The various offshoots of the sovereign citizen movement have been back in the news lately.
You may be familiar with this movement under another name, including natural persons or more recently Freeman on the Land.
All these names are mere branches from the same tree, and all their adherents believe that they have discovered the truth - and the truth is weird. They believe that various government rules can be escaped by odd practices. Thus the freemen tend to give their names as John Brian of the Smith family rather than plain old John Brian Smith, or with odd punctuation, such as John-Brian: Smith.
Their practices include not paying income tax, not obeying building codes, never using their SIN cards (that lets the government own you, man!), not getting driver's licenses, and making their own license plates.
When dragged into court for any of these practices, they typically try to drown the judge and prosecutors under a flood of legal bafflegab about natural rights, common law, admiralty law, and the importance of not spelling your name in all-capitals. Essentially, they believe their arcane knowledge is a get out of jail free card. So far, it has seldom proved useful, and a number of natural persons have spent time in jails across Canada for tax evasion and contempt of court.
If you go all the way back, you find one root of the movement with the faith known as British Israelism, the idea that white Anglos are the descendents of the lost tribes of Israel. A virulently racist offshoot of this became Christian Identity by the 20th century, which had the charming view that only white people have souls.
The Christian Identity folks cross-polinated with (and were often the same people as) the Posse Comitatus movement, which was a cross between a militia movement and a tax protesting self-help group.
Tax protesting is the other root of the movement, going back to the 1940s. Some in the U.S. claimed that the government had no legal right to collect income taxes in particular.
It was the Posse Comitatus that came up with a lot of the legal mythology used by the modern sovereign citizens, but it spread slowly outside of the right wing fringe, likely because no one wanted to be associated with a bunch of violent racists with a history of shooting/being shot by the cops.
Then sometime in the late 1990s or early 2000s, the tax protesting ideas and conspiracy theories stripped away the racist taint, along with some of the violent tendencies of the groups. Now the U.S. and Canadian tax resisters who subscribe to the ideas come from a variety of ethnic groups, and New Age spiritual beliefs seem to be almost as common as Christian ones.
The ideology is now free to spread, and spread it does. Anyone who's ever felt kicked around by the government or heartless corporations (that's everyone) has to feel some sympathy for these folks. At least for the nonviolent ones.
In Canada, Daren McCormick of Nova Scotia was convicted of threatening to kill police officers in 2012. His case and others have put the Freeman/sovereigns on the radar of CSIS, the RCMP, and police associations.
I know that true believers will think I'm just one of the sheeple, or a shill for shadowy government forces. That's fine. What I'm really hoping is that most people reading this will take away just one lesson: Nothing you hear about being a natural person or Freeman will help you with real tax authorities, real cops, or real judges.
Please, if you want to go to court, use a good lawyer, not an imaginary law.
@ Copyright 2013