Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Losing Aaron

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the sense-from-senselessness dept.

News 199

theodp writes "It's said that you can't fully understand someone until you meet their family. In Janelle Nanos's 'Losing Aaron,' you'll meet Bob Swartz, father of the late Aaron Swartz and adviser to MIT's Media Lab, and get a better understanding of how Aaron's family helped plant the seeds of his idealism. You'll also, sadly, see how MIT — the institution which Bob Swartz long felt stood for compassion and creativity, challenging authority, and pure scientific inquiry — took a self-described stance of 'neutrality' in the aggressive prosecution of his son that ended with Aaron's senseless death last January. 'Clearly I failed,' a tortured Bob Swartz acknowledges. 'There's no question, my son is dead. On the other hand, do I feel that I didn't try hard enough? Yes. Do I feel guilt about not trying hard enough? No. If you understand the distinction I'm trying to make. Could I have done more? Of course I could have done more. Because you can always do more. Did I put everything in that I possibly could? Did I work as hard pretty much as I knew how? Yes. Do I wish I did more? Yes. But I don't go home at night and say, "Well, you didn't care." Because I did. I cared about it more than anything else. And I don't go home at night and say, "I didn't try." Because I tried. Everything I could figure out. But I failed.'"

cancel ×

199 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

"Senseless Death?" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45855779)

Was he killed by a mob of angry citizens? Wrongfully executed?

No.

He committed suicide, the coward's solution, after committing a crime. He happily committed the crime, and when he realized there would be consequences to his actions, he decided to avoid them, too.

Re: "Senseless Death?" (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45855821)

Yes, his death was senseless, and my heart goes out to his family. Aaron did not deserve to be persecuted, and MIT should be embarrassed for their acquiescence. As a father myself, I can empathized with Aaron's father. It really hurts to know that you've done everything you can, but sometimes it isn't enough.

Re: "Senseless Death?" (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45857151)

He was not being "persecuted". Claiming that only serves to demean those around the world who really are being persecuted.

Re:"Senseless Death?" (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45855833)

Indeed. He should have been an obedient member of the 2% of Americans who live in jail.

Land of the Free(TM).

Fuck that.

Re:"Senseless Death?" (0)

Desler (1608317) | about 7 months ago | (#45857179)

While many non-violent offenders should not be jailed for their petty "crimes" (especially to keep numbers up in privately-owned prisons), "land of the free" has never implied "free to commit crimes and violate the rights of others". That's just absolute silliness.

That's a Troll Post? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45857377)

I think OP nailed it. At least, it should be modded up so people can respond to it (by addressing the actual points he's making, not via sarcastic ad hominem attacks).

MIT's failure to intervene (0, Flamebait)

byolinux (535260) | about 7 months ago | (#45855783)

Was a failure to stop what happened, no doubt about that.

Re:MIT's failure to intervene (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 7 months ago | (#45857195)

As far as I can tell, MIT was on the side of the prosecution.

No matter what happens... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45855787)

No matter what happens, it's always murder.

At the time of his death, he was working on a way for whistleblowers to anonymously submit resources to news agencies.

LONG LIVE MIT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45855791)

MIT will live on, because MIT is for winners. Aaron was a loser. That's why he's dead.

please stop (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45855839)

Someone who kills themselves rather than go to prison for 4 or maybe 18 months is very sick. Especially when they are independently wealthy, widely considered to be a genius, and have many well connected friends who will help them get back on their feet. I know that Swartz was loved by many people, including those with bully pulpits, but blaming other people for his death is revolting. The people who were close to him blame themselves for not helping him and are lashing out at the prosecutors and MIT.

As for the prosecution of his case, ask yourself why Swartz didn't access JSTOR with his own account at Harvard.

Re:please stop (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45855881)

I think you are whitewashing the prosecutor. He demanded something like 25 years.

Re: please stop (3, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | about 7 months ago | (#45855921)

4 months or 25 years, Aaron could have done more good alive in jail than dead. Death never solves anything. If you're going to die then die fighting for what you believe not by suicide.

Jesus (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856009)

I am sure you can explain to us why it was Jesus' own fault to be nailed to a cross. He should have known that he should not tip over the tables of moneychangers.

Exactly the same with this guy. And Bradley Manning.

We are living in a world of corrupt ethics, our world is propelled by the dark fire of wickedness and lies.

Cheers.

Re:Jesus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856323)

Wow. We've now equating Manning to Jesus? I'm used to seeing that done with Assange and Snowden, but now Manning? Now we've got the Holy Trinity!

You people need to graduate high school or college and go and find out what the Real World is like.

Nope (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856401)

Tell me what Bradley Manning did wrong on an ethical basis ? He exposed brutal, cynical behaviour in a war that was clearly illegal. And then a "constitutional lawyer" turned out to be a Torture-Meister. He gave up his life for the truth and for a better world

In my ethical framework, that amounts to Jesus. No less, no more. And I don't need the official church to see this. They are corrupt conspirators with the rich, powerful, warmaking, warmongering and Apartheid-state-runners these days.

If your corrupt mind cannot see this truth, I really feel sorry for you. Their propaganda has sowed your eyes shut.

Re:Nope (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856645)

As a military intelligence officer he released military intelligence during wartime in a war that LEGALLY approved by all political parties in both the US and the UK. Intelligence that showed no specific wrong doing, showed no new information to already well known war crimes and led to absolutely 0 investigations but managed to expose, endanger AND KILL sympathizers and spies working with the US and the UK on the other side.

Manning wanted payback for being bullied and not being promoted. He got it.

Contrast that with Snowden who's leaks point directly to constitutional violations against US citizens.

If your naive little mind cannot figure that out, I really feel sorry for you. Your propaganda has *sewed* your eyes shut.

Re:Nope (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856795)

I am sure Adolf Hilter's and Napoleon Bonaparte's lawyers approved of their respective actions, too. And sure Stalin got whatever "justice" he demanded.
But it is still a fact the Iraq war was done for the benefit of the jews, who had a bill to settle with Saddam. And the arms industry, who needed revenue. It was plain illegal and Bush is a war criminal. Plus the helo pilots are cyncial bastards.

Bradley Manning ? He merely violated some technicalities in the big picture of a crime that cost 100k people, AND COUNTING, their lifes. Committed by George Bush and Dick Cheney. Against the clear will of CIA, for example.

Re:Nope (5, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about 7 months ago | (#45857279)

but managed to expose, endanger AND KILL sympathizers and spies working with the US and the UK on the other side.

Sorry cold fjord, but this is false [techdirt.com] . From here [courthousenews.com] :

The military's position took another hit Wednesday, as the former brigadier general who headed the Information Review Task Force investigating the leaks said that he had never heard that a source named in the Afghan war logs was killed.

Though the Taliban had claimed that its review of the war logs led them to an Afghan whom the U.S. military named as a source, the supposed informant the Taliban claimed to have executed was not in fact named in the leaked materials.

Now-retired Brig. Gen. Robert Carr had wanted to testify about the Taliban's claim Wednesday, but Col. Denise Lind, the military judge presiding over Manning's court-martial, barred such testimony as inadmissible hearsay.

The revelation supports an assessment by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that the rhetoric about the supposed harm caused by the leaks was "fairly significantly overwrought."

Re: Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856819)

Yes you are right.
Then he dumped a lot other classified stuff too.

Same with snowden. Why release document showing the NSA is spying on the world. That is there actual job.

Re:Jesus (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856427)

I think you're misunderstanding the difference between the colloquial "He was crucified" and what crucifixion actually was.

Jesus was executed for crimes against the state.

Aaron was not, nor was he going to be.

Re:Jesus (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 7 months ago | (#45856783)

According to the biblical account, the local Roman authority stated that Jesus had committed no crimes.

Re:Jesus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856923)

And then Pilot offered him up to the people to be freed and they said execute him anyway and Pilot washed his hands of the ordeal and said "not my problem man!" (in so many words) and Jesus was executed anyway.

Re:Jesus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45857013)

Please - it's "Pilate", not "Pilot". No aircraft in those days. I'll give you ships, though.

Re:Jesus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45857247)

You're right my bad... No coffee yet this morning!

(No wait.. it was the stupid smartphone spell check... yeah... yeah that's the ticket!)

Re:Jesus (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 7 months ago | (#45857367)

Exactly. Thus he didn't commit crimes against the state.

Re:Jesus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45857359)

Because the bible is not biased nor did the writers have any sort of agenda, right?

4 months and what? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856079)

Not being allowed to touch a computer again? No ability to get a job with a felony record...it was a felony right?

He saved his family from bankruptcy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45857373)

4 months or 25 years, Aaron could have done more good alive in jail than dead. Death never solves anything. If you're going to die then die fighting for what you believe not by suicide.

You are overlooking that Aaron's decision was not just to avoid jail time. It was also to save his family from bankruptcy for his legal defense. The prosecutor made sure that even if Aaron would be acquitted from all charges, the running tab for that would be in the millions.

The U.S. "plea deal" system is not just bereaving defendants of a jury trial by the threat of jail time, but rather with the immense cost of an effective defense. If you are innocent, you can buy yourself out of every year of prosecution jail time for about $200000 in legal defense cost. If you are guilty, it gets more expensive and less reliable to buy yourself out, but the main mitigating factor is not innocence but money.

The prosecutor was going for the 25 year demand. Getting Aaron mostly acquitted would have been a $5000000 job (probably involving an appeal as well).

Most corrupt judicial systems are cheaper than the U.S.

Re:please stop (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45855999)

The prosecutor was offering a deal of 6 months in jail. Had Swartz gone to trial and been found guilty of all charges he would have faced perhaps 14 months, maybe more, according to an analysis by Jennifer Granick. There was never any possibility that Swartz would receive a sentence of 25 or 50 years.

Re:please stop (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856017)

No, no one ever implied anything as ridiculous as that.

Do computer nerds not know how maximum penalty laws work? There are fixed maximum penalties based on what laws you have broken. The prosecutor must inform you of the maximum penalty based on everything you are charged with. This does not imply that a typical sentence will be anywhere near that length, and no one with a brain would think that Swartz was due for 25 years.

Re:please stop (1)

russotto (537200) | about 7 months ago | (#45857387)

Computer nerds know that "anything that can go wrong, will" and that an odd edge case that you are absolutely sure will never happen will indeed happen. So if you say, oh, we have these maximum penalties but no one ever gets them... well, the assumption is that yes, those maximum penalties are a distinct possibility.

And anyone familiar with the Neidorf and Mitnick cases knows that disproportionate penalties for computer crimes are rather common.

Re: please stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856505)

The prosecutor can demand what ever he wants, and usually does.
It is unrelated to a actual sentence.
If you perform let's call it civil disobedience you should go in know there can be legal issues and some jail.
No? Well then don't.

Re:please stop (1)

Ardyvee (2447206) | about 7 months ago | (#45856227)

Some child comment made me wonder: jail time and what? I mean, I have the idea that some crimes may result in you being forbidden from interacting with certain things/people. It might not have been jail time, but that the crime would be permanently recorded (which can be a stigma) and in his case being forbidden from interacting with computers (I assume there need to be exceptions for this, otherwise you might be unable to get a large part of the jobs simply because you wouldn't be able to use a computer). Perhaps the thought of life after prison under the conditions that he would have had to live in, added with the stress from the situation... Perhaps... perhaps it was everything and no specific thing?

I mean... imagine you were a painter (you know, one of those that feel the need to paint because that's how they express themselves, their thing?) and somebody told you that from now on you can't paint. Of course, I don't know what would have been his sentence anyway, so I'm just speculating.

Re:please stop (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856595)

MIT acted properly, and so did the prosecution. So did JStor. Swartz may have been mentally (or sexually, like Manning) unstable and looking for a way out, but to go out in a blaze of glory. Remember he pulled a similar stunt years before and was able to walk because of a technicality - afterwards he taunted the FBI on his web site, which is not a smart thing to do.

Now, you might protest that the above is speculation. So is parent's, and so are many of the other modded up posts here. It's what I happen to think.

Re:please stop (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | about 7 months ago | (#45856803)

Someone who kills themselves rather than go to prison for 4 or maybe 18 months is very sick.

Life after a felony conviction is a living death. You can't get any but the most menial jobs (and often not even them), nor a professional license. You can't travel outside the country. You can legally be denied rental housing. Basically it's the state's way of removing people from society without needing to take the trouble of feeding and housing them. Of course, it works better on "geniuses" than it does on people who were robbing banks for a living anyway -- the latter just go back to robbing banks.

Re:please stop (3, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about 7 months ago | (#45857421)

Aaron was set for life financially and it's highly unlikely he wouldn't find another job with his history. It also ignores all the other people with history of computer crime charges that are currently employed as security researchers.

Black swan (5, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 7 months ago | (#45855847)

Bob knows that none of the "obvious signs" were really there, that everyone made them up to explain in hindsight what nobody saw coming. He knows he did exactly what he could have done, and he could have done more if he could predict the impossible-to-predict events of the future.

It's the same thing as 9/11. The FBI, CIA, the executive branch, everyone had all these documents about 3000 terrorist groups and hundreds if not thousands of operations and actions and movements. A lot of hot seats to check into. Then one of those hot seats inexplicably caught fire. Everyone looked back and shouted, "Oh my GOD it was so obvious! We should have known it was going to happen today! Look at the time line! 6 weeks ago, then a month, then just 12 days before the towers came down... it was screaming at us!!" ... but, it wasn't.

Aaron's death came roughly the same way. When Aaron started doing what he was doing, someone could have predicted easily that somebody might not be amused. Nobody could predict it becoming an outright holy war against one person, nor could they predict that he'd just kill himself instead of having his life crushed and getting shoved into buttsex prison for 18 years per count for 200,000 counts of shit he didn't do wrong. It just happened. The big story of his life has a lead-in, but the really big surprise twists were a total surprise.

Re:Black swan (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45855899)

No, he's was one of the 1 in 50 Americans. Those who rot in jail.

Regarding the 9/11 thing, Saddam got executed for something perpetrated by your Saudi Allies.

Now, explain these $$$hitty thing$$$ to me.

Re:Black swan (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 7 months ago | (#45856053)

Saddam got executed as a response. I was talking about the imagined fantasy that anyone could have predicted the planes getting hijacked and hitting the tower in the first place.

Re:Black swan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856579)

imagined fantasy that anyone could have predicted the planes getting hijacked and hitting the tower in the first place.

Ok Connie, you do know that there was a report entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" which described it. Also a fictional book had been written with the same plot. So, unless you read there's know way you would be able to guess, I suppose.

Re:Black swan (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856031)

There are probably thousands of similar situations where young people are goaded and bullied "legally," but not ethically, into suicide. I don't know how many of those people set in motion themselves the events that eventually overwhelmed them as was the case here. He made a choice, dimly aware of the consequences to come. Or he may have read somewhere that he would be subject to dozens of years in jail and decided "Oh, they'll never do that to me."

I feel for him and for what happened, but I also would like to see similar light shown on the lost lives of others, especially those who did not break the law but got the hammer anyway. As for MIT being the safety net of last resort, this just goes to show you that these days nobody really gives enough of a crap to come to the aid of their fellow human if it is in any way personally or organizationally inconvenient. We have pretty much become a nation of "I don't want to get involved," "I'm not political" and/or "9/11! 9/11!," the latter being the excuse for EVERYTHING no matter how nonsensical it may be.

One thing is for certain however: In light of what happened to this adult (and the "untouchable" members of LulzSec, remember them?), the message has been made pretty clear that you risk getting the hammer if you do anything that those in power don't like. And it doesn't matter if it is excessive. Just look at the situation in Texas where a prosecutor who put a man away for 25 years on bogus procedures got NINE DAYS in jail. N-I-N-E. So, nothing at all will happen to a prosecutor who follows the rules and uses his discretion to absolutely destroy you. So, kids this is not a game. If you're gonna play on this field, be ready for war because they will bring it to your door.

FALSCH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856115)

I have done a single-guy picketing in front of the Wiesbaden train station for Bradley Manning: "Bradley Manning, eingesperrt und gefoltert durch Schlafentzug in Quantico, Virginia"

Not because he was in jail - he clearly deserved jail time. But for them bastards, and the Führer In Chief, Barack Obama, violating one of the most basic human rights. Namely the right to a proper sleep.

I hope some of the 66th Military Intelligence Group crappers saw me there. Or their vasalls from the Bundeskrimimalamt. Maybe, just maybe it made a little difference in how they treat their other prisoners. Maybe not.

BUT DONT TELL ME WE DID NOT DO ANYTHING, SUCKER.

Now, call me a nut. Call it being a "nut" to care for a human being, Herr Sturmbannführer !

Re:Black swan (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856161)

and getting shoved into buttsex

Somehow I think Aaron was looking forward to this part...

Re: Black swan (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856843)

It would probably be more pleasant the the autoerotic asphixiation he was engaging in that caused his accidental death.

Re:Black swan (1)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | about 7 months ago | (#45856201)

It's the same thing as 9/11.

Insightful...?

I've seen some cheezdick comparisons on Slashdot before, but this one takes the cake.

Re:Black swan (1)

nobuddy (952985) | about 7 months ago | (#45856481)

I believe they were comparing common hindsight outcry, not severity or type of event.
Tons of people look at the one report on 9/11 that was ignored and cry foul- disregarding the thousands of equally plausible reports in the pile it came out of for that day.

I happen to agree that for the number of analysts the three-letter agencies employ that the totality of reports pertinent to this should have set off alarms... but you cannot ignore the sheer volume of data they had to sift through. Hindsight makes the buried seem obvious because you know what to look for now.

Re:Black swan (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about 7 months ago | (#45856469)

> Bob knows that none of the "obvious signs" were really there, that everyone made them up to
> explain in hindsight what nobody saw coming.

Exactly hindsight is a bitch. I lived with a con artist once. It was impressive the way he manipulated me and everyone I knew. After we kicked his ass to the curb, this weird thing happened. Every person I talked to about it, everyone had noticed something. Something they thought was odd, or something they shrugged off.

It was like telling them the end result, shines the light on the things that are obvious. Like the way he claimed to have spent summers in France and would demonstrate by asking me what time it was in French. I was out of practice but one day I belted back the time in French to him. I could see he didn't get it, so he pretended like he didn't hear me right, so I repeated, but, even as he nodded and smiled, I could tell he had no clue what I said.

Shugged it off.... little things, all these little things that make so much sense together, so much sense in hindsight....but...nobody actually knew until the shoe dropped....then everybody knew.

Re:Black swan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856629)

Aaron's death came roughly the same way. When Aaron started doing what he was doing, someone could have predicted easily that somebody might not be amused. Nobody could predict it becoming an outright holy war against one person, nor could they predict that he'd just kill himself instead of having his life crushed and getting shoved into buttsex prison for 18 years per count for 200,000 counts of shit he didn't do wrong. It just happened. The big story of his life has a lead-in, but the really big surprise twists were a total surprise.

No, they were only a surprise to a privileged sheltered rich kid, which says a lot about the average slashdot reader given some of these replies. That's the real tragedy here: today's middle class kids have not been taught the skills to survive in the world of oppression they will inherit. Don't blame the parents, they probably have even less conception of what hostile regimes are like.
I bet Aaron's actions wouldn't have resulted in his suicide if he was from the projects. Or say, Russia. Because in either of those scenarios he would have made a more lucid assessment of the probable consequences and either been 1.) confident of his ability to survive long term cohabitation arrangements with gangs, murderers and rapists or 2.) FUCKING MOTIVATED ENOUGH TO NOT GET CAUGHT .

What could I have done differently? (4, Insightful)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 7 months ago | (#45855917)

Losing a grown child is the unnatural order of things, and parenting is a trial and error process few are properly trained or equipped for.

Could I have raised him a little differently so this didn't happen? Haunting. To say 'I did my best' is as wholly inaccurate as 'I did my worst' as most all of us fall somewhere in the middle.

It is pointless self-torture. Perhaps if he'd been taught to react differently in the situation that led to his doom, another earlier timeline close call was not averted.

Re:What could I have done differently? (2)

Plammox (717738) | about 7 months ago | (#45856029)

Perhaps if he'd been taught to react differently in the situation that led to his doom, another earlier timeline close call was not averted.

You can influence your child's personality to a limited extent. You can't sculpt its reaction patters down to the last detail to suit future or past needs.
Look at your own current or future kids.

The American Legal System's Double Standard (5, Insightful)

TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) | about 7 months ago | (#45855935)

The worst part is that the appalling behavior of the prosecution is standard practice. Any laws that could possibly apply (and some that have no chance of sticking) get thrown at the defendant in an effort to get them into a plea deal because they can't possibly afford the law talent required to protect themselves.

Meanwhile, if you have money or power, you are only charged under the laws that absolutely apply and only if they absolutely have proof you did it and are fully at fault. We wind up with corporations, governments, and the wealthy doing incredibly immoral things that obviously should be illegal but are not "technically" illegal or it's just too difficult to prove that they did it, so no prosecutor wants to take it on.

It's sickening.

Re:The American Legal System's Double Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856263)

Maybe you should work on changing the law.

Re:The American Legal System's Double Standard (1)

nobuddy (952985) | about 7 months ago | (#45856495)

Change you can believe in.

Re: The American Legal System's Double Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856913)

Can you spare any change, brother?

Re:The American Legal System's Double Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856747)

Like that rich kid who got off because he was 'too affluent' to understand consequences. Best legal system money can buy.

Re:The American Legal System's Double Standard (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856771)

Meanwhile, if you have money or power, you are only charged under the laws that absolutely apply and only if they absolutely have proof you did it and are fully at fault. We wind up with corporations, governments, and the wealthy doing incredibly immoral things that obviously should be illegal but are not "technically" illegal or it's just too difficult to prove that they did it, so no prosecutor wants to take it on.

Oh give me a break. Aaron Swartz was a child of privilege, like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, not just upper middle class but upper class. He attended private schools, his college degree was from Stanford, he was a fellow at a lab at Harvard where he was mentored by Larry Lessig. He had influential friends all over as a result of Reddit and his RDF work.

Don't play the "two systems of justice in America" card on Swartz's behalf.

Re:The American Legal System's Double Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856773)

Pretty sure Swartz had plenty of money.

Re:The American Legal System's Double Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856775)

Too bad nothing happened to the prosecutors. If the DoJ won't police its own, then maybe someone else should start doing it.

Minimum Security? (1)

beaverdownunder (1822050) | about 7 months ago | (#45855975)

I get how the martyr meme is cool, but putting it aside for just one second:

If he had gone to prison, it would've been the country club type, no? With the games rooms, libraries, etc. Not the rapey, death-row kind.

So in that context, committing suicide to avoid incarceration seems a tad over-reactive, doesn't it? Not trying to make light of the tragedy here, just pointing out that perhaps the bigger one is that he thought he was going to SuperMax, not Club Fed.

Computer crimes don't get you sent to maximum security, FYI.

Clearly you have never seen office space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856065)

Theres no such thing as the country club type.

Re:Clearly you have never seen office space (1)

nobuddy (952985) | about 7 months ago | (#45856551)

Theres no such thing as the contry club type *for the poor*.

There most certainly are much softer and pleasant prisons. And if you can afford the right lawyers, you will go here instead of Lompoc.
http://articles.latimes.com/1989-04-23/news/mn-1771_1_club-fed-eglin-federal-prison-camp-higher-security-prison [latimes.com]

Re:Clearly you have never seen office space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856837)

Really? An article from 1989 is your evidence?

Re:Minimum Security? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856101)

[citation needed]
 
Captcha: circus

Re:Minimum Security? (2, Insightful)

HBI (604924) | about 7 months ago | (#45857409)

It was an over-reaction, but the guy wasn't willing to pay the price for civil disobedience. So now the hipster crowd wants to redefine civil disobedience as something that should never inconvenience you.

This, luckily, is something that will never fly with the public at large, who will continue to think he's a criminal forever.

Have they checked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45855993)

behind the sofa yet?

Next steps for Aaron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856025)

To look at the bright side, through decomposition Aaron can turn into useful compost which can fuel plants etc. This is however a best-case scenario; if the humans in charge of disposing of the carcass decided to opt for cremation then the outlook is far more bleak.

People in powerful places (4, Insightful)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 7 months ago | (#45856027)

The helplessness Aaron felt must have been overwhelming. When people in high places conspire against you, there is not much left you can do. They are in control of your life and will twist the legal system into whatever they want in order to satisfy their ego. It's a game to them. Shit needs change.

Re:People in powerful places (-1, Troll)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 7 months ago | (#45856097)

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. He didn't behave like an intelligent adult. He behaved like a child thinking the worst he would get is dressed down and maybe a slap on the wrist.

Re:People in powerful places (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856271)

I see the shills and astroturfers are out in force today. Slow day at Ortiz's office today?

Re:People in powerful places (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856995)

A Slashdot Dictionary, by Anonymous Coward
Troll a post that isn't politically correct
Astroturfer see "Troll"
Shill see "Troll"
Insightful a politically correct post. Bonus points for evidence of anger or frustration.

Re:People in powerful places (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856273)

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. He didn't behave like an intelligent adult. He behaved like a child thinking the worst he would get is dressed down and maybe a slap on the wrist.

Perhaps that's because after JSTOR (the 'victim' in this case) had been compensated satisfactorily, a dressing down and a slap on the wrist would have been the proportionate consequence!

Re:People in powerful places (2)

fredprado (2569351) | about 7 months ago | (#45856301)

Sure he commited a crime nobody contends that, but the crime "victims" did not press charges and the punishment with which the prosecutors were threatening him was ridiculously disproportional to the crime commited. It is because of immoral prosecutors like these that do anything to bully into settlements normal people who can't afford to put millions of dollars into lawyers that US justice system is screwed.

Re:People in powerful places (0)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 7 months ago | (#45856615)

When you say "victims" to whom are you referring?

The possible penalties are set by law to the crimes committed. He should have educated himself on the crimes he was committing and the possible penalties, as should you.

Re:People in powerful places (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 7 months ago | (#45856749)

When you say "victims" to whom are you referring?

JSTOR.

The possible penalties are set by law to the crimes committed. He should have educated himself on the crimes he was committing and the possible penalties, as should you.

Wire fraud aka we can fuck your life up with 25 years in a PIMTA prison for a minor crime online.

Threads like this really seem to bring out the bootlickers. Whenever anyone points out the sheer insanity of the threat of 25 years in prison for doing nothing that anyone actually cared about you get all sorts of people springing out of the woodwork pointing out how it's fince because it's the law.

Legal != moral.

If you believe otherwise, then the thread will get Goodwined very, very quickly.

Re: People in powerful places (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856991)

Where do I go to get this good wine?

Is it boot licking good wine? What other tired metaphors would apply?

Re:People in powerful places (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 7 months ago | (#45857205)

If no one cared about what was done, he wouldn't not have been prosecuted, therefore your entire line of reasoning is false.

Re:People in powerful places (2)

fredprado (2569351) | about 7 months ago | (#45857275)

Only the DOJ cared about what he did. Neither the MIT nor the JSTOR pressed charges. The DOJ decided to prosecute him despite that, and it proceeded to charge him with anything they could, charges whose penalties added to the incredible amount of possible 35 years in prison.

Re:People in powerful places (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 7 months ago | (#45857345)

In other words, those that enforce the law cared about whether he violated the law. You have proved my point.

Re:People in powerful places (3, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 7 months ago | (#45856527)

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

Ah so because it was illegal, any punishment, no matter how severe is justified, right?

Re:People in powerful places (0)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 7 months ago | (#45856663)

The possible penalties for his crime are right there in the law. He should have educated himself on them before committing his crime. You think his crime deserved a slap on the wrist because you like what he did. The prosecutor didn't share your view and was willing to ask for the maximum penalty. Of course, the prosecutor doesn't set the penalty, that is for the judge to decide. Because of that, the proper move for the prosecutor is to always seek the maximum penalty because the judge can impose whatever sentence the judge wishes within the bounds of the law which often means less than what the prosecution asks for AND it encourages defendants to make a deal and save the expense of prosecution.

Re:People in powerful places (4, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 7 months ago | (#45856911)

he possible penalties for his crime are right there in the law.

And any punishment, no matter how disproportionate, is justified, right?

Actually, the 8th amendment has been read to mean that wildly disproportionate punishments are "cruel". Therefore, no it is actually not clear that 25 years in a federal prison for minor copyright infringement is right there in the law.

You think his crime deserved a slap on the wrist because you like what he did.

Please don't make up lies about my motives.

I think 25 years for minor copyright infringment is wildly unreasonable because no one was harmed significantly by the crime: even the victims wanted the charges dropped. You'd get less for murder. This is not reasonable.

The prosecutor didn't share your view and was willing to ask for the maximum penalty.

So? That just means the prosecutor has no morals.

Because of that, the proper move for the prosecutor is to always seek the maximum penalty because the judge can impose whatever sentence the judge wishes within the bounds of the law which often means less than what the prosecution asks for AND it encourages defendants to make a deal and save the expense of prosecution.

Basically no. This shit encourages people to avoid fighting the spurious charges because the risk of faiure is so severe (not to mention wildly disproportionate) that it's worth copping to a lesser crime unless they can afford top notch legal representation.

Threatening people with 25 years in prison for minor copyright infringement is morally wrong, no matter how much you quote the law.

If you still persist in believing that legal==moral, then you might want first to read about "Goodwin's Law" and see how it might very soon apply.

Re: People in powerful places (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45857255)

So now it's good win? What happened to my good wine?

Never mind about the boot licking part, though. That's your thing, not mine.

Don't run out of angst. It seems to be what propels you.

Re:People in powerful places (0)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 7 months ago | (#45857327)

All I hear is you saying that you don't like the penalties for the crimes he committed. Arguing that I should change my tune because you might call me names is both a weak appeal to consequence and a threat to resort to ad hominem which tells me you know your argument is untenable. Go ahead, call names and prove what is implied by your last line.

Probably the biggest misconception you have put forth is that JSTOR had a say in the prosecution. The victim of a crime doesn't decide if a perpetrator is tried, rather the state does. Personally, I have not seen a statement from JSTOR saying they didn't want Swartz prosecuted, rather that they had no say in the matter which is entirely different.

Nelson Mandella (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856851)

No punishment is not always correct, but that's what make Gandhi and Nelson Mandella so remarkable.

We need to end the poor Aaron memes, he knew exactly what he was doing. If he wanted to be more honest, Aaron could have used his Harvard account instead of playing cat and mouse with the MIT police and IT departments.

Re:People in powerful places (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45857185)

Typical authoritarian shit bag - like a dumb insect that can only react in a preprogrammed way.

Re:People in powerful places (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856133)

Maybe he shouldn't have committed a criminal act then he wouldn't have had "people in high places" conspiring against him.

Re:People in powerful places (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856305)

Unless there is "purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain," copyright is a civil matter anyway, rather than criminal.

Re:People in powerful places (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45857163)

Try breaking and entering, trespassing, accessing MIT's network without authorization, etc.

Re:People in powerful places (1)

east coast (590680) | about 7 months ago | (#45856759)

When people in high places conspire against you, there is not much left you can do.

I'm glad that people like Martin Luther King Jr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Gandhi didn't listen to your kind of bullshit.

Compared to the truly oppressed, Aaron had it easy. Millions of people took a stand in a time and a place where saying the wrong thing would have gotten them dumped off some back road with a bullet in their head and they still had the strength to go through with it. Some died, some were unjustly jailed, some were beaten and raped. They still did it with their heads high and didn't run from their ideals. Aaron was weak. Mod me down but the testimony of people who stood against oppression should make you ashamed to do so in the face of the facts.

Remembering Aaron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856071)

And this is why I practice "The Swartz Exception". Henceforth I shall endeavor to keep my users safe from over-zealous organizations such as MIT by filtering MITs IPv4 and IPv6 blocks at my network border. And I hope you will too.

US citizen at capitalistic institution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856199)

US citizen at capitalistic institution surprised by capitalism.

The sadness of the suicide aside, this guy suffered from a severe case of cognitive dissonance. MIT is the United States' prime technocratic, capitalistic institution of higher learning. If you think they're going to be on the side of those who have a problem with property and secrecy, you're thoroughly naive.

wow we're still discussing this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856233)

Every few weeks we get yet another story about Aaron Swartz. Dude broke the law and couldn't deal with the consequences of his actions, end of story. Indeed it's a sad tale but holy shit time to move on already.

Re:wow we're still discussing this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856419)

It breaks the monotony of "NSA is the suxor" stories we get every few hours, and the daily "Snowden is peddling foreign intel secrets to the highest bidder, but he's my hero" stories.

I have sympathy but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856287)

I have sympathy for the family and the guy's original plight, but... this who social commiseration and pretty much blaming his death on prosecutors is too far. Yes what they tried to do to him was shitty. Is there anything that even remotely caused his own choice to take his own life. No freaking way.
He wasn't a martyr. He was an overly emotional kid with problems. I'm sure he was a neat guy, a kind spirit, a smart person. He was also coddled into thinking that his emotions were the most important thing in his life. How incredibly silly to waste your life on such a trivial topic... even if it was injustice.. It's still a small subset of 1st world uptown problems. I dare say probably never experienced any real struggle or suffering in his life that might help put it into perspective.
Instead of continuing to lament his death, maybe teaching people that you may have to struggle for things and you may not always get what you want or receive the justice you deserve.

Sorry daddy (0)

jgotts (2785) | about 7 months ago | (#45856591)

Sorry, daddy, I have no sympathy for you. You brought Aaron into this world. He did not choose to be born.

Once you bring a child into this world it is your responsibility as his father to do everything in your power to help make him a success.

In legal matters, you take his side unconditionally. You don't take the other other side to save your own ass, or reputation, or something. This is your own flesh and blood, not some abstract person you've never met.

You seem like a real piece of work father, just like my own. I'm very similar to Aaron, a child prodigy computer programmer. I received literature from MIT as a high school junior, could have gone there, in fact. I'm not rich like you, and neither is my father, so I elected to go to a state school instead.

I was able to throw my dad out of my life, fortunately.

Re:Sorry daddy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856817)

Sorry, daddy, I have no sympathy for you.

I was able to throw my dad out of my life, fortunately.

No, you weren't.

Since I can't bear the fact that my son has a lower slashdot UID than me I will post this anonymously.

Re:Sorry daddy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45856863)

Once you bring a child into this world it is your responsibility as his father to do everything in your power to help make him a success.

You typed it, so it must be true. Shame you didn't define "bring a child" (only women can get pregnant, and only women can choose whether to abort - do you mean "fertilised a woman"? "agreed to be some child's guardian"?), and you didn't define "success".

In legal matters, you take his side unconditionally.

If your son raped his sister, you take his side unconditionally? I don't see why protecting your son from the consequences of his actions is a good idea - it's certainly at odds with making him a "success", your apparent Prime Directive. Perhaps in this case the dad should have prioritised his son's plight, but "unconditionally"?

I'm very similar to Aaron, a child prodigy computer programmer.

You mean you could program as a kid? Welcome to the club - your membership number is #138,349,972. Saying you're "very similar" to some guy on the basis of this is an insult to the complexity of individual human beings.

I received literature from MIT as a high school junior, could have gone there, in fact.

What what?

I'm not rich like you, and neither is my father, so I elected to go to a state school instead.

I'm not rich and neither is my father, which is what scholarships and bursaries and loans are for. Maybe you're just not that smart.

I was able to throw my dad out of my life, fortunately.

OK, you're bitter about your dad. Try not to misdirect that anger away from the grieving fathers of dead children - on /. it will make you look like a douche, but IRL you could really end up hurting a vulnerable person.

This story is old news (-1, Flamebait)

pigiron (104729) | about 7 months ago | (#45856987)

and the NYT is only whining because it's a Jewish paper. It's up to the universities to release their research for free not some freelance thief.

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45857147)

The guy had mental issues. It was his decision to pull the stunt he did and as any protester knows, sometimes you butt heads with authorities and risk arrest and jailtime. If you can't do the time don't do the crime - which is why most people don't stand up to authority.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>