By now you've probably seen the strange billboards all over Scotland (and the rest of the UK) suggesting that it is illegal to use your name and that you could be committing fraud.
No one seems to know who is funding the poster campaign (although billboard ads don't come cheap so it must be someone with money to burn).
So what's it all about?
Well, I suspect it's connected to a group of individuals who like to call themselves 'freemen of the land' or 'sovereigns of the land'. They are a rapidly growing bunch of people who are concerned about the sheer volume of unnecessary laws that our elected officials pass.
They worry that these laws are not being passed for the publics benefit, but rather are designed to further curb our freedoms and liberties in favour of rich corporations and a small band of elite at the top.
And you can't really argue with that per se. I think we would all agree - and anyone with a smidgeon of sense could coherently argue - that many of the laws we see passed by our Parliament don't seem to be for the public benefit at all but rather only seem to benefit those in authority. This is especially true when you see new laws being passed which give more powers to our police, because every time the police are given more powers they ALWAYS end up abusing them. Always.
So the underlying questions the freemen or sovereigns (or whatever they like to call themselves) seem to be asking are, how are our laws are made, who makes them, for who's benefit are they made, and whether we, as human beings, should be subject to these laws?
Now, straight off the bat, let me quite clear. There is absolutely no doubt that we ARE subject to laws passed by Parliament.
So the only legitimate question I can see which could be derived from this is whether we SHOULD be subject to laws passed by Parliament.
And this is where it gets interesting.
The poster campaign appears to point to the popular freemen/sovereigns argument that when you were born your parents registered your birth with a name, causing your name to become a ‘legal entity’. The idea is that when your parents registered your name on the 'birth certificate', they unknowingly gave ownership of that name to the Crown Corporation. Therefore all 'legal names' are owned by the Crown, and so using a 'legal name' without their written permission is fraudulent.
However, freemen/sovereigns take this argument another step further and argue that the 'legal entity' name on your birth certificate is completely separate from the physical you, the 'flesh and blood' you as it were, therefore the laws which Parliament pass only entitle the Crown to prosecute your 'name' and not you as a person. They even argue that the Crown can only prosecute a legal name so they cannot legally prosecute you as a person/human being.
They throw in a few facts and legal stuff about contract law, maritime law, and God's law etc in to the equation and this supposedly proves their point and seals their argument.
But does their argument hold any water?
The short answer is 'no'.
But before you dismiss them as some mad-cap tin-foil hat brigade, it's not just quite as clear-cut as you may think. The long answer is far more interesting than you would at first imagine and, as is often the case with these types of things, there are enough sprinklings of truth in some of the things they say to make their ideas worth looking at more closely.
The debate about who 'legally' owns your name is, to my mind, really just a round about way of freemen/sovereigns trying to prove that the only laws that should apply to human beings are God's laws and all other laws are merely acts of Parliament which need 'consent'. Their idea is that if you do not 'consent' to a law passed by Parliament, then that law does not apply to you.
This is nonsense of course.
When we, the public, elect a Government to make laws, we, the public, are consenting to the laws they make on our behalf. And if we don't like the laws the Government make, then we can elect a different Government at the next election who can revoke those laws or pass new ones for us.
It's called democracy and it completely blows the freemen/sovereigns argument out the water.
The next time you're in front of a Sheriff in a court of law for, say, driving without a licence or having no tax and insurance on your vehicle, just try telling the Sheriff that the law doesn't apply to you and you didn't 'consent' to it. Trust me, the only person you're gonna find who'll listen to your daft 'I don't consent to that law' argument will be your cell mate!
However while it is very clear that we, as human beings, ARE subject to laws brought in by acts of Parliament, there also exists a very strong argument as to whether we SHOULD be subject to these laws.
Because historically, man has always lived by the law of God and has never needed any of these 'new' enactments/parliament passed laws to govern our behaviour. We have always had religious laws like 'thou shalt not kill' etc to live by and it, well, it worked rather well for thousands of years.
So in the grand scheme of things, these 'new' laws (acts of Parliament) are a relatively recent addition to our culture and our way of life and, as such, there is most certainly some seeds of an argument that they may indeed be an unnecessary burden on us and yes, perhaps even unlawful.
Interestingly, Sharia law - which is much favoured by our friends in the Muslim world - uses this very argument. Muslims consider Sharia law to be God's law and is the only law they subscribe to. All other laws are considered to be 'man-made' and therefore should not apply to them (of course there is yet another argument that all religions are 'man-made' anyway but let's leave that theological minefield for another time)!
You see, in the west, religion and state are separate. But in the Muslim world, religion and state are one and the same (i.e. the Sharia). So when you try to force western democratic ideals on to Muslims, asking them to subscribe to our man-made laws and enactments, you are, in effect, asking them to turn their back on God (that's how they see it). A Muslim will never ever turn his back on his God so he will never ever subscribe to our westernised 'new' version of how a democracy, a state, and it's laws should be set up. Hey, that's why the middle-east is a chaotic battle ground and will be for years to come. Muslims do not want our version of democracy and the sooner we realise that and stop interfering in their world the better.
Ironically, just a few hundred years ago, we in Britain were thinking exactly the same as the Muslims!
Back then, state and religion were one and the same and we lived quite happily under the King's rule and all of those God given/religious laws he enforced on us (remember the bible, the ten commandments, all that stuff)?
So there's actually a striking similarity in our British views in the past regarding what laws we should abide by and our Muslim friends views about laws today.
There is no doubt that we in Britain (and the west) have increasingly abandoned God's laws in the last few hundred years in favour of acts of Parliament.
Could there be an argument that there is more crime, more hate, more trouble, and more inequality in our western world now than there was hundreds of years ago when we relied on God's law only?
Or can it be argued that our new 'man-made' laws have helped hone us in to a more civilised, healthy, and prosperous society than we would have been if we had abided by God's law alone?
If the 'man-made' laws helped make us a more civilised, healthy, and prosperous society, did they come about at the expense of equality for the members of our society?
In the end, there may be little to agree on but surely there's enough stuff there for us to at least have a discussion about it? The idea of whether 'man-made' laws introduced by a Parliament should apply to us or not, does have some grounds for debate (on some level at the very least).
In conclusion, I firmly believe that the 'truth' posters you see plastered on billboards around the country should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Please, whatever you do, do NOT try to march in to a court of law using what you saw written on a poster as your defence or you'll find yourself marched straight in to the slammer.
But DO talk with your friends, family, and colleagues about the reasoning and the rationale behind the message on the posters.
Do discuss with your friends, family, and colleagues whether it's right that, just because we elect a government and consent to them governing us, they have the right to take that consent and extend it to passing laws which hurt us and harm us and favour themselves, large corporations, and an elite minority.
Do discuss with your friends, family, and colleagues whether laws passed by our government and dished out by our courts favour the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and vulnerable and whether social justice for all has been achieved through our laws.
The argument shouldn't really be about what name is on your birth certificate and whether that name is really you.
Instead, the argument should be about whether our Government pass laws which are beneficial to the public, us as human beings, and benefits our society as a whole.
Or do our Governments just pass laws to favour and benefit their corporate paymasters who fund their election campaigns.
That's the real 'truths' and 'frauds' we should be looking at.
There's an old saying that says instead of just teaching our children, we should also teach our children to QUESTION what we teach them.
If these posters cause us to ask questions about how we are governed, how laws are passed, and who really benefits from the laws Parliament passes, then that can only be a good thing.