Canarypunk: Jim Bell in a coalmine

Robert Hettinga rah at
Sun Aug 17 12:44:36 PDT 1997

Okay. So we know that Bell has pled, and he's in there for a while.

How long until he gets out, now?

Has he moved to another facility?

Is all this moot because he's admitting to something which is not related
to his activities on this list? If I remember, his A/P rant here was still
pretty central to the Feds' case, right?

At 2:51 am -0400 on 6/23/97, Blanc wrote:

> I live about an hour's drive from Tacoma.   I'm not too enthused about
> taking such a lengthy trip just to go see how Mr. Private Assassinations is
> doing, but - taking after your own methods, Robert - I'd be glad to do it
> in exchange for a trip to Anguilla next Feb.  :>)

Well, if he's still in there, and Vince Cate is up for it, we can probably
give you a scholarship, which, for FC98, means we let you in the door free.
Unfortunately, we're not quite in the business of flying people down to
Anguilla and putting them up, just yet, so you're still going to have to
get there under your own power. Also, this would be a one shot deal, in
that we couldn't really do this for anyone else. First person(s) to the
train locker, and all that. Mostly it's to show that I, and maybe Vince, if
not the rest of the FC++ organization, realize that there, for the grace of
the net, go us, too, someday, if we don't do something to show that people
like Jim Bell, however loony or repugnant their ideas are to us personally,
are not alone.

> (You know, it is true that having friends in times of stress, like when
> you're sitting in jail, is good for the soul, but on the other hand one
> must give credit to Jim for his having created his own situation.   He did
> provoke the government types into suspicions about him and he must have
> known that distributing his AP ideas,  containing such apparent potential
> for being translated into reality, would make him a grand target.   When
> you do things like that, you ought to consider what you're going to do when
> "they" come after you.   He afterall is quite aware of the atmosphere in
> which we live and how fragile is the relationship (if it can be called
> that) which civilians have with the local military saviors which daily
> protect us from ourselves.)

I think we're all guilty of that, myself. Frankly, every subscriber to this
list has said things, probably on this very forum, which can be used, if
not now, then someday, to politically incarcerate them. Cockroaches scatter
in the presence of light, however. So maybe it's time to shine a little
light into the coal mine and see if the canary still breathes...

I also agree that simple speech is probably not what got Mr. Bell into
jail. However, he is the first cypherpunk to go to jail for talking about
what is an inherently cypherpunk idea. Not to mention a somewhat plausible
application of financial cryptography. :-).

> Having said that, I'll consider the possibility, if visitors are allowed on
> weekends.   Perhaps several cpunks could go (if anyone else around here
> interested? (Wei, Joel, I know you're just dying to go <g>)), if more than
> one visitor at a time is allowed .

Let Vince and I know how many people are going with you. We can't go giving
free badges to everyone who visits Bell in jail, but we can sweeten the pot
with a few FC98 tickets to committed cypherpunks who might not go to FC98
-- or to see Bell, for that matter -- otherwise.

Bob Hettinga

Robert Hettinga (rah at, Philodox
e$, 44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'
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