This evening, I was doing some research about a group calling itself “Freemen on the Land.” For those who haven’t heard of them, it’s a fringe movement that operates on the erroneous belief one can remove himself from the rule, reach, and jurisdiction of his nation’s law.
The phenomenon originally caught my attention several years ago when a failed mayoral candidate in Kamloops hit the news after being stopped by police officers for speeding, upon which he made bizarre self-representations and gave the legal system a truly surreal explanation of his actions. Unsurprisingly, a few years of back-and-forth skirmishes with the system ended in futility, and he was ultimately found responsible for what he did.
Incidents like this have also drawn the public’s attention to the bigger picture: a sparse groups of anarchists, anti-tax fanatics, and religious extremists bound by common interests to declare themselves exempt from the law, often stating they renounce the legal system’s protections and duties. Mostly organized via the Internet and their beliefs promoted by self-declared gurus, these individuals have made a name for themselves by disrupting courts in several countries with all manner of nonsense filings, stall tactics, denials, misrepresentations, and other means of essentially dragging their feet or bamboozling opponents. Most of the success in doing so is achieved because other people, particularly law enforcement officers and the general public, are unfamiliar with their tactics.
To that end, I present my readers with an especially interesting case: one Alberta court judge has gone to enormous lengths to examine the common modus operandi of FOTL and similar groups, and develop a guide that will serve to help educate others. The RFJ has since been uploaded to CanLII, so feel free to check it out there and have a glimpse into an utterly bizarre worldview.
When you stop to think about how many people live in la-la land, and remind yourself that economic fears are probably fuelling much of the anti-government sentiment that’s arisen over the last decade, it’s suddenly not so surprising that a few might go to such lengths. Nevertheless, it seems the vast majority of these groups and the way they promote themselves is about a scant few getting rich off the backs of society’s most gullible. Caveat emptor.