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View Diary: Aaron Swartz' Death Is Our Legacy (262 comments)

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  •  Holder would merely respond that ... (1+ / 0-)
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    Don midwest

    Schwartz hadn't even been tried yet, much less found guilty or sentenced.  It may turn out that his depression was more of a factor than his legal circumstances.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

    by Neuroptimalian on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 05:09:17 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  not according to his family. they attribute (16+ / 0-)

      his suicide directly to the relentless legal pursuit of him by the Justice Department.

    •  Yes, there are a lot of leaping to conclusions... (6+ / 0-) this thread. And too much reduction of a complex personality and human life to the causes he fought for. I understand the grief, but find where it's going unfortunate.

      There's not enough attention to the fact that Aaron was a very intense, emotionally unstable individual who burned very brightly, took significant risks, often isolated himself socially, and turned on close friends and peers mercurially and often unexpectedly. He was subject to many peaks and troughs, and there's no one thing that would have inevitably caused this awful result - but there are many that could have.

      The irony of this narrative that he was driven to death by the thought of prison time (though as you rightfully say, Aaron had not had his day in court yet, he had several legal allies, and conviction was no sure thing by any means) -- the irony of this is that it reduces and trivializes a young fighter who spent a decade courting conflict, proudly, publicly, defiantly. To say that he just snapped one day at the thought of incarceration is too convenient, benefiting his enemies as much as his allies.

      I say this as both a strong supporter of Creative Commons and an admirer of both Aaron and his fellow travelers like Lessig. The worst fate that can befall a difficult, impossible, beautiful creature like Aaron Swartz is to become a martyr - even for causes he deeply believed in. Don't trade a life for a symbol.

      'Fie upon the Congress' - Sen Bob Byrd

      by Maxwell on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 05:59:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •   I base my understanding of what drove him (14+ / 0-)

        to this more on what his family has to say than anyone else.

        Yes, clearly he was complex and he had to have been someone who was predisposed to depression.

        Still the response to what he did was disproportionate and his family has made it clear that the legal pursuit of him played heavily into his mental/emotional state and they see it very much as the trigger.

        •  Consider that his family is also in deep shock... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Neuroptimalian, VClib

          ...and grief at the moment, and like you, are seeking explanation. Like any loved one in a time of sorrow, they are not necessarily the most objective witnesses.

          There's no question that the pursuit and prosecution of Swartz was disproportionate, but it would be unfaithful to him not to concede that he courted conflict, fought authority, and chose big stages on which to do it. Yes, he was very vulnerable in doing so, and the full story of that vulnerability is not merely a political story.

          'Fie upon the Congress' - Sen Bob Byrd

          by Maxwell on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 06:40:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I am going to heed (25+ / 0-)

        Lawrence Lessig's word here and Lessig knew Swartz very well.  I would hope that you would do the same.  And note the title that Lessig chose.

        There are only two things bolded in Lessig's post. This is the first one:

        Please don’t pathologize this story.
        Prosecutor as bully

        The billions of snippets of sadness and bewilderment spinning across the Net confirm who this amazing boy was to all of us. But as I’ve read these aches, there’s one strain I wish we could resist:

        Please don’t pathologize this story.

        No doubt it is a certain crazy that brings a person as loved as Aaron was loved (and he was surrounded in NY by people who loved him) to do what Aaron did. It angers me that he did what he did. But if we’re going to learn from this, we can’t let slide what brought him here.


        For remember, we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House — and where even those brought to “justice” never even have to admit any wrongdoing, let alone be labeled “felons.”

        In that world, the question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a “felon.” For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept, and so that was the reason he was facing a million dollar trial in April — his wealth bled dry, yet unable to appeal openly to us for the financial help he needed to fund his defense, at least without risking the ire of a district court judge. And so as wrong and misguided and fucking sad as this is, I get how the prospect of this fight, defenseless, made it make sense to this brilliant but troubled boy to end it.

        Fifty years in jail, charges our government. Somehow, we need to get beyond the “I’m right so I’m right to nuke you” ethics that dominates our time. That begins with one word: Shame.

        One word, and endless tears


        "Justice is a commodity"

        by joanneleon on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 07:44:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  He was arrested by the feds 2 years ago (9+ / 0-)

        Do you have any idea what it's like to be the target of a federal investigation and prosecution effort by the DOJ for that length of time?

        I've not experienced it personally, but more than a few well known targets have buckled under the strain.  It would be a terrible experience, to live every day of your life for two years under pressure from the DOJ & FBI, media scrutiny, pressure on your family and friends.

        It doesn't seem fair to blame the victim for this one.

        Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

        by Betty Pinson on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 08:37:18 PM PST

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        •  Not blaming the victim. (0+ / 0-)

          Quite the opposite. I'm trying to grant Aaron the agency that he had, rather than making him merely a victim in the service of a political narrative.

          He was an activist and a crusader with significant intellectual gifts. He took on a big opponents. At the same time, as befits a complex individual, he was also vulnerable, and he wrote about that vulnerability – physically, psychologically, temperamentally – rather obsessively.

          I feel like some of the people talking about him now really didn't read his writing much.

          'Fie upon the Congress' - Sen Bob Byrd

          by Maxwell on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:46:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Mawell, there is a lot of ignorance here (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melo, NoMoreLies, emal, aitchdee, stargaze, dionys1

        from someone whose profile includes AI.

        I have some extensive experience with depression, in several varieties. Also training and experience as an RN. I find Lessig and the family's comments to be very appropriate and need to add that there is a widespread misunderstanding of depression. It usually has several underlying factors. Ultimately, it is like any disease, controlled steadily, until something in the causes and controls goes too far out of balance. The huge difference is that it is the control center that is no longer working. The individual was very likely in control the last time they saw or spoke to family, friends or anyone else. The sudden change used to make me think of a window being opened - with an overwhelming sense that it was the escape I had searched for.

        Just as important, different people have different experiences, symptoms, etc than others. "Snapping" does NOT describe what I experienced when I decided to act on my homicidal as well as suicidal thoughts.

        Far from it, I was suddenly at peace. What stopped me was sort of a fluke. I recognized the irony of my thoughts and laughed... Yes, humor is the best medicine. Endorphins are natural pain killers.

        Others have described different triggers or reasons.

        There is no explaining the mental and emotional pain that allows ideas of committing suicide, hurting family members you love, to be pursued anyway. My plan to kill both children was a purely practical way to remove them from the pain, and being left with their Dad as sole parent.

        For me, apathy is the real mind killer in depression.

        What I am struggling with is how this country treats the best and the brightest, versus the richest. We should all be far too familiar with destructive behavior by really, really bright people. Aaron clearly had no inclination to hurt anyone else physically.

        So one of the parts of the discussion of death and violence needs to include not just mental illness care, but social changes. We revere and shower attention on sports figures, entertainers, business successes, politicians, and the beautiful. We give lip service honor to others.  We give ridicule and disrespect to many just for being different, pursuing their own convictions or values.  We simply ignore far too many others.

        Somewhere, there are some very bright people who have studied this, probably have personal experience, and could give us really good information and ideas that will truly get us to the causes and cures for these problems. They would be some of the best and brightest we tend to ignore.

        "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

        by Ginny in CO on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 09:49:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why the ad hominem? (0+ / 0-)

          Why preface all these fine thoughts with a personal attack – in fact one where you go into my profile, cherrypick a biographical detail, and then use it to anchor an insult to a perfect stranger?  Much of what you're saying here reiterates the points I attempted to make rather than contradicting them. If you read what I wrote more closely, you'll see that I was critiquing the narrative of 'snapping', not confirming it.

          We could probably have a decent conversation given that, prior to a life in software, I spent several years working in psychiatric nursing, and have dealt with cases of depression both vocationally and in terms of family and friends. But the ugliness of how you began your commentary makes me hesitate.

          'Fie upon the Congress' - Sen Bob Byrd

          by Maxwell on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:26:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Very well stated (0+ / 0-)

        Thank you.  Did you know him, personally?

        The system isn't broken; it's fixed - OWS sign

        by john07801 on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 02:28:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  As one who was harassed briefly by our (12+ / 0-)

      beneficent government long ago, I can assure you that it is enough to break most people. Depressed or not. The harassment at a minimum would include interception of all communications, tailing, sneak and peek at will until one would not be sure of one's friends or enemies. There have been countless stories of people breaking,down. Especially if one is not overly wealthy although even some of these have cracked.

      Really the pressure is immense and relentless.

      If... the machine of government... is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. ~Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobediance, 1849

      by shigeru on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 09:04:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They should talk to Thomas Drake (6+ / 0-)

        about what it's like to be harassed by our government, if they doubt Aaron and you.

        Maybe someone who once worked for the NSA will get their attention.

        if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 11:01:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am doubtful that they will listen. (7+ / 0-)

          The apologists are either too enamored of the current admin to admit it is fallible or too blinded by what they believe the US is. In fact the security apparatus is run by the same crypto-fascists today as it was 50 years ago. The leaders come and go but the institutions have the same mindset as in 1953.

          If... the machine of government... is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. ~Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobediance, 1849

          by shigeru on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:34:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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