My take away from the weekend: no one ever committed suicide before Aaron Swartz. I’m obviously not in the know, or like everyone else, I would have known anything about this young man’s endlessly re-iterated list of accolades beforehand, the programming community lost an icon according to icons. The hyperbole is nauseating, see Quora for trite of this nature: About the death of Aaron Swartz, should a genius be measured by a different yardstick? Is it fair to human progress that law is equal for all?
What strikes me about this situation is the lack of conflict, Aaron wasn’t a victim of bullying, and since he was the genius every publication makes him out to be, then he knowingly committed the crime that drove his final act. What else strikes me about this situation is the mob mentality backlash. Anonymous hacks MIT in response, the forefront of academic technological innovation, and the community is dancing in the streets. If you’re opposed to pay walls, and are part of a hacker community geared towards disrupting markets, why haven’t you responded with an alternative platform? Show the world how to freely share privately funded information in a capitalist society.
After winning a Super Bowl with the New York Giants, Plaxico Burress was charged for shooting himself in the leg; I was the first in line to insist on the newly mandated three year sentence in New York City, to set an example and help curb gun violence. Timothy Bradley continues to wallow in solitary confinement, and our prison system is congested with petty criminals serving lengthy sentences, for far less damaging activities than the reproduction of classified documents. Crime begets punishment as far as I remember. Why anyone feels as if exonerating Swartz would have saved his life in the first place is beneath me. If no one else wants to draw a parallel, let me be the first: like the Newtown shooter, this young man suffered from a mental illness, just maybe we should be up in arms over our country’s mental facilities instead of blaming the subsequent triggers, no pun intended.
Maybe I’m really as cold as people say I am. Maybe I equally care about people I don’t have personal attachments to, and in that case can’t place one life ahead of another to circumstantially goad vigilantes and pundits. Please accept my condolences and kind words: you’re special.