You’re driving down the street, going as fast as you please and ignoring traffic laws you didn’t consent to. After running a red light enforcing said laws which don’t apply to you, you see the blue flashing lights of a police cruiser. While you are within your common law rights to demand any sum of money to pull over, you decide to make it easy on the government enforcer and stop. When the police officer approaches your car, you immediately ask “Under what Authority and under what law are you ACTING?”
The government enforcer can’t quote the common law statute that authorizes him to act (why would he, he’s only an agent of the state), only demand to see your license, registration and proof of insurance. However, these statutory obligations don’t apply to you, and you refuse. The officer asks what your name is, to which you reply “are you seeking a publicly registered legal personality created by the state?” The officer, predictably, orders you out of the car at gun point, arrests you and reads you your “rights.” When asked if you understand these rights, you reply “I do not stand under that statement, nor do I stand under any statement.” Then you’re led into the police car.
What am I talking about? What does all this gibberish mean? It’s just a sampling of the standard tactics used by the “Freeman on the Land” movement. Also known as FOTL, it’s a version of the sovereign citizen movement that’s rapidly catching on with scofflaws in Canada and England, and causing an increasing amount of chaos with courts and judges who don’t know how to combat its nuisance and the belligerent arrogance of those who apply it. To detractors, it’s a jargon-laden way to pretend the laws of your country don’t apply to you. But to its advocates, it’s nothing less than grabbing freedom back from an illegal government that took it away from you at birth.
So what exactly does “freeman on the land” mean? And are any of these tactics legal? While both sovereign citizen and FOTL attempt to use common law statutes and nuisance litigation to avoid paying taxes and break laws they don’t feel apply to them, the movements go about it somewhat differently. Traditional American sovereign citizen movements, tax protestor organizations or Christian Patriots rely on debunked interpretations of various Constitutional amendments and federal laws to “prove” that they aren’t citizens of the United States but of their own state or personal country – meaning those pesky laws and taxes don’t apply to them. Many of these tactics have been around for decades, though none of them have ever been proven to work.
On the other hand, FOTL is fairly new, with the term only being coined around 2005 by Canadian tax protestor Robert-Arthur:Menard (sic) to describe a person who is literally (except not at all) a “free man” on the land where they live.
It relies on the concept of “lawful rebellion” to assert that freemen haven’t consented to a contract with the federal government, and instead live under some nebulous combination of maritime law, common law, various 16th century statues and an obscure clause in the Magna Carta which only stood as law for three months. They view government as a corporation, one that they never agreed to be in business with, and one that uses a special, trick-laden language called “legalese” to trap citizens into surrendering their rights from birth. By refusing consent with the laws of this corporation, I break their hold on me and they don’t apply. A core tenant of FOTL is that all people have two identities: one is their flesh and blood personage, with freedoms endowed from birth and the other is their government identity, which is written out in all capital letters and used on official documents – often called a “strawman.”
It hasn’t really caught on in the US, but is becoming a serious issue in English, Irish and Canadian courts, which are starting to become clogged by FOTL claimants who believe the government has no hold on them, that they’ve broken their consent with the laws of the land (and are therefore “free men”) and that private contracts are meaningless. They’re racking up unpaid taxes and rent while attempting to break the law at will. And while FOTL doesn’t seem to dovetail with violence the way sovereign citizen movements do, there is an inherent element of lawlessness to it.
To use myself as an example, if I were a freeman on the land, I would say that “MIKE ROTHSCHILD” is my government-assigned strawman identity, and that “Mike Rothschild” is my God-given flesh and blood identity, which I can legally obscure by adding in meaningless identifiers or punctuation (ie, declaring myself to be “Mike:Rothschild” or “Mike of the family Rothschild.”) This is similar to sovereign citizens adding random commas to their name, such as survivalist author James Wesley, Rawles. So if I were a freeman, and I broke the law, it would be my strawman persona that did it, not my flesh and blood one. I would view that law as illegitimate, as I never gave consent to it. And when a citation arrived bearing my government strawman name, it would be null and void to me, as it’s sent to a legal representative of myself to whom I give no recognition.
If I do choose to meet with a government official as a result of a summons, I would insist that the meeting take place under common law (as opposed to maritime law, which is what FOTL believers think courts operate under), demand to see evidence of the oath taken by the judge, refuse legal representation (as all lawyers are contracted with the governmental corporation) and rely on the Cestui Que Vie Act of 1666 to declare that I have been lost at sea for seven years, and am therefore legally dead. If this fails, I would simply object to everything the judge says and refuse my consent to any legal proceeding.
There’s much more to FOTL, but those are the basic pillars. And if it all has the familiar patina of exquisitely detailed gibberish that all conspiracy theories have, it should. Freeman on the land relies on willful misinterpretation of a millennium of law to construct a world where anarchy reigns and anyone can do anything they want, provided they “know their rights” – rights that are entirely made up. Legalese might be a catchy way to refer to complex, jargon-laden legal language, but it is not actually a language, and jamming punctuation or capital letters into your name doesn’t have any statutory effect on it.
In fact, none of what FOTL attempts to use has any legal effect. The laws it cites have long been superseded by other statutes, and its nonsensical concepts of strawman personas, notices of intent, not “standing under” understanding, nautical gibberish and lawful rebellion have absolutely no standing in any court in any country in this century. And every FOTL attempt to use this soup of crap to get out of paying taxes, fines, rent or insurance has failed. Nobody has ever successfully used freeman tactics, and the only thing they’ve done is gum up the courts and frustrate judicial officials as an excuse to get out of paying debts and living under the laws that apply to everyone.
In response to a particularly troublesome divorce case, where a freeman attempted to fine the court using a massive writ, Canadian judge J.D. Rooke wrote an equally massive, highly detailed and well-researched decision that demolishes every freeman argument. Not that it will deter any potential freeman from exerting their “rights,” but it’s worth a read if you have some time.
Bob Dylan once sang “to live outside the law, you must be honest.” To be a freeman on the land attempts the first with absolutely no regard paid to the second – and fails at both.