I’ve recently been seeing some weird court documents filed in response to some minor criminal charges in my province - the accused essentially are trying to deny that the court has any jurisdiction. By what I’ve heard, they sound similar to the Freemen of Montana, and the Posse Comitatus - they try to argue that the court is a foreign court, not known to the common law, contrary to Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights, 1689, etc.

They do some weird things with their signatures too - put a thumbprint on it as their seal, have it witnessed by a couple of “Good, Trusty and True Christian Men” (who also put their thumbprints on), and insist on spelling their names “Cecil, Adams” or “Ed, Zotti.” (The comma seems to have some sort of mystical significance that escapes me.)

I’ve tried to search the web for info about them, but the closest I’ve got are the web sites for the “free militia” groups. These guys don’t seem to be into that, as far as I can tell.

Has anyone else out there run into these kind of guys? any suggestions for web sites?

Try this, the Southern Poverty Law Center:

Hope I got that url & the UBB code right…

“Proverbs for Paranoids, 3: If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.”

  • T.Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow.

Do your wackos argue about the trim on the flag too? In the US, some of the “freemen” argue that any trial that takes place in a courtroom where the flag has a gold trim is a de facto military court martial and therefore the local government has been placed under military occupation.

now that I’ve not heard - but then, we don’t put gold trim on our flags, so who knows?

another thing they’ve tried to do is to argue that if the Information (charging document) lists their names in all caps, it’s a nullity, because true Christians only capitalize the first letters of their names.

Jorge - I checked the Southern Poverty Law site - found some interesting stuff there - thanks.

(still interested in hearing from anyone else who’s had any experience with these guys.)

Think ROT.
Republic-of-Texas, that is.
They went up against the man awhile back, guess who lost?

One of the prime functions of these self declared independant governments seems to be the paying of debts with its own version of money. (Hey! We’re a government! We can do that!)
When that scam don’t fly, then they resort to the ‘you ain’t got no authority over me’ one.

Here’s some links for you.

Philosophically, these groups do bring up interesting questions. What right does the government have to coerce citizens? Is it based on a “social contract”? What constitutes consent to this contract? Does just living in a country imply consent? If so, how did the government get such power that merely living on “their” land implies consent? Under what circumstances can this contract be dissolved?

Realistically, however, these questions don’t really matter. The question of where the government got its power is irrelevant to the fact that it has it. All the rhetoric in the world won’t make a prison disappear.

" ‘Ideas on Earth were badges of friendship or enmity. Their content did not matter.’ " -Kurt Vonnegut, * Breakfast of Champions *

Part of the problem perhaps is that anyone born within the geographic area of the nation is automatically a citizen.

I wonder how life might be different if at the age of adulthood, you had to actively choose to be sworn in as a citizen, agreeing to accept the duties, responsibilites, etc of citizenship, the way immigrants do. And if you didn’t, you’d have a status similar to a permanent resident alien.

I don’t know if permanent resident alien status would satisfy these folks. They’d still have to pay taxes for horrible things like public schools and social insurance, and they still wouldn’t be allowed to jaywalk. The problem with opting out of citizenship is, just living in a country earns you a lot of benefits automatically, e.g.

police protection: The police will investigate crimes against you even if you are an illegal alien squatter, as they should (maybe not as well as they should, but that’s a different question…). Everyone benefits from violent criminals being locked up.

national defense: The Army will defend the territory you live in to the death, whether you squat there or live there in the traditional way.

public health: You might not get vaccinated, but you are protected by everyone else having been vaccinated.

Traffic control: Recognition of cross walks is enforced by the government, and you are not (supposed to get) run over when you cross the street no matter how much you opt out of citizenship

Of course, if you live in an isolated area, you benefit less from some of these things (traffic, public health, etc.) If the area is big enough, it could possibly justify being a country on its own. Naturally, that would generate controversy on its own, but regions can and have seceded from larger countries without presenting big problems for political theory. Individuals can’t really do that.

I think if these libertarians/cultists had their way, the only possible result would be feudalism.

The Christian Commune of Cook County would be under no obligation to cooperate with the Homosexual Homestead of Hazzard Hamlet. When Billy’s Bad-Breath Bandit Bunch started operating between the two jurisdictions, pillaging one and hiding out in the other alternately, there would no real way to defeat them, except by some larger entity, which would start looking an awful lot like state or national government.

And don’t get me started on what a pain it is to get jazz radio in Hawaii with the thirty trillion gigwatt Celine Dion 24-7 station they have in Los Angeles.

This is actually not the only way of doing things (as you may or may not be aware…I notice you use “the nation”).

In Japan and some European countries, I believe if one of your parents is a citizen, you can become a citizen. (There is another common scheme, but it seems to have escaped my memory.)

This means that theoretically a person can claim citizenship in up to three places. (Born in America, Japanese mother, French father.) Japan requires you to choose one after age 21 (or something). The US does not.

Anyway, there are problems with this other scheme. Koreans who live in Japan are discriminated against and their children are not automatically made citizens; they have no voting rights, etc. They can choose to become citizens but many do not. Then they complain that they can’t vote and wonder why Japan is not more like America.

I think it’s kind of cool that just being born in America makes you a citizen. I don’t think those wackos really understand what it means to live in a country as a non-citizen. They want the benefits of citizenship but not the responsibilities.


This is probably “off topic”, but ravenous is quite correct. My parents are from Switzerland, so even though I was born in the U.S., I automatically became a Swiss citizen (as soon as my parents registered me with the nearest swiss consulate).

On the other hand, you can be born in citizen and not be a swiss citizen. There can be families living in switzerland for several generations where none of the family members are swiss citizens.

The U.S. is said to have “droit de sol”, i.e. being born here makes you a citizen whereas Switzerland has “droit de sang”, i.e. your parents must be citizens.

I wish someone could tell us the answer to the original question, though. In particular why do those “freemen” sign their names like “Firstname, lastname”. I wonder if the comma has the significance, or would any punctuation mark suffice? Or is there a hierarchy in punctuation marks?

Jacques Kilchoer
Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains.