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SOPA Reddit WarriorComputer programmer, writer, archivist, political organizer, and Internet activist, but most of all son, brother and friend, Aaron Swartz tragically took his own life last week. One of the many achievements of Aaron's too short life was to win a battle in the war for Internet Freedom, he helped lead the fight to Stop SOPA. SOPA was the Stop Online Piracy Act bill that sought to monitor the Internet for copyright violations and would have made it easier for the U.S. government to shut down websites accused of violating copyright.

This was Aaron's address at F2C:Freedom to Connect 2012, Washington DC on May 21 2012.

Now we have a battle to fight in Aaron's name to reform the law that overzealous federal prosecutors used against him, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Marcia Hoffman, senior staff attorney for Electronic Freedom Foundation, lays out the case for fixing this draconian law:

Problem 1: Hacking laws are too broad, and too vague

Among other things, the CFAA makes it illegal to gain access to protected computers "without authorization" or in a manner that "exceeds authorized access."  Unfortunately, the law doesn't clearly explain what a lack of "authorization" actually means. Creative prosecutors have taken advantage of this confusion to craft criminal charges that aren't really about hacking a computer but instead target other behavior the prosecutors don't like. [..]

Problem 2: Hacking laws have far too heavy-handed penalties

The penalty scheme for CFAA violations is harsh and disproportionate to the magnitude of offenses. Even first-time offenses for accessing a protected computer "without authorization" can be punishable by up to five years in prison each (ten years for repeat offenses) plus fines. It's worth nothing that five years is a relatively light maximum penalty by CFAA standards; violations of other parts of that law are punishable by up to ten years, 20 years, and even life in prison. [..]

The Upshot

The CFAA's vague language, broad reach, and harsh punishments combine to create a powerful weapon for overeager prosecutors to unleash on people they don't like. Aaron was facing the possibility of decades in prison for accessing the MIT network and downloading academic papers as part of his activism work for open access to knowledge. No prosecutor should have tools to threaten to end someone's freedom for such actions, but the CFAA helped to make that fate a realistic fear for Aaron.

In Aaron's name please call on Congress and the White House to change this law.

Click here to send your message to your congressional representatives.

Please sign the Petition to President Barack Obama to Reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to reflect the realities of computing and networks in 2013.

Do this not just in Aaron's name but in mine, in yours and in everyone's who uses the internet.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Of course hacking laws are broad and vague (17+ / 0-)

    They are written by lawyers, not programmers.

    •  All the more reason to fix this. (14+ / 0-)


      "There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say." W.E.B. Dubois, 1956
      TheStarsHollowGazette.com

      by TheMomCat on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:33:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  yeah, let programmers write hacking laws. ?!? (6+ / 0-)

      before i say anything else, i am a professional programmer.  video games.  

      so, that said.  there is absolutely no excuse for hacking, period.  and the ONLY difference between hacking and breaking into a home or business is that you can steal and destroy more and get away with it easier.  

      and the little brats who claim they are just curious... they don't get to break into homes and businesses if they are curious either, so, they can cry me a river when they get caught and the book is thrown at them.

      i love programming in part because of the power i wield.  you think crazy people with guns are scary.  you have no fucking idea.  

      after all the damage done to the world economy by smart people using complex derivatives you would think that people would realize that you can't trust someone just because they are smart.  no more than you can trust someone because they are strong.  but humans just love to put their faith in the powerful.  even though it's always the powerful who fuck them over.

      with great power comes great responsibility.  something every programmer worth his salt knows (cause we are all comic geeks).  hacking is using abusing power, period.  and it's wrong.  

      •  i was a victim of hacking. they stole money. (4+ / 0-)

        i watched as money disappeared in real time from 2 bank accounts.  lucky for me i knew how to stop them quickly and i got my money back.  but they got away with it scott free.  cause it wasn't worth it to the banks to go after them.  but how many other people have they hacked and stolen from?  how many more will they steal from?

        even though i got my money back, it was still a completely violating experience.  and it's pure chance that i happen to know how to deal with things.  i am sure that almost all of their victims are just fucked over.  

        you don't get into people's shit without their permission.  you don't do it.  you simply don't do it.  

        listening to people whine about how tough laws are and how the hacker who stole is a victim is nothing but bullshit.  they aren't victims.  they are fucking white collar criminals.  

        •  accessing and downloading academic papers (25+ / 0-)

          that should have been freely available anyway is NOT just like stealing money from your bank account Anton.

          This is about the allowable amount of punishment available to prosecutors that is way out of proportion to the committed act. No one is proposing a free for all for hackers.

        •  Do you seriously think it is a worse crime than (10+ / 0-)

          rape or even murder?  Because had Aaron just walked up to that prosecutor and put a bullet in his/her brain he could easily have been out in less than 30 years (35 year sentence of which 85% must be served) as the normal sentence for (second degree) murder is 25 to life and often on the low side.  Also if he had made a molotov cocktail and firebombed the courthouse and/or prosecutor's office he would have only gotten 10 years.

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 03:14:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  a million counts of any crime will get (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib

            more time than any single crime.

            that doesn't tell us whether the sentence for a single count is fair.

            •  The problem isn't the sentence for a single count, (8+ / 0-)

              the issue is if the sentence for a single count times the number of counts is fair especially when it leads to insane results like a 300 year sentence for downloading 20 music CDs off of bittorrent.  If I was in his position I would have either ran (if I was still in my right mind) or tried to kill the prosecutor (if I totally snapped) as in neither case would I have had anything to lose.  After all what's the worst that could happen, a life sentence (which was going to happen anyway) or the death penalty (which would be an act of mercy)?

              You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

              by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 05:51:29 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  This prosecution was intended to destroy Swartz (5+ / 0-)

                as an example to other would-be Internet activists. It's the same strategy as the brutal treatment of Manning and the hounding of Assange. They are trying to put fear into the hearts of anyone who dreams that the Internet could change the world for the better.

                Their message is: the Internet is there for the 1% to sell you stuff, and for the government to spy on you -- nothing else. It will be used only to expand the security state and the property rights of the 1%, not to increase your freedom -- nor even your knowledge, unless you belong to the wealthy elite who are permitted that knowledge.

        •  WAAAAA Call the Wambulance. (12+ / 0-)

          I was violently raped and you know what? The guy that did that to me would get less than half the fucking time they were threatening Aaron with and no million dollar fine. You know jack fucking shit about a "violating experience" let me be clear.

          ~War is Peace~Freedom is Slavery~Ignorance is Strength~ George Orwell "1984"

          by Kristina40 on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 04:30:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  fucking white collar criminals? (12+ / 0-)

          Yeah, those "fucking white collar criminals" on Wall Street who destroyed our economy, those guys, like Blankfein, who gets invited to the WH for his advice on fiscal negotiations, that white collar criminal, who should be facing criminal charges.

          Those of us not on Wall Street care a lot that none of those fucking white collar criminals are being prosecuted by this DOJ, after we watched "our money" disappear.

          If we had only known how to stop those guys.......

          "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?" David Crosby

          by allenjo on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 05:40:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  But this guy didn't steal money. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JohnnyBoston, tahoebasha2, nota bene

          He didn't even steal anything of value.

        •  What do you think the penalty... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TheMomCat, triv33, nota bene

          ...should be for what happened to you?

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 08:39:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Whatever you get for bank theft and fraud. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            emelyn
            •  That would have been far less (9+ / 0-)

              than the plea bargain of 35 yrs in prison & over a million dollars in fines. Since Aaron technically didn't steal anything or hack into JSTOR. There was no fraud involved in what Aaron did.  This could have been handles without law enforcement getting involved at all, except that MIT had a hissy fit over an intentionally built in loop whole to their computer system. JSTOR had already dropped the complaint after Aaron returned the files he had borrowed. Yes, borrowed, like a library. He didn't steal money, he borrowed too many "books" and intended to share them with the rest of the world for free.

              BTW, the person who hacked into your bank account wouldn't have been prosecuted under this law but under 18 U.S.C. § 2113 : US Code - Section 2113: Bank robbery and incidental crimes which the courts have ruled covers you situation.


              "There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say." W.E.B. Dubois, 1956
              TheStarsHollowGazette.com

              by TheMomCat on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 10:30:24 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Here you go: (7+ / 0-)
              Subsection (b) outlines the penalties for anyone who takes and carries away, with the intent to steal or purloin, any property or money or any thing of value in the care, custody, control, management, or possession of any bank, credit union, or savings and loan. The maximum penalty for violation of this subsection is a fine and ten years imprisonment if the value of the property exceeds $100. The maximum penalty is a fine and one year imprisonment if the property's value is $100 or less. [My bold]

              Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

              by Meteor Blades on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 11:26:56 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  sigh (0+ / 0-)

                clearly i have no ability to communicate, since what i am saying is ignored and everyone is responding to what they think what i said must be 'saying'.  which i gather is something along the lines of: this aaron fellow got what he deserved.  sigh.  whatever.

                •  I think people understand you quite well actually (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  TheMomCat, SpecialKinFlag

                  On the other  hand, I think often you lack self-awareness in the way you conduct yourself on this site.

                  Self-described political "centrists" believe the best policy is halfway between right and wrong. — @RBReich via web

                  by BentLiberal on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 04:13:26 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  what did Boehner say to Reid the other day? (0+ / 0-)
                    •  was that passive aggresive enough for you, BL? (0+ / 0-)

                      i was trying my darn-est to conduct myself exactly like you.

                    •  OK I'll be direct: (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      TheMomCat, SpecialKinFlag, nota bene

                      Your response to MB was very puzzling

                      He asked what you thought the sentence would be. You answered you didn't know, but offered up "Whatever you get for bank theft and fraud."  He supplied that information to you as to how long that sentence would be. For reasons I can't understand, that caused you to claim no one understands you.

                      What's not being understood? It was a very straightforward exchange. I can only assume that when you found out the factual information, you didn't like it -- and rather than deal with it, you claimed no one understands you and everyone is ignoring you.

                      THAT is what I would call passive-aggressive. He supplies information that you didn't know, and rather than dealing with it -- you throw up a victimization routine.

                      Hope that my second attempt expressed my thoughts in your preferred method.

                      Self-described political "centrists" believe the best policy is halfway between right and wrong. — @RBReich via web

                      by BentLiberal on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 05:01:01 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  This is AB's MO (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        tahoebasha2

                        If it isn't about him, it's not important. Thanks for trying to drill this home to him. Others have tried, to no avail.


                        "There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say." W.E.B. Dubois, 1956
                        TheStarsHollowGazette.com

                        by TheMomCat on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 05:11:13 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  oh, mama kitty. you silly cat. (0+ / 0-)

                          look, i don't know what you want to accomplish by accusing me of playing a victim card, but whatever it is, you have to do it in front of people who's opinion of me i care about.  

                          here's a hint: none of them are on daily kos

                          that's what is so darned frustrating about me, right?

                      •  you dont have to convince me of thing, BentLiberal (0+ / 0-)

                        and you don't have to worry that i am preventing you from convincing other people, because everyone here thinks what they think irregardless of whatever the fuck you think.  okay?  so, stop fighting with me.  you're wasting your time.  unless you enjoy fucking with me to get a rise out of me, then by all means, feel free to continue.  i enjoy a spirited cock fight.  

                •  Everyone knows what you said (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  tahoebasha2

                  Perhaps you should have just said it more succinctly and left. I suggest you not comment further.

                  And, please in the future, stay out of my diaries.


                  "There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say." W.E.B. Dubois, 1956
                  TheStarsHollowGazette.com

                  by TheMomCat on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 05:07:46 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  as a member of the democratic party, i am evil (0+ / 0-)

                    so, i am going to go ahead and keep commenting, cause i enjoy being evil, and i am going to possible read and even comment on one of your diaries in the future, to keep the evil spreading.  that's just how us evil people in the democratic party roll, momma kitty!  

                    hey!  i just realized that you may be the one person who gets my tag quote below!  how sweet is that!

                •  I focused on this: (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  nota bene, TheMomCat, SpecialKinFlag

                  "listening to people whine about how tough laws" for hacking.

                  You raised this issue. Since the so-calling whining came about because of draconian treatment being meted out to someone whose alleged crime did not actually harm anyone while some people on this site, including one of your tippers, think banksters should get off scott-free for the harm they caused millions of Americans because prosecuting is supposedly so hard, I was seeking get you to explain what you think would be fair treatment.

                  How exactly did I misread you?

                  Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

                  by Meteor Blades on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 06:00:14 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  "clearly i have no ability to communicate" (0+ / 0-)

                    that was a literal statement.  it wasn't being sarcastic.  i said one thing and everyone thought i was saying something else.  

                    i wrote a one line comment title scoffing at the idea that programmers should write hacking laws.  

                    then i went on in the comment to make an angry rant about hackers.  hackers make me angry.  so sue me.  

                    i have listened to hackers whining for years about how unfair it is that they face such hard punishments for hacking.  god forbid they just stop hacking.

                    this kid, aaron, he killed himself.  he's dead.  and everyone can point the finger at the prosecution, but the kid is dead because he was a fucking idiot.  what he did was as stupid as chaining one's self to train track.  maybe the train stops and you made your point.  or maybe your body is torn to pieces and you die needlessly because you couldn't stop and THINK about a way to do what you want to do that isn't fucking stupid.  

                    who's talking about that right now?  if what this kid did wasn't morally wrong, even if it was legally wrong, who's having a discussion about how to get from A to D without someone having to face prison or suicide.  nobody.  instead, everyone's talking about the terrible injustice and turning the kid into a martyr.  

                    and even though you all KNOW that the laws aren't going to get easier for hackers, you are still lionized this kid.  so, now, there will be other kids inspired by this kid and they will get themselves into trouble and maybe go to prison or kill themselves or even get killed (depending on who they hack).  

                    do you know which comment you should have focused on that i wrote instead of the whine comment?  the one where i said that hacking is more dangerous that guns.  this kid aaron was like a kid playing with a gun.  his hacking ended up getting him killed.  while you all have great comments about gun laws here on daily kos, you all are totally missing the bigger issue on hacking.  programming is vastly more dangerous than a gun.  to everyone, including the programmers.  

      •  AntonBursch- You asked/stated (14+ / 0-)
        yeah, let programmers write hacking laws. ?!?
        Why the hell not?
        Oil companies get a big fat seat at the table when energy laws and industry regulations are being forged, and guess what?
        We don't even get standing room in the fucking corner.

        Fossil fuel energy executives frack with abandon because they were the ones who got to write the 'regulations' (ha ha ha) and people whose tap water is now flammable are told to go pound sand.

        Why the hell shouldn't programmers and hackers and IT professionals who actually understand that the internet isn't just a bunch of t00bs that trucks drive through dumping emails into your aol inbox.

        It's past time for the laws to be changed, and WE need representation and a voice in how those laws are crafted, because they sure as fuck don't have a clue.


        "When the powerless are shut out of the media, we will make the media irrelevant" ~♥~ Anonymous ~♥~

        by Lisa Lockwood on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 05:25:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  they shouldn't for the same reason oil shouldn't (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eyesbright, emelyn

          since when did we carve out exceptions to standing against industry people writing the laws for themselves?

          •  We (as in WE the People) (5+ / 0-)

            should always have a seat at the table. That was what our 'representatives' were supposed to be, once upon a time.
            Sadly, once big business was given free rein to 'assist' in writing their own regulatory legislation, we the people got pretty much sent down the rabbit hole.
            I'm suggesting that we be included in crafting legislation that meets criteria established by a broad base of experts and interested parties, NOT talking about carving out exceptions to standing against industry people writing their own laws. Just including 'us' in the process. Fair is fair.


            "When the powerless are shut out of the media, we will make the media irrelevant" ~♥~ Anonymous ~♥~

            by Lisa Lockwood on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 01:54:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Who have NO understanding of (13+ / 0-)

      the internet, it's freedom and possibilities for revolutionizing the way information is 'blasted' instantly and the already uncountable ways the free flow of information has changed our world.
      They have no fucking idea.

      They simply fear the growing threat to their control, the looming loss of their strangle hold on knowledge, and the power that knowledge gives.

      We are all Anonoymous~Freedom Of Information Activists
      For Aaron


      "When the powerless are shut out of the media, we will make the media irrelevant" ~♥~ Anonymous ~♥~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 03:47:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Of course hacking laws are broad and vague" (3+ / 0-)

      ...like most laws, they are written for the concentration of the private wealth and power of the plutocracy, enforced by their gov employees.

      The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

      by Words In Action on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 07:54:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is a classic case of overzealous prosecution. (15+ / 0-)

    Fifty-years in prison and up to a $1 million fine for accessing academic papers he wasn't even trying to profit from? It's plain to see that these prosecutors were trying their best to bolster their careers off this case.

    America is really paying a heavy price right now for the general shortsightedness and lack of experience of both our legislative and judicial branches of government when it comes to dealing with the fast-moving vagaries and technical advances of the net.

    I mean, it's not like Al Gore just invented the internet yesterday. lol

    Seriously though, our lawmakers have had plenty of time to catch up. But they refuse to research an issue before legislating on it. Hell they don't even bother to read the vast majority of bills they're voting on. It's just easier for them to pass laws that end up both too vague and disproportionately heavy-handed -- not to mention written by corporate [hack] lawyers.

    Consequently, these laws are neither fair nor productive.

    "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." ~ Aldous Huxley

    by markthshark on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 12:44:28 AM PST

    •  What I don't get is why he didn't just run (or (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      markthshark, kyril

      if that wasn't an option, physically attack the prosecutor though running would obviously be the best choice).  After all, if he was going to spend the rest of his life in prison anyway what did he have to lose?

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 03:18:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess running would be an option for anyone... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Throw The Bums Out, kyril, TheMomCat

        with access to a lot of money, which he apparently did.

        South America could have been a possibility. Many countries down there have elected left-leaning government recently and are not particularly U.S.-friendly anymore. Extradition could have been problematic for U.S. prosecutors. He could have gotten "lost" down there pretty easily, and lived a relatively comfortable life.

        Of course, none of us know what his mindset was. Perhaps he thought he could ultimately prevail in court.

        "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." ~ Aldous Huxley

        by markthshark on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 03:38:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Because despite (4+ / 0-)

        a possible sentence of up to 35 years and a fine of up to 1 million, he would have gotten far far less.  I believed an offered plea bargain would have been 6 months.

        •  He didn't commit suicide over (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eyesbright

          a million bucks (not much to him) or six months in jail. He obviously was suicidally depressed. People want to find an "explanation" for suicide, but there rarely is an actual explanation. It did not make sense for this 26-year old, who hadn't even been convicted, to extinguish his life, whether or not the prosecution was overzealous.

          •  There was also the FBI and Secret Service (5+ / 0-)

            pressure.

            Now that the government has dropped the charges against him posthumously, I am hoping his attorneys will release all of the pleadings and documents related to his case. It's time to have an honest conversation about this notion of "homeland security", who exactly is being protected (besides banks, of course), and how it can come to pass that the full force of the FBI and Secret Service came down on the head of a smart, passionate person who simply wanted to publish academic papers for everyone to access.
            Why Was the Secret Service Involved in Aaron Swartz Case?
            I'm not disagreeing with your fundamental point that suicidal depression functions, to some degree, independently of rational motive; but there was more than simply an "overzealous prosecution".

            He had also suffered a long, exhausting and tremendously expensive SOPA battle.

            Despair over the gap between his passion and sense of justice and the likelihood of achieving that in this world, against the incredible forces of the government and the vested interests, in fact, does make a certain "sense" to those sensitive to such angles of vision.

            The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

            by Words In Action on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 08:21:03 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Another factor contributing to his despair (5+ / 0-)

            could well have been a recognition that this would be the end to his quest to achieve justice, clearly a mission he had decided to stake everything on.

            The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

            by Words In Action on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 08:23:14 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Also, he may have been getting advice from his (6+ / 0-)

              defense team that, due to MIT's intransigent negotiating manner (see link I provided with blockquote two comment s above), and perhaps also the fact that there may have been more incriminating evidence -- involving private MIT and/or even classified information between the Gov and MIT -- that was going to make a much, much longer sentence all but certain, given the demeanor of the players.

              The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

              by Words In Action on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 08:28:21 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  You really have no clue what you're talking about. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BentLiberal, nota bene
            He didn't commit suicide over (0+ / 0-)

            a million bucks (not much to him) or six months in jail. He obviously was suicidally depressed. People want to find an "explanation" for suicide, but there rarely is an actual explanation. It did not make sense for this 26-year old, who hadn't even been convicted, to extinguish his life, whether or not the prosecution was overzealous.

          •  I make no claim (0+ / 0-)

            over why he committed suicide.  My response was to the idea that spending his life on the run because he was facing a long prison sentence was ridiculous.

      •  Aaron battled depression for a (9+ / 0-)

        number of years. It has been noted by friends, family and colleagues that the extremely heavy handed prosecution took a toll. He writes allegorically about the Batman/Joker essential struggle wherein the hero becomes the villain and vice-versa until one is boxed into a corner and left with no alternatives that are palatable.
        Here are some writings by Aaron on his 'sickness' (depression).

        If nothing else, please try to understand the brilliance, the passion Aaron had for the fight he waged on our behalf- for freedom of information for everyone.
        For many of us, his passing is very painful, but I hope that because of him, we will pick up the torch and carry on his fight, our fight, for a free unfettered flow of cultural knowledge, learning and information not just for the privileged and the 'first world' citizens that can afford it, but for everyone.

        ...You want to lie in bed and keep the lights off. Depressed mood is like that, only it doesn’t come for any reason and it doesn’t go for any either. Go outside and get some fresh air or cuddle with a loved one and you don’t feel any better, only more upset at being unable to feel the joy that everyone else seems to feel. Everything gets colored by the sadness.

        At best, you tell yourself that your thinking is irrational, that it is simply a mood disorder, that you should get on with your life. But sometimes that is worse. You feel as if streaks of pain are running through your head, you thrash your body, you search for some escape but find none. And this is one of the more moderate forms. As George Scialabba put it, “acute depression does not feel like falling ill, it feels like being tortured … the pain is not localized; it runs along every nerve, an unconsuming fire. … Even though one knows better, one cannot believe that it will ever end, or that anyone else has ever felt anything like it.”


        "When the powerless are shut out of the media, we will make the media irrelevant" ~♥~ Anonymous ~♥~

        by Lisa Lockwood on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 05:14:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Don't know if this fits or makes sense........... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TheMomCat

          Original to be humorous…
          There's an old black spiritual song.
          Kids sleeping in a bed.
          One says "Move Over, move over!"
          One by one the kids fall out of the bed.
          The end the one says…
          "I'm lonesome."
          Who's guilty?
          P.S. This isn't an anti Obama rant, just an example of the absurdity of the 1%'s control.
          P.S.S. Still weeping...

          •  The way I heard it, (0+ / 0-)

            it ended with the last kid just saying "Good night!" (and, presumably, enjoying having the whole bed to himself).

            Never heard it was a "spiritual", though. It's been reported from all over the British Isles and Australia, as well as America.

            (There seem to be innumerable variants on this song, from the starting number in the bed to what kind of creatures they were - bears, birds, monkeys, humans - to the ending. At least one variation has them progressively rolling back IN.)

            If it's
            Not your body,
            Then it's
            Not your choice
            And it's
            None of your damn business!

            by TheOtherMaven on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 04:11:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Physically attacking a government employee (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TheMomCat

        strikes me as a foolish course of action. What possible good would that have done?

        •  None really, running is definitely a better (0+ / 0-)

          option (and the one I advocate).  But when you really have nothing to lose how exactly would it have hurt him?  He was already facing a life sentence (and you can bet your ass the prosecutor would have sought and gotten the maximum or something near it).

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 06:27:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  This law does need reform (10+ / 0-)

    And having just read this, Aaron Swartz's Politics from which I took my new sig line, I hope many people will respond. I hope it is only one step we all take in the long road towards better social justice in this country.

    As we think about what happened to Aaron, we need to recognize that it was not just prosecutorial overreach that killed him. That’s too easy, because that implies it’s one bad apple. We know that’s not true. What killed him was corruption. Corruption isn’t just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It’s also people being punished for upholding the public interest. In our institutions of power, when you do the right thing and challenge abusive power, you end up destroying a job prospect, an economic opportunity, a political or social connection, or an opportunity for media. Or if you are truly dangerous and brilliantly subversive, as Aaron was, you are bankrupted and destroyed. There’s a reason whistleblowers get fired. There’s a reason Bradley Manning is in jail. There’s a reason the only CIA official who has gone to jail for torture is the person – John Kiriako - who told the world it was going on. There’s a reason those who destroyed the financial system “dine at the White House”, as Lawrence Lessig put it. There’s a reason former Senator Russ Feingold is a college professor whereas former Senator Chris Dodd is now a multi-millionaire. There’s a reason DOJ officials do not go after bankers who illegally foreclose, and then get jobs as partners in white collar criminal defense. There’s a reason no one has been held accountable for decisions leading to the financial crisis, or the war in Iraq. This reason is the modern ethic in American society that defines success as climbing up the ladder, consequences be damned. Corrupt self-interest, when it goes systemwide, demands that it protect rentiers from people like Aaron, that it intimidate, co-opt, humiliate, fire, destroy, and/or bankrupt those who stand for justice.

    “Corruption isn’t just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It’s also people being punished for upholding the public interest.”  ― MS

    by cosmic debris on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 03:50:04 AM PST

  •  The stupidest thing about prosecution ... (5+ / 0-)

    for downloading all those journal articles - Anyone can go into any university library and xerox any article from any scientific journal found there for a few cents per page. Why shouldn't the same information be free online?

  •  I agree with them (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stegro, Words In Action, TheMomCat

    on Problem 2.  We have far harsher penalties than need be in many areas of our laws.  This exposed a fundamental problem in the IP where we have yet to find a happy medium in regards to punishment for pirating and hacking.

    Part of the problem is we tend to treat digital as if it's the same as physical.  That's a major problem.  There is an intrinsic cost to the physical product that is vastly larger that the cost of the digital one.  Punishment should reflect that.  Unfortunately the people who should be arguing for less severe punishment tend to argue for no punishment at all.  That's been a common theme on this website where numerous people have claimed that JSTOR should have been free for all and that 'we' paid for it so it belongs to us.  That type of excuse serves no one, it's the same one used by pirate's torrenting , a post hoc rationalization for taking something that wasn't theirs and violating someone else's work and freedom.

    There is a place in between those two extremes where someone's life isn't ruined because they downloaded season 2 of True Blood or Zeppelin IV while not getting off scot free.

    •  Actually, the problem is not the penalty in the (7+ / 0-)

      law itself but the whole idea of unlimited consecutive sentencing especially for nonviolent crimes.  If you were to pass a law saying that the total sentence for non-violent crimes can't be more than say, 2x or 3x the sentence for an individual count (for multiple crimes, the largest possible sentence for a single count of the most severe crime would determine the total maximum) that would fix most of the problems.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 06:04:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  True, and limiting sentences is good, but miscon- (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheMomCat, sviscusi

      duct by the prosecutor, in mercilessly persecuting the defendant, is a big part of the present case and probably many others. The prosecutor has many ways to make life hell for the defendant, and these were evidently employed liberally in this case.

  •  Well done TMC, thank you. (6+ / 0-)

    Rest in Peace Aaron Swartz

    ❧To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 05:59:38 AM PST

  •  thanks TMC I truly do hope (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilJD, Words In Action, TheMomCat

    this tragic event can be the spark for some long overdue change in the laws, and the culture.

    P.S. Added this to our In Memoriam diary. (Link in sig.)

  •  Another excellent piece (6+ / 0-)

    By Matt Stoller on Aaron

    Aaron Swartz's Politics

    If you had it listed, apologies for repost. Thank you for this J. It seems as though his death is hitting so many of us in the same way. I can only hope something worthy of his vision and brilliance comes of it. I hope there is that level of long term inspiration and commitment.

    “Corruption isn’t just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It’s also people being punished for upholding the public interest.”  ― MS

    by cosmic debris on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 06:34:37 AM PST

  •  You're abosolutely right. It's disgusting. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheMomCat, SpecialKinFlag

    And if George Bush was in office now and his AGs were doing this, well, then... you know.

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