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Cypherpunk Bell gets ten years

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Cypherpunk Jim Bell was convicted of stalking IRS agent Jeff Gordon (who had previously investigated him) back in April, and finally sentenced last week to an incredible ten years in stir and fined $10,000.

Bell is the author of a 1996 essay called Assassination Politics, which appears to advocate using digital cash to reward people who kill corrupt or otherwise undesirable members of the government.

This, in combination with his keen interest in the comings and goings of a couple of federal agents, added up to a decidedly less than wholesome appearance which landed him in the dock in Washington State.

Bell might have distanced himself from the essay as a bit of fiction and exhibited some compunction in court. Unfortunately, he played the martyr and thus did pretty much everything he could to damage himself during the trial, making paranoid claims that his lawyer wished to kill him and otherwise sprinkling his testimony with liberal pinches of fantasy and delusion.

He capped off his performance by filing a civil lawsuit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Practices (RICO) Act against the judge, the prosecutor, and even his own lawyer.

His chief crime was to be a fat, unattractive, mean-spirited loner with a thinking disorder. Possibly dangerous, certainly self-destructive, but far more in need of treatment than punishment.

Unfortunately, extravagant public spending on prisons needed to accommodate the war on Negroes drugs has made it necessary for America's penal institutions to serve as its default mental health infrastructure, the distinction between 'justice' and 'punishment' having long ago evaporated from the popular imagination.

And so once again an obviously sick man is to be 'treated' with the finest warehousing money can buy. ®

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