This post was originally published on Forbes Mar 4, 2015
I thought that there was the possibility that there would be an army of Kent Hovind supporters in front of the federal courthouse in Pensacola this week. Not so much as it turns out.
About Kent Hovind
Kent Hovind, proponent of Young Earth Creationism, the notion that there is scientific not just hyper-literal scriptural evidence that humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth contemporaneously, is on trial for fraud and contempt of court. The charges relate to filings on properties that the government seized in connection with his conviction in 2006 on a 58 count indictment which included 45 counts of structuring. Structuring is the systematic withdrawal of amounts somewhat less than $10,000 to avoid currency reporting requirements. In addition to his long prison sentence, which is nearing its end, Hovind forfeited the structured funds.
Since the funds had been spent, property was seized. Paul John Hansen, trustee of Hovind's ministry and co-defendant in the current trial, filed a lis pendens, warning potential buyers of the hazards of buying property from the federal government that might be subject to litigation. As the government opened its case, prosecutor Tiffany Hope Eggers indicated that the government will introduce a recording of Kent Hovind telling his daughter that a lis pendens is like dog crap that the government will have trouble scraping off its feet. (Around 3:30 of this recording of Rudy Davis recounting the proceedings from a Kent Hovind supporter viewpoint)
Kent Hovind's supporters have been waging a vigorous social media campaign on his behalf. The flagship site #FreeKent is a slick anonymously run website which trounces the lone anti-Hovind site when it comes to graphics. Kent Hovind and Jo Hovind v USA - IRS is probably more thorough. The facebook site was the brainchild of Robert Baty, a retired IRS appeals officer with a somewhat cranky attitude and a lot of time on his hands when he doesn't have to watch the grandchildren. Baty is supported by Dee Holmes, who has also devoted time to exposing Scientology. She has put up an FAQ on her Hovindology site. The most exuberant site promoting Kent Hovind's narrative is Rudy Davis's youtube channel LoneStar1776. Rudy has thrown himself wholeheartedly into supporting Doctor Dino, as Kent Hovind is known, temporarily deferring his interest in having our President beheaded after a proper trial for treason and proving that the sun revolves around the earth. [youtubevid id="Lyv6lJgS_Wo"] Hovindicators, as I have dubbed them, not only want Kent Hovind to be acquitted on the current charges, but also to have his previous convictions reversed, all seized property returned, compensation made and a congressional investigation into IRS abuse in the matter of Kent Hovind. The fundamental tenets of Hovindication are that Kent Hovind has not broken any laws, Kent Hovind is not a tax protester, Kent Hovind has paid all the taxes he owes and that the government persecution of Kent Hovind is due to his success in exposing the lies of evolution.
Whatever the merits of the current prosecution of Kent Hovind, the Hovindication narrative of religious persecution does not stand up to scrutiny. Irwin Schiff who may well have developed the principles that Kent Hovind used to justify his decades of tax defiance received a longer sentence and has no public stand on religion that I have been able to discern.
Boots On The Ground In Pensacola
The intense social media campaign did not yield an army of Hovindicators in front of the courthouse as the trial commenced on Monday. As a matter of fact there was not even a platoon, more of an over-strength squad. What they lacked in numbers they made up for in colorfulness, with at least one supporter who would have fit in at the recently completed Pensacon.and enthusiasm in classic street preacher style [youtubevid id="hBg56SIu31o"] Ernie Land, Kent's old friend, and Hovindicator in chief was on the scene [youtubevid id="XeP33JSHv8Q"] Ernie has told me that when Kent is released he plans to become conventionally tax compliant much as his son Eric has chosen to do. Eric's ministry appears to be free from government attention.
Monday was devoted to jury selection with the government beginning to lay out its case yesterday. Observers are not permitted to take notes. (They are also not permitted to open their Bibles, further proof to the Hovindicators that Bush appointed district court judge Margaret Casey Rodgers is altogether a wicked Jezebel seeking to persecute Christians). The evidence presented focused on the various filing by Paul John Hansen and included testimony from IRS administrative personnel and a Nebraska notary who witnessed numerous documents from Hansen. Free lance journalist Ben Sheffler wrote about the government's arguments.
Much of the focus so far has centered around Hansen and his filing of liens in 2011 on at least six of Hovind's Creation Science Evangelism properties.
Jonathan Schwartz of Interlock Media, with my support, is covering the trial and looking into the deep background of the Hovind story in Pensacola. He brings his filmmaker's eye to his coverage of yesterday's proceedings.
Today in court he [Hovind] did not look well. He had a barking cough, and was pensive, not noticeably cheered by the small entourage of supporters in the court room, ten people or so. Rudy Davis was there inside the courtroom as well, on his best “at the office” behavior with an occasional reckless eyeball aimed at one person or another.
The jurors were one third Black, one third female, and one third balding guys in their forties. They were attentive and jovial, getting a bit of a kick out of the absurd theater that was taking place. They were kind of like a dozen folks you would meet on a cruise ship, still not quite sure as to why they were there. A couple of them got yelled at coming back from lunch by the demonstrators, and they were offered court funded lunch on the house. My take is that they will hit the bistros instead, they don’t look the type to be easily fazed.
Who Is This Trial Really About?
Prosecutions for tax related offenses are very rare. Their purpose is to encourage compliance. This had me wondering, along with the Hovindicators - Why Kent Hovind? The initial volleys of the government indicate that their primary target may be Paul John Hansen, for whom defiance of government authority is a vocation. It has been more of a hobby to Kent Hovind, who focuses on winning souls, exposing the lies of evolution and warning about the coming New World Order.
Jonathan had quite a time making it to Pensacola but managed to coordinate some good coverage which is available on my alternative website and Steven Gray's youtube channel. Besides contributing his graphic narrative skill my son William is helping coordinate. Just to avoid confusion, one of our ancestors dropped the O' and nobody calls him Bill.