Remembering Aaron Swartz

Via David Sirota, at PandoDaily:

… Called “The Internet’s Own Boy,” the film follows Knappenberger’s recent New York Times op-doc about the NSA. It comes out amid three related political developments: 1) the White House may be trying to resurrect SOPA 2) there is a new bipartisan push for an investigation into the Obama administration’s prosecution of Swartz and 3) Washington is debating the prospect of reforming the NSA.

The movie will be officially released at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20th, in conjunction with the new organizing effort around the upcoming National Day of Action against the NSA on February 11th

And here’s Lawrence Lessig, in the Atlantic, explaining Why We’re Marching Across New Hampshire to Honor Aaron Swartz:

A year ago [Saturday], Aaron Swartz left. He had wound us all up, pointed us in a million directions, we were all working as hard as we could, moving things forward. And then he was gone…

… On Saturday, we begin a walk across the state of New Hampshire to launch a campaign to bring about an end to the system of corruption that we believe infects D.C. This is the New Hampshire Rebellion.

Fifteen years after New Hampshire’s Doris Haddock (aka “Granny D”), at age 88, began her famous walk from Los Angeles to D.C. with the sign “campaign finance reform” on her chest, a dozen or so of us will start to walk in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, the place the first 2016 presidential ballots will be cast. For two weeks, with more than 100 joining us along the way, we will walk south across New Hampshire, ending up in Nashua on January 24, the day Granny D was born.

Along the way, we will recruit everyone we can to do this one thing: We want them to ask every presidential candidate at every event between now and January 2016 one question: “How will YOU end the system of corruption in D.C.?”…

You can help. Please help. You can still join the walk. You can spread the word of the walk on Twitter with the hashtag #NHRWalk. You can sign a petition from wherever you are to push the candidates to answer this one question. You can send support that will help this movement grow.

It will always be my penance to believe that I didn’t do enough for my friend. I will do more. This is the start. If we’re lucky, we’ll mark the third anniversary of that terrible day with the real hope that the New Hampshire primary will turn upon this issue. And if we’re super lucky, we’ll mark the fourth with the anticipation of a president who made it her or his issue. And won.

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43 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    We want them to ask every presidential candidate at every event between now and January 2016 one question: “How will YOU end the system of corruption in D.C.?”

    Isn’t this what stymied Occupy Wall Street? The vagueness of the message.

  2. 2
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I know this is a classic old-people thing to say, but DAMN! How can it possibly be a year??

    Yes, how will YOU end the system of corruption? Preach.

  3. 3
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Baud: And if we’ve learned one thing from the last five years, it’s that Presidents are omnipotent and off-year, and state, elections don’t count.

  4. 4
    Ted and Hellen says:

    My portrait of Aaron.

    Wasn’t president’ Obama’s tribute speech to Aaron moving?

  5. 5
    Baud says:

    @Baud:

    So the article has more detail on the culture of corruption issue:

    it is the system of campaign funding in which fundraising is key, and the funders represent the tiniest fraction of the 1 percent. That system corrupts this democracy.

    ETA: Basically, another campaign finance reform push. A little more concrete, although not directly related to (just) the Internet.

  6. 6
    Marc says:

    @Baud: Yeah, but they didn’t have more than 100 people walking across one of the smallest states in the union!

  7. 7
    MikeJ says:

    @Baud: What did Swartz have to do with campaign finance?

  8. 8
    Baud says:

    @Marc:

    Well, all movements start somewhere, so I’m not going to knock them for their size. I just don’t like undue vagueness in messaging.

  9. 9
    MikeJ says:

    Some people have figured out that if you yell, “Benghazi!”, dim-witted Republicans will support you without really paying attention to what you’re talking about.

    This seems to be a very similar use of a corpse.

  10. 10
    Carolinus says:

    There’s something pretty ghoulish about the appropriation of a dead man’s image and name and the anniversary of when he killed himself, with his obvious inability to consent. It would be far less objectionable if they were raising awareness and money for suicide prevention and mental health, instead of hitching him to the Snowden-parade (which occurred long after his death).

  11. 11
    Baud says:

    @MikeJ:

    Nothing directly, to my knowledge. I guess one could argue that his work upset a lot of institutional interests, and those interests then used their influence to get the government to go after him, and that with campaign finance reform, that would be less likely to happen. Seems like a bit of a roundabout way to get there, IMHO.

  12. 12
    Keith G says:

    @Baud: I know one can make an argument that they were stymied, yet they did have an impact. They did help to add to an environment that moved the discussion in better directions and Obama and the Democrats were helped (whether they deserved to be or not).

    Additionally, it might be a tad simplistic to think that an early protest movement can succeed in a one and done blitz. The trajectory toward success will only commence as more couch surfers feel the need to think about these issues.

  13. 13
    Baud says:

    @Keith G:

    yet they did have an impact.

    Yes, I agree they did. I, however, don’t think OWS intended to fade away quite like they have, and I think one reason they did was because of difficulties with messaging.

    it might be a tad simplistic to think that an early protest movement can succeed in a one and done blitz. The trajectory toward success will only commence as more couch surfers feel the need to think about these issues.

    Not suggesting otherwise. My point is that couch surfers aren’t going to think about these issues if the messaging is vague.

  14. 14
    Marc says:

    @Baud: I’m more bothered by a politics that never moves beyond empty symbolism or romantic martyrdom.

  15. 15
    Keith G says:

    @Baud: Yeah. Proto movements seldom effective. I look at it as the nature of the beast. They were fighting the fruits of a cynical, power obsessed, top-down establishment. They chose to show a contracting ethos. It was bound to fail, but it was a damn good, and damned important, show. And it helped train some and inspire others on how to have a better show of it the next time.

  16. 16
    Baud says:

    @Marc:

    I hear you. I get that you never know when you’re message will catch fire, so there are a lot of false starts for every success. On the other hand, a lot of movements seem to end up just spinning their heels, which is very frustrating also. I wish a had a good solution.

  17. 17
    Keith G says:

    @Marc:

    I’m more bothered by a politics that never moves beyond empty symbolism or romantic martyrdom.

    Measured by what time line? The early Abolitionist cause as well as the initial Women’s Suffrage movements were awash with what some considered empty symbolism or romantic martyrdom.

  18. 18
    PJ says:

    @Carolinus: Everything about Lessig, who famously was (and perhaps still is) on the payroll of online gambling moguls (when he isn’t arguing for the destruction of artists’ livelihoods) makes me want to vomit.

  19. 19
    Botsplainer says:

    Still don’t give a fuck about Swartz, and that fucking pansy ass Sirota can DIAF.

  20. 20
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Resurrect one of the most onerous provisions of SOPA? WTF is that administration thinking? Our incarceration rate is the highest in the world. Are we creating novel felonies to maintain the profits of the prison industry?

  21. 21
    Ripley says:

    In this ever-shifting world, it’s nice to know some things are constant: T&H, you’re still a shitty painter. Still a dry dunk too, I’m assuming, so yeah – two things.

  22. 22
    Cacti says:

    Aaron’s dead. Please honor his life by sending us money.

    XOXO,

    Memorial grift foundation

  23. 23
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: Following the links in the links, it seems that the concerns about reviving that part of SOPA come from a report from a Commerce Dept task force. BTW the WP story is from August. That doesn’t seem like a big Administration push to do it.

  24. 24
    Warren Terra says:

    i am so heartily sick of the canonization of this idealistic, brilliant, deeply troubled, narcissistic young man. He needed more and better help and he didn’t deserve to die, nor to be so energetically pursued by the prosecutor. But: he was f’ing wrong in his actions, which were illegal, and for a reason. To make interesting ideological points, some of which were valid, he committed burglary, vandalism, and theft as he victimized a nonprofit institution that does good work – going after JSTOR rather than evil for-profit publishers like Elsevier or Springer. The idealizing response to his tragic death was understandable, but it’s been a year now, and we’re constantly hammered online with his beatific image, this stainless and spotless martyr for all that is good and true on the internet. Fnck that bnllsh!t. I mourn his loss: he had great accomplishments and had a brilliant future. But no small part of the blame must be placed on the inane cheerleaders who rather than treating him like an adult and like their friend instead encouraged him to a series of escalating and uncompromising illegal political actions, and who offered him their ongoing emotional support only so long as he continued on his self-destructive path. And now they eagerly claim his virtual corpse, brandishing the bloody shirt on behalf of their half-formed ideas about intellectual property. Swartz is a tragic figure and was a great young man; the people flogging his remains to promote their cause need to ask themselves some questions and to develop a sense of shame.

  25. 25
    Warren Terra says:

    @PJ:
    When I first heard of Lessig, everything was good – this is maybe a decade ago, and he was making interesting points and asking important questions. Then, about four or five years ago, he contemplated running for Congress, and had to make some statements about things other than intellectual property, and from other than an ivory tower viewpoint. Pretty much everything I heard then and from him since then convinced me that he’s actually a blot on our society. It wasn’t surprising that he was one of the quondam mentor figures who encouraged Aaron Swartz to his self-destruction.

  26. 26
    rda909 says:

    @MikeJ:

    Some people have figured out that if you yell, “NSA!”, dim-witted “progressives” will support you without really paying attention to what you’re talking about.

    Fixed.

  27. 27
    burnspbesq says:

    @Warren Terra:

    I agree with everything you wrote except this:

    he didn’t deserve … to be so energetically pursued by the prosecutor.

    He was caught dead to rights, on video, in the commission of a felony. Under the circumstances, the plea deal that he turned down was, in my view, fairly generous. We’ll never know, but maybe with the support of the so-called friends who are now using his death for their own purposes, he would have survived a year in Club Fed and gone on to realize his manifestly great potential.

  28. 28
    burnspbesq says:

    @Warren Terra:

    Lessig’s career arc is more than a little bit similar to Cornel West’s: both did brilliant work early in their academic careers before beginning a long, slow slide into something akin to self-parody.

  29. 29
    srv says:

    2) there is a new bipartisan push for an investigation into the Obama administration’s prosecution of Swartz

    Shit, I didn’t know that Obama killed the Swartz.

  30. 30
    different-church-lady says:

    @MikeJ: Saw what you did there, agreed with it, but still didn’t care for it one bit.

  31. 31
    different-church-lady says:

    @Marc: Saw what you did there, agreed with it, cared for it.

  32. 32
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @burnspbesq: It’s nearly a year since I told you to suck it on this one. Happy nearly-suckitversary.

  33. 33
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Warren Terra: The prosecutor in the case is an evil piece of fuck. (Talk about narcissists–did you see her try to seize the spotlight at the impromptu presser after they caught Dzhokhar?) Our entire justice system needs reform but somehow it’s only a problem when it crosses People of Privilege.

    Look how Arab-Americans were treated after 9/11, suddenly sending money back home makes you a terr’ist. Funny, nobody laid a FINGER on all those Irish Americans funding Sinn Fein which wink wink was not at all I mean totally a funnel to the IRA.

    My money is going to Innocence Project, not to hikes across NH.

  34. 34
    different-church-lady says:

    @srv: Done killed him while listening to his phonecalls. Don’t you read the internets?

  35. 35
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @burnspbesq: Well you know what? Sometimes the law is wrong. Like with armed robbery of a bank, the law punishes offenses against the Coca-Cola Company industry with an insane paranoia more than sleazebags who rip off individuals and investors for millions of dollars and take pensioners’ life savings. Oh, you made 40 grannies homeless? 18 months plus restitution, and your lawyer is appealing and trying to get house arrest only. You broke into some servers? 10 year minimum, you can never touch a computer again. Wait, you downloaded how many files? 100 consecutive life sentences! Lock it away! Aiiiiiiii!

    You can make terroristic threats against someone online and most PDs will laugh it off and never even fucking investigate, but you download one song and get caught and–not the civil system but–law enforcement is coming for you and threatening you with hard time if you don’t pay an exorbitant fine.

    This is not justice. Not even a little bit.

  36. 36
    AxelFoley says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    @Baud: And if we’ve learned one thing from the last five years, it’s that Presidents are omnipotent and off-year, and state, elections don’t count.

    And that we have to teach the black guy in the White House a lesson or something.

  37. 37
    uriel says:

    @Ted and Hellen:
    It’s amazing to me that someone who’s inability to produce even mediocre boardwalk caricatures is exceeded only by their consistent failure to formulate political opinions at a higher than junior highschool level is so willing to foist both thier shitty art and their shitty opinions on the public so freely.

    I guess it’s just one more example of why the internet will be the downfall of culture as we know it.

  38. 38
    Snarla says:

    Get the government out of my internet!

    And my parents out of my allowance!

  39. 39
    fidelio says:

    I have friends who live between the Balsams (the now-closed resort hotel where this walk is supposed to start) and Dixville Notch. The roads are narrow and winding, often without shoulders, and the terrain is steep and rocky. It’s New Hampshire, in other words, and it will also be somewhere between cold as hell and at that magic point where Celsius and Fahrenheit meet up, or -40 below.

    The area is the sort of place where an SUV full of deer hunters can go off the road and not be found for a week. Emergency workers who go off into the woods after a wrecked snowmobile are putting their own lives at risk. There are moose, who are large and can be cantankerous, and sometimes the bears wake up mid-hibernation.

    They’ve been speculating on how well thought-out the arrangements for this parade will be, and fearing the worst.

    The ghost of Saul Alinsky is shaking his head. He wouldn’t have wasted five monutes on a plan like this one. Not only is it stupid, and stupidly dangerous, it will have little effect on any of the problems it claims to address. This is not effective radicalism. It is look-at-me-and-how-cool-I-am-ism.

    Given the real risks involved, maybe Lessing is trying to exorcise his guilt by dying of hypothermia. It’s likely to be all this accomplishes.

  40. 40
    Marc says:

    @Warren Terra: I want to second all of this.

    Also, I just took notice of the three most important words in the OP: “via David Sirota.” Nuff said…

  41. 41
    burnspbesq says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    It’s nearly a year since I told you to suck it on this one

    Your position hasn’t gotten any better with the passage of time.

  42. 42
    LAC says:

    @uriel: aww c’mon. T&H can get some bucks for their art. I mean, there’s firewood and who doesn’t need a good laugh?

  43. 43
    StringOnAStick says:

    @fidelio: That’s the first thing that caught my eye too; a walk across NH in the middle of winter? Great idea! Especially if you like frostbite.

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