“If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. Myths are explained this way.” – Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)
A Moralistic Fallacy 1 is a logical fallacy that occurs when one asserts that the way things should be is in fact how they are. While Cognitive Dissonance 2 describes the suffering experienced when holding an internally inconsistent worldview, utilizers of the moralistic fallacy solve this discomfort by simply overwriting everything with how it should be, case closed – ta-daa, suddenly the world adds up.
It is an inversion of the naturalistic fallacy. Wishful thinking is often synonymous with denial. The fallacy is an appeal to consequences and an informal fallacy.
However, wanting something to be true is irrelevant to its truth. If this belief were true, our wishes would always come true. Clearly, this is not the case. A toddler can’t desire a cookie into existence, millions of Jews couldn’t desire themselves out of death camps, and a theorist can’t write a more personally desirable system of law into a nations constitution, or choose which laws they want to be subject to.
The concern has been that evidence contradicting such moral values will lead to people justifying this behaviour, since it is “natural”. 3 While understandable, this has led to instances in which research that contradicts them caused people uncomfortable with it to engage in denialism.
Because the concepts held are based in these “personal moral values” 4 (however delusional the legal aspects) the theorist will automatically dismiss disputing evidence. In my experience interacting with those influenced by OPCA theories online, they usually perceive any contrary evidence as an ATTACK, either on themselves personally, or on freedom in general. They immediately respond by questioning my motives or agenda, cast doubt on my personal morals, or generally attempt to shame me for daring to dispute the legal validity of OPCA doctrines. This difficult element seems to run concurrent through most OPCA litigants and their enthusiasts online.
OPCA adherents generally surround themselves with others of the same beliefs in closed social media groups, and shun any outsiders as either “sheep” or “shills”. They are actively practicing what is called confirmation bias. Dissenting opinion is of short supply within their closely guarded communities, so they don’t really know how else to respond when someone enters their cult bubble with disputing evidence. Confirmation Bias 5 is a phenomenon wherein people actively seek out and assign more weight to evidence that confirms their hypothesis, and ignore or underweigh any evidence that could disconfirm their hypothesis. While OPCA concepts can appeal to just about anyone, there is no shortage of people online that are available to reinforce the belief on the adherent in this way.
A majority respond to evidence with disregard, usually while trying to project an emotive (APPEAL TO CONSEQUENCE) logical fallacy on me. They attempt to create a guilt response about the state of the world, and all the horrible things that happen in it, mostly because of me and all the other “sheep” that ignore OPCA remedies. At that point, anything the law provides is irrelevant.
OPCA theorists are highly skilled at the use of Logical Fallacies 6 to avoid any resolution to the matter, but without legal reference, their arguments inevitably have no substance. They are based on abstract speculations, (NON-SEQUITUR) They point to my “ignorance” of these assertions as some sort of validity of their claims, (AD-IGNORANTUM) The fact that the courts are routinely rejecting these arguments is also proof of their validity, (POST HOC/FALSE CAUSE) but they tell me that I’ll be sorry one day when everyone thinks like them, (BANDWAGON FALLACY) They refuse to provide valid evidence, insisting I “do my research” and prove their assertions for them, (BURDEN OF PROOF REVERSAL) which is as ridiculous as demanding the prosecutor to prove their innocence, and then calling him ignorant. But the favourite is to start attacking me personally instead of addressing the argument. (THE AD-HOMINEM)
It is in essence, an inability to conduct an intelligent and sensible debate. In any debate, there is a “point of order”, (ratio decidendi) which needs to be established or refuted. In this situation, neither can be done without referencing the relevant provisions of law, (stare decisis) and once that conclusion is reached, the matter is generally settled as far as the law is concerned. 7
The “point of order” in question has nothing to do with me, you, your best mates brother’s neighbor, or any of our unsubstantiated opinions, it is all about the FACTS, in this case, the relevant provisions of law. It has nothing to do with me, my face, my name, my life, or assumed lack of it, whether I’m a midget, or if you think I’m a fool, idiot, turdburger, ignoramus, imbecile, numbnuts, and my profile picture is likewise nuts, that I’m a troll, shill, government-paid agent provocateur, asio, guilty of treason against the queen, or part of some great conspiracy, or if you are bored now. Or even if you have photographic proof that I get sexually exited from licking the wheel nuts on classic Holden’s. (I thought I’d throw that in too, it seemed to fit the list)
Because of this weird logic, any debate inevitably degenerates into these petty insults on my intelligence. Posting memes, labelling me a “sheep”, hoping I don’t breed, hoping my parents are proud of me, and “exposing” that I work for the prosecution, the bankers, the illuminati, or those reptilian overlords orbiting our flat earth. The list goes on.. So many of these concerned individuals warn others that I’m a secret agent, sent to help destroy human freedom and enslave the population. If only half of these insinuations were true, I really should be ashamed of myself.
Theorists must understand that the particular “point of order” in question was already authoritatively answered as the ratio decidendi in a certain case, and this ruling is binding on all Australian courts. It is quite simple really, their argument is not with me personally, or with any of my humble opinions, but the binding judgments of the higher courts.
One of the main positive traits encouraged by the whole “truth movement” that I really do admire and have to compliment at this point, is the ability to “question” things, to use critical thought, to “read between the lines”, to think laterally, to try to see another perspective to the one presented. Unfortunately, this seems impossible for the OPCA theorist if applying this trait to their own fundamentals. It is such a tangled, complicated web of abstracts and theories, one prefers to look at it as a whole, simplistically, instead of individually, on its own legal merits. But most of these fundamentals, when carefully examined for legal validity, in isolation from the other theories involved, are easily exposed for the “false premises” they are.
It is for these reasons the theorist can only retreat into denialism when faced with evidence that these concepts have no basis in law. It is unmistakably clear proof that these “personal moral values” they hold so dear are based on a great big lie, or at the very least, a flawed doctrine. It also proves that they have been indoctrinated by someone’s intentional deception, raped intellectually if you will, which makes them feel quite foolish, or even post-traumatic, if they are genuine enough to admit it. Many never do, and in an effort to “save face” inevitably become vexatious litigants.
This brings us to a point that is generally overlooked, yet it is so crucial. If a fundamental point of reasoning of a theory is proven as being false, then inevitably, the conclusions reached by pursuing this false premise “through a logical process of reasoning” is likewise, equally false, an d as far as OPCA theory goes, when applying these conclusions to the law, often completely unintelligible. A falsely-based construct as described is actually defined as a type of delusion:
Delusions are categorized into 4 different groups:
In “The History of the Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument Phenomena in Canada” (2014) 8 Donald J. Netolitzky, of Court of Queens Bench, wrote the following:
“Following the rise of the “Strawman,” a kind of new, international pseudolegal tradition has emerged with accepted elements from many different sources, entwined with a matrix of false or distorted history and conspiratorial belief. This might be called the “OPCAsphere.”
For a novice visitor, the OPCA sphere is a strange place. Its occupants see themselves surrounded by all manner of threats and conspiracies. They desperately search for uncontaminated sources of food and water. Aircraft contrails are scrutinized for evidence of government sponsored dissemination of chemicals. Spree shootings and terrorist incidents are “false flag” operations conducted by hidden hands to manipulate and control the public. The OPCA sphere is permeated with impending threats, be it financial enslavement at the hands of “the Banksters,” foreign or domestic military intervention, or ecological catastrophe. Police and government employees are nothing more than thugs.
These apprehensions are closely linked to a sense of superiority — those who live in the OPCA sphere see themselves as possessing powerful, secret, or unusual knowledge, and that makes them very much better and smarter than the average person. Claims of courtroom success are met with excitement, though failure is not so often disclosed. Occupants promote their preferred guru and reinforce each other’s conspiratorial beliefs by circulating and recirculating documents, videos, and “meme pictures.” Those outside the OPCA sphere are dismissed; they are either enemy clients, paid government shills, or “sheeple.”
The gulf between the OPCA sphere narrative and mainstream Canadian perspectives and legal jurisprudence has another troubling implication. Unsuccessful OPCA litigants sometimes view their in-court failure not as clarification of the law, but rather conclude that the judges who have rejected their arguments are corrupt and have failed to uphold the true but concealed common law or natural law.
As previously noted, there is little way for court or government actors to rebut what is, effectively, a faith-based belief in the “Strawman” and its associated conspiratorial, ahistorical narrative. Courts refuse attempts by OPCA litigants to enforce their beliefs via civil litigation against wrongdoers, including judges and lawyers. Will OPCA litigants then attempt to take “the law” into their own hands?”
In“Sects, Cults, and the Attack on Jurisprudence” (2013) and “Freemen, Sovereign Citizens, and the Challenge to Public Order in British Heritage Countries” Sociologists Stephen A. Kent and Robin D. Willey 9 group the OPCA phenomenon with religious cults. Both share a distance and disdain for government and court structures as a consequence of their beliefs. This ideologically-grounded hostility leads to both legal and extralegal efforts to pressure and exhaust government and court actors who are perceived as enemies. That makes these groups a security threat. Kent has subsequently concluded that although OPCA litigants “have no chance of receiving legal recognition” they are an important group for study because they are “profoundly alienated from society.” This dangerous separation in the world perspectives of OPCA adherents and the remainder of society is not only a threat to government and court operation, but simply the waste of people’s lives.
In “The Sovereign Citizen Movement and Fitness to Stand Trial” Forensic Psychologists Jennifer Pytyck and Gary A. Chaimowitz 10 investigated the mental health implications of OPCA affiliates’ bizarre language and paranoid ideas. They concluded that the beliefs and consequential conduct are not the product of a mental disorder but instead is a form of paranoid political belief: “extreme but subculturally-normative beliefs”. Though they appeared psychotic, the authors concluded that the OPCA litigants’ perspectives and actions were a consequence of honestly held ideas that have been reinforced in OPCA communities. OPCA litigants are therefore legally competent. Their incredible ideas and strange behaviors simulate the symptoms of psychosis, but are not amenable to treatment with antipsychotic medication. The authors stress the formulaic and bizarre manner in whic h OPCA affiliates’ acts, use of language, and use of legal terminology mimics mental illness. A curious fact is that non-transitory OPCA affiliates are aware that OPCA ideas damage their adherents – they witness others fail and experience legal sanction. Why then do they persist? Pytyck and Chaimowitz explain this as a social phenomenon. OPCA concepts are propagated and consumed in marginal groups with extreme political and conspiratorial beliefs. Does this mean a dialogue with OPCA litigants is necessarily political, philosophical, or emotional, rather than based on fact, history, and logic?
In “Competence to Stand Trial Evaluations of Sovereign Citizens: A Case Series and Primer of Odd Political and Legal Beliefs” Forensic Psychologist George F. Parker 11 came to the same conclusions for U.S. counterparts regarding their fitness to stand trial.
In “The Lone Terrorist in the Workplace” and “The Violent True Believer as a “Lone Wolf” – Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Terrorism” Forensic Psychologist and threat assessment expert J. Reid Meloy and Jessica Yakeley 12 identified the US Sovereign Citizens and Canadian Freemen-on-the-Land ideologies as a potential source for the last of three key elements that motivate ideologically driven violence in “lone wolf” terrorists: (1) a personal grievance blamed on others, (2) moral outrage linked to a “victimized” group, (3) that is framed by a superficial, cherry-picked ideology which rationalizes aggression. Meloy explicitly groups OPCA ideologies with the beliefs of right wing hate groups and ultra conservative Islamic groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda.
In “Threats, Approach Behavior, and Violent Recidivism Among Offenders Who Harass Canadian Justice Officials” Forensic Psychologist Angela W. Eke 13 also published a paper with similar conclusions.
Can you hold two opposing views simultaneously?
It is easy to draw up any number of theoretical abstracts in your own mind, of what could possibly be consistent with law, when your belief requires you completely ignore valid judicial responses like they don’t exist. When certain precedents are inconsistent with your belief, you simply overwrite them with how you think it should be. Suddenly it all adds up, end of story, case closed, you now know more about constitutional interpretation than the High Court itself.
But while influenced by this form of moralistic fallacy, the OPCA adherent is not capable of trying to articulate things from the perspective of their opponent, the courts or prosecution. They cannot “put themselves in another’s moccasins” so to speak. With this unfortunate handicap, summarizing the prosecutions arguments is nearly impossible. Unlike the magistrate, you never hear an OPCA adherent say “As far as I understand it, the prosecutions argument is… and they assert this overrules my contentions because…” and respond appropriately to the issues raised. Like the previous cases that overrule their assertions, they just ignore these arguments entirely, and therefore offer no legitimate response.
In essence, it seems they lack the intellectual and academic mindset of those in the legal profession, who are well practiced at being appointed one side of any given debate, and leaving all personal opinions and prejudices aside, just argue the particular side on it’s own merits. The OPCA adherent has difficulty holding two such starkly opposing views simultaneously. They can only express and consider one side of the story, their own opinions, and that of the OPCA ideology, in what is effecively a faith-based moralistic ideal. Because they hold such an internally inconsistent worldview, they actively seek out confirmation of this separate, inconsistent reality, and assign more weight to this perceived evidence, while intentionally ignoring or underweighing any evidence that could disconfirm their belief. If they were searching for “the truth” they would be capable of self-analysis, self-criticism, and factual discernment. But unfortunately, their search is one of personal confirmation, not the truth. They do not care whether their conclusions are factually correct, as long as they appear, without much scrutiny, to confirm their hypothesis.
When someone raises the prospect of serious inconsistencies in their theory, they simply engage in denialism. Because it is effectively a faith-based moralistic ideal, their cognitive dissonance makes it too painful for them to consider any alternative. The OPCA adherent can never analyze, let alone admit to themselves and others, exactly where their belief is inconsistent with legislation and the judgments of the courts. It is a completely irrelevant consideration to them. When legislation and the judgments of the courts are inconsistent with their belief, the latter prevails to the extent of any inconsistencies. If anything, these inconsistencies reinforce their belief that the courts are not following the law. Everything is engineered from the perspective of the OPCA belief. The belief comes first, while legislation and the judgments of the courts, come second. It follows then, that ideology would be more accurately described as an esoteric faith, a conscientious belief, and not even a legal theory at all.
Basically, we’re looking at a cult, an identified group, that has been influenced, no, “digitally indoctrinated”, to believe concepts that have no basis in law, and sometimes even fact. In a morally-outraged, charismatic, trance-like state, they “preach” these concepts, attempting to “save the world” with all the enthusiasm of a hellfire evangelist. They insist on their validity despite the courts having consistently and routinely rejected their notions for decades.
They are, in essence, OPCA adherents are living in denial of reality, and actively using common psychological tactics to influence others into adopting their denial. In my analysis of these theories, I identify the individuals and groups actively perpetuating these concepts, catalogue and record their belief, and provide the contrasting evidence. I do this, not for the indoctrinated devotee, but for those who are following and are consistently being fed only one side of the story online. My attempts to explain each of the OPCA arguments, is both from the perception of those who are so convinced, as well as from the perceptions and judgments of the courts.
Either side of the story are not even my own personal opinions, but accurately reflect, one, the perception expressed by the courts, psychiatry and law enforcement, and two, the perception expressed by adherents of the OPCA ideology.
I find I can comfortably hold these two opposing views simultaneously. But ironically, I am myself nothing like any of the opinions that I express in relation to the law. Quite markedly in contrast, I live out in the bush away from the law, as my own conscience dictates, and try to do no harm. My own personal opinions, and my alternative choice of lifestyle, are completely foreign to anything considered mainstream, and always has been. But unlike OPCA adherents, I do at least try to legitimately understand the contrasting arguments, and therefore realise the inherent shortcomings in OPCA theory.
This should really, serve as some sort of evidence of the extremes I have gone to, in preventing my own biases, pre-conceived ethical notions or personal opinions, from interfering with my understanding and interpretation of the law.
- 1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moralistic_fallacy
- 2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance
- 3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalistic_fallacy
- 4 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalistic_fallacy
- 5 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias
- 6 https://www.logicalfallacies.info/
- 7 https://freemandelusion.wordpress.com/2018/07/03/the-binding-effect-of-precedent/
- 8 http://www.albertalawreview.com/index.php/ALR/article/view/422/418
- 9 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282109239_Sects_Cults_and_the_Attack_on_Jurisprudence https://freemandelusion.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/sects-cults-and-the-attack-on-jurisprudence-2013.pdf https://skent.ualberta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Freemen-Internl-J-of-Cultic-Studies.pdf https://freemandelusion.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/freemen-internl-j-of-cultic-studies.pdf
- 10 https://dokumen.tips/documents/the-sovereign-citizen-movement-and-fitness-to-stand-trial.html https://freemandelusion.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/the-sovereign-citizen-movement-and-fitness-to-stand-trial.pdf
- 11 http://jaapl.org/content/42/3/338 https://freemandelusion.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/338.full_.pdf
- 12 https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/the-forensic-files/201412/the-lone-terrorist-in-the-workplace https://freemandelusion.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/the-lone-terrorist-in-the-workplace-_-psychology-today-australia.pdf https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/bsl.2109 https://freemandelusion.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/the-violent-true-believer-as-a-lone-wolf-psychoanalytic-perspectives-on-terrorism.pdf
- 13 http://drreidmeloy.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2014_ThreatsApproac.pdf https://freemandelusion.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/2014_threatsapproac.pdf
- 14 https://www.plainsite.org/dockets/28bchtwfw/texas-southern-district-court/uribe-v-national-security-agency-et
- 15 http://www5.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/mhpa1990355/s32.html