Jim Sanders, 45 of Mulberry, Indiana says that he is a “sovereign man,” who is not subject to the laws of Indiana and or his local governments, That’s why — after amassing over $900 dollars in fines for traffic violations and refusing to pay – his driver’s license got suspended. With no license, he says that his “only legal mode of travel is walking,” apparently making an exception for the law that requires a driver’s license.Raw Story (via the Wayback Machine)
Apparently Jim Sanders never talked to one of the sovereign citizens, or he’d know (well, think. Believe. Something) that you don’t carry a driver’s license in the first place. You don’t get a license, you don’t buy a car with a title, you don’t put tags on your car, etc, etc, ad nauseum. You just continue to drive without all that and when the cop stops you, you talk his ears off about all this kooky stuff until he lets you go before he has a mental break and shoots you.
This is one of those wacky but true stories. The kind of thing I only share when I’m enjoying my preferred spirits.
This whole sovereign citizen thing was making the rounds right about the time I bailed on the LP (at least one prominent leader of the Texas LP at the time was into this) You never could nail down exactly what the system was, but it was purportedly to do with admiralty law, and yellow fringed flags, and your name in all caps on legal documents. You had the right to drive common vehicles without a license, because you didn’t have to have a license to ride a horse or drive a wagon; consequently all those laws didn’t really apply and so you could just ignore them PROVIDED that your car wasn’t titled by and purchased from the state. So you had to buy a car from outside the country, essentially. Cars bought from outside the states aren’t titled by the states. What you get is a transfer deed (or some such) not a state registered title to the vehicle. You can drive that car without a license, or so they claim.
Weirdly, the cops never had heard of any of this when they stopped you for not having tags on you vehicle; and then they’d impound the vehicle when you couldn’t show them current registration. These guys were always having to recover their vehicles from impound, bumming rides from the rest of us or taking the bus or taxi everywhere.
The tax- and fine-free driving was just one of the perks. You also could skip out on property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, etc. If you aren’t a subject of the federal government, then none of that stuff applies to you. Just as weirdly, the counties will still repossess your property for not paying taxes, no matter how many different ways you try to explain your exemption to them.
The news article jogged my memory about the sovereign citizen movement, something I’d heard recently on a podcast or news show. Something to the effect that sovereign citizen is a known white supremacist tactic/ideology (ah, the wonders of the internet) Low and behold, when I look on the SPLC website, I find this;
The strange subculture of the sovereign citizens movement, whose adherents hold truly bizarre, complex antigovernment beliefs, has been growing at a fast pace since the late 2000s. Sovereigns believe that they — not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials — get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don’t think they should have to pay taxes. Sovereigns are clogging up the courts with indecipherable filings and when cornered, many of them lash out in rage, frustration and, in the most extreme cases, acts of deadly violence, usually directed against government officials. In May 2010, for example, a father-son team of sovereigns murdered two police officers with an assault rifle when they were pulled over on the interstate while traveling through West Memphis, Ark.
The movement is rooted in racism and anti-Semitism, though most sovereigns, many of whom are African American, are unaware of their beliefs’ origins. In the early 1980s, the sovereign citizens movement mostly attracted white supremacists and anti-Semites, mainly because sovereign theories originated in groups that saw Jews as working behind the scenes to manipulate financial institutions and control the government. Most early sovereigns, and some of those who are still on the scene, believed that being white was a prerequisite to becoming a sovereign citizen. They argued that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed citizenship to African Americans and everyone else born on U.S. soil, also made black Americans permanently subject to federal and state governments, unlike themselves.
The Sovereign Belief SystemSPLC
The contemporary sovereign belief system is based on a decades-old conspiracy theory. At some point in history, sovereigns believe, the American government set up by the founding fathers — with a legal system the sovereigns refer to as “common law” — was secretly replaced by a new government system based on admiralty law, the law of the sea and international commerce. Under common law, or so they believe, the sovereigns would be free men. Under admiralty law, they are slaves, and secret government forces have a vested interest in keeping them that way. Some sovereigns believe this perfidious change occurred during the Civil War, while others blame the events of 1933, when the U.S. abandoned the gold standard. Either way, they stake their lives and livelihoods on the idea that judges around the country know all about this hidden government takeover but are denying the sovereigns’ motions and filings out of treasonous loyalty to hidden and malevolent government forces
I have never, NEVER been happier to be divorced of the LP than I am right as this minute. I think I’ll have another glass of cognac.
I also found this tidbit,
I don’t want to appear flippant, because the interviewer references a police shooting incident (actually, it’s the one before last, because the last one was the two crazies kicked out of the Bundy Ranch group) but I swear I’ve listened to about 10 guys ramble on like that for hours on the subject.
Editor’s note, 2014. A small “l” libertarian acquaintance of mine took me to task for the observation of many leaders of the Texas LP following this ideology. I had to admit that I could name only one, so I revised the blog entry. Still, it bears mentioning that the Libertarian party (like the Republican party, and the Democratic party) is informed by an even larger group of hangers on, like-minded individuals who won’t join the party per se, but feel that the party can benefit from their insight on the ideology; consequently there were many others in the circles around the Texas LP leadership who felt that the LP was on a fool’s errand, attempting to alter government. That the true purpose of anarchists and anarchism was to end government and assert the rights of sovereign individuals.
The idea that anyone can be sovereign or should expect to be considered sovereign is laughable; this is entirely aside from having the ultimate authority on what you personally will do or not do, whether you will continue to exist or not. Sovereign is a completely different approach to the subject of authority.
2019. I find it hilarious that I linked a Russia Today segment on the blog. As in, even for the humor content of an epic fail, why would I do that? Also, RT would be foursquare in favor of promoting the sovereign citizens movement inside the US today because that belief system is at the heart of Trumpism, and Vladimir Putin, the man who controls RT, loves him some Donald Trump.