To abuse an old song line, "Freedom County" is just another name for nothing. Nothing at all, except the obsessive imaginations of would-be political powers.
The idea that the county exists is absurd and anti-democratic. Of the 12,000 people who signed petitions for a new county, how many ever expected that their names would ever be used by people with powerfully strange political imaginations to claim that a new county had already been established — without a vote of the public or the Legislature? And that "county commissioners" would be chosen on a bus ride to Olympia?
As long as the Freedom County commissioners were establishing their political legitimacy on I-5, they might as well have pulled off to a Burger King for some crowns. That would be as valid as Commissioner Thom Satterlee’s attempts a few years ago to cash "public wealth rebate notes" at banks to finance the pretend government. The notes were supposedly based on the value of liens filed by anti-government activists.
The self-proclaimed commissioners would be amusing if they were performing a political satire. Unfortunately, Satterlee and crew appear serious about their attempt to convince people that a new county has suddenly appeared. Sadly, they appear to be setting up a possible confrontation as they expand their make-believe county with appointments, including a "sheriff."
Properly, the only real sheriff around here, Snohomish County Sheriff Rick Bart, has said he will arrest the phony one if the pretender violates statutes against impersonating a police officer. Bart is simply being faithful to his solemn and legitimate oath of office. Indeed, Bart must carefully watch the activities of the Freedom County’s phony sheriff, Robert Victor Bender, who prefers to go by the name of Fnu Lnu. There is potential for citizens to be bullied when people are going around making false assertions of authority.
As a state Supreme Court commissioner recently wrote, Satterlee and a colleague keep inviting "this court to step through the looking glass into the strange world of Freedom County." The court’s not buying their fantasies. And neither should anyone else.
If Satterlee and his crowd want to waste their time in esoteric political philosophies that make no more sense than those of the Montana Freemen, that’s their business — as long as they keep it private. They aren’t doing so, however. They are proclaiming a county that has no basis, a sheriff with a name that isn’t his birth name, and a way of thinking about politics that grasps at phantoms.
Or, as the Freedom County view holds, everybody else lives in a phantom world. The Washington state constitution? It’s not the one in the civics books or the law books. That constitution isn’t valid. The real constitution was enacted in 1878, not 1889. And Gary Locke may not be governor! Freedom County’s message to the whole world: You’re standing on your head.
Satterlee, Lnu and the rest of the group are free to make the observation that the rest of the world is on the wrong page. But there must be a bright line between letting them espouse their nonsense views and letting them tell anybody what to do in the name of the law. They have no legal authority whatsoever.
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