This morning's Webathon post was illustrated with a woodchipper. For newer readers, that is a winking insider reference to the time in 2015 when the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued subpoenas to six Hit & Run commenters—plus a subsequent gag order on Reason—over language that was critical of (and sometimes contemplated clearly satirical cartoon violence toward) a sitting U.S. judge. Since then, "woodchippers" have been a thing around here.
But let us not lose sight of the underlying case in question: the infuriatingly cruel sentencing of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht to life in prison for the decidedly non-violent crimes of "narcotics trafficking; distribution of narcotics by means of the Internet; narcotics trafficking conspiracy; continuing criminal enterprise; conspiracy to aid and abet computer hacking; conspiracy to traffic in fraudulent identity documents; and money laundering conspiracy." It is a case, involving a libertarian defendant who thrilled at a demonstration project showing that humans could transact peaceably outside the gaze of government, that we have covered here for years, including in the 12 months since our last Webathon. Editor in Chief Katherine Mangu-Ward interviewed Ross's heroic mother Lyn Ulbricht for our "Burn After Reading" issue. John Stossel made a video in February explaining how illiciit online drug sales have only soared since Ulbricht's imprisonment. And Brian Doherty continues to follow the latest frequently outrageous twists in the legal case.
You can and should follow the Free Ross account on Twitter, and take direct action (including petitioning and donations) at the Free Ross website. And if you want to encourage Reason to do more criminal justice coverage that occasionally affects laws and those who suffer from them, please consider donating here in this home stretch of the Webathon.
I am confident in saying that Reason puts more resources per capita into our criminal justice coverage than any comparable national journal of political opinion. We've been looking at the issue from the beginning, and it's among the work we're most proud of.
And it helped kick-off a debate about criminal justice reform in Tennessee that ended with some people who were unfairly imprisoned getting released!
— Eric Boehm (@EricBoehm87) November 30, 2018
Wanna know what's happening with the FIRST STEP Act? Read our C.J. Ciaramella. Bail reform? Try Scott Shackford. Drug war? Jacob Sullum literally wrote the book. The left-right, factually untethered, speech-and-freedom-squelching war on sex trafficking? There is no better journalist on that beat than Elizabeth Nolan Brown. We taught the world about indiscriminate dog-shootings by police, exposed the bogus science and constitutionally dubious practice behind drug-sniffing canines, and reveled when the little pups were freed up for better lines of work. We were conducting investigations and spreading the word about the legalized police-theft known as civil asset forfeiture—both in Reason and on television—way before it was cool.
Had no idea that this was a thing prior to Mr Welch, @Kmele, and @KennedyNation spent time on the subject back in 2014… they did a services for viewers and I hope this BS is put to rest: https://t.co/iQSNGn7GZl
— W T (@thirdgenwidget) November 28, 2018
And oh, we helped get a guy off death row.
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