Debate is a central part of the cryptocurrency community at large. Open forums such as Bitcoin.com have fostered mostly healthy fork debate about Bitcoin’s future. It appears at least one participant wished to stifle debate, and in a horrible way.
Fork Debate Turns Ugly and Dangerous
Online forums were bursting with outrage over a new low in the fork controversy popularly known as Segwit2x or the scaling debate.
“They essentially tried to get him or his family killed, only takes a simple mistake and [you’re] dead, happens regularly with [SWAT]. Essentially attempted murder, IMO. Whoever did that to him you are scum of the earth,” one poster characterized the event.
Another commenter on a rival forum added “this is dangerous and a very low move,” while yet another agreed and stated plainly, “Anyone who supports [either side in the fork debate] should absolutely condemn such tactics.”
Monday around 9 in the morning, Durham, North Carolina police were dispatched to Jameson Lopp’s house in an effort to address a hostage situation.
The caller’s voice was obviously disguised, saying someone had already been shot fifteen times in the house, and that the caller was holding hostages.
Explosives, the call claimed, were at the home’s door. The caller demanded something like a ransom, threatening “If I see any police coming toward the front door who aren’t handling a bag full of money, I’ll shoot them on sight.”
“By my voice, you can tell I’m not in a mental health state,” the caller claimed.
Emergency medical services, mobile command, and bulletproof vested police cordoned off Mr. Lopp’s neighborhood.
As police surrounded his home, Mr. Lopp apprised authorities of the real situation.
“I am not intimidated by this,” Jameson Lopp, Bitgo engineer and vocal Twitter personality in the fork conversation, stared into the camera defiantly. “This is actually, from my perspective, evidence that the people who want to do this do not have the guts to say anything to my face. They don’t have the guts to come here and actually tell me what their problem is with me.”
A Sad History, Unfortunately
There’s no doubt some in the niche debate will use Mr. Lopp’s experience to score political points.
The truth is far more nuanced, as prominent bitcoiners are targeted for extortion regardless of their opinions. Perhaps the best-known, and saddest, case involved that of the then-dying Hal Finney, an icon in the Bitcoin community long rumored to have been behind the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym.
Mr. Finney, who at the time suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease and was completely dependent on his wife, was the victim of a similar extortion attempt involving false reports to police. It went on for a year, and some even believe it continues to the present day in various forms against family who survives him.
Surely cryptocurrency advocates on either side of the fork debate do not need any more popular media associations with violence nor criminality.
As the latest hard fork nears, estimates put the triggering block height 494,784 to occur around mid-November, it’s important discussions remain uncensored and within bounds of basic civility.
To the community’s credit, all sides have come to Jameson Lopp’s defense.
Images courtesy of: CSOR, Wired, Twitter, Durham PD.