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Ross Ulbricht's Sentencing Indecent, Based on Procedural and Substantive Errors, New Amicus Brief Argues

Drug Policy Alliance and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, others, speak out against Silk Road founder's absurd life sentence without parole.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), JustLeadershipUSA, and retired judge and current Harvard law professor Nancy Gertner filed an amicus brief this week in Ross Ulbricht's appeal of his conviction last year for crimes associated with launching and operating the darknet website Silk Road, where customers exchanged bitcoin for usually illegal substances.

Among their contentions are:

• A life sentence without parole for a non violent crime (that, it is worth pointing out, mostly consists of facilitating, not even performing, illegal sales or purchases) "violates the Eighth Amendment because life without the possibility of parole sentences for non-violent drug offenses are inconsistent with contemporary standards of decency," because of an ongoing trend in lowering drug trafficking sentences on the federal level, and the international rarity of life-without-parole for any offense.

In 2013, life sentences were “imposed in less than one-third of one percent of all drug trafficking cases.” Nationally, only two percent of all persons sentenced to life in prison were convicted of drug offenses. Life sentences are typically reserved for persons who committed violent crimes. As of 2013, over 90 percent of all life sentences in the United States were imposed on persons convicted of murder, sexual assault, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, or kidnapping.

• The brief further maintains that the convicting district court "committed procedural and substantive error when it imposed an unreasonable life sentence." The

district court erroneously included unreliable and inaccurate information about six alleged overdose deaths as a factor at sentencing....the district court improperly relied on overdose death information when making its sentencing decision, because it is impossible to demonstrate that  the overdose deaths were connected to or primarily caused by drugs purchased on Silk Road.

Mr. Ulbricht opposed consideration of the overdose deaths and submitted a report by defense expert Mark L. Taff, M.D., concluding that the information was insufficient to demonstrate a direct link between drug purchases from Silk Road and the deaths. The government provided no rebuttal to Dr. Taff’s report. Amici agree that the supposed association between the six overdose deaths and Silk Road is specious....

Among the other factors in our culture to which blame could be placed for any given overdose death, the brief states, are:

[lack of] expanded access to and training for administering naloxone, a drug used to reverse opioid overdose...[lack of] ensured access to integrated prevention services, including access to sterile injection equipment and supervised injection facilities; and the establishment of Good Samaritan or 911 drug immunity laws which encourage people experiencing overdose and those at the scene of an overdose to seek medical help....

Because fatal overdoses are primarily the result of a multitude of complex medical and public policy failings, and not drug use alone or the provision of a drug alone, Mr. Ulbricht should not be held responsible for the alleged overdose deaths. In considering the overdose death information in its sentencing decision, the district court violated Mr. Ulbricht’s due process rights and committed procedural error when it imposed a life sentence.

In general, it was wrong, the amici contend, for the court to consider any unadjudicated "facts" in its ridiculously harsh sentencing:

the district court included uncharged, unadjudicated, and ultimately unsubstantiated conduct about overdose deaths and murders for hire in its rationale for sentencing Mr. Ulbricht to life without parole. These facts were not evaluated by the jury, let alone proved to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition, defense expert Dr. Taff advised the court that the evidence connecting Mr. Ulbricht to the overdose deaths was weak at best. Thus, the uncharged facts should not have been used as a rationale for sentencing Mr. Ulbricht to the upper limit of the Guidelines range and doing so defies the Due Process Clause.

The brief also argues that the theory of deterrence the court relied on in its harsh sentencing doesn't hold up to the best current facts, including the fact that the Ulbricht prosecution for sure hasn't successfully deterred other people trying to sell or facilitate the sale of drugs on the Internet.

For all the background on Silk Road and Ulbricht's arrest, see my December 2014 Reason feature "How Buying Drugs Online Became Safe, Easy, and Boring."

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • GILMORE™||

    A life sentence without parole for a non violent crime ... "violates the Eighth Amendment because life without the possibility of parole sentences for non-violent drug offenses are inconsistent with contemporary standards of decency,"

    "" If punishment is at all proportionate to the offense, then power becomes watered. The only way you generate the proper attitude of awe and obedience is through immense and disproportionate power.”
    ― Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    How about a little perspective here.

    Are you guys familiar with "I Know My Name Is Steven"? Kenneth Parnell served 5 years of a 7 year sentence for that.

    That's right. Kidnap a 7 year old, hold him hostage for 7 years, rape him hundreds of times, and you'll do 5 years.

    Make the state look foolish (rightfully so), and you'll do LIFE.

  • Free Society||

    The rules Ross Ulbricht broke were abstract and not rooted in any natural, constitutional, ethical or otherwise rational law, therefore his punishment is more of the same.

  • GILMORE™||

    In January 2003, Parnell was arrested again after trying to coerce his caregiver into buying him a four-year-old boy.[5]

    ugh. Straw purchases.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Parnell was only welcome in 1 community after he was released.

    Take a guess.

  • Ted S.||

    Law enforcement community?

  • GILMORE™||

    The Catholic Church?

  • wareagle||

    you're living in it? Or near it.

  • lap83||

    orgy island?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Way to take something sexy and ruin it!

    This isn't the first time you've been told this, is it? IS IT?

  • lap83||

    sexy is in the eye of the beerholder (or roofie holder)

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    This just gets worse and worse.

    Do you have warrants? Yet?

    I'd keep that passport current, just in case.

  • lap83||

    I may be a bit twisted, but I don't act on it, don't worry

    One Halloween when I worked at a toy store I almost dressed up as pedo bear, but thankfully I chickened out

  • heckeljohn@yahoo.com||

    That's NOT HAWT

  • sarcasmic||

    Warty's neighborhood?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    God damn, it's in the wikipedia article.

    Berkeley, CA.

    They welcome child rapists, no judgement.

  • lap83||

    my second guess would've been Hollywood

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    My best friend from HS and college lives there, on his paltry 6 figure fireman's salary. He wouldn't allow that sort of thing. He's in the inner circle.

  • lap83||

    I was thinking about Roman Polanski, but I guess Parnell would need to direct an arty film or two first

  • Trigger Hippie||

    My first thought was Penn State.

  • Sevo||

    "They welcome child rapists, no judgement."

    So does Switzerland.

  • sarcasmic||

    Well, yeah. Crimes against individuals don't matter. Crimes against The State are crimes against The People (everyone except any individual member of The People). That is some serious shit. That shows that the person is immoral, because law defines morality. Someone who commits crimes against The People is a menace. That is someone who needs to be locked up until they die. But someone who commits a crime against an individual? They aren't a threat to the general public. They're only a threat to individuals. They are at best a menace to a few people. So they don't matter. But someone who commits a victimless crime has demonstrated that they will harm anyone. They are a threat to us all by not being a threat to anyone.

    Or something. And stuff. You know?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    What Silk Road did was usher in a real Libertarian moment. Something I think we all agree represented a truly unregulated, unfettered market for things the government believes you shouldn't have.

    The person (and persons) at the center of that Libertarian Moment may never see the light of day again.

    I'm telling you, you wave an ACTUAL libertarian moment in front of the state that doesn't involve sending lolpics or making mean comments on youtube while taking a shit, and the blood will flow.

    Hey, let's all not file our taxes this year!

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    I just filed last Friday.. 122 pages.

    And then, today, I got something in the mail. "IMPORTANT TAX INFORMATION ENCLOSED".

    Fuck you, too late.

  • sarcasmic||

    It was a libertarian moment in that commerce happened without someone in government telling businesses what they may sell, what regulations they must follow if they are allowed to sell whatever they sell, where they may set up shop, who they may sell it to, what hours they must follow, and so on and so forth.

    The way that government controls us is by controlling what we may buy, when we may buy it, guidelines for how the provider may provide it, what credentials they must have, and so on and so forth, and furthermore it discourages anyone with a good idea from figuring out how to share it with others while making a profit.

    That makes us all poorer.

    Business is portrayed as the enemy, as a predator, though they are the ones who provide goods, services, jobs, and investment opportunities to willing participants.

    Once those people were portrayed as the heroes that they are. Now we're back to the default position of humanity and government, where economic fallacies rule the day, and liberty is viewed as the enemy of human prosperity.

    It is less of a sad time than the end of a good time, being that the American Experiment In Liberty was a stupendously novel event, and now it is coming to an end.

    We get to live through it.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It was a libertarian moment in that commerce happened without someone in government telling businesses what they may sell, what regulations they must follow if they are allowed to sell whatever they sell, where they may set up shop, who they may sell it to, what hours they must follow, and so on and so forth.

    But that libertarian moment has been going on since time immemorial. Governments making plants illegal or the mass regulation of people selling things to each other is a relatively recent phenomenon on the cosmic calendar of civilization. As it's been pointed out before, there was even a time in American history when politicians thought they needed a constitutional amendment to ban something at the federal level.

    Imagine telling some ancient people that we locked someone up for life because he set up a place where stuff was being bought and sold.

  • sarcasmic||

    Imagine telling some ancient people that we locked someone up for life because he set up a place where stuff was being bought and sold.

    Legal commerce without having to ask permission and obey orders from some group of thugs? I don't think anyone in any civilization could ever claim to have enjoyed that luxury. Whenever money changes hands, those thugs want a cut, and they want to set the rules.

    Those who avoid this used to be considered heroes. And I suppose they still are. To some. But I can't remember a popular program since the Dukes of Hazzard that celebrated this American notion.

  • sarcasmic||

    I assume you know I implies that the thugs are offering "protection" for their cut, when they are more of a threat than those they claim to protect you from.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    At this point I'd almost rather thugs demand a cut, but let me produce, rather than the thugs throw me in jail for producing.

  • W. Chipper Dove||

    This. Guido might send the boys around once a month or so to collect the squeeze, but he never tells you how to run your shop.

  • TriggerPuller||

    So we should base sentencing not on the individual or the case at hand but it should be based on a sliding scale that looks at what other people have done and what punishment they have received? That isn't the way the system works.

    And Ross didn't make the state look foolish Ross made himself look foolish by committing some big time blunders.

    This clown tried to have people murdered for no other reason than revenge and to protect his own self interests. To ignore that may be convenient but it doesn't make the fact go away.

  • ||

    Oh dear, are we gonna have to get the woodchippers going again?

    What was that Judge's name again? Cunt something, something?

  • Ted S.||

    Damn your nimble fingers!

  • ||

    That's because you're drunk from the game today.

  • Ted S.||

    Well, I did have a bit more wine at dinner than normal.

  • Free Society||

    Justicar of the High Court of Social Justice, the Right Honorable, Judge Cunthrine Forrest

  • Free Society||

    It's a Woodchipper article and Preet must be lurking near....
    ...
    ...
    ...
    ...
    ...

    *BOO!*

  • Ted S.||

    Damn your nimble fingers!

  • Free Society||

    Wait who got the sloppy seconds, me or Rufus?

  • Ted S.||

    It's too bad we can't have a woodchipper serve the sentence in place of Ulbricht.

  • croaker||

    I'd rather see the judge pay for her hubris.

    After a scrupulously fair hearing before the Drug War Crimes Tribunal, erected with irony aforethought in an open field outside of Nuremberg, PA. 20 chippers, no waiting.

  • SIV||

    You just can't stop poking that hornet's nest, croaker.

  • Quincy.||

  • croaker||

    You're thinking way too small.

  • Quincy.||

    Are you offering me investment advice? Are you offering me free investment advice over the internet? Shit, now we're in real trouble!

  • Mr Drew||

    It was the woodchipper controversy that first led me to commenting on Reason.

    Therefore: Judges who cavalierly and capriciously over-sentence this way deserve be fed into a woodchipper.

    I'm easy to find, Preet.

  • Mr Drew||

    deserve to be fed

    Christ, I can't even get inflammatory observations written without typos

    /kicks small rock

  • DenverJ||

    "/kicks small rock"
    These masturbation euphemisms...

    I keed I keed, I saw your comment about that particular meme on the other thread

  • Mr Drew||

    Nice.

    Hey, I've been meaning to ask you for help. I've been having trouble remember who won the last Superbowl. Can you remind me?

  • DenverJ||

    Hitler?

  • Mr Drew||

    That is not the right answer to everything! Not even on this site.

    The correct answer is "not cam newton"

    /it's still delicious

  • CZmacure||

    Jesus Christ that was a funny time to respond "Hitler?" ...

  • Acosmist||

    Has anyone seen Bo since the woodchipper incidents? I know he was always (even before the woodchipper comments) strangely protective of Preet, so I speculated he ratted. When Preet was firmly rebuffed in his attempts to chill speech, Bo was gone. I wonder if Preet was pissed at him for the embarrassment he suffered at that whole thing.

  • Mr Drew||

    Preet was embarrassed and now Bo is gone? Are you speculating that Preet had him killed?

    ...go on...

  • Acosmist||

    If we believe Bo was actually a lawyer, he may have worked for Preet. Embarrassing the boss by sending him on an unconstitutional witchhunt might have gotten him fired.

    Very speculative, I know.

    Maybe Bo is just some basement-dweller and got pissed off when Reason's commenters didn't get the comeuppance he thought they deserved for the woodchipper comments.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    There are a number of ways to interpret what happened. Bo may or may not have been real.

    I'm a people person. I like to get to know people and learn about them, and perspective matters to me. I pressed "Bo" pretty hard about himself. A number of red flags emerged.

    He claimed to go to USC law. It's an extremely small class, and their entire graduation procession is on Flickr. Either he's the neckbeard we all thought he was, or it's a sock.

    My money is on the sock.

  • ||

    How come you never pressed me?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    I know enough.

  • ||

    What number from 1 to 10 am I thinking of?

    And what shade of purple do I like for my negli....er, long-johns?

  • See Double You||

    I think Bo graduated from law school and is clerking. Clerks cannot participate in anything political, save voting. I did a short stint in a judicial clinic and was afraid to comment here, even though I'm anonymous.

  • sarcasmic||

    I have heard that there exist law professors who encourage their students to go argue against those who comment on libertarian blogs. I imagine it is an effective teaching tool. After all, libertarians tend not to budge on their principles, so that would be good practice for someone learning techniques of persuasion.

    Maybe he was a law student. Just like he said he was. And now he's not a student anymore, and practices someplace other than Reason.

  • wareagle||

    I don't recall persuasion as a big part of his toolkit.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Nah. It was Tulpa. She's incredibly sad.

    I'll link to her blog one of these days.

  • ||

    Or they come for the stupid jokes.

  • sarcasmic||

    I figured he got tired of everyone pointing out how his mom was the only person who thought he was smart, attractive, friendly, and likeable.

    You may have made an accurate observation.

  • Acosmist||

    He never seemed to get tired of that before, for many, many years. Then the woodchipper thing, and he was gone.

  • Ted S.||

    I don't think his mom finds him attractive, friendly, or likeable.

  • sarcasmic||

    Someone has to, or he would have done the world a favor and offed himself. Hm. Maybe you're right.

  • GILMORE™||

    Has anyone seen Bo since the woodchipper incidents?

    No.

    Its funny, i can precisely date his appearance (november 2013), but couldn't tell you exactly when he fucked off.

  • GILMORE™||

    correction = i guess that date is when i *noticed* him and decided he was an asshole.

  • DenverJ||

    Yeah, I was going to say I thought I remember him from longer ago than that. I don't believe that he was a lawyer, I think he was in law school. Maybe he graduated or dropped out. Passed the bar and now doesn't have any time?
    Is it true how many hours lawyers have to work when they first start?

  • ||

    Depends on where you go to work.

  • Quincy.||

    Also how to mention Preet and woodchippers in the same sentence with out getting subpeonaed? 713.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Indecent is throwing living tigers in boiling water so as to make tiger sandwiches and super cool fur walls. OH!? You DON'T FUCKING GODDAMN LIKE THAT?! FOR real? Well, then stop murdering the goddamn red claws and smashing your face into their red claw submarine sammiches then OR at the fucking least enjoy them while I eat tiger sandwiches and stroke stripey fur walls. How are tigers fucking different than red claws then? Z'wat I thought, nigga.

    Judges that throw fantasmagorias into prison are fucking flippant federal diarrhea shat from the American buttholes of Harvard and ilk which makes these sub-living Cretans repulsive thunderstorms unleashing filth bags of noxious hell lightning onto the fields of liberty. Fuck them forever. and may Jesus reign, bitch. I don't really like Jesus but he fucked with the system which I think most Christians forget once they get goddamn saved.

  • Quincy.||

    I directed the assembly of two big cats today. Waste foam has found its final resting place. I tell people the third dimension is overrated, but nobody listens. My mother tells me this is stupid, I agree, but tell her "Keep cutting, ma." I've done this before, it is not my first rodeo.

  • DenverJ||

    These masturbation euphemisms are getting pretty really abstract.

  • SIV||

    Walls? I want tiger seat covers. Actually I want ocelot upholstery. Tigers are as common as Alcantara.

  • Quincy.||

    Tigers are as common as Alcantara.

    Leave ultrasuede alone!

  • gaoxiaen||

    I spend my time hunting Naugas. They're easier to process.

    http://modernkiddo.com/the-cut.....the-nauga/

  • Rhywun||

    I have nothing to add to this conversation.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Would you prefer to converse about the potential sexual ability of Judge Katherine B. Forrest?

  • Mr Drew||

    ...the potential sexual ability...

    I'm guessing, very low

  • Rhywun||

    I think I'll leave that alone too.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    This question is only for Rhywun:

    If you had the power to make a reservation for Judge Katherine B. Forrest at any location, be it here on earth or in another world, or even an underworld, where would you make that reservation, and why?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    At least he's not asking you what kind of animal you'd be.

  • Quincy.||

    Cat. In case anybody was asking.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Not a nauga.

  • Rhywun||

    "Underworld"? I have no idea where that came from.

  • DenverJ||

    Something something sporting wood...

  • ||

    Sigh. Fine. I'll play.

    She does give off a 'Fuck my wife' vibe to her.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    So... would?

  • ||

    /scratches back of head.

    Yeah, sure. Why not?

    You? Would?

  • grrizzly||

    Not even what Madeleine Albright would say?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    I'll take "things that turned me gay" for $500, Alex.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Well, hello there, Mr. Prosecutor, I just wanted to say that you are absolutely the bravest, handsomest and most ethical person in this country today.

    And your personal hygiene is above reproach.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    "I find in myself as much evil as in anyone, but detesting action - mother of all vices - I am the cause of no one's suffering."

  • Quincy.||

    "I left the clinic on 26th of May; I recall the sunshine, the heat, the atmosphere of freedom in the streets. It was unbearable."

  • sarcasmic||

    Hm. Never heard of the guy until I googled your quote. Interesting. For someone who seemed devoid of hope, he live to a ripe age. Unless that is the secret. A secret. Whatever, it's late.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    "What I know at sixty, I knew as well at twenty. Forty years of a long, a superfluous, labor of verification."

  • Quincy.||

    “The absence of the will to live is, alas, not sufficient to make one want to die.”

  • DenverJ||

    OT: Will Reason give me my twenty dollars back if Rubio un-suspends his campaign?

    Thank You for Your Donation to Reason Foundation. Your receipt has been emailed to the email address you provided and should arrive shortly. We appreciate your generous support of Reason! Together, we are advancing the libertarian ideas of individual liberty, free markets, and the rule of law.

  • ||

    Just as soon as they get Palin's Buttplug 20 bucks.

  • DenverJ||

    So, never?

  • ||

    You gotta love Playa catching him in a lie about having sent Matt a money order.

  • straffinrun||

    He probably sent Matt 20 peanuts.

  • DenverJ||

    I missed that

  • DenverJ||

    Somebody needs to post a link to Billy Bob Thorton saying " You can imagine how badly I wanted my five dollars back".

  • CZmacure||

    I want my two dollars.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Soon it will be St. Patrick's day, so feel free to go into an Irish pub and start singing this tune at the top of your lungs.

    Ha ha, I'm just kidding, that's not, technically, a St. Patrick's Day song.

    This is the song most commonly associated with St. Patrick's Day.

  • ||

    This would be better.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    I prefer this traditional Irish folk tune.

  • Mr Drew||

    jarflax, when you go into the office tomorrow and wonder where your paycheck is, think back to this.

    #LookinForANewLawyer
    #ScotsAreEnglishLapdogs

  • Notorious UGCC||

    WTF?

  • ||

    I'll rally the clans!

  • Mr Drew||

    Sure, bagpipes, because then the troops are more than willing to die.

    Just kidding. I love that. If I had to march off to war, that's the soundtrack I'd choose.

  • Mr Drew||

    jarflax is trolling me because I'm Irish (though not Irish who broke ESB's heart)
    He is a real estate attorney and my company is his biggest client/employer.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Very well, carry on, then.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    I guess.

  • Mr Drew||

    I was trying to reply to his comment originally. I'm not sure how I messed that up. Squirrels.

    Sorry to drag you in the middle but based on your YouTube link, you had it coming too.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    I'm actually not a fan of Orange militance, but I *do* like faking people out with joke links.

    But here is a link which isn't a joke.

  • ||

    Oh, I deliberately took advantage of your joke to troll Mr Drew. So blame me for it if blame there be. I should expect a 2 front war here, since my non Scots half is Russian Jew.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Yeah, I'm not touching that with a 10 foot...staff.

  • ||

    This kind of staff ?

  • You Sound Like a Prog (MJG)||

    This is my jam, which I'll probably share again tomorrow.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    I've been linking to a wood chipper video every since the initial wood chipper incident. Never forget 5/15.

  • straffinrun||

    the district court included uncharged, unadjudicated, and ultimately unsubstantiated conduct about overdose deaths and murders for hire in its rationale for sentencing Mr. Ulbricht to life without parole.

    Means justifying the ends.

  • straffinrun||

    When Trump turns his attention fully to Hillary, this kinda stuff will at least keep us entertained.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    The latest genius move by Barry O'Bama:

    "Washington DC: Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was refused entrance to the White House Irish community St. Patrick’s reception last night in a shock occurrence that left Irish American leaders baffled....

    "Adams was pulled aside from the other Sinn Fein members as the White House security personnel examined his documents....

    "...[A]fter waiting 90 minutes and seeing no movement in the effort to gain him entrance, Adams decided to leave.

    "The departure of Adams, a prime architect of the IRA ceasefire and the peace process, is an embarrassment for the Obama administration, who will struggle to explain how Ireland's third most popular party leader in the Irish Republic and a huge vote getter was left standing outside."

  • Mr Drew||

    Does he have to piss in everyone's cereal?

    It's like Obama is trolling the whole country, nay the world.
    "How stupid, how ridiculous and retarded can I be and still get cheered and defended?"

  • ||

    They don't seem to love Adams in the comments though.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    I see...well, he *is* a terrorist.

    And if there's one thing Obama refuses to do, it's pal around with terrorists.

  • ||

    /sarc.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Thank you.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    In preparation for the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule, the Dublin City Council puts up banners celebrating four Irish statesmen who were not involved in the Rising - unless you count the guy who said the Rising was "wicked and insane."

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Every fucking thing our fingers want to cum on is so goddamn fucking bright, lovely friends. The four points of white hell fall into me like a lonely white oak, man. paper is earth, man. The pulp of men sweating their trucks of chopped dead fibrous tall multifaceted muscles into the steel magic burping factories of other men bending the will of the earth into flatness and thirsty visions onto the dark alleys of tall brick buildings with rusty steel billboards on top of them pretending to be relevant with logos designed by visionaries who will die despondent with letters dripping invisibly from their coffins.

    This is paper and monitors and screens are not paper. Paper is the cry of the earth, man.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    In honor of St. Patrick's Day, it's time for another round of a game I like to call...

    Agile Cyborg or Finnegans Wake, which is more comprehensible?

    "I am your honey honeysugger phwhtphwht tha Bay and who bruk the dandleass and who seen the blackcullen jam for Tomorrha's big pickneck I hope it'll pour prais the Climate of all Ireland I heard the grackles and I skimming the crock on all your sangwidges fippence per leg per drake. Tuk. And who eight the last of the goose-bellies that was mowlding from measlest years and who leff that there and who put that here and who let the kilkenny stale the chump. Tek. And whowasit youwasit propped the pot in the yard and whatinthe nameofsen lukeareyou rubbinthe sideofthe flureofthe lobbywith. Shite! will you have a plateful? Tak."

  • commodious spittoon||

    James Joyce was revolutionary and eminent! according to the high school English teacher who assigned it and never quizzed us on the material.

  • commodious spittoon||

    The pulp of men sweating their trucks of chopped dead fibrous tall multifaceted muscles into the steel magic burping factories of other men bending

    Let it never be said that AC was homophobic.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Paper is the piano of the universe.

  • commodious spittoon||

    Because fatal overdoses are primarily the result of a multitude of complex medical and public policy failings, and not drug use alone or the provision of a drug alone

    Hey, guns are sometimes used for suicide. More than sometimes, in fact, they account for the majority of gun deaths. And since suicides would very likely be reduced without easy access to such a reliable method, it only makes sense that gun manufacturers and retailers be held accountable for facilitating so many elective deaths.

    I know, I know, guns are a Constitutionally-protected right and drugs aren't, but maybe conservatives could someday get aboard the anti-prohibition train since these arguments are so readily transferable with a simple find and replace search in Word.

  • Cloudbuster||

    ...And since suicides would very likely be reduced without easy access to such a reliable method, i...

    Your supposition fails the Real World test, as there are many nations with far more restricted access to guns than the U.S. that have a higher suicide rate.

  • You Sound Like a Prog (MJG)||

    Good luck to them, but I'm going to keep my woodchipper ready.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    The desires of haunting pianos were made into hats and forced onto our little heads when we were before the greatness of now.

  • Quincy.||

    Could my present little utopia exist on Mars? Probably not. It would have to wait until the birth of interplanetary snobbery.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Quin bends earths
    like his future
    and the good planets
    screeching along his
    existential roiling spinning waves
    of times and ink
    swerve along Q excubes
    obliterating the streaming
    falling tunnels, man
    look i can actually see this shit drippin go off my ceiling voinces

  • Quincy.||

    Digging for pigments, counting moles of air. Waiting for the invitation to be better than this.

  • commodious spittoon||

    Addiction is a habit formed by lazy gits to justify why they're such dicks to their families.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Meh, a free landscape of an earth of peace and sweet flows would offer beaver furs, space travel, cocaine, magic mushrooms, jobs, trips into the deepest earth, and tickets to the edge of the universe. Or do you seriously fucking have a problem with this Merle dummy fucking super star Haggard who I love by the fucking way and am listening to now?

  • Juvenile Bluster||

    Of all our trolls, you're my least favorite. Even worse than our resident socialists.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    George Will bends the keys correctly, my brothers and .3 sisters. The fucking authoritarian moment will fall upon us fringe rainbows frolicking in the periods of sentences happy camping on the mountaintop of FUCK YOU, MAINSTREET!

    Trump drives a tractor into odd and laughs at its mangled body while his weird strange creepy son eats the heart from its kicking dying corpse.

  • straffinrun||

    Excellent imagery.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    straffinrun flies along the fucking ridge of taps mellowing across the foggy valleys
    the suns set screaming into the ear fucking distances and the lasers bounce and ping and bang
    across the billowing hells bursting with blood and fallen souls and bear cries.
    the earth gyrates and breaks as the waves of powerful men die on her beaches and she
    revolts and rains the storms of fucking hells on the goddamn swords of the lonely corpses
    digging their dying gasps into the landscapes of liquid sands

  • Agile Cyborg||

    The future, tho, has never been brighter for fucking sex kitchens and deep woods bars and, praise god, for fucking campfires round magicians handing out tiny penis heads that taste like garlic wood and hit like sorcerers waving big bangs. Praise the ancient gods for groves. And fuck government forever.

  • DenverJ||

    I think that means shrooms.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Denver has done garlic sparkle wood. Certain properties of alternate universes taste of magic and garlic and lovely odd mushy stems pranced on the fucking oddly lit kitchen countertops or end tables can induce the desire to unlock trapdoors into cognition... and when that sweet door is opened all sorts of wizards and ghosts peel out and demand your attention for a time. Pretty much as real as driving a car to your fucking sucky fuck ass job into the hell of whatever you. Yea... exactly except you will actually see tables float and alligators fist bump you and angels with big tits are bdsm types and not all godly and ever so agile.

  • DenverJ||

    I am honored

  • Quincy.||

    A space elevator and a postage stamp. A man can dream.

  • Loki||

    Drug Policy Alliance and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, others, speak out against Silk Road founder's absurd life sentence without parole.

    Was there anything in there about woodchippers?

  • Juvenile Bluster||

    What's a woodchipper? At Reason, we know nothing about woodchippers, and certainly nothing about joking about putting people into them, feet first. Because that would be wrong. And Preet might indict you. So you don't want that.

  • DenverJ||

    What kinda stoopid name is Preet, anyway? And, his mother dresses him funny.

  • ||

    Agile Cyborg for Poet Laureate of Reason

  • Juvenile Bluster||

    I continue to repeat the offer of increasing my yearly donation significantly if they give Agile Cyborg his own weekly column.

  • Sevo||

    Google must have put a kiddy-porn site on a screen just when the boss walked by:

    -Google's plans for new building would ax 'heritage' Redwoods-
    -Watch a Google car get pulled over on Street View-
    -Google car learned to dodge streakers, people chasing ducks-
    -Couple lived in an RV in Google's parking lot for 2 years-
    -Video shows progress on Apple's spaceship-like campus-
    -Microsoft is growing a huge campus in Google’s backyard-
    http://www.sfgate.com/

  • Agile Cyborg||

    today this day in fucking flat fucking fuck Ohio
    I drove by a bald eagle eating a deer next to a back road

    maybe some of you lovely friends see our powerful brother often
    I do not.

    and it has been several hours since and the power and fucking majesty of this great bird
    is still breaking into this conscious laser discontinuing like strains of screams and majesty
    leaving my fucking self lost behind in the goddamn shadows of true sweeping ancient times and screaming heights.
    Paul winter, thank you for Sunset on eagle mountain your ethodreams and my sliding tempests
    among the armored warriors of cloud freedoms of libertarian brethren on the ancient celestial mounts among the tallest sweeping temples.
    mists
    spectacle times writhing
    as the planet visions
    and cloud cries
    this lovely beast mounts dreams
    crashing into purile tyrannies with its shearing hunger
    ripping the powerful apart with its long gaze at the suns

  • Quincy.||

    I played with my cat today.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    man i falling into the screams of eagles, my brethren and float sisters. i love you

  • Quincy.||

    Swoop well.

  • John G Chase||

    The permanent remedy to block entrepreneurs like Ross Ulbricht would be to legalize and regulate drugs.

  • TriggerPuller||

    Why do articles like this insist on calling it non violent crime? first of all ask the folks living between here and Colombia or here and Asia where dope is produced if it is non violent. I know folks want to minimize the violence part so they can feel good about drug use but it simply isn't true. And even if it weren't Ross sought out people to help him have people killed. The only reason they weren't killed is he was luckily not talking to a real hitman whatever that may be.

    If you are able to abandon bias and stop cutting corners on reality and if you know the real details of the case you'd see that Ross is exactly where he needs to be for the length of time he should be there. You cannot mastermind an international criminal organization and attempt to hire people to murder other people and get a slap on the wrist.

    The ONLY surprising part of this case was that for once a criminal actually got a sentence he deserved.

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