A former Republican state legislator spoke out in favor of a man spouting extreme anti-government rhetoric in a Bozeman courthouse yesterday.
Joel Boniek spoke outside the courtroom door in defense of Ernie Wayne terTelgte, a man who repeatedly cited “natural law” as his defense for resisting arrest, an outstanding warrant, and fishing without a license. terTelgte refused to obey the court and instead “launched into his natural man speech” three times, was found in contempt of court, and sent back to jail.
In past court appearances terTelgte, wearing a tricorn hat, even refused to answer to his own name, insisted on being called “the living man” and refused to enter a plea.
“I never plead, animals plead, sounds like baaaa, oink oink,” he said.
As the Bozeman Chronicle reports, Joel Boniek, “who referred to himself as an inhabitant of the state of Montana and friend of terTelgte, said the purpose of government is not to make citizens submit.”
“You can go to jail simply because you don’t take off your hat?” Boniek said. “That’s bull-(expletive).”
Boniek said that when government is abusing its powers, it should be held in check. He was a member of the 2009 legislature and was implicated meth house scandal, which Frontline wrote about again yesterday. Boniek said that “Good people must say something when the government is being unjust.”
Boniek and terTelgate’s words echo the rhetoric of the “Posse Comitatus” and Sovereign Citizen Movement. As the Alliance Defense League explains:
The “sovereign citizen” movement is a loosely organized collection of groups and individuals who have adopted a right-wing anarchist ideology originating in the theories of a group called the Posse Comitatus in the 1970s. Its adherents believe that virtually all existing government in the United States is illegitimate and they seek to “restore” an idealized, minimalist government that never actually existed. To this end, sovereign citizens wage war against the government and other forms of authority using “paper terrorism” harassment and intimidation tactics, and occasionally resorting to violence.
While camera’s were prohibited in the court room yesterday, you can get the flavor of the “natural man speech” and the kind of person Boniek is standing up for if you watch a bit of terTelgte explaining his beliefs here, which includes referring to U.S. law as: exorcism, Sharia law, the Vatican taking off people’s heads, hypnotism, and more.
Boniek is no stranger to courtroom fracases. He was hauled into court last year to answer charges that he’d sped through a roadblock in defiance of an officer’s order to keep out. Boniek was trying to get to his house, but his house was in an area where a forest fire was burning and had been evacuated and blocked off due to the emergency. As a devoted Tea Partier and general wingnut, Boniek did not recognize the authority of the policeman to keep him away from his private property. Also, during his encounter with the officer before he crashed the barrier, Boniek allegedly reached for a gun that he had with him in the front seat. As the Livingston Enterprise reported, he:
“allegedly argued with the officers and eventually ‘dropped his left hand near what looked like a holster’ before a deputy brought him to the ground….The deputy removed a loaded handgun from the holster, according to court documents.”
For his day in court, Boniek brought with him an angry mob of supporters, who shouted down the Judge and Prosecutor in such a menacing way that they fled the courtroom fearing for their safety. At that point, Boniek stood up and proclaimed himself regent over the courtroom, and decreed himself innocent of all the charges (before the bailiff told him otherwise, while brandishing his own weapon).
The Oathkeepers published a defense of former Republican state legislator Joel Boniek on their website, saying the “state-worshipping collectivists and socialists of the press” have gotten Boniek’s story all wrong.