Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Anonymous R.I.P Note for Aaron Swartz (rledev.mit.edu)
204 points by throwdaway on Jan 14, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 38 comments



>Aaron, we will sorely miss your friendship, and your help in building a better world. May you read in peace.

"read in peace" where we'd expect "rest in peace. I'm guessing that this expression was intentional, given that Aaron was a voracious reader, and considering the eloquence of the postscript[0].

This is the first time I've read any message from Anonymous (and my understanding is that there is no "one" Anonymous organization, but rather a loose collection of fragmented groups), but I am quite impressed by the author's command of the English language.

[0] Postscript: We tender apologies to the administrators at MIT for this temporary use of their websites. We understand that it is a time of soul-searching for all those within this great institution as much — perhaps for some involved even more so — than it is for the greater internet community. We do not consign blame or responsibility upon MIT for what has happened, but call for all those feel heavy-hearted in their proximity to this awful loss to acknowledge instead the responsibility they have — that we all have — to build and safeguard a future that would make Aaron proud, and honour the ideals and dedication that burnt so brightly within him by embodying them in thought and word and action.

---

edit: it also seems that the closing line, "You were the best of us; may you yet bring out the best in us." is an original phrase by the author? (a quick google search didn't yield any prominent matches) It is a beautiful line.


The "read in peace" line was the final line of the EFF's tribute -> https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/01/farewell-aaron-swartz


"Read in peace" is also an acknowledgment of Aaron's statement that he found talking, even to smart people, difficult, and that he preferred to read their works than converse with them.


Agree, I will probably use it.


I don't know that's it's appropriate to bundle this with #freemanning and #OpFreeAssange. I understand that they're somewhat related from a political standpoint, but the association polarizes Aaron Swartz in a way that Aaron Swartz alone does not.


I thought it was interesting how the images used are not hosted anywhere. Instead the source contains a base64 encoded copy of the image.


I suppose it's easier to hack into a site and overwrite the file with a big string rather than find a way to write the images to disk or what have you.


If you are living normal life in your mid-twenties, the idea of spending rest of your life in prison for nothing must feel worse than death. Even without prior mental health issues.


Almost any MIT affiliate can get a *.mit.edu domain name and host a website on it. The student in charge of the original probably forgot to protect against a simple SQL injection attack.

They bypassed that student's security and his website, not the "administrators at MIT" and "their website".


Both rledev.mit.edu and cogen.mit.edu are MIT departments (one the part of MIT powering much of campus, one a laboratory doing electronics). It wasn't a student's bad security.


Oh so it was a department's bad security. Not surprising

Yes, I know how these things work. Even at MIT it's the same apparently

I wouldn't be surprised if this was an old Windows 2000/2003 server box hosting some static pages (and also it's the same computer the secretary uses)


They were both IIS boxes, probably unpatched for a while, judging by the original page: http://cogen.mit.edu/index2.cfm


Original Text:

In Memoriam, Aaron Swartz, November 8, 1986 — January 11, 2013, Requiescat in pace.

A brief message from Anonymous.

Whether or not the government contributed to his suicide, the government's prosecution of Swartz was a grotesque miscarriage of justice, a distorted and perverse shadow of the justice that Aaron died fighting for — freeing the publicly-funded scientific literature from a publishing system that makes it inaccessible to most of those who paid for it — enabling the collective betterment of the world through the facilitation of sharing — an ideal that we should all support.

Moreover, the situation Aaron found himself in highlights the injustice of U.S. computer crime laws, particularly their punishment regimes, and the highly-questionable justice of pre-trial bargaining. Aaron's act was undoubtedly political activism; it had tragic consequences.

Our wishes

We call for this tragedy to be a basis for reform of computer crime laws, and the overzealous prosecutors who use them. We call for this tragedy to be a basis for reform of copyright and intellectual property law, returning it to the proper principles of common good to the many, rather than private gain to the few. We call for this tragedy to be a basis for greater recognition of the oppression and injustices heaped daily by certain persons and institutions of authority upon anyone who dares to stand up and be counted for their beliefs, and for greater solidarity and mutual aid in response. We call for this tragedy to be a basis for a renewed and unwavering commitment to a free and unfettered internet, spared from censorship with equality of access and franchise for all.

For in the end, we will not be judged according to what we give, but according to what we keep to ourselves.

Aaron, we will sorely miss your friendship, and your help in building a better world. May you read in peace.

----

Who was Aaron Swartz? A hero in the SOPA/PIPA campaign, Reddit cofounder, RSS, Demand Progress, Avaaz, etc...:

Aaron Swartz's funeral is on Tuesday. Here are details:

Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of #Aaron Swartz

----

Guerilla Open Access Manifesto

Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world's entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations. Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the sciences? You'll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier.

There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it. But even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost.

That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work of their colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them? Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It's outrageous and unacceptable.

"I agree," many say, "but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it's perfectly legal — there's nothing we can do to stop them." But there is something we can, something that's already being done: we can fight back.

Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.

Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by the publishers and sharing them with your friends.

But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It's called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn't immoral — it's a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.

Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate require it — their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who can make copies.

There is no justice in following unjust laws. It's time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.

We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that's out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access.

With enough of us, around the world, we'll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we'll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?

Aaron Swartz

July 2008, Eremo, Italy

-----

You were the best of us; may you yet bring out the best in us.

-Anonymous, Jan 13, 2013.

----

(Postscript: We tender apologies to the administrators at MIT for this temporary use of their websites. We understand that it is a time of soul-searching for all those within this great institution as much — perhaps for some involved even more so — than it is for the greater internet community. We do not consign blame or responsibility upon MIT for what has happened, but call for all those feel heavy-hearted in their proximity to this awful loss to acknowledge instead the responsibility they have — that we all have — to build and safeguard a future that would make Aaron proud, and honour the ideals and dedication that burnt so brightly within him by embodying them in thought and word and action. Original frontpage)


"Aaron died fighting for ______." Very upsetting to read sentiments like this. When you commit suicide, who do you die fighting for?


Suicide as an act of protest of brutality and injustice has a reasonably solid history of resulting in revolutions that toppled governments.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohamed_Bouazizi

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thich_Quang_Duc




From what I understand from those much closer to him, the level and type harassment inflicted on him by prosecution played a significant role in his suicide. It is safe to say those closer to him know better than you or me or most people here.

We want to find a simple trigger and point to it and say "it was depression for sure" or it was just "facing 50 years in jail" or any other thing singular thing. But it was probably not black and white, and not simple one thing to point a finger to as much as we may try.

However it seems (to me at least) specific prosecution tactics have played a significant role in his decision. So I have no qualms saying they have some of his blood on their hands. Having to face 30+ years in prison, possibly abuse, rape and other things that come with it, not sure how clear I would be thinking even without a history of depression.


This is shockingly disingenuous.

Akin to:

"That cop didn't die in the line of duty, he died because medical technology couldn't prevent complications from a routine gunshot wound treatment".

"That guy wasn't killed by the drunk driver. His car was on fire and he didn't get out fast enough".

"The drugs didn't kill that junkie. His heart stopped beating and he didn't have a defibrillator handy."

You are confusing proximate cause of death with an analysis of contributing factors and causality. I suspect you know this, as a quick comment history perusal shows you seem to follow causal chains in plenty of other cases just fine, including on the topic of suicide. So, what's your real point?


Wow. No.

In each of the hypotheticals you give, the subject does not intend to take his own life. This is not the case for Aaron.

There is something very upsetting about blaming the justice department then attempting to cast Aaron as a martyr. What kind of message does this send to young internet activists struggling to make their dent in the world?

As you saw in my older HN comment on Ilya. Copycat suicides are a real phenomenon and some raw responses to them, however well intentioned, can make them more likely to occur.

Department of Health Recommendations for Covering Suicide. Do not apportion blame. Do not give simple reasons. Do not glorify.

http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/resource...

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126241/WHO-Media-Guide-for-Suicide...


Nope, not even close to rational on your part. You can't say that people talking can be responsible for some more suicides, and in the same breath say other people talking (aka the justice department accusing someone and threatening with severe punishment) can't be responsible for an action.

You are simply stating "I don't like to think this way, so I'm going to talk a bunch of illogical circles until it's too confusing to notice the cognitive dissonance".

Further, you are setting up a false dilemma based on "choice of death".

Further still, you are making a slippery slope argument about "how will this affect all the other activists".

Oh and the post to health department recommendations is an appeal to authority.

Finally, in the hypotheticals I give, 2 involve death stemming from a choice to partake in risky behavior.


-facepalm-


It's being argued that his trial is a cause of his suicide.

If so, his fight did lead him to his death.


Look to the Tunisian fruit merchant who self-immolated. Suicide as protest is with us today.


Well, for one, alive he didn't generate this much press even though he was very popular. Now this is being debated virtually everywhere.

Not saying that he killed himself for the cause but ironically he may have helped it


There are definitely cases where suicide for a cause has been an effective strategy. It's still tragic. I don't think it's a justifiable strategy (particularly in Aaron's case -- he could have WON his court case. Even if he lost, and spent a year or a few years in jail (potentially out on appeal), he wouldn't have been dead, and could have continued the fight.

However:

Mohammed Bouazizi in Tunisia potentially kicked off the entire Arab Spring.

There are ~500 self immolations by Buddhist monks in Asia who were part of getting the US to withdraw from the Vietnam war, etc.

Maybe a hundred Tibetans in protesting China.


> Even if he lost, and spent a year or a few years in jail (potentially out on appeal), he wouldn't have been dead, and could have continued the fight.

How optimistic of you. The chargest totaled over 50+ years in prison[0][1].

[0] http://lessig.tumblr.com/post/40347463044/prosecutor-as-bull... [1] http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120917/17393320412/us-gov...



Aaron's death seems to be expediting a lot of political/social change. Do you think he foresaw this coming?


Not a whole lot has changed yet. Won't really know that for a few months.


It is however generating conversation, which is a start.


Also on this domain: http://cogen.mit.edu/


The harsh punishment and discretion of the prosecutors may have had advantage in prosecuting mafia bosses with tax fraud. It did not work in this case. Sometimes American justice system is ineffective. There is little difference between 25 years and 50 years, 100 year sentence is completely absurd. It does not act as a deterrent. Someone else would have sold his skills for crime, if the punishment is so big for an activist kind of activity.


It is time to join a real political force to defend people like Aaron through democratic means: the Pirate Party


Surprised they didn't put some of the tasty new Java exploits on the page -- the gift that would keep on giving.


A message from your government:

We hope this unfortunate Aaron Swartz incident will be a teaching moment for you all.

1) You are encouraged to cede as much power and treasure as you are able to your government. We're here because we care, and to care FOR you, we need you to care LESS. 2) Our laws are there to protect you. There has been some confusion on this point, so let us repeat: please do not break our laws. All of our laws, crafted by our wisest men and women, apply justice equally and have a basis in nature: the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong. As we restrict you, we perfect you! 3) Don't you worms ever step out of line. If you do, or if you get in our way, you and your family will be destroyed. You will be ostracized, beat, and crushed by any and all means. You will not be missed when you are gone.

Have a wonderful day!


See cogen.mit.edu for an identical note. It appears cogen was running IIS.


Web pages like this are the digital equivalent of a wheatpaste. Anyone can make a political statement as anonymous.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: