Somehow this “all laws are voluntary” nonsense seems to have gained currency among some Irish people who clearly missed that decade at school. I’ve been seeing it crop up on in various places, on flyposters in Dublin as well as online, where @jmason covered it briefly. In its most basic form we have:
This household charge is a Statute, otherwise known as an Act of Government and only carries the force of law upon you if you consent to it which means that your legally obliged to pay if you consent or in other words go on to householdcharge.ie and register.
Where to begin? Why bother beginning, even? Well, what’s happened here is that a group of loonies in the U.S. have decided that their favoured close reading of Black’s Law Dictionary is how the law is defined — rather than the Constitution, courts, laws, precedent, etc. — and that in particular the phrase “consent of the governed” applies to individual people and individual acts of governance and not to the ordering of society as a whole.
The tedious and obvious stupidity of it is bad enough, but’s particularly awful is the lack of originality here. These people are uncritically (obviously) importing some tendentious American crankery that in turn is supposedly based on U.K. Common Law and the Magna Carta and whatever you’re having yourself. Here’s one of their legal beagles in action on politics.ie:
Courts operate under admiralty law, common law supersedes Admiralty law unless you contract with the Justice (Judge) once you do this you forfeit your inalienable rights under common law.
Anyone who believes this in any way applies in Ireland is, not too put too fine a point on it, a fucking idiot. Actually it doesn’t apply anywhere — unless you’ve actually been hauled up before the Admiralty Court. So, where does this come from? Well, according to RationalWiki, there is a hilarious linguistic antecedent:
Freemen see a distinction between what they call common law and statute law, which they refer to as admiralty law or “law of the sea”, sometimes also known as maritime law or the “universal commercial code” (a distortion of the US-only Uniform Commercial Code). Through a stunning misunderstanding of etymology, 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. Freemen will take this further by using further nautical terms, referring to the court as a “ship”, its occupants as “passengers” and claiming that anyone leaving are “men overboard”. Their legal arguments thus tend to a hilarious nautical theme.
Why not “Freemen-on-the-water”, then? And, given that the precedence in Ireland of the Irish language, where the word for “ship” is “long”, I’m sure they could have made this more interesting. That’s what makes it so disappointing.
Anyway, that’s the kind of people we’re dealing with here. Fools who believe that patently fake and preposterous contortions of U.S. Law based on misreadings of U.K. Law can be simply imported into Ireland unchanged and just be magically true! Admiralty, made-up notions that debts can be dismissed with incantations of “Acceptance for Value” and “No Contract, Return To Sender” — everything.
A hilarious, if poignant, update from an intrepid Freeman who engaged Bord Gais in this manner reports:
This isn’t helping getting the gas turned on again.
Reality can be tough that way.