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Why we mourn

CNN asked me to write 600-800 words about Aaron Swartz. I demurred at first, suggested some other people who knew Aaron better — I met Aaron when he was young, stayed in touch, had the occasional meal with him, admired him and loved him more than he knew — and agreed when CNN came back to me.

I have trepidation about what I wrote, which CNN has now posted. I don’t like the implication that we can sum up any life so glibly. But I also wanted to do a little to nudge attention from Aaron solely as a champion of open information. I also decided not to assess the blame that is so well deserved, because that’s well discussed already.

A handful of better sources and expressions:

There’s so much more, because no life can be told.


Here is Aaron in his own words, in a presentation at the Freedom to Connect conference last May.

And here is Larry Lessig on Democracy Now:

3 Responses to “Why we mourn”

  1. [...] Please sign this Petition.  Here’s Weinberger’s summary of key things said…. [...]

  2. It is indeed such an unfortunate event that has left a lot of people dumbfounded and sad that a brilliant person such as Aaron Swartz had to resort to death after everything that had happened to him and everything that he had done to contribute to the betterment of society and the world over.

  3. Aaron Swartz did not have to “resort to” death. He flagrantly violated the law and bragged about it. Prosecutors did what they were supposed to do: throw the book at him. It is indeed sad to see anyone commit suicide, but in this case it was to avoid dealing with the consequences of his own actions.

    Suppose a burglar, hearing the police coming, decides to commit suicide. Should we rally for the cause of eliminating laws against burglary?

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