The murder of Aaron Swartz

aaron_swartz

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

3 comments

  • Jesus- he was NOT the co-founder. Look it up- Reddit bought his company when they started out and Aaron was under the assumption that the contract would allow him to be titled as co-founder. It did not and he’s gone on record redacting the claim, same as Reddit actual founders have gone on record several times saying he wasn’t a cofounder.

    Please correct this.

    Here is the source on him not being the co founder: https://plus.google.com/+AlexisOhanian/posts/9NUWmu2c9pq

    He hasn’t been a part of reddit at all for a very long time; he was fired over 5 years ago.

    Cheers

  • Anomic, Egoistic, Altruistic forms of suicide don’t accurately fit the so-called ‘suicide’ of
    Aaron Swartz. Emile Durkheim’s sociological theory of suicide is the most apt of all theories of suicide I have ever come across and Swartz does not fit the profile of one that would suicide. Theoretically, Swartz was murdered by the security establishment proper. This pins the dirty deed squarely on the desk of the CIA without any theoretical doubts whatsoever.
    Clearly, Swartz threatened the establishment to the point of his death and we all know it
    now. Aaron Swartz thought he could push all those buttons to the point of actual information warfare and the establishment reacted directly in kind. My lament is that Aaron miscalculated the calculus of his own launch of an information warfare campaign against
    the most badass information warfare specialists the world has ever known. How could Aaron be the genius in all respects but not smart enough to stay alive and in the fight to last for another day? If Aaron was going for the big win on freedom of information did he not see that there were risks associated with that? Was Aaron overtly optimistic to the point of error
    in the name-of-the-game of information warfare when the opposition is the state? Perhaps Aaron trusted in the collective aspects of decency and ethics amongst us all to keep him and his ideology safe from harms way in the long run of his end game? Clearly, the state ensured that game was played as a zero sum game when it comes to their end results.
    We must never forget Aaron Swartz or his efforts to prevent the state from committing
    information to closed-looped systems that will run down over time following the third law of thermodynamics like lemmings off a cliff into information silos. Aaron had the right ideas but not the requisite protection to fend off attacks. Aaron needed fortification that was not calculated early on in the information campaign. Aaron’s ideology will live on and we will see the day that avenges his death.

  • There is little doubt in my mind that Swartz was murdered, IF, there was no suicide note which is what has been reported. The existence of a suicide note is not always revealed to the public. If there was no note, Swartz is the type of person who would have left a note. He would not have departed without a epitaph of his own writing. For it to occur immediately after refusing a plea deal and forcing the criminal case to go forward, his death was the only way to prevent that process.

    The question as who killed him is the greater question. Of course government agents is the first thought. However, they are more likely to prefer stumbling through a trial for all the personal publicity it would attract. It is more likely that there was a fear of something extremely damaging to an individual or company coming out during the trial. In this technological era where 100s of millions of dollars change hands as new developments occur, Swartz could have become the greatest asset to one entity while becoming the greatest liability for another.

    So, the facts speak plainly enough as to a murder. Hanging is, by far, the easiest murder to coverup. No trail of evidence in acquiring prescription drugs, guns, knives, razor blades, or whatever implement could be used. No climbing to a jumping place where a witness might observe. Even a recent hanging in a Texas jail where cameras saw no one entering or leaving the inmate’s cell is being treated as a potential murder, with far less motive or evidence. Also, when someone of such a high profile that has so many people wishing him dead, the official cause of death being labelled a suicide came too easily and quickly.

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