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.
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 you helpfully demonstrated by calling chasing an asshole while chastising him for being offensive.
But I still disagree with your original comment. ;-)
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 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.