Political Animal


January 19, 2013 7:44 AM Memorial for Aaron Swartz today in NYC at 4

By Kathleen Geier

Today in New York City, there will be a memorial for Aaron Swartz, the internet activist who tragically killed himself last week at the age of 26. The memorial is open to the general public. Details can be found here.

Aaron was my friend and, like so many, I am heartbroken by his death. I am also disturbed and outraged at the abusive treatment he suffered at the hands of power-mad federal prosecutors, which played a large role in his suicide. Last year, I wrote about the charges against him here. However, the single best piece I’ve read about the case, which looks at it in the context of increasingly authoritarian behavior by American prosecutors and the war over the democratization of information in the U.S., was Marcy Wheeler’s article for AlterNet.

If you support opening an inquiry into Aaron’s prosecution and reforming the laws he was charged with breaking, you can sign this petition.

Aaron’s life touched so many, and produced a number of beautiful tributes, such as this one, and this one.

In Aaron’s brief time on this earth, he made a difference. May his restless intellectual energy, his passionate idealism, and his indelible sweetness continue to inspire us all.

I wish him peace. I am sure that he would wish us justice.

UPDATE: Here is some news about the continuing fall-out Aaron’s death is having on the political aspirations of the Javert-like U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz (H/T: Lawyers, Guns & Money’s Erik Loomis). I won’t say more, but when a press conference ends with tears and the words, “‘Does anyone else have any questions, because if not, I’m done,” it’s not hard to guess how it went.

Sadly, though, nothing will bring Aaron back. Ever.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee


  • c u n d gulag on January 19, 2013 10:03 AM:

    What a wonderful eulogy those last two paragraphs make, Kathleen.

    One that anyone would be proud to have as their remembrance.

  • MuddyLee on January 19, 2013 11:06 AM:

    Nice choice of music too, Kathleen.

  • Patricia Shannon on January 19, 2013 9:16 PM:

    I'm sorry he committed suicide. I certainly agree the prosecution went way to far in the sentence they asked for. However, calling the stealing of other people's "democratization of information" doesn't make it ok. How did Aaron support himself? Where did he get money to live on? Those who spend the time and money to create and make available intellectual material also need to live. Where do you think the money should come from for the computer equipment and energy to store the information. And it takes human being's time to maintain the equipment and buildings that they are in. It doesn't just sit there in the air in some magical way.

  • Shadat Hosen on January 29, 2013 8:57 AM: