This appeared yesterday as an opinion piece in The Daily Journal, Vineland, New Jersey.

Daily Journal Illo

Daily Journal Editor’s note: Federal officials say Silk Road was an online anonymous black market for buying and selling illegal drugs. The FBI shut it down in 2013.

After watching the Ross Ulbricht trial kick off last week in Manhattan over his role in Silk Road, I felt compelled to share these views. As a Hollywood/Las Vegas-based novelist and filmmaker of “Alongside Night,” this story brings up a debate over online commerce and the dangers of too much government regulation.

Whether or not Ross Ulbricht is Silk Road’s founder, the Dread Pirate Roberts (or one of the Dread Pirate Roberts, remembering that in William Goldman’s “The Princess Bride” the Dread Pirate Roberts was a title for multiple pirates), the founder of Silk Road did in real life what the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre in both my novel and movie “Alongside Night” do: create, maintain, and protect a free marketplace from coercive interference by violent criminals, cartels, and governments.

This is not a coincidence since Silk Road’s founder wrote explicitly1 that “Alongside Night” directly inspired Silk Road. As the author and filmmaker, it makes me feel that my fictional story has real-world impact, and if done within the moral and legal guidelines as portrayed in my novel and movie scenario, I could not be prouder.

Just because someone with power declares an item of commerce contraband does not make it harmful or illegal. Recently the EPA, based on the mega-fraud that the natural plant-breathing gas carbon dioxide is harmful, outlawed the manufacture of wood-burning stoves. A blacksmith who made wood-burning stoves and sold them through a Silk Road-type of marketplace would be exercising rights the American Revolution was fought to establish but that the government violates.

Is selling marijuana wrong? Several states say using marijuana is fine for recreational use and many more say it’s fine for medicinal use. Yet the federal government, which is supposed to do only things listed in the Constitution, has several massive agencies to interfere with trade in pharmaceuticals — the FDA and the DEA foremost among them. Find the word “drug” anywhere among the listed powers in the Constitution. You won’t. They’re not listed in the Constitution. Therefore any act of Congress or regulation promulgated by the Executive Branch is null and void from its passage or declaration, and any enforcement of these illegal acts and regulations is abuse of power under color of law — a federal crime in Title 18 Section 242 of the United States Code.

Add marijuana to one more thing the government shoves into underground marketplaces like Silk Road, but which it has no business prohibiting in the first place.

How about selling untaxed cigarettes? A death penalty was just meted out by New York City police for that — before even an indictment, much less a trial or conviction.

Selling lemonade without a permit?

Selling farm-fresh milk that hasn’t been boiled?

Oh, but the people are too stupid to make their own judgments about what they should put in their bodies. We the enlightened elite know better and if you don’t do exactly what we say. Well, we already have more people in prison than almost any other country on earth.

Room for one more.

“Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”

Who said that? Look it up.

J. Neil Schulman

Writer, director “Alongside Night

J. Neil Schulman (based in Los Angeles and Las Vegas) is the author of 10 books, including three novels. He is the writer/producer/director of the near-future suspense feature film “Alongside Night” (out in a limited release), which he adapted from his 1979 novel of the same name.

1 footnote text

“I read everything I could to deepen my understanding of economics and liberty, but it was all intellectual, there was no call to action except to tell the people around me what I had learned and hopefully get them to see the light. That was until I read “Alongside night” and the works of Samuel Edward Konkin III. At last the missing puzzle piece!” —”Collected Quotations Of The Dread Pirate Roberts, Founder Of Underground Drug Site Silk Road And Radical Libertarian,”

Update February 4, 2015:

Wired Magazine: “Silk Road Mastermind Ross Ulbricht Convicted of All 7 Charges”

Ross Ulbricht
Ross Ulbricht
Photo Courtesy Ulbricht Family

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