Orange County, California
Monday July 1, 1996
The Orange County Register
The Freedom Law School isn't about law firms. Peyman Mottahedeh teaches students " why natural law will always be supreme against the Legislature's attempts to deny your rights, what the hated income tax is really all about, and how to use the law library. We have to use their law against them," he says.
Barefoot scholars looking for truth
SOCIAL ISSUES: The Freedom Law School, in an apartment living room, is sympathetic to the Patriot movement.
By: Teri Sforza By: Orange County Register
TUSTIN-There are bare feet and cold toes at the Freedom Law School.
A small price to pay for emancipation, the students figure - and hey, the carpet is clean.
Well-worn footwear in various stages of exhaustion pile up at the front door of this offbeat bastion of higher learning - which also happens to be Peymon Mottahedeh's apartment. A barefoot Mottahedeh stands in the book lined living room, scribbling on a blackboard while his 12 barefoot pupils sit on folding chairs and carefully scratch important words such as "natural law" and "fixed truth" in their notebooks.
Eyes wander to the floral bedspread in the next room, to the red plastic poinsettia plant, and to the poster of a wineglass full of strawberries.
Harvard Law it's not.
These dozen "truth seekers" are planting those bare feet firmly on what Mottahedeh calls "A Practical Road to Freedom." They're paying $130 for his nine part course on how to rid themselves of "oppressive taxation and control." They'll learn "why natural law will always be supreme against the Legislature's. --(Please see LAW below)
Photo taken by MARK RIGHTMIRE / The Orange County Register
LEARNING THE NATURAL LAW
Peymon Mottahedeh teaches 'A Practical Road to Freedom,' a nine- part course on how students can rid themselves of 'oppressive taxation and control.'
Photo take by MARK RIGHTMIRE / The Orange County Register
WHERE TO LOOK IT UP
Peymon Mottahedeh explains to his class at the Orange County Law Library what the various law books contain.
attempts to deny your rights, what the hated income tax is really all about, how to use the law library, how to win traffic tickets - and even basic trial procedures from oral arguments to appeals.
"We have to use their law against them," says Mottahedeh
These folks sympathize,to some degree with the Montana Freemen, whose attempts to reject the government recently landed them in jail awaiting trial. They're all part of what's popularly known as the Patriot movement - a loose umbrella of people fed up with an overbearing government.
Mottahedeh cuts a sharp figure in a starched white shirt, dark pinstriped pants, and gray dress socks. "I'm from Iran," he says, toes embedded in pristine beige carpet. "We take the shoes off before we go in the house. It's more sanitary."
Call this the Patriot movement Mottahedeh-style.
The classes take place here, in his anonymous condominium in the shadow of the Tustin Market Place. Everywhere, book spines sparkle with glossy gold words such as United States Code. There's the California Penal Code, the Persian-English Dictionary -- rows of books stacked on bookshelves
Mottahedeh fled Iran in 1977, as the shah's reign gave way too the ayatollah's. He landed in Orange County, attended Tustin High School and then California State University, Long Beach. He studied economics and business, became a citizen in 1989, and was working in retail four years ago when someone told him "the secret:
The income tax is VOLUNTARY!!"
"I am not an attorney," Mottahedeh says, a slight accent revealing his childhood in Tehran. "I don't give out what they call technical legal advice. We are speaking together and sharing information that we have a legal right to do, as guaranteed by natural law and the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution."
As an Iranian Jew with African-American women in his classes, Mottahedeh hates that the Patriot movement is branded as a hotbed for white supremists. "We're being demonized," he said. "Calling the Freedom movement racist is an attempt by big-government socialists to discredit the movement and expand big government."
Mottahedeh's approach is distinctive. He doesn't preach rejection or overthrow of the government, as the Freemen do. He votes and unabashedly declares that America is the greatest country in the world.
His beliefs are simple but revolutionary. He says: "true laws, like the laws that govern gravity and physics, don't change on a legislature's whim."
And true law can be boiled down to this: Don't violate other peoples rights, and don't break agreements. "The rest is window dressing," he says.
The Patriot movement, some scholars say, reflects a deep dissatisfaction between government and the governed.
"The one truth these people have fastened onto is that since the New Deal, the federal government has incredibly exceeded the power that the Founding Fathers intended it to have," says Stephen Presser, a professor of legal history at Northwestern University School of Law. "The federal government is obliterating the power of the states - and that is a very real, and very tragic, problem.
" The First Amendment gives Mottahedeh the right to say whatever he wants - and the 16th Amendment gives the government the right to collect taxes," the Internal Revenue Service says.
"When it comes to taxes, people seem to want to believe these fantastic claims," IRS spokeswoman Judith Golden says. "People have to pay their taxes."
Cassandra Bach disagrees. "I haven't filed income-tax returns for years and I don't intend to," she says, standing barefoot in Mottahedeh's kitchen. "But oooh, my feet are cold."
President - Freedom Law School
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