I've been taking all of this in trying to both formulate a reasonably valid mental framework to understand and, yes, be able to personally judge or form an opinion about this entire story. Not an easy task when you don't have direct knowledge of the facts and the people involved and, to make matters worst, morons add noise to the wire.
To say that this is a catastrophe at many levels is an understatement. This should not have happened.
While I did not personally know Aaron I have lost at least one good friend to the pressures and stresses of running a business and colliding with the legal system. I've seen it happen right in front of my eyes.
These things are not worth a person's life.
Of course, we have a natural "who done it?" attitude and now want to find someone to blame for his untimely death. At some level you do have to blame him. No, not for downloading files but rather for making the decision to end his life. Nobody but him made that decision. I have suffered enough in business to actually understand how a person can get there, how, before you know it, mental stress and anguish walks you right up to the edge of that precipice. And, once there, only an external force can keep you from jumping off. In my case this "non-mascable interrupt" were my kids. I know they saved my life, even though they had no clue they were doing so. I can't even guess as to why this young and brilliant man did not have someone to pull him away from the edge.
And so, as much as one can blame Aaron for taking his own life, it also took external forces to cause him to walk to the edge of the precipice. Sadly, it seems, these forces originated with actions taken by MIT and were amplified by the DOJ. I find myself strangely contemplating the idea that, perhaps, just perhaps, pro-gun extremists who believe the government is out to get us might know something that we don't. But I digress.
Who done it? Well, MIT and DOJ. At least that's how I read it. I also think JSTOR is at fault, even though they seem to be washing their hands. Negligence through inaction.
Can anything make this right? Well, not really. You can't replace a life. Yet, the part of me that always wants both sides of an equation to balance has been searching for something that might at least make this horrible event make some sense.
I love MIT, but I get the horrible feeling that they fucked up in a big way. Admittedly I have formed this opinion without direct access to the facts. I have to concede at least that to be fair. Still, one idea keeps circling around in my head and I just had to come here and put it out there:
JSTOR can no-longer exist. MIT, needs to acquire JSTOR, release all content to the public domain and disband the organization. MIT, shouldn't even have direct control of this data. perhaps it should be handed over to Wikipedia for dissemination (along with the requisite financial support).
If it is true that MIT initiated this and they, along with JSTOR, could have made tons of noise to pull back the DOJ, they really need to engage in deep introspection in order to make sure this never happens again. And they need to make JSTOR ancient history. If, despite their substantial financials, this acquisition is beyond their capabilities industry giants such as Apple and Google need to intervene. One of the best ways I can think of honoring Aaron's memory is for this data to be free for anyone, anywhere, to access.
> At some level you do have to blame him. No, not for downloading files but rather for making the decision to end his life. Nobody but him made that decision.
At the risk of being branded insensitive, I do have to agree with this sentiment. My view on Aaron's suicide is much the same as that of the nurse Jacintha Saldanha last month .
In both cases, these people were subjected to incredible stress and anguish by external forces, but crucially, the reasonable person could not have predicted their response to these pressures would have been to take their own lives.
Aaron wasn't on suicide watch. Nobody foresaw this.
JSTOR don't own any content, they just make content available online as a service. Subscribers pay a fee which covers costs and pays for the licenses from the publishers. The whole operation is non-profit. It's meaningless to talk about buying JSTOR in order to own their content.
Yeah I didn't realize that initially either. JSTOR are actually the "good guys" in terms of releasing content to the public compared with the journals that they aggregate. You can argue that they should be pushing journals to let them open up even more, but at the moment a world with JSTOR is better than one without.
> If it is true that MIT initiated this and they, along with JSTOR, could have made tons of noise to pull back the DOJ, they really need to engage in deep introspection in order to make sure this never happens again.
A person suspected of breaking federal law will be prosecuted by the Federal government at its own discretion. The alleged victims get no say in that. Their forgiveness may be taken into account by a judge at sentencing, but it has nothing at all to do with the pursuit of prosecution. In fact, a federal prosecutor would be behaving in an impeachable way to fail to pursue a violation of federal law.
In fact, a federal prosecutor would be behaving in an impeachable way to fail to pursue a violation of federal law.
Particularly considering the fact that prosecutors do not have the resources to pursue all violations of federal law. Doubly so given that multiple states currently have extremely uneven enforcement of federal law around the sale of marijuana.
Federal prosecutors swear an oath to uphold all federal laws, and are generally bound by that oath unless an executive order by the president directs them not to enforce a particular law (in which case the president, not the prosecutor, would be subject to potential impeachment).
State and local prosecutors do not have the resources to pursue violations of federal law; they also do not have the jurisdiction to do so.
Federal prosecutors have several billions in resources to pursue violations of federal law, and are effectively not capped in their pursuit of "justice".
Doubly so given that multiple states currently have extremely uneven enforcement of federal law around the sale of marijuana.
Federal prosecution of drug laws regarding marijuana are fairly even. The difference is that states which have legalized marijuana make it far easier for federal prosecutors to find defendants than states where it is illegal (because defendants in those states do not distribute their marijuana in the public eye).
A prosecutor's duty and role is to seek justice. Justice isn't always black and white, but it certainly isn't applying the toughest charges that could possibly be made to stick nor seeking the highest possible penalty in every case. The prosecutor should attempt to determine what a just outcome to a case would be, then seek to achieve it.
Being aware of a situation where it is probable to win a conviction under the letter of the law in no way obligates a prosecutor to seek that conviction.
"At some level you do have to blame him. No, not for downloading files but rather for making the decision to end his life."
I wouldn't blame him for ending his life. I would say there is responsibility however on his part, to have found and kept enough support around him to counter-balance whatever he was diving into; There's also responsibility on society's part to provide and facilitate that support - and to make sure powers/controls are kept in check and balance (proportional to the alleged offense, and based on society's evolving values). Perhaps he thought he was though and underestimated the pressures and how it would affect him. Sometimes when I have eureka moments, on the positive side, they initiate a very powerful chain reaction in my thinking and focus. I could see the same thing happening if you've created lots of justifications as to why "pending doom" may not hit you, may not be real - and something could happen that makes it very real and all of that pending doom could flood in and cascade as doom.