Something just doesn’t add up. An Internet freedom activist facing the fight of his life decides to stop fighting and hangs himself?
I get it when rockstars and regular people down on their luck do themselves in. It’s an unnecessary tragedy, but sometimes one that fits the narrative of their life.
But an activist? A fighter? Someone who had just willfully provoked on a massive scale, knowing full well there would be a reaction?
When Reddit builder, boy genius and Internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz downloaded millions of academic journal articles with the intent of giving them away for free, he knew there would be repercussions. He wanted a response, he was trying to make a point.
He was succeeding and then he just gave up. Again, it doesn’t add up, why quit before you see if you win or lose?
Try to think of the last time you heard of an activist killing themselves. Now eliminate hunger strikes, self immolation and other very public, point-making ways to die.
Hanging, on the other hand, is very solitary and also a great way to disguise a murder as a suicide. Pointing to the fact that no autopsy was performed and the US has a history of silencing those they don’t agree with, some bloggers are arguing just that.
Despite my gut feeling that suicide just sounds wrong in this case, I’m not ready to jump on board with them. It’s true that Aaron Swartz’s public persona is antithetical to someone taking his own life, but no one knows, or at least I don’t know, what was going on in his mind.
I never met the guy, just know his accomplishments as a programmer (wrote one of the original RSS scripts at 14) and activist. Even those who did know him on a personal level couldn’t possibly know if he was suicidal. That’s a very personal matter and no one is inside someone else’s head.
So while I’m not comfortable saying it wasn’t a suicide, I still do believe that Aaron Swartz was murdered.
Who did what with a noose in the middle of the night is irrelevant. This murder happened in broad daylight.
If a group of armed thugs working for the government storm into someone’s place, drug someone and hang them, it’s clearly murder. If a group of government thugs armed with law books and respectable titles decide to take away someone’s freedom for 35 years even though that person had not technically done anything illegal, they are effectively ending his life, or at least a good chunk of it.
If that person keeps fighting, then it is attempted murder. If they are unable or unwilling to deal with the bullshit and hang themselves, then we’re looking at murder.
Swartz’s father made a similar claim at his son’s funeral. Time reported on this and brought it back to mental health while admitting that prosecutors may have “wrongly used their discretion” in the Swartz case.
Um, yeah. 35 years for making a point with no profit motive? Nothing for bankers who tanked the economy with clear profit motives?
Forget “wrongly used their discretion,” the US Justice system has it’s priorities completely ass-backwards. And now they’ve gone and killed someone…and a genius at that.
We can only hope that Aaron Swartz did not die in vain. That people will keep fighting for Internet freedom and new people will join the cause.
The government can’t kill everyone