Institutional Interests

Kevin Cullen in the Boston Globe, writing about Aaron Swartz: (via)

Swartz and his lawyers were not looking for a free pass. They had offered to accept a deferred prosecution or probation, so that if Swartz pulled a stunt like that again, he would end up in prison.

Marty Weinberg, who took the case over from Good, said he nearly negotiated a plea bargain in which Swartz would not serve any time. He said JSTOR signed off on it, but MIT would not.

“There were subsets of the MIT community who were profoundly in support of Aaron,” Weinberg said. That support did not override institutional interests.

When I read Tom’s piece about MIT’s President appointing a panel to study MIT’s response to Swartz, I figured that President’s haste indicated that there were some dirty hands at MIT who wanted to kick the can down the road. And what better way to do that than to follow the blue-ribbon example of Linda P.B. Katehi, still Chancellor of the UC Davis system, who used a panel to wiggle out of any accountability for her role in the pepper spraying of the Occupy protest on her campus. It doesn’t matter what the panel reports. What matters is that the panel’s report will be a long time in coming. When the report finally arrives, the outrage at those who insisted on draconian punishments for a “crime”–from which Swartz didn’t profit, which was completely non-violent, and which probably had minimal effect on the alleged victim (JSTOR)–will be attenuated by the passage at time.

This isn’t to say that MIT bears sole or even main responsibility for Swartz’ prosecution. The Department of Justice, the US Attorney for Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz (sign a petition to get rid of her here), and a Congress so beholden to the entertainment interests that they pass laws that allow 50 year sentences for downloading are also at fault. As Lawrence Lessig points out, the bankers who almost destroyed our financial system aren’t facing anything like the punishment Swartz faced.

One more thing: there is a thread here connecting DougJ’s observation about the crypto-conservatism of totebaggers and the ability of administrators like Katehi, and perhaps some at MIT, to push off accountability with a well-written report. During my ill-spent youth at different universities, it was clear to me that a fair number of the “liberal” members of the academy would accept very weak justifications for sketchy institutional behavior as long as those justifications were whitewashed through a committee of colleagues with a good reputation. A key component of conservatism is reflexive support of current institutions. By that measure, a lot of academic totebaggers are conservatives, and I’ll bet that many of them who are proud of their past time in the protest line will find some reason to excuse MIT’s role in the bullying persecution of Aaron Swartz.

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169 replies
  1. 1
    emma says:

    Ditto on your last paragraph. I live in academia and if there’s anything I have learned in over thirty years is that a good report covers all sins.

    (Unrelated note) I can’t type for crap on a Kindle keyboard.

  2. 2
    Steeplejack says:

    @Mistermix:

    It doesn’t matter that the panel reports.

    Maybe should be “what the panel reports”?

  3. 3
    mistermix says:

    @Steeplejack: Yes, thanks, fixed it.

  4. 4
    NCSteve says:

    I agree and its off topic, but I also just have: oh to once again live in a world where “conservatism” was defined as “reflexive support for existing institutions.” I guess that’s a form of conservatism, too, come to think of it.

    Indeed, it’s rather disturbing to realize that one of the last bastions of real conservatism is Academe, while the ones we call “conservatives” are people in politics and business who are actually angry, radical nihilists.

  5. 5
    mai naem says:

    I know very little about computer stuff so this might sound stupid, but why couldn’t they have punished him with something making him work on something for the government instead. Making stuff less hacker proof. I don’t know if he would have taken that kind of deal but jeezus what an incredible waste of a brilliant mind.

  6. 6
    jayackroyd says:

    The thing that gets me is the actual creators of the content–the authors of the articles–want to be read. The broadest possible distribution is in their interests. It’s not like they’re getting paid….

  7. 7
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @jayackroyd: One of the interesting things I have found out working on my PhD is that when my dissertation gets published – if I ever make it that far – I will not own it. It will belong to the company that publishes it, of whose name I have completely forgotten, something rather academic sounding. In order for me to use the work somewhere else, I have to get their permission.

  8. 8
    Todd says:

    Don’t care. He wanted to be the big hacker hero, he needed to suck up the fact that things could get shitty.

    It wasn’t his resources that paid for the thousands of man hours constructing JSTOR’s system or uploading the stuff, nor do his bullshit hacker ethics account for the system burden and deprivation of use to others caused by an open policy of mass pull down of thousands of terabytes of data. Did it occur to any brave tech progressive what that would mean to somebody who pays to keep the system going, or what it would mean to an authorized doctoral candidate working under a time crunch?

    For me, any prosecution of any punk who would break into systems is good, and the penalties should be harsh – these actions cause huge disruptions to people in their homes, workplaces and businesses. If I could direct commando teams to the places where malicious or thieving coding are done on an industrial scale and have every warm body at a terminal made cold, I would.

    And yeah, the useless punk made reddit, a place where you can upload creep shots of underage girls. Some accomplishment.

  9. 9
    Corey says:

    @Todd: Cool story bro.

  10. 10
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Todd:

    the useless punk made reddit

    made reddit.

    /facepalm

  11. 11
    lol says:

    So now we can’t prosecute anyone with depression ever? Here comes the new get out of jail free card!

    He was offered 6-8 months and declined. It’s pretty clear that he didn’t want to face *any* consequences for his actions. (Probation is not a consequence.) So fuck him.

    And since people love bringing up the “BUT BUT 50 YEARS”, even his own attorney says the DOJ would push for 7-8 years if it went to trial and he got convicted. He thought that was the worst case scenario.

    Quite a bit different than all the sensationalism being thrown around.

  12. 12
    dr. bloor says:

    @Todd:

    Somebody has issues.

  13. 13
    Barry says:

    @Todd: F@ck you – or perhaps you could point to where you similarly denounced the currently-walking-free torturers and Wall Street destroyers.

  14. 14
    Tripod says:

    What will this do to our US News & World Report rankings?

  15. 15
    jibeaux says:

    If I could direct commando teams to the places where malicious or thieving coding are done on an industrial scale and have every warm body at a terminal made cold, I would.

    WOLVERINES!!!

  16. 16
    Glenn Greenwald says:

    You forgot to mention how Swartz was disgustingly smeared as a “grifter” on this very blog – right here – by someone who expressed “schadenfreudorgasm” over his indictment.

    “grifters gonna grift!”

  17. 17
    Cassidy says:

    @lol:

    He thought that was the worst case scenario.

    Major Depressive Disorders, how do they work? Seriously, think about what you just said, then go read about clinical Depression.

    As for it being a “get out of jail free card”, where has anyone said that? Are you just flinging shit to see what sticks?

    @Todd: Wow. Commandoes and death! Seems a little off. Call me crazy, but I think we could allocate our resources a little better than that. I don’t think defending the istitutionalized sickness that takes advantage of the free labor and research of students, athletes, etc. is going to get you very far here.

  18. 18
    lol says:

    @Glenn Greenwald:

    Speaking of grifters…

  19. 19
    mistermix says:

    @Todd: Protip: don’t link your professional law practice website to rants calling for lawless armed action. Other than that, please continue…

  20. 20
    Todd says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Somebody has issues got really sick of paying to have spyware, malware, adware and viruses cleaned off of a home computer used by teens, and his office computers for going to news websites and picking up crap from ads (not to mention picking them up from client emails), even while spending money for “protective” programs.

    FTFY.

    All I ever wanted was a functional machine that wouldn’t pick up stuff from third party ads on regular websites.

  21. 21
    Sly says:

    In defense of tote-baggers, they only reflexively defend privileges (and the institutions that defend them) when it’s their own privilege on the line.

    Gay rights? Great! Organized labor? Well… unions aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. I mean I guess you can argue that they were necessary, but do we really need them anymore? Even for my graduate students?

    I realize that this is not actually defending tote-baggers, but… oh, look! Michelle Rhee is on Oprah!

  22. 22
    lol says:

    @Cassidy:

    As for it being a “get out of jail free card”, where has anyone said that? Are you just flinging shit to see what sticks?

    You are. You think no one with depression should have to face jail time. We can’t ever prosecute anyone with depression because they might kill themselves so we might as well just let them go. That’s the argument you and numerous other people are advancing.

    Major Depressive Disorders, how do they work? Seriously, think about what you just said, then go read about clinical Depression.

    And what is this other than trying to give him an out for his behavior?

  23. 23
    emma says:

    And@Todd: And your solution is killing people. I am so glad the Internet keeps you at a distance.

  24. 24
    Foxhunter says:

    @Todd: inb4lock

    I’d say putting RSS into the wild at the age of 14 is a big fuckin deal. Nevermind reddit. But since you brought it up, why don’t we just push your cute little story back a few decades and blame Ray Tomlinson for giving people the ability to create a creepshots sub. Or maybe even AlGoreisFat. And let’s blame the Craigslist boys too for all that m4m nasty.

  25. 25
    Todd says:

    @Barry:

    @Todd: F@ck you – or perhaps you could point to where you similarly denounced the currently-walking-free torturers and Wall Street destroyers.Jane Hamsher and slinkerwink are the smartest people EVAR!

    Fixted.

  26. 26
    nancydarling says:

    @Todd: If a man can be judged by who calls him a friend, Aaron was an admirable human being.

    I think of Aaron as a modern day Thoreau. Thoreau thought deeply about life. So did Aaron. Thoreau practiced civil disobedience based on deeply felt convictions. So did Aaron. Thoreau died too young. So did Aaron.

    If you want to know who this gentle soul was, go watch the video Cory Doctorow put up at boingboing. It’s about 20 minutes of Aaron speaking at a conference.

    He was quirky and brilliant and there was so much left in him to contribute to the rest of us.

    I mourn this tragedy.

  27. 27
    mistermix says:

    @Glenn Greenwald: Lots of people writing at this blog write things with which I disagree, including that.

  28. 28
    Zandar says:

    It’s tragic that he killed himself.

    It’s even worse that there seems to be an entire cottage industry springing up with the express purpose of apportioning the fault for his death on the political actions of everyone they don’t agree with. It makes a very convenient bludgeon for some.

  29. 29
    Shrillhouse says:

    Swartz downloaded the material because he believed that such information — in this case, much of it research underwritten by taxpayers — should be free to the public. He did it not to make a buck, but to make a point.

    What was his “point”? That if you have good intentions, it’s OK to break the law?

    I’m sorry he suffered from depression. Sorry he took his own life. I think that the potential criminal penalty was out of proportion to the alleged crime. But…

  30. 30
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Glenn Greenwald:

    Fuck Adam Green, fuck PCCC and fuck you and your whiny bullshit about coming after ABL after the fact.

    Oh, one other thing. Fuck you.

  31. 31
    Todd says:

    @emma:

    And@Todd: And your solution is killing people. I am so glad the Internet keeps you at a distance.

    Malware/spyware coders and hackers aren’t exactly people. They’re a scourge.

    VDE has his Village tumbrel thing, this is my private little fantasy list, having had to write the checks for it for quite some time.

    Ever had to help folks out who’ve had accounts invaded? I have. It is awful.

  32. 32
    Jack the Second says:

    Activism is hard.

    If you’re not being beaten in the street (Occupy Wall Street), threatened with execution (Pfc. Manning), or being railroaded towards federal FYITA prison, you’re not really ruffling any feathers.

    Regardless of whether he deserved to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law or whether the laws he broke were just, persecution should have been exactly what he expected. He wasn’t a 9 year old downloading music because he didn’t realize you can do things on the internet you aren’t supposed to; he was a man protesting a law and a system he found unjust and unacceptable by willfully and purposefully breaking it. Persecution is what he sought.

    And in the end, suicide in the face of persecution by an unjust system is just another form of protest.

  33. 33
    Cassidy says:

    @lol: You are welcome to link to anything I’ve said regarding this guy, his suicide, his crime(s), the overzealous prosecution, the institutional indentured servitude that is our University System, and suggesting that he shouldn’t have been prosecuted.

    I’ll give you a hint: it’s not there. I haven’t commented on these threads (that I am aware of and assuredly not with anything of subtance re: the topic) because I’ve been busy lately and really had nothing to say on the topic.

    Now, re: the Depression issue. The reasons he committed suicide are a seperate issue from whether or not he should have been prosecuted. I’ve never said that people with Depression shouldn’t be prosecuted. personally, I think mental illness is a mitigating factor when it comes to sentencing, but maybe you and the state of Texas have a different opinion than I do. I think mental illness definitely should be considered in some individuals ability to be held responsible for criminal activity, but I’ve never considered Depression a “defence” in that sense.

    The reality is that our legal system is fucked up. While Swartz committed a crime, there is no reasonable argument to make that that crime was worthy of a lifetime in prison. None. You can’t make it. Those laws are wrong and depraved. Seriously, do you really think throwing a young man or women into, what my Libertarian friends call, a rape dungeon for downloading is reasonable? I’ve got no issue with the guy being prosecuted. I also expect better judgement and common sense from our legal system.

    Secondly, when you use the typical scare tactics of prosecutors on someone with a mental illness, you shouldn’t be surprised when that person takes it to heart and committs suicide.

  34. 34
    Dan says:

    @Shrillhouse:

    Yeah, that’s pretty much where I am with this. I think the whole situation is very sad, but I have trouble mustering outrage over someone facing the consequences for knowingly breaking the law.

  35. 35
    emma says:

    @Todd: Yep. I am a systems librarian though not working in that specific area and nontech friends think that by definition makes me into an expert so they dump their troubles on me.

    Instead of snarking I am just simply going to ask you to try to set aside your biases and see this case as a whole. The basics are out there for anyone to find. Then think it through.

    The article in the Globe makes it clear that even one of the government attorneys thought he should have been given probation and was close to a deal. It was MIT, who has a renowned “come and get it” attitude towards information in general, who seemed to have insisted on prosecution. Swartz was not a careless or malicious hacker. He was making a point about the nature of scholarship. And any graduate student worth his degree should have known at least two alternative ways of getting that info or at least his subject librarian.

  36. 36
    Alex S. says:

    It’s no wonder that the lawyers defend the justice system. It’s no wonder that liberals defend a guy hacking for idealistic reasons.

  37. 37
    lol says:

    @Cassidy

    While Swartz committed a crime, there is no reasonable argument to make that that crime was worthy of a lifetime in prison. None. You can’t make it.

    7-8 years is a lifetime now? Because according to Swartz’s own attorney, that was what he was facing *even if convicted*.

    The prosecutor offered 6-8 months in prison. Do you think that’s an outrageous abuse of the system?

  38. 38
    Comrade Jake says:

    @lol:

    The prosecutor offered 6-8 months in prison. Do you think that’s an outrageous abuse of the system?

    For what he actually did, 6-8 months in prison is rather ridiculous, honestly. Would you insist that someone who got caught trespassing spend half a year in jail? Because what the kid did here really isn’t all that far from that.

  39. 39
    Cassidy says:

    @lol:

    7-8 years

    That is speculation. If I’m reading these threads correctly, 50+ years is what the law prescribes. It wouldn’t be the first time where someone gets a significant sentence after their lawyer said “you should only get…”. it also wouldn’t be the first time the prosecution threatened to go for the max sentence just to scare the accused. FWIW, I do think 7-8 years in prison for downloading is a little excessive. I don’t see how this couldn’t have been handled with Probation and Community Service.

    But again and you’re avoiding the question, would you like to quote me where I said he shouldn’t be prosecuted? Basically, you need to chill a bit. It’s very possible to belive that 1) someone did something wrong and should have to take responsibiloity for it and 2) our legal system is dicked up and has s erious case of fcuked up priorities.

    Personally, I don’t know if I’d have taken the plea either. I don’t know all the facts of the case and I suspect you don’t either. IANAL and don’t pretend to be.

  40. 40
    Emma says:

    So here’s what I take away from this thread: Todd is for real. LOL is a jackass who likes to throw bombs because it gets him the conversation he lacks in real life. Greenwald is a drive-by shooter? (Good Lord).

    And to whoever recommended Rushkoff’s Program or Be Programmed, may thanks. This has been a perfect illustration of his Chapter One.

  41. 41
    Marc says:

    @nancydarling:

    I think of Aaron as a modern day Thoreau.

    In the sense that Thoreau also peddled a bullshit quasi-libertarian code of ethics while other people actually went about doing the hard work of real activism, then yes, why not?

    I’m appalled at the severity of the penalties Swartz faced, wildly out of proportion to his crime, but I’m also appalled at the ghoulish martyrdom that’s springing up around him courtesy of people like Cory Doctorow. When I read his eulogy, I didn’t see a “modern day Thoreau.” I see a kid who thought his “information wants to be free” entitlement was a political position, and confused his go-it-alone tactics with activism. Real civil disobedience includes being prepared to face the consequences of your actions–in fact, the whole point is to shock the public when the consequences far outweigh the disobedience.

    I also see a kid with obvious mental health problems who appears to have had absolutely no guidance or supervision from his family. Maybe those things are more proximate causes for his suicide than mean old JSTOR, the nonprofit service that provides millions of articles for free to anybody with a university login.

  42. 42
    RSA says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    One of the interesting things I have found out working on my PhD is that when my dissertation gets published – if I ever make it that far – I will not own it. It will belong to the company that publishes it, of whose name I have completely forgotten, something rather academic sounding.

    I’m surprised. At my university (and I’d actually thought at most places), the student holds the copyright to his or her dissertation. I can see if it were turned into a monograph or book, though, that negotiations with a publisher would happen.

  43. 43
    mistermix says:

    @Marc:

    I also see a kid with obvious mental health problems who appears to have had absolutely no guidance or supervision from his family. Maybe those things are more proximate causes for his suicide than mean old JSTOR, the nonprofit service that provides millions of articles for free to anybody with a university login.

    From what I read, his family was very concerned about sending a young kid to conferences as a young teenager and sent him with chaperones, which actually sounds like they expended a lot of effort to take care of him. I don’t know where you get your information, but I’d hold off on making judgments about “obvious” mental problems and family involvement unless you know something specific.

  44. 44
    nancydarling says:

    @Marc:

    Thoreau also peddled a bullshit quasi-libertarian code of ethics while other people actually went about doing the hard work of real activism, then yes, why not?

    And yet he changed the world—see Gandhi, MLK. He changed the world much more than his friend, Emerson, who criticized Thoreau for being captain of a huckleberry party rather than an engineer for America.

  45. 45
    handsmile says:

    mistermix:

    Interesting speculation/comparison between the UC-Davis investigation and the one now being formed at MIT. That Hal Abelson, appointed to lead that committee, is renowned for his own advocacy of some of very principles (as well as organizations) to which Swartz was committed gives me some measure of confidence as to its integrity. Also, I expect there will be sustained vigilance of its work by the politically engaged and savvy (e.g., the SOPA battle) Internet activist community.

    My observations from my own “ill-spent youth” (as well as my somewhat less ill-spent adulthood) “at different universities”is that those faculty members who spent much of “their past time in the protest line” are rarely selected for institutional blue-ribbon panels or have careers that bring them to senior administrative positions. I’ve seen as much disconfirmatory as confirmatory evidence as well that other members of the professoriat, liberal or not, meekly accept white-washed or hasty reports.

    I’ve not yet read anything from academic online watering-holes that does not praise Aaron Swartz’s activism nor fails to denounce the Justice Department’s draconian and disproportionate investigation (contrary opinions may well be out there, of course, and I don’t ever read Reynolds.)

  46. 46
    Nellie in NZ says:

    Thirty years in academia and I watched the vocally liberal defend rank and privilege with a ferocity unrivaled. Their rank and privilege, that is. They did not put themselves on the line in regard to the exploitation of adjuncts; many of them didn’t see us in the hallways. Glad to be beyond those environments.

  47. 47
    Lol says:

    @Cassidy:

    It’s the subtext of every infantilizing appeal to “BUT HE WAS DEPRESSED” you keep making as if it had any actual relevance to the case. Unless you’re arguing he didn’t understand what he was doing because he was depressed, why do you keep bringing it up?

    And again, do you think 6-8 months is excessive?

  48. 48
    Feudalism Now! says:

    Why are we talking about spyware or malware? Swartz hooked up a laptop and a big backup drive to a closet and put a box over it. This diabolical computer wizardry is the same as me running some coax to my neighbors house to grab cable or using unlocked wifi. This is minor crap. The intellectual property rights dispute can be dropped because JSTOR did not want to prosecute. Ortiz wanted to make political hay and so hay would be made. The fact that MIT had no protection of its physical plant is more damning than Swartz taking the water from the tap.

  49. 49
    Marc says:

    @nancydarling: Let’s not pretend Thoreau did that all by himself. (And the links between Thoreau, Gandhi, and MLK are overhyped; King in particular had little use for Thoreau-style, purely symbolic civil disobedience.) Emerson was just as involved in the antislavery movement as Thoreau was; he also supported Thoreau while the great libertarian was promoting radical self-sufficiency, and made much of Thoreau’s writing possible. Elevating Thoreau to a singular and solitary martyr for liberty–well, it’s exactly as misguided as elevating Aaron Swartz to a Thoreau, and for many of the same reasons.

    “Captain of a huckleberry party” is stinging precisely because it’s true. I wish Swartz’s friends and eulogists were capable of the same honesty.

  50. 50
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    mistermix, would you be more trusting of an investigation by an outsider? Those come with other problems, like cooperationor lack thereof. It is pretty clear that some form of investigation needs to happen. This is obviously a fucked up situation at a variety of levels.

  51. 51
    nancydarling says:

    @Marc: No one said Thoreau was a “martyr for liberty”.

  52. 52
    Hoodie says:

    @Feudalism Now!: Yeah, which is why it doesn’t make a lot of sense to lay this all at the feet of the feds. Bagging a guy like Swartz is not a career move; if you’re a fed prosecutor, you want to take down unsavory characters like child molestors, politicians and Wall St. traders, not some idealistic hacker. Makes you wonder about MIT’s role in the “hard line” adopted by the prosecutors, especially since they apparently shitcanned a lighter deal that JSTOR signed on to. Maybe they were embarrassed that their security was so shitty, especially given the type of research that goes on at MIT, and they wanted to make an example of Swartz to intimidate copycats, rather than actually fixing their security issues.

  53. 53

    @Jack the Second:

    And in the end, suicide in the face of persecution by an unjust system is just another form of protest.

    Suicide is the ultimate “fuck you” to the world.

    Here’s the real tragedy: With his money and connections, Swartz could have easily snuck out of the country and continued his work from overseas. Yet he didn’t.

    I hear Venezuela’s lovely this time of year.

  54. 54
    Cassidy says:

    @Lol:

    you keep making as if it had any actual relevance to the case

    You’re projecting. I’ve mentioned it in 2-3 posts (the first two). The first was in your flippant disregard for mental health illnesses, the second explaining my answer to your question. I apologize if the nuance is too much for you. I realize that it feels good to go “RAWR! MOAR PRISON TIME”, but I just don’t see it the same way you and the State of Texas does. If anyone is infantilizing the topic, it’s you.

    And again, do you think 6-8 months is excessive?

    You first. You keep avoiding my question. Two, your doing that “moving the goalposts” thing. This tells me you have no interest in an honest conversation.

  55. 55
    Culture of Truth says:

    There are many different issues at play here, it’s hard to know what to think. Issues involving copyright and tech law, hacking, academia, prosecutorial decisions, depression. It seems clear to me that he knew he was at least breaking the law, if not doing something ‘wrong,’ but also that given the wrongdoing and resources, the prosecution was very overzealous. Yes, I think it’s fair to think about who you are dealing with, asking are they a real threat to society, etc. rather than trying to make an example of someone.

    Federal prosecution is blunt instrument and it should be used carefully. (This applies to bankers too.)

  56. 56
    handsmile says:

    @Emma:

    Thanks back; I recommended it on Tom Levenson’s most recent post on the Swartz matter. Glad you agree upon its relevance here. As I mentioned, it expanded my thinking on issues of Internet activism.

  57. 57
    Marc says:

    @mistermix: I’m getting my information from Doctorow’s own eulogy, which I’m guessing you’ve also read and which is not at all ambiguous about his depression.

    (Nor is it ambiguous about his infantile conception of politics–irony plus a web app can win elections!–but that doesn’t stop Doctorow and others from building this kid up to an “activist” who “singlehandedly liberated 20 percent of US law” and other such aggrandized BS.)

  58. 58
    mistermix says:

    @Marc: I agree that reports are he suffered from depression. (I didn’t know what else you meant by “obvious”). But you also said “who appears to have had absolutely no guidance or supervision from his family”.

    I don’t know about his family’s role in his illness. Doctorow’s obit said that they were concerned about his foreign travels, as I mentioned above. Do you have any more information about his family’s lack of guidance or supervision?

    Look, you can believe that Swartz is being built up after he died without saying really awful things about his family. Because saying someone committed suicide in part because of family inattention is really awful.

  59. 59

    @Feudalism Now!:

    Why are we talking about spyware or malware?

    Didn’t you know? All hackers are in the same Sooper Sekrit Hakkerz Klub! All the same!

    So downloading documents from JSTOR is exactly the same thing as infecting Todd’s office computer with a keylogger when he takes the occasional hard-earned break to surf some pr0n.

  60. 60
    dr. bloor says:

    @Todd:

    All I ever wanted was a functional machine that wouldn’t pick up stuff from third party ads on regular websites.

    Aaron Swartz: Totally responsibuls for the cooties your computer picked up while surfing porn.

    Also, too, you’re actually paying for malware and virus protection? Lolz

  61. 61
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @nancydarling: Thoreau did. Say that, I mean.

  62. 62
    Feudalism Now! says:

    @Lol: 6 -8 months is excessive. The punishment does not fit the crime. Probation and conviction of the crime is reasonable. All else is circus and a waste of the courts and prosecutions time. Unless the ‘crime’ is for pure political theater, which it was.

  63. 63
    Real American says:

    From the Boston Globe:

    During plea talks held in the months before his death, federal prosecutors told Aaron Swartz and his attorney that the computer prodigy must spend six months behind bars and plead guilty to 13 federal crimes in order to resolve the criminal case short of a trial.

    A lot of folks are advancing the narrative that Swartz faced a ridiculously-long jail sentence–35 to 50 years, depending on who you ask–and killed himself in part because of that. And yet, Swartz had rejected a 6-month plea deal, so that doesn’t hold water.

    And it doesn’t seem that he was committing civil disobedience. Those who commit civil disobedience know that they’re breaking the law, know they will be caught and prosecuted and are prepared to face the consequences–which doesn’t seem to be the case here.

    Nobody can really know why Aaron Swartz killed himself, and the loss of such an intelligent young man is a tragedy. But it seems like there are a lot of folks trying to twist this to make a political point in a way that just doesn’t align with the facts.

  64. 64
    Emma says:

    @Marc: Jesus Christ. The kid helped write RSS at the age of FOURTEEN. He co-founded Demand Progress. He founded Reddit (no, I don’t particularly like what people do there, either). He was working with Tim Berners-Lee, for crying out loud. Nobody has to “build him up.” He did that all by himself.

  65. 65
    Cassidy says:

    @Real American: It does hold water. He faced a potential sentence of great length. The realistic expectation was 7-8 years. He rejected a plea deal for 6-8 months for whatever reasons, as is his right. None of these are mutually exclusive.

  66. 66
    eemom says:

    Again, this matter is a classic case of so-called “liberal” sheep falling all over themselves to join in the single note bleat du jour over a matter teeming with legal, moral, psychological and technological unknowns and gray areas.

    Congrats, mistermix, for leaping right on to that dumb ass bandwagon with this brain dead post.

    And how very special that Glennzie himself has deigned to bless the effort with his gracious presence. You must be SO proud.

  67. 67
    Marc says:

    @mistermix:

    Doctorow’s obit said that they were concerned about his foreign travels, as I mentioned above.

    It also says Doctorow first met Swartz when he was 14 or 15, in a city that was not his own, and never met his parents.

    The portrait that emerges from his eulogy bothers me on a number of levels. The ‘supertaster’ thing sets off all sorts of alarm bells, as do the stories about his periodic denunciation of his friends and other forms of self-isolation, as does his parents’ willingness to let him travel on his own at such a young age. Maybe saying so is really ugly; so is watching a depressed kid get turned into a martyr for the techno-libertarian cause.

  68. 68
    Marc says:

    @Emma: All duly impressive, but it doesn’t make him an “activist” and it doesn’t make his politics any less infantile. (And it doesn’t make his martyrdom any less creepy.)

  69. 69
    Don says:

    @Real American:

    A lot of folks are advancing the narrative that Swartz faced a ridiculously-long jail sentence–35 to 50 years, depending on who you ask–and killed himself in part because of that. And yet, Swartz had rejected a 6-month plea deal, so that doesn’t hold water.

    Nobody can really know why Aaron Swartz killed himself, and the loss of such an intelligent young man is a tragedy. But it seems like there are a lot of folks trying to twist this to make a political point in a way that just doesn’t align with the facts.

    Schwartz doesn’t need to be a lily-white never-wrong to be mistreated in this, nor does he have to be without guilt for the government’s efforts to be unjustifiable overkill. This is an offense that involved going places in MIT where he shouldn’t have, then using their network to exceed JSTOR’s stated but not explicitly enforced limits on downloading.

    MIT declined to pursue trespassing charges and both they and JSTOR reached out of court civil agreements with Schwartz. Given the private nature of the incident and that Schwartz did reach an agreement and pay penalties to the wronged parties I think it’s very fair to call this a political act. The fact that Schwartz rejected an agreement that would have put him in prison for longer than people who punch folks in bars or steal cars doesn’t, to me, make him somehow deserving of this laundry list of offenses.

  70. 70
    Don says:

    Wow, so now we’re on to negligent parents, insinuations of pedophilia/molestation and I don’t know what. There’s no maybe about whether what you’re saying is ugly, or that it makes you seem so. Gross.

  71. 71
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Real American: Being prepared to face some consequences does not necessarily mean being prepared to accept any and all consequences. He may well have figured that he was risking a misdemeanor conviction and probation. This would not be unreasonable. I have been involved in peaceful protests in the past on a number of issues, of these, there aren’t a lot where I would continue to show up if heads were getting broken. Would you?

    Also, it is possible that Swartz was too fragile, emotionally, to undertake the type of civil disobedience that he was doing. That doesn’t make him uncommitted or a coward as it seems that some are suggesting.

    Hell, I am not convinced that he was fighting the right fight or doing it the right way, but, god damn it, it is tragic when an idealistic genius is broken this way.

  72. 72
    eemom says:

    I would also like to extend special recognition to the multiple morons here who repeatedly insist that any of this has anything the fuck to do with the lack of prosecution of bigger badder criminals like the ones on Wall Street and the former occupants of the WH. OMFG is that stupid.

    Let’s declare a national moratorium on the prosecution of crime until ALL crimes EVER committed have been ranked in order of heinousness and prosecuted accordingly.

  73. 73
    Marc says:

    @Don:

    Wow, so now we’re on to negligent parents, insinuations of pedophilia/molestation

    You’re the only one who’s insinuated that, dude, but if you want to claim that particular brand of ugliness, go for it.

  74. 74
    rb says:

    @Real American:

    And it doesn’t seem that he was committing civil disobedience. Those who commit civil disobedience know that they’re breaking the law, know they will be caught and prosecuted and are prepared to face the consequences–which doesn’t seem to be the case here.

    He was supposed to plead guilty to 13 felonies (to say nothing of accept all the attendant restrictions to his rights)? Come on, that is bullshit. This ‘deal’ was poisoned so it would be rejected. Now the prosecutors are using it for CYA.

    The authoritarianism on display in this thread is rather breathtaking, but I suppose it’s to be expected as there are hippies to be punched.

    I use JSTOR daily and but for a coinflip Swartz’s ‘crime’ might have cost me a day’s work, but fuck these prosecutors. If this kid were a bankster who’d actually stolen an actual $5m (instead of “millions of dollars” worth of articles) he’d have gotten a slap on the wrist, if that.

    He should have been charged with trespass, warned that next time it would be prison, and given 100 hours teaching kids in west rox coding or (god forbid) powerpoint. Now he’s another kind of lesson to those same kids, who’ll be treated even worse than he was should destroying them ever offer some prosecutor a chance at fame.

  75. 75
    Cassidy says:

    @rb:

    or teaching kids in west rox …(god forbid) powerpoint

    Do you hate kids or something?

  76. 76
    rb says:

    @eemom: Let’s declare a national moratorium on the prosecution of crime until ALL crimes EVER committed have been ranked in order of heinousness and prosecuted accordingly.

    Strawmen, ye be truly slain.

  77. 77
    handsmile says:

    For those evidently new to the story (like lol and Real American above):

    The reason that Swartz’s defense team rejected the US Attorney’s offer of a reduced sentence is that it compelled him to plead guilty to felony charges. You may wish to familiarize yourself with the lifetime legal restrictions imposed on someone with a felony conviction (regardless of length of time served).

  78. 78
    eemom says:

    @rb:

    you’re an idiot.

  79. 79

    @handsmile:
    I brought this up yesterday. But destroying the future career of a troublesome young hacker was a feature, not a bug.

    Payback for his earlier PACER stunt, perhaps.

  80. 80
  81. 81
    Corey says:

    Hey eemom, you’re disgusting

  82. 82
    rb says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches: Payback for his earlier PACER stunt, perhaps.

    Possibly, but I think ‘payback’ implies a degree of coordination that isn’t necessary to meet the facts. He was a high-visibility target (PACER stunt contributing), cybercrime is flavor of the month, therefore he gave prosecutors a hardon.

    So they got to grinding.

  83. 83
    Corey says:

    The comments section really does reveal that in a sane world, most of you all would be conservatives. I mean damn.

  84. 84
    lol says:

    @handsmile:

    No shit. Actions have consequences.

    @Cassidy:

    Sorry, I assumed you had read the fucking article. “Why did those big mean prosecutors go after the poor depressed kid knowing he couldn’t handle being held responsible for his actions without killing himself?”

    And then you came in and backed that point up.

  85. 85
    Real American says:

    @rb, @Don, @Cassidy,

    I’m not saying the plea deal was reasonable (it wasn’t) or that Swartz deserved to go to jail at all (he didn’t).

    But it seems to me that there’s a lot of misinformation out there on this. I read a lot of stories yesterday and today that focused on the eye-popping 35-50 year maximum sentence; I think it’s important for people to know that the DOJ was aiming for much less, and Swartz had received a plea deal for 6 months. 6 months is still a long time in prison, but it’s not 50 years.

  86. 86
    handsmile says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches:

    Sorry to have overlooked that. Credit should be credited. (a h/t is now owed you from my account)

    From what has been widely-reported and widely-sourced, I do not believe it is unreasonable to raise questions about the investigation led by the Boston US Attorney’s office (and as we now know assisted by the US Secret Service) into Aaron Swartz’s actions.

  87. 87
    Corey says:

    “ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES
    DO THE CRIME DO THE TIME
    DIE HACKER SCUM”

    – Balloon Juice Commenters, 2013

  88. 88
    eemom says:

    @Corey:

    Thanks for weighing in. My self-regard totally depends on the opinions of obscure little termites who ONLY ever crawl out of the woodwork here to sling shit at strangers.

  89. 89
    Corey says:

    Obotism has taken over this place to the degree that people are dancing on the grave of a kid who committed suicide because he helped found an organization that questioned the Dear Leader.

    I mean shit, ABL called him a “grifter” and celebrated the fact that he was threatened with decades in prison for breaking no laws.

  90. 90
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corey: Actually, there has been a fairly wide range of opinions and comments about this topic on this blog. But please pretend that condemnation of Swartz has been overwhelming and total.

  91. 91
    Corey says:

    @eemom: Hey, I’m giving you a compliment! There aren’t many literal piles of excrement capable of navigating the internet and typing things into blog comment sections.

  92. 92
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    This must be the LAW’N’OWDAH thread at LGM? Legal Insurrection?

    Oops.. Wrong blog.

  93. 93
    Cassidy says:

    @lol: If you aren’t interested in having an honest conversation, you should have just said so. You’re a liar and have been this whole time. You’re also making a lot of assumptions that you know have no factual foundation. Piss off. You’re clearly not very g

    @Real American: I get the impression he was threatened with that number after refusing the plea deal. I could easily be wrong, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.

    @Corey: Actions do have consequences and he did break the law. I think most people here agree that even6-8 months and a lifetime felony conviction is ridiculous, but any expectation that he shouldn’t have to take responsibility is childish. Whtehr he was an asshole kid or a genuine activist, that’s what happens when you break the law to prove a point; sometimes you get charged witha crime.

    I believe one person has called for death. I suspect hyperbole and frustration.

  94. 94
    rb says:

    @Real American: Right, it’s a fair point. However: 13 felonies is not ‘aiming low;’ it’s absurd.

    That said, focusing on the 35 y does have the unfortunate consequence of making 6-8 y in a cage seem like not that much punishment for (trying to) download a bunch of academic papers too rapidly.

    Which is fucking crazy.

  95. 95
    Corey says:

    @Cassidy: Name the law he broke, besides the trespass and break-in.

  96. 96
    Cassidy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Some people never get over that childlike way of viewing things. Details? Facts? Nuance? Who needs’em? I’m surprised it took them this long to get to blaming Obama. It’s always the nig(clang)’s fault.

  97. 97
    Cassidy says:

    @Corey: This is what he was charged with.

  98. 98
    Calouste says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches: He had already started his own company and was part owner of reddit, and of course extremely well known in certain circles. A felony conviction would have meant jack shit to his career prospects, it’s not like he was a black guy caught with a few ounces of pot.

  99. 99
    rb says:

    @Cassidy: Yeah, I was going for maximal boredom and pain, but you’re right – no reason to hammer the kids too.

  100. 100
    Corey says:

    @Cassidy: First, that doesn’t answer the question.

    Second, since you’re asserting that racism drives the opinions of those who disagree with you, I’m not really inclined to continue the discussion.

  101. 101
    emma says:

    @Corey: I do hope you get paid for lying like this. Otherwise you’d fry in Hell for nothing

  102. 102
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    Clearly, the young man was not too big to fail.

  103. 103
    Corey says:

    @emma: What’s a lie?

    Also, lol at the assertion that there’s some sort of market for arguing with Obots about Aaron Swartz

  104. 104
    lol says:

    @Cassidy:

    I’m sorry I assumed you had read the article being discussed. Happy?

  105. 105
    Cassidy says:

    @Corey: It does answer the question. if you don’t want to look them up, that’s your laziness to deal with. I apologize if you got the impression I was taking you seriously in the first place. Anyone dumb enough to use the “dear leader” line gets about as much respect from me as Ted Nugent.

    Intersting though that in a thread with many varying opinions on this case you’ve turned into something about you. You all whore the same way.

  106. 106
    Cassidy says:

    @lol: Problem with assumptions….I’m sure you’re used to making an ass of yourself.

  107. 107
    lol says:

    @Real American:

    Swartz shouldn’t have had to face any consequences because information wants to be free. Also too he was depressed and depressed people are incapable of taking any responsibility for their actions. The punditariate hath spoken.

  108. 108
    rb says:

    @Corey: I’m one of the bigger Obots going, but I don’t think people are piling on Swartz because he ‘questioned Obama.’ I mean, really?

    There’s just a pronounced difference of opinion as to what constitutes a crime, what is the appropriate level of prosecutorial discretion, and what is proportional punishment.

    There’s a law-and-order contingent (if this is news to you, you haven’t been reading this blog long), who I think favor a bit of hippy-punching now and again. Then there’s a crowd who take a jaundiced view of ‘career-making’ prosecutions in general, especially given the high profile illegal-but-unpunished war and profit making going on around here. I’d count myself in this group. We probably indulge in a bit of ‘well, this crime isn’t REALLY a crime’ to a degree that’s a bit more than strictly defensible.

    And finally, there’s a point of view that sees in Swartz a kid who, while certainly gifted, was also the recipient of a lot of special treatment and fawning attention. This perspective (ABL?) feels that when it comes to crushing prosecution, what’s good for the goose is good for the typically much-less-privileged gander. I can see this point of view, but tend to feel that the level of schadenfreude that erupts when it’s the privileged ox getting gored can sometimes be a bit unseemly.

    You’re going to have a tough time finding anyone out to get Swartz strictly because he opposed “Dear Leader.”

  109. 109
    rb says:

    @lol: We done killed them thar strawmen already.

  110. 110
    Cassidy says:

    @rb:

    but I don’t think people are piling on Swartz because he ‘questioned Obama.

    I’m pretty suire no one in any of these threads has said this, other than Corey, and would challenge it to post support of that assertion here. I won’t hold my breath, but I could be pleasantly surprised. That’s the nature of the illness, though, is it is somehow always about Obama, even if it has nothing to do with him. No differen than a teatard.

    There’s a law-and-order contingent (if this is news to you, you haven’t been reading this blog long), who I think favor a bit of hippy-punching now and again.

    I can’t speak for everyone, but for me it’s an intolerance of stupid. Ex: I’m all for decriminalization of weed. The WOD is obscene. That being said, it’s common knowledge how much constitutes a felony charge. If you get caught walking around with that amount, you deserve to be chargeded with a crime since you can’t be charged with being a jackass. Now, the minimum sentencing stuff is buillshit and no one deserves to go to prison so many years for having a joint and that shit needs to be changed. but the bottom line is if you do something knowing it’s a crime, then don’t be butthurt if you get charged with a crime. That doesn’t make you a martyr to me.

  111. 111
    lol says:

    @Cassidy:

    Well, now that you’ve read the article, I hope you’ll apologize to me.

  112. 112
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @rb: Again, I think I would be classified within the genus Obot, but I see reason to pile on Swartz. My view, at this time, is that Swartz was doing what he did as an act of civil disobedience and that he intended to violate the laws and agreements that govern disribution of knowledge. I think a misdemeanor conviction with probation and restitution for any losses would be the most punishment that would have been appropriate. I hate the prosecutorial technique of massively overcharging in order to increase leverage; I think it is unjust and immoral. I also feel for Swartz’s friends and family; it seems like he was a special person and we are the poorer for his suicide.

    I reserve the right to change my mind about this as more facts come out.

  113. 113
    shep says:

    A key component of conservatism is reflexive support of current institutions.

    You may be confusing authoritarian-following (yes, there are left-wing-authoritarian-followers, though much rarer than the right-wing variety) with “conservatism.” That, or just plain careerism.

  114. 114
    Corey says:

    @Cassidy: An indictment is not a list of laws broken. It’s a list of laws that someone has been charged with breaking.

    I know which laws the government claims Swartz broke, and it’s nonsense, as explained here by an actual expert, rather than a blog commenter.

    I can’t speak for everyone, but for me it’s an intolerance of stupid. Ex: I’m all for decriminalization of weed. The WOD is obscene. That being said, it’s common knowledge how much constitutes a felony charge. If you get caught walking around with that amount, you deserve to be chargeded with a crime since you can’t be charged with being a jackass. Now, the minimum sentencing stuff is buillshit and no one deserves to go to prison so many years for having a joint and that shit needs to be changed. but the bottom line is if you do something knowing it’s a crime, then don’t be butthurt if you get charged with a crime. That doesn’t make you a martyr to me.

    This is completely morally incoherent.

  115. 115
    Cassidy says:

    @lol: For what? You’re wrong and have been worng this whole time. No one, to my knowledge, has suggested that Swartz shouldn’t have been prosecuted because he was clinically depressed. I nicely asked you to prove that and you went off into mutliple tangents, projections, and dumbass assumptions. It’s not my fault you’re not built for big people conversations.

  116. 116
    rb says:

    @Cassidy: That being said, it’s common knowledge how much constitutes a felony charge. If you get caught walking around with that amount, you deserve to be chargeded with a crime since you can’t be charged with being a jackass.

    Right, this is what I mean. This point of view seems to believe that “being a jackass” is per-se worthy of criminal punishment.

    And it’s a short walk to “what was she wearing,” no?

    To use your terms, and without trying to be flip: when stupid law is pitted against stupid people, I’m on the side of the latter. Them we’ll have with us always, whereas stupid law is entirely unnecessary.

  117. 117
    rb says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: My view, at this time, is that Swartz was doing what he did as an act of civil disobedience and that he intended to violate the laws and agreements that govern disribution of knowledge. I think a misdemeanor conviction with probation and restitution for any losses would be the most punishment that would have been appropriate.

    Well put; we agree. I also think the party that stood to lose the most (JSTOR) is on balance a force for good and a goofy target.

    But all of that pales in comparison to the prosecutorial ridiculousness on display. Truly cure is worse than disease, here.

  118. 118
    Corey says:

    @rb: Well, maybe it isn’t about Obotism, but I think it’s pretty interesting that in this case – which is obviously one of a weaker party being targeted and picked on by a stronger one – is the one where lots of BJers, who claim to be liberal, side with the stronger party.

    Again, maybe it’s general law and orderism, and there’s certainly a vocal contingent of people like that on this blog, but having witnessed firsthand the rancor directed at anyone who vocally questions the president I’m not convinced.

  119. 119
    Cassidy says:

    @Corey:

    An indictment is not a list of laws broken. It’s a list of laws that someone has been charged with breaking.

    You should read more legal experts. That’s kind of how it works. You do something. You get charged. You go through a trial or plea process. Then, if the evidence is compelling enough, you are found guilty of breaking laws. So, to be pedantic, he wasn’t even guilty of trespassing or the break in as you stated.

    Now, I get what you’re trying to say, in that the laws are wrong, he didn’t commit a crime, blah, blah, blah, the same tired bullshit from the same tired source.

    This is completely morally incoherent.

    No it isn’t. Again, I understand that you don’t understand nuance and the ability to have detailed outlooks on a topic. I’m sorry that your POV has the depth of a pop-up book. Perhaps your parents should have done a better job. Go talk to them.

  120. 120

    @handsmile:
    Try not to get sucked into that angle: The Secret Service’s involvement is pretty standard for a high-profile “computer crime” investigation, that’s part of their core mission (ie wire/telco fraud).

    SS were, in fact, probably the ones who supplied the hidden camera.

  121. 121
    Cassidy says:

    @rb: Fair enough. I can see where you’re coming from. I guess I just expect people to think more about survival. These laws suck, but the reality is they can crush you and unless you’re a lucky, rich, white person, you are well and truly fucked. The behemoth will be beaten with time, but for fuck’s sake, in the meantime be smart enough to not become a statistic, because the opposition, while horrible, is predictable.

  122. 122
    Corey says:

    @Cassidy:
    Now, I get what you’re trying to say, in that the laws are wrong, he didn’t commit a crime, blah, blah, blah, the same tired bullshit from the same tired source.

    At this point you’ve got to be trolling. But if anyone else is reading this and is on the fence, you should read this for an explanation of why no laws were broken (save the alleged trespass and break-in).

    No it isn’t. Again, I understand that you don’t understand nuance and the ability to have detailed outlooks on a topic. I’m sorry that your POV has the depth of a pop-up book. Perhaps your parents should have done a better job. Go talk to them.

    “Some laws are unjust, but if you break them, I side with the state.” That is literally your position on this topic. You believe it to be coherent?

  123. 123

    @Calouste:
    Fun Fact: One of the most notorious hackers from the Boston scene of the 1990s (l0pht/Cult of the Dead Cow), generally accepted as the first expert on buffer overflow as a hacking technique, is now a program manager at DARPA.

    You’d be surprised how many young hackers grow up to be ‘White Hats’ later in life.

    Who knows, you might even be talking to one.

  124. 124
    Cassidy says:

    @Corey:

    At this point you’ve got to be trolling.

    Nope. Just dealing with you in the seriousness you deserve.

    You believe it to be coherent?

    Yup. It’s perfectly fine to believe in the rule of law and belive that some of those laws need to be changed. They are not mutually exclusive. People like you don’t get to do whatever the fuck you feel like, because you don’t agree with that law. That’s what we call a Libertarian, Soveriegn Citizen, etc. If that’s the company you want to keep, go for it. Bring soap.

  125. 125
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corey: Actually, most people who write about civil disobedience would say that Cassidy is more or less correct. One can believe that a law is immoral and/or unjust but still recognize tha the state has the authority to make that law. One is then faced with a choice: obey the immoral law or disobey it and face the consequences. If enough people disobey the law, it becomes clear that the law should be changed. Civil disobedience does not mean disobeying a law with which one disagrees and walking away scot-free. It is a really tough and brave thing to do because of the consequences.

    Note: I am writing this on my iPhone which is a pain, so I probably skipped over a shitload of nuance on the topic.

  126. 126
    handsmile says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches:

    To acknowledge the involvement of the Secret Service is by no means to get “sucked into” conspiratorial theories about the case. I’m familiar with the mandate of the Secret Services’ “Electronic Crimes Task Force” as established by the USA Patriot Act.

    http://www.secretservice.gov/ectf.shtml

    Whether Swartz’ actions at MIT with the JSTOR archive in fact met any of these criteria is debatable (“economic/community impact” or “new technology” could be deemed insupportably broad) and the public facts of the case do not seem accurately described as “high-profile computer crime.” It is clear that the federal government and apparently MIT did think so, and the decision-making behind that determination should be questioned in my view.

  127. 127

    @handsmile:
    Fair enough.

    I’ll just point out that a laptop with (to choose an extreme example) some state-sponsored virus meant to collapse the US financial system, versus a laptop harmlessly downloading PDFs faster than JSTOR would like, would look exactly the same from the outside.

    I’m upset about a lot of aspects of this case. Law enforcement initially assuming the worst as they investigated a mysterious laptop in a closet just isn’t one of them.

  128. 128
    Barry says:

    @Todd: “For me, any prosecution of any punk who would break into systems is good, and the penalties should be harsh – these actions cause huge disruptions to people in their homes, workplaces and businesses. ”

    Wh*reson, could you please direct us to the volumes and volumes you must have written about the need for harsh punishment of the Wall St crooks who broke the economy? You know, the ones whose crimes f*cked us all and will f*ck us for the next few decades?

    I understand that you might not want to post that under your own name, because if 30 years in prison is a proper punishment here, you *must* have called the deaths by slow torture of just about everybody on Wall St.

    Or perhaps you’re full of it.

  129. 129
    rb says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: <iCivil disobedience does not mean disobeying a law with which one disagrees and walking away scot-free.

    Indeed. Punishment commensurate with the laws he actually (or at least arguably) did break (trespassing in an unlocked closet, temporary disruption of MIT’s network services, confiscation of the journal articles and laptop) would be entirely appropriate and consistent with what he should reasonably have expected.

    But! This does not address the frivolous application of law and the endemic overcharging of certain kinds of offenses. Swartz was not being ‘disobedient’ of laws against interstate wire fraud; the very idea is silly and dangerous. (Hell, part of me is surprised this wasn’t termed “cyberterrorism;” I guess that was too loopy even for the federal prosecutor.).

    So “civil disobedience means you gotta face up to the punishment” isn’t the end of the story.

  130. 130
    Don says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches:

    I’m upset about a lot of aspects of this case. Law enforcement initially assuming the worst as they investigated a mysterious laptop in a closet just isn’t one of them.

    This makes it sound like someone found this laptop and thought hurm, what’s this up to? The laptop was found after a long search related exclusively to excessive JSTOR traffic. If you’re saying that someone should have reasonably thought that a machine trying to spider a bunch of scholarly articles should reasonably have been assumed to maybe be some sort of viral internet-killing payload too… I have no response to that.

  131. 131
    sigaba says:

    I like how “totebagger” has become the code for Liberal-like-Phil-Ochs-meant.

  132. 132

    @Don:
    Until you seize and investigate the physical laptop, you can’t assume much of anything as to what it might be up to.

    Not sure why that’s controversial?

  133. 133
    ABL says:

    @Glenn Greenwald: As I said to you on Twitter yesterday, the day I take morality lessons from a guy who claimed that I would defend President Obama raping a nun on live TV — and to this day has not apologized for saying it — is the day I eat my own shoelaces.

    First, your implication that I somehow had something to do with Aaron’s death is far more disgusting than anything I have ever written on my blog or this one.

    Second, as anyone can can read in the post, I was calling PCCC and Adam Green grifters, and I am not the first person nor will I be the last to believe that they are.

    Third, as anyone can read in the post, my “smear” had nothing to do with the fact that Aaron criticized Pres. Obama. Any implication to the contrary is as dishonest as it is stupid.

    But your willful misreading of basic English and this cowardly attack is as unsurprising as your feigned inability to interpret the due process clause of the Constitution.

    Get a new chicken, Glenn, because the one you’re fucking is tired.

  134. 134
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @rb: I agree with you. If you look above, you will see that I do not think that Swartz deserved much more than probation for what he did. I think a year in prison would have been overkill.

  135. 135

    […] want to respond to a couple of things mistermix wrote this morning over at Balloon Juice about what I had previously written concerning MIT’s […]

  136. 136
    AxelFoley says:

    Damn, ABL tore Greenwald a new ass. He’s gonna have to get a new one now.

    ABL, please marry me. I’ll have the babies, I promise.

  137. 137
    Corner Stone says:

    @AxelFoley: Shorter troll: Derp, derp, derp.

  138. 138
    Corner Stone says:

    @ABL: Why wouldn’t he conclude that, even in a hyperbolic sense? You’re on record stating that if you caught President Obama balls deep in a goat it wouldn’t change your support for him. Or was that maybe just hyperbole as well?
    And you didn’t give a fuck about Aaron Swartz, you just loved you could tangentially tie him to Adam Green who was your bete noir of the day because he dared to criticize Obama.
    That evil, cackling ass throwaway of a post of yours hanging Aaron Swartz out for something you had no clue about was as disgusting as the rest of your fucking hit pieces.
    You have no defense for hounding him, nor pushing all the posts by The Reid Report and The People’s View.

  139. 139
    Corner Stone says:

    @Zandar: Shorter Zandar The Stupid:
    Let’s make sure we stay away from the other part of this issue because that would be bad for my patron.

  140. 140
    Corner Stone says:

    @Corey:

    I mean shit, ABL called him a “grifter” and celebrated the fact that he was threatened with decades in prison for breaking no laws.

    She just wanted to make sure any opposition to President Obama, no matter how tiny or muted, was discredited to the fullest extent.
    She couldn’t care less whether “Aaron Swartz” or a thousand just like him lived or died.

  141. 141
    Corner Stone says:

    @rb:

    I’m one of the bigger Obots going, but I don’t think people are piling on Swartz because he ‘questioned Obama.’ I mean, really?

    This really isn’t a stretch. At all.

  142. 142
    Corner Stone says:

    @Corey:

    is the one where lots of BJers, who claim to be liberal, side with the stronger party.

    This is not a liberal blog.

  143. 143
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I thought his opening with a salvo was a bit much. But I know how exasperating twitter can be.

  144. 144
    Corey says:

    @ABL:

    First, your implication that I somehow had something to do with Aaron’s death is far more disgusting than anything I have ever written on my blog or this one.

    Who, exactly, suggested that? Are you capable of reading?

  145. 145

    @Corner Stone: you are incredibly stupid.

  146. 146

    @Corey: i am, indeed. he said so on Twitter. thanks for your concern.

    ETA: Dredging up a post from July 2011 and accusing me of “helpfully heaping bile” or whatever it was necessarily implies that I had something to do with Aaron’s death. Distorting my post to make it seem as if I was criticizing Aaron because he criticized Obama is a claim not even borne out by the facts of what I wrote. It’s a fairly obvious and pathetic attempt, but par for the course, considering.

    I have nothing more to say on the matter.

  147. 147

    @Corner Stone:

    She couldn’t care less whether “Aaron Swartz” or a thousand just like him lived or died.

    pffft. again. you’re incredibly stupid.

  148. 148
    LTMidnight says:

    I don’t know why Corner Stone is playing “Captain Save-An-Attention-Ho” for Gigi, but it can’t possibly pay that much money.

  149. 149
    Corner Stone says:

    Wow. You must have had a long and illustrious career as an attorney with this kind of defense.
    Oh wait. You got kicked out because you were never going to make partner and you’re a brutal fucking hack who now does data entry for RH RC as a contractor.
    Shouldn’t you be updating those database entries about now?
    Tap tap tappity tap.

  150. 150
    Corner Stone says:

    @LTMidnight: Listen, kid. That shit, kid, it just ain’t flying kid.
    So, kid, maybe you should take your shit, kid, and go do something else with it.
    Kid.

  151. 151
    Corner Stone says:

    @Imani Gandy (ABL): Moron. You and your clique were on a jihad against Adam Green. You tied Aaron Swartz to AG and you went to town.
    That whole shitpiece was about rubbing it in the face of someone who disagreed with Obama.
    The fuck it isn’t tied together. There was a whole series by you and your coterie on this.

  152. 152
    Corey says:

    @Imani Gandy (ABL): ETA:

    Dredging up a post from July 2011 and accusing me of “helpfully heaping bile” or whatever it was necessarily implies that I had something to do with Aaron’s death.

    It does? To me it just indicates what a morally obtuse idiot you are, but hey.

  153. 153
    General Stuck says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Shut up you pickled piece of shit.

  154. 154
    General Stuck says:

    @Corey:

    Go to firebagger hell.

  155. 155
    General Stuck says:

    @Glenn Greenwald:

    Eat shit you racist fuckwad.

  156. 156
    General Stuck says:

    Goddam these soul less progressive pigs. Goddam them to hell. Worthless. Trying to tie ABL, because she once criticized a fake progressive person, who ended killing himself for unrelated alleged criminal activity later on, is the perfect pitch for the sewer trout they are.

  157. 157
    General Stuck says:

    These are you buddies pulling this shit, Cole. On your blog.

  158. 158
    Corey says:

    @General Stuck: This is truly wingnut-level depths of delusion, here.

  159. 159
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @General Stuck: @General Stuck: @General Stuck:

    Distinguished company. Wut? I don’t get an honorable mention?

  160. 160
    General Stuck says:

    @Corey:

    You are an insect, and so are your circle jerking buddies on this thread. And so is mistermix for kissing Glenn Greenwald’s ass for his truly loathesome effort to use Swartz’s suicide against ABL. And fuck you John Cole for letting your blog become a parade of pathological clowns.

  161. 161
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @General Stuck:

    I think ABL is quite capable of defending herself, but your outrage at her insult is cute.

  162. 162
    Corner Stone says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin): It’s the President Stuck Trifecta!
    Come back when you earn it, baby.

  163. 163
    General Stuck says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin):

    My outrage is for human stains like yourself and your friends. I genuinely enjoy the opportunity to verbally abuse the lot of you to administer dosage of you own foul medicine. It is only happenstance and history repeating itself, that my fun today is plussed by also defending ABL.

  164. 164
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Lost by a nose.

  165. 165
    General Stuck says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Shouldn’t you be busy raising the next Texas serial killer.

  166. 166
    Corner Stone says:

    @General Stuck: That lil motherfucker dominates.
    Too bad you’ll stroke out in your apartment while struggling to open a can of Spaghetti-O’s before you ever see what happens next.
    I hate to tell you this amigo, but one day Obama will no longer be President. And all the people you’ve invested in will disappear when that day comes.
    It’s a good thing for you that you’re a pathetic shut-in.

  167. 167
    General Stuck says:

    @Corner Stone:

    You sound cranky, Task Farce Ranger. Didn’t get your daily dose of spiny black jism? Amigo/

  168. 168
    Corner Stone says:

    @General Stuck: What’s amusing (of course, not to a stilted humourless git like yourself) is that you still, years later, refuse to recognize a Bill Hicks comedy routine when it’s shoved right down your stupid fucking face.
    Just goes to show the dearth of intellect on your part.

  169. 169
    General Stuck says:

    @Corner Stone:

    So you have been nothing but a four year long racist comedy skit on this blog? hoocoodanode!!

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