A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Malarkey Produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center

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Last week I mentioned the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) new war against those of us who dare call ourselves sovereign individuals. The fear mongering machine is in full motion now and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has a page up describing the “sovereign movement” ideology. As with other SPLC studies this one is full of lies and slander:

The strange subculture of the sovereign citizens movement, whose adherents hold truly bizarre, complex antigovernment beliefs, has been growing at a fast pace since the late 2000s. Sovereigns believe that they — not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials — get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don’t think they should have to pay taxes.

Wow the first paragraph is already full of bullshit. While some sovereign individuals man believe they get to decide what rules to obey most of us believe in natural law as advocated by the likes of Lysander Spooner and Murray Rothbard. Natural laws are ones derived by nature and reason. For example natural law opposes the act of initiating violence because, through basic reasoning, it can be demonstrated that nobody enjoyes violence being initiated against them. Nobody likes getting their ass kicked or stuff stolen so it makes sense to have law against such acts. What SPLC describes would be a Libertine, who may consider themselves sovereign individuals but are the exception instead of the rule.

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.

By clogging up the courts with indecipherable filins I’m guessing the SPLC means the fact that many sovereign individuals take every single ticket, fine, and other fund raising efforts by the state to court. The reason for this is simple, if we eventually clog the courts with asinine and irrelevant cases the state will be face with a decision; either they focus on the real crimes where people are actually harmed or they stand by as it takes ten years before any case can be heard. Since most people want violent individuals dealt with over those who simply parked improperly the state will be forced into the former and thus our court systems have some chance of being a source of actual justice again.

The claim that many sovereign individuals will lash out in acts of violence is entirely false. Once again violent individuals in the “movement,” as with violent individuals in any movement, are the exception instead of the rule. SPLC did manage to find a single example to cite:

In May 2010, for example, a father-son team of sovereigns murdered two police officers with an assault rifle when they were pulled over on the interstate while traveling through West Memphis, Ark.

While the self-referenced link in the story brings up the fact that the police officers who were shot were performing drug-related arrests no mention of whether or not drugs were found in the killer’s van is ever mentioned. If there were illegal drugs in the van it’s not surprising to see the violent reaction. Of course this is also a single case. If I cherry pick my data I can make the sovereign individual movement look entirely devoid of any violent individuals, but I don’t like spreading false information so I’ll refrain from such an exercise.

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

No it’s not. I’ll explain in a second:

In the early 1980s, the sovereign citizens movement mostly attracted white supremacists and anti-Semites, mainly because sovereign theories originated in groups that saw Jews as working behind the scenes to manipulate financial institutions and control the government. Most early sovereigns, and some of those who are still on the scene, believed that being white was a prerequisite to becoming a sovereign citizen.

The sovereign individual movement didn’t start in the 1980’s, it’s much older than that. I mentioned Lysander Spooner, an individualist anarchist from the 1800’s who is considered one of the major philosophers by many calling themselves sovereign individuals. He must have been a downright racist if the SPLC story is true, right? Nope, he was a strong abolitionist who wrote many essays on freeing American slaves:


We present to you herewith “A Plan for the Abolition of Slavery,” and solicit your aid to carry it into execution.

Your numbers, combined with those of the Slaves, will give you all power. You have but to use it, and the work is done.

The following self-evident principles of justice and hu­manity will serve a. guides to the measures proper to be adopted. These principles are –

1. That the Slaves have a natural right to their liberty.

2. That they have a natural right to compensation (so far as the property of the Slaveholders and their abettors can compensate them) for the wrongs they have suffered.

3. That so long as the governments, under which they live, refuse to give them liberty or compensation, they have the right to take it by stratagem or force.

4. That it is the duty of all, who can, to assist them in such an enterprise.

Some racist, huh? Henry David Thoreau was another philosopher of the sovereign individual ideology and, like Spooner, opposes slavery to such an extent that he wrote a speech titled Slavery in Massachusetts in which he explained his opposition to slavery.

The group that SPLC describes are anti-Semites, not sovereign individuals (while the two groups aren’t mutually exclusive they are also not mutual inclusive, I’m proof that one can be a sovereign individual and not a racist, bigot, etc.).

They argued that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed citizenship to African Americans and everyone else born on U.S. soil, also made black Americans permanently subject to federal and state governments, unlike themselves.

I would love to know where they pulled that charge from. Of course being this is a SPLC article they fail to cite any sources for the more dastardly accusations.

The contemporary sovereign belief system is based on a decades-old conspiracy theory. At some point in history, sovereigns believe, the American government set up by the founding fathers — with a legal system the sovereigns refer to as “common law” — was secretly replaced by a new government system based on admiralty law, the law of the sea and international commerce.

What a pile of bullshit. I’ve already explained that sovereign individuals generally suscribe to natural law, not common law. If you click on the self-referencing link to common law you’re met with more bullshit produced by the SPLC explaining the roots of common law being biblical in nature and springing forth in the 1980’s. Common law actually refers to English Common Law, which the legal system of the United States is based on (it is where we derive our tradition of trials by jury and jury nullification powers). While there are many aspects of common law the most important to note is that rulings are generally based on previous case precedence and jury decisions. A critical part of common law is also the fact that juries can’t be punished for their decision and thus hold the power of jury nullification.

The United States legal system has been moving away from common law for ages. Evidence exists of this every time a judge lies to a jury by telling them that they must uphold the letter of the law as opposed to their belief of a law being just or not. Another example of common law being dead in this country is the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which grants the government the authority to detain an American citizen without trail. There isn’t some kind of grand conspiracy being enacted behind closed doors, the killing of common law is being done in the open for all to see. The article goes on for a bit spewing more bullshit about sovereign individuals believing in some kind of grand conspiracy to discredit the “movement.”

Though this all sounds bizarre, the next layer of the argument becomes even more implausible. Since 1933, the U.S. dollar has been backed not by gold, but by the “full faith and credit” of the U.S. government (in fact, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ended private ownership of gold in large amounts in 1933; governments could still sell gold for dollars to the U.S. Treasury for a fixed amount after that, until that practice was ended by President Richard Nixon in 1971). According to sovereign “researchers,” this means that the government has pledged its citizenry as collateral, by selling their future earning capabilities to foreign investors, effectively enslaving all Americans.

Where the fuck do they come up with this shit? Seriously I want to know but they don’t provide any citations. The argument for the gold standard has nothing to do with a belief that the American government has put the citizenry up as collateral, it has everything to do with basic economics. Of course the SPLC article goes on for some time trying to make their case without presenting one single shred of evidence.

It is impossible to know how many sovereigns there are in the U.S. today, in part because there is no central leadership and no organized group that members can join.

You don’t become a sovereign individual because you join a group, you are one by nature. While there are no groups that grant sovereign individuality there are philosophies that subscribe to the idea that individuals are sovereign. Many libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, voluntaryists, and basically any other form of individualist anarchism believes in the individual being the supreme ruler of themselves. I’ve been using the term “movement” in quotes when referring to the sovereign “movement” for a reason: there is no sovereign “movement.” The idea of an individual being sovereign is part of individualist anarchist philosophies (and philosophies I’m sure), not a philosophy unto itself.

Instead, there are a variety of local leaders with individualized views on sovereign citizen ideology and techniques.

As I’ve explained previously, the term “sovereign citizen” is a contradiction of terms:

Sovereign citizen is a contradiction of terms. A sovereign is a supreme ruler while a citizen is a subject of a state. You can not be a supreme ruler and a subject at the same time. On the other hand a sovereign individual is a supreme ruler of an individual, him or herself. If you’re going to make us appear as a threat please get the terminology right at the very least.

If the FBI can’t get the terminology right I guess I shouldn’t expect the SPLC to figure it out:

In the mid-1990s, the IRS estimated that there were approximately 250,000 tax protesters in the U.S., people who believe that the government has no right to tax income.

Tax protests have been done for many reasons throughout history. Previously mentioned Henry David Thoreau refused to pay taxes to protest slavery and the Mexican-American War. He refused to monetarily contribute to an institution (the state) that enforced slavery and initiated wars. With that said the federal government has no right to tax income as taxation is a form of theft. Of course tax protesters often care little about that fact (and often belief the government has the right to extract taxes) and usually are protesting foreign wars, drug prohibition, or any other number of issues they have with the government that causes them to not submit to taxation.

Not all of them were full-blown sovereign ideologues. Since the late 1990s, an abundance of evidence suggests that the sovereign citizen movement’s growth has been explosive, although there have been no more recent IRS estimates because Congress in 1998 prohibited the agency from tracking or labeling those who file frivolous arguments in lieu of paying their taxes.

Emphasis mine. I just want to point out that none of that abundant evidence is presented by the SPLC.

The weapon of choice for sovereign citizens is paper.


A simple traffic violation or pet-licensing case can end up provoking dozens of court filings containing hundreds of pages of pseudo-legal nonsense.

As I explained this tactic is a method of forcing the courts to ignore victimless crimes and focus on cases involving violence.

For example, a sovereign was involved in 2010 in a protracted legal battle over having to pay a dog-licensing fee. She filed 10 sovereign documents in court over a two-month period and then declared victory when the harried prosecutor decided to drop the case.

Since having the prosecutor drop the case prevents the punishment of an individual for a nonviolent crime it is victory.

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. Others are intrigued by the notions of easy money and living a lawless life, free from unpleasant consequences.

Or those of us who research the philosophy of our founding fathers and the ideas of person liberty in general. Anybody who reads the works of our founding fathers will realize that they believed the people, not the government, were supreme. In fact they believed this so strongly that they codified the right to keep and bear arms as a last measure for the people to defend themselves against a tyrannical government.

Many self-identified sovereigns today are black and apparently completely unaware of the racist origins of their ideology.

It’s probably more to do with the fact that sovereign individuals were the ones opposing slavery back when it was still sanctioned by the state.

When a sovereign feels particularly desperate, angry, battle-weary and cornered, his next government contact, no matter how minor, can be his final straw. The resulting rage can be lethal. In 1995 in Ohio, a sovereign named Michael Hill pulled a gun on an officer during a traffic stop. Hill was killed. In 1997, New Hampshire extremist Carl Drega shot dead two officers and two civilians, and wounded another three officers before being killed himself. In that same year in Idaho, when brothers Doug and Craig Broderick were pulled over for failing to signal, they killed one officer and wounded another before being killed themselves in a violent gun battle. In December 2003, members of the Bixby family, who lived outside of Abbeville, S.C., killed two law enforcement officers in a dispute over a small sliver of land next to their home. And in May 2010, Jerry and Joseph Kane, a father and son sovereign team, shot to death two West Memphis, Ark., police officers who had pulled them over in a routine traffic stop. Later that day, the Kanes were killed in a fierce shootout with police that wounded two other officers.

I find it funny how the SPLC only references itself, never outside sources, and that is when they reference anything at all. For example the claim about the 1995 case in Ohio goes entirely without citation, as does the supposed case in New Hampshire in 1997.

This article, like every other piece of bullshit produced by the SPLC, is entirely false and written simply to make an argument against individualists. The SPLC is nothing more than a shill of the state that writes articles in an attempt to demonize anybody who believes in individual liberty. Sadly some people actually believe the malarkey they produce, which is why I needed to take the time to write a rebuttal to their claims.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 14th, 2012 at 10:30 am