Silk Road

Judge in Ulbricht/Silk Road Case Did Not Believe that the Site Could Reduce Drug Use Harm

Even Though There is No Reason Not to Believe It.


Illuminating accounts from some reporters at or near the sentencing of Ross Ulbricht in the Silk Road trial are coming out this afternoon. Here are a couple of highlights and lowlights of a terrible sentencing decision of life in prison with no parole for a man who did no direct harm to anyone's life and property, and merely faciliated via a website he launched and operated the statutory crimes of sales of illegal items, including drugs

From Andy Greenberg at Wired, who got the only pre-arrest interview with the man running Silk Road under the pseudonym "Dread Pirate Roberts":

"The stated purpose [of the Silk Road] was to be beyond the law. In the world you created over time, democracy didn't exist. You were captain of the ship, the dread Pirate Roberts. You made your own laws," [Judge Katherine Forrest] told Ulbricht as she read the sentence.

The Daily Dot reports that the Judge found the (totally correct) arguments that Silk Road's particular style of selling drugs—with no need for buyers and sellers to meet, product and dealer community ratings, and a lively community to exchange intelligent information—reduced some of the harms attendant to the use of sometimes dangerous illegal drugs, nonsense.

She called one specific doctor apparently paid to provide a harm reduction advice presence on Silk Road forums under the name "Dr. X" to be "particularly despicable" and "irresponsible." Parents of people who allegedly overdosed on drugs bought through Silk Road were on hand to help the judge throw the book at Ulbricht.

My Reason feature on the rise and fall and significance of Silk Road, written before the trial.

A Reason TV video on the importance of the case, from before the conviction. 

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  1. So, a guy who never sold a drug was convicted of selling drugs because he facilitated the website where illegal sales occurred.

    Ebay, Amazon, etc. should be very, very worried.

    Also, since the Gov’t owns street corners, where known drug use and prostitution occurs . . . well?

    1. If only Silk Road was a place to trade aluminum: U.S. judge dismisses aluminum price-fixing litigation.

      In an 85-page decision, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan said there was no showing that the defendants intended to manipulate prices, though it was clear that their actions affected the aluminum marketplace.

      “As cast in the complaints, this was an unintended consequence of rational profit maximizing behavior rather than the product of conspiratorial design,” she wrote.

    2. Not to mention the US Mint printing up the media used in nearly all drug purchases.

      1. Hey! They’re trying to shut down BitCoin, not print more of them!

  2. In the world you created over time, democracy didn’t exist. You were captain of the ship, the dread Pirate Roberts. You made your own laws

    I must retire to my fainting couch.

  3. No one, especially not the judge, believes that the sentence had anything to do with drug overdoses or democracy. Ulbricht challenged the authority of the federal government of the United States of America, and he had to be made an example of.

  4. Narcotics policy wouldn’t be what it is today if there weren’t a lot of people who really, truly, sincerely, wholeheartedly believed as the judge said about the advice doctor, the business facilitator, etc.

  5. At last, we’re all safe from this menace.

  6. Go ahead, start Silk Road III, we dare you.

  7. Wow. That’s fucking awful. How can anyone consider such a sentence just? Very few murderers get such a harsh sentence. Even if you assume that drug criminalization is a good idea, which it isn’t, the sentences are insanely disproportionate for what basically come down to violations of pharmacy regulations.

    1. By following the logic, drugs are bad. Ulbricht facilitated the sale of drugs. A lot of drugs. He made a lot of money facilitating these sales. So the sentence matches the scale of the crime.

      Discolusures implied.

  8. “The stated purpose [of the Silk Road] was to be beyond the law. In the world you created over time, democracy didn’t exist. You were captain of the ship, the dread Pirate Roberts. You made your own laws,” [Judge Katherine Forrest] told Ulbricht as she read the sentence.

    Is that an indictment or an endorsement?

    1. If only he had been facilitating the sale of little geisha dolls with big heads that wobble! PEOPLE LOVE THOSE!

      1. Even Mal didn’t bother with those.

  9. Forrest was nominated by Obama to the bench in May 2011 on the recommendation of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York.

    The article also has an as-yet unnoticed edit:

    This “Judge” is also a disgrace to America and has forced the Nation to take one step back in progress with the Ross Ulbricht sentencing. Congrats Judge, way to make a great example out of him. As soon as the Feds shut down Silk Road, 5 more opened. You’re doing a great job! Way to go! Mean while she dismissed a case against Goldman Sachs JP Morgan Chase and Glencore for price-fixing the market.

    She sounds like a typical progressive animist, really: the drugs are the source of corruption, not the black market militated by heavy-handed prohibition. So even if Ulbricht removed any proximate contact between buyers and sellers, provided sellers anonymity and buyers recourse to community vetting a la Amazon, and thereby reduced the potential for violence except that inflicted by federal agents, the service was still evil because it involves drugs and drugs are corrupting.

    Go to hell, Forrest.

    1. Oh, and evidently she was doxxed and her pertinents disclosed by 8chan members back in February. I’m certain that had no bearing on her ruling, though.

  10. Fuck those parents. The only person who killed their kids is their kids.

  11. My best friend’s mother-in-law makes $85 hour on the internet . She has been out of work for 5 months but last month her pay was $16453 just working on the internet for a few hours.
    Visit this website ?????

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