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Freeman on the land

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Pseudolegal notice in Belfast, Northern Ireland using Freeman of the land terminology, "Sovereign patrick of the family: mc elroy; Authorized Agent and Representative for PATRICK McELROY"
I fought the law
and the law won

Icon pseudolaw.svg
us crazy
I don't know what the hell law book you're reading man, but it doesn't apply to me.
—A freeman named Robert Peterson just before getting tased by a court bailiff[1]

Freeman on the land, also known as FMOTL, FOTL (not to be confused with ROTFL), "Footle", or simply freeman,[2] is a form of pseudolegal woo in various English-speaking countries. Freemen believe they can opt out of being governed, and that what normal people understand to be "laws" are merely a form of "contract" that applies only if people consent to it.[3][4] In short: saying a few super-secret legal phrases will get you out of anything!

Freemen hold that we are all subject to a massive international legal conspiracy perpetrated for the profit of the elites, but that you can hack the system if you just use the right form of words.[5] They believe only in their version of natural law, which they call "common law". In practical terms, they believe this means they do not have to pay taxes, debts, mortgages, etc. because we were all deceived and if you say the right form of words, this fact will be accepted! Think of it as people trying to use a real life 'cheat code'Wikipedia or a magical incantation.

Freemen believe they can declare themselves independent of government jurisdiction using the concept of "lawful rebellion": that all statute law is contractual and therefore only applicable if an individual consents to it. They assert that what everyone else regards as "the law" doesn't apply to them, as they have not consented to a contract (or sometimes "covenant") with the state,[6] even going so far as to claim they have a lawful right to refuse arrest if they do not consent. They insist that the government is a corporation, are obsessed with maritime law, and call themselves things like "John of the family Smith." Essentially, they're hilarious — and while somewhat less threatening than sovereign citizens, freemen are (as of 2015) being recognized as a domestic terrorist threat by both the FBI and the Canadian CSIS.Wikipedia[7][8] The B.C. Notaries and the Law Society of B.C. also both warned the public about the Freemen, which the Law Society worryingly numbers at as many as 30,000 individuals in Canada alone (as of 2013).[9]

No freeman arguments have ever succeeded in court;[10] some courts have even explicitly ruled that the term "freeman on the land" has no legal (or lawful) significance when the argument is raised, and that legal and lawful are the same thing in any event.[11] Actually using the arguments gets people into worse trouble, including fines, asset seizures, contempt convictions, and criminal records, and the few cases touted as "successes" are always entirely for reasons unrelated to the freeman arguments.[12] However, this doesn't stop freemen from falsely claiming that it works.


The "Freeman on the Land" movement inherited various indefensible legal concepts from the older tax protester and sovereign citizen movements in the US such as Posse Comitatus in the 1970s and 1980s, the redemption movement in the 1980s and 1990s, and the Montana Freemen in the 1990s. Freeman concepts of admiralty and common law, their obsession with capitalisation of words, as well as various theories on financial matters can be traced back to almost identical theories from these earlier movements.[note 1]

Early examples include "Mary Elizabeth: Croft" in Canada and her 2005 book How I clobbered every bureaucratic cash-confiscatory agency known to man ... a Spiritual Economics Book on $$$ and Remembering Who You Are (a book in which she actually lists David Icke as a source).[13] This evolved into a Canadian movement, with advocates such as Robert Menard — who appears to have actually coined the phrase "Freeman on the land",[3] with the phrase achieving currency some time around mid-2008.[14] However, according to Robert-Scott: Christy who co-founded with Menard, he got the idea for referring to themselves as "Freemen on the Land" from an unnamed American source.[15]

The movement appears to have morphed out of the earlier Detax movement in Canada headed by names like Eldon Warman and Russel Porisky. Rob Menard's own ventures into pseudolaw appear to go as far back as 2001 with his book "Letters to Authorities". Dean Clifford also sets the date of his journey into pseudolaw starting in the late 90s and as being influenced by the Detax movement. Clifford prefers the term "Freedom Movement", a phrase used by the earlier Detaxers, over FMOTL.[16] A potential timeline could be that Tax Protester ideas migrate to Canada in the late 90s, the Detax movement gains popularity then dies out in the early 2000s once followers who stopped paying taxes began being prosecuted, then in 2008 the movement finds new blood thanks to the financial crisis which culminates with the 2012 Meads decision and a new round of Freeman arrests.

It then crossed over to the UK with organisations such as the British Constitution Group and people such as the late John Harris (who later regretted joining the freeman movement), Brian Gerrish, the Anti-terrorist, Raymond St Clair (a notorious conman and man of many aliases)[17] and Dominic Lohan (aka CommonlyKnownAsDom). Freeman arguments came to UK public attention when they tried recruiting amongst the more anarchist-leaning protesters at the Occupy London protests in late 2011, and even got two articles in the Guardian.[18][19] These were promptly slapped down by actual lawyers who detailed how this was dangerous idiocy that would send you directly to jail.[20][21][22][23] Freeman ideas are now an object of amusement for the British legal profession.[24]

Freemen have also shown up in Ireland, causing similar concern amongst the legal profession there[25] and a similar lack of success in practice. The same is true of Canada, where the National Post related the following story in 2013:[9]

What we’ve seen over the last year is an increasing level of frustration, an increasing level of desperation. People just don’t like the idea that someone isn’t going to help them with their fantasy,” Ron Usher, of the Society of B.C. Notaries says, noting the society discourages its members from signing the “nonsensical” legal documents.

“They’re very confrontational. We’ve had a number of instances now where they’ve needed to call police or security,” Usher says.

There have been a number of “hard take-downs” by police in B.C. involving Freemen who refuse to have a driver’s licence and, sometimes, automobile insurance.

The Law Society of B.C. and B.C. Notaries have both issued warnings about Freemen, which the law society said in a bulletin last year may number as many as 30,000 in Canada.

Freeman ideas are closer to libertarianism than anarchism,[23] with some libertarians considering them a very positive sign (e.g. the Libertarian Alliance in the UK).[26] Although many of the ideas originated amongst backwoods white supremacist groups, it must be noted that current freemen thankfully do not commonly[27][dead link] espouse any such racism as part of their thinking.

How it's marketed[edit]

It appeals to the angry male whose life isn’t working out very well. You get this spiral of legal mess that the only person that’s benefited is the person who’s taken their money for the seminar teaching them how to do all this. It looks like desperate people spending their last nickel on bad advice.
—Ron Usher, Society of B.C. Notaries[9]

As Legal Week noted, "These ideas are most attractive to desperate, vulnerable people who are going through terrible times in their lives."[23] If someone is selling a simple explanation of why your life is messed up, the false hope it offers is extremely attractive — even if the explanation is complete rubbish and the suggested actions consistently don't work.

Robert Menard in particular sells his DVD and book packs for C$250, but he notably never uses those so-called "freeman" tactics himself[28] — he leaves that to his victims.[29][30]

Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Associate Chief Justice John D. Rooke wrote a 185-page judgment rejecting what he called "Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Arguments" (OPCA), specifically when referring to defendant Dennis Meads' Freeman on the Land claims,[31] saying:[10]

These persons employ a collection of techniques and arguments promoted and sold by ‘gurus’ to disrupt court operations and to attempt to frustrate the legal rights of governments, corporations and individuals. The persons who advance these schemes, and particularly those who market and sell these concepts as commercial products, are parasites that must be stopped.

The bluntly idiotic substance of Mr. Mead’s[sic] argument explains the unnecessarily complicated manner in which it was presented. OPCA arguments are never sold to their customers as simple ideas, but instead are byzantine schemes which more closely resemble the plot of a dark fantasy novel than anything else. Latin maxims and powerful sounding language are often used. Documents are often ornamented with many strange marking and seals. Litigants engage in peculiar, ritual‑like in court conduct. All these features appear necessary for gurus to market OPCA schemes to their often desperate, ill‑informed, mentally disturbed, or legally abusive customers. This is crucial to understand the non-substance of any OPCA concept or strategy. The story and process of a OPCA scheme is not intended to impress or convince the Courts, but rather to impress the guru’s customer. (emphasis in original)

How it never works[edit]

The whole concept behind our democracy is that the law applies to everyone. [Freemen] believe they can contract out of the laws and therefore they don't have to pay income tax. What I find crazy is they will willfully consume our hospitals, schools and roads that our taxpayers pay for. It makes zero sense.
AlbertaWikipedia justice minister and solicitor general Jonathan DenisWikipedia[32]

The freeman position is not entirely lacking in moral force: considering government-created law to be a damnable imposition is a defensible stance with a long and respectable history. But their theory of the world is utterly spurious, and their practical approach is made entirely of magic beans and banana skins.

Black's Law Dictionary

A lot of freeman ideas revolve around bizarre interpretations of entries in Black's Law Dictionary[3] — a favourite reference for freemen — and inventing or seeing distinctions where there are none to support their beliefs (such as "policeman" versus "police officer," "understand" versus "stand under," words in CAPITALS having a different legal meaning to those in lower-case, etc.).[33] A lot of pareidolia with words and concepts is used to derive and justify ideas in freeman theory.

Freemen are typically members of the green ink brigade and often indulge in various other conspiracy theories, as well as holding strong anti-government and anti-corporate sentiments. Freemen often try to escape tax and debt repayment by arguing that they are not required to pay tax, or even to argue that borrowed money was theirs to start with,[34] although they'd howl bloody murder if someone they lent money to used that claim on them. Freeman ideas are so far-out that even arch-crackpot Alex Jones thinks they're "quackery,"[35] and agrees that using them will probably get you sent to prison.

Freeman methods fail to understand that the law derives its authority from the fact that the state has the means and the will to use force to impose it. You can argue that the authorities have no jurisdiction over you, and you can choose not to recognise their authority, but as long as the authorities have force to back up their rules, they can enforce sanctions against you. Freemen would argue that this would be unlawful imprisonment — but at the end of the day, you'd still be in jail.

Common law[edit]

Freemen have an obsession with common law, which normally refers to what is known as case law:

As distinguished from statutory law created by the enactment of legislatures, the common law comprises the body of those principles and rules of action, relating to the government and security [rights] of persons and property, which derive their authority solely from usages and customs of immemorial antiquity, or from the judgements and decrees of the courts recognizing, affirming, and enforcing such usages and customs; and in this sense, particularly the ancient unwritten law of England.
Black's law dictionary, 6th edition, 1991

They use this entry to justify a different definition, one which is heavily reliant on the concept of natural law.Wikipedia They see common law as applicable to everyone or, as they put it, "applicable to men and women, flesh and blood human beings,"[36] but statutory law as dependent on choice, an offer of contract, only applicable to their "person" (their "legal person") and not enforceable except by consent.[37] This is entirely incorrect, because the Common Law recognises that Statute Law is supreme and binds every person, regardless of consent.[38]

Freeman definitions of common law include "you do not cause harm or loss to another, while you never breach the peace, and never employ any mischief in your promises & agreements" (Veronica: of the chapman family)[39] and "There are only three ways to break the law: harm another human being, damage someone else's property, use fraud or mischief in your contracts" (Robert Menard).[3]

Legal person or strawman?[edit]

A typical birth certificate, showing the names in ALL-CAPS
See the main article on this topic: Strawman theory

Freemen believe that an individual has two personas. One of them is a physical, tangible human being, and the other is their legal person, personality, or strawman: a legal fiction created when a birth certificate is filed with what would normally be considered someone's name (e.g., JOHN SMITH), capitalization being a particular obsession.[37][33] They believe their birth certificate is their legal person, and will attempt to present it in court when said person is called for, rather than identifying themselves as that person.[3]

Freemen believe that all legal actions, restrictions, and statutes can only be applied to their legal personality, and that, by separating themselves from their legal person, they can free themselves of having to abide by statute laws they don't like (or acts, as they would insist they are not laws).[40] They typically use a slightly different spelling of their name, usually "John of the family Smith" (variations include "John of Smith" or even "John: Smith"), entering into what is referred to as Lawful Rebellion, or by filing a Notice of Understanding and Intent and Claim of Right. They also believe that use of titles such as Mr/Mrs refer to their legal fiction as opposed to themselves, and will therefore refuse to be identified with them, in case this establishes "joinder" (see below).[37]

Because of their obsession with admiralty law and all things maritime, freemen believe that their legal person is required to operate in commerce. It is therefore defined as a vessel or ship in the legal realm, floating on the sea of commerce.

Notice of understanding and intent and claim of right[edit]

A notice of understanding and intent and claim of right is a made-up pseudolegal document freemen use in an attempt to declare sovereignty. (American freemen generally use the term "Affidavit of Truth" to describe this document.) They will sign such a document, sometimes with a notary, and then send it to the Queen and sometimes various other figures such as the Prime Minister and police chiefs. However, American freemen will instead file the document with the court system. If their local court refuses to accept the filing, then they will instead attempt to file it with as many courts as necessary until someone accepts it, or failing that until no one accepts it.[citation NOT needed]

It usually consists of a series of lines beginning "Whereas it is my understanding" followed by an assertion which is untrue or completely illogical. Various parts will state their bizarre interpretation of the law and their understanding that they do not consent to it. They are typically much like this example:[41]

I, Veronica: of the Chapman family, hereafter known as Veronica: Chapman, a flesh and blood human being in possession of a sovereign and individual spirit, a living soul, do hereby make Oath and state the following is My Truth and My Law:

Whereas it is my understanding that in terms of earthly existence there is no species more supreme than a living, breathing, imaginative human being blessed with a living soul, and


Whereas it is my understanding a living soul who chooses by free will not to be a member of any society can be referred to as a Freeman-on-the-land, and

Whereas it is my understanding a Freeman-on-the-land remains entirely and solely under Common Law jurisdiction, and

Whereas I Veronica: Chapman am a Freeman-on-the-land, and ...

Fee schedule[edit]

The notice of understanding is typically followed by a "fee schedule" or "penalty schedules," listing a series of acts and associated penalties the freeman will attempt to levy against the government for perceived transgressions. If the state arrests or incarcerates a freeman against their will, they will then attempt to charge the state a fee for this action. This does not work out in practice and has attracted penalties in return.[29]

Lawful rebellion and the Magna Carta[edit]

Start of Clause 61 of the Magna Carta of 1215. "Cum autem pro Deo, et ad emendacionem regni nostri, et ad melius sopiendum discordiam inter nos et barones nostros ortam ..."

Lawful rebellion in British freeman theory holds that one can lawfully choose to cease abiding by the laws, rules, and statutes of a country by simply opting out of society. Lawful rebellion is often used as an alternative to the Notice of Understanding and Intent and Claim of Right method, although they are sometimes used together. This claim supposedly stems from clause 61 of the Magna Carta.[37] It fails when used in court.[42]

Clause 61 is a historically and constitutionally significant clause. It gave twenty-five barons the right to meet and overrule the will of the king and seize his assets, essentially usurping his authority, should this be considered necessary. This was based on distraint (the seizure of someone’s property in order to obtain payment of rent or other money owed), but it was the first time it had been applied to a monarch. It was one of the first times that there had been any kind of restriction on a king's power from below, and arguably it was one of the first checks and balances on the monarch and the first step toward a constitutional government. Nevertheless, clause 61 was only in effect for three months, as King John later renounced it and Pope Innocent III released King John from his oath to obey it. This led to the First Barons' WarWikipedia between the king and his barons.

Freemen claim that clause 61 allows them to cease obeying the state. This sometimes involves sending an affidavit direct to the Queen declaring one's intent to become a freeman and removing their consent to be governed. Some freemen believe that the Queen represents the highest authority in the land as the sovereign, but that she derives her authority from the people. This then makes them sovereign, such that there is no higher authority than themselves.

The actual text of Magna Carta's clause 61 explicitly refers to the King and the Barons (25 of them being required to invoke the clause) — nowhere is there any mention of the people, free or otherwise; nor would there be, given the feudal system in place at the time. The phrase "Lawful Rebellion" appears nowhere in clause 61, being an invention of freeman mythology.

Freemen claim that the Magna Carta cannot be repealed, but this simply is not true. It was, in fact, replaced by the Magna Carta of 1297, passed by Edward I in return for new taxes. It is this 1297 version (without any clause 61 or anything resembling it) which is now "in force", although by 1969, all but sections 1 (freedom of the church), 9 (freedom of the City of London), and 29 (right to due process) had been repealed or superseded.

Contracts and statutes[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Strawman theory

Because of their conception of common law as the only true law, freemen believe that any laws made by the government are not "laws," but are instead invitations to contract, or "acts," giving rise to the freeman maxim, "Acts nor laws." They do not believe that statute law applies without an individual's consent, and that we are merely conditioned and deceived by the authorities to believe that they do. Freemen claim that statutes can have the force of law as a binding contract under the correct conditions.

Freemen believe that the government has to establish what they refer to as joinder to link yourself and your legal person. When they ask you whether you are "John Smith" and you confirm that you are, then you are establishing joinder. You have supposedly connected your physical and legal persons.[37] (In real law, joinderWikipedia means joining related cases together, not joining purported identities together.)

The next step is to obtain consent. Statutes are seen as invitations to enter a contract, which are only legally enforceable if one enters into the contract consensually. If one does not enter into a contract, statute laws are not applicable. Freemen believe that the government is therefore constantly trying to trick people into entering into a contract with them. They often return bills, notices, summons, and so on with the message "No contract—return to sender".[37]


Notices (e.g., those issued by courts, the police or some government agencies) are supposedly written in "legalese," the deliberately deceptive technical jargon language of "a company called the Law Society."[37][note 2] The claim is that legalese looks like English and uses English words, but is not English. For instance, freemen assert that the word "must" in legalese is synonymous with "may" in English, "summons" means "invitation," "demand" means "offer," and "understand" (as in "do you understand?") means "stand under," as in "do you stand under these words?" (i.e., accept the terms of our contract).[40][33] They claim that all these terms are sneaky ways of getting you to contract with the government without realising. No source is provided for this use of language, and some of it is demonstrably incorrect. The English word "understand" derives from an Old English word meaning stand in the midst of (under deriving from the Proto-Indo-EuropeanWikipedia root *nter-, meaning "between" or "among", from where the modern English prefix "inter-" also derives[43]). In any case, the origin of a word is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what the word in question means today. Freemen should consult Webster's if they are confused.

That Freemen are themselves resorting to deliberately deceptive language to do a deliberately deceptive end run around the law is an irony that is lost on them, so we'll take it upon ourselves to spell it out; for the example of "do you understand?", in attempting to reframe the question "do you understand X?" from "do you comprehend X?" to "do you accept/agree with X?", freemen only succeed in demonstrating their lack of comprehension and acceptance of conventional social and legal norms. We could go on with the rest of the freeman jargon we described earlier, but we'll rest our case here.

For a worked example, see this freeman analysis of a leaflet about the UK TV licence: The DECEPTION of: INCLUDE(S) used by TV LICENSING oop's sorry! CONSIGNIA (CUSTOMER MANAGEMENT) LTD also Traded as TV LICENSINGimg (archive link).

Admiralty law and court appearance techniques[edit]

Freemen see a distinction between (what they call) common law and statute law, which they refer to as "admiralty law," "law of the sea," "maritime law," or the "universal commercial code" (a distortion of the US-only Uniform Commercial Code) — something that only applies to corporations, e.g. legal persons, not flesh-and-blood humans.[33] They see admiralty law as being the law of commerce, the law of ownership, citizenship, and indeed anything else ending in "-ship." They see evidence of this in various nautical-sounding terms used in court, such as "dock," "birth [berth] certificate," "-ship" suffixes, and any other fancy word they think might have a vaguely naval sound.[44] Freemen will take this further by referring to the court as a "ship", its occupants as "passengers", and claiming that anyone leaving are "men overboard." This gives their legal arguments a hilarious nautical theme.[33] Almost piratical, one might say — another irony lost on them. Arr! Whar's th' rum?

They see courts as being a place of business intended to make profit for the government corporation. They sometimes refer to these courts as "de facto courts." When they receive a summons to appear in court, they insist that this is not a summons but, in fact, an invitation to a place of business to discuss the matter at hand.[37][33] When one initially enters a court, they are then operating under "admiralty law" rather than (their version of) "common law". American freemen will sometimes try to argue that if the flag in the court has a gold fringe, this signifies that it is an admiralty court. British courts tend not to have flags of any type, having the royal coat of arms behind the judge instead, so this claim has largely failed to cross the Atlantic.

Freemen believe that a victim must exist for a common law crime to have been committed.[33] One attempt at defence will be to demand to see evidence of a victim. They may also complain that the trial is unfair because the judge and prosecution are on the same team, both being employed by the state. If a freeman has had their property confiscated, they will request that it be returned to them.

They will try to claim common law (rather than admiralty law) jurisdiction by asking "do you have a claim against me?" which supposedly removes their consent to be governed by admiralty law and turns the court into a common law court, forcing the court to proceed according to their version of common law. (This has never worked.) Any cooperation with the court is seen as accepting their terms of contract, and freemen will therefore refuse to do anything asked of them. When asked to stand or approach the bench, they will often refuse to do so, or only do so as long as their "inalienable God-given rights remain intact," in order to prevent them inadvertently entering into a contract.

Freemen will also attempt to "put the judge on their oath" to force them to act in accordance with common law, which entails asking to see evidence of this oath.[33] Judges typically give short shrift to this kind of request, and either adjourn the hearing or threaten the freeman with contempt of court. The freeman might then ask whether the judge means civil or criminal contempt; this is because freemen believe that civil contempt would come under admiralty law, and therefore require a consensual contract, and that criminal contempt would require a victim. When judges leave the courtroom, Freemen will attempt to claim common law authority and then attempt to dismiss the charges themselves, often with a cry of "ship abandoned" or "man overboard."[45][46]

They will never accept legal representation, as to do so might would entail contracting with the state. They also believe that professional lawyers and solicitors owe a duty to the crown (or country) before their client due to their oath, and therefore cannot represent them effectively. Professional lawyers are all part of the legal system and might tell them things they don't want to hear, such as that these antics are going to backfire on them therefore not to be trusted.

Court appearances are by far the most hysterical part of the freeman delusion, as various YouTube videos will attest. Watching freemen trying to apply their delusions to reality is like watching a video of a slow-motion train wreck onto which someone has dubbed delusional gibberish. The fact that freemen put these videos (note that most filming in court is illegal in the UK[47]) on YouTube at all suggests powerful cognitive dissonance, since they typically make the protagonist look very foolish. Techniques used to overcome the manifest failure of freeman logic in court include editing out key moments in favour of voice-overs and deliberately mistaking adjournments for acquittals.

Cestui Que Vie Act[edit]

Many freemen are big on the Cestui Que Vie Act of 1666. They claim that this act declared all English citizens dead and lost beyond the seas unless they objected within seven years of their birth, after which they would be declared dead without reasonable doubt. The state would then claim all the property of its citizens in trust.[48] The relevant part of this rather short act reads:[49]

Whereas diverse Lords of Mannours and others have granted Estates by Lease for one or more life or lives, or else for yeares determinable upon one or more life or lives And it hath often happened that such person or persons for whose life or lives such Estates have beene granted have gone beyond the Seas or soe absented themselves for many yeares that the Lessors and Reversioners cannot finde out whether such person or persons be alive or dead by reason whereof such Lessors and Reversioners have beene held out of possession of their Tenements for many yeares after all the lives upon which such Estates depend are dead in regard that the Lessors and Reversioners when they have brought Actions for the recovery of their Tenements have beene putt upon it to prove the death of their Tennants when it is almost impossible for them to discover the same, For remedy of which mischeife soe frequently happening to such Lessors or Reversioners. If such person or persons for whose life or lives such Estates have beene or shall be granted as aforesaid shall remaine beyond the Seas or elsewhere absent themselves in this Realme by the space of seaven yeares together and noe sufficient and evident proofe be made of the lives of such person or persons respectively in any Action commenced for recovery of such Tenements by the Lessors or Reversioners in every such case the person or persons upon whose life or lives such Estate depended shall be accounted as naturally dead, And in every Action brought for the recovery of the said Tenements by the Lessors or Reversioners their Heires or Assignes, the Judges before whom such Action shall be brought shall direct the Jury to give their Verdict as if the person soe remaining beyond the Seas or otherwise absenting himselfe were dead.

The intent of this act is obvious: that anyone who held a lifelong tenancy over some land,[note 3] but was lost at sea or had emigrated and been out of contact for more than seven years, could be declared legally dead so the tenancy could be deemed to end and the land involved could revert to the freeholder. How anyone can arrive at a different conclusion is bizarre.


Freemen are typically strongly anti-government and believe that the government is a "corporation" (number uc2279443).[50] Their proof is that the government and various parts of it were listed on the website of credit agency Dun and Bradstreet under "corporations" as having a credit record.[51][37]

In reality, any entity (corporation, government, individual person, charity, or whatever) that borrows money or works on credit will have a credit record so that creditors can assess the risk of lending. Nor are credit agencies the arbiters of what is and isn't a corporation. The idiosyncrasies of how a credit rating organisation's website lists entities are not evidence for outrageous claims.

Freemen believe that the UK is now operating in bankruptcy and are therefore under admiralty law,[citation NOT needed] and that since the abolition of the gold standard in 1917, UK currency is now backed not by gold but rather by the people, or rather the legal fiction of their persons. They describe persons as creditors of the UK corporation.

They also claim that when we vote, we are in fact electing directors of a company for profit, that MPs are directors, and the voters are employees of the "corporation". Indeed, having a Social Security number (in the US), Social Insurance Number (in Canada), or National Insurance number (in the UK) makes you an employee of the corporation.[37] Exactly who is supposed to get the profit from this "corporation" is unclear.[52]

Birth certificates[edit]

There are four main beliefs about birth certificates in freeman mythology:

  1. The government uses them to create your strawman and legal person to which all your legal responsibilities, debts, and liabilities belong.[40][33]
  2. As a form of registration, they transfer ownership of an individual to the state. This is what allows the state to seize your children if you don't play by their rules.[40]
  3. They are financial instruments or birth-tracking bonds (a.k.a. live birth bonds) that are sold by the government and then traded on the sea of international commerce, using you as security (an idea taken from the redemption movement).
  4. They are in fact berth certificates — a covert way of registering one's body as a boat, which allows "admiralty courts" to enforce naval/maritime law on individuals. Occasionally, they'll argue that a newborn's exit from the amniotic fluid is comparable to mooring an actual ship.

Freemen claim the government secures the value of its fiat currency using its own citizens' birth certificate "bonds". It is claimed that the value of an individual's "bond" may reach into the billions. It's interesting to see how the alleged value of the Birth Certificate has changed over time. When the conspiracy theory started in the US, the value was estimated at ~$630,000 USD, while more recent versions of this conspiracy theory put the value of Birth Certificates in the billions. Truly, wishful thinking knows no bounds.

This can supposedly be proven by entering the numbers on one's birth certificate into various stock-tracking sites to show the current value of one's "bond" on the market. Several popular YouTube videos claim to show evidence that numbers on Birth Certificates are actually CUSIP numbers. In reality, CUSIP numbers are 9 digit alpha-numerical codes. Birth Certificate numbers for the US are 11 digits long. UK birth certificate serial numbers are 10 digits long. In Canada, the number is 12 digits long.

Notwithstanding this, freemen believe that one can access the money represented by one's own "bond" though various pseudolegal methods and by filing forms with government agencies. There are plenty of conmen, fraudsters, and snake-oil salesmen selling methods on how to achieve this to gullible fools. Naturally, none have ever been shown to work.

The value of one's birth certificate "bond" can also supposedly be used to discharge one's debts and financial liabilities through a process known as "acceptance for value" or "A4V", without the freeman having to gain direct access to the funds himself. The UK Treasury has stated that the existence of these bonds, as well as various other freeman financial concepts, are myths.[53]

Argument tropes[edit]

Be quiet, and don't talk gibberish in this court. Stop speaking rubbish and just sit quietly.
—Sheriff Peter Hammond of Edinburgh, while being shouted down by a disruptive freeman in court[54]

The accurate responses to most Freeman arguments are "this claim is false", "this is not how the law works", "this strategy has failed literally every time", "this is not what these words mean at all", "this is completely made-up", and, eventually, "Madam/Sir, please place your hands behind your back".

The real problem is that Freemen don't seem to understand how coherent argument works on any level. They refuse to believe a loss in court is not, in fact, a win — they put up illegally-filmed court videos on YouTube of them getting thrown out or penalised, or of the case being adjourned, and claim these as clear wins. Even if they are quite unambiguously convicted, fined, and/or jailed, which is obviously impossible given that they do not consent,[citation NOT needed] they claim a moral victory. It's like playing four-dimensional pigeon chess.

Freemen have some very eccentric ideas about what lots of everyday words actually mean. Some examples include:

  • Admirality Court: Any courtroom with a gold-fringed flag, which apparently means that you are outside of their jurisdiction.
  • Authorized Representative: A "distinct" entity from you yourself that can represent you in a court of law while occupying the same body as your "person".[55]
  • Consent: An agreement, which if you refuse to give to the police officer means they legally can not arrest you.
  • Person: Legal "fiction" thought up by evil gub'ment types that has no power over you if you keep insisting you are not one.
  • Remedy: A course of action that a judge "must" provide that will instantly drop all charges.
  • Social Contract: A philosophical idea that governments and subjects have an agreement where the people obey the laws and the government provides safety and basic services, which totally means you can refuse to obey any laws you don't like.
  • Title 4 flag: The official rules on American flags (US Code: Title 4) make no mention of a gold fringe; therefore, if the courtroom has a flag with a gold fringe, it's really an "Admirality Court".
  • Traveling: As long as you are "traveling" and not "driving", you don't need a license, even if you are operating the vehicle, because your "right to travel" means you can operate a car apparently. FOTLs often bolster this point with a definition of "driving" from an outdated copy of Black's Law dictionary, usually one written before cars were commonplace.[56]

Freeman successes[edit]


Freeman failures[edit]

Despite the numerous failed attempts to use freeman legal methods, freemen will always insist that they do work, even clinging to this delusion when arrested and thrown into jail. Below are some examples:


  • William and David Stirling were arrested and charged with growing cannabis. They claimed to be "freemen on the land", but the courts state that they have "no personal circumstances applying to them which affords immunity to prosecution", that there was "no legal significance" to the term "freeman on the land", and that they would be tried anyway.[57]
  • Freeman Mark Bond (alias "Mark of the family Bond") was arrested after refusing to recognise the court and giving police his notice of intent. He gets a suspended 3-month jail sentence anyway, on condition that he pays off his debt.[58][59]
  • Freeman "Brian-arthur: alexander" tried to get out of speeding by telling a judge the law doesn't apply to him. The judge disagreed and the police suggesed further charges of obstruction and mischief for his freeman shenanigans.[60]
  • Mika Rasila was stopped by the police for not having a licence plate. He told them that he hadn't consented to their laws and that he isn't an employee of the "corporation of Canada". It didn't work and they arrested him and impounded his van. A judge later gave him a fine of $1,250.[61][62]
  • Freewoman Mary Gye recalled her account of being arrested for not having road tax or car insurance and having her "conveyance" impounded.[63] This in spite of all the freeman woo she tried. She was later sentenced to 14 days in a women's prison for criminal contempt when she brought a tape recorder into a court hearing over nonpayment of council tax.[64]
  • A Canadian judge ruled "A person is a "person"",[65] after freeman David Kevin Lindsay (alias "David-Kevin: Lindsay") tried to get out of paying tax by asserting otherwise. Lindsay was also designated a vexatious litigant.[65][66]
  • The house of Alan Gjurovich and Star Hills (alias "Star: (family), Hills", who identifies as a "sovereign-sentient-being-on-the-land") was foreclosed upon when their attempts to just stop paying their mortgage failed, and even their fee schedules didn't work. This was despite having been ripped off for as much as $250 on the entire fucking package from a so-called "expert" named "Robert of the family Menard".[67][68]
  • Dan Greenman (aka "Dan of the family Griffiths") has a Freeman story[69] starting with a tax quarrel with the NZ tax department. He claims criminal charges against it, and later reported this to the NZ Ombudsman, an oversight branch of the NZ government, who told him that they were not going to do anything with his claim. Dan read a phrase in the response, "That being the case", following a sentence "Your affidavits state that…" as official written confirmation of the substance of his claims, not the fact that he was making those claims. This, along with that fact that the ombudsman does not specifically address his claims other than to say he is not responsible for that, he takes as written release from being an "Officer of the Queen". Later that year, he was arrested for driving a vehicle without current registration & license. The Police have little time for his protests, and he is incarcerated briefly and forcefully stripped presumably after refusing to comply with the police demands to change into a prison jumpsuit. His court appearance write-up showed self-perceived claims of victory and miscarriage of justice — while remaining conspicuously absent on matters of any success in the court rulings. Fortunately, he eventually got released, and as of March 2017, Greenman was nevertheless still actively involved in the NZ Freeman movement in spite of the fact that his tactics just didn't work.


  • The full panoply of Freeman delusion was on display in a case involving Bobby Oliver Sludds (aka "Bobby of the family Sludds"), down to Black's Law Dictionary being produced in court. The end result: conviction, and the defendant being sentenced to immediate custody. When Bobby of the family Sludds attempted to appeal against his sentence, and apply for bail pending his appeal being heard, the Judge responded by explaining that — "I can’t accept a bail bond from someone whose signature can't be verified,". As a result, the court remanded Sludds to Cloverhill prison.[70]
  • After refusing to pay a fine for not wearing a seatbelt, James Michael Tesi flooded the court with woo-woo documents basically refusing to pay. The court ignored this, and issued an arrest warrant. A police officer pulled him over, which resulted in gunfire and Tesi being wounded. Tesi was subsequently charged with attempted capital murder, eventually convicted on a lesser charge of aggravated assault on a public servant, and sentenced to 35 years in prison.[71][72]
  • Elizabeth Watson, a Freewoman attempted to use the entire panoply of freeman woo to deny a court's jurisdiction in child custody proceedings. She was sentenced to nine months for contempt.[73]


  • A court determined that Anthony Troy Williams "was properly convicted of driving on a canceled, suspended, or revoked license. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed."[74]
  • In Meads v. Meads, an Alberta judge wrote the all-time smackdown of Freeman on the Land claims: "I agree with Justice Sanderman’s succinct evaluation of Henry’s claims as 'total gibberish'". But it is more than dry wit; it is a fascinating and well-researched exposition that has set a model for Canadian justice's (and, more distantly, American justice's) response to pseudolegalism.[75]


  • New Zealand woman Kiri Campbell pleads guilty to four counts of fraud. What began as a Freeman-inspired protest against the banking system ended with a young woman being convicted of four counts of fraud.[76]
  • Notorious quack "Dr." Errol Denton attempted freemen arguments while being prosecuted under the Cancer Act. When the trial concluded the following year, he was fined £19,000.[77]
  • Andreas Pirelli (who also goes by the alias Mario Antonacci) of Alberta, Canada, literally took over his senior citizen landlady's property after having declared it a "sovereign embassy" (calling it "The First Nations Sovran Embassy of Earth"), billing her for all expenses incurred and changing the locks to her his new property overnight. In 2010, he skipped appearing at his own trial and was issued a warrant — a trial he was summoned to in response to a 2007 incident where he had allegedly thrown his senior landlady down a flight of stairs, breaking several of her bones.[8] He claims that he was later "extradited" to Quebec to face a different assault charge, although Canada refused to recognise his micronation.
  • In 2013, two self-identified sovereign citizens were convicted "for their illegal actions associated with a militant anti-government group". Kenneth Wayne Leaming "was sentenced to eight years in prison for three counts of filing false liens against federal officials, and one count of harboring federal fugitives and being a felon in possession of firearms." and David Carroll Stephenson was "sentenced to 10 years in prison for a single count of filing false liens against a federal official."[78] In 2021, shortly after Leaming's release from prison, he made a legal filing attempting to join the lawsuit filed by Donald Trump against Twitter and its CEO Jack Dorsey.[79] Leaming's filing used freeman-of-the-land terminology ("Kenneth-Wayne: Leaming", "Jack-Parick: Dorsey").


  • David Hall attempts to use Freeman arguments to avoid a DUI charge and an operating on a suspended license charge, failing to understand those same arguments himself when the judge repeats the same "logic" back to him before revoking his bond.[80]


  • In Williams Lake, Canada, Joseph Zombori tried to get out of drug trafficking charges by insisting that he wasn't actually the one on trial, at one point yelling, "Who is Joe? I need to know who Joe is! You are sentencing a person and I need to know who that person is." Joe, to no one's surprise (except his own), was Joe, who was sentenced to 18 months in jail.[81]
  • David Macrae of Edinburgh, Scotland, wired a hand grenade to his door handle, armed himself with a bow and arrow, and threatened to "deploy" boiling cooking fat over anyone who entered his home "unlawfully" (by which he meant the freeman misunderstanding of "common law"). The lady from the electricity company who came to install a prepayment meter was forced to summon first a locksmith and then the police in order to remove the existing credit meter and install the prepayment meter, because he chose not to pay his electricity bill. He did not consent to it nor his lawful obligation to pay it.[54] This ended predictably.[citation NOT needed]
  • Terry Trussell of Dixie County, Florida was arrested for "simulating a legal process" when he tried to enforce an "indictment" from his common law "jury".[82]


  • 56-year old Charlottetown, Canada resident and "follower of the Freeman on the Land philosophy" John James MacLean was placed on trial for breach of his previous probation, for driving while prohibited to do so, and for failing to attend court (he'd ignored all those prior sentences since they're "really just guidelines" anyway, right?). MacLean tried playing the whole deck of freeman cards during his trial, including: constantly interrupting the judge and witnesses, insisting that "no such thing [as a driver's license] exists", refusing to give his name in court, insisting that the crimes do indeed belong to the name but that he is not the name, accusing the judge of representing him against his wishes(?), arguing that he "just doesn't want a contract" (in the freeman sense), and howling about how the whole process is "kangaroo foolishness". Result: After having to sit off the remaining 27 days in custody, the judge (once again) banned him from driving for a further 18 months, and ordered him to pay $300 in victim surcharges.[83]


  • Essex boxer Ollie Pinnock's attempts to convince Southend Borough Council that the Magna Carta and his status as a 'Lawful Rebel' meant that he didn't have to pay council tax ended predictably. After failing to attend a committal hearing, he was arrested on a no-bail warrant and sentenced to 25 days in jail. He was subsequently released when his mother paid the £875 council tax that was outstanding.[84]
  • Former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle was convicted of "child pornography and sexual conduct involving minors".[85] He later tried to use the sovereign citizen defense based on an alleged error of jurisdiction, i.e. because he did not consent to the law. This ended predictably in him being convicted nevertheless.[85]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Woo… woo never changes.
  2. The Law Society is actually the professional body for solicitors in the UK. Surprisingly enough.
  3. Lifelong tenancies, rather than fixed-term ones, were common in England at the time. Some covered multiple lives, e.g. a man might pay a sum in return for being granted occupation of a piece of land for his own, his oldest son's and that son's oldest son's lifetimes, so that land would revert to the freeholder when that grandson died.


  1. Sovereign Citizen Get Tased Trying To Enter Courtroom by Hambone2155 (Oct 11, 2012) YouTube.
  2. FREEMAN. One who is in the enjoyment of the right to do whatever he pleases, not forbidden by law. One in the possession of the civil rights enjoyed by, the people generally. 1 Bouv. Inst. n. 164. See 6 Watts, 556: — from Bouvier Law Dictionary (1856), see also: Black's Law Dictionary 8th Edition (2004) for similar definition.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Robert Arthur Menard: Freeman On The Land; transcript (Link is dead, but the image was capturedimg)
  4. Freemen movement captures Canadian police attention (Posted: Feb 29, 2012 10:39 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 01, 2012 6:48 AM ET) CBC News.
  5. This paragraph adapted from the excellent summary by LightinDarkness on the JREF Forums.
  6. e.g., [1]img
  7. National Post: "Read the declassified CSIS report on the threats posed by the Freeman on the Land movement"
  8. 8.0 8.1 National Post: "‘Freeman-on-the-land’ ordered evicted after taking over senior’s property, declaring sovereign ’embassy’"
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 National Post: "'Sovereign citizen' movement worrying officials as 30,000 claim they 'freed' themselves from Canada's laws"
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Meads v. Meads, 2012 ABQB 571"
  11. 'Freemen' are told they will be tried
  12. e.g., lack of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt
  13. How I clobbered every bureaucratic cash-confiscatory agency known to man ... a Spiritual Economics Book on $$$ and Remembering Who You Are
  14. Google groups. Google group's earliest record of its usage seems to be June 2008 (in a locked post).
  15. Robert-Scott:Christy on Think Free (1/2) by corbettreport (Nov 9, 2010) YouTube.
  16. Don't be Deceived by the De-Taxing Movement (Mar 01, 2005) FBC.
  17. "Exposing the freemen/redemption gurus" JREF
  18. Yes, defaulting on debts is an option (Jon Witterick, Guardian, 2011-11-15)
  19. We are the change: welfare, education and law at the Occupy camp ('commonly known as dom' [Dominic Lohan], Guardian, 2011-11-15)
  20. The law is not the enemy of protest but an essential tool of impartiality (Carl Gardner, Guardian, 2011-11-16)
  21. The freeman-on-the-land strategy is no magic bullet for debt problems (Legal Bizzle, Guardian, 2011-11-18)
  22. Comment is free, but woo is sacred (Legalbizzle, The Bizzle, 2011-11-15)
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Freemen of the dangerous nonsense (Adam Wagner, Legal Week, 2011-11-16)
  24. "Nonsense or loophole?" (Benchmark #57, February 2012, p 18) — blatantly plagiarised lovingly referenced from this very article.
  25. Law Society of Ireland Gazette, April 2012, p12
  26. Kersey, John. "The Freeman on the Land Movement: Grass Roots Libertarianism in Action." Legal Notes #50. Libertarian Alliance, 2010.
  27. Well, mostly.
  28. No attempts to cash in alleged "birth bond"; unanswered questions
  29. 29.0 29.1 Terry Bouffard's fee schedule fails (JREF Forums) — Judge: "Where do you get this stuff?" The freeman in this case also had his $7000 car seized.
  30. Rob Menard's FOTL Claims (JREF Forums)
  31. Brent Wittmeier, "Edmonton divorce case prompts justice to dissect “pseudolegal” arguments", Edmonton Journal, 27 September 2012
  32. Toronto Sun: "Freeman of the Land are bad citizens"
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 33.4 33.5 33.6 33.7 33.8 "How To Be Truly Free" talk transcriptimg (Chris of the family Kettle)
  34. Section 16 — See here for how the concept of fractional reserve banking is perverted to justify this claim.
  35. Alex Jones calls freeman ideas 'Quackery'
  36. e.g., [5], [6]
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 37.3 37.4 37.5 37.6 37.7 37.8 37.9 John Harris: It's An Illusion talk, a primary Freeman text; transcriptimg. At 38:04 in this video, John Harris cites Baby P as an example when talking about social services taking people's children away from them. Baby PWikipedia was a case in the UK of a child who died at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend. Social services and the various other agencies involved were widely criticised for failing to take the child into care and not identifying the risk to the child. Not only is it intellectually dishonest to cite an emotive real life example that actually contradicts your argument, to misrepresent a tragic case like this in such a way is downright offensive.
  38. Hilaire Barnett, 2011, "Constitutional & Administrative Law", p.117, published by Routlage.
  39. definition of common law
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 40.3 Meet your Strawman (YouTube)
  41. Notice of Understanding and Intent and Claim of Right (example for your use)
  42. Failed appeal against Occupy London eviction"First, he challenged the judgment on the ground that it did not apply to him, as a ‘Magna Carta heir’. But that is a concept unknown to the law. He also says that his ‘Magna Carta rights’ would be breached by execution of the orders. But only chapters 1, 9 and 29 of Magna Carta (1297 version) survive."
  43. "Understand". Online Etymology Dictionary
  44. "Dock" in fact is from the Dutch dok',' meaning "animal pen."
  45. Freeman In Gloucester Court 29th Jan 2010 Part 1.
  47. Filming judges' summaries will be allowed in the future (BBC)
  48. e.g. [2]img, [3]img, [4]img, and even poetry about itimg.
  49. Cestui Que Vie Act, 1666
  50. The Labour Party traded as Alistair Darling MP by Freeman Pete (18 Jul 2009, 14:58) Politics (archived from April 13, 2015).
  51. e.g. Meet Your Strawman.
  52. MPs get a fixed standard salary which is way below an equivalent job in the private sector (though the expenses are pretty lavish).
  53. Re: Freedom of Information Act 2000: Birth Tracking Bond etc (HM Treasury, 18 March 2010)
  54. 54.0 54.1 ‘Freeman on the land’ causes chaos in court (09:53 Wednesday 11 March 2015) Edinburgh News (archived from 2 Apr 2016 02:25:34 UTC).
  55. Overview of Freemen
  56. TFK on why you don't need a driver's license
  57. 'Freemen' are told they will be tried by Ashlie McAnally (01 January 2011) The Scotsman (archived from April 11, 2011).
  58. Norwich court case posted on YouTube by David Bale (12 December, 2010; 12:42 PM) Norwich Evening News.
  59. Norfolk man’s dramatic stand-off over unpaid council tax by David Bale (4 December, 2010; 18:31 PM) Eastern Daily Press.
  60. Kamloops ‘freeman’ says laws do not apply to him by Robert Koopmans (December 24, 2010) Kamloops Daily News.
  61. [ (Oct 29, 2010) National Post.
  62. Broadening our Understanding of Anti-Authority Movements in Canada by Barbara Perry et al. (August 2017) Working Paper Series No. 17-02. The Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society.
  63. Girlgye in custody by girlgye (13-09-2009 at 02:54 PM) David Icke's Official Forums (archived from July 30, 2014).
  64. Girl Gye in Prison! by miked (30-09-2009, 04:54 PM) David Icke's Official Forums (archived from 7 Jul 2013 13:12:30 UTC).
  65. 65.0 65.1 A person is a "person" by Bethany Lindsay (June 18, 2010 5:33PM PDT) CTV News.
  66. Dump owner's crusader still vexatious, court rules (June 17, 2011) Kamloops Daily News.
  67. Gjurovich et al v. State of California et al Filing: 7 Justia (archived from 7 Jul 2013 13:13:47 UTC).
  68. Sherrif just posted Eviction -My Petition of Rite by earthicastar (16-12-2010, 11:17 PM) David Icke's Official Forums (archived from May 15, 2016).
  69. A Freeman Story by Dan Greenman (14/09/2012 - 13:18) (archived from May 2, 2016).
  70. Judge challenged to produce oath by man disputing summons by Colette Browne (August 11, 2011) The Irish Times (archived from August 12, 2011).
  71. Jury Convicts Texas ‘Sovereign’ Who Shot at Cop by Bill Morlin (February 01, 2012) Southern Poverty Law Center.
  72. James Michael Tesi The Texas Tribune (archived from January 6, 2017).
  73. Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council v Watson (22 August 2011) England and Wales High Court (Family Division) Decisions.
  74. State of Tennessee v. Anthony Troy Williams (2012 October 3rd) Tennessee State Courts.
  75. Meads v. Meads, 2012 ABQB 571 (2012-09-18) CanLII.
  76. Fraudulent cheques totalled nearly $65,000 by Isobel Ewing (16:15, Aug 02 2013) Taranaki Daily News.
  77. Live blood quack Errol Denton handed court bill for £19,000 by Josephine Jones (March 20, 2014; Updated November 10, 2014) WordPress.
  78. Two Members of the So-Called ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Movement Sentenced to Long Prison Terms: Defendants Claim To Be Tax And Law Experts Damaging Victims And Ensnarling Justice System (May 24, 2013; Updated March 23, 2015) The United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington.
  79. Donlad-John: Trump, et al. vs. Twitter, Inc., and Jack-Patrick: Dorsey et al. Notice of Joinder and Mandatory Judicial Notice (October 4, 2021) United States District Court, Southern District of Florida.
  80. Judge Hurley in Broward Bond Court with David Hall (Dec 22, 2014) YouTube.
  81. Williams Lake couple sentenced in grow-op trial by Monica Lamb-Yorski (Mar 4, 2015) The Williams Lake Tribune (archived from April 13, 2016).
  82. Terry G. Trussell v. State of Florida, 16-3763 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018) (August 24th, 2018) District Court of Appeal of Florida.
  83. PEI ‘Freeman on the land’ refutes court authority, says judge doing poor job by Ryan Ross (June 23, 2016) The Western Star (archived on 6 Jul 2016 13:59:35 UTC).
  84. Leigh boxer Ollie Pinnock sentenced to 25 days in jail for not paying council tax (5th May 2017) Echo.
  85. 85.0 85.1 Jared Fogle just tried to get out of his sex-crime sentence with a legal Hail Mary by Lindsey Bever (November 14, 2017 at 1:59 PM), The Washington Post.