Friday, January 09, 2015

Sovereign Citizens, and the pathetic disintegration of Kent Hovind



Kent Hovind: "Not subject to  any authority other than the Lord Jesus Christ" (He was mistaken)

First, a recap

I've written about the American wacko Kent Hovind before, eight years ago. He was in prison for fraud then, and still is now. Over the years I've spared him a thought only occasionally,  vexed with the dilemma of whether he was worthy of my contempt, or merely beneath it. But here I am, strangely compelled to revisit him because he's as loony as ever.
A renewal of the warning he serves as to us all is timely.



Most of you have seen this cartoon on the left (or a variation).
I confess, I find it all too easy to be this person. So I want to spend a moment explaining why this matters. 80 generations ago, the Church Father Augustine of Hippo said
"...It is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on any topic; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn... Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task ... they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertions"   (here for the full quote).
We should all be concerned when anyone on the fringe arrogates authority and brings those with more considered and grounded views into disrepute by their association. When we hear arguments presented that are palpably wrong, cause for fremdscham, or gibberingly nonsensical -- then we have a solemn responsibility to speak up, to contend. Civilisation is at stake.
Kent Hovind boasts he has a doctorate, and styles himself "Dr Hovind", or "Dr Dino". In actual fact his doctorate is a fake, from a diploma mill traced to a suburban house.
If people purport to speak with authority, whether it be on a scriptural matter in the name of Jesus Christ ("God demands that we..."), or by saying "the science shows..." when the science most definitely does not say, or to say "the law means..." when one is not a lawyer, legislator or even an educated layman, then we are right to exercise discernment over whether that authority is valid. 1 Peter 2:15 says that "silencing the ignorant talk of foolish people" is good, and is accomplished by doing good.

I am a high school teacher, and am mindful that Aristotle said in the Nicomachean Ethics that although moral virtues are learned by habit, intellectual virtues are learned through teaching. The purpose of education is to cultivate the intellectual virtues and these virtues include curiosity, open mindedness and critical thinking. This was the subject of my Masters thesis. So particularly when it comes to young people, I have a passion about giving this generation the right 'thinking toolkit' to look at the world and weigh evidence. To be able to identify and then reject nonsense when they hear it.

In other words: We should care about whether what people purport to teach is true. And we should care all the more when those people insist that their views are the views that other Christians should have, if they are "proper Christians". Why we believe what we believe is important. 

Kent Hovind came to my attention because he represents the execrable end of the spectrum of loud, know-nothing Young Earth Creationists. Disgracefully for a former science teacher, he preached that  dinosaurs are alive and well in Borneo (if only people would send him money to prove it). And that feathered dinosaur fossils are forged by low-paid workers in China.  And that AIDS was developed in a Maryland laboratory. And that Sonar is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. He told cancer sufferers that 'Big Pharma' were covering up a cure and that they should stop their chemotherapy because it was shortening their lives. He tells parents not to vaccinate their kids. He told listeners that water fluoridation was an attempt at Government mind control. He promoted the anti-Semitic, hate-filled Protocols of the Elders of Zion. There is no conspiracy theory so crazy that he wouldn't peddle it.

Finally, he didn't pay the tax he ought to have, because he declared all his money 'belonged to God'. This drew the attention of the IRS. In 2007 he was convicted for 58 Federal crimes, including tax fraud and given ten years. He was due out this year. Was.

It always concerns me that nutty beliefs seem to occur in clusters; what has been termed "Crank magnetism"The same defects in critical thinking are arguably at the centre of many different errors. Certainly, our friends Dunning and Kruger are at work. But some of these beliefs aren't just idiosyncratic, towards which we should have an irenic 'to-each-his-own' attitude.  Some beliefs are indicators of mindsets that that bring Christianity into disrepute, damage faith, or destroy lives. Many ex-fundamentalists recognise this problem.

As I noted 8 years ago, if you support Kent Hovind then you are far more likely to be the kind of person who believes that 9-11 was a conspiracy, that Obama was born in Kenya, or that the moon landings were faked. Several supporters have even reproved him for equivocating on the question of Geocentrism. Seriously. Kent gladly enabled each and every one of these theories, and regularly went further in church talks, videos and radio appearances than even his followers, with hapless wife Jo (also sent to prison for tax fraud) and arrogant son Eric (still running the family business) close at heel.

In 2007, I wrote that Hovind was telling people that UFO's were real and were being piloted by demons. Little did I realise that I would lose my wife to a cult two years later by people here in Australia who believed that too, and more besides (for example, that the British Royal Family are reptilian shape-shifting demons in disguise).
Permit me to suggest that perhaps I speak with some authority of my own concerning the real-world damage these beliefs cause.

After eight years in gaol, you would think that Kent Hovind would have learned his lesson and would have expressed some contrition, both so he could get back to his family sooner, and to mend the 'vast ignorance' Augustine warned of, ignorance which causes people to scorn Christianity. Instead, he has doubled-down on the crazy, and has become a figure of parody, which will almost certainly extend his prison time considerably.


Sovereign Citizens

To explain, we need to talk about the Sovereign Citizen movement, or SovCit.

Writing from here in Australia, the paradox that is America is stark. America, the cleverest nation in the history of the world that put a man on the Moon, and also the nation who produced a song whose lyrics go "Ass ass ass ass ass / Ass ass ass ass ass / Ass ass ass ass ass".
From this distance, it seems inconceivable that the American ferment that produced Sagan, Salk, Mencken, Jefferson, Paine and Whitman, has also birthed or nurtured truly awful human beings like Nicki Minaj, Peter Popoff, Ken Ham* or Kent Hovind. For shame, America. For shame!
(* I am well aware and apologise abjectly for the fact that Ken Ham was Australian).

In my political life (for I am a man of Conservative political hue and membership), I have contended that the greatest threat to Western Civilisation and to Enlightenment values does not come from outside the West, but rather from within. Contempt for the separation of Church and State, rejection of tolerance and pluralism, disdain for the rule of law, derision for respect and tradition, and mockery for the value of evidence-based policy will end our civilisation far sooner than Muslim bombs.

As it happens, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism agrees with me. They conclude that the gravest domestic terrorist threat to America in this decade is the so-called Sovereign Citizen movement.

So what is it? The early 21st century has seen a rise in the number of people who have effectively given up on the very idea that politics can improve the lives of average people. A choice between two major party candidates is Tweedledee and Tweedledum. A logical extension of this then is to regard the political process itself as illegitimate; to conclude that the reason the country is broken is because a kind of illegal zombie government, no longer true to the principles of its founders or its Constitution is unlawfully enforcing taxes, privileging banking cartels, and ceding sovereignty to multinationals and international NGOs. SovCits claim they are exempt from any law they do not like by claiming that they are not a citizen within that jurisdiction, that the law was never ratified correctly, or that the enforcing agency simply does not exist. SovCits are serial nuisance litigants, tax protestors, armchair commentators and promoters of sham financial schemes aimed at shirking tax. Further, more often that not SovCits are militantly religious and extremely conservative on social issues. They regard themselves as patriots, rather than the defacto anarchists they really are. They are completely disconnected from reality. A Canadian judge has made an exhaustive study dissecting their standard arguments.

They engage in bizarre legal activism where they stuff the courts with spurious lawsuits full of nonsensical legal jargon and painful casuistry. These filings have something of a spell-like quality to them, in the always mistaken belief that the right incantation will cause the Federal government to glow, split open, and reveal its withered Satanic heart.

Standard SovCit shenanigans include declaring that any legal summons issued to a person's name written in ALL CAPS must be referring to a fictitious legal doppelgänger and can be safely ignored. 

Enter, Kent Hovind

Although far from the first SovCit star, ol' Kent has become something of a poster boy for them, with his long incarceration for tax-crimes a badge of honour for 'standing up for his principles'. Kent disobeyed a court order to not impede the sale of his real estate, authorised to clear some of his tax debts, by filing vexatious lis pendens against the liens, and now faces multiple new counts of criminal activity, along with another SovCit all-star, Paul J Hansen.

Again, for my American readers, I can only remind you how surreal and baffling this seems from my vantage point here Down Under. Our BS detectors (an Aussie and more pejorative term for 'baloney detector') would be off the scale if this were tried here. Even the most rabid Australian right wing fruitcake (and again, I'm right-of-centre myself) concedes that the Government exists and that you should Pay Your Taxes if you want nice things like, say, roads and hospitals.


Kent Hovind and his co-accused's court filings - a surreal parade of crazy

I'd like to shout out to a few people who have taken a more thorough interest in the Hovinds and their criminal behaviour. First is Robert Baty, who maintains the Facebook page "Kent Hovind and Jo Hovind v USA - IRS". Another is Peter J Reilly, a correspondent for the Forbes business magazine, whose many articles on Hovind have cast an impartial and forensic eye over his unbelievable claims. Reilly also writes at his personal blog on the same subject and is always compelling.

Both have referenced various court transcripts and filings as source documents for their articles, but these source files have been hard to come by.

I'd like to post and analyse here publicly a few of those documents for the public record. Click the thumbnail for the full file.



 Kent Hovind's early 2015 court filing
 I am led to believe that Kent Hovind's has made this filing to the court in an attempt to "withdraw his consent" for the current criminal proceedings against him. Analysis below.


 Kent Hovind's 2006 trial transcript

The original transcript of Kent and Jo Hovind's 2006 trial for tax fraud. All 1853 pages of it (that's over 440,000 words). However, the only bit you need to read is the prosecution's closing argument to the jury, which only runs from pp.1797-1809 in the attached PDF.

It completely debunks Kent's claim that he broke no law, never obstructed officials in the execution of their duties, and never had adequately explained to him what it was he was supposed to have done wrong.
The jury returned unanimous verdicts of "Guilty" on all 57 counts in the indictment.




  

    A recent court filing listing the demands of Paul J Hansen, Kent Hovind's co-accused in new criminal charges that are the subject of the upcoming (February 2015) trial.

Analysis


The situation: You've been convicted of 57 separate Federal crimes and sentenced to ten years of imprisonment. You weren't a young man when you went in.
There was no doubt about your guilt... you were accorded due process and convicted unanimously. Every appeal you lodged was dismissed as frivolous, embarassingly clumsy and irrelevant, full of basic errors of spelling and grammar, salted with random latin phrases to make it sound more profound, as well as declared as being lodged in bad faith, merely to impede the justice process.
You've dragged your poor wife into the mire and she's spent a year in prison too, away from her children and grandchildren, exclusively because she did her husband's bidding.
You've strayed a long, long way from your putative mission, which is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and instead you are now known exclusively for crank tax avoidance escapades, sinister end-times conspiracy theories about One World Government, denying the existence of the United States as a legal entity, renouncing your citizenship and saying "Democracy is evil and contrary to God's Law".
You're eight years in, and there's a chance that through an early release scheme, you'll go home soon.

What would the sensible man do? He would express contrition, do his time, and seek to live a quiet life.

What does Kent Hovind do? Let's have a look. Kent's submission is verbatim in red.

1.  "WITHDRAW YOUR CONSENT" for the proceedings. Not just withdrawal of consent from the criminal trial, but withdrawal of consent to the "current fraudulent de facto STATE OF FLORIDA, and United States". This apparently renders "unlawful and fraudulent" all "Commander in Chief presidential Executive Orders". Thus, despite being in prison for eight years, "I am not the property of the Court. Under no circumstances may I be detained in any way whatsoever, nor at any time, past, present or future."
Ta-da! America doesn't exist! Now let me go home!

2. CLAIM THAT NO COURT HAS JURISDICTION because he is, quote "A shipowner who sends his vessel into a foreign port", and is "In Uniform, with a fully marked vessel flying flags claiming dual citizenship status."

3. RENOUNCE YOUR U.S CITIZENSHIP (again): "I have never been, I am not now, nor will I ever be, a 14th Amendment UNITED STATES or Article XIV citizen".

4. DEMAND COMPENSATION FROM A FICTITIOUS BANK ACCOUNT held in every citizen's name that has millions of dollars in it, but which the U.S Government doesn't want you to know about: "You may use the negotiable instrument, certified funds, drawn against Drawers Private Treasury UCC Contract Trust Account established in the U.S. Treasury, for set-off of any said debts on your statements of the account of KENT E HOVIND, as ascribed in the banknote birth certificate origin registration form"
And yes, that's a demand of the same United States that is illegal, has no jurisdiction, and which Kent is categorically not a citizen of.

5. THREATEN THE JUDGE THAT PUT YOU AWAY EIGHT YEARS AGO AND IS ABOUT TO HEAR THE CASE FOR THE NEW CHARGES AGAINST YOU.
By declaring that no public official has immunity from personal consequences in the execution of their public duties:
  • "Any person acting as an agent for a nameless, faceless corporation is wholly personally responsible for their actions on behalf of the corporation.  All actions incurring any degree of injury will incur Notice of Injury, including severe financial penalty"
  • "The Law is under scrutiny for it’s (sic) contribution to the current state of the planet, the distribution of rights and resources and the obstruction of Divine Law"
  • "We the People have been providentially provided legal recourse to address the criminal conduct of
  • persons, themselves entrusted to dispense justice (when) ...public officials, including judges go rogue, act in bad behavior and criminally violate the law."
  • "Judges rest upon fraudulent appellate court rulings and statutes that are repugnant to the Constitution
  • while they convince themselves that by following such statutes they are immune from penalties should the People become aware of their fraud"
  • "Once we the People ordained common law the law of the land no man can abrogate it; to claim to do so is an act of war against the People and their God. Unconstitutional acts are not law and no one is bound to obey them. Judges are expected to maintain a high standard of judicial performance and when they violate the Constitution they cease to represent the government, become liable for damages and lose any immunity they may think they have"
  • "Failure to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution for the United States Article II Section 1 is to war against the People".
6. DEMAND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL INDICT EVERYONE WHO HAS EVER PROSECUTED YOU

  • "Subject: NOTICE OF COUNTERFEIT SECURITIES ... Dear Eric Holder, You are hereby put on NOTICE pursuant to Title 18 USC § 4 of the commission of crimes cognizable by a court of the United States under Title 18 USC §513 to wit: '513(a) Whoever makes, utters or possesses a counterfeited security of a State or a political subdivision thereof or of an organization, or whoever makes, utters or possesses a forged security of a State or political subdivision thereof or of  an organization, with intent to deceive another person, organization,  or government shall be fined not more than $250,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both'"
  • "The Order of Contempt by alleged Judge M. CASEY RODGERS is a counterfeit security and constructive fraud"
  • "DEMAND is hereby made upon the, United States Attorney General, to investigate the above named government officials, employees, agents, and public officers for creating, using and promoting fraudulent and counterfeit securities in a fraudulent scheme"
  • "Eric Holder, a man, and Alleged Attorney General !!   I hereby DEMAND that you honor your oath of office to defend and support the Constitution for the de jure united States of America (if you still are loyal to that entity). In so doing, I DEMAND that you investigate the illegal acts of the above named United States officials"
7. MAGNANIMOUSLY, FROM PRISON, ALLOW THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AN EXTENSION OF TIME, BUT ONLY IF HE WRITES TO KENT TO ASK FOR PERMISSION:
"If you are unwilling or unable to investigate into this case ... identify the lawful reasons why and relate said reasons to me in writing within 15 days from receipt of this filing. When you need longer than 15 days to respond, send me a written request for an extension of time within the 15 days and it will be given to you."


What are we to make of this sad, rambling, pathetic farrago?

One conclusion some have reached is that Kent Hovind is seriously mentally ill. He had spent a good deal of his eight year incarceration publishing "knee mails" where he likens himself to St Paul, and describes his talks directly with God, who unfailingly approves of Kent and agrees that he's not guilty of anything, and that those nasty government types would be all getting their come-uppance any day now. Others have suggested that the right diagnosis is a bad case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I can't speak to the likelihood of either, but this talk makes me uneasy if it is used as an excuse rather than an explanation for Kent Hovind's crimes.

Internet sleuth Deana Holmes has done good work in tracing the various forms of words used in Hovind's filing and has identified them as an aggregation of a number of standard SovCit boilerplates, most of which have been used in earlier legal actions and all of which have been spectacularly unsuccessful. I look forward to her publication of her research as the new Hovind trial draws closer in early February.

Obviously, the predicament Hovind finds himself in (and the new charges of fraud relating to the lis pendens liens on his forfeited property) have everything to do with the legal counsel he's received over the years. The Lionel Hutz role used to be played by secessionist Glen Stoll, but is currently played by Paul J Hansen, whose calibre is in evidence in that he is now Hovind's co-accused and has been denied bail before his co-appearance before Judge Rodgers. For an example of Hansen's towering intellect, cast your eye over the crayon daubings he has made by way of a legal submission, which has been so incomprehensible, his own lawyer has petitioned for clarification over his role in Hansen's defence.

As this train wreck moves closer to trial, I suggest that interested readers follow along on Robert Baty's Facebook group.

The author is an office holder in the conservative Australian political party presently in government, the Liberal Party, and has worked in both State and Federal Parliamentarian's offices. He sits on the committee of a national organisation, CIFS, which monitors the harmful effects of cults. He holds a degree in Philosophy, a Masters degree in Education, and has worked in Christian Schooling since 1998.

6 comments:

Deana Holmes said...

Hi, Robert Baty directed me to your blog. Thanks for writing about Kent and his craziness.

There is a whole section of an American political website called The Fogbow which is devoted to Sovereign Citizens:

http://thefogbow.com/forum/forum/72-sovereign-citizens-militias-and-common-law-grand-juries/

Kent Hovind has his own special topic. Robert Baty has been sending me filings from the case and I've been uploading them there.

http://thefogbow.com/forum/topic/7160-kent-hovind/

Robert also shared with me the trial transcripts from Kent's 2006 trial. I haven't uploaded them anywhere because there are nine PDF volumes and they are huge (several megabytes each). But in just reading the closing arguments (I'm still working through the rest of it), it's bluntly apparent that Hovind is not in the same world as the rest of us when it comes to the rule of law.

Deana Holmes
mirele@gmail.com

Arthur Rubin said...

There are some reports on the (US-based) site quatloos.com that there a few Australian sovereigns, and a bizarre (even by Sovereign standards) argument that the Australian dollar is null and void, using mostly English (many sovereigns don't recognize the UK, only England) and American law. The named Australian sovereign is Malcolm McClure, courtesy of one of "our" (quatloos) Canadian correspondents. See http://www.quatloos.com/Q-Forum/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=9528

James Skinner said...

You'd think this was far too crazy for anywhere but the US, but that's sadly not true:

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/British_Constitution_Group

http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2084

Warren Johnson said...

The first document you post above: "https://www.dropbox.com/s/a9z792t3cdvg7mf/Kent_Hovind_Jan_2015_Crazy_Court_Submission.pdf?dl=0" shows that Kent Hovind is delusional.

How can one show proof that this document was actually filed to the court? In other words, how can one download it directly from the court?

Thanks for digging this up.

David Marjanović said...

A choice between two major party candidates is Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

Well, no, it's worse: it's Tweedle-D and Tweedle-dumb.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to drop by and tell you that after reading through your backlog of posts, I have quite a bit of admiration for you and the work you're doing.

I'm an American though, so you may as well just read the following:
Ass, ass, ass, ass, ass/ass, ass, ass, ass, ass