Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The mystery of the 'legal name fraud' billboards (bbc.co.uk)
104 points by blowski on June 11, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 107 comments

The whole basis of these sovereign citizens/freemen/reichsbürger/similar-thing-in-other-countries seems so odd to me.

The state can impose laws on you, because in the end, the state wields physical power.

To lawyer about, even with odd ideas, within the framework of your state, to try and change it, or by interpreting existing laws wildly differently makes some sense.

But to pretend that the laws of a state don't apply to you, because you deny the whole state legitimacy, means you are putting the physical power of you and your fellow dissidents against the power of the state.

That makes some sense in some situations I guess, but to try and do that so half-assed semi-within the legal framework of the state you are in and often enough just to get out of traffic tickets... I guess I just don't seem the end-game.

We have stories about overly literal devils and genies obeying exact wordings instead of the obvious intents of their agreements. And stories where lawyers win their cases at the last minute because they found an obscure loophole, despite everyone else being against them. Laws actually come from state power, social contracts, and human interpretation, but the idea that they're actually a separate magical thing that everyone - even governments and devils - has to obey, is common in our culture.

That sort of story is often about contract law (the devil ones especially) so the freemen focus on that. And "social contract" has contract in the name, which gives the laws-are-magic-spells thinking a fertile place to start out . The rest follows from wishful thinking that knowing the law is made of magic spells will work out in your favor.

I don't think that's exactly what they claim. At least, not in the versions that I've seen.

Their claim is that the 1% / the lizard people / the illuminati / whatever have used trickery to create a legal system in which certain laws only apply to the unenlightened. If you understand how the system works, you can claim the same impunity that the elite do.

For example, when a police or court officer asks you, "Do you understand?" they are really asking if you "stand under (the law)" -- i.e. they are tricking you into consenting to be bound by the law.

Utter nonsense, of course, but very attractive nonsense if you're poor, powerless and pissed off.

This. What I find so crazy about these people here in Germany (Reichsbürger) is that they reject the authority of the state by referring to the authority of another state that no longer exists in that form, the German Reich. They call themselves citizens of the Reich and have their own passports, refuse to pay tickets and so on. The German state will have none of their BS, and they have issued a 150 page handbook for administration and police on how to deal with those people.

I have a theory...

The Freemen look around and see that the world appears to be run by means of legal chicanery, little of which they understand. They feel helpless and lost in the face of this gargantuan machine of State.

So when someone proposes some theory which:

a) contains legal-sounding words, and

b) posits that these Freemen can use their own brand of legal chicanery to magic their way out of their debts

... then they latch on to it with gusto, proudly parroting back the legal-sounding nonsense because it helps them feel better about the vast, dark horror of life in the modern world.

EDIT: also, what jtolmar said.

The whole basis of these sovereign citizens/freemen/reichsbürger/similar-thing-in-other-countries seems so odd to me.

The state can impose laws on you, because in the end, the state wields physical power.

While true, imposing laws by exercising supreme physical power is not a unique feature of states, and is a matter of degree. For instance, in a state that doesn't maintain that level of power, such as Afghanistan, someone else will fill the vacuum, such as the Taliban. And there could be states that are even less tolerant of those movements than the liberal democracies where they seem to flourish. There are no such billboards in China.

So I think those movements are to some extent a product of situations where a state wields supreme physical power but does not exercise that power in totality.

Well, I think there's something deeper going on here; the strength of the nation as a juridical entity has been seriously weakened; rich multinationals - corporations and individuals alike - are no longer bound by it, refugees are an obvious exception to it, and since the neo-liberal revolution, legislation also tends to be mostly global-minded; which leaves the normal citizen - now a "prisoner" of his or her place of birth - with few options. It seems only natural that new forms of existence in a post-national world would slowly come into being (instead of a naive populist, nostalgic ultra-nationalist turn).

Once when the law was on my side I had a judge rule against me for a moving violation and he dismissed me with, "if you don't like it, appeal it to the county." I could've done that, but for a $90 no-point ticket it didn't seem worth the additional time and he knew that.

I agree with you that these radical ideas stand no chance before a judge who will not hesitate to send you to jail for not respecting the authority of the court.

"Radical" doesn't seem like the right word. "Radical" political movements usually have some understanding of the realities of the day and want to change them, while the whole sovereign citizen thing is more like a huge vaguely-defined conspiracy theory.

Larry Becraft Jr, an attorney who has fought the IRS, wrote in the 1990s on his website debunking these sovereign citizen theories-


While I agree that these theories are ineffective and sometimes false, in a general sense they are true.

According to the US Code, the United States organic law is comprised of the Declaration of Independence(1776), the Articles of Confederation (1777), the Northwest Ordinance (1787) and the Constitution (1787). While mainstream academia says these have no legal or constitutional force, I'd disagree. In France, the organic law does have constitutional force and thus overrules statutes.

In essence, the United States is based on the natural rights acknowledge in the Declaration that says we have the "right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". And any government whether, local, or state or national that diminishes these natural rights, we have a duty to alter or abolish them. This is the Right of Revolution, although the establishment would say this is now invalid since we have democratic methods to change the government.

Regardless, American rights pre-existed the Constitution, the government and the Declaration. Our rights are derived by the nature of our humanity and a natural "God" in the context of Deism, not religion.

And there are endless moderate abuses of the state; wholesale denials of civil rights, aggressive and unjust actions by judges, prosecutors and police. It's akin to Chinese water torture, a mild form of oppression that has a cumulative effect resulting in gangs, distrust between the public and the police and endless crimes.

> Larry Becraft Jr, an attorney who has fought the IRS

Becraft doesn't want to pay income tax and has developed some lunatic theories which, to his mind, allow him to not pay income tax. He's done time in prison because, surprise of surprises, his nutball theories don't change the actual law. He "fought the IRS" in much the same way as an ant might "fight" a ten-pound sledgehammer.

> According to the US Code, the United States organic law is comprised of the Declaration of Independence(1776), the Articles of Confederation (1777), the Northwest Ordinance (1787) and the Constitution (1787).

"Organic law" apparently does not mean what you think it means:

The Declaration of Independence does not have the force of law and it never has. It was a justification for the rebellion, and that's it.

The Articles of Confederation have not had the force of law since they were replaced by the Constitution, so saying they have force of law along with the Constitution is incoherent. The latter totally superseded the former.

The Northwest Ordinance was an act of the Congress under the Articles of Confederation which was subsequently recognized as valid law by the courts after the ratification of the Constitution. As an act of Congress, however, it can be modified by further acts of Congress and by the courts. It is not on an equal footing with the Constitution by any means.

> While mainstream academia says these have no legal or constitutional force, I'd disagree.

It isn't just the academics which disagree with you, but the government itself, and the government gets to decide what law is. You lose.

> According to the US Code, the United States organic law is comprised of the [...] Constitution (1787). While mainstream academia says these have no legal or constitutional force, I'd disagree.

To be clear, you are stating that "mainstream academia" purports to hold that the "Constitution for the United States of America" does not have constitutional force? I find that more than a little hard to fathom.

(By the way, you do note that the Articles of Confederation were superseded by the Constitution through the acts of the state legislatures at the time and subsequent resolution of the Continental Congress, yes?)

> In France, the organic law does have constitutional force and thus overrules statutes.

This may be a shocking revelation to you, but countries that aren't France aren't France.

If you don't want to pay taxes, or parking tickets, go get yourself a whole bunch of nuclear weapons. With enough force behind you, you can ignore any law.

The Sovereign Citizen / Freeman on the Land movement is fascinating, if you're interested in that kind of stuff.

I tend to disagree with the ASA here. The Sovereign Citizen movement is associated with severe harm -- people lose their money and their possessions, sometimes ending up in jail, because they associate with This One Weird Trick to stop paying tax or drive without insurance and licence.

US tax authorities have a list of frivolous tax arguments. These are often used by SC/FoLs.



There are a bunch of Youtube videos of people making incoherent arguments using these themes.

Here's one of my favourites: police seized a camera. The people went to the station to get it back. The police want to give it back, but can only give it back to Mr Allen. Since the people don't have names they can't claim to be Mr Allen.


If you're interested in this stuff and you haven't already, you should absolutely give the Reasons from the Meads v Meads case issued by Justice Rooke a read: http://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abqb/doc/2012/2012abqb571/2012ab...

It's a pretty fascinating cataloging and dissection of every fringe legal quackery he's seen or is aware of. Great read, as legal decisions go.

I've been reading that for hours now, absolutely fascinating. It's like cargo-cult legalese.

it just gets worse the more you read trust me

This decision should be the reading list of everyone who is interested in these people.

Yes! It's brilliant. It covers everything - the weird names, the weird language, the reliance on Black's, the rejection of law, the reliance on law to attempt to force what they want, etc etc.

It's a bit of a shame that these push a Sovereign Citzen-esque pseudo-legal message, when they could point out an actual legal fact: under Common Law, you can use any name you like.

Indeed, I have taken advantage of this professionally for years. My birth surname is very very common, which as a scientist makes it hard to build a professional reputation through publishing. My partner and I are in a long term relationship, so we both use a hyphenated joining of our surnames when we publish and in all professional situations. it all works fine until you try to do something involving a bank or border control - when we founded a company together we legally had to register as directors with our given names, bit when proving our identities we could only produce ID for our birth names. It didn't matter that what we are doing is perfectly legal, it only mattered that the bank didn't know how to handle it. All in all though, it has been a net positive experience - I choose my own name and only encounter bureaucracy when I choose to.

I feel the next big advertising campaign should invoke common law to claim that the FB terms of service are illegal.

What does that mean exactly? Surely you can't use a made up name in a contract for example?

In general (wildly general), legal scholars say that you are entitled to use any name you wish, even when contracting, provided you are not doing something that's illegal (such as perpetuating a fraud, theft, or some other form of deceit). States have a statutory name change process so that your name can be deemed recognized but, otherwise, your use of a name is solely up to you and the willingness of others around you to accept it.

If you'd like to read a rather well done paper on it, check out this one from the UCLA Law Review: http://www.uclalawreview.org/pdf/57-1-7.pdf

(By way of example, I was born "Firstname Middlename Lastname." I use an abbreviated form of my middle name in common usage, so let's say "Mid Lastname." A couple of my credit accounts have "Mid Lastname" on them, as does one of my utility bills, because they accepted my preference for using that name. Others have "Firstname Lastname" or "Firstname M. Lastname" because that was the policy of the business when I opened them. They are all equally valid and equally binding on me because I am the one who did those acts and I can demonstrate that I am. Why have I not done the statutory name change process in my state to formally adopt "Mid Lastname" as my recognized name? Eh, haven't felt like it.)

We have similar crank theories in the US, that you have surrended ownership of yourself to the state, but you can get it back via some weird trick, and what amazes me is the internal inconsistency.

If the people running the government are trying to enslave you via the law, they're really not going to leave (or honor) a loophole that sets you free.

You could always renounce your citizenship. Citizenship in free countries are actually opt-out, but for some reason this is a difficult thing for these people to grasp. WTF?

You could probably be stateless if you absolutely wanted, but I hear that's not very fun. A more realistic alternative is to get citizenship in another country. Apparently these people think that their current country is the greatest, but not quite great enough. I mean, it can't be that bad, then, can it?

> You could probably be stateless if you absolutely wanted

In many cases that isn't true anymore, since modern law generally disfavors statelessness. In many countries, you can't renounce your citizenship unless you have another citizenship. Alternatively, they may accept the renunciation but with legal effect conditional on receipt of a replacement citizenship.

Countries who've ratified the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness agree to that explicitly:

Laws for the renunciation of a nationality shall be conditional upon a person's acquisition or possession of another nationality. (Exceptions: not to frustrate freedom of movement of nationals within a country, not to frustrate return of nationals to their country, not to frustrate a person's ability to seek asylum.)

Perhaps you could renounce your citizenship and acquire a new one from a country that did not ratify that treaty, then renounce that citizenship as well. Of course you'd need to find a suitable country that was willing to play along.

If you opted out of citizenship your super sekrit million dollar bank account would be forfeit. Can't have that.

The buried lede here is how this is all being afforded. The article implies the existence of multiple instances of this billboard, but while renting billboard space isn't usurious or anything, renting a shitload of them at once surely requires an amount I would not associate with someone capable of so thoroughly misunderstanding the nature of citizenship and the role of government. Or someone who's willing to type the following, to a journalist, which looks to be the product of either a) disordered thinking or b) smug overestimation of one's sense of humour: "google legal name fraud and read the essays like millions of others did....be a real journalist vs. a talking B-B.C. talking pair-rot"

Take a look at WeRe bank. They sell promissory notes and information about those notes.

People use them to "pay" their taxes; car loans; utility bills; etc.



(There's a BBC programme about this, I'm trying to find it now)


See also Guy Taylor at Bodenham Manor - these people can rack up huge amounts of debt before the system catches up.

Also: Someone can become rich before they become mentally ill. (If we're assuming these billboards are a result of mental illness).

For that matter many sovcit gurus are making lots of money teaching their ways to others.

...or teaching what they say are their ways to others. I suspect that the way some have been able to peddle their "pay no taxes" seminars and books for years without getting busted is that they themselves know that their methods do not work and so they actually do pay their taxes.

This does not occur to their gullible students, who take their teacher's continued lack of indictment as proof that the methods work.

For a somewhat entertaining peek into the weird legal theory mindset, give a listen to the radio archives of Rule of Law Radio[1], a show on Texas Liberty Radio[2] in Austin, Texas.

[1] http://www.ruleoflawradio.com/

[2] http://www.txlr.net/#Schedule

I think the show's host matches one of Daniel Kahneman's warnings about how being very confident in one's pronouncements can be so dangerous if we don't ask what record of success they have in their recommendations.

TLR used to be a broadcast station (now internet only), just strong enough to pick up about an hour outside of Austin. It was fascinating to listen in on another complete world view when I was traveling by car. The commercials, in particular, were targeting a subset of the population that is clearly terrified of the future: preparing for the collapse of society, special cleansing medicines to remove toxins, etc., etc.

I was similarly baffled years ago by signs around San Juan, Puerto Rico that seemed to be gibberish (Spanish gibberish, like mangled words) and then a few weeks later, with phone numbers added to them. Turned out to be a creative Herbalife campaign. I think this sort of plastering signs all around is illegal now, I haven't seen it in years, but it was common in many places I visited a number of years ago.

And then there is Adelaide, AU where there are dozens of blue and white signs on buildings saying 'POLITES'. It seems something official at first, until you notice how many there are. Turns out these are all buildings owned by a single guy of (IIRC) Greek decent who just likes to show his accomplishments as a real estate mogul by putting his name on all buildings he owns.

Sometimes it's a weird world we live in.

It's also amusing to me how many buildings are named Trump Tower: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump_Tower

Wesley Snipes was taken in by this group and ended up in jail for tax evasion because of it:


Part of me hopes it's part of / the start of an elaborate game, or just fantastic promotional material for a TV show or movie - it means nothing now, but gains a lot of press and attention which is repeated after the big reveal. A kind of "Gabbo is coming" (for all the Simpsons fans).

A quick Google search shows that there's also some similar activity on the internet, and the campaign is not just the billboards:


Lots of low budget Youtube video stills in there.

Watching the videos, seems to reveal a clean-shaven man with long hair, in a dress, named Kate.


Free advertizing for whoever hacks up a game (and domain) first.

I saw the same message printed on a business card and taped to a light pole near downtown Seattle yesterday.

I came here to mention that, I have seen them all over Seattle in the past week or so. Really bizarre.

I saw one at 3rd and Pike about two weeks back.

Awwwww yiss - Sovereign Citizens arrive in the UK. Coupled with the seemingly innate talent that British people have for ruthlessly mocking things like this, this should be entertaining and delightful.

BRB letting /r/AmIBeingDetained in on this.

The BBC shouldn't give this oxygen. In my view these kinds of promotions are designed to hook the interest of vulnerable people. These people end up on sucker lists and are targets for the rest of their lives.

I actually rather like the typography - reminds me of Talking Heads' True Stories.

There is one of these boards round the corner from me, and that is quite close to the one that appears in the Birmingham news page - both in lower rent working class areas, perhaps the billboards are cheaper in our kinds of area?

I shall just treat it as eccentric urban art from now on...

I'm impressed that the reporter did a whois search and tried various domains. That's not something I would expect from a standard US reporter now-a-days.

I did computer repair a long time ago for a friend of the family. He was all into believing this stuff and I was forced to listen to it for about an hour or so. Pretty weird stuff. He thought he could use the concept to get out of debts and speeding tickets, etc.

As I read the article I kept thinking "Toynbee Tiles" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toynbee_tiles) over and over.

btw, the RESURRECT DEAD: THE MYSTERY OF THE TOYNBEE TILES documentary is now available on Netflix DVD and Amazon Instant streaming.

Does it seem to anyone else that the person behind these billboards is likely to have mental health issues? I worry that this sort of media attention will have a spectacularly negative effect on them.

Yes. I ran into a bunch of FoL/SC types when I used to run in libertarian circles and my impression of the ones who take it seriously was that they are vulnerable people in a shit load of trouble.

By the time you are trying to turn bailiffs and cops away from your door by chanting some weird mantra based on a profound misconstruction of some dusty old legal principle or other and uploading it to YouTube while your life burns to the ground around you, it's not really a question of if you have MH issues, rather one of whether they were the chicken or the egg.

Agree totally with DanBC up thread, people who get into this hardcore do themselves permanent and irreparable harm. Shattered credit records, home repossessions and jail time are all on the cards.

Kids. Don't try this at home.

Yes. Reading the associated site (http://legalnamefraud.com/) I'm confident whoever is behind the billboards is mentally ill, or certainly very deluded. I feel sorry for them.

I'd be very interested in learning who funded this.

I think it's an advertising campaign, completely unrelated to the movement, which just piggybacks on it to get people's attention.

Does it bother anyone else that whenever someone comes up with a strange or weird, non-mainstream idea, their mental health is immediately called into question?

Just out and out say it: you're bigoted against the strange idea that this person is presenting. Just because people don't live like you do, doesn't mean they are mentally ill.

Seriously, this "oh, mental illness" trope is really a drag. Please, whenever you consider "oh, mental illness" as a way of writing off someones opinion, check yourself. Not everybody agrees with the ideals proposed by the mental-health cult that currently has the West in its grip ..

The idea being presented is obviously nonsense. I don't mention their mental health as an attempt to discredit their idea; the idea itself is not credible enough to be worth arguing about.

It's not the idea that made me question their mental health. It's the sheer incoherency of their presentation, e.g. on their website (http://legalnamefraud.com/). The style strikes me as the written equivalent of a schizophrenic person standing on a street corner shouting inanities at passersby. You wouldn't want to have a shouting match with that person on the street and draw a crowd around them, and I don't think we should do the same here.

I'm not at all defending these peoples opinions - just pointing out the unwarranted hatred they attract as a result of having an idea that is not mainstream/not supported by establishment politics.

The speed and ease with which someones' mental health is called into question is just as alarming and .. frankly .. disturbing, as the idea that we are not subjects of the States in which we dwell. "That person is mentally ill" is the clarion call of establishment doublethink, and I put anyone who uses it as a means of justifying their bigotry against anti-establishment thought in the same bin as the loonies who think they can change their name to get out of a parking ticket ..

Alas, its quite acceptable behaviour to call into question someones mental health if they propose an idea non-mainstream/aligned with establishment ideals. I think this, in itself, is a more destructive social response which, unfortunately, doesn't require expensive billboards to propagate throughout society ..

It's not establishment double-think, and that claim itself is rather silly. I'm quite sympathetic to claims that we're too quick to dismiss people with mental illness, but when it comes to people living their lives in harmful ways based on delusions (which is common in the sovereign citizen movement), I'm all in for calling it mental illness, or something like that. People can believe whatever nutty things they want, I say, but once they put themselves (or loved ones, or whatever) in harm's way based on those beliefs, and don't change them when consequently harmed, well, what else do you want to call it? Delusional stupidity?

Can you think of any other marginalized folks whose ideas you don't like who might be considered valid targets for your "mentally ill" label, and therefore not worthy of any further attention?

Might these folks be minorities, or under-represented segments of society, who nevertheless have as much of a right to their opinion as you do?

There is nothing here that demonstrates these people are harming themselves. Do you have such evidence? In a free society, people are free to be stupid and live their lives according to how they see it. People are free to interpret the law, personally and socially, however they wish. This doesn't mean they need to be classified as "ill" by all and sundry, for the sake of a few differences of opinion. Or .. does it?

You know who else was good at calling 'unsavory elements' mentally ill for the sake of social isolation? Stalin.

What? The sovereign citizen movement is full of people who get arrested, imprisoned, get their stuff impounded.

I don't think you really have any idea who you're trying to defend as "differently normal" here. This is a movement that tells its adherents, "repeat these legal incantations, and you get out of speeding tickets or paying property taxes". And its adherents actually try that nonsense out, and invariably go to jail or whatever. (Occasionally they end up in shoot-outs with cops, and end up dead.) Delusion? Check. Self-harm? Check.

I really suspect you just haven't heard or read anything about these folks. I think you're barking up the wrong tree in this case, buddy.

They're only 'self-harming' because they're a minority, and they stay a minority because people write off their opinion as "mentally insane". If more people were attracted to their movement, the State would change and there would be less harm - such is the way of all collective movements.

Its kind of like, the Quakers were 'insane' in the eyes of many, too. But look how that turned out.

Anyway, I see you don't care for my point, which is this: you can't just call people you don't agree with "mentally ill" and think this doesn't make you a bigot.

Well, they're self-harming because they're breaking the law and trying to avoid punishment with nonsensical incantations based on a bunch of actual nonsense.

Maybe you want to take the stance that there is no such thing as mental illness (there is), or that the term is bigoted (it isn't), or that I'm a bigot for thinking these people need help (I'm not, and they do), and in that case, go nuts, you're certainly free to do so!

But this just isn't a situation where I'm trying to disparage people by calling them mentally ill. I just wish they'd stop hurting themselves (and their families, and occasionally others, like the cops they occasionally end up in shootouts with; and also enriching the few who lead this scam) by buying into this delusion and breaking the law (in such eminently avoidable ways! like registering their car or buying car insurance!) and suffering the consequences, but it is, after all, a mostly free country.

You might do well, too, to reflect on why you feel so strongly about this stuff.

I agree with you, and you can probably find me saying very similar in the past on HN. But this is so extreme that people feel the need to find an explanation, and since most people have very little experience of serious mental illness they think it fits this.

Have a look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJXPlxMb0gs

It's hard to say that's not illness or drugs, right?

This is Hannah Rose Shotbolt, (of Gloucester, Gloucestershire, UK). She threw a bottle at someone, wounding them. She went to prison, and came out, and then got involved in Freewoman stuff.

She wrote to all the people (The Queen! The Arch-Bishop of Canterbury!) to tell them that she was no longer under their contract, and that she de-registered her car. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCdMHwqT39c

(Here's the reply from DVLA) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wkpSiJ3HfY

Her and her friend were driving, and one of them was smoking cannabis. They passed a police car, who spotted the lack of insurance and registration, and pulled them over.

Here's one video of her being pulled over: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSGLGByRYE8&index=17&list=PL...

And another: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gULUQTUREwk&index=18&list=PL...

It's so extreme that people feel the need to explain it somehow. These aren't just odd ideas. These are bizarre ideas, that lack internal coherence (she's in the UK but makes extensive use of Black's Legal Dictionary -- a US reference book about US law) and that cause harm.

Here's a channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC81FiNbYl92EIl7Zx5G8v9w

Here's another channel that contains some of her videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCELFsi-Defp1GyOEeLZaSzw

>Does it bother anyone else that whenever someone comes up with a strange or weird, non-mainstream idea, their mental health is immediately called into question

Broadly speaking, yes. Yes it does. Which is why - knowing this particular response was inevitable - I thought long and hard about answering in the affirmative. There's no bigotry involved here, I've been down this particular rabbit hole for a good old look. The MH (note 'health' not 'illness') issue is nothing to do with the idea per se but with a set of behaviours that exhibit a dissociation between action and consequence and can lead to harm.

Delusions are a sign of mental illness - if a person honestly believes this stuff they are delusional.

Interesting to take this definition and apply it to various religious beliefs in the context of mental health.

I do consider a lot of religious people delusional. But then too it is a very important distinction we need to keep in mind:

Do they let their beliefs - delusional or not - control their actions?

The problem is not having beliefs that are not backed by facts, but when you let those beliefs control you to the point of making you act in ways that are actively detrimental to your own well-being.

It is, yes, but there is also a difference between "I believe what I've been told and raised with" vs "I saw God, he spoke to me personally, and Angels are real."

Obviously there is grey in between.

Susceptibility and gullibility are NOT the same as delusions.

This also applies to the low end of the Sovereign Citizen movement too - not all are delusional, some are just naive or easily misled.

Even if they were, why is it socially acceptable to just write a person off as "mentally ill" when they could just be very poorly educated? Or, are those two things equivalent in your opinion?

Believing it when you first hear it is one thing. That could be related to education. Persisting in the belief while fending off any criticism as conspiracy, that is delusional.

(I.e. refusing to be educated must either be delusion or stupidity or both)

Who said anything about writing them off?

Mental illness is a real thing with real treatment options.

There's no need to write anyone off - we should endeavor to help them.

Perhaps there is something of value to their point of view.

Would you be more or less inclined to investigate this possibility, with the pretense that they are "mentally ill" in place?

I posit that this "mentally ill" label is as heinous as casual racism, in that it serves to remove interest in the target.

Reminds me of the 'capital letters argument', where similar types of tax protesters argue that legal notices that state their names in all caps apparently refer to a seperate entity than the individual. They see 'John Doe' as the real person and 'JOHN DOE' as a government trick to scam them out of money.

That's usually connected to the sort of reasoning mentioned in the website the article talks about, and works just as well (read, not at all) when attempted in an actual court case.

> A further web search took me to a site called legalnamefraud.com, which outlines a theory that when your birth was registered, a legal entity - your legal name - was created. But the legal entity "Jane Smith" is distinct from the actual physical person Jane Smith, the website says...

sigh, not this shit again.

For the Germans who are interested in this whole Freeman/Reichsbürgertum:

Go and have a look at the forum at www.sonnenstaatland.com, you will find most cases from Germany there. They also have a very nice ebook with the title "Vorwärts in die Vergangenheit" which destroys 99.9% of all the Reichbürger myths.

Some time ago, I acquired a Staatsangehoerigkeitsausweis ("Certificate of Nationality") to prove German nationality. Boy, do not go searching for that word without some additional terms around it. That certificate seems to carry with it, at least by mention, a lot of baggage around "being declared a citizen of the Reich" and so on. I found a whole 20-page thread about how to hassle the BVA (Bundesverwaltungsamt, or "Federal Office of Administration") into issuing someone a certificate that didn't say "Im Auftrag" ("On behalf of") because having those words on it means it isn't "real."

Fortunately, the German Mission to the U.S. has risen in search results so the meaningless cruft is pushed down below the useful information.

Something tells me that the bill for renting all those billboard sites is never going to be paid.

There is something wonderful and terrible about the fact that someone with the resources to put these billboards up is choosing to spend the money in this way.

Clearly inheritance tax is too low.

Or too high (that people would rather spend the money this way than pass it along to be taxed at death).

My point is that I doubt anyone mentally fragile enough to buy in to this claptrap would be able to generate their own wealth. Perhaps they won the lottery.

Or they're spending money on credit which they doubt they'll have to repay since they don't use their real name.

evening all to be honest I lost patience with the freemen movement over the rainbow arc debacle its all pseudo legal rubbish based on a misreading of reality, logic goes like this a table has 4 legs therefore this dog is a table as it has 4 legs, but maybe I am being cynical, they wasted a year of my life arguing black was white until squashed in the high court.

You're not being cynical, that's actually a pretty fair reaction to these people and their ideas.

The ideas all share one common feature: They're just not worth it. They're complex, contradictory, and utterly frivolous, in that they have no bearing on reality and will never be of any practical use to anyone but the "gurus" who sell them to the gullible. The "legal arguments" are a con artist's patter and misdirection, impressive to the people who the huckster is about to fool but so much hot air and nonsense to everyone else, especially the real courts. To anyone who understands the law, this crap is painfully transparent and obviously stupid.

It's all nonsense, bluster, and castles in the sky. The only reality is the money and time the gullible lose and the legal penalties they face if they attempt to take this stuff too far.

Be vigilant over your bird sanctuaries, UK.

Oh yay. More of the Freeman nonsense.

ELI5 please?

As with most such official documents [0] a UK birth certificate bears a Crown Copyright [1] imprimatur. Therefore, the thinking goes, your actual name is owned by the state and not you. Therefore using it is a fraud, therefore you don't need to pay bills/debts/fines etc, because mumble mumble reasons. It's a tradition or an old charter or something.

[0] And OS maps and geodata. [1] http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/information-management/re...

I'm not familiar with UK copyright; in the US, factual information is not copyrightable -- if a birth certificate is copyrighted, you would not be permitted to photocopy it, but you could use all of the information. Additionally, works of the US government have no copyright; birth certificates are issued by counties or states, though (a passport is a work of the US government, so those are public domain)

Crown Copyright is a thing in the UK:


the BBC were very careful not to explain the difference between "legal" & "lawful", "crown court" & "common law court", and jurisdiction.

I have personally had success using the techniques taught by Karl Lentz.

There is no separate "common law court" in the UK. All UK courts, including the Crown Court, have the same requirement to use common law when it is applicable, and to use codified laws when they are applicable.

If this Karl Lentz is claiming there's a separate common law court, he is totally ignorant of the UK legal system.

No you haven't. The system takes a long time to catch up with people because it assumes good faith in most cases. It isn't built to deal with crackpot nonsense.

It will eventually catch up.

In adult land, the terms "legal" and "lawful" are completely synonymous.

Anyone you hear saying otherwise is living in a fantasy world, and/or wants to sell you tickets to a fantasy world.

It's always confusing to me how you people manage to learn to use computers. Is it just matters of law you deliberately misunderstand?

Uh, how so? A quick search turned up webpages with about as many different font sizes and colors as Timecube.

> I have personally had success using the techniques taught by Karl Lentz.

Can you tell us what success you have had?

The fact that this is upvoted to #3 on HN gives me grave misgivings about the future of HN.


Edit: apparently y'all disagree, and think this is a topic that deserves the full attention of HN. Can someone explain why? Isn't it just a crackpot billboard? What's the importance?

In the UK, we don't really have 'crackpot billboards'. Billboards are actually quite rare compared to in the USA, and they are regulated for accuracy and to prevent fraud. I noticed these billboards and have never seen anything like it in 30 years in the UK. Discussing what's behind them is interesting I think.

Absolutely. My thought on seeing this was 'Oh hey, the internets are leaking again'. This is really fringe stuff and it's just fascinating to see it bleeding through into the mainstream. Especially by big ass meme carrying billboards.

And the design is fascinating. No links, for instance. You see the sign and it piques your interest because it mentions names - which you have, and fraud - which you're worried about. You then either go about your business and just forget about it or you google 'legal name fraud' and bam! There you are in the scary backwaters of the internet immersed in someone's weird memes. A curiosity trap.

Physical billboards are (AFAIK) a new vector for this particular meme. And billboard ads cost around £200 a week in the UK (last time I checked) so this has cost someone, somewhere some money. Given the tendency of FoL/SC/etc believers to try avoiding debts with Jedi mind tricks, it's possible that 'someone' is the firm leasing the signage, but still, it's interesting.

Agreed, I can't think of anything like this in the UK before. The closest thing to this previously has been advertising for fundie christian stuff, and that's quite rare. I agree with the earlier commenter who said the ASA ought to strike the ads for factual inaccuracy.

My guess is it will turn out to be a marketing campaign for a film.

Although I suspect that if the tech crowd embraced this instead of weirdly ambiguous billboard, we'd quickly have several different competing definitions of 'free' and half a dozen rival working groups speccing the next iteration of freedom! ;)

I'm not sure why you're concerned about the future of HN enough to comment on it. What's your goal?

the news guidelines may answer your question in your edit https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact