Sovereign citizens

Visiting writer’s commentary on Sovereign Citizens by Infidel753 from his own Blog of similar name.

Readers may be unfamiliar with the “sovereign citizen” movement, a fringe ideological belief system which asserts (for complex, fatuous, and extremely boring reasons) that certain everyday laws either do not exist, are not real laws, or at least don’t apply to individuals who assert some imaginary special status that makes them exempt.

In practice this seems to apply mostly to traffic laws and personal identification.  The “sovereign citizens” (often abbreviated “sovcits”) generally insist that they do not need driver’s licenses, car insurance, license plates, etc and that the police do not have jurisdiction over them.  The “logic” behind this involves various made-up re-definitions of words, such as claiming that a car is not a “motor vehicle” in the legal sense, or that driving a car is not “driving” but merely “traveling” so long as the driver is not “in commerce” (driving for some business purpose).  They often carry and brandish various types of fake ID and gibberish-filled “legal” paperwork which they sincerely believe to be real and efficacious, and they cite various court cases and rulings which either don’t exist or don’t mean what they claim they mean.  It’s not an organized movement — there are no leaders, though a few individuals act as “gurus” teaching sovcit nonsense to others — but rather a shared belief system that spreads via the internet.

Needless to say, the main practical effect of this belief system is to get its adherents into recurring trouble with the traffic police, who are not fooled by (and have mostly never heard of) its claims.  These roadside interactions usually involve a sovcit escalating a minor traffic stop into a serious confrontation and arrest by refusing to comply with basic police orders.  Here’s a fairly short example — this sovcit even did the courtesy of delivering some of his fake “legal” stuff to three bewildered local police stations, just to put them on notice that the laws didn’t apply to him:

The video is adapted from his own, so the orange writing on the screen is his.  Here is another example, in which the “guru” showed up and drove right into the midst of the police dealing with the first guy:

This illustrates well how frustrating and resource-intensive these encounters can be for the police.  It’s surprising how much time they often spend arguing with these people before realizing it’s futile and arresting them.

There are several YouTube channels covering the adventures of sovcits — the best I’ve found is Van Balion, from which the two examples above are taken.  As a further example of how deep their delusions run, here’s a sovcit who showed up for his court hearing and threatened to “arrest” the judge:

This may sound like some kind of fringe-right-wing movement, but at least half the sovcits I see featured on YouTube are black, often calling themselves “Moorish” or claiming an affiliation with “the Moroccan empire”, which has nothing to do with the actual country of Morocco.  In fact, the sovcit belief system seems to appeal to uninformed people with anarchist tendencies, and can easily be meshed with almost any anti-government ideology.  Religion, with ramblings about “God’s law”, is occasionally mixed in as well.  Certainly some sovcits hold far-right political views, but the movement as a whole is too amorphous to be pigeonholed.

It’s not harmless.  Uninsured drivers and those without licenses (who may never have undergone any real driver training or testing) present a hazard to other drivers.  At least one of the January 6 insurrectionists was a sovcit.

The movement has even spread to Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, where local sovcits often further beclown themselves by citing American law (real or imaginary) in those countries, as if it applied there.

I assume the movement will eventually burn itself out as it dawns on these goofballs that their “arguments” never work in practice and that they are only creating expensive hassles for themselves.  But that could take quite a while — most of them seem to be as oversupplied with confidence and assertiveness as they are ill-favored in intelligence.  In the meantime, the sovcits stand as yet another example of the power of internet misinformation to impinge on the real world.

[Image at top:  miscellaneous sovcit fake license plates]