Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Remember Aaron Swartz.

Remember Aaron Swartz.  He was the young internet and political activist who advocated having all information free, open and available to the citizens.  After all, information is knowledge, and it should belong to the world.  His "crime" was to download online certain academic papers.  Yawn.  But the Department of Justice decided to destroy him because he was young, bright, dedicated, and committed to transparency in our world.  In a nation in which the government claims everything is a secret, the idea of transparency is horrifying to the people in charge.  So Carmen Ortiz, prosecutor for the DOJ, filed ludicrous charges against Aaron Swartz and threatened to send him to prison for over 30 years.  For posting a few academic papers.  An example would be made of him by ending his life, essentially.  But he did it first, dying at 26 rather than spending the rest of his life in prison.  Another notch on the belt of Carmen Ortiz and Eric Holder, and those to whom they report. 
It is likely that Aaron Swartz has inspired other young people to be courageous in their defense of freedom and of the constitution, of the right of the public to know the truth about what is going on in this country, what is being done by their government.  Those who take the difficult stand of disclosing truth even when they know that to do so, in today's world, is to put a target on their backs.  Literally -- when the President of the United States carries around a Kill List, and adds the names of anyone he wants, with no consequences to him, no possible judicial review, just the complete usurpation of power to murder at will -- then anyone who offends the established order may be killed.  Or kidnapped ("extraordinary rendition" they call it to hide what it really is), tortured, thrown into secret blackhole prisons run by the CIA and their thugs around the world. 
So hats off to these young people of such incredible integrity and courage, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange for publishing the information, Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, all the unknown people throughout the world who stand against tyranny and for freedom. 

"I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul. In my degradation I have not been so degraded but that the sight of you ... has stirred old shadows that I thought had died out of me. Since I knew you, I have been troubled by a remorse that I thought would never reproach me again, and have heard whispers from old voices impelling me upward, that I thought were silent for ever. I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it."  Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. 


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