The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Movement Is Dangerous, and Yet Often Hilarious

Posted on | November 21, 2020 | 1 Comment

If you never heard of the “sovereign citizen” movement, these are a species of kook who are, in fact, the domestic terrorist movement that most concerns law enforcement officers, because cops have to deal with these idiots who imagine themselves exempt from the law.

The “sovereign citizen” claims to be in possession of “rights” that have no basis in law, as for example they routinely claim that they don’t need drivers licenses and don’t have to comply with orders from the police. Here I could digress to deliver a brief lecture on the origins of law — including laws requiring that motorists carry a license and provide it to police when asked — and the obvious fact that law has no meaning or purpose if the government has no means of enforcing the law. The police are sworn to uphold the law, and their actions are governed by the law, and if you don’t like being required to show your license to the cops when they ask for it, perhaps you should take this up with your state legislature. The “consent of the governed” being the ultimate foundation of law, you could conceivably elect people to the legislature who would say, “Licenses? We don’t need no licenses!” And then the roads would be full of lunatics driving any which way they want, because democracy!

The fact that every state requires licenses to drive can be interpreted as a loud and unanimous “HELL, NO” to such a proposition, but these “sovereign citizen” types don’t seem to get this point. Every time they get pulled over by the cops, they initiate a futile confrontation, lecturing the cop about how their “rights” are being violated, etc. One of their classic questions is, “Am I being detained?” The minute a cop hears this, he knows he’s probably dealing with a kook who will next demand that the officer call his supervisor. When the kook’s non-compliance leads to his arrest — because refusing to show your license is itself a crime — it sometimes requires three or four officers to wrestle the kook out of his car and put him in cuffs. Let’s play “Sovereign Citizen Bingo”:


Notice that in this case, the police were more interested in the male passenger than in the female driver. My guess — and it’s only a guess — is that the passenger had warrants for his arrest. This is a common situation in traffic stops that “go bad.” If you’re not doing anything wrong, why would you refuse to show the cops your ID? But if you’ve got warrants, or if you’ve got weed or a gun in the car, or if you’re violating the terms of your probation, that’s when you start causing trouble. In such cases, the “sovereign citizen” rant is just a convenient pretext for non-compliance, rather than an abstract philosophical discourse.

What we are dealing with, really, is the consequence of a failed education system. If public schools teach nothing else, shouldn’t they at least teach respect for the law? What is the point of taxpayers spending billions of dollars annually to fund public schools, if these schools cannot even teach kids the most basic duties of citizenship? But I digress . . .

The “sovereign citizen” movement is a menace to public safety, and symptomatic of profound problems in our society. At the same time, however, it is vastly entertaining to watch these geniuses get completely wrecked by cops, which is how these confrontations typically end:


Something else about this: Why do these people imagine that a police officer will be impressed with their lectures about their “rights”?

This is where sentimental notions of “equality” have led us, to a society in which people refuse to recognize superior authority, because they have not been taught anything about the nature of authority — why does a cop have the power to arrest people? — and because they don’t even recognize the concept of superiority. If everybody is equal (as they have been taught) then the police officer cannot possibly be superior to anyone else in terms of, for example, his knowledge of law. The police officer or sheriff’s deputy has gone through a process of selection and training. The sheriff or police chief, as the executive of the department, bears responsibility if his officers do not do follow proper legal procedures. While there are “bad apples” among cops, and even a good cop may occasionally make a mistake, there is no reason to imagine that the police officer who pulls you over for a traffic violation is in need of a lecture about your “rights,” based on some nonsense you saw on Facebook.


Crazy People Are Dangerous.