Thursday, 5 December 2013

Bald Truth and Bare-faced Lies

The Bald Truth Jersey, as linked in my blog list, is a witty title for the blog of my friend and erstwhile political colleague, Trevor Pitman, who has a bare scalp and a passionate commitment to calling things how he sees them.

However, he has cross-branded the title to a Facebook group, run by one Steve Southers, whom I believe to be Trevor's brother-in-law, although I may be mistaken. The Facebook group does run links to Trevor's blog, but otherwise, it has evolved its own identity, and become a very different kettle of fish.

Any Facebook group can only be as good or bad as the people who bother to join it, but the group administrators can, and usually do, shape the group to some extent, by constraining the content the members post, and controlling who is allowed in the group. I have volunteered as co-admin for a couple of the groups I am in, myself, and have been surprised at how many ethical challenges arise.

The Bald Truth Facebook group was initially populated with Trevor's Friend list, and has attracted others with an interest in Jersey affairs, until the thousand-plus membership has made it the largest Jersey discussion group, that I know of. Unfortunately, as the membership has grown, the proportion of posts from members with profoundly counter-factual worldviews has also grown. The headline posts letting us into the secret that humans were genetically engineered from apes by extra-terrestrial visitors can be enjoyed as comedy in small doses and the resident climate change denier's obtuse failure to absorb the resident environmental expert's patient debunkings also has a comedic dimension, reminiscent of the Monty Python sketch where an inept swordsman continues to bark challenges sans limbs after a comprehensive hacking.

The glimpses of an alternative reality get worse, though. There is much evidence of conspiracy theories on the page. Trevor Pitman's own political career has been hampered by a closing of ranks against him, so I can see why he would be inclined to sympathise. The tone of Steve Southers' Facebook group, however, is an anything-goes credulity towards suggestions of sinister forces secretly manipulating the world to their own benefit. (I am old enough and worldly enough to realise that great wealth does carry power, and the private and informal relationships of the very wealthy and powerful do play in counterpoint to the overt and formal structures of law and government. I am also wise enough to know that key words like Illuminati flag a need to engage extreme scepticism at least, if not ignore altogether.)

What has become the most worrying feature of the group, though, is that in spite of its links to a serving legislator, it has begun promoting the dangerously false legal advice of the Freeman On The Land movement. This is a Canadian variation of a scam that has been circulating in the USA for some years, in which dishonest legal advisors sell misinformation to to laymen on how the law is not legitimately the law of the land, and they can repudiate their obligations by declaring their independence from it. Although, they often assert that the state does have massive counter-obligations in their own favour. All untrue, of course.

Were the FOTL (Please yourself whether you read that as Freemen On The Land or Fruitloops On The Loose!) links posted as genuine discussion points, in the way most things are in topical Facebook groups, then at least the more rational members of the group could attempt to steer the more vulnerable members away from taking an unhealthy interest. Alarmingly, Southers, in spite of presenting himself as a defender of free speech when he turns up on other discussion groups is prepared to protect FOTL posts with active steps to suppress dissent. 

Note Southers' minatory response to criticism of a link to a FOTL video

The offending comments were rephrased in a way less open to misinterpretation as a slur on fellow group members.

But, it seems that the problem must have been disrespecting FOTL because Southers answered that question with a ban.

Not that that saved the piece from further attack from one of the other group admins.

So, there is one admin on the group not prepared to go along with it. Even so, it must be cause for concern that a Facebook group riding the coat tails of a current Member of The States of Jersey is actively fomenting disregard for the law, and doing so under false pretences, too. You may disregard my opinion as that of a layman, although I seem to know more real law than the FOTL gurus. You may even feel that Sam Mezec's LLB is not a sufficiently lofty qualification to impress you. Never mind, if you have a few hours to devote to some heavy and slightly repetitive reading, Chief Justice Rooke, of the Canadian Province of Alberta, has written the definitive debunking of the FOTL and all related “Organised Pseudolegal Commercial Agreements”:

I don't like to write blogs without points, so this one is coming to two. The first is that despite the links to Deputy Pitman, the actual Facebook group may promise Bald Truth, but abounds in Bare-Faced Lies, and should be viewed with caution and suspicion, if at all. The second point, incidentally arising, is that FOTL and other like OPCAs are utter buncombe beneath the mock-legal phraseology, and if they seem interesting, just remember that their facts are simply untrue, and don't be tempted to act on their advice.


Maureen said...

A very well balanced and well presented argument. As the 2 admins are on opposite sides now I wonder what will happen next?

click HERE for pv-TV report on HDLG said...

If I understand this right.

Whatever the philosophical rights and wrongs of the detail -the bickerers are FOOLS.

The old order of the Jersey establishment is swaying. It's very foundations are undermined and it's middle echelons are looking to the lifeboats with a view to surviving the crumble and regrouping in a cleansed form when the main criminal shysters are gone or even jailed (thought jailed is probably too much to hope)

Amongst these are the shysters who screwed (for the moment) the Pitmans the Syvrets and so many others including the children of this island.

The only thing which might save the shysters is is the Jersey's fragile and unorganised opposition bickering amongst themselves.

Think on Einsteins and get your priorities right.

I looked at this common-law-only stuff on Ian Evans' blog until I got a headache.
It was quite attractive and persuasive in a way but it is currently (always ?) a dead end.

No tax etc. = no hospitals, schools, roads, infrastructure, etc.

It ain't going to work and it ain't going to happen
If or when it were to happen it would be as a consequence of the collapse of society through through war or disaster.
The destruction of civilisation -you loose more than you gain Doh!

Humans built civilisations for a reason and would re-build it given time, so wishing it away is in aid of what exactly ?

We know the shysters write the rules, apply the rules and are above the rules -it sucks ! -but this can be fixed by a brave and vigilant public.

Common-law-only functioned (kind-of) in a low population density, low commerce world with overlords and kings
That is what common-law "freedom" would probably revert to.

Even if the common-law-only set could win in a debate it would not make any difference in reality because the authorities have the police and prison cells and if necessary guns and an army. When push comes to shove they would have a "whatever" attitude
Deal with it.

That is my assessment for what it is worth.

TonyTheProf said...

I've come across them a while back, and posted on it.

One individual, whom I will not name, used freeman arguments against non-payment of parking fines, and was dealt with by a spell in prison.

The RightToReply local blog is full of freeman / Admiralty law arguments.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe the moronic attitudes towards Jersey and its justice system by well known law breakers is even being entertained by any Facebook Group never mind a supposed political one?

Ugh, It's Him! said...

Anonymous: The internet, and online social
networks, are the principal means by which the pseudolegal charlatanry is propagated. Unlike traditional paper publishing, with all its editorial checks, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Blogger just enable the dissemination of user generated content, giving fools and frauds as much right to publish nonsense, as anyone else has to post sense. A Facebook group promoting it is all too believable, although reprehensible, whereas I would not expect to see a 16 page pullout on how to disown the rule of law in The Mail On Sunday any time soon.

Ugh, It's Him! said...

Someone sent me a link to the story of what happened when somebody was rash enough to test FOTL legal principles in a Jersey court:-

Anonymous said...

Good article. I also used to follow the Bald Truth blog until they started posting fantasy nonsense about chemtrails, "dream walkers", aliens in the States, etc. Needless to say I've now excused myself from their rather warped version of the "Truth".