An Allen Township man accused of driving drunk wore a Coors Light sweatshirt to court today and offered a novel defense.
The law doesn’t apply to him, Scott A. Witmer said, because he is a “sovereign man.”
“It means I live inside myself,” Witmer, 44, told a curious Northampton County Judge Leonard Zito. “I don’t live in the state of Pennsylvania.”
Instead of thinking of a civilization as buildings and laws, think of it as an agreement between people. When that agreement is strong, people know what behaviors will be rewarded and have psychological support for engaging in those behaviors. They’re defined as right; others are defined as wrong; and then there’s a third category that’s not either other category.
For example, building a new irrigation channel is right; murder is wrong; masturbation is — well, if it doesn’t interfere with anything else, probably not our business.
As this agreement is diluted by the introduction of people who cannot connect cause and effect, civilization decays. That’s the first part of a cycle; the second is that, as civilization decays, so does the agreement. The two — civilization and agreement — are one and the same.
With this decay, people no longer feel like they will get rewarded for doing what is right, so they take to rewarding themselves at the expense of others. Further, they withdraw into their own value systems and their own mental reality. The French writer Michel Houellebecq calls this “atomization,” and it seems to me an apt description.