Silk Road was to be this young man’s legacy. Yet Ross Ulbricht, 31-year old entrepreneur, will instead be spending the remaining days of his life on earth behind bars. He will serve a life sentence as an example to others not to follow in his footsteps. So, what did this young man do to render such a harsh judgement? He created an underground site, Silk Road, as a website that allowed all kinds of illegal activity to go on. Users were able to remain anonymous and buy or sell all kinds of illegal things, from hacked tutorials on other sites, to drugs and even money laundering.
The judge came down hard on Ulbricht simply because U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest wanted to make sure the message was loud and clear — no one is above the law, and there are serious consequences to illegal activities like this that are so clearly planned out on such a large scale. Ulbricht saw Silk Road as a kind of work of art — he undoubtedly felt he was pulling off one of the biggest scams in history.
How could a young man get to the point where he believed this site was his wonderful life’s work? Did he really think this was a good thing? Or did he believe he was just too smart to get caught — maybe too smug?
No one can get inside this young man’s head to really comprehend what he was thinking, but from what I understand about morality and God’s laws, when you are not taught that God is real, or that you will be held accountable for how you managed your life on earth, then consequences don’t hold a lot of weight, especially if you think you’ll never get caught by ‘simple-minded folk’ like law enforcement officials (let alone a supernatural power). In addition, if you are raised without much consideration for the moral laws God set up for humanity in the Bible, then you’re often left to believe that nothing is that wrong — just don’t get caught!
And that is exactly why he created Silk Road: he wanted to set up a site where people could be “empowered” by giving them a sense of freedom from breaking any set of laws since the site promised privacy. Penn State must have taught him a lot about technology, but nothing about ethics. This unregulated online marketplace used an electronic currency that was apparently hard to track. It survived three years before being shut down, and garnered over $214 million in sales.
The judge called Ulbricht a Kingpin drug dealer, one who ultimately bears responsibility for drug overdoses, addictions, and who knows what else? Some of Silk Road’s customers died from drugs they bought on his site. Ulbricht himself, apparently, used his site for several murder-for-hire attempts to thwart those who were after him.
Ulbricht begged for mercy, asking for leniency from the judge in a letter he wrote, expressing remorse. Mercy was not being handed out that day in court. Maybe behind bars he will have time to think about the mercy he could receive from God eternally because our Father in Heaven has no limits on mercy or grace to those who honestly repent, and ask for forgiveness. But keep Ulbricht behind bars this side of heaven because we cannot have men like him running internet sites that are so woefully corrupt.
Let his sentence be a reminder that when you loose all sense of what is right and wrong, and your conscience becomes desensitized to God’s laws (1 Tim. 4:2), corruption consumes your soul, your heart hardens and you reject the very purpose for which you were created by trying to become your own god.