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Beck Ridicules Cop-Killing Movement as Insignificant

By Mark Potok on February 13, 2012 - 1:07 pm, Posted in Sovereign Citizens

There’s stupid, and then there’s really stupid. Finally, there’s blind, leaden stupidity, a quality personified in great detail by the loathsome Glenn Beck last week.

Beck has long been aware of his own ridiculous qualities, telling The New York Times for a major 2009 profile that he was a mere “rodeo clown,” not really a serious kind of a fellow. But that’s letting the one-time Fox News host off the reality hook a little too easily. The plain truth is that Beck has done as much as anyone to inject complete falsehoods, conspiracy theories and demonizing propaganda into American political discourse. Facts mean nothing to the rodeo clown.

Neither, it turns out, does any kind of taste or judgment.

Last Wednesday, Beck went one further, mocking an FBI warning of a dangerous radical-right movement of “sovereign citizens” in this country — a movement that produced Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols and is responsible for the murder six law enforcement officers since 2000 — and suggesting that it was really a subterfuge to steal away Americans’ freedoms.

“I don’t believe a word of that, do you?” he asked viewers of his Internet TV show. “Let’s call a spade a spade. Let me tell you what this is, I believe, all about. It is deflection, again, to set the American people up. It goes right back to, ‘Yes, but can I scoop American citizens up and hold them without trial?’”

Then, to drive his point home, Beck got personal.

“Yesterday,” he said in a voice dripping with sarcasm, “the FBI gave this example of why sovereign citizens are so scary.” And he referenced the May 20, 2010, murder of Brandon Paudert and Bill Evans, two West Memphis, Ark., police officers shot down by a father-son team of sovereigns during a routine traffic stop. (Sovereigns believe authorities have no right to require driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations or insurance, an ideology that has led to many traffic-stop confrontations.)

“There’s something more to this,” Beck said in his tirade. “I believe we’re being set up. The FBI now says they’re concerned about the threat that sovereign citizens pose. … Are these guys a concern? Maybe, I don’t know, maybe there’s one crackpot there that’s gonna do something there — maybe. But you’ve got a whole buttload of crackpots on the streets right now and some of ’em are hanging around the president of the United States. This, I believe, allows the government [an excuse] to start cracking down on all types of ‘extremists.’”

The incident Beck refers to so lightly became infamous, in part, because it was shown in some the most awful dashboard camera footage ever, video that showed Paudert and Evans being murdered in cold blood. Beck may not know it — he doesn’t seem to know much — but Brandon Paudert’s father, Bob Paudert, was then the West Memphis chief of police, Brandon’s boss. Minutes after the double murder, Chief Paudert, accompanied by his ailing wife as they headed out of town for a weekend away, drove up on the mutilated body of his son. Since then, Chief Paudert has travelled the country, warning of the dangers of the sovereign movement.

He wasn’t too thrilled to hear of Beck’s latest.

“I don’t know Mr. Beck and I don’t watch the news that much, but I can tell you from firsthand experience that the sovereign citizens are dangerous. They killed my son and Bill Evans,” Paudert, a good and generous friend, told me today. “These extremists do advocate killing police officers, judges and politicians. That’s a serious problem for me, even though I’m a conservative person. I take exception to those who say they’re not dangerous. They’re extremely dangerous.”

But none of this, it seems, would sway the penetrating analysis offered by Beck, a man who demands certain facts in order to be convinced. “The FBI doesn’t even have an actual number of how many of these guys are even here in the U.S.,” he said, his voice rising with incredulity. “Well, that narrows it down!”

Presumably, it’s not known how many bank robbers there are in the U.S., or white-collar criminals or serial killers or child abusers or even Internet bloviators. But that hasn’t stopped each of these categories from presenting some serious problems.

Beck’s rant was provoked by an FBI press conference on the dangers of sovereign citizens. To Beck, that event apparently proved that the FBI was part of a nefarious Obama Administration plan to attack mainstream Christians. But to Chief Paudert, it was a welcome moment. “I have been very critical of the FBI for not [warning] about sovereign citizens” in the past, he said. “Now, they’re taking a proactive approach and I commend them for their actions.”

Not Beck. “I’m in the news business,” he said in one of his more dubious recent claims, “and I don’t even know who they are. Sovereign citizens?”

  • Michael

    This seems more like a smear campaign against Beck than a legitimate article on the issue. Additionally, Captain Jack, get off your high horse. Anna said if you put it in porportion that the numbers of shootings were low, not that it was completely unimportant. People die more in gang shootings, which includes cops, than simple police shootings. So Captain Jack, are you saying that we shouldn’t care about gang shootings? Are you suggesting that the police matter more than the public? Furthermore, I doubt in the larger picture that Soverign Citizens will draw any “young, less educated folks” and are probably not that dangerous. Most of those young, uneducated folks that you mentioned are more likely to vote Democrat and possess a lack of knowledge in the proper distribution of federal powers. And sadly, they are willing to abuse the very political system itself at the hope of something better. Under your own standards that would make the Democratic Party a hate group, wouldn’t it?

  • MrsCaptJack

    Anna ~ Next time you need the police, I hope you remember what you wrote above. Obviously, you’ve never worked in a cop shop or had friends who were police officers because if you had, you’d realize how horrid your statement is.

    The sovereign citizen movement IS very dangerous because (sadly) younger, less educated folks can fall for it in the hopes of something better.

  • jwd

    One senseless murder by members of the “Sovereign Citizens” is one too many. An organization whose only objective is to eliminate any and all authority figures. They should be investigated and dismantled ASAP like any other terrorist group.

  • Anna (not the one above)

    If you study the extreme militia – they trot out a set number of their terroristic events – at the top of the list they trot out, is that specific police killing (train their members, use it as an example). They have a script each can pretty much spout out at the drop of a hat. I see here that Beck put their script out loud on air. Why is Glenn Beck behaving on air like a member of the extreme militia? Is he a member of extreme militia group? Does anyone know if he belongs to e.g., Stormfront? Has Stormfront claimed him as a member?

  • Kiwiwriter

    I consider police killings extremely vile and unforgivable, and very serious business.

  • Rebecca

    Why don’t “We The People” demand that all so-called “journalists” on tv., whether in a group or who have their own show GET THE FACTS CHECKED first, DO RESEARCH first, and report the news OBJECTIVELY—–like Walter Cronkite did??? Aren’t we ALL sick and damned TIRED of idiots like Glenn Beck?? Time to write some angry letters, make some angry noise, and TELL the networks how we feel. In fact, while you’re at it, let’s all get the Westboro Baptist Church to protest HIM while he’s still alive, and SKIP the Whitney Houston funeral. Who’s with me???

  • Bill

    Beck is indeed nothing more than a rodeo clown as he calls himself so aptly, but he seems to strike a chord with so many lower-functioning folks out in the woodwork and gets them all psyched up with his antics and veiled suggestions for action. In my little corner of the world, rural central Florida, his followers are many and rabid and emulate his attitude daily. They have lots of time on their hands nowadays, being “disabled/homebound” (Read: Chronically unemployed) and have lots of hostility to vent. Beck and a few others are their protagonist/mentor for all sorts of essentially anti-social behaviors. He’s a dangerous man beneath his grin!

  • CM


    Killing police officers is certainly the most heinous, but it isn’t the only kind of criminal activity the sovereigns engage in. The SPLC has reported on numerous instances of plain old-fashioned scams and frauds these yoyos have perpetrated. Economic sabotage can be just as destructive as the kind that involves TNT.

    As for the appeal to statistics, if someone shoots at you 100 times and only hits you once, are you going to say, “Well, but they missed me 99 percent of the time”?

  • Phil

    “Not that big a problem”, Anna? So they should be ignored?

    Should we have brushed off AL Qaeda as “not that big a problem” because prior to 9/11 there was very little statistical history that made them a threat “when put into proportion” with other acts of violence against American citizens?

    Did you read the FBI report? It’s the job of the FBI to alert other law enforcement agencies of rising movements and potential problems that may develop out of the ideological teachings, recruitment, and actions of such groups. And it is the job of the president, as Commander in Chief (like any other member of the U.S. Armed Forces) “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;”.

    If you (or Beck) are defending these people, you are condoning anti-American activity and should rightfully be considered enemies of the state – regardless how “right” you think your radical views or “beliefs” might be.

  • Anna

    Anecdotal evidence aside, very few cops are killed on the job by anyone – “Sovereign Citizen” or otherwise. (According to a CNN, it was 173 in 2011, although the number fluctuates widely by year.) And only six killings – that is, one in every two years – have been attributed to the “Sovereign Citizens”. While these crimes should be addressed and prosecuted, of course, Glenn Beck is entirely correct in saying that these people are not that big of a problem when you put it in proportion.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    The New Black Panther Party is not a leftist group. The old one was.

    Beck and other conservatives tend to defend these people because they are white, middle class types. It’s just like the way conservative radio hosts defended Randy Weaver back in the 90’s. None of them were going to come out in support of his beliefs of course, but by portraying him as a victim it was a dog whistle to all white people who secretly harbor racial attitudes. In fact Randy Weaver was damned lucky the FBI exercised as much restraint as they did. Had that house been full of Islamic fundamentalists or otherwise non-white criminals, they most likely would have opened fire in a manner similar to the SLA shootout.

  • Gregory

    You could fill volumes with what Beck doesn’t know.

  • Ian

    “‘I’m in the news business,’ he said in one of his more dubious recent claims, ‘and I don’t even know who they are. Sovereign citizens?'”

    Let’s assume – and this is a pretty darn big leap, I confess – that Beck is telling the truth here. Imagine for a moment if a liberal or centrist journalist (a real journalist) said s/he didn’t know who the New Black Panther Party or some other extremist group on the left was. Now, imagine the right-wing freak out that would ensue.

  • Reynardine

    An incorrect traffic stop can endanger the life of an officer even if he has intercepted a common felon or unstable person. Instructing officers in precaution without brutality is a long overdue step. “Sovereigns” pose an additional problem in that they think they *are* the law…they, and they alone.

    Jointly, each of us holds 1/310 millionth of the sovereignty, and elect governments to make laws and exercise them on our behalf. Every “sovereign” who decides he is a law unto himself is usurping the sovereignty of the rest of us. That is not only arrogance, but potentially murderous arrogance. The polity has a right to defend itself from it, and to have its executors instructed in how to do so. That is all.

  • Aron

    Ah, Glenny. You’re not so much the ‘rodeo clown,’ as you are the remnants of the bucking bronco’s lunch.