Brent Douglass Cole has described himself as a “sovereign American Citizen attempting to thwart the obvious conspiracy and subterfuges of powers inimical to the United States.” Yes, these Sovereign Citizen folks are few and deliberately far between but they're like an appendage of something large and pervasive and disturbing. Cole for some reason fancies himself “a statutory Attorney General of the United States”which he'd have a hard time explaining, at least to me, since if each man is sovereign, the entire concept of a United States and a government with elected officials with any power to do anything is suspiciously self-contradictory.What he's saying is that all which makes the United States United and comprised of states is sinister and inimical to statehood and unity.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The Sovereign Mr. Cole shot a Bureau of Land Management ranger and a California Highway Patrol officer who were investigating some vehicles at a campsite. Predictably, he got shot himself although not fatally. I'm not sure why but of course when one is sovereign, one rules, by definition which makes for problems when someone else rules too and everyone is armed. Perhaps that explains the universal and ancient need for rules that modify and limit and define sovereignty. It's why we need some form of elections or some form of ruler to replace that personal sovereignty, it being a mess if every voter votes for himself. Short of being totally bonkers, anyone has to admit that personal sovereignty has to be strictly limited in scope and power if anyone is to survive long enough to enjoy the wild and free life of the animals.
Now of course we'd like to portray Cole as being just plain nuts, and indeed articles about him list his preoccupation with conspiracy theories most of us don't hold. I have to defend him on that if I want to defend my own opinions and my right to have them -- and who knows? Conspiracies abound and even wars have been started and prolonged by real, genuine conspiracies, as you may know. No, that's not the nuts part, or at least not the dangerously nutty part: it's the notion that one is not subject to laws, that any piece of ground is mine to rule and no one else's, and all by some nebulous right that can be defended with lethal force. Mr. Cole seems to believe that his right to declare sovereignty the way some kid might call 'dibs' makes law enforcement illegal and laws inapplicable unless he approves of them and unless he makes them. It's the law of the jungle, in essence. The law of tooth and claw if you've got them and guns if you don't. It's the law of the brat and the law of the bully and a law individuals rarely enforce successfully, thank God.
Now Civilization has a price and a price that may seem excessive to some and nay well be excessive to all but doing something about it is only possible without that odd notion of the "sovereign citizen" and the individual's right to make or ignore laws ad libidum. A paradox, isn't it? But in today's ultra polarized America everything we do to deal with the fringe enrages the more mainstream and the cynical Right, the Corporate Right, the Religious Right are sure to make use of it. Cole is now a cause and another one of many and I don't know what the hell we're going to do about it.