bicycles.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:55 PM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


termite, the section you quoted isn't really objectionable. It's not really insightful or anything either, but no, it's not objectionable.

What people find objectionable (and ludicrous) is not that the freemen etc are dissatisfied with the social order because who isn't?

What's ridiculous about them is - well, there are a lot of things, if you'd read any of the links in the OP or thread.

1) The insistence that people are separate from the "legal strawman" of themselves, a corporate identity contained in their birth certificate, for which there is a secret bank account worth limitless money because their government sold them into slavery to a World Government at birth.
2) That despite apparently being slaves they have access to this money.
3) The rejection of the fourteenth amendment in the U.S.
4) The idea that they can be a part of society, use its roads and schools and water and services, without paying a dime towards any of it or
5) Being bound by any of its laws, such as laws that require them to pay back debts, drive sober and within the speed limit, or not rape children.
6) That they derive the ability to do all of this by the incantation of special words and the performance of special rituals, despite the fact that it's plainly obvious to anyone and everyone that if you push hard enough, law is backed up by force.

Sovereign Citizens and their ilk are not quixotic heroes to be lionized.

I could give you some answers to your other concerns about the constitution, but the overall answer is that practicality and reasonableness are actually concerns in the application of all law, including constitutional law. If a jury were required to settle every case in small claims court, the practical effect would be that no such thing as small claims court would exist.

The legal system is far from perfect, but it is founded upon admirable ideals, and a great many people work very hard every day to uphold those ideals, and it actually does a lot of good work. Read the case Brodiggity linked. Spoiler: the freeman was acquitted of the crime that he was accused of, in spite of his obfuscatory ranting about "jurisdiction".
posted by kavasa at 7:21 PM on September 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


I just read Meads V. Meads All 154 pages (not including attached 'fee schedues') and good god damn. It's an amazing work. Not just of analysis and insight but of sheer endurance. He's produced a clear, well cited exhaustive (and if the 22 cases subsequently citing it are any indication, authoritative) guide to "Organized Pseudolegal Contract Argument" litigants in a Canadian context, when just reading the excerpts of some of those natural person arguments had my brain trying to squeeze itself out my my ear to escape.
posted by Grimgrin at 7:22 PM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


so, what's more ridiculous? - the insistence of "freedmen" and "sovereign citizens" that the law doesn't apply to them? - or our belief that this piece of paper is actually being applied to us the way we believe it is?

Pretty much the bit that involves putting colons and dashes in one's name in order to ward off the evil eye of the tax-man?

But a bit more seriously: I'm not sure who the "our, us, and we" here is, and what we're supposed to believe about how law, in this case Canadian law, is applied to us (or not so much, for the part of we who is not in Canada), but if you're asserting that it's naive to think that governments are adhering to the letter and spirit of the rules that actually govern them, isn't it actually much more silly to think that they must adhere to rules that don't exist?
posted by sparktinker at 7:45 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


You want to say, "Bro, think about it: if the global conspiracy is that powerful and that evil they'll just shoot you and damn the law."

They do!
The fascinating thing about this is that if you have money or come from a privileged background there really are magical incantations you can utter that allow you to get away with stuff like not paying taxes, or ripping off pensions. What makes these guys 'dumb' is that they think that it's the words that matter, rather than the power that the person saying them wields.

This. So many people here- mostly (unlike these people) relatively well-off middleish-class people who "do things with computers"- are super mad that these bums and dregs are doing this. There's an element of the uncanny here, where these people who shouldn't know anything are trying to use (albeit poorly) the same magic that our class superiors do.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:46 PM on September 23, 2013


Also, the "legal strawman" thing is kind of funny, because wouldn't it be nice if you could claim you were a person, and that there was a "you" beyond your credit score/HS transcript/college transcript/SSN/job history/bank account/Facebook/NSA shadow profile/etc.?

Obviously this doesn't apply to the privileged for whom all of those things are positives, but if you're not one, wouldn't you sometimes like to slough off the horrible dead body of numbers that grew around you? The Republicans will talk about how immature it is to want to abandon the consequences of personal responsibility etc. etc., but those homilies only soothe the choir.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:06 PM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


What's ridiculous about them is - well, there are a lot of things, if you'd read any of the links in the OP or thread.

i did - not everyone you disagree with is ignorant

I could give you some answers to your other concerns about the constitution, but the overall answer is that practicality and reasonableness are actually concerns in the application of all law, including constitutional law.

i actually can see the point where it comes to small claims court - but being able to destroy civilization in 15 minutes as practical and reasonable?

an insane and abusive regime has produced some insane and abusive people
posted by pyramid termite at 2:29 AM on September 24, 2013


last of all, we all seem to think rectangular pieces of mostly green paper with presidents can buy us things - i wonder what they think about that in zimbabwe

Oh, I think that in Zimbabwe (note spelling) you can get pretty far with those same pieces of mostly green paper with presidents.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:32 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


He's produced a clear, well cited exhaustive (and if the 22 cases subsequently citing it are any indication, authoritative) guide to "Organized Pseudolegal Contract Argument" litigants in a Canadian context

Ironically considering the way these people fetishise it, as perfect an illustration of the way case law actually works as you could imagine.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:38 AM on September 24, 2013


so, what's more ridiculous? - the insistence of "freedmen" and "sovereign citizens" that the law doesn't apply to them? - or our belief that this piece of paper is actually being applied to us the way we believe it is?

The former, no doubt, if only because of their childlike insistence that just because they say the law doesn't count, it doesn't.

But it's in any case silly to draw an equivalence between those who think they can ignore the law through magical thinking and those who know that abuse of the law or unjust laws can only be stopped through hard work and through personal sacrifises and that in part it means playing within the rules and in part it may mean playing outside the rules and being prepared to live with the consequences.

The freedmen not only want to cheat, they want people to respect their cheating. Proper activists know that things don't work that way.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:44 AM on September 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not digging the idea that the Freemen are secretly awesome revolutionary pranksters, or even the more reasonable idea that they're an inevitable product of the corruption in the legal system. They're just a bunch of hucksters, no more honorable than snake oil salesmen, or common thieves.

There is, of course, plenty of corruption in both the Canadian and US legal systems. However, the Freemen's arguments neither illustrate nor respond to any of those forms of corruption.

Indeed, the Freemen exploit perfectly good parts of the Canadian and US legal systems: the idea that you have the right to represent yourself, the idea that access to the court system is a basic legal right, the idea that you have the right to try out untested legal arguments. The Freemen exploit the vulnerable, and they exploit their communities.

All the Freemen do is to use mystically daffy pseudo-legalese to delay proceedings, intimidate their opponents, and drain people's finances. Their suits are often SLAPPs. Not only are SLAPPs typically unethical and illegal, but SLAPPs waste the courts' time and the public's money. The more SLAPPs there are, the more people have to wait even for their non-SLAPP suits to resolve.

The mere fact that law is a learned discipline - that you need to study law in order to practice it well - that it can seem mysterious to the uninitiated - is not corrupt in and of itself. At least, it's no more corrupt than the fact that you need education in order to be a programmer, or a construction foreman, or a nurse. Education reform would be the best treatment for unequal distribution of legal knowledge, by producing both a better-informed general populace and a more affordable army of lawyers. Besides, the idea that powerful lawyers just say arbitrary words to make whatever they want happen is an unhelpful exaggeration of reality - undoubtedly, the wealthy and white have tremendous advantages in the world, let alone the legal system, but the mere fact that we have a court system is not the root cause of that.

If the charge is that the law is too opaque, be aware that "simplifying" the law is a poisoned chalice. A gratuitously "simpler" legal system is often much more open to graft and bias. Where there is more vagueness, the powers that be can insert themselves more, without having to justify themselves. That's not to say that a complicated legal system is inherently better. However, you do need a certain level of sophistication in order to treat people fairly.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:43 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are they afraid that exiting the system completely will bring more severe consequences? Or do they honestly believe that contracts are a higher power?

They don't want to exit the system at all! They want to enjoy the fruits and benefits of society as much as anyone else. They couldn't bear the idea of actually going somewhere without a functioning government. They'd probably starve in the wilderness. In a weak or failed state, they would probably be quickly taken advantage of. They don't even want to negotiate with their neighbors, or even the state, as to how they should relate to one another. No, they just want to enjoy what society already offers them, except with the additional benefit of having no meaningful restraints from anybody else ever. They don't understand why they can't play the video game of life in God Mode, all the time.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:59 AM on September 24, 2013


I wonder how this guy would respond to being bodily removed from the property. Would he consider it a violation of extraterritoriality? An act of war? Would he file suit in his own court? Appeal to the Hague?

And he's filed a lien against her property. Where? In the Canadian courts he does not recognize? Maybe she should go Freemen herself and pay him in scrip of her own design. Or she can send him a note indicating that the funds have been deposited into his secret account.

Wheels within wheels, my friends.
posted by jquinby at 5:32 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


> law ... is not corrupt in and of itself.... Education reform would be the best treatment for unequal distribution of legal knowledge

It's not just that legal understanding* isn't available. Popular coverage of legal issues in the news and on police procedural TV shows reinforces the "magical" aura of the law. It's always a man bites dog rare case that's in the headlines or ripped from them. Murderers walking free due to the exclusionary rule sure looks like an incantation working. The carefully argued defense, wending through the nutty texture of 4th amendment case law doesn't get a mention except maybe to say the lawyers are sharp and expensive.

*legal knowledge is much more accessible than it used to be. You can get briefs, decisions and summaries online. Making sense of that wealth as a lay person is still a challenge. For instance, without a handy guide to photographing the police that covers all the circuit decisions or understanding of how the US federal courts work, you might not realize that Glik v. Cunniffe is a poor guide to behavior in Texas.
posted by morganw at 8:24 AM on September 24, 2013


1. I wish there was a way for us to pick up everyone of these idiots and put them all in their own enclosed area...

We really should do this. Maybe Canada and the US (probably not the UN) could team up and find a few square kilometres of land along the border, put a big fence around it and let them go at it. I'm against sending them to Somalia because presumably the land there belongs to someone, and they already have enough problems of their own.

2. skorgu's link above is fucking hilarious!

3. I read J.D. Rooke's judgement a couple of months back, and it's fascinating. My buddy the retired lawyer says he's a great guy too.

I think the magical thinking/cargo cult idea really does work as an explanation. Not to let those folks who simply believe in the magic power of words off the hook, but to illustrate how difficult it is to educate people against their will. And our education system has plenty of problems already...
posted by sneebler at 9:11 AM on September 24, 2013


A case frequently cited in "freedom to travel" cases is Robertson v. DPW, Washington State Supreme Court, 1934. The bit quoted is from the dissenting opinion. It's also just a general statement about rights, roads and commercial permits causing de facto monopolies from which a lengthy legal argument ensues. Useful maybe as an intro to the subject, but not something you want to quote when driving around without license plates:
Complete freedom of the highways is so old and
well established a blessing that we have forgotten the
days of the "Robber Barons" and toll roads, and yet,
under an act like this, arbitrarily administered, the
highways may be completely monopolized. If, through
lack of interest, the people submit, then they may look
to see the most sacred of their liberties taken from
them one by one by more or less rapid encroachment.
Sherwoodian!
posted by morganw at 9:13 AM on September 24, 2013


2. skorgu's link above is fucking hilarious!

no it isn't. The guy's an obnoxious asshole but the man with the taser quickly upped him in that regard. Not that different than caning a misbehaving child -- a bad solution for bad behavior, and very possibly a guarantee of some kind of future extrapolation of the violence.

I think the magical thinking/cargo cult idea really does work as an explanation. Not to let those folks who simply believe in the magic power of words off the hook, but to illustrate how difficult it is to educate people against their will.

Too true. And the pre-taser stuff is an excellent illustration. The guy isn't just working a delusion, but belligerently, publicly so. And yet, he's not the one who escalates the situation to violence. So the court officer is like the deeply frustrated teacher who finally loses it, resorts to the 19th century (except he's got a taser, of course, instead of a bit of wood).

Call it a lose-lose.
posted by philip-random at 9:42 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm ok with that. I did feel bad for laughing at the guy, but it also seemed like an effective deterrent against the whole smother 'em in paper! routine.
posted by sneebler at 11:52 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the charge is that the law is too opaque, be aware that "simplifying" the law is a poisoned chalice.

Not a fan of sovereign citizens or freemen.

But at risk of derail: there is an important difference between the complexity of legal processes and ideas, and the language used to describe those processes and ideas. My charge was that the law was written in too opaque the language - well, and that there are structural inequalities within society that restrict people's access to legal understanding and expertise - and that those of the freemen on the selling of advice end of things seemed to be exploiting this. This is not entirely unrelated to complexity of the law itself - to a certain extent more complex ideas require more careful and precise, and thus more opaque to the non-initiate, language to describe (says the mathematician) - but it is a distinct issue.
posted by eviemath at 12:12 PM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's especially tricky because the law is made up of words. Good legal writing really will be very clear - unfortunately, not all legal writing is good.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:26 PM on September 24, 2013


ey don't want to exit the system at all! They want to enjoy the fruits and benefits of society as much as anyone else. They couldn't bear the idea of actually going somewhere without a functioning government. They'd probably starve in the wilderness. In a weak or failed state, they would probably be quickly taken advantage of.
In stories like these, I see often a kind of smug, you-wouldn't-last-a-day-in-prison posturing which at its heart seems defensive. "Our system might leave you feeling alienated, abused, and dehumanized, but that's because you're a bad person, also there are no alternatives." It doesn't matter that they're/we're being taken advantage of perfectly well in the state we have, or that the idea of these others as 'parasites' reads like cribbed Rand.

At least it's not the racist, historically amnesiac "Somalia" one-liners you usually see.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:55 PM on September 24, 2013


In stories like these, I see often a kind of smug, you-wouldn't-last-a-day-in-prison posturing which at its heart seems defensive.

no u

No, seriously, these people are not roughing it in the wilderness, trying to use their Freeman stuff to keep the government out of their hair. They're using it to screw people over in property disputes. Nobody forced them to get involved with property in "foreign" jurisdictions. Their motives are purely selfish and silly.

"Our system might leave you feeling alienated, abused, and dehumanized, but that's because you're a bad person, also there are no alternatives."

There is no intellectually honest way to wring that bizarre straw man out of anything that anybody's actually said in here. There are all kinds of legitimate protests against the government, including civil disobedience, including absurdism. The Freeman stuff is just a bunch of "magic spells" for charlatans and suckers, to prevail unfairly. No social justice ends are even being attempted here.

that the idea of these others as 'parasites' reads like cribbed Rand

Somebody who unjustly declares that they have superior jurisdiction over all other parties - while using others' shared resources - is, indeed, a parasite. There's nothing Randian about that.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:32 AM on September 25, 2013


An update on the story in Edmonton: Freeman Evicted, Warrant Issued for Arrest
posted by blue_beetle at 8:09 AM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


This seems to be something that a certain amount the new age healing journey crowd eventually find their way to

I currently have to avoid facebook post wine consumption to avoid saying impolite things to one old-school new-ager who seems to be reposting increasing amounts of stuff that originated in the crypto-libertarian conspiracy-sphere. Still, it's not really a new thing: 7 or 8 years back I was at this new-age Templar/Grail thing at Rosslyn House [free ticket, wanted to see the chapel] and ended up talking to David Shayler, at the time a big promoter of the whole Truther jive--he actually came over as a fairly rational, personable, and even convincing guy. Up until he mentioned, in passing, that he was the reincarnation of Jesus. The internet really does seem to be increasing the R0 of the transmission, though, making it epidemic. It's alarming how much of what used to be the enclave of the far right militia types is making it into the mainstream alternative left.


It does make sense I guess, if you already believe in one grand narrative based on a somewhat colloquial perception of reality...
posted by titus-g at 10:09 AM on September 25, 2013


"An update on the story in Edmonton: Freeman Evicted, Warrant Issued for Arrest"

Welcome news! I'm usually a bit depressed about Canada's prospects in this age of Harper, but the legal system (both federal and provincial) still seems to be working pretty well. (One thing, though. It's a Calgary story, but for some reason most of the links here have been from Edmonton papers.)

Interesting that Pirelli/Antonacci was already wanted by the law when he moved west. Hopefully they'll drag him back to Quebec, and he can annoy the judges there. It would be great if he paid Caverhill the $8,970, but that's probably not going to happen. He'll say it's piracy or something, and when he's finally pinned down to the spot (after more injunctions and liens) he'll admit that he's broke. Seems like the type.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:04 PM on September 25, 2013


"An update on the story in Edmonton: Freeman Evicted, Warrant Issued for Arrest"

Welcome news! I'm usually a bit depressed about Canada's prospects in this age of Harper, but the legal system (both federal and provincial) still seems to be working pretty well.


Heh, remember that in this context, the landlady is playing the role of big business. Of course she'd get the eviction once it proceeded to a hearing.

Not that I disagree with your assessment of the legal system, or think she's in the wrong. Just that this wasn't unexpected to anyone who's invested in landlord-tenant issues.
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:36 PM on September 25, 2013


'Freeman-on-the-Land' tenant arrested by Calgary police

He was sought under warrant by the Montreal police for assulting a previous landlord and for fleeing arrest. The Calgary police are also considering charges.
posted by bonehead at 7:46 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


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