MIT could have done more to help Aaron Swartz

Reviewers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said on Tuesday the school could have taken steps that would have reduced pressure on Internet activist Aaron Swartz such as taking a public stand against his controversial prosecution.

It’s too bad it takes such a tragedy for people to realize that.



  • Moeskido

    Too little and too late.

  • lucascott

    I have to disagree. The only person that should have done more was Swartz. He called himself an activist and yet when the call came to act, by defending himself in court and making the argument that what he did was a civil, not a criminal, violation etc he took the easy way out and killed himself. If he wasn’t going to defend himself or even try why should any one else step up. Why should we demand that they had done it.

    All these groups like the EFF want to see reform in the laws in question, great. But perhaps instead of memorializing a guy that want even tried or convicted, they could choose one of the potentially wrongfully convicted as their hero.

    • Meaux

      Not to mention, the lionizing of Swartz and excoriating everyone except for him makes it more likely that something like this will happen again. The next Aaron Swartz will see that they will get praised and their opponents will get the blame if they commit suicide.

      • Moeskido

        Yeah, you guys are probably right. Never mind Swartz’s mental vulnerability or the intimidation tactics used against him.

        If only he had tried harder to earn your respect.

        • Meaux

          The intimidation tactics are used against every defendant. Overcharging is a standard prosecutor move. I’m less concerned about a person with Swartz’s social, intellectual and financial capital than I am with the thousands of poor, uneducated and unconnected people that get swept up in the justice system, but aren’t friends with a bunch of journalists. Swartz had strong connections and a top law firm defending him. He wasn’t dealing with underpaid, overworked public defenders.

          The whole point of civil disobediance (which is what Swartz engaged in) is getting arrested to show the injustice of the system. After all, MLK didn’t write “Letters from a Birmingham Holiday Inn”.

          • Moeskido

            Fat lot of good Swartz’s connections did him.

      • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

        In addition to the Internet giving everyone a combination of Tourette’s and Asperger’s, it seems that any and all discussions must be split along mutually incompatible epistemological divides where criticism of one thing is indicative of slavish devotion and support for everything else not that thing.

        And extra points for painting suicide as a publicity stunt.

        • Meaux

          I’m not saying his was, but that future ones could be because all of the stigma is being placed on MIT and the prosecurors. People martyring themselves for a cause is hardly unheard of.

          • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

            Did Swartz set himself on fire in front of MIT or blow up a bus of tourists? I must have missed the public nature of his suicide.

    • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

      That couldn’t be a more heinous use of the “blame the victim” dodge if you had asserted that Swartz was charging himself.

      they could choose one of the potentially wrongfully convicted as their hero.

      Another classic, the “Nirvana” fallacy. They aren’t helping everyone so why help anyone. Never mind the fact that you certainly have no clue whom else the EFF may be defending at this time.

      • Meaux

        Blame the victim? Last I checked Swartz was the perpetrator.

        • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

          Of a crime so vicious it merited 50 years in jail? Swartz was the victim of an overzealous prosecution threatening punishment out of all proportion to the crime.

          • Meaux

            The prosecution offered him 6 months for a plea.

          • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

            And be branded a felon for the rest of his life, ensuring he would never work in his field again. Sure. Totally reasonable.