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The comments on this post are depressing.

Whatever your attitude about the White House's goofy petition site, the efficacy of 'online activism', or what-have-you, Aaron Swartz's grieving partner thinks signing this petition will help shed a little light into the circumstances that led to his death.

Maybe she's right, maybe she's wrong, but either way, it only takes a second to do - so just go sign the damn thing.

Actually, I'll think about it and discuss as much as I'd like. Then I'll make a decision to sign or not sign the petition.

No offense, but you've managed to wrap up a perfectly decent thought with a wording that makes you look like an asshole.

To be fair, he's responding someone who is telling us to not talk about the issue and simply perform the action he favors, in so many words.

I agree. I can fully understand why his partner is doing this and I can also understand why some people will "just sign" but there is no reason to be critical of someone who isn't willing to just follow the pack.

In the physical world you are also sometimes confronted by people who stand outside a supermarket with a petition and you're supposed to be able to make a fully informed decision as to whether you should sign literally on the spot. If that's such a good system (it's not obviously) we should extend it to other things. But it's not and it's not even as if the person requesting the action that you have personal knowledge of their reputation or whether they are presenting the info fairly and completely showing both sides of the argument.

As I tried to make clear in my comment, I was taking issue with his/her method of delivery, not what he/she was objecting to. His/her point is a perfectly valid one, but that's orthogonal to whether he/she chooses to be nasty.

And what I'm trying to make clear is that offensive comments ("don't talk about it, just do it") sometimes engender offensive responses.

... as you helpfully demonstrated by calling chasing an asshole while chastising him for being offensive.

Disagree. Chasing's response does sound a bit prickly, but there's no ad hominem in it, and I can see why he/she took some offense at being told what to do.

It was edited after the fact but before your comment, which makes the conversation moot.

It was, that's true. I edited because I thought it read too harshly and, to be honest, I realized that we'd met in the past, gyardley, and that I liked you and you don't deserve to be the target of cranky responses on HN. For that, I apologize.

But I still disagree with your original comment. ;-)

Hey, it's good when people disagree with me - keeps me from believing my own bullshit. Cheers.

No offense, but "no offense" usually means "I'm going to say something offensive and expect you to suck it up."

Or, you know, we could just not make decisions based on other people's emotional states, as perfectly justified as they may be.

I signed it, not because I expect Heymann to get fired or even care whether he gets fired, but because there needs to be some public pressure to counterbalance the existing pressures on prosecutors to send as many people as possible to prison for as long as possible.

I'm willing to bet he would care if he got fired.

Perhaps. He might make more money in private practice.

But let's suppose you're right. I don't actually think firing would be an disproportioniate rebuke under the circumstances. To use language that Heymann might have used of Swartz, I think it would be great to make an example of him.

All that said, I don't expect it to happen.

> He might make more money in private practice.

He would, without a doubt, make much more money in private practice. That's one thing I think HN folks overlook. Senior DOJ people could lateral out to high six figure into seven figure salaries as partners in law firms. The folks that stay at DOJ as lifers are generally "true believers." That doesn't mean they don't have their internal motivations, but rather those motivations are shaped by an extremely deep belief in the rule of law. They view people who don't follow rules as at best anti-social, and more likely dangerous. Figuring out why they don't understand hackers doesn't require resorting to any elaborate theories about trying to make career-defining prosecutions. They're simply people who have a very different world view than the one hacker culture embraces.

He would become a highly paid defense attorney, using his intimate knowledge of overzealous prosecutors to work against them.

Well, something good might come of it after all then.

Maybe she's right, maybe she's wrong but either way go sign this petition to have someone fired.

Ummmm no.

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