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Topic: Why Does It Matter?
Posted by Everyman - 14:27:30 EST

It matters, about as much as anything can.

Know about it.

On January 11, 2011, Aaron was indicted, charged as a felon for doing what he believed was right, in the name of his freedom, and ours.

aaron schwartz

On January 11, 2013, Aaron took his own life by hanging.

Aaron Swartz did not go gently into that good night, and it will prove to be true - radically, demonstrably so - that he did not go alone.

To call those who prosecuted him "bullies" is to trivialize the term, and to demean Aaron because, by the time they were getting him to his denouement, he could no longer fight them.

Was Aaron a terrorist? Or a cracker trying to profit from stolen goods? Or was this something completely different?

Early on, and to its great credit, JSTOR . . . declined to pursue their own action against Aaron, and they asked the government to drop its. MIT, to its great shame, was not as clear, and so the prosecutor had the excuse he needed to continue his war against the "criminal" who we who loved him knew as Aaron.

Here is where we need a better sense of justice, and shame. For the outrageousness in this story is not just Aaron. It is also the absurdity of the prosecutorís behavior.

From the beginning, the government worked as hard as it could to characterize what Aaron did in the most extreme and absurd way. The "property" Aaron had "stolen," we were told, was worth "millions of dollars" ó with the hint, and then the suggestion, that his aim must have been to profit from his crime.

But anyone who says that there is money to be made in a stash of ACADEMIC ARTICLES is either an idiot or a liar. It was clear what this was not, yet our government continued to push as if it had caught the 9/11 terrorists red-handed.

Do something about it.

But watch over your shoulder as you do, because the forces - the people - who brought Aaron down are out there, and they are not done yet, with him or his legacy, or with you and the principles you hold dear.

Not by a long shot.


The lessons from Aaron's life, and death, are not at all free from difficulty.

He stood for something, although what, exactly, I'm not sure he knew himself.

Information must be free?

A banality, and transparently wrong, at that.

Swartz's girlfriend and family released a statement saying: "Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy . . . It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach."

Understandably, they want to infuse their loss with meaning. But did the prosecutors go wrong?

"I think Aaron was frightened and bewildered that they'd taken this incredibly hard line against him," said Mr. Peters, his lawyer. "He didn't want to go to jail. He didn't want to be a felon."

But he knowingly and willingly committed numerous felonies, did he not? I'm not hearing the lawyer say that Swartz didn't do what the prosecutors said he did. The argument was that the law ought to be different. If you break the laws as a way to make that argument, how is the prosecutor supposed to respond? Your argument is to the public and to the legislators.

To say he didn't want to be a felon is to express a wish about the past. And it's a wish that wasn't even true. Swartz wanted to be a felon who eludes prosecution. Who gets that wish in a system of law? The intelligent, educated, nice-looking, good guy with lovely friends and family? The person who credibly threatens self-murder? The activist capable of articulating why the crime he committed should not be a crime?

If Aaron Swartz had been somehow granted his wish not to be held accountable for his acts, what, then, would ha have achieved by those acts?

Would there have been any real meaning to what he did?

If so, what would it have been?

As perplexing a tale as it is sad and, yes, senseless.

And perhaps senseless . . .

Worst of all.


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