Standing-striding figure of Nefertiti; Limesto...
Now living in Streatham. Image via Wikipedia

People who believe they’ve had previous lives always seem to have been Cleopatra or Nefertiti rather than an acne-ridden donkey drover from Lichfield.  In the same way, people who have discovered secret legal knowledge always discover things that enable them to do what the hell they like, while still having all the legal protections that the rest of us enjoy.

Enter the Freemen of Land “movement”, who (as described by law blogger Carl Gardner) think that if you don’t use your legal name, the law can’t touch you. In fact, they claim that they are in a state of lawful rebellion, and that this means they don’t need to pay taxes or repay debts.

I’ve always thought that this, like past life stuff, is a bit of harmless kookiness, even if with a darker undertone of paranoia. The language used reminds me a little of those Google ads for a “secret method” of tooth whitening or losing weight that a “young mum from [wherever I am]” invented and the capitalist pigs want to keep secret – yours for only £25+p&p.

So it was a bit of a surprise to see the Freemen make an appearance above the line on Comment is Free yesterday, as part of the Occupy CiF day.

I wouldn’t expect an article in the Guardian’s health section telling me about a miracle tooth-whitening formula discovered by a young mum from Camden Town, so I’m not sure why it was thought a good idea to publish an article which contains this utter nonsense:

All registered names [of children who have birth certificates] are Crown copyright. The legal definition of registration is transfer of title ownership, so anything that’s registered is handed over to the governing body; the thing itself is no longer yours. When you register a car, you’re agreeing to it not being yours – they send you back a form saying you’re the “registered keeper”. It’s a con. That’s why I say I’ve never had a name. We are all taught to be a name, the name on our birth certificate. But if you don’t consent to be that “person”, you step outside the system. According to the law books, a “natural person” (or human being) is distinct from the “person” as a legal entity. All the statutes and acts are acting up on the “person”, and if you’re admitting to being a person, you are admitting to be a corporation that can be acted upon for commerce.

Harmless nonsense? All views should be heard? Well, maybe. But this isn’t some random blog or forum, it’s the Guardian, and if we criticise the Mail for publishing utterly fabricated immigration stories for propaganda purposes, we should be even-handed and criticise the Guardian for putting its logo on this sort of rubbish.  The Occupy CiF day was a good idea, and many of the articles were interesting (though the excellent Adam Wagner points to another dangerously wrong article in his blog), but occupied or not, a paper has responsibility for what it puts above the line.

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One thought on “The Worshipful Guild of Free Cobblers

  1. Random thing that didn’t fit in the blog. There has in the past been a legal right of rebellion – just not in English law. Before 1790, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had a legal principle called rokosz, which allowed the aristocracy to rebel lawfully against a king who had failed to live up to his election manifesto. I only know that because in a past life I was Grand Hetman of the Crown Jan Zamoyski.

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