We learn some things early in life.
One is to pick our fights and beware of big enemies who can squash us flat.
But Kent “Dr. Dino” Hovind apparently feels the fight is worth the risk.
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He’s squaring off against Uncle Sam on charges of tax fraud. Hovind has lost before — with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and with Escambia County’s right to require building permits for his Dinosaur Adventure Land, a park just east of Car City.
But in this fight he has more to lose — his personal freedom.
Still, the founder of “creation science evangelism” seems bent on doing it his way when he and his wife are scheduled to go on trial Sept. 5.
(To learn more about “creation science,” visit www.drdino.com, where for $2 you can obtain a CD-ROM explaining how to start your very own “creation ministry” and dispute scientists who believe in evolution.)
Hovind is either a brilliant man or a farce, depending on which e-mailers you read in the blogosphere, where people fiercely debate the claims of evolution and creationism.
But his newest fight is with something more immediate — the notion that we all pay our fair share of taxes to the good old U.S. of A., which guarantees people the right to believe in evolution or in creationism as they choose.
Hovind appeared polite but determined to fight the case when he was arraigned Monday in U.S. District Court.
Neither he nor his wife and co-defendant, Jo, wanted to enter a traditional plea of guilty or not guilty.
The Hovinds question the court’s right to try them. They consider themselves missionaries exempt from taxes to a government that, incidentally, is providing them with attorneys.
But Magistrate Miles Davis wanted them to enter pleas just as any other citizen would.
“If they don’t wish to enter a plea, I’ll enter one for them,” Davis said.
When asked by the prosecutor to list his residence, Kent Hovind said he lives in “the church of Jesus Christ … located all over the world.”
Asked if he wrote and spoke English, this man who claims a doctorate said, “To some degree.”
In turn, Hovind, 53, had his own questions about the indictment, but Davis cut him off, saying, “The government adequately explained” the allegations.
The defendant understands the charges “whether you want to admit it or not,” he told Kent Hovind.
Then, Hovind offered another wrinkle.
“I would like to plead subornation of false muster,” he said, announcing a defense I haven’t heard in 30 years of hanging around courtrooms.
The precedent is not good. A man in the state of Washington tried a similar defense a few years ago, claiming he was a “citizen of heaven” and not subject to state laws. But a court there ruled that when in Washington, do as Washington law requires, and found him guilty.
When it was Jo Hovind’s turn, she stood with her husband’s hand on her shoulder and reiterated the gist of his statements.
She said she was unsure because “this is a whole new world to me.”
But if she and her husband stay on this path, they could find that the new world will come with bars on its windows.