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“Sovereign Citizens”  §

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Today, from what I gather by listening to the radio, one of our very own rednecks led Utah police on a high-speed chase after she tried to pass an officer on the interstate, speeding and in the median, to the left of the HOV lane.

Apparently, she has dutifully filed her “sovereign citizen” paperwork and is thus no longer under the jurisdiction of the state of Utah or the good ol’ U.S. of A. On it’s own, this is cute, but not blog-worthy. What makes this into a four-star story is the phone call that she made (and which was aired in part on the radio) to the 9-1-1 emergency line, in which she orders the dispatcher to have the police call off the chase and tries to explain that they do not have jurisdiction over her.

Naturally, they spiked her tires. Chase over.

— § —

It all reminds me of the son of a couple of white supremacist parents that lived in the neighborhood in which I grew up. They’d moved to the metropolitan area from one of the rural corners of the southwest, and he tried to explain this to me one day when we were pre-teens, one one of the odd occasions in which he and I ended up in conversation (we weren’t close friends and often ended up in fights rather than conversation).

“So let me get this straight—the government just arrests people that they don’t like politically, not on the basis of any crime they’ve committed,” I answered in response to an assertion he’d just made, “and then locks them up and throws away the key?”

“Yeah, exactly,” he said.

“But if you become a sovereign citizen, which you can do by sending some official U.S. government paperwork to the U.S. government, they can’t do this anymore?”

“No, because you’ve seceded from the country. You’re a country of one, completely independent. They can’t arrest you, take your money for taxes, make you agree to policies you don’t like and shit.”

“But instead they have to deal with you as two countries would deal with each other?”

“Yeah, exactly,” he said again.

“So instead of reading you your rights and arresting you when you do something they don’t like, now they’ll just bomb you with F-16s or blast your head off with a tank, just like they’d do to another country if it came to that?”

“No, no, you don’t get it, they can’t do that either,” he replied quickly.

“Why not?” I asked.

“That’s murder, it’s against the law!” was his answer.

In retrospect, I’d guess that this pre-pubescent kid didn’t get his ideas about sovereign citizenship and the practices of the U.S. government from watching teen programming on television. It may have had something to do with his ultraconservative parents (particularly the father, in this case, who was a real case study as I recall).

— § —

The Wasatch Front/Salt Lake City metropolitan is such a strange place right now; it’s being listed as a “major American city” in policy research, is a heating job market with a population in the multiple millions, and is being targeted by the likes of Google Fiber, Adobe, eBay, Kickstarter, and others as a top place to build, invest, and locate major operations. We have some of the world’s largest data centers and most cutting-edge medical research going on here, with big names involved. We’re an Olympic city. Park City and Sundance, each less than an hour away and both basically metropolitan satellites, are regularly packed with movie stars and the Hollywood set.

And yet, at the same time, it’s a Wal-Mart wasteland in which you’re still likely to run into dust-covered, barely literate “cowboys” in decaying leather rags, buying milk with their tobacco-chewing teenaged sons and trying to figure out how in the “sam hell” to operate something as mind-numbingly complex as the self-scanning machine.

I suspect that something will have to give. To listen to the talk radio and read the op-eds, the indigenous population is increasingly furious that it is being displaced. No, I don’t mean the Ute tribe, I mean the population of sovereign citizens that have been given this “country out here” as their birthright by God and the destiny that he once, for them, made manifest.

— § —

I still can’t decide whether I’ve made this post in jest or in all seriousness, or how likely this sort of thing is to happen in New York. At least in NYC, I suspect no one would be unsophisticated enough to bait a cop, then call the dispatcher to tell them that the police have no jurisdiction.

Even amongst nations rather than citizens, it takes a truly dumb nation (say, North Korea) to stick a finger up the nose of a political, economic, and military superpower.

Word to the wise, sovereign citizens: next time, at least wait until you have a tank to try to goad the U.S.A., or even the relatively harmless state of Utah, into war.

— § —

I take back what I just said about Utah, given the fact that one of our local military bases (a major U.S. one) will soon be one of three in the nation to host the national drone warfare program.

Get something more than a tank. At least wait until your sovereign self could take out Kim Jong-Un before you try to play realpolitik I’m-10-minutes-late-and-a-small-country-so-I’ll-just-blow-by-some-cops-and-not-even-on-the-road games with Uncle Sam or his local highway patrol adjunct.