Legal Self-Exemption Deconstructed

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.

Comments are closed.