January 12, 2013  ·  Lessig  · Reblogged from  Tumblr

Boston Wiki Meetup

(Some will say this is not the time. I disagree. This is the time when every mixed emotion needs to find voice.)

Since his arrest in January, 2011, I have known more about the events that began this spiral than I have wanted to know. Aaron consulted me as a friend and lawyer. He shared with me what went down and why, and I worked with him to get help. When my obligations to Harvard created a conflict that made it impossible for me to continue as a lawyer, I continued as a friend. Not a good enough friend, no doubt, but nothing was going to draw that friendship into doubt.

The billions of snippets of sadness and bewilderment spinning across the Net confirm who this amazing boy was to all of us. But as I’ve read these aches, there’s one strain I wish we could resist:

Please don’t pathologize this story.

No doubt it is a certain crazy that brings a person as loved as Aaron was loved (and he was surrounded in NY by people who loved him) to do what Aaron did. It angers me that he did what he did. But if we’re going to learn from this, we can’t let slide what brought him here.

First, of course, Aaron brought Aaron here. As I said when I wrote about the case (when obligations required I say something publicly), if what the government alleged was true — and I say “if” because I am not revealing what Aaron said to me then — then what he did was wrong. And if not legally wrong, then at least morally wrong. The causes that Aaron fought for are my causes too. But as much as I respect those who disagree with me about this, these means are not mine.

But all this shows is that if the government proved its case, some punishment was appropriate. So what was that appropriate punishment? Was Aaron a terrorist? Or a cracker trying to profit from stolen goods? Or was this something completely different?

Early on, and to its great credit, JSTOR figured “appropriate” out: They declined to pursue their own action against Aaron, and they asked the government to drop its. MIT, to its great shame, was not as clear, and so the prosecutor had the excuse he needed to continue his war against the “criminal” who we who loved him knew as Aaron.

Here is where we need a better sense of justice, and shame. For the outrageousness in this story is not just Aaron. It is also the absurdity of the prosecutor’s behavior. From the beginning, the government worked as hard as it could to characterize what Aaron did in the most extreme and absurd way. The “property” Aaron had “stolen,” we were told, was worth “millions of dollars” — with the hint, and then the suggestion, that his aim must have been to profit from his crime. But anyone who says that there is money to be made in a stash of ACADEMIC ARTICLES is either an idiot or a liar. It was clear what this was not, yet our government continued to push as if it had caught the 9/11 terrorists red-handed.

Aaron had literally done nothing in his life “to make money.” He was fortunate Reddit turned out as it did, but from his work building the RSS standard, to his work architecting Creative Commons, to his work liberating public records, to his work building a free public library, to his work supporting Change Congress/FixCongressFirst/Rootstrikers, and then Demand Progress, Aaron was always and only working for (at least his conception of) the public good. He was brilliant, and funny. A kid genius. A soul, a conscience, the source of a question I have asked myself a million times: What would Aaron think? That person is gone today, driven to the edge by what a decent society would only call bullying. I get wrong. But I also get proportionality. And if you don’t get both, you don’t deserve to have the power of the United States government behind you.

For remember, we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House — and where even those brought to “justice” never even have to admit any wrongdoing, let alone be labeled “felons.”

In that world, the question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a “felon.” For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept, and so that was the reason he was facing a million dollar trial in April — his wealth bled dry, yet unable to appeal openly to us for the financial help he needed to fund his defense, at least without risking the ire of a district court judge. And so as wrong and misguided and fucking sad as this is, I get how the prospect of this fight, defenseless, made it make sense to this brilliant but troubled boy to end it.

Fifty years in jail, charges our government. Somehow, we need to get beyond the “I’m right so I’m right to nuke you” ethics that dominates our time. That begins with one word: Shame.

One word, and endless tears.

(Original post on Tumblr)

  • http://moultonlava.blogspot.com/2013/02/lamentations-and-remorse.html Barry Kort

    We need a national dialogue on the practice of piling on charges to coerce defendants into accepting unjust plea bargains.

    The prosecution was apparently in the business of annihilation. Swartz faced spiritual annihilation and financial annihilation, with no viable means of escape. To my mind, our justice system is out of control. The prosecution took leave of their senses. Unfortunately, this kind of tragedy is all too commonplace, and most of the time goes unreported.

    The suicide of Aaron Swartz in the face of the appalling over-reach of unchecked discretionary prosecutorial power highlights a much larger problem that pervades our legal system.

    The entire US legal system (including criminal, civil, and family court divisions) is routinely used in an outrageously abusive manner.

    Those who are traumatized, stigmatized, or victimized by such shenanigans within the legal system may suffer what has come to be called Legal Abuse Syndrome.

    In the field of Medicine, every proposed treatment or cure has to be carefully studied and reviewed to ensure that it has demonstrated therapeutic value, and does not inadvertently spread, exacerbate, or even cause the malady it sets out to treat. In the medical literature, a treatment is called “iatrogenic” if it is counter-productive to the primary objective of curing disease.

    The field of Law does not employ such safeguards, and as a result a substantial fraction of our public policies and practices, operating under the color of law, turn out to be iatrogenic — ineffective at best and counter-productive at worst.

    Alan Simpson, the retired Senator from Wyoming, spent some three decades in Congress, during which time he helped craft and enact a great deal of legislation. But after he retired, he remarked that during his tenure in Washington politics, he discovered a law, the way a scientist would discover a natural law. Simpson said he discovered the Law of Unintended Consequences, meaning that the actual outcome of legislation, passed in good faith with an expectation of curing one of society’s ills, frequently turned out to have unanticipated, unexpected, and undesirable consequences. In science, if one is relying on a theoretical model, and the actual outcome of an experiment does not jibe with that predicted by the model, one is obliged to discard the model as unreliable.

    Our governmental systems are rife with unreliable models which give rise to unwise practices, many of which are ineffective at best and counter-productive at worst. We have built governmental systems that lack viable safeguards against iatrogenic treatments of many of our most problematic social ills.

    Here is an example of the kind of scholarly article one might find on JSTOR (which recently relaxed its policies to make many more of them freely available without a costly institutional subscription).

    Punishment and Violence: Is the Criminal Law Based on One Huge Mistake?” by James Gilligan, Harvard University; published in the Journal of Social Research, Fall 2000.

    If more people had been familiar with that remarkable piece of scholarship from Harvard University, Aaron Swartz would very likely be alive today.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003413150515 Adro

      Merhaba arkadaşlar. Bu ayldara (Ekim-Kasım) antalya Base imden ue7uyorum. Yani antalyadayım. Gere7i Programım e7ok sıkı. Οκτώβριος 3 ve 4 fcnde ue7tum, Ve bu yazı e7ok gee7 gf6nderildi, zira daha şimdi gf6rebildim. Ama aynı planlamayı tekrarlarsanız ve f6nceden haber verirseniz arkadaşlarımı bir arada gf6rmekten haberleşme , yardımlaşma ve de sohbet edebilme ae7ısından e7ok faydalı olacağına inanıyorum. En azından haberim olsaydı havaalanından uzaklaşmadan birlikte birşeyler yeme, Kardeşlerimi ağırlama imkanı bulurdum.İyi dileklerim, Selam ve Sevgilerimle.Mustafa Sabri Tfcrkay

    • http://nkiydelulzda.com/ zgdbmpu

      ZVJX3u yypglhwpfhhc

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003414201968 Neli

    Way to go Aaron and all volunteers who made a coeotcninn in behalf of Cancer Services at Parkview Field on Saturday! This Fort 4Fitness keeps getting bigger and better every year! Folks really appreciated the various ribbons and how they tie us all together. Pun intended! Thanks for your presence on Saturday! Janet Stephenson, CSNI Board Volunteer

  • http://cbeebiesgames.net/index.php?params=profile/view/33118/ Annorstoonula

    Do you have a spam problem on this website; I also am a blogger, and I was wondering your situation; we have developed some nice procedures and we are looking to swap strategies with others, be sure to shoot me an email if interested.

    cheap sneakers online|

  • http://www.helicalpath.info/story.php?title=cheap-lebron-10 Hieriehax

    At this time it appears like Movable Type is the preferred blogging platform out there right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

    lebron james new shoes|

  • http://productsandreviewssite.blogspot.com/2013/02/nikon-d7100-review.html Nikon D7100

    Gгеat beаt ! Ӏ woulԁ lіke to аρprentiсe
    while you amend your sitе, hoω can і ѕubsсribe for a wеblοg website?
    The aсcount аіԁed me a aсceptablе deal.

    I have been a lіttle bit acquaіnted
    of thіѕ your bгoadcast ρrovіded brіllіant
    tгаnspаrеnt сonceρt

    my wеbpаge: Nikon D7100

  • http://%URL% Aquaponics 4 You reviewAquaponics 4 You

    Αdmіring the ԁedicatіon you put
    into your blоg and dеtaileԁ іnfοrmation you
    provide. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t thе samе outԁated rehaѕhed material.
    Great гeaԁ! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m аdding your
    RSS feeds to my Gοοgle aсcount.

    Feel free to visit my blοg :: Aquaponics 4 You reviewAquaponics 4 You

  • http://%URL% Rocket Spanish

    Apprесiation tο my fаtheг who
    shared with me on the tοpic of thіs blog, thіs wеb sіtе
    is genuіnеly гemaгkable.

    my weblog … Rocket Spanish

  • http://blog.yahoo.com/_IREREAOJ73W4OC6R7PINJSSGX4/articles/1280539 Learn French fast

    Hello! І’ve been following your website for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic job!

    Here is my web page; Learn French fast

  • http://blog.yahoo.com/jimhill/articles/1120443/index My Shed Plans pdf

    Prеtty nice pοst. I just stumbled upon yοuг weblog аnd wanted
    to say thаt I hаve reаllу loνeԁ
    surfіng aгounԁ yоur ωеblog posts.

    Aftеr all I ωill be subscribing for yоur feеd аnd І am hoping
    yοu ωгite again ѕoon!

    Also visіt my webѕіte My Shed Plans pdf

  • http://thefatlossfactorreviewssite.blogspot.com Fat loss factor review

    Неllo everуone, it’s my first pay a visit at this web page, and article is actually fruitful for me, keep up posting these types of articles or reviews.

    Here is my web site – Fat loss factor review

  • http://www.chatsohbett.com sohbet

    baba cok büyük malatya keke sen mi geldin

  • Segredos da mente

    aprenda como usar seu potencial mental para conquistar e mudar de vida.http://segredosdamente.com/curso-sua-mente-tem-poder-funciona/