As somebody who’s followed Aaron Swartz technologically and personally for many years now, it saddens me to hear about his recent passing.
I’ve lost friends to suicide, it’s no joke. There is grievance, there is sorrow, there is curiosity. We can never put ourselves in the shoes of that individual and truly empathize. We try to blame and criticize to help cope with the loss, but it’s never quite enough.
What makes it worse is that I know people have/will label him as a sort of “martyr” in regards to freedom of information, net neutrality, along with countless other initiatives he took part in. Now I’m not undermining his accomplishments at all, don’t get me wrong.
People will naturally take advantage of the situation to run a soap box campaign against whoever they feel is responsible for this and part of that sickens me. Nobody knows for certain why he did it, but in that same aspect, it’s hard to discredit the quick and easy assumption that the prosecutors involved in recent cases were namely to blame.
This has obviously already started to happen, fingers are being pointed. While I hate when tragedies are exploited for political/personal gain, I think it would be a bit disrespectful to Aaron to not look at this with a bit of skepticism.
You can’t tell me that a looming 35 year prison sentence combined with a 1 million dollar fine doesn’t make you consider taking a route like this.
While we won’t ever be able to truly understand what Aaron was thinking at the time, if it was indeed a result of tremendous legal pressure, all I can say is that this country has disappointed me once again. While I’m not going to justify or criminalize Aaron’s actions, it’s quite sad that a white-collar crime like this fetches a heavier sentence than one who rapes or murders.
While this post doesn’t do Aaron justice for everything that he’s done, I know he’s made an impact on countless individuals who will hopefully carry on his ideologies, both in spirit and in practice.
Rest easy Aaron and know that you’ve inspired the hearts of many.
Here are some interesting links pertaining to Aarons’ death: