Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Aaron Swartz (on the left) with Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law at Harvard University

Glenn Reynolds points to a poignant post by Larry Lessig on the death of Aaron Swartz.  Here are the final two paragraphs:
But for now, I need to step away. I apologize for the silence. I am sorry for the replies I will not give. Aaron was wrong about very few things, but he was wrong to take his life. I have to return to mine, and to the amazingly beautiful creatures who are trying to pull me back.

I will always love you, sweet boy. Please find the peace you were seeking. And if you do, please find a way to share that too.

Professor Lessig is grieving for a friend.  Aaron Swartz was victimized by our political system, and he chose to extinguish his life.  It is an American tragedy.

We give our trust to institutions and to people, and when that trust is broken, it is difficult to comprehend.  Aaron Swartz trusted the “rightness” of America and its institutions, and that trust was betrayed.

My post on gender-based authoritarianism touches on authoritarian figures who have broken our trust.  The betrayals don’t resonate with the authoritarians themselves, as they have an expectation of unquestioning loyalty.  They don’t reflect on the feelings of those who view that trust relationship with a sense of intimacy.

Lawrence Lessig gives us a sense of what a non-authoritarian feels.  He dwells on the intimacy of trust.  When that perceived intimacy is revealed as inauthentic and political, it causes a realignment of feelings and perspective.

Sure, it’s not a big deal that Nancy Pelosi digitally enhances historical pictures or that Beyonce Knowles (maybe) lip-syncs our national anthem, but each action is a betrayal of trust.

Human beings don’t like that.

UPDATE 1/31/2013:
The Los Angeles Times characterizes Aaron as a martyr in the fight for Internet freedom.

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