Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: The sovereign of all he surveys in his cell

Introducing Bruce Hicks, a solid sovereign citizen of the People's Republic of Stupidstan.

Of course, Mr. Hicks is abroad at the moment, spending his time as a guest of Hillsborough County's elegant accommodations for tourists arriving from the Grand Duchy of Moronovia, otherwise known as a jail.

Hicks' difficulties in having his visa from Delusiontina validated began last week when Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputy Patrick Diaz, a resource officer at Turkey Creek Middle School in Plant City, spotted the 46-year-old pushing a toy car on a dolly down the road.

Perhaps this is what passes for amusing oneself in Plant City.

But what really captured Diaz's attention was that Hicks had a loaded .32-caliber handgun strapped to his hip. And let's face it, even if your legal residence might be in Upper Dopeland, it is never a good idea to be seen openly carrying a weapon near a school.

Upon further review Deputy Diaz confronted Hicks, who informed the officer that as a legal resident of What, Mr. Worryville, he was therefor a sovereign citizen and thus immune from the federal, state and local laws other residents of the United States must follow.

The education system over there in the sovereign Federation of Court Jesters would seem to be somewhat … wanting.

Hicks was still insisting on his status as a sovereign citizen of a dream world even as the officer was taking him into custody, most notably for being a convicted felon in possession of firearm as well as a possessing a weapon on school property.

As Hicks was being taken into custody, the sovereign citizen of Loopydom informed the officer that because of his unique stature as a denizen of make-believe, the deputy was facing the not-going-to-happen risk of a $250 fine for every 15 minutes he is incarcerated.

So who came up with this fine? Perhaps it was Hicks' imaginary leader of the Commonwealth of Bonkerstan, President Jo-Jo.

Yes, privately, many law enforcement officers will sometimes admit their job is almost too easy. Apparently Deputy Diaz was willing to throw caution to the wind and risk hauling Hicks and his parallel universe passport off to the hoosegow.

Hicks is part of a small but growing movement who believe that the nation's laws don't apply to them and they are free not to pay taxes or obey any other government regulation. It's a movement grounded in a fundamental distrust of government, including rejecting the need for a driver's license, a Social Security card, or even (sigh) the use of a ZIP code. Then again, what's the ZIP code for La-Dee-Dahland anyway?

The government has taken the position that since posse non compos mentis types don't recognize stuff like the law or the obligation to pay taxes, it is free to put these folks in jail. It does have a certain symmetry to it.

Hicks now has something of a conflict on his hands. As a loyal sovereign citizen of Nowhere Land, clearly Hicks does not recognize government nor the currency issued under its authority. So it might be a bit of a problem for the sovereign citizen of Dipsovania to come up with his bond, which is set at $9,500. And it's unlikely the sheriff would be willing to accept the sovereign citizen tender of a choice — six tons of aluminum can pull tabs.

Ironically, or maybe hypocritically, sovereigns like Hicks have no issue with relying on the very government they refuse to acknowledge when it suits their absurd purposes.

Over the years, Hicks unsuccessfully has sued a variety of public office holders, including his current landlord, Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee, as well as State Attorney Mark Ober, Clerk of Court Pat Frank and Public Defender Julianne Holt.

The suits invariably have been laughed out of court as being as frivolous as the petitioner who filed them.

Considering the litany of sovereign citizens who have wound up in the slammer for failing to pay taxes, laundering money and/or threatening government officials, one might argue the misguided movement has gotten about as much traction as the Flat Earth Society.

Hicks can now begin crafting his political manifesto: "Das Chucklehead," explaining why he is immune from government prosecution. And the government he so despises likely will generously afford him plenty of time to finish it.

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