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Faithful readers of this newsletter will be familiar with the sovereign citizens, a political movement whose members claim laws don’t apply to them. On its face, it might almost sound noble — I mean, the hell with the government, right? But the sovereign citizens rely on a particular, twisted interpretation of the U.S. Constitution (and the Magna Carta, and the Bible) to promote a far-right agenda. The first sovereign citizen was probably William Potter Gale, whose novel (read: incorrect) legal theories had more to do with his racist Christian Identity beliefs than anything resembling legal knowledge.
Back in January, a sovereign citizen group called Reign of the Heavens Temple set its sights on The Satanic Temple (and on me for covering the story). It accused the Temple of “attempted murder,” although it never adequately explained what that might mean. This was an apparent, unconstitutional attempt to silence a group it doesn’t agree with.
After that, there was no real activity until the end of April, when Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves was notified that he was to “stand trial” for “war crimes.” None of this makes any sense (and I’m not even going to try to make sense out of it) but the resulting “trial” on Zoom resulted in the Reign of Heavens Temple threatening Greaves with a death sentence.
Read Lucien Greaves Receives Death Threat from Sovereign Citizen Group on Failed State Update
The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates that there are roughly 300,000 sovereign citizens in the country. While most sovereign citizen activity is kind of hilarious (there is a whole YouTube genre of sovereign citizen traffic stop videos worth checking out) the movement attracts a lot of people who need serious help. And who, without that help, might do terrible things.
From the Treasure Coast Palm newspaper:
Fort Pierce police have been investigating [Robert Lisby, 41, and his wife, Joy Tyler, 39] at least as early as April 29, 2021, when their 1-year-old child was taken to what now is HCA Florida Lawnwood Hospital in Fort Pierce.
Tyler told police he was “barely responsive,” and called 911, a report states. Tyler and Lisby reported he had no medical conditions or allergies, but said he hadn’t been able to keep all his food down when he eats, a report states.
Donnon said when the child, whose name was not released, got to Lawnwood, he weighed 9.4 pounds, had a skull fracture and extreme dehydration.
“The baby, for all intents and purposes, was starved to death,” Donnon said. “His heart stopped several times while he was at the hospital.”
Donnon said the child died that day.
The couple was taken into custody in Jacksonville, Florida during a traffic stop. Lisby was arrested for resisting arrest. He refused to leave the vehicle, claiming that he was a “sovereign citizen” and traffic laws don’t apply to him.
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Read 'The child was just starved': Parents to be charged in death of 1-year-old son in Fort Pierce in the Treasure Coast Palm
No longer a conspiracy theory being spread by a few hardcore believers, Pizzagate has morphed into a conspiracy theory being spread by a shockingly large swathe of the Republican establishment. This should be no surprise to anyone. The theory — also known as QAnon, and now Groomergate — was always a political tactic by a few Roger Stone-types to whip up the rubes and sucker them into voting for far-right ideologues.
According to a poll from The Economist and YouGov, when asked if “Top Democrats are involved in elite child sex-trafficking rings,” most Republicans said that the statement was “Definitely true” (20%) or “Probably true” (32%).
I don’t really understand how the government is supposed to work if half of it either believes that their political opponent is a child molesting monster, or is trying to win votes from a constituency who believes that Democrats are all child molesting monsters.
Then again, maybe the government is irredeemably broken and the United States is a failed state, after all.
The conspiracy theory has shifted focus with its latest iteration, from targeting “elite pedophiles” to targeting the LGBTQ community as a whole. Just when I thought things couldn’t get uglier, the conspiracy community proved me wrong.
More Failed State Updates
- Central African Republic becomes world's second country to adopt bitcoin as official currency (USA Today)
- Cheering section’ for violence: the attacks that show 4chan is still a threat (Guardian)
- Between December 2020 and November 2021, the FBI searched emails, texts and other electronic communications of as many as 3.4 million U.S. residents without a warrant (Bloomberg)
- ‘Apocalypse Papers’: Scientists Call for Paradigm Shift as Biodiversity Loss Worsens (Inside Climate News)
- We cannot ignore Syria’s emergence as a narco-state (Middle East Institute)
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