After a nearly three-month wait, the wheels of our legal system have turned, and justice has been done at last: Kent Hovind, tax protestor and creationist con man extraordinaire, has been sentenced to ten years in federal prison for tax evasion. Hovind’s wife Jo, who was also convicted on the same slate of charges, will be sentenced in March.
When writing about Hovind’s conviction back in November, I said:
I think an eight- to twelve-year sentence would suit him well, although I suspect something in the neighborhood of three to six years is more likely.
This is one instance where I am pleasantly surprised to be wrong: the judge imposed the very sentence I thought would be most fitting, not the one I expected him to give. Best of all, the fact that Hovind will be serving his sentence in federal prison means that Florida’s governor, Republican Charlie Crist, will not be able to pardon him to score cheap political points with Christian fundamentalists. (I suppose it’s not out of the question that George W. Bush will pardon Hovind, but I doubt it.)
Ten years is a harsh sentence, no doubt about it. On the other hand, Hovind willfully chose to break the law, knowing exactly what he was getting into. Even after an earlier attempt of his to get out of paying taxes, by petitioning for bankruptcy, was rejected with the court finding that he had filed false statements in bad faith, he was unrepentant and chose to continue his illegal behavior. He has absolutely no one to blame but himself, and he now has a long time to reflect on the consequences of his actions and to learn that the privileges our society grants its citizens do not come for free.
Interestingly, it seems the time Hovind spent in jail awaiting sentencing may already have begun to affect his behavior. From the Pensacola News-Journal article reporting on the sentencing:
Prior to his sentencing, a tearful Kent Hovind, also known as “Dr. Dino” asked for the court’s leniency.
“If it’s just money the IRS wants, there are thousands of people out there who will help pay the money they want so I can go back out there and preach,” Hovind said.
This is a fairly dramatic reversal of Hovind’s previous position that he was not obligated to pay the government anything, although, as usual for him, it totally misses the point. It is not “just money” the IRS wants; it wants people who live in the United States to accept that they are subject to the law and act accordingly. Hovind instead acted as if he had a right to break the law whenever he saw fit, and he is now being punished to disabuse him of that notion. (A commenter on the PNJ forum noted perceptively that Hovind seems to think other people can shield him from punishment by complying with the law on his behalf – a result, perhaps, of the illogical notion of substitutive sacrifice at the heart of his own fundamentalist Christian beliefs.)
The PNJ article contains several amusing comments from true believers furious over the “persecution” of their idol Hovind. Here’s an especially vicious example:
Doubtless, by now those involved in this case have begun to experience the first wave of horror come in their own lives. Perhaps they have not yet put 2+2 together… but soon enough they will. That extra glass of wine to relax.. the antidepressants they take will not soothe them. The inward terror will fester, grow and follow them about withersoever they go.
…Who knows the extent and weight of a divine curse, how far it reaches, how deep it pierces? God’s pronouncing a man cursed makes him so; for those whom he curses are cursed indeed.
Yes, it is a sad and sorry day for the Hovinds today.. but prayer needs to go up for the wicked ones involved in this case ..if it were only the wrath of man these folks had invoked.. it would be but a small matter.. but these poor fools have placed themselves under the wrath of the almighty God and there is no escape…
Feel that Christian compassion! So much for “love your enemies”, apparently. That notion, regardless of what it has to recommend it, tends to go up in smoke as soon as someone does or says something that religious fundamentalists do not like, and is replaced instead by deranged revenge fantasies. Truly, their concern for others is no more than skin-deep.