Godwin's law be damned
The Swiss probably said the same thing. Wonder what the world would look like now if the highest standard we could aspire to was to be 'neutral'.
Six months after the suicide of internet activist Aaron Swartz, MIT has released a 182-page report into the university's involvement in his arrest and prosecution, and has determined that it did nothing wrong. Swartz, who at 14 coauthored the RSS standard, subsequently cofounded Creative Commons and the Reddit online community …
If you lived in a landlocked country with a Fascist state on one side, an indescribably awful one on another side, and the lackey of the awful one on the other, I think you too would choose to be neutral. But I once visited the underground fort that faced one of the French border crossings during WW2, and "neutrality" very obviously meant "one step over that line and you're dead"
Universities once had a philosophical objection to calling the police in if nobody was getting hurt or robbed. It was something to do with the concept of a university as a place where ideas about society were allowed to evolve and be experimented with. Suspected gay goings on, Mr. Policeman? Please come back with a warrant and I will then telephone the gentlemen you wish to interview and tell them you are coming, under escort. Strange burning grass smells? I am sure one of the gardeners is having a bonfire. Why don't you come back with a warrant? Someone is misusing the computer. The exercise today is to find out who it is, and then we will consider what to do about it.
Of course, that was in the days when there weren't armed nutcases (with a legal right to bring arms onto your property) coming along to shoot people. That might have something to do with all this.
M.I.T. is guilty of just not caring about crimes committed on their campus, otherwise they would of stepped in and took some course in the legal action themselves (at least a tiny bit). However, he did kill himself! The person guilty of assisted or influential homicide is no longer living, due to suicide. The fathers grieving period is going to be quite long.
People kill themselves. I'm not saying it's normal, but it happens :-/
The prosecution was offering a deal of a few weeks, and his lawyers said that they almost had a no-jail time deal.
"The prosecution was offering a deal of a few weeks, and his lawyers said that they almost had a no-jail time deal."
This is correct.
But the Swartz loonies want their martyr, and need to blame everybody but the misguided lad himself.
Never trust an argument which rejects the facts.
"When will El Reg get rid of the coward posting option? I'm sick of the 4chan and slashdot and reddit losers freely trolling on here."
The OP accurately points out where the responsibility lies.
The Swartz family wants to blame EVERYBODY but Aaron for Aaron's suicide. Well, guess what: he didn't have to break the law, and if he wanted to break the law to prove a point, he had to take the consequences.
It's you who needs to grow up Mr Prough.
It's great being an AC*, but even greater having been born at the age of 60 wrapped in a copy of the Wall Street Journal.
Kids aged 13-30 do stupid things. A well regulated society makes sure that they don't get hurt too badly for a bit of non-malicious stupidity. My university (Cambridge) back in the day was extremely good at doing this, and I and no doubt many others are duly appreciative.
*I know, I don't use my real name either, but the Reg has it, and my real public email address.
You stop being a kid at 12. Somewhere between 18 and 21 you become a full fledged adult. Schwartz was an adult under either standard. Given that, I have to say that his parents are more responsible for his suicide than MIT. They are the ones who were supposed to teach him right from wrong and to take responsibility for his actions. Given their response we see Schwartz modeled their behavior perfectly - shifting blame to someone else and admitting no fault of their own.
"Somewhere between 18 and 21 you become a fully fledged adult". I am afraid that you do not understand the difference between reality as revealed by experimental psychology and neurology, and the arbitrary rules of society.
Ask any probation officer or experienced policeman what is the age at which people really start acting like grown ups. All the evidence is that it is more like 25-30.
@AC 08:28 - >"The Swartz family wants to blame EVERYBODY but Aaron for Aaron's suicide. Well, guess what: he didn't have to break the law, and if he wanted to break the law to prove a point, he had to take the consequences"
There is recent precedent in American law for criminal homicide and manslaughter charges for causing the suicide of another: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/22/us/8-charged-in-death-of-fellow-soldier-us-army-says.html?_r=3&pagewanted=1&sq=danny%20chen&st=cse&scp=1&
That's not to mention potential civil liability of MIT to the family, which could result in monetary damages. This could still end up getting to be an expensive legal mess for MIT.
Well, guess what: he didn't have to break the law, and if he wanted to break the law to prove a point, he had to take the consequences.
Two problems with that thought. First, if sounds like maybe he was authorized to access MIT's network, which immediately means that half the charges against him (AT LEAST!!) shouldn't have ever been there.
Second, this is America. If you can get through the day without breaking some obscure law that you don't know exists here you're lucky.
Whether he was authorized to access the network (which tbh I think there's only a very flimsy argument for,) doesn't change the fact that he broke into a networking closet and tampered with the equipment, which he certainly wasn't authorized to do.
Is that worth 30+ years in prison? I don't think so and judging by what has been said by the legal teams on both sides, it was never a realistic possibility and Swartz had been made aware of this. The 30+ years figure was just part of stupid posturing inherent in a plea bargaining system.
So the situation is that a guy did something pretty stupid in order to make a point, inevitably got in trouble with the authorities over it and then, instead of either taking a light punishment or going to court to argue his original point on a public stage, he killed himself.
How you can try to say that his death is anyone's doing but his own is beyond me.
This is the UK. It is probably impossible to get through a day here without breaking a law. And it is assumed that you know every law in the Common Law and the Statute Book, since ignorantia legis non excusat. So in many cases you are required to know what the law is, but the judge then has to have a think about it and consult books to find out.
Kafka simply reported reality.
Under the circumstances, it is nonsense to say that he is completely responsible for his own death, or (worse) to say that his grieving father is responsible. It is simply a fact that being attacked by agents of the government, with the huge imbalance of power and vastly smaller resources for defense, can (and frequently does) cause depression, anxiety, and for some people that will lead to suicide. In such circumstances, it is not possible to predict exactly who will and who won't, but it is quite possible to predict that some will.
I hate to point out the obvious, but calling the police to apprehend and charge someone with a "crime" is far from "neutral", especially when said party then disingenuously claims they had no intention of pursuing charges.
That's more along the lines of "We don't like him, let's crucify the bugger, then pretend we had nothing to do with it."
Inadvertently overloading a server, by harvesting a large number of otherwise legally obtained files, should be not be classified as a "crime" in any civilized society. At worst that's nothing more than a civil dispute.
But then I've long since given up any realistic expectation of America being civilized.
Prosecutors build their resumes and future political capital by throwing the biggest possible charges at people. If the prosecutors office had not tried to squash Swartz her current and future political opposition would have nailed her as being 'soft'. Collateral damage isn't an issue to prosecutors, as long as they look 'tough' on crime.
The justice system in this country is terribly broken. I don't know how to improve it, but what we have now is insanely ineffective at everything except lining the pockets of a select few.
In many U.S. states the 'victim' is not required to press charges in order for the prosecution to charge someone.
What's really odd/sad about all that is that domestic abuse cases generally aren't prosecuted if the victim doesn't press charges. An abused woman can get the shit beat out of her, over and over, and the prosecution just shrugs and moves on. Do something, basically harmless, that grabs headlines and they'll go to extreme lengths to prosecute you as hard as possible.
>"Having now read Abelson's report, it is clear that MIT in fact played a central role in Aaron's suicide," Robert Swartz said. "MIT made numerous mistakes that warrant further examination and significant changes. MIT was not neutral in the legal case against Aaron. Whether MIT was neutral or not is a red herring: the university had a moral obligation to advocate on Aaron's behalf."
If true, then this is a problem.
But as one poster has put it, "what a bloody surprise they were cleared".
"the university had a moral obligation to advocate on Aaron's behalf."
The university has a moral obligation to education its students. Swartz wasn't an MIT student, but someone abusing his guest network privileges as a political gesture. Swartz broke the law and did something pretty dumb.
MIT has no obligation to defend people who break laws it doesn't like. If you think it does, you have the political maturity of a 7 year old.
The MIT report reflects the intellectual confusion of its author, a strong supporter of the ideology that brainwashed Aaron from an early age (13).
MIT does not have a moral obligation to defend some random student after they've broken the law. Swartz was not even an MIT student.
Time for the family to accept what happened and move on. They are really beginning to sound deranged now. Let it go, Mr Swartz.
This seems to fall on the definition of the relationship between Swartz and the Uni.
if only a guest, then does the university have any more obligation than it would have under general health and safety - to keep the guest from harm? But if a hypothetical guest sets a fire but suffers injury as a result, are the hosts to blame?
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