A recent Ars Technica piece on Ross Ulbricht gave me another lesson on why so many won’t talk to the press. The writer approached us through a friend, emailing: “I’d really love (the Ulbricht family) to elaborate on the points that they think that Ross’s conviction would somehow damage Internet freedom.” So I actually thought this would be the focus of the article.

Instead the headline blasts a remark I made about being “proud” (yes, in quotes) of my son. Is it really headline news that a mother is proud of her son? And how does this pertain to Internet freedom? At first glance I thought it said I was proud of my son’s alleged Silk Road involvement, but then noticed the second line, “says he’s innocent.” Of course we are all innocent until proven guilty, and no actual evidence is in.  I wonder how a mother believing in her son warrants a headline. Frankly, I felt used and mocked.

The article goes on to rehash the case, with detailed focus on six murder-for-hire charges. However, it glaringly omits the fact that the New York prosecution did not actually indict Ross for any murder allegations. After three paragraphs of presenting the prosecution’s case, isn’t this worth a mention?

I was surprised that the article stated that the Electronic Frontier Foundation is not supporting the Ulbricht defense team. On the contrary, EFF has maintained an interest in the case from the outset. When we were looking for a lawyer, they connected us with Joshua Dratel and we retained him in great part because of their recommendation. EFF has been in contact with him ever since.

During our conversation the author seemed more interested in probing personal details than addressing the Internet issue, although the article eventually gets there. When we did discuss Internet freedom and motions submitted by Ross’ attorney, he seemed to have strong opinions on the case and we argued several points. Wrapping it up I remarked, “Well, we’ve certainly had a spirited discussion!” I hung up feeling like I had been in a debate — on the defensive — not in an interview.

Later, reading the comments, I was stunned to see, in a string chosen as “Editor’s Pick” and posted at the top under “Promoted Comments”: He’ll probably make a nice wife for some large, angry inmate at the booty house. It’s bad enough to make the comment, but for the editor to promote it? One person commented:

no excuse to imply that he deserves to be sexually tortured in prison. The attitude that rape is to be tolerated and even casually joked about online, just because it happens in prison, is barbaric and inhumane. And that yours is an “Editor’s Pick” comment, when it’s specifically predicated on and quotes your previous rape joke, really disappoints me.

And another:

I’m terribly disappointed in the Ars editor (writ exceedingly small) for having promoted a statement of unrelated facts used as a weasely response to justify an endorsement of the contemptible idea that prison rape as justice is somehow ok or even desirable.

(Note:  Since reading this blog, the author deselected this comment for inappropriateness).

Yes, I am being schooled by the media. It’s my nature to be open and expressive, and I’m inexperienced.  But I’m learning. I now understand that when someone says “No comment,” they aren’t being rude and they don’t necessarily have something to hide. Rather they have likely learned their lesson – probably the hard way.  Of course there are many professional and responsible journalists, and I’ve met some of them. But talking to the media is not like talking to an acquaintance. They can blast something all over the world, and you can’t respond. It’s out there. They have the last word, and you don’t know what it will be. Navigating a minefield comes to mind.