Adherents of the ‘posse comitatus‘ movement won’t pay tax, register their vehicles, obtain drivers licences, or recognise the authority of federal law. But their members are happy to receive unemployment benefits, drive on tax-funded roads, send their children to public schools and get treated in public hospitals. Hypocrites and bludgers, these ‘sovereign citizens‘ were an occasional comic interlude from the daily grind of my 12 year career in the criminal courts of NSW. Self-dubbed anarchists and scofflaws, they were mostly ill-educated older white guys ranting against the jurisdiction of the courts to impose penalties for traffic fines and other trivial offences. Their logic: paying a traffic ticket for speeding = submitting to the tyrannical boot of an illegitimate government trying to strip away their rights and freedoms. Meanwhile, the average detention and arrest of a sovereign looked a lot like this:
Messy, you will agree, and a lot of work for unlicensed, unregistered and no seatbelt! Notice the lacerations to the cop’s forearms trying to get this fool out of the car. Importantly, listen to the comments of those filming the incident — ignorant bleating about abuse of police powers and unlawful arrest — I guess these geniuses think this ‘harmless’ gentleman should have been issued ticket on the spot maybe, which he would have torn up and thrown back at the cops, or simply failed to pay. But it gives the ignorant a chance to mouth anti-police rhetoric and post on YouTube, edited for maximum effect of course. Happily, YouTube is also the go-to source for rebutting their right-wing extremist ideology.
It’s laughably stupid until you’ve see how this movement has evolved in the US, where sovereigns target and murder police officers. More than any other profession, the police are the most vulnerable arm of the supposedly illegitimate, unlawful and oppressive government the sovereigns are dedicated to overthrow. There are more than 100,000 hard-core sovereigns in the US, that’s about 1:3200. With more than 300 sovereigns operating in NSW alone, our ratio is substantially higher at 1:2500. While that’s not a big number, it’s substantially bigger than ISIL, so the movement has been flagged as a potential domestic terrorism threat, explained here [*] by the ABC’s 7:30 Report.
Sovereigns come in three flavours: plain-vanilla sovereigns claim immunity on political grounds, but you also have religious (fruity banana) and diplomatic (bitter lemon) sovereigns. What unites them all is a pathologic inability to hold a rational conversation with you. What also unites them is their ultimate trajectory. In a society where membership is conditional upon you accepting the rule of law, invariably these people end up in gaol. I wonder if they regale their cellmates with revisionist theories of unconstitutional law, or try to argue that the law of the jungle they’ll encounter in prison also don’t apply to them? I’m guessing Bubba doesn’t care, and that enough violent anal sex might finally shut these idiots up (disclaimer– I’m not advocating gaol rape, just pointing it out).
But why are Americans, Britons and Australians subscribing to this movement? I mean, other than stupidity? I think at the heart of it is the fact that some people just don’t like to be told. The sovereign movement provides a focus for every type of conspiracy theorist, a rallying cry to every voiceless malcontent, a brotherhood for ostracised sociopaths, and a false sense of purpose for all the useless, aimless and gormless losers that plague our world. It doesn’t help that knee-jerk political responses to acts of international terrorism threaten to radicalise even more of these imbeciles. Instead, it’s only a matter of time before we have our own Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, his less well known cohort, who was (you guessed it) a sovereign. I never want to see this photo again: