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Dougiestan: A clear mind and a full heart
August 13, 2014 8:22 AM   Subscribe

A north Texas man in the "sovereign citizen" movement attempted to take over a mansion in north Dallas on Monday. Upset with the current state of affairs in the United States, Douglas LeGuin attempted to occupy a mansion in far north Dallas. After knocking on the door and threatening a nanny, he started a dumpster fire. When first responders arrived, he began shooting at them, but no one was injured. LeGuin had also set up propane canisters around the house as explosives but none were detonated. He called 911 and it really is a doozy.

Background on the sovereign citizen movement:

Southern Poverty Law Center: "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."

FBI: "The FBI considers sovereign-citizen extremists as comprising a domestic terrorist movement, which, scattered across the United States, has existed for decades, with well-known members, such as Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, bombing."
posted by LizBoBiz (284 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
"I bet this guy is white and I bet he is still alive"

*clicks link*

"Yep"
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:27 AM on August 13 [231 favorites]


Society in the US is really beginning to look a lot like someone gradually succumbing to untreated dementia.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:30 AM on August 13 [95 favorites]


"Neighbors said the Douglas Leguin they know is friendly; he waves at them and seems like an ordinary guy. But Dallas police say he opened fire on first responders and even had explosive devices."

"Police said Leguin had also set up explosive devices outside the home on North 40 Place, and it all seemed like an ambush. Dallas SWAT negotiators talked him into surrendering peacefully."

Sounds pretty bad, but can you imagine if he'd been an unarmed black kid? That's a kind of terrorism you can't negotiate with.
posted by chasing at 8:30 AM on August 13 [42 favorites]


If he'd been black, how the cops would have responded is a moot point because he would have been shot to death on the front porch by the homeowner.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:31 AM on August 13 [17 favorites]


What I love about sovereign citizens is that their belief system is entirely falsifiable. It never works. Nobody, for example, has ever successfully argued himself out of being charged with driving without a license by pointing out that he has severed himself from his straw man and thus is not subject to motor vehicle laws. Nobody's ever successfully got out of being sued by claiming that the gold fringe on the flag in their courtroom makes it an admirality court. Nobody's ever successfully accessed millions of dollars in a secret account by filling out the right set of paperwork. It never works, it always ends up with their lives being even shittier, and yet they stick to it. It is one of the purest examples of that adage about insanity being doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:31 AM on August 13 [121 favorites]


showbiz_liz, you beat me to it. Oh, the many people who don't appreciate LouisCK's POV: "I'm white and I'm a MAN. How many more advantages can one person have."
posted by NorthernLite at 8:32 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


White armed middle aged guy shoots at police - is alive.

Black teenage unarmed dude runs away from police - is dead.


I really am not of the ship them somewhere else persuasion, but good grief, i can't help but think a few months in Western Sahara with no functional government might calm these folks the fuck down.
posted by edgeways at 8:32 AM on August 13 [45 favorites]


Sovereign Ex: Participant Tells His Story

Get That Gold Fringe Off My Flag cites Executive Order 10834 as specifying a "military flag" having a "gold fringe."

10834 does not mention fringe or gold.

The Stupid Pro Se Legal ‘Theory’ Making the Rounds


I think this sort of movement is almost a legalistic magical thinking, that by chanting the right incantations saying the right specifc words and by inscribing certain arcane symbols filing the right forms, the mage "free man on the land" can summon demons get the court, to do his bidding.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:32 AM on August 13 [42 favorites]


He also said his name was “Dougie Doug” and that he was from the nation of “Dougiestan,” which he said was a country he had just created.

Life imitates Mr. Show.
posted by scody at 8:34 AM on August 13 [16 favorites]


[Folks, I know that esp. with the current Michael Brown news it's hard not to look at the juxtaposition of demographics but it would probably be best to have this be more a discussion of the specific sovereign citizen stuff specific to this post and take some of the other stuff to e.g. the recent Ferguson thread.]
posted by cortex at 8:35 AM on August 13 [14 favorites]


It's a complete misunderstanding of the way that the law is socially constructed.
posted by wuwei at 8:36 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


What I love about sovereign citizens is that their belief system is entirely falsifiable.

An obsession with maritime law masquerading as a political movement.


Plus the almost charmingly naive belief in the power of MAGIC WORDS.
posted by The Whelk at 8:36 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


Another magical phrase that I've come across, though not lately, is "without prejudice UCC 207.1". Add that to your signature and you can purportedly do away with any contract term that you don't like, according to the 1990s 'sovereign citizens'.
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 8:39 AM on August 13


legalistic magical thinking

I always think of this as Dungeons and Dragons logic; privileged people like to think that there is a rulebook governing a just and well-ordered world, but the rest of us know that isn't the case.
posted by selfnoise at 8:40 AM on August 13 [11 favorites]


Life imitates Mr. Show.

As soon as I read the story, I got the New Freeland national anthem in my head. Though that happens once every couple weeks anyway.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:40 AM on August 13 [8 favorites]


Even if this was all somehow true, why do they think this evil shadow government would be like "haha yeah you're right! We forgot about this massive loophole! I guess you ARE a sovereign citizen! Have fun with that!" No, they would say "loophole? What loophole? Also you're in prison now."
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:43 AM on August 13 [58 favorites]


He also said his name was “Dougie Doug”

Not to be confused with Doug E. Doug.

selfnoise: "I always think of this as Dungeons and Dragons logic; privileged people like to think that there is a rulebook governing a just and well-ordered world, but the rest of us know that isn't the case."

As it turns out, rules lawyers even exist in the realm of actual, literal law.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:45 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


"The government is all-powerful except for a few rules of its own making which completely defeat it and it is unable to alter."
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:45 AM on August 13 [55 favorites]


My favorite sovereign thing that you'll see in videos of sovereigns being arrested is where they'll repeat like a mantra that they "don't want to create joinder", because they think joinder means a contract between them and the cops.


Even if this was all somehow true, why do they think this evil shadow government would be like "haha yeah you're right! We forgot about this massive loophole! I guess you ARE a sovereign citizen! Have fun with that!" No, they would say "loophole? What loophole? Also you're in prison now."

Which, coincidentally, IS what happens! It's part of the magical thinking- they think that if they master the system, they can beat the people in charge of it, when in reality you don't get to be a secret master of the world by playing fairly. It's an underlying naivete that makes the whole thing all the more tragicomic.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:46 AM on August 13 [18 favorites]


An obsession with maritime law masquerading as a political movement.

Hey, let's be honest here: who isn't at least a little obsessed with maritime law.
posted by Itaxpica at 8:48 AM on August 13 [47 favorites]


"The government is all-powerful except for a few rules of its own making which completely defeat it and it is unable to alter."

All you have to do is get the government to say Setats Detinu
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:50 AM on August 13 [42 favorites]


Hey, let's be honest here: who isn't at least a little obsessed with maritime law.

Somewhere deep down, we are all Chareth Cutestory.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:50 AM on August 13 [28 favorites]


Maybe they're just trying to impress Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

On preview, what Pope Guilty said.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:50 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


From the article: But later in the afternoon, police said LeGuin showed up at the house in the 5500 block of North 40th Place and knocked on the door. A nanny answered and LeGuin threatened her, Cotner said.

But, he added, “there is no indication that LeGuin tried to make entry into the home. We could all argue that he probably had the potential to go into the house if he really, really wanted to.”


Comparison with other recent events aside, this is just astonishing to me. He was armed and had explosives, and that somehow makes him LESS of a threat because it proves he could have gotten in if he'd wanted to and thus he must not have really wanted to?!
posted by KathrynT at 8:50 AM on August 13 [16 favorites]


It never works.

It only works if the various ppl on the charging side decide that you are not worth the trouble to send through the system. Hardly a good legal plan.

Texas had a guy who claimed he was getting property via squatting so they have an uptick of such people going through the "squatting process".

One of 'em didn't get charged with the squat. He did get charged with theft because the property owner claimed there was theft of moveable items in the home.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:53 AM on August 13


It's all about believing that the world, or at least the parts of it that you inhabit, has cheat codes.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:53 AM on August 13 [20 favorites]


Hey, let's be honest here: who isn't at least a little obsessed with maritime law.

Well Wyoming has wanted it's own aircraft carrier... so i guess the sky's the limit
posted by edgeways at 8:54 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


I think this sort of movement is almost a legalistic magical thinking, that by chanting the right incantations saying the right specifc words and by inscribing certain arcane symbols filing the right forms, the mage "free man on the land" can summon demons get the court, to do his bidding.

It isn't almost, it is a legalistic magical thinking. I have had to deal with a few of these people and they're full of "Ah hah! I filed a Certificate of Dishonor against X, and now they're in dishonor and the state owes everyone millions of tax dollars!" They sincerely believe by filing X or saying Y, that they have crated some kind of irrefutable legal argument that can't be ignored or upended other than injustice. They would be comical except for the part about guns, explosives and liens.

Every time I do have to cross their path, I do get mildly worried that that person will file a lien on my house or become obsessed with me being some member of a secret cabal.

In court one day, I watched an interaction between a sovereign citizen and a judge go back and forth over his name. "Mr. John Smith," "No, I'm John of the Family Smith!" "So Mr. Smith," "NO! I'm John of Family Smith!" Not to mention he applied UCC to his legal filings because resorting to a nation wide accepted code of law is how one defines themselves as sovereign to themselves...

I really wish we could lock them all up.
posted by Atreides at 8:54 AM on August 13 [21 favorites]


Even if this was all somehow true, why do they think this evil shadow government would be like "haha yeah you're right! We forgot about this massive loophole! I guess you ARE a sovereign citizen! Have fun with that!"

You're assuming that they're using common sense and logic. It's actually more like, they're three or four years away from being a full-on crank, where they're clinging so hard to a particular world view that Explains Everything If You Just Pay Attention that they've failed to notice that there are some completely nonsensical elements of that world view. (Think, like the Time Cube guy.)

They just haven't gone far enough down the rabbit hole yet.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:54 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Texas had a guy who claimed he was getting property via squatting so they have an uptick of such people going through the "squatting process"

The squatting process requires that the home be vacant and abandoned. If you knock on the door and the damn nanny answers, you've already failed to go through the "squatting process."
posted by KathrynT at 8:55 AM on August 13 [17 favorites]


I'd love to be a fly on the wall when a bunch of judges get together for drinks and the subject of Sovereign Citizens gets broached. I suspect the eye-rolling would be violently audible.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:55 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


Society in the US is really beginning to look a lot like someone gradually succumbing to untreated dementia

That lead-crime hypothesis has corollaries.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:57 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]


Texas had a guy who claimed he was getting property via squatting

Adverse possession is actually a legitimate part of the law (if certain conditions are met). The Sovereign Citizen thing is woo.
posted by chimaera at 8:57 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


10834 does not mention fringe or gold.

you gotta read between the lines, maaaan! viz:

President Dwight David Eisenhower, by Executive Order No.10834, signed on August 21, 1959 and printed in the Federal Register at 24 F.R. 6865, pursuant to law, stated that: "A military flag is a flag that resembles the regular flag of the United States, except that it has a yellow fringe border on three sides."

sheeple!
posted by slater at 8:57 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


The sovereign citizen movement seems more and more like electronically transmitted mental illness.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:58 AM on August 13 [19 favorites]


This is not the weird novel I wanted to live in.
posted by dogheart at 8:58 AM on August 13 [47 favorites]


He was armed and had explosives, and that somehow makes him LESS of a threat because it proves he could have gotten in if he'd wanted to and thus he must not have really wanted to?!

I think it gets to the heart of why armed, anti-government white guys are always dealt with this way -- because the police are perfectly able to view them as human beings. It's only black or brown people, or activists on the left side of the political spectrum, who are animals or actual threats.
posted by scody at 8:59 AM on August 13 [58 favorites]


I've read through a lot of stuff on the Sovereign Citizen thing and while I never thought of it, Dungeons and Dragons is a really, really good analogy. Also, there's an early Magic: The Gathering card that allowed you to create a creature with the same amount of life as you and direct all attacks to it instead of yourself. I'm not sure if that came before a number of the the Sovereign Citizen concepts re: legal persons, but boy is it a striking overlap.

Also, this line from King of the Hill always kills me because it manages to be a joke about Sovereign Citizen legal maneuvering and at the same time not make it the punchline:

DALE: I do not recognize the authority of a court that hangs the gold-fringed flag. A flag with gilded edges is the flag of an admirality court. An admirality court signifies a naval court-martial. I cannot be court-martialled twice. That is all.
posted by griphus at 8:59 AM on August 13 [44 favorites]


The sovereign citizen movement seems more and more like electronically transmitted mental illness.

It sure is a persistent memeplex with adverse symptomatology, the latency of onset could be years to decades, with older, whiter people more susceptible.
posted by chimaera at 9:00 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Thorzdad: I'd love to be a fly on the wall when a bunch of judges get together for drinks and the subject of Sovereign Citizens gets broached.

They take off their robes to reveal the naval uniforms underneath and cackle with glee.
posted by dr_dank at 9:00 AM on August 13 [87 favorites]


The sovereign citizen movement seems more and more like electronically transmitted mental illness.

So does everything else these days
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:01 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


What I love about sovereign citizens is that their belief system is entirely falsifiable. It never works.

<Rocket J. Squirrel>But that trick never works!</Rocket J. Squirrel>

Not to be confused with Doug E. Doug

Or Doug E. Fresh.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:03 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]


Although they are dangerous, these clowns are an entertaining part of tax practice. I actually had a client tell me once good news, C.A., I don't have to pay taxes any more since I set up a corporation sole. Okay, good luck with that; I don't represent you any more.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:03 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Plus the almost charmingly naive belief in the power of MAGIC WORDS.

I think this arises from a perception on their part (an idea that, frankly, I'm increasingly sympathetic to) is that's how real law really works. How many legal decisions from the Supremes on down are, at the end of the day, nothing more than a thick sheaf of jargon-packed bullshit designed to justify an outcome you find fundamentally unjust? (I'm looking at you, Hobby Lobby.)

So they figure, well fuck it, if that's all it is I can spout some bullshit too. But what they seem to miss is that the magic words are the velvet glove of "rule of law" we use to cover the iron fist of power. Without the power itself, the magic words are just useless window dressing - and trying to use them when you don't have any power makes this dramatically clear. So in a way, I suppose you could see the whole thing as a kind of meta-commentary in the form of dadaist performance art. though these guys don't seem anywhere near that perceptive...

Or, what BitterOldPunk says a couple items down...

I'm just waiting for the Whelk to show up and start going on about how this reminds him of how the London fire of 1666 was made worse by people running around looking for Dutchmen to beat up...
posted by Naberius at 9:03 AM on August 13 [34 favorites]


"They take off their robes to reveal the naval uniforms underneath and cackle with glee."

As you do.
posted by oddman at 9:03 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


If it weren't for the Illuminati, and the fact that we are a republic, not a democracy, and our dictatorial president ...
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:04 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Well, from the outside, the "justice" system does seem to consist of a priestly caste uttering magical phrases to propitiate black-robed demigods. With access to effective incantation depending on ability to pay. As it stands, the process is so opaque, so layered in pettifoggery and paperwork, that magical ritual solutions seem like a reasonable shortcut. The sovereign citizen movement is a cargo cult.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:05 AM on August 13 [66 favorites]


Snopes message board, circa 2002:
"Protestor: Your honor, because this court flies that gold-fringed flag, it is a court of Admiralty and has no jurisdiction over me.
Judge: I'll just pretend that you're a boat."

posted by zarq at 9:05 AM on August 13 [69 favorites]


I don't have to pay taxes any more since I set up a corporation sole.

Well, now this finally makes sense:

"Actually, I *am* a priest. A church, to be precise. It's to do with tax law and the clumsy state of American re-immigration in the early 1980s."
posted by griphus at 9:05 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


You know, the solution to this problem is obvious - Heavily Armed Nannies. Of course, once armed, the nannies might seize the means of production or something.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:10 AM on August 13 [7 favorites]


Your Honor. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. I'd like to take this time to say a few words on behalf of my own defense.

Up. Up. Down. Down. Left. Right. Left. Right. Bee. Ayy. Start.

The Defense rests.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:13 AM on August 13 [89 favorites]


Heavily Armed Nannies

They're already heavily armed. Baby diapers = Weapons of Mass Destruction.
posted by zarq at 9:13 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


apropos of nothing "Heavily Armed Nannies" would make a good username/band name
posted by edgeways at 9:13 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I see this as vaguely (without the violence) connected to the left-wingers who insist that big gummint/big oil is suppressing a magic car that runs on air, or that there are thousands of classified patents (wat?) for creating free energy. It's like some people, when faced by the objective travesty of awfulness of that is the world, the future, and their own lives, sort of subconsciously choose to live in a reality in which there's a secret truth which would change everything, if only it were known.

I almost wonder to what extent it's simple a desire to feel power and purpose in their lives - if there's literally fuck all else you feel you can do to effect change, what could be easier than just going around spreading the word about this important secret? Now you can make a difference!
posted by crayz at 9:14 AM on August 13 [11 favorites]


It also means the world follows rules and makes sense rather than being a seemingly random sequence of awful things happening for no reason
posted by The Whelk at 9:15 AM on August 13 [21 favorites]


I see this as vaguely (without the violence)

the violence is kind of a big deal though, not just a parenthetical aside
posted by KathrynT at 9:15 AM on August 13 [17 favorites]


You know, the solution to this problem is obvious - Heavily Armed Nannies.

Okay, this gave me the mental image of a hundred Mrs. Doubtfires all piling out of an aircraft carrier brandishing Uzis and I don't quite know how to react to that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:15 AM on August 13 [13 favorites]


I had a friend who decided he was a sovereign citizen a few years back, I haven't seen him since. I took it as a symptom of perhaps the worlds worst case of only child syndrome. Having never been told "no" as a child and always believing he was the smartest and wittiest person in the room I think he latched onto the "philosophy" because it told him he could do whatever he wanted to do and nobody could ever tell him what to do. The perfect movement for a disillusioned middle-aged man-child.
posted by lordrunningclam at 9:18 AM on August 13 [14 favorites]


I don't quite know how to react to that.

Obvious init? Script pitch to Universal

"Doubtfire II - There is no Doubt to THIS FIRE!"
posted by edgeways at 9:18 AM on August 13 [7 favorites]


So I teach students, mostly freshmen, and I warn them at the beginning of the semester "I have never met a student who got into this university who was incapable of doing well in this course. However, I have met a lot of students who were smart, but who chose to use their intelligence to try and find ways around the assignments rather than just doing them. These students take more time to get lower grades than the rest of the class. So do the assignments as written; if you think you've found a loophole that will let you do less work, check with me; you are probably wrong." Some people do not learn this lesson.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:19 AM on August 13 [70 favorites]


The government needs to buy an island, doesn't matter where, so long as it's not within swimming distance to another piece of land and name it, "Sovereign Island." Then, when one of these guys show up in court, cast their legalistic magic mumbo jumbo, the judge can throw their hands up and go, "You've uncovered Sovereign Island! Mr. Smith, you have discovered the secret land of the true free men, and as a court official, I'm required to offer you the chance to travel there to live as a sovereign individual for the rest of your life. Will you accept?"
posted by Atreides at 9:19 AM on August 13 [45 favorites]


scody: "He also said his name was “Dougie Doug” and that he was from the nation of “Dougiestan,” which he said was a country he had just created.

Life imitates Mr. Show .
"

Ctrl-F "Mr Show"

I CANNOT Believe this!!!! lololol
posted by symbioid at 9:20 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Great, now this thread needs a "sad again about Robin Williams" trigger warning :/
posted by crayz at 9:21 AM on August 13 [9 favorites]


a hundred Mrs. Doubtfires all piling out of an aircraft carrier brandishing Uzis

"Eat hot lead, my dear poppet!"
posted by zarq at 9:21 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


These cops must have asked W.K. what to do about having a sovereign citizen for an uninvited house guest. /last dig on W.K. i swear
posted by saulgoodman at 9:22 AM on August 13 [14 favorites]


Honestly, out of all the nutjob fringes in our society, the Sovereigns are the ones that actually scare me the most. Largely, that fear has to do with their pathological use of the courts and legal system to monkeywrench everything and anything that angers them.

They've been known, for instance, to file completely legal liens against neighbors' homes as retribution for imagined slights, costing innocent neighbors piles of money to fight against in court. And, once you get them into a court battle, they start with the unending wave of papers and obscure filings. It scares me shitless to think I might ever get caught in one of their nets-of-crazy.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:23 AM on August 13 [17 favorites]


The sovereign citizen movement is a cargo cult.

Yes, this. It arises from people who don't really understand how the legal system works, and think that it can be trivially exploited, but at the same time still have enough faith in the system to think that it is fundamentally structurally sound and will protect them if they can manipulate it in the right way. It's an interesting combination.

Also Dunning–Kruger effect in spades.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:23 AM on August 13 [19 favorites]


AskMe: My dad started a unilateral civil war against our government and it's really straining our relationship ...
posted by crayz at 9:24 AM on August 13 [18 favorites]


"Sovereign citizen" is just a complete contradiction in terms, anyway. If you're politically autonomous, by definition you're not a citizen. In that sense, this movement is like a corollary of the people who want government out of their Medicaid: racially-privileged, out of touch with reality, angry and desperate and convinced that the world owes them impossible things for free.
posted by clockzero at 9:25 AM on August 13 [13 favorites]


A lot of what the sovereign citizen movement tries to do is weirdly akin to SQL injection and similar attacks - which work because computers obey the "letter" of their code.
posted by Zarkonnen at 9:26 AM on August 13 [11 favorites]


David Wynn Miller, my, uh, "favorite" Sovereign Citizen. (Not to be confused with Diana Wynn Jones, whose work was equally fantastic but rather more successful.)
posted by octobersurprise at 9:27 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


I call it "cargo cult legalism". They see the outward form of a thing (in this case law), and figure that if they can duplicate the outward form, they can get the benefits themselves. All without actually having to understand how the thing is done.

Nite we just need to link up the Sovereign movement with a proper ritual purity, taboo and pollution system.
posted by happyroach at 9:28 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


I think if your worldview is that the US is a byzantine library of codes held together by endless reams of statutes, using fine print to keep people down, it's not too far of a leap to conclude that combating Big Government would involve playing word games with said statutes. Which, as others have already pointed out, assumes the government is some kind of sentient computer from a 70s sci-fi film; enter the right lines of code and it gets all "DOES NOT COMPUTE" and short circuits your way to freedom.

One victory these guys can probably claim is forcing Big Government to create the term "paper terrorism" to describe their spammy court filings.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 9:28 AM on August 13 [7 favorites]


Some guys I knew in college did this once.

They walled off their end of a dorm hall with pizza boxes, declared themselves a new nation, composed a new national anthem, designed and flew their new flag, and started work on a new constitution and representative form of government.

It ended much like how these court cases end -- an RA saw it, screamed about it being a fire hazard and ordered them to knock it the fuck off.

All in all, it was a much less dangerous secession from reality for a college student than picking up Atlas Shrugged.
posted by delfin at 9:29 AM on August 13 [31 favorites]


These cops must have asked W.K. what to do about having a sovereign citizen for an uninvited house guest. /last dig on W.K. i swear

I'm a little confused by this vein of response; are some of you suggesting it would have been a good thing if this pretty clearly mentally-ill guy had been shot, either by the nanny or by the police?
posted by yoink at 9:32 AM on August 13


Miller lived in Ohio before moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He describes himself as a "Plenipotentiary-Judge", an ambassador, banker, postmaster, King of Hawaii, and a genius with an IQ of 200.


Miller currently lives in eastern Arizona, and is a coyote.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:34 AM on August 13 [19 favorites]


I'm a little confused by this vein of response

It's called sarcasm.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:35 AM on August 13


The thing is, sometimes crazy legal "cheat codes" actually work. The theory that corporations have constitutional rights of religious freedom and political speech is in many ways no less a crackpot argument than personal sovereignty. But one gets you laughed at while the other is the law of the land.
posted by brain_drain at 9:36 AM on August 13 [42 favorites]


He wants to increase voter engagement so that's nice.
posted by Drexen at 9:36 AM on August 13


the fact that we are a republic, not a democracy

Is this a thing they sovereign citizens do? Once in the early 2000s I got in an internet fight on an American right-wing blog over I can't quite remember what--or which left wing blog linked them for that matter. They made a big point about the US not being a democracy, but rather a republic. I hadn't encountered the argument since. It seems pedantic to me, especially in the case of the US where "republic" doesn't really mean what it historically has elsewhere. It's basically just the box democracy comes in for the US.
posted by Hoopo at 9:41 AM on August 13


It's a complete misunderstanding of the way that the law is socially constructed.

When the finger points at the moon, the fool stares at the finger.
posted by acb at 9:42 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


I'm just glad it wasn't Wesley Snipes.
posted by srboisvert at 9:44 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I don't know what sort of sickness prompted me to check, but after perusing a few pages about the Sovereign Citizen movement, it occurred to me to do a Google search for "sovereign citizen reddit". I am somewhat relieved to see that the top results are all links on reddit about the comically foolish nature of SC legal hijinks, rather than (as I was afraid to find) dedicated subreddits.
posted by Ipsifendus at 9:44 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


I took it as a symptom of perhaps the worlds worst case of only child syndrome. Having never been told "no" as a child and always believing he was the smartest and wittiest person in the room....

Haha no, we tell our only child "no" on a constant basis. Just ask him if you doubt me. Also a frequent conversation goes like this:

Child: I farted!
Me: Whaddya want, a medal?
posted by emjaybee at 9:45 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]


On the executive order and fringy flags thing, I think I figured out where the crazy comes from. There is a whole bit about what the legal dimensions of the flags for the use of the Executive branch are. Then Part II Section 25 makes exemptions for the DoD that allow for minor adjustments. Since adding fringe is minor adjustment, fringe => military. That's my guess. The fact that the Judiciary is independent, constitutionally, from the Executive must not be relevant.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:45 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Is this a thing they sovereign citizens do?

I can't speak to this, but the difference would definitely matter to someone espousing their worldviews, especially if they concentrate on limitations of government and majority rule.
posted by zarq at 9:46 AM on August 13


I guess what I'm saying is:

"Sovereign Citizen" : law :: "Pick-up Artist" : sex
posted by Ipsifendus at 9:46 AM on August 13 [45 favorites]


brain_drain: The thing is, sometimes crazy legal "cheat codes" actually work. The theory that corporations have constitutional rights of religious freedom and political speech is in many ways no less a crackpot argument than personal sovereignty. But one gets you laughed at while the other is the law of the land.

It doesn't take a ton of common sense to see that, while a giant corporation with tons of money and buckets of political influence can get an absurd thing by the courts, a random individual will be highly unlikely to succeed. Furthermore, most sovereign citizen legal attempts would immediately break the country's legal system if they were successful and recognized as precedent.

I think it stems from lack of empathy; the sovereign citizen types expect the legal system to work like a computer, where a correctly formed exploit can completely break the system, and not like a system run by actual humans, where people will smooth out the bugs and stop absurd results from happening by error. And if absurd things happen anyway, well, that's probably just incompetence and corruption.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:46 AM on August 13 [9 favorites]


Some guys I knew in college did this once. They walled off their end of a dorm hall with pizza boxes, declared themselves a new nation, composed a new national anthem, designed and flew their new flag, and started work on a new constitution and representative form of government.

Hell, all we did was tack a sign to the bulletin board next to the elevators declaring that our floor of our dorm had seceded and visitors were now entering "Little America", where the no-smoking act was null and void. Our RA just rolled his eyes and said that as long as that guy Ron didn't try to run up and down the hall spraying everyone's door hinges with WD-40 again, then good.

(There was a corner of the stairwell near the top of the building which was a common solitary-studying/makeout site; months after our declaration I went up there to study and amused to see that one of my floormates had written "This Spot Claimed For Little America" on the wall with a ballpoint pen two months prior. I haven't thought about these things in 15 years.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:46 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Is this a thing they sovereign citizens do?

I see it tons, mostly by tea-party types. Made the mistake of getting into it once on someone's facebook page with one of them, and in the end just gave up, because they never saw the big picture of how democracies work.
posted by gaspode at 9:47 AM on August 13


I'm trying—you know, for fun—to understand this guy's thought process. He goes up to a house, claims it in the name of Dougiestan, and when the occupants refuse to leave, he calls 911, I guess to request assistance from the officials (of the nation he has just left in his mind) in evicting the occupants of his now-nationalized property. And when the cops show up, he's not happy about it.

There's just not a thread I can follow here. Not even one that passes through the looking glass.
posted by adamrice at 9:47 AM on August 13 [10 favorites]


I love this sovereign citizen stuff. You can look into their actual legal filings, it is just page after page of pseudo-legal gibberish, their arguments barely logically constructed, if at all. A great time-waster and of course it's funny because they always, always lose.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 9:49 AM on August 13


More stories about college-age successions for the purposes of debauchery please.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:50 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]


It all reminds me of a certain type of religious folk, the ones who think a certain prayer, said exactly the right way, is a path to salvation, and that any mistake is a path to hell. It's the people who think Dogma represents real religious philosophy.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:50 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I'm trying—you know, for fun—to understand this guy's thought process

After yoink brought up mental illness I was all ready to point out that sane people can be stupid and act on stupid beliefs, but yeah, he's probably right here. This appears to have been very sudden and out-of-character. I'm assuming he had some kind of breakdown and the thought process is not really going to be understandable.
posted by Hoopo at 9:51 AM on August 13


For more reading and links to all manner of nut-jobiness, I highly recommend perusing the Encyclopedia of American Loons. There's a deep, endless rabbit hole for all tastes.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:53 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]




Is this a thing they sovereign citizens do?

IME, the "a republic not a democracy!" tends more toward ordinary jackass internet hairsplitting, though of a kind that found favor on the right post-2000. Sovereign Citizens in particular like to claim—precisely on what basis I can't recall now—that the US as presently constituted, is, in fact, a corporation (at which point things tend to slide off into illuminati, Jewish bankers, lizard people, etc.)
posted by octobersurprise at 9:56 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Sovereign Citizens in particular like to claim—precisely on what basis I can't recall now—that the US as presently constituted, is, in fact, a corporation...

I'm pretty sure some of them go so far as to claim that the United States of America no longer legally exists, based on yadda-yadda-some-obscure-executive-order-or-something-yadda-yadda. I know I've heard that argument somewhere before.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:59 AM on August 13


I mean...

Defendant [Kenneth Wayne Leaming] is apparently a member of a group loosely styled “sovereign citizens.” The Court has deduced this from a number of Defendant’s peculiar habits . . . The Court therefore feels some measure of responsibility to inform Defendant that all the fancy legal-sounding things he has read on the internet are make-believe..."

Leaming was sentenced to eight years in federal prison.

lulzzz. The hell of it is, that if the guy just got a lawyer, or even just tried to work out a deal, he might not have gotten so much time. It's hard to believe someone in full possession of their faculties would defend themselves with this gibberish when decades of their life is on the line, but there's case after case where they do exactly that.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 10:04 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


The thing is, sometimes crazy legal "cheat codes" actually work. The theory that corporations have constitutional rights of religious freedom and political speech is in many ways no less a crackpot argument than personal sovereignty. But one gets you laughed at while the other is the law of the land.

Hence the cargo-cultness of it all. Hobby Lobby was a bad decision, but it took years of legal innovation and memo-drafting and brief-filing to get it done, and it's still pretty bizarrely unlikely that it would have come down the way it did. These guys seem to recognize that filing is a big part of law, but not any of the underlying mechanisms. It's like a child's attempt at plumbing. They know it involves wrenches and pipes, so let's try tons of wrench on pipe.

The problem is that the desire for their worldview to be true is going to kick the truth's ass every time for these guys. If they're treating this stuff like a legal cheat code, then they're like 13-year-olds passing around a rumor that doing such-and-such will make Lara Croft get naked. Nothing you say is going to make the 13-year-old NOT believe that such dreams are within their power and control.

But yeah, sometimes the law is super opaque and has weird wrinkles that either seem made up or make everything else seem like it must be wacky. Adverse Possession, as mentioned upthread, is one of those. The squatter in Texas from a few years ago isn't like these guys, though. He knew the law and was following it to the letter on a long, tedious, usually unsuccessful process.

Tubalcain.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:05 AM on August 13 [12 favorites]


In the heyday of Birtherism I followed the Bad Fiction blog pretty regularly. Given the intersection of that and Sovereign Citizenry, the author kept an eye on them as well.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:07 AM on August 13


"Republic not a democracy" is a revealing example of bad reasoning. It is true if and only if we define "republic" and "democracy" as the speaker does, without regard for the common or technical usage of these terms.

Sovereign Citizens chase this kind of bad logic to the bitter end. They imagine that the legal system is what they wish it to be. Those who do not obey them are simply being, well, illegal. They lack regard for what the law actually is and how it is practiced, especially the fact that the law is made and practiced by people. You cannot create your own personal law and have it be a thing. It's just a retreat into childish narcissism. Calvinball was the cute version of this.

The very idea of actual legal authorities is beyond their comprehension. For them, it would be like us trying to build a tesseract. The fact that nobody else speaks their secret twin language presents to them a vast and horrible problem, whose only solution would be to abandon their Sovereign Citizen nonsense.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:09 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Hence the cargo-cultness of it all. Hobby Lobby was a bad decision, but it took years of legal innovation and memo-drafting and brief-filing to get it done, and it's still pretty bizarrely unlikely that it would have come down the way it did. These guys seem to recognize that filing is a big part of law, but not any of the underlying mechanisms. It's like a child's attempt at plumbing. They know it involves wrenches and pipes, so let's try tons of wrench on pipe.

Right, especially since one can actually read and cite the Hobby Lobby decision. Like it or not, that really was an actual Supreme Court ruling. Not so for the Sovereign Citizens' weird beliefs about what counts as a legal cheat code. No, kids, you can't just make this stuff up yourself.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:11 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Hey guys I heard if the teacher doesn't show up in the first ten minutes we're totally allowed to skip.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:15 AM on August 13 [42 favorites]


I think this sort of movement is almost a legalistic magical thinking, that by chanting the right incantations saying the right specifc words and by inscribing certain arcane symbols filing the right forms, the mage "free man on the land" can summon demons and then by moving the Court one can get them to do his bidding.

More legal thinking for you all to ponder - an attorney can never "lie" in court. They can commit misconduct, but they can't do what the layman calls "lie".

No wonder people looking at the way the Court system works hope for protection from the eye of Sauron its gaze is.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:16 AM on August 13


Okay, this gave me the mental image of a hundred Mrs. Doubtfires all piling out of an aircraft carrier brandishing Uzis

It's what he would have wanted...
posted by schmod at 10:17 AM on August 13 [7 favorites]


The thing is, sometimes crazy legal "cheat codes" actually work. [...] But one gets you laughed at while the other is the law of the land.

One works because it has trillions of dollars of bribe money campaign contributions and and armies of lawyers behind it, the other does not.

In that sense, the sovereign citizen people are actually hilariously optimistic, in thinking that they can take on the system and actually win.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:24 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


It also means the world follows rules and makes sense rather than being a seemingly random sequence of awful things happening for no reason


I've listened to a fair amount of Alex Jones because he's spectacularly entertaining and I really think this is the key to understanding a lot of conspiracy theories and right-wing thinking. If you're brought up thinking America Is The Greatest Country In The World and you can do anything if you work hard enough and all that, at some point you're probably going to hit the wall. Maybe you lose your job because the factory moved out of state or out of the country. Maybe you blow out your knee in high school football and that's it for you. Whatever happens, something unfair happens. On the one hand, you'd have to re-examine all your beliefs and fundamentally question your entire world view. Maybe things aren't fair if you just work hard. Maybe it's possible to work hard your entire life, do all the right things, and still fail. Staring into the fact that the universe is a random and chaotic place where the good may be punished and the wicked be rewarded is fucking terrifying.

But if you say it's lizard people or Obama or the UN conspiracy, suddenly there's someone to blame and the world makes a lot more sense. Basically, I think it's a flight from cognitive dissonance, because it's much easier to believe the government is both hilariously incompetent and running a more sophisticated conspiracy than any government on Earth has been able to manage (I mean, c'mon, you know there'd be a RFP: FEMA DEATH CAMP pop up or something alone those lines) than it is to believe that everything you've ever believed is wrong.

It's akin to, in my view, a lot of what I see in geeky communities like Reddit or MRAs or redpill assholes. Basically, a lot of those guys played by the rules: They got good grades, they played by the rules, they didn't do drugs or drink or party, they never hit that phase of rebellion. And school does train you in Skinner box fashion that if you do the thing, you get the reward. I wrote a good paper, I got an A, I got a scholarship, I majored in Engineering or Computer Science, I got a good job, I make good money...now I am entitled to the reward, that being sex or a better job or recognition or happiness or whatever. But to admit the world is more complicated and chaotic than that would be to undermine their entire value system and self-worth, i.e., I am a supreme follower of The Rules, why am I not getting the happiness I am entitled to?

So I think it's when you're committed to rules being fair and playing by them to the point you go hunting around for new rules, the SECRET RULES, rather than admit the world is an unfair and chaotic place. It's when you're committed to the proposition that "The world is a logical place" (look how hard Reddit leans on "HEH, LOGIC! SCIENCE!", for example) to the point that you bend everything to fit it.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:26 AM on August 13 [79 favorites]


I think it's telling that a lot of the people who fall into those ways of thinking tend to be straight white guys.
posted by The Whelk at 10:30 AM on August 13 [17 favorites]


kiltedtaco: "The government is all-powerful except for a few rules of its own making which completely defeat it and it is unable to alter."

Look, all I'm saying that J. R. R. Tolkien wrote Smaug as a stand-in for The Government, and just like Smaug, The Government has to have a weak spot. But I'm no archer, so I'm going to use the magic of words to get my mountain of gold loot.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:30 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


I am a supreme follower of The Rules, why am I not getting the happiness I am entitled to?

An example of that thinking from the past - Samuel Byck
posted by rough ashlar at 10:31 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Are you a cop? You have to tell me if you're a cop.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:33 AM on August 13 [18 favorites]


Yeah but you have to ask three times.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:35 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


The 911 recording made me think of the "magical words" theory discussed in this thread. At one point. Also, incidentally, from this same portion of the recording, it is "Doug-E-Stan", not "Dougiestan" (and, I presume, "Doug-E-Doug", not "Dougie Doug").

Dispatcher: What's your full name?

Doug-E-Doug: Doug-E-Doug, from Doug-E-Stan.

Dispatcher: From Doug-E-Stan? What is that?

Doug-E-Doug: That's a little republic I just started.

Dispatcher: OK. Doug-E-Doug.

Doug-E-Doug: Right. From Doug-E-Stan. D-O-U-G, dash E, dash Stan.

The dispatcher saying "OK" in response to being told that Doug-E-Stan is a republic is the sort of thing that would be interpreted as the so-called government of the so-called United States of America officially recognizing the independence of the Republic of Doug-E-Stan.
posted by Flunkie at 10:36 AM on August 13 [15 favorites]


More stories about college-age successions for the purposes of debauchery please.

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1976/2/3/lampoon-plans-centennial-celebration-pthe-harvard/

"The Lampoon has threatened to end its Saturday night fireworks display with 'a demonstration of the Lampoon's nuclear abilities if the U.N. ignores the student organization's demand for member status.'"
posted by burden at 10:38 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, from the David Wynn Miller link provided above, in reference to other people who have attempted to use Miller's "correct language" in court:

"In August 2001, Paul and Myrna Schuck unsuccessfully used Miller's language during a tax-evasion trial in Calgary, Alberta. They were later sentenced to jail after claiming postage affixed to their clothing and signed by them made them legally equivalent to royalty."

Now this, this is adorable! I love this. Oh God, I have to do this. Stand by for forthcoming edicts to improve the lives and general welfare of you, my beloved subjects.

- - King Janis Joplin Forever I, by the Grace of God, of the United States and his other Realms and Territories, Protector of the Weak, Friend and Companion of the Doctor, Fidei defensor.
posted by Naberius at 10:39 AM on August 13 [7 favorites]


Okay, this gave me the mental image of a hundred Mrs. Doubtfires all piling out of an aircraft carrier brandishing Uzis and I don't quite know how to react to that.

With both great joy because the image is awesome and great sadness becase well.

It's a cargo cult

Yeah, exactly. It's not even about saying the right magic words a la prayer or various occult systems; those require actual understanding of the systems involved (whether or not you believe they work on some sort of objective level).

This is just piling cases of Coke on the runway to attract the Coke-givers. These anti-society idiots (I will not call them sovereign citizens because both of those words have actual meanings) have absolutely no idea how the legal system works. Indeed, they have no basic idea of how government works. Which makes me wonder what the actual fuck happened to them all through school in civics classes.

I wonder how many of them vote?

And the utter inconsistency of calling the official forces of the country you have allegedly seceded from in order to remove someone from your alleged nation is breathtaking in its extremity. It's not just that these idiots are ignorant, it's that they want to have their cake and eat it too. Lots of crossover with Libertarian thinking there, in fact.

"In August 2001, Paul and Myrna Schuck unsuccessfully used Miller's language during a tax-evasion trial in Calgary, Alberta. They were later sentenced to jail after claiming postage affixed to their clothing and signed by them made them legally equivalent to royalty."

I fundamentally refuse to believe this is a thing that actually happened. I just can't even.

Either that or hippybear's Hollywood Screenwriter Reality started a lot earlier than he posits.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:46 AM on August 13 [8 favorites]


Also, the bit of the 911 recording immediately after the "Doug-E-Doug from Doug-E-Stan" portion that I quoted above is a sad commentary:

Doug-E-Doug: Right. From Doug-E-Stan. D-O-U-G, dash E, dash Stan.

Dispatcher: What war were you in?

Doug-E-Doug: What what?

Dispatcher: What war were you in?

Doug-E-Doug: I wasn't in a war.

Dispatcher: You wasn't?

On another note, putting aside the seriousness of it all, I kind of enjoy Doug-E-Doug's response in this part:

Dispatcher: Whereabouts you at right now?

Doug-E-Doug: (significant pause)

Doug-E-Doug: In Doug-E-Stan.
posted by Flunkie at 10:46 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


Not to be confused with Doug E. Doug.

On the other hand, Doug E. Freshistan is a sovereign citizen government I could get on board with.
posted by jonp72 at 10:47 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


kiltedtaco: ""The government is all-powerful except for a few rules of its own making which completely defeat it and it is unable to alter.""

Well...

Ask Kurt Gödel...
posted by symbioid at 10:47 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


At least when Emperor Norton declared himself King, he did it with class.

These guys are all really confused about what it means to live in a society. It's like they've secretly replaced the social contract with Folger's crystals.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:48 AM on August 13 [15 favorites]


It's like they've secretly replaced the social contract with Folger's crystals

...meth.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:49 AM on August 13 [13 favorites]


Folger's crystals.

Is that some street name for meth from Breaking Bad or something? I don't know I didn't watch past the first season.
posted by Talez at 10:50 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I fundamentally refuse to believe this is a thing that actually happened. I just can't even.

Believe it. I have personally handled handwritten documents from people making claims against various governments, claiming for billions in gold bullion for....to be honest I didn't really understand the basis of the claims and neither did the judges that threw them out. They will go all the way with this nonsense if they somehow manage to get a day in court.
posted by Hoopo at 10:51 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


I'm from Doug-E-Stan. I just want to live in E-Harmony with the E-tats Unis.
posted by symbioid at 10:52 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


"Sovereign citizen" is just a complete contradiction in terms, anyway. If you're politically autonomous, by definition you're not a citizen.

I believe an etymologist would conclude that these people are, strictly speaking, idiots.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:53 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


I wonder how many of them vote?

The really great irony is not how many of them might vote, but how many of them might rely on some form of public assistance.
posted by elizardbits at 10:53 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


Oh Hoopo, I believe it. I was trying to convey that I really don't want to believe it because of what it says about how badly society has failed in educating these people about the simplest of concepts.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:54 AM on August 13


Is that some street name for meth from Breaking Bad or something? I don't know I didn't watch past the first season.

Folger's Crystals
posted by scody at 10:55 AM on August 13




Our dog has a little tent with a dog bed in it that he goes to whenever he wants to get away from us and the cats. Tonight, I'm going to put up a sign on it that reads "INDEPENDENT NATION OF DOGGIESTAN."
posted by tonycpsu at 10:56 AM on August 13 [25 favorites]


The really great irony is not how many of them might vote, but how many of them might rely on some form of public assistance.

Oh but that's different. That's the government paying them out of the secret accounts attached to their legal straw man oh god oh god oh god.

Questioning how many of them vote wasn't so much about irony as it was about crippling fear. Can you even imagine what would happen if one of these idiots got into significant public office?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:57 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


They will go all the way with this nonsense if they somehow manage to get a day in court.

In my experience, the day in court often leads to an unsatisfactory conclusion for the petitioner and often to the petitioner thereafter spending three years grimly pacing the sidewalk outside the courthouse wearing a massive ALL CAPS crabbed wall-of-text sandwich board singling out the judge and revealing the hidden interests the judge is beholden to.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:58 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


Does this meme count as being a contagion yet? Its like if Pontypool only affected exposed people with mental, financial, and moral states x,y, and z.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:58 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


I think it's telling that a lot of the people who fall into those ways of thinking tend to be straight white guys.

At least in the US. Other countries have their own varieties of conspiracy and legal cranks, driven by their cultures' obsessions and anxieties, too. I read an article last summer (probably linked from MetaFilter, now that I think of it) that conspiracy theorists in the Arab world tend to focus on the Rotary Club (for reasons that actually make a sort of sense historically if you squint hard enough, but are still as disconnected from reality as the US-style).
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:58 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


I'm a little confused by this vein of response; are some of you suggesting it would have been a good thing if this pretty clearly mentally-ill guy had been shot, either by the nanny or by the police?

Yes, Yoink, perceptive as ever. You got me. You've managed to corner me into showing my secret contempt for the mentally ill. Have a prize.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:59 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


Doug-E-Doug: In Doug-E-Stan.
He's an Aggie, right?
posted by octobersurprise at 11:00 AM on August 13


"INDEPENDENT NATION OF DOGGIESTAN."

Accepting only Dogecoin, I suppose?
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:00 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


What's being suggested is that it would be nice if the police were this good at their jobs when they're dealing with unarmed young black kids under suspicion of nothing beyond walking around their neighborhood.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:00 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]


the Rotary Club

Is it freemasons or illuminati?
posted by elizardbits at 11:00 AM on August 13


Stonecutters, actually.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:01 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]


*curses Steve Gutenberg*
posted by symbioid at 11:02 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


Attach the Stone of TRIUMPH!
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:02 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Strange that have just come straight from playing this to this particular thread.
posted by Wordshore at 11:03 AM on August 13


Our dog has a little tent with a dog bed in it that he goes to whenever he wants to get away from us and the cats. Tonight, I'm going to put up a sign on it that reads "INDEPENDENT NATION OF DOGGIESTAN."

Prediction: Doggiestan will fold up as an independent nation as soon as it experiences a trade deficit of bellyrubs.
posted by jonp72 at 11:03 AM on August 13 [15 favorites]


(I will not call them sovereign citizens because both of those words have actual meanings)

Citizen - a legally recognized subject (you are under the leader...or under dare one say Sovereign)
Sovereign - a supreme ruler (you are the leader)

Being both the subject AND the ruler - no wonder they are confused. On the youtubes is a Judge issuing the smackdown to the pro se over exactly that.

Ignorant pro se's lose all the time by not having caselaw or by making statements of law from their own mouth. Less ignorant people lose all the time by talking to the police without a lawyer/invoking their right. Still others screw up by allowing the Court to have jurisdiction when they could have challenged it. Lawyers have beaten pro-se's just by saying there is no claim here by which relief can be granted Judge and the pro-se not understanding how to object.

I'm waiting for the case where the pro se knows statue and case law, can walk their case through the court system without flaw and calls themselves a "sovereign citizen" just to get the Court system to rule incorrectly. Be the plaintiff and sit on the defendants side - watch the Court treat you like a chump.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:04 AM on August 13


It is clearly this guy.

Spoiler warning: He is actually David Bowie.
posted by Twain Device at 11:08 AM on August 13


Plus the almost charmingly naive belief in the power of MAGIC WORDS.

Frankly, the words "Am I free to go?" or "I do not consent to a search," or "I'd like to see my lawyer," have been held to be approximately magic by many higher courts. The fact that these are "magic words" and some others aren't is certainly a source of confusion, so it's not that difficult to see where these people are coming from in this respect.
posted by TypographicalError at 11:09 AM on August 13 [11 favorites]


pro se

I only now got around to clicking the man of twists and turn's link to The Stupid Pro Se Legal ‘Theory’ Making the Rounds but man is it worth it. Not least of all for including a video of a talking frog dispensing pro se advice. Guys, I'm sold. No amphibian has ever steered me wrong, but government officials? You bet. Advantage: sovereign frog.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:10 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]


jonp72: Prediction: Doggiestan will fold up as an independent nation as soon as it experiences a trade deficit of bellyrubs.

Nah, the way he figures it, the belly rubs are a service to us that he can exchange for food imports.

And gosh darn it, he's right.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:11 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


ricochet biscuit: *standing ovation*

(I'm not an etymologist, but I truly love learning new-to-me etymology.)
posted by seyirci at 11:12 AM on August 13


Frankly, the words "Am I free to go?" or "I do not consent to a search," or "I'd like to see my lawyer," have been held to be approximately magic by many higher courts.

No they haven't. They are expressions of ideas codified in law. They're not magic words any more than the directions in a recipe are magic words. To continue the tortured analogy, these idiots think they can just dump all the ingredients into a blender and come out with Beef Wellington.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:14 AM on August 13 [7 favorites]


I think it's telling that a lot of the people who fall into those ways of thinking tend to be straight white guys.

A lot apprear to be black too. From the Southern Poverty Law Center link above: "Many self-identified sovereigns today are black and apparently completely unaware of the racist origins of their ideology."
posted by LizBoBiz at 11:14 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Is Dougiestan a republic? Can Doug be voted out of office?
(Thinking of the Fallout 3 Republic of Dave, where you could rig the elections to have Dave voted out.)
posted by Hactar at 11:14 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there are legal "magic words," but they don't unlock a Double Secret Legal System where you are a sovereign citizen and don't have to pay taxes, they just make the Fourth and Fifth Amendments apply to you in a vague and minimalistic way. You can only get more rights out of the system than the written rules allow when you have political or economic power to back up your legalistic nonsense (so, what Naberius said).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:17 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


It's when you're committed to the proposition that "The world is a logical place" (look how hard Reddit leans on "HEH, LOGIC! SCIENCE!", for example) to the point that you bend everything to fit it.

I think it's telling that a lot of the people who fall into those ways of thinking tend to be straight white guys.
posted by The Whelk


I guess what I don't understand is the implication that they shouldn't think this - not on the totally valid ethical grounds - but rather because everything in our shared environment points them to this conclusion.

We sell capitalism with the notion of meritocracy without bothering to mention that there's at least as much lucky timing involved, so they set out to prove merit. We tell them in history classes that their society was created by people like them, for people like them - and then blame them for listening?

You can't set people up like that and then act surprised when they react badly to the blinders coming off. Not with any honesty. Everyone, regardless of attributes is vulnerable to decades of education and societal conditioning beating into them these notions of attaining wealth and power through hard work and intelligence. Hell, most of them are only pursuing these things precisely because society tells straight white men that pursuit of actual personal happiness, rather than wealth and power, is something for "others". That for their type of people happiness is solely attainable through a very specific category of achievement.

I'm not saying their actions are right, or their worldview anything but offensive and insane, just the tendency to "fall into those ways of thinking" makes a lot of sense within the context of their experiences.
posted by Ryvar at 11:19 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


Wow, the comments on that talking frog video. Tons of people talking about cesti qui trusts to get out of speeding tickets and shit.

think they can just dump all the ingredients into a blender and come out with Beef Wellington.

The analogy that came to mind for me was, it's like getting under a car with a busted head gasket, waving a wrench around while making "bzzt click whirrrr" noises, and then being surprised when it's not fixed.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 11:19 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


GOD SAVE KING JANIS JOPLIN FOREVER!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:20 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Emperor Norton will have none of this King Janis Joplin shit.
posted by COBRA! at 11:21 AM on August 13 [10 favorites]


THIS MEANS WAR!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:23 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


While I have no sympathy for people who think that they should get special legal treatment after doing bad and illegal things or in order to secure unearned privileges, I do think it's worth mentioning that this phenomenon can also be seen as further evidence of a deep-seated sense of powerlessness, and irrational desperation either caused or exacerbated by it. In its own way, it's another testament to the inability of our political system to provide adequate channels for citizens to define the problems that officials and the government should address. And it doesn't reflect very well on our education system, for that matter.
posted by clockzero at 11:31 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


They're like huge moronic babies who believe that they can get away with whatever they want by saying "well but my fingers were crossed" or "but today is opposite day" or "but you didn't say Simon Says".

except they have guns and cannot be pacified with graham crackers and apple juice and a nap
posted by elizardbits at 11:34 AM on August 13 [21 favorites]


clockzero: I do think it's worth mentioning that this phenomenon can also be seen as further evidence of a deep-seated sense of powerlessness, and irrational desperation either caused or exacerbated by it. In its own way, it's another testament to the inability of our political system to provide adequate channels for citizens to define the problems that officials and the government should address.

I think you're being far too kind here. As a group, to the extent that their political grievances are legitimate (many simply are not), there is no evidence that they've availed themselves of the opportunity to have those grievances heard by people who can do something about them. Taking one's ball, going home, and declaring home to be an independent nation isn't something you can blame on the political system or inadequate education.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:38 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Well, as long as we're all starting our own countries...
posted by obliterati at 11:38 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


except they have guns and cannot be pacified with graham crackers and apple juice and a nap

I'm not sure that any court has actually tried that. Maybe it works!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:40 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


I don't have much to say about this except:

- This happened less than 4 miles from where my folks live, though the neighborhoods look quite different. While where my parents live is 1950's vapid suburban sprawl, this area is much newer vapid suburban sprawl - if I had to guess, I'd say it was probably developed in the '80's. I wonder what made Mr. Dougie choose this particular spot for Dougiestan? It's certainly not isolated, though I suppose the property could have an air of isolation once you set foot on it.

- I had no idea that the DPD has a blog, and a typically self-congratulatory one at that.
posted by item at 11:40 AM on August 13


actually i'm having graham crackers right now and i feel pretty good about stuff in general
posted by elizardbits at 11:42 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


See? Science favors the apple juice and nappies approach.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:43 AM on August 13


"As Dallas firefighters responded to a lawn on fire on North 40 Place in North Dallas, a man identified as Leguin, 60, took aim with an assault weapon."
You know, you'd think a man from the North Dallas 40 would know how to be a little more chill.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:44 AM on August 13


... this phenomenon can also be seen as further evidence of a deep-seated sense of powerlessness, and irrational desperation either caused or exacerbated by it.

None of which is incompatible with the observation that most of these folks are middle-class white dudes whose "deep-seated sense of powerlessness" is mostly a consequence of colossal entitlement in which anything less than "everyone else lets me do exactly what I want" means that they're being unfairly oppressed or disenfranchised. It's a superiority complex, not an inferiority complex.
posted by kewb at 11:51 AM on August 13 [12 favorites]


They tend to be white dudes, but are they generally middle-class? I usually see them as being more "in a van down by the river" types.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:53 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I had a friend in college. We fell out of touch for a few decades, and when I met him again, he had declared his house to be a separate city. He wrote the name of this fictitious city, Mount Holly, on his application for a new drivers license, they accepted it, and he decided that this means his house is legally recognized as a new city. He had an election for mayor, and since his kids aren't old enough to run and his wife doesn't want the job, he won.

He goes around passing out cards with an image of a key and the name of his house-city on it, telling people he is giving them the key to the city. He built a MASH style arrow tree pointing people to and away from his house and naming the distance to various other cities. He has various city events in his house. His house-city has its own city website.

He's a lot more fun than these creeps.
posted by maxsparber at 11:55 AM on August 13 [17 favorites]


I sometimes use evidence like this to argue that the prevalence of schizophrenia as a heterogeneous continuum syndrome is massively under-diagnosed in our society.
posted by meehawl at 12:02 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


THIS MEANS WAR!

If I understand correctly, this mean we get to use the flags with the yellow fringes!
posted by aubilenon at 12:08 PM on August 13 [12 favorites]


Dougiestan's national anthem, courtesy of a very fancy district.
RIP M-Bone and JayAre
posted by special agent conrad uno at 12:08 PM on August 13


If someone wants to start their own micro nation with sovereignty let them. Then fence the area off, make them go through customs to enter the United States and don't let them work since they're now no longer citizens. If they try to claim diplomatic immunity inform them they are now persona non grata.

Problem solved.
posted by Talez at 12:09 PM on August 13 [8 favorites]


He had an election for mayor, and since his kids aren't old enough to run and his wife doesn't want the job, he won.

I'm not surprised. Voter turn-out in those small town mayoral races is always poor.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:12 PM on August 13 [6 favorites]


He had an election for mayor, and since his kids aren't old enough to run and his wife doesn't want the job...

I'm kind of surprised his wife doesn't move to a different city.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:15 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


If you check out his website, it is clearly very tongue-in-cheek.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:17 PM on August 13


He had an election for mayor, and since his kids aren't old enough to run and his wife doesn't want the job, he won.

It's like my HOA where just showing up gets you elected President-for-Life.
posted by malocchio at 12:18 PM on August 13


They tend to be white dudes, but are they generally middle-class? I usually see them as being more "in a van down by the river" types.

The vast majority of cases I've read about are employed professionals, some of them earning hundreds of thousands a year.

It makes sense if you think about it. For one thing, they have to be people with the resources to file all that stuff, buy all those weapons, and have enough income to pay the initial court costs of to file income taxes and so forth in the first place. They tend to own their own homes, or at least have mortgages and enough money to keep making payments. A lot of them are small businesspeople or self-employed types. Edward and Elaine Brown, for example, were supported by Elaine Brown's dental practice.

It's only in recent years that, due to the economic downturn, you see more people with underwater mortgages turning to this sort of stuff in desperation. And even so, it's more formerly middle-class folks who think of themselves as "temporarily embarrassed millionaires" than anything else.
posted by kewb at 12:19 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


We have always been at war with Doucheylvania.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:19 PM on August 13 [5 favorites]


Worse would be laying claim to your micro nation in quite another part of the world (he seems ignorant of the colonial connotations) just so your daughter can be a princess of this kingdom.

If the Heatons have any sense, they'll never attempt to actually live there.
posted by bad grammar at 12:21 PM on August 13


Hail, Hail Freedonia, Land of the Brave and Free!


Fun fact: Duck Soup is my dad's favorite movie, and the fact that he grew up near Fredonia, NY is at least partly responsible for this.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:25 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


That thing with the Heaton's just appears cute, honestly.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:27 PM on August 13


Doucheylvania has really gone downhill since Stankonia seceded.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:27 PM on August 13 [5 favorites]


Yeah, but Pricktucky's been really on their game lately.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:28 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


None of them compare to Arkansasshole.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:30 PM on August 13 [5 favorites]


They tend to be white dudes, but are they generally middle-class? I usually see them as being more "in a van down by the river" types.

My first wife's father had a close brush with this kind of stuff. He was a middle-aged white guy, working lower middle class, in a rural area in commuting distance to a third tier city where he worked as a draftsman for an engineering company, drawing up plans and schematics. Well, not surprisingly that career path ended very suddenly. He and a bunch of guys like him were all laid off and everything henceforth was done by like three younger guys with computers.

They considered an age discrimination suit because they were all in like their 50s, but lawyers didn't think it was winnable. And there he was, in his 50s, with a familiy, obligations, no marketable skills, no real future, in a world that had pretty much explicitly said it didn't need him anymore.

Eventually he ended up falling under the sway of some "you don't owe taxes" guru who went around doing seminars to explain why you didn't need to file a 1040 and could demand the government repay all the taxes you'd ever paid plus interest or some such thing. It wasn't quite sovereign citizenship - it lacked the megalomania and the gun paranoia. But my FIL went around for a while counseling other people to not file taxes and to send in these demands to the IRS for huge sums of money.

When the IRS cracked down, he narrowly avoided jail, both because he testified against the guy who started all this, and because his wife had insisted that their taxes got properly filed and paid no matter what he thought about it. Eventually he sort of got over it. But he never did really recover fully - his later jobs weren't nearly as well paid or as prestigious. His middle class status after losing that job was pretty arguable.

I think that's what does it. These are guys who have been hanging on for most of their lives, and then they just can't anymore. People keep telling them they're white guys. They're on the top of the heap, but it sure doesn't feel that way. You get into your 50s and you just can't keep up with the world any longer, and it tosses you aside and you're not ready for that. There was a very strong thread of despair in his case that pushed him into that orbit. If they're living in a van down by the river, I suspect they didn't always, and ending up there is what pushed them over the edge.
posted by Naberius at 12:54 PM on August 13 [26 favorites]


I think you're being far too kind here. As a group, to the extent that their political grievances are legitimate (many simply are not), there is no evidence that they've availed themselves of the opportunity to have those grievances heard by people who can do something about them. Taking one's ball, going home, and declaring home to be an independent nation isn't something you can blame on the political system or inadequate education.

I don't mean to be kind. I'm not saying that they deserve sympathy or that they're alright people (or entirely sane people, for that matter). What I mean to say is that the proliferation of this folk mythology is not arbitrary: things like this don't become popular in a vacuum, or without any kind of reason. I am not claiming to understand it perfectly, but I do think the hypothesis that this movement has historical factors among its causes is not only plausible but likely, and personally, I suspect (but cannot prove) that an intersectionally-situated sense of social powerlessness is at play somehow. Again, I'm not defending that or saying that such concerns are more important than the feelings of powerlessness experienced by other groups. Just a thought about the movement's sociological etiology, one which could be wrong.

"... this phenomenon can also be seen as further evidence of a deep-seated sense of powerlessness, and irrational desperation either caused or exacerbated by it."

None of which is incompatible with the observation that most of these folks are middle-class white dudes whose "deep-seated sense of powerlessness" is mostly a consequence of colossal entitlement in which anything less than "everyone else lets me do exactly what I want" means that they're being unfairly oppressed or disenfranchised. It's a superiority complex, not an inferiority complex.


But they aren't all, or even mostly, middle-class White dudes, per the Southern Poverty Law Center page linked in the FPP:

The movement is rooted in racism and anti-Semitism, though most sovereigns, many of whom are African American, are unaware of their beliefs' origins.

While the White middle-class entitlement explanation isn't unreasonable at all, and probably does contribute to this phenomenon, it seems the reality is more complicated than that one factor or population. There's a strong liberationist strand in this thinking, it seems, which probably appeals to Black people in a different way than it does to Whites, for instance; and the intersectional dimensions of class, race and gender are, I suspect, more important than one might be tempted conclude:

In the late 2000s and early 2010s, most new recruits to the sovereign citizens movement are people who have found themselves in a desperate situation, often due to the economy or foreclosures, and are searching for a quick fix.
posted by clockzero at 12:57 PM on August 13 [5 favorites]


They're on the top of the heap, but it sure doesn't feel that way. You get into your 50s and you just can't keep up with the world any longer, and it tosses you aside and you're not ready for that.

Yeah I've always thought the increasing profile of certain strains of political instability like this is tied directly to growing and deepening economic instability.
posted by The Whelk at 12:57 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


The Tax Protestor FAQ is a fascinating read about things like this (but of course specifically related to taxation). To be clear, it's not "This is an FAQ about why you don't need to pay taxes and how you can stop paying them without consequence"; rather, it's more like "This is an FAQ about why people who think they don't need to pay taxes think that and how they think they can stop paying them without consequence".

As an example, a brief quote:
A related (and even sillier) claim made by tax protesters is that the ratification of the 16th Amendment by Ohio was invalid because Ohio did not become a state until 1953(!).
Which is followed by details of the argument that people put forth to claim that, as well as details of why that argument is... poor.
posted by Flunkie at 1:11 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


But they aren't all, or even mostly, middle-class White dudes, per the Southern Poverty Law Center page linked in the FPP:

The movement is rooted in racism and anti-Semitism, though most sovereigns, many of whom are African American, are unaware of their beliefs' origins.
That says (1) "Most are unaware of the origins" and (2) "Many are African-American", not (3) "Most are African-American".
posted by Flunkie at 1:13 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Damnit. After reading this, I now can't help but notice that a lot of flags have (inappropriately) had yellow fringe added to three sides.
posted by schmod at 1:13 PM on August 13


I sometimes use evidence like this to argue that the prevalence of schizophrenia as a heterogeneous continuum syndrome is massively under-diagnosed in our society.

Please don't. Schizophrenia does contribute somewhat to violence*, but the prevalence is already massively overstated and that overstatement causes a lot of harm for people with schizophrenia in particular and mental illness in general.

We've known for decades the control that cults can exert over the mental state of people who lack organic brain disease. There's a reason why the diagnostic criteria for delusions explicitly excludes beliefs that are held by the individual's larger community: plenty of psychologically "normal" people can and do hold beliefs that are factually questionable or cause them to take actions that seem inexplicable to people who don't share those beliefs. At the risk of getting too meta, there's another quite active thread right now that discusses (among other topics) how to handle opinions and beliefs that cause people to do harm to other people. I sympathize with the point that the way mental illness is handled by society is a fucking crime, but the evidence so far points to Douglas LeGuin being motivated by extreme anti-governmental views held by a certain community of people, and not by mental illness.

*Particularly relevant quote:
Indeed, compared with the magnitude of risk associated with the combination of male gender, young age and lower socio-economic status, the risk of violence presented by mental disorder is modest (Monahan, 1997).
posted by kagredon at 1:23 PM on August 13 [11 favorites]


That says (1) "Most are unaware of the origins" and (2) "Many are African-American", not (3) "Most are African-American".

I understand. The language is quantitatively imprecise, but I think it is clearly indicating that this is not a Whites-only phenomenon, and I pointed that out in response to a remark suggesting that the movement was explicable by reference to the habitus of White, middle-class men. It seems that it is not explicable in that way.
posted by clockzero at 1:31 PM on August 13


I was responding to your claim that they aren't "mostly" white, not your claim that they aren't "all" white.

To be clear, I don't know whether they're mostly white or not. I just know that the quote you pulled doesn't assert they're not mostly white.
posted by Flunkie at 1:35 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


the petitioner thereafter spending three years grimly pacing the sidewalk outside the courthouse wearing a massive ALL CAPS crabbed wall-of-text sandwich board singling out the judge and revealing the hidden interests the judge is beholden to

For at least 2 years, there was a guy with a sandwich board that read "CUT SKUL TAXEs" that would march up and down the sidewalk outside my high school for a couple of hours everyday. I still don't know if he was an anti-tax nut or if he was the greatest satirist in the history of our suburb.
posted by Hoopo at 1:36 PM on August 13 [12 favorites]


Yeah, these guys drive me batty, daily. And what is really frustrating and rage-inducing is that they are exasperating the entire legal system, and the legal system is reacting by making it much harder for everyone, including people with legitimate claims--but without $$ and/or lawyers--to get past the early stages of litigation. Which really, really sucks, and drastically harms the most vulnerable, like victims of employment discrimination and inmates trying to use the court to hold their abusers accountable. And yet, these guys are clearly wasting millions of dollars in court resources, and a lot of people's time. Although the filings of these guys are generally rather entertaining, their actions have very real, very bad consequences. The whole situation is basically lose-lose.
posted by likeatoaster at 1:37 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


likeatoaster
This sounds so much like victim blaming I don't even know where to start.
posted by wuwei at 1:42 PM on August 13


This sounds so much like victim blaming I don't even know where to start.

what
posted by kagredon at 1:44 PM on August 13 [14 favorites]


I'm not sure I understand what you mean wuwei. Who's the victim that likeatoaster is blaming? The anti-tax nuts?
posted by Carillon at 1:45 PM on August 13


Although the filings of these guys are generally rather entertaining, their actions have very real, very bad consequences.

I had a coworker who handled a sovereign case. In the midst of it, her phone rang and it was a deputy from the local sheriff's office. He had called to inform her that the man had drafted a warrant for her arrest and had sent it to the sheriff's office with the expectation they would find her at work, arrest her and hold her in custody for who knows what.

Likewise, my father-in-law, whom I never met, was in law enforcement. He helped arrest a leader in this movement. His followers convened a court, put him on trial, and came to the verdict that he should be executed. Later, a follower with a high powered rifle attempted to do so by shooting him through a home window. He survived only because he was medivac'd to a hospital and the surgeons knew what they were doing.

Some of these people are incredible kooky and some of them are seriously deranged individuals.
posted by Atreides at 1:47 PM on August 13 [13 favorites]


This sounds so much like victim blaming I don't even know where to start.

notsureifsovereign.jpg
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:53 PM on August 13 [9 favorites]


I will admit that every winter, I engage in my own peculiar version of Sovereign Citizen Magic Law Talk fantasy, wherein I imagine myself successfully arguing in court that the government's requirement that I shovel snow off of their sidewalks just because those sidewalks happen to be in front of my house is a violation of the 13th Amendment's ban on involuntary servitude.

grumble, grumble
posted by Flunkie at 1:58 PM on August 13 [5 favorites]


Those of us walking on the sidewalks surely appreciate it though, neighbor. Thank you.
posted by maryr at 2:09 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


While the sovereign citizen stuff is mildly amusing in a courtroom where a judge can smack it down, as Atreides and others have pointed out, it can be used to destroy the lives of people who happen to enrage the people in the movement. Murder at the high end, bankrupting people with a constant flow of liens and other legal maneuvers on the lower end.
posted by tavella at 2:10 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Study it out, Flunkie. Sidewalks are made of cement, a word that begins with the letter "c", pronounced "sea", which puts it in international waters as set forth in the bill of attainder in the treaty of Algeron, 2431 (linear time is for suckers).

In short, put that shovel away, pal.
posted by dr_dank at 2:13 PM on August 13 [9 favorites]


Legal material written in sans serif fonts do not possess sheriffs and therefore lack force of law. Read a book, dingdongs
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:23 PM on August 13 [11 favorites]


I have been following this type of social phenomenon since I was a teen. For whatever reason, when I first ran into it on Usenet and the like in the early internet days, it was a fascinating look at what seemed at the time to be the "lie" of adults knowing what they were doing. I had always suspected as a kid that adults were not much more aware of how the world actually worked than anyone else, and relied on a lot of trust that things would work out because other people did know at least some of the time, what the hell they were talking about.

This of course led me to the Sub-genius radio shows and High Weirdness By Mail, and later into reading about odd political movements like the Lyndon LaRouche stuff.

During the course of my odd little hobby, I have come to the realization that some ideas, when not fully examined and sourced and backed with proper evidence, are very easily contorted and convoluted to the point of seemingly insanity, yet hold in them a strange powerful draw to people who feel powerless. The rise of nationalism and separatism during bad economic times tends to see a flourish of these ideas, and they will spread like fire in the spaces behind the walls of a building. Without any proper firewalls or immediate action, they will destroy the structure of the society in which they are allowed to flourish.

Worse still, is once they are entrenched, it takes a huge effort, on many fronts, to contain and eliminate the damage. You can't just educate people out of these ideas. You can't just force them into isolation (isolation is what allows this to grow and fester). You have to root out the causes and find where the problems lie, and show (sometimes even lead by the nose, or simple hold their hand through the process) the believers that the world is not fair, but that in that, it is up to us as a collective society, to make it as fair as we can.

There is a term called "running amok", which has very interesting origins in the Malay language and society. It is often linked to societies in which some form of personal honor is cultural bound in an individuals identity. There are still active studies of people who have done horrible things and how they blame the society around them for making them do those things. I believe there is a link between people who have absorbed some of the toxic and unexamined parts of our American culture and, due to circumstances which they face in their personal lives, which they feel are out of their control, they turn to these actions as ways that they see as means of regaining their sense of honor. The sovereign citizen movement, by and large, is populated by people who feel that they have lost their honor, or station, because of some outside force that they cannot control, and thus, have chosen to "fight back", though many times through means that are seen by outside observers as non-sensible or deranged.

Of course, this is one of the reasons I have theorized in the past that marketing and advertising are dangerous social weapons, and if used improperly, can lead to mass delusional behavior and societal discord. Of course, some might also argue that when used correctly, that the sole purpose of those tools is to create mass delusional behavior and societal discord (see most of the Right-wing talking heads, almost all advertisements geared towards social status velben goods, and a good portion of click-bait media organizations).

The anathema to all of this is expansive education, well after school. A public push to continue education through media and the use of PSA's and, well, societal beneficial propaganda. But, of course, that word, propaganda, has taken a sinister note, due to how it has been used in attempting to create a conformist society. I still believe it can be used in the opposite manner, but that is just theory, sadly, as there is no will (or money) in doing it any other way. And, of course, that tends to cross the line with many anti-establishment types on all sides of the political spectrum.
posted by daq at 2:23 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


I was responding to your claim that they aren't "mostly" white, not your claim that they aren't "all" white.

To be clear, I don't know whether they're mostly white or not. I just know that the quote you pulled doesn't assert they're not mostly white.


Right. The Southern Poverty Law Center's analysis indicates that "many" are Black. So while we can't speak precisely about racial proportions based on that, I assume that the SPLC means to communicate that a non-trivial proportion are non-White. It was probably imprudent of me to say that the group is not "mostly White," because "many" and "mostly" aren't very precise terms to begin with and we don't know the actual numbers.

The point I was trying to make is that it seems reasonable, to me, to hypothesize that there's more going on here in terms of race, class and gender than middle-class White manhood gone mad.
posted by clockzero at 2:33 PM on August 13


Great. Now I'm stuck with an earworm of "Won't you take me to... Doug-e-STAN??"

Thanks, Anti-Obama.
posted by argonauta at 2:34 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Legal material written in sans serif fonts do not possess sheriffs and therefore lack force of law. Read a book, dingdongs


Only laws written in Papyrus are valid, because that's what the Bible was written in!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:55 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Bullshit. The Bible was written in English.
posted by Fezboy! at 3:05 PM on August 13 [6 favorites]


Only laws written in Papyrus are valid

The only binding legal documents in the world are casual Thai fusion menus and Avatar subtitles

This is why I hold hands with my sistren, sway in unison at the base of a holy tree, and enjoy a $13 pad thai with spring roll nibblers
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:08 PM on August 13 [14 favorites]


kagredon: "Schizophrenia does contribute somewhat to violence, but the prevalence is already massively overstated"

I guess I should have bracketed what I said by excluding violence as a confounder. I've treated a bunch of pleasant but delusional people with psychotic disorders who are quite non-violent. And I've treated quite violent people with no discernible delusions. What I meant by a continuum syndrome is that many of the people involved in these mediated and socially networked cults demonstrate so many of the classic signs and symptoms of a progressive psychotic disorder. And their novel beliefs are often atypical for their cultures of origin. They demonstrate elaborately paranoid and grandiose delusions (that began as tiny kernels), ideas of reference, magical thinking, fantasies of omnipotent control, compromised cognition, etc. There often seems to be emotional blunting and social isolation, reduced work/ADLs, etc.

It comes down to how you want to categorize it - as discrete syndromes with names like schizoaffective, delusional disorder, schizoprenia, schizotypy, schizoid, or you postulate a disease entity with variable expression, that in a manner similar to MS, sometimes manifests as a single "knock out" period of reduced reality testing with a return to "close to or indistinct from" normal functioning, versus manifestation as a progressive relapsing-remitting illness with periods of relative stability interspersed with many episodes of acute impairment and a chronic inability to return to a former baseline.
posted by meehawl at 3:23 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Newly minted case-processor me was handed a sovereign citizen appellate filing as the first case I opened in my tenure in the Seventh Circuit as a sort of hazing ritual. I grew to enjoy reading them but was still overcome with dread when I had to try fitting them into the standardized appellate case flow monitoring system. In the end it really didn't matter much because they'd get dismissed before ink from the "FILED" stamp could dry but us processors were still graded on accuracy.
posted by Fezboy! at 3:24 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


the government's requirement that I shovel snow off of their sidewalks just because those sidewalks happen to be in front of my house

In many cities, it's a fair exchange for the city letting you pave the end of your driveway over their property IT'S TRUE, CHECK YOUR PROPERTY LINES
posted by Hoopo at 3:32 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


The point I was trying to make is that it seems reasonable, to me, to hypothesize that there's more going on here in terms of race, class and gender than middle-class White manhood gone mad.

The ADL's thorough report breaks down the demographics of the movement as historically overwhelmingly white with a growing number of African-American adherents in relatively recent years. Almost any anti-government ideology ends up coming into contact with Sovereign Citizen stuff, though, and the logics of the movement are still pretty indelibly marked by its white supremacist origins.

For example, one of the recurring ideas in the sovereign citizen movement is that "14th amendment citizens," initially a euphemism for African-American freedmen, are beholden to the federal government and all others are not. If you rely on the fourteenth amendment to claim citizenship, you are a literal second-class (because non-sovereignb) citizen. More generally, the whole thing originated with the white supremacist Posse Comitatus and Christian Identity movements. But it's true that other separatist movements, especially the Moorish Nation movement, have adopted the ideas as well and tailored the ideology to their own purposes.
posted by kewb at 3:39 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


This of course led me to the Sub-genius radio shows and High Weirdness By Mail, and later into reading about odd political movements like the Lyndon LaRouche stuff.

Oh man LaRouche. Thanks for that flashback. I remember there were LaRouchies that used to set up a card table in front of the post office when I was a teenager, spilling over with pamphlets held down by rocks. I usually ignored them, but on one occasion they had a handmade poster of a blood-filled hypo with insect wings and long, spindly legs. So naturally I asked what that was all about, and this guy in a fishing hat told me about how Big Pharma is lying about how HIV is spread, followed by some truly gross ideas for "solutions" to the AIDS problem. I admit I wasn't the most politically savvy teenager, let alone well versed in what science had to say about HIV in 1987, but I was struck by how detached from reality his tortured logic was.

It brings to mind something Alan Moore once said, to paraphrase, that the greatest conspiracy is that there is a conspiracy. Sovereignators, LaRouchies and the like cannot accept a world that is sloppy, comprised of a conflict of interests bashing against each other and struggling for dominance - they would like to believe the seeming chaos of the world we all live in is actually a well-orchestrated disaster conducted by a superpowerful and supercompetent elite. It's a very clean and simple world to live in, and I can understand the temptation to believe in it sometimes, even if all evidence is to the contrary.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:59 PM on August 13 [10 favorites]


This is such a great thread.

Likewise, my father-in-law, whom I never met, was in law enforcement. He helped arrest a leader in this movement. His followers convened a court, put him on trial, and came to the verdict that he should be executed.

I am reminded uncomfortably of the story "The Repairer of Reputations."
posted by JHarris at 4:19 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


In many cities, it's a fair exchange for the city letting you pave the end of your driveway over their property IT'S TRUE, CHECK YOUR PROPERTY LINES
Sooooooooooooo... if I'm totally willing to drive over a bit of grass and dirt, you're saying I don't have to shovel? I am so there.

(if that's not allowed, I'm also willing to build some sort of huge crane system on my property to get my car from my driveway to the street and vice versa)
posted by Flunkie at 4:25 PM on August 13


re: conspiracy theories, 'existential paranoia' comes to mind...
posted by kliuless at 4:32 PM on August 13


In many cities, it's a fair exchange for the city letting you pave the end of your driveway over their property

In many cities, it's a fair exchange for not being beaten to death by your neighbors once they have to cross your damn unshoveled sidewalk.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:34 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Oh come on now. What's difficult to understand about these legal tactics? I had them explained to me by a computer generated frog on YouTube and now they make perfect sense!
posted by JHarris at 4:36 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Photos of a Baby With Confederate Flags and Guns Couldn't Persuade a Court to Prevent a Kidnapping
Advocates say the case is a clear example of a broken family system in which overloaded judges show an institutional bias toward mothers in custody cases -- even when faced with clear evidence that a kid could be endangered. The saga of Megan's mad dash also cracks a window into the Sunshine State's growing right-wing fringe, a bizarro world where Lincoln and Obama are a tag team bent on destroying America, the end times are ever nigh, and the Confederacy lives on. The movement, Megan's family says, propelled her toward the decision to risk everything to defy an "unjust government."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:43 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


In many cities, it's a fair exchange for not being beaten to death by your neighbors once they have to cross your damn unshoveled sidewalk.
Who said anything about unshoveled? It's not my damn sidewalk. It's the government's damn sidewalk. They can shovel it, and their other sidewalks closer to my neighbors' houses too. Using the taxes that I as a sovereign citizen am not paying.
posted by Flunkie at 4:44 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


The government gets it shoveled by not protecting you from your enraged neighbors. The next inhabitant of your quaint land will, I am sure, be more diplomatically minded. It's a win-win situation!
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:46 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.
posted by Flunkie at 4:50 PM on August 13 [19 favorites]


From here:

The authorities' search began in earnest on May 18 -- three days after Baumann tried to pick Lilly up in Sunrise only to discover his ex had disappeared. A federal arrest warrant was issued for Megan. Lesters had told police investigators that Megan and Lilly "were not coming back," according to the Sunrise Police Department's account, and that Megan "had been planning on disappearing for some time due to the fact that she did not agree with the judge's decision on custody sharing and more importantly, was disappointed that Mr. Baumann did not share her and Mr. Lester's [sic] views." Lesters added that Megan knew full well she would have to "live her life as a fugitive."

Lesters wasn't held. And a few weeks after the kidnapping, he moved out of the Sunrise house. Baumann still has no idea where he's gone.

...

Yet Sunrise PD spokeswoman Cindy McCue says that ... "there are no charges pending against" Lesters.


How is Lesters not complicit in a kidnapping?
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:19 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


The suffix -stan (Persian: ـستان‎ -stān) is Persian for "place of" or "country". It also appears in the names of many regions, especially in Central and South Asia, but also in the Caucasus and Russia; areas where significant amounts of Persian culture were spread or adopted.

Is it etymologically related to “state”?
posted by acb at 5:33 PM on August 13


feckless fecal fear mongering wrote: Can you even imagine what would happen if one of these idiots got into significant public office?

I don't know if any have ever been elected, but Gov. LePage of Maine apparently fell in with some Sovereign Citizen types and spent many hours meeting with them, and apparently started trying to do things their way until one of his advisers/handlers made him stop.
posted by sotonohito at 5:38 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


I see this as vaguely (without the violence) connected to the left-wingers who insist that big gummint/big oil is suppressing a magic car that runs on air, or that there are thousands of classified patents (wat?) for creating free energy.

Yeah like the one that big old leftist Ayn Rand wrote about in her leftist propaganda novel Atlas Shrugged. The Galt motor is real, I know it is! And it will bring about a new age of Collectivism.
posted by scalefree at 5:39 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Is [-stan] etymologically related to “state”?

Yes, they both ultimately come from the PIE sta "to stand". See: -stan, state
posted by aubilenon at 5:45 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Is it etymologically related to “state”?
It seems yes... Wikipedia claims that "-stan" and "state" and a whole bunch of related things like "stadt" and "stead" all derive from the Proto-Indo-European for "the act of standing".

The OED backs that up on "state" and "stead", but unfortunately does not give a real etymology for "-stan"; the entry's etymology section basically just says "From names like Turkmenistan and Afghanistan" or some copout like that.
posted by Flunkie at 5:48 PM on August 13


Theoristan has a nice ring to it. I need a flag, too. And a scepter.
posted by theora55 at 6:15 PM on August 13


Do the research, people.
posted by Nothing at 6:28 PM on August 13


Or, if they consent, do the research people.
posted by maxwelton at 7:04 PM on August 13 [11 favorites]


octobersurprise: "David Wynn Miller, my, uh, "favorite" Sovereign Citizen."

Oh, that's beautiful. The "affixed stamps to own clothes" part was quoted above, but this one also deserves to be quoted:
"A major tenet, according to interviews with Miller published on the Internet, is that maritime law is the only worldwide governing authority because the Earth is a vessel in a sea of space."
posted by Bugbread at 7:16 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.

I think this is being spoken tongue-in-cheek, but I have had more than a few arguments, in that cesspit of human discourse, FaceBook, about how taxes are unjust because they are extracted, fundamentally, by force. And it's kind of a bullshit argument, because it proves too much (which is to say that if taxes are illegitimate because they are rooted in the exercise of force, why, so too is all of the law, all of property, all of a great many things that our civilization seems to require) but also, I sometimes do feel like this argument has a point. It's not the point that people seem to mean when they advance it, though.

So it is with the Sovereign Citizen folks: I think that this movement is pretty thoroughly without merit and I wouldn't be able, as a lawyer, to advance these arguments in court. But at the same time, there's a part of me that actually finds it a little refreshing to entertain the idea that the legal categories to which we belong are merely contingent and not fundamental to our beings, that ultimately what I am and you are is not captured by a term in a particular discourse such as law. Part of me thinks that I lose something when I am quick to dismiss these arguments and to reinforce the primacy of the structures and power relationships that exist, because those things, the structures and institutions and power relationships, really are, in a sense, contingent, and because I, too, have serious criticisms of them and perhaps even fundamental criticisms of them.

I struggle against my tendency to immediately turn haughty and dump on these clowns from the most bourgeois perspective possible, because I don't intend in other cases to give my full-throated support to all of these systems and structures that I think fall deeply short, even though I don't share in the particular critique that the Sovereign Citizen people are making, and, indeed, find their arguments unintelligible.

Again, none of this is to agree with the specifics of the Sovereign Citizen movement, and, indeed, there is another part of me that sees that movement and its related kinds of radicalism as a cautionary tale against the idea that one can ever really overthrow the things that need to be overthrown, because it seems very likely that one will end up just replicating the power structures and institutions that one has overthrown. Actual anarchism, actual egalitarianism, put into practice, takes a lot of work and time and sacrifice and intention and may not be scalable.

So even though these people are wrong in ways that seem clear and self-evident to me, I think it's important to note that it's important to take care in how I treat their wrongness. Like with the violence inherent in the system: some people point to that violence as a reason to do away with taxation; other people point to it as a reason to do away with property, and there are a lot of complicated levels of discourse to navigate in addressing and sifting out these arguments.
posted by gauche at 7:52 PM on August 13 [6 favorites]


You've hit on it gauche. It doesn't really matter if they're wrong or right, if they can get others (especially those in the judicial system) to navigate those endless levels and byways with them thus gumming up the works, they've won by default.
posted by telstar at 8:18 PM on August 13


I was thinking about the psychology of this, and other similar mindsets - like the "keep the government off my Medicaid" mindset.

In general, a scientific/liberal mindset focuses on logic (what I would consider linguistic logic - literally logic expressed with words), with the ultimate goal of being as divorced from specifics and emotion as possible. There is an emphasis on "objective evidence" which is characterized as knowable to individuals, and a rarification of emotionlessness, as emotion is treated as an unknowable variable. This means it often is operating with inaccurate information, introducing flaws into the logic which are more easily ignored because logic is rarified and not realistic.

Emotion has and internal logic, though, and is as subject to inaccurate information as linguistic logic. I worry about how little it is taken into account, and how difficult it is to discuss the errors due to it usually being non-linguistic.

Anger, for example, is "you are crossing my boundaries" but it is possible that those boundaries are inaccurately placed. Some people place their boundaries around their partners, or partners and children, and this can be one way to understand domestic violence, or "honor killings". Some people place their boundaries well inside of themselves, often in response to others with more practical power making use of their bodies and labor without asking for consent.

Fear is "you will hurt me", but it is possible to underestimate your own abilities and minimize your own ability to harm others. "Fight" is also one of the standard responses to fear (flight and freeze are the other two) and is the one which is culturally sanctioned for boys and men, in particular to this discussion white boys and men*. In war times, men could actually be court martialed for "freeze" despite it being a physiological, not chosen, response.

I see in a lot of these constellations of impotent violence and self-aggrandizement a combination of inaccurately placed boundaries ("you should respect me", "I should control that") that trigger anger, and profound amounts of insecurity, disconnection, and hopelessness which trigger fear ("everyone is out to get me", "no one loves me") and an attempt to assert boundaries and protect against attack in the form of explosive violence.

Part of me wonders if the police who respond to these sorts of things respond as they do because they have a similar mash-up of anger and fear, and thus they empathize more than they might with someone of another population. Similarly with how the media responds - a lot of them match the race and gender of the people engaging in these sorts of responses, and thus can see themselves in the other. I'd hold it in contrast to how the Black Panthers were and are viewed, when they did similar but much more legally valid things (and ended open carry in California).


*Black boys and men get mixed signals because it is "unmanly" to freeze or flee, but they are at higher risk of damage or death due to illogical fears of black violence and the lack of empathy of those around them. Latino boys and men often have the phenomena of machismo, which plays along the same lines but with cultural variations. Asian boys and men have dual stereotypes they're playing with, where "violent martial artist" vies with stereotypes of Asian boys and men being effeminate. All of these responses have layers of homophobia and sexism baked in as well.
posted by Deoridhe at 8:23 PM on August 13 [5 favorites]


In my various painful run-ins with the legal system I was usually victorious
by claiming I was only subject to Shire Law, but ever since those damned
movies came out I usually get smart-alecky judges telling me that "Gandalf
isn't hearing any cases today."
posted by Chitownfats at 9:35 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


I once had to process some of these filings. Here in Australia, litigants pro se are charitably given a fair bit of leeway by the courts. I understand why judges do this - they don't want to deny justice just because someone is unfamiliar with the forms of the court - but I think it sometimes gets misinterpreted: the litigant thinks because their claim is treated seriously it must have some merit.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:41 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


In my various painful run-ins with the legal system I was usually victorious
by claiming I was only subject to Shire Law


When I hear Shire law, I think of this.

the litigant thinks because their claim is treated seriously it must have some merit.

This is absolutely a factor. They submit a filing, the court politely accepts it, and there's a delay. That means they won, right? Yeah, about that...
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:49 AM on August 14


Again, none of this is to agree with the specifics of the Sovereign Citizen movement, and, indeed, there is another part of me that sees that movement and its related kinds of radicalism as a cautionary tale against the idea that one can ever really overthrow the things that need to be overthrown, because it seems very likely that one will end up just replicating the power structures and institutions that one has overthrown. Actual anarchism, actual egalitarianism, put into practice, takes a lot of work and time and sacrifice and intention and may not be scalable.

The key, for me, is that the Sovereign Citizen movement doesn't really critique the concept of sovereignty or even the idea of the force of law. Instead, the movement embraces a particularly toxic definition of both, the one that emerges from the Thomas Hobbes/Carl Schmitt concept that sovereignty consists in exceptionalism.

Put briefly, it's the notion that the sovereign only wields the power of law insofar as she/he is outside its force, that is, represents an exception. The sovereign is sovereign because she or he is the decider on the force of law itself, standing above and outside it.*

Read carefully, most Sovereign Citizen critiques are, in terms of their political philosophy, not arguments against this idea of sovereignty-as-exceptionality. Rather, they are attempts to claim that *they*, by dint of their special knowledge of the law or, more often, their literal birthright, are the exceptions and get to wield the force of law directly. This is why the birthright thing is shared by both the Christian Identity types and the Moorish Nations adherents. Really, it's probably impossible to divorce from ethnic supremacism or separatism as political philosophies.

In other words, Sovereign Citizenship isn't really about creating a universal get-out-of-jail-free card, the disarming of the law and the escape from state sovereignty. It's about taking on the power to decide on the force of law in general, becoming the exception who decides what happens to *other people* too. There's a reason they don't opt out so much as they declare their own little fiefdoms and private nations; they don't want there to be no kings or governments, they want to *be* kings and governments.

A lot of the incoherence comes from this: Sovereign Citizen movements want to retain, even reproduce the categories of sovereignty and force-of-law. They just object to the notion that someone else, rather than themselves, is the powerful exception to the rules. They're people who experience the bad effects of power and, rather than moving into genuine critique, double down on envy: they like power a lot more than they fear it.

* Giorgio Agamben connects this all to the state of emergency, the suspension of part or all of the legal order, and somewhat persuasively argues that the history of modern modern state sovereignty has consisted in expanding and normalizing these "states of exception."
posted by kewb at 4:19 AM on August 14 [19 favorites]


They're people who experience the bad effects of power and, rather than moving into genuine critique, double down on envy: they like power a lot more than they fear it.

This is insightful. I've sometimes observed, about others who have a right-wing critique of government, that what they object to, about the state's legitimate monopoly on the use of violence, is not really the violence, but the monopoly, and only to the extent that they are excluded from it.
posted by gauche at 4:40 AM on August 14 [5 favorites]


Put briefly, it's the notion that the sovereign only wields the power of law insofar as she/he is outside its force, that is, represents an exception. The sovereign is sovereign because she or he is the decider on the force of law itself, standing above and outside it.*

I have to say, after living in RI for some time, I became aware that the fallback stance for most RIslanders is that the law is something which should inconvenience someone else and that, of course, the right people should get a pass on most legal transgressions. The "right people" being, most often, "my immediate family and friends." So, maybe, not so different.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:21 AM on August 14


In my various painful run-ins with the legal system I was usually victorious
by claiming I was only subject to Shire Law


Why so many run-ins? Were you a hobbitual criminal?

Sorry.
posted by ambrosen at 6:41 AM on August 14 [8 favorites]


gauche: "Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.

I think this is being spoken tongue-in-cheek
"

It was being spoken as a Monty Python reference, I'd say.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:00 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


I know the reference, but I have had enough political conversations with libertarians and with left-leaning anarchists both that I find I can no longer parse the intended message. There are thick alternating layers of sincerity and irony at play, most of the time.
posted by gauche at 7:10 AM on August 14


But at the same time, there's a part of me that actually finds it a little refreshing to entertain the idea that the legal categories to which we belong are merely contingent and not fundamental to our beings, that ultimately what I am and you are is not captured by a term in a particular discourse such as law. Part of me thinks that I lose something when I am quick to dismiss these arguments and to reinforce the primacy of the structures and power relationships that exist, because those things, the structures and institutions and power relationships, really are, in a sense, contingent, and because I, too, have serious criticisms of them and perhaps even fundamental criticisms of them.

I see your point, but at the same time, considering how highly measured and qualified your stated sympathies are...

I would wager that the sweeping majority of people are already quite aware that social structures are maintained by people. They might not use fancy words to describe this, or talk about it all the time, but they are nonetheless perfectly aware that a judge is not an Oracle of Delphi who receives divine visions from spouting vapors. Sovereign Citizens wouldn't be pointing out anything new.

Worse, Sovereign Citizens actually hew closer to the oracular fallacy: they fervently believe that "their" law is "the" real law. They're even less aware than the average person, who at least realizes that you can't generate your own private legal system.

To the extent that they may even unwittingly highlight the fact that these structures are made and maintained by people, I would still say "so what". All sorts of despicable people and despicable groups try to reshape conventional society. In and of itself, change is not praiseworthy.

To make an admittedly extreme analogy, we don't look at Ted Bundy and say, "well, at least he tried to live life on his own terms". Yeah, actually living life on your own "terms" can actually be pretty fucking shitty. Depends on the terms, depends what it means to live life...
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:29 AM on August 14 [4 favorites]


Gauche: I think that ... there's a part of me that actually finds it a little refreshing to entertain the idea that the legal categories to which we belong are merely contingent and not fundamental to our beings, that ultimately what I am and you are is not captured by a term in a particular discourse such as law. Part of me thinks that I lose something when I am quick to dismiss these arguments and to reinforce the primacy of the structures and power relationships that exist, because those things, the structures and institutions and power relationships, really are, in a sense, contingent ...


My God. You make it sound like the Sovereign Citizen movement is the unintended bastard child of '80s Critical Legal Studies.
posted by Sonny Jim at 7:55 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


"David Wynn Miller, my, uh, "favorite" Sovereign Citizen."

Here he is, acting as a "McKenzie Friend" in an Australian court in the assistance of an applicant, from the Australian Law Journal by way of Language Log:
The paperwork in this case goes back twelve years, as you well know, and I saw the file brought in, it's about four inches thick. The syntax, and I am the judge [ed. self-declared "plenipotentiary judge"] in 1988 who wrote the mathematical interface on all 5,000 languages proving that language is a linear equation in algebra certifying that all words have 900 definitions through this mathematical algebraic formula and over the course of the past 21 years have developed an accuracy level in the syntaxing of language sentence structure to prove the correct sentence structure communication syntax language is required in a court system.

Now, the seal behind you which advertises the Crown's seal and jurisdiction of this court uses the correct syntax. That is why you have the dots. Now, the dots between the words are prepositional phrases. There's only two places where dots as allowed as a syntax prepositional phrase to certify the value of each word and that is on money, coinage and on seals. When you created, when your Government created the seal they used the correct sentence structure, they used the correct syntax and they are advertising that you have the correct syntax and knowledge of it.

I have looked at the paperwork for the past twelve years and both the doctor and the State in one hundred percent of every single sentence you have got in that folder is modified with adverbs and adjectives and there is not one legal sentence or a prepositional phrase to certify the value of any word so, therefore, the facts of the case have been have been muddled since this case started twelve years ago. The necessity of having the accuracy of a fact in a court, if you are not in a fact you have not committed perjury. And Bernie Madhoff, who you would know has just walked away from Wall Street with $69 billion, was prosecuted under the fictitious conveyance of language of title 18.1001.

Now, this law, title 18.1001, is required on all 250 countries' passports. In other words, fraudulent conveyance. The title 15 chapter 2(b) section 78FF carries a $25 million fine to modify language to extort money from a private citizen from a corporation. This gentleman represents corporation and every single document he has filed has been modified with adverbs and adjectives. So if you are going to modify a fact and change it to something that is not what the true definition of that word is you have got a babble of information in front of you. Now, I know that when we communicate, you and I – you've got a mess.
Uh-huh.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:30 AM on August 14 [10 favorites]


It really is Calvinball, and it's all the fault of Hobbes!
posted by Wilbefort at 8:32 AM on August 14


The syntax, and I am the judge [ed. self-declared "plenipotentiary judge"] in 1988 who wrote the mathematical interface on all 5,000 languages proving that language is a linear equation in algebra certifying that all words have 900 definitions through this mathematical algebraic formula and over the course of the past 21 years have developed an accuracy level in the syntaxing of language sentence structure to prove the correct sentence structure communication syntax language is required in a court system.

someone untangle my brain please
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:17 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]


I have looked at the paperwork for the past twelve years and both the doctor and the State in one hundred percent of every single sentence you have got in that folder is modified with adverbs and adjectives and there is not one legal sentence or a prepositional phrase to certify the value of any word so, therefore, the facts of the case have been have been muddled since this case started twelve years ago. The necessity of having the accuracy of a fact in a court, if you are not in a fact you have not committed perjury. And Bernie Madhoff, who you would know has just walked away from Wall Street with $69 billion, was prosecuted under the fictitious conveyance of language of title 18.1001.

If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

And some ripe bullshit that is, too.
posted by zarq at 9:25 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Earth Has 4 Days In Same 24 Hrs., 1 Day God Was Wrong.

Einstein Was ONEist Brain.

Try My Belly-Button Logic.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 10:10 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

Semi-relevant: Chewbacca defense
posted by rosswald at 10:19 AM on August 14


At least in Canada we can thank the Freemen on the Land for providing some high-quality legal humour from judges like Fergus O'Donnell.
posted by sneebler at 10:20 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]


the Freemen on the Land

Metafilter prefers the Fremen on the Sand.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:33 AM on August 14 [4 favorites]


someone untangle my brain please

Sheeit, you haven't begun to be brain-tangled by David-Wynn Miller. That paragraph of his made-up language in the Wikipedia article is just a taste. His entire damned website is written like this:
~1 FOR THIS FEDERAL-JUDGE: David-Wynn: Miller's-KNOWLEDGE OF THESE CORRECT-SENTENCE-STRUCTURES-COMMUNICATION-PARSE-SYNTAX-GRAMMAR=(C.-S.-S.-C.-P.-S.-G.) IS WITH THE CLAIMS BY THE QUANTUM-PARSE-SYNTAX-GRAMMAR-NOW-TIME-WRITTEN-COMMUNICATION-FACTS WITH THE DOCUMENT-CONTRACT-DUTY-FEDERAL-JUDGE-AUTHORITY: TITLE~42: D.-C.-C.-S.-~1986 WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE FRAUDULENT-PARSE-SYNTAX-GRAMMAR-MODIFICATIONS AND WITH THE CONTRACTING-AUTHORITY OF THE STOPPING AND: CORRECTING OF THE FALSE AND MISLEADING-STATEMENTS, FICTIONAL-LANGUAGE, WITH AN AUTOGRAPH-CONFESSION OF THE PERSONAL-WRONG-VOLITION WITH THE QUANTUM-GRAMMAR-OPERATIONAL-CERTIFICATION-FRONTWARDS AND BACKWARDS WITH THE CERTIFICATION OF THE KNOWLEDGE AND WITH THE VOLITION OF THE CONSPIRACY WITH THE GRAMMAR-FRAUD. FOR THE LYING-TOGETHER OR WITH THE LAYING-TOGETHER.

It's like a less coherent Time Cube.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:54 AM on August 14 [4 favorites]


my brain asplode
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:56 AM on August 14


Jesus Christ, he writes like Warlock talks.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:44 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]


from sneebler's Fergus O'Donnell link -
Sadly, when human beings are let loose with computers and internet[4] access, their work product does not necessarily compare favourably to the aforementioned monkeys with typewriters.
and, from that footnote-

metafilter: a near psychotropic electronic escape from any useful pursuit

And as far as these guys go in general- if they'd only had the foresight to become silicon valley billionaires before they declared themselves free from the bonds of consensus reality, we'd be getting the benefit of their views through editorials in Businessweek, instead of from the police blotter.
posted by hap_hazard at 1:00 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]




Mr. Bad Example: "~1 FOR THIS FEDERAL-JUDGE: David-Wynn: Miller's-KNOWLEDGE OF THESE CORRECT-SENTENCE-STRUCTURES-COMMUNICATION-PARSE-SYNTAX-GRAMMAR=(C.-S.-S.-C.-P.-S.-G.) IS WITH THE CLAIMS BY THE QUANTUM-PARSE-SYNTAX-GRAMMAR-NOW-TIME-WRITTEN-COMMUNICATION-FACTS WITH THE DOCUMENT-CONTRACT-DUTY-FEDERAL-JUDGE-AUTHORITY:"

Schizophasia is not Jargonaphasia, alas.
posted by meehawl at 9:58 PM on August 14


"Why so many run-ins? Were you a hobbitual criminal?"

Admitting to such would be elf-incriminating.
posted by Chitownfats at 3:35 AM on August 15 [4 favorites]


> Edward and Elaine Brown, for example, were supported by Elaine Brown's dental practice.

Speaking of:

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — An auction ended Friday with no bids for the New Hampshire compound of a tax-evading couple convicted of amassing an arsenal of weapons and holding federal law enforcement officials at bay for months.

The auction of Ed and Elaine Brown's fortress-like home on 100 acres in Plainfield was held at U.S. District Court in Concord. The minimum required bid was $250,000. Elaine Brown's dental office in Lebanon also was being auctioned but got no bids.

Prospective bidders were not allowed to tour the property, and last year, the U.S. Marshals Service cited the possibility of land mines and other explosives buried on the property as a complication. Marshals said Friday they can hold a second auction in the future.
posted by rtha at 12:37 PM on August 15


Since we've derailed a bit already, I'm going to express my puzzlement at Time Cube Guy.

If I've made sense of his word salad he seems to be going on about time zones (albeit in a more naturalistic sense than in the sense we use them today). That at any given moment it is midnight someplace, noon someplace, dawn someplace, and dusk someplace.

But rather than doing a sort of stoner "woah dude its like there's four days in one" about this rather prosaic observation he somehow decided that he was the only person who has ever noticed this.

But why four? We could just as easily split each in half and say that each day is 8 days. Or go with time zones and say each day is 24 days. Or hell, we could do it by seconds and say that each day is 86,400 days.

I can't parse enough word salad to see why the Wisest Human decided on four days in one instead of 86,400 days in one. And I damn sure can't parse enough to figure out why he thinks this is some incredible world shattering revelation.

Does he want everyone to say that they're four times their actual age because each time the Earth revolves it goes through four days? Does he want us to claim that jets are engaging in time travel? Does he want us to make calendars illustrate his "revelation" (ie: Monday 1, Monday 2, Monday 3, Monday 4), or what?

He's so into bragging on himself for his brains and bagging on everyone else for being stupid that he forgot to actually include any manifesto about his amazing revelation, much less what he expects humankind to do with his amazing revelation (other than lavish him with praise).

The Sovereign Citizens at least have a goal. Its a short sighted, selfish, goal (namely "I get to do whatever I like and no laws apply to me") but at least its a goal. Time Cube Guy got stuck on the part about trying to look smart via word salad.
posted by sotonohito at 12:59 PM on August 15


Many people conceive of half-baked theories for no reason other than to gain status and then to wield that status like a dick with a bayonet. Time Cube Guy is simply more efficient than most. There's no need to puzzle over the whys and wherefores of his theory. It only exists so that he can be the Time Cube Guy.

It's the same weirdly sensible drive which makes people get unaccredited, mail-order PhDs. Do these people want to be educated? Nah, they just want a PhD. Boom. Here you go.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:30 PM on August 15


But why four? We could just as easily split each in half and say that each day is 8 days. Or go with time zones and say each day is 24 days. Or hell, we could do it by seconds and say that each day is 86,400 days.

Jesus. You people. Why four? How many sides does a cube have? Four. You can't argue with that.

DILUTE! DILUTE! DILUTE!
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:51 PM on August 15 [4 favorites]


But why four? We could just as easily split each in half and say that each day is 8 days. Or go with time zones and say each day is 24 days. Or hell, we could do it by seconds and say that each day is 86,400 days.

But... that would be silly.
posted by zarq at 2:09 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


"Many people conceive of half-baked theories for no reason other than to gain status and then to wield that status like a dick with a bayonet."

That's not really my experience.

Or, alternatively, I'll agree with this insofar as it's true about most everyone about most anything. Genuine desire for comprehension is pretty rare while desire for status is very common.

But, in the narrower context, assuming about as much good-faith as we ever do, I don't agree. People come up with half-baked theories because they want to make sense of the world and the degree of weirdness and incoherency is usually the result of the severity of one or more defects in their method. Sometimes those defects are the result of clear mental illness, like schizophrenia. More often, it's the same kinds of mistakes that schizophrenics make, except without the excuse of a diagnosed mental illness. Even more often, it's the result of an emotional need to oversimplify and/or overapply, or hubris and Dunning-Kruger and ignorance, or all of the above.

I don't see a qualitative difference in what DWM or Time Cube Guy are doing from what, say, a physicist is doing who decides he can discover the common ancestor to all the world's language by utilizing some methods he's familiar with in physics; or an engineer attempting to debunk evolutionary theory, or AGW, or postmodern literary theory. Or a historian presenting themselves as an expert on macroeconomics, or whatever.

Bottom line, people with hammers see everything as a nail. And, sadly, pretty much everyone has their version of a hammer and pretty much everyone is clueless about the existence of other tools. Worse, most everyone overestimates their competence with their version of a hammer and so people who are no more competent with a hammer than a five-year-old child will attempt to use their hammer to build grand structures out of some wood, a box of marbles, and chewing-gum. That's how we get egregious craziness like DWM (assuming a lack of mental illness) but, really, there's a whole lot of less obvious craziness around us all the time that is the result of the same factors.

I'm kind of a minor expert on the Monty Hall Problem and, really, my long history with the problem publicly means that I'm arguably a genuine expert on how people think about the problem and misunderstand it. I'm coming up on twenty years of corresponding with strangers from all over the world about it, from students to laypeople to academics, and most of the people who have written to me have argued in favor of the wrong answer.

And I think the MHP is an excellent case study in what we're discussing because it's narrowly constrained, the truth of it is unambiguous, and people work really, really hard at being wrong about it. They invest considerable emotional investment in being wrong. I mean, of course, they invest in this and work at it hoping to be right, but end up digging themselves deep into wrongness.

The key thing about it is this: the truth of the matter is easily tested and yet the vast majority of people who are certain in what is the wrong solution to the problem do not test it and generally refuse to do so. They will frequently tell you (me) that they don't need to, because they know that they're right.

More revealing, not infrequently they will eventually say, after having written literally thousands of words about it in an extended correspondence, that they won't test it because "it's not important enough" to make the effort to do so.

I think about these issues all the time -- epistemology and method and the related psychology and sociology have been very important to me since I was a child and that's been the motivation for my interest in the MHP, as well as formally studying the history and philosophy of science. I'd like to say that I've learned something about this over my life that I didn't already suspect or know as an adolescent, but that's not really true. The sorry truth is that most people, most of the time, start with a gut intuition (which is the result of a whole lot of different factors) and will elaborate a rationalization on the basis of the intuition as necessary to support it to their own satisfaction or, less often, someone else's. The validity of the rationalization, its coherence, and its persuasiveness will radically vary, depending upon a cluster of environmental influences. The origin and purpose of the rationalization doesn't vary much at all. Ultimately, it's not about status, it's about empowerment. "I understand, therefore I have some control over my environment."

And, just to be clear, the reason that this drive for perceived empowerment is built around justifying intuition (as opposed to testing it for the same purpose) is that most people's subjective experience of questioning their own intuition is extremely disempowering. It's frightening. Some people force themselves to learn to do this. Most people get better and better at avoiding this because of negative conditioning.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:19 PM on August 15 [10 favorites]


My view on the sovereign citizen movement is that it is an example of people failing to understand the social construction of reality. Considering its ideological origins, this is unsurprising.
But first, to explain my comments up-thread re: blaming the victim, I was specifically referring to efforts to make litigation more difficult for self-represented litigants. Giving the power differential between individual citizens and the court system, increasing the roadblocks to the self-represented privileges the powerful, vice the individual citizen. Since the self-represented are often the economically disadvantaged, this is another way that the powerful rig the game against the most vulnerable.

I get that self-represented litigants increase the workload of the court system. However, I would argue, that is a cost of justice. If the courts require more resources, then as a society we should devote more resources to the courts. I would also argue that self-represented litigants cannot possibly be taking up more court bandwidth than the endless bad-faith discovery disputes. It takes real resources to generate hundreds, thousands of pages in often pointless discovery disputes. Self-represented litigants aren't the ones doing it-- it is our "job creators." Yet we see calls for more bars to the self-represented because they're clearly the ones "clogging the courts." Interesting isn't it?

As to the sovereign citizens, I've met plenty of people who buy into the ideology to varying degrees.
I disagree that the law isn't about "magic words." That's exactly what it is about, to the extent that I remember my Civil Procedure professor telling us that CivPro was about using the right magic words to stay in court. Moreover, the way that the law works in the USA is via elite consensus (via the judiciary). If the judiciary decides to interpret a phrase a certain way, then that is the law. "Sovereign citizen" litigants essentially are advancing arguments because they think that "the law is the law" and that by discovering the secret meanings, then judges will have to act. If they had the resources to fund law school journals and indoctrinate law students (future judges!) then they'd have a chance. It is not an accident that the sovereign citizen movement comes out of the politics of the Right, which refuses to acknowledge publicly that the law could be socially constructed, since, that would threaten the dominant forces in society that have a vested interest in presenting the status quo as the "natural" and "just" order.

It is also a failure to understand collective action and power, not surprising considering that the exoteric claim of the conservative movement that collective action is the Devil. If you look at the historical origin of the English common law, it arose out of relationships between the monarch and the feudal lords. The difference between a homeowner with a salaried job and a feudal lord is considerable. The feudal lord had a self-sustaining manor that could provide for its own food needs, as well as the ability to wield violence with his own retainers. Certainly the law gave him rights, but this was hard fought for via the Magna Carta, which, if we all stop and think about it, was when English nobles took the King hostage. Guys like Dougie Doug fail to understand that as an individual (or even nuclear family unit) he's effectively powerless, no matter how many guns he has , and no matter how "elite" his tactical skills. He doesn't have a private army of retainers ready to bear arms on his behalf.

There's also a disturbing link to the institution of slavery, since the early American elite were slave owners-- they had their feudal estates, but instead of serfs or peasant retainers, they had slaves. That's how they were able to exercise their "freedom." In that light, the latent racism within the sovereign citizen/fringe right is entirely unsurprising.
posted by wuwei at 4:05 PM on August 15 [6 favorites]


The esoteric claim of the conservative movement, of course, is that collective action is perfectly acceptable for those who currently have the dominant position in society. It is everyone else who must be atomized.
posted by wuwei at 4:20 PM on August 15 [9 favorites]


An auction ended Friday with no bids for the New Hampshire compound of a tax-evading couple...

I'm not surprised there were no bids for either their home or her business. Would you want to be the new owner of property that was taken from anyone involved in this type of movement? Especially if you got it through a police auction? One might as well paint a big "please drag me down into your bottomless legal rabbit hole" sign on your back.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:40 AM on August 17 [4 favorites]


Example #45320 as to why relying on initial reporting in making assumptions about what happened is almost always wrong. Here we are 270 comments in talking about the worldview of this man that is nothing like it was. The guy is not a Sovereign Citizen, anti-government whacko; video at link. He explains why he did and what he is angry about:

- He is sorry for doing what he did, but it was about getting press to spread a message about how America is falling apart.
- This act was designed to get out of the vote effort
- If people don't vote, America will become like Bangladesh where very few control all the wealth and the rest live in abject poverty.
- We shouldn't be sending border-crossing children back to dangerous latin america countries; it just isn't right to send them back to sex trade and gang countries
- Obama is blamed for things that isn't his fault because of racism that we have to address; racism is running rampant in America and must be stopped
- He is angry about the Ethan Couch "affluenza" verdict and rich people getting justice while the poor do not
- When police shoot mentally handicapped people, there are no charges; general frustration about the police state
- He agrees what he did is crazy, but he needed to wake up the electorate to vote
- The sovereign state thing was apparently a way to get press by being outlandish
- He think either this will make change or it will be the stupidest thing he has ever done.

The guy obviously did something crazy, and it is impossible to trust what he says is coherent or truthful. But these are his words as opposed to assumptions based on initial reporting.

And a lot of his message sounds like standard-issue Metafilter commonplace.
posted by dios at 3:22 PM on August 18 [4 favorites]


Oh, I forgot that he is also quite upset about sending money and arms to Israel so that they can kill innocent children.

If you want a nice summary, the last five minutes or so he is waiting to be taken back to cell and summarizes his worldview, including that the only way you an vote Republican is if you are making more than $280k a year. If you make less than that and vote Republican, you must be crazy or a racist or something because they don't do anything for you. Than he says there is not a dime's bit of difference between Republicans and Democrats since they both listen to corporations.

Listening to this guys manifesto and then re-reading this thread shows how the entire discussion was basically a derail as it has nothing to do with this guy.
posted by dios at 3:47 PM on August 18 [1 favorite]


the entire discussion was basically a derail as it has nothing to do with this guy.

Don't get sore, dios. Sometimes people talk about different stuff. It happens.

Anyway, it's nice to know the poor guy's got a good lawyer.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:01 PM on August 18


[Comment removed, cool it.]
posted by cortex at 4:13 PM on August 18 [1 favorite]


That was a very interesting update, dios, thanks. It's got me sitting here thinking about the way I (and the media, and just about everybody) make assumptions.
posted by Drexen at 5:27 AM on August 19 [1 favorite]


it is impossible to trust what he says is coherent or truthful. But these are his words as opposed to assumptions based on initial reporting.

If Doug-e isn't trustworthy, coherent, or truthful, then you'll have to explain to me why I shouldn't prefer the assumptions based on initial reporting.

The guy is not a Sovereign Citizen, anti-government whacko

Assumes facts not in evidence. To return to this, Doug-e-Doug might be a left-wing nut, or might be a right-wing nut, or he might be one of those "beyond left and right" third position nuts. Or maybe he's just a nut (mostly likely, IMO). But if you wish I can point to people associated with nominally "right-wing" positions like secessionist fantasies or Birtherism or sovereign citizenry who also espouse some fairly conventional "left-wing" ideas. Doug-e wouldn't be remarkable in that respect. If he was willing to identify himself as a Sovereign Citizen for what he imagined were tactical reasons was he one? Is Justine Tunney still an Occupier? JJ MacNab's observation from your link seems relevant here:
"The Sovereign stuff is different this year, I think they're mainstreaming right now because of Cliven Bundy. I think what happened with Cliven Bundy is that he got so much attention and he attracted so many people on the internet and in person that he's recruited all these new people that no longer care about paper terrorism and filing lots of court documents, they've gone right to the pointing of guns. They've absorbed part of the Sovereign stuff, but not all the detail stuff," MacNab says. "What's happening now is, it's moving away from a bunch of guys trying to play lawyer to people who want to take on the U.S. government or state or local government. It's changed dramatically.
So I lack your certainty, dios. I don't know what motivates Mr. Doug-e. But since you insist that everyone has it wrong, maybe you'll enlighten us.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:44 AM on August 19 [4 favorites]


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