Charlie Shrem vocally and defiantly advocated Bitcoin in his first public presentation since his arrest last month. He addressed the Texas Bitcoin Conference in Austin remotely via skype while under house arrest.
Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Pirate Party in Sweden, had the speech transcribed and written on his website.
As an introduction, Shrem said:
“I was invited to speak at Texas Bitcoin Conference in Austin this past week. Due to my house arrest, I’ve been largely staying low key but felt I needed to make a statement, a strong one. I asked Rick if I could use his speech from the Stockholm 2006 pro-freedom demonstration and adapt it to Bitcoin, which he agreed to. The speech ended to a standing ovation, and although I was over Skype I could not help but burst into tears. Free knowledge, free the market, free the world!”
Falkvinge spearheaded the Pirate Party as part of a movement against what they perceived as unfair law when it comes to copyrights, patents and file sharing. He delivered the aforementioned well-known “Nothing new under the Sun” speech following a raid on party offices in May 2006, after which his party rapidly gained popularity. He has also recently taken up the cause of Bitcoin.
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In his speech, Shrem extolled the virtues of Bitcoin in contrast with the alleged evils of the traditional banking and governance systems.
He made reference to the manner in which he was arrested and how his personal freedom was lost, and how such actions are really a pretext to protect the status quo and stifle innovation. He did stop short though of denying or otherwise addressing the specific charges levied against him.
The major theme of comparison was the Church’s and royal families’ stifling of the printing press, free dissemination of information and public literacy several hundred years ago (recall that the speech was adapted from Falkvinge’s).
Of note as well was his praise of Ben Lawsky and his mentioning that Bitinstant in fact worked with Lawsky’s office for over a year.
Some readers of the site have criticized Falkvinge for lending his platform to Shrem. Some expressed opposition to Bitcoin altogether, while others vented their disgust at Bitcoin Foundation who “are grossly responsible for the MtGox disasters and the thousands of lives they’ve ruined” and at “Charlie Schrem [sic] in particular” who “was tweeting in support of his friends at MtGox.”
However, the upbeat feedback toward Bitcoin, Falkvinge & Co largely outweighed the negative commentary.