Vanity Fair just published this piece about Ross Ulbricht. He’s not a fan of the Silk Road or what Ulbricht did. I disagree, as much (though not all) of the commerce the Silk Road facilitated was commerce that never should have been illegal in the first place. There were also plenty of problems with his trial, including the corruption of some of the agents involved. Ulbricht is not the same level of hero as Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, or Edward Snowden, but unless that murder charge actually resurfaces and is proven he certainly doesn’t belong in prison for facilitating commerce between consenting adults.
But fine. Nick Bilton disagrees with me and my take on things. That’s ok. But what’s not ok is this supposed gotcha paragraph: “I find it reprehensible that people on social media are so adamant that Ulbricht should be freed because he performed his crimes from behind a computer. That a Black man—without a smattering of Ulbricht’s power, resources, education, or support network—will spend the next two and a half decades of his life in prison for committing a fraction of the crimes that Ulbricht engaged in is not a part of that discussion, and that, to me, is an argument of privilege. If Ulbricht’s supporters really cared about the war on drugs or libertarian ideals, they’d be demanding that the nearly half a million people currently in U.S. jails for drug offenses should be pardoned too.”
There are plenty of reasons to criticize libertarians and libertarianism-hell, I offer plenty, and I’m in the movement. My friends across the political spectrum usually offer plenty more…but they’ve actually read some libertarian thinkers and have at least an ok idea of what we actually think and believe, even if we disagree vigorously on interpretation and worldview. But this statement? This is the height of ignorance. This is some “yellowcake uranium” level of stupidity.
So. Newsflash for you Nick Bilton. The Libertarian Party and the entire libertarian movement have been calling for the complete end to the drug war and immediate pardons & exonerations for its victims for as long as there’s been a libertarian movement. It’s been the signature issue of every LP presidential candidate since at least Harry Browne, including Jo Jorgensen and and Spike Cohen this year. We’ve been decrying the drug war for a host of reasons, including but not limited to its racist enforcement, its destructive effects on minority communities and individuals, its use to justify every other bad thing that government does from theft, to domestic spying, to eminent domain, to insane foreign policy, to economic protectionism, to its stifling of medical research, to its environmental destruction, to straight up murder, and the fact that it’s completely anti-freedom. I’m glad you’re finally catching up to where we were in the early 1970s.
I recommend the following reading, so you never write anything so divorced from reality on this issue again:
- Ron Paul, 1988 LP presidential candidate and arguably the most small l libertarian Congressperson of the modern age, http://issues2000.org/tx/Ron_Paul_Drugs.htm
- Jo Jorgensen, 2020 LP presidential candidate https://heraldbulletin.com/news/presidential-candidate-jorgensen-promises-a-smaller-federal-government-more-individual-freedoms/article_006497c8-011b-11eb-a803-730078b14970.html,
- Spike Cohen, 2020 LP vice presidential candidate, https://facebook.com/portiatakestheblackbelt/videos/1363739010482381/
- Harry Browne, 1996 and 2000 LP presidential candidate, and the first person I cast a presidential ballot for, https://harrybrowne.org/GLO/DrugWar.htm
But really dude. This took 30 seconds worth of googling. Yet somehow you write for Vanity Fair and have a book deal, and I’m just some rando small activist on the internet.