Sunday, January 13, 2013

Can We Just Not Get All Sentimental About Aaron Swartz, to the Effect of Martyring the Dude, or Anything Like That?

Look, I'm a big fan of John Donne, "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind...", and so forth. But all day yesterday you couldn't click on Memeorandum without somebody else weighing in on how angelic this Aaron Swartz was. I mean, sheesh. It's a wonder the dude was ever indicted in the first place. And it wasn't just folks on the left. I posted on Althouse's response to the news, which needed at least two blog entries. She's a law professor and law professors are interested in the law, so the legal facts around the case are compelling. And of course if the feds were playing especially hard against Swartz --- which seems to be the consensus, perhaps to make an example out of the guy, I'd say --- then we all have an interest in the liberty implications of his death. Be that as it may, I think the bipartisan outpouring for the, er, defendant, has more to do with the ignorance of this hacker's ideological program than the causes for which he stood. He wasn't libertarian. He was a social justice radical and his family's obituary goes to lengths to point it out. I tweeted earlier today to mock the Los Angeles Times, which had the most clueless heading with links to Swartz's obituary, and Daniel Greenfield responded back with the money tweet:

I'm not happy the man is dead, but when you see people like the radical Henry Farrell going gaga over him, as if he's a freakin' martyred saint, then you know there's some larger collectivist significance going on. Seriously. Say a prayer for the dude but save the Beatitudes for someone who's indeed worthy. This guy was being charged with felony counts and was looking at doing significant time.

FYIY, Patterico has more on the legal aspects of the case, and it's not to say that these are unimportant, "EXCLUSIVE: Attorney for Aaron Swartz: Prosecutors’ Arguments Were “Disingenuous and Contrived”."

And I'll update if I find more information on this man's radical past, which apparently was pretty substantial.

UPDATE: This just in from the New York Times, "Aaron Swartz, a Data Crusader and Now, a Cause." Whatever. People glorify the broken idealist, fighting the injustices of governmental or corporate power, or some kinda power, like the power of MIT's journal storage website, which no doubt was causing the impoverishment of the entire developing world, or something else even more nefarious as that. What else could it be? I'm in awe of the lost promise of this gone-too-young tech-cultural genius.