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MIT Investigating School's Role In Swartz Suicide 382

Posted by samzenpus
from the rest-in-peace dept.
The untimely death of Aaron Swartz has raised a lot of questions over the weekend. Now MIT is launching an internal investigation to determine what role the school played in his suicide. From the article: "In a statement, MIT President L. Rafael Reif offered his condolences, saying that the school's community was 'extremely saddened by the death of this promising young man who touched the lives of so many. Now is a time for everyone involved to reflect on their actions, and that includes all of us at MIT,' Reif said. 'I have asked professor Hal Abelson to lead a thorough analysis of MIT's involvement from the time that we first perceived unusual activity on our network in fall 2010 up to the present. I have asked that this analysis describe the options MIT had and the decisions MIT made, in order to understand and to learn from the actions MIT took. I will share the report with the MIT community when I receive it.'"
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MIT Investigating School's Role In Swartz Suicide

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  • Good for them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alostpacket (1972110) on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:11AM (#42580851) Homepage

    However it's sad that it took a suicide for them to examine their role here. For a college that pioneered OpenCourseWare, I never understood why they stood idly by.

  • RE: Unusual (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archon-X (264195) on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:17AM (#42580879)

    What I have found the most unusual about this situation is the outright-condemnation of techniques such as changing a MAC address, writing scripts, etc.

    As anyone with a vague notion of computing can attest to, these are simply 'problem-solving techniques' - and are incredibly far removed from the judge's analogy of "a digital crowbar".

    The closest 'real' analogy that I can come up with is someone sneaking into the library to photocopy journals - and when known to the doorman, putting on a hat or a fake moustache.

    One can't help but question why the government had such a hardon for the case, considering JSTOR dropped all charges, and MIT didn't really care.

  • Hypothesis (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:19AM (#42580891) Homepage Journal

    Let's see if the final report:

    Clears MIT of any real responsibility.
    Talks about the need to listen more to issues that affect its community.
    Talks about he need for MIT as an institution to take an active role in trying to educate authorities on technical issues.
    Advocates for handling more issues internally but always cooperating with the authorities.

    I'd hope the report won't look like the bound edition of this 15-second CYA.

  • Re: Unusual (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:22AM (#42580905) Journal
    A crowbar is also a problem solving technique. All sort of times two items are attached too firmly and you need to apply more leverage. A lot of the time this is perfectly legal - stuck doors, opening wooden crates and so on. This is a pretty good analogy for a script.
  • Re:Good for them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coastwalker (307620) <acoastwalker&hotmail,com> on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:24AM (#42580913) Homepage

    3% of Americans are under the correctional supervision of their justice system. There are seven times more people in prison in the US as a percentage of the population as there are in Europe.

    There is no evidence that this policy is any more effective than things like removing Lead in Gas for reducing overall crime. The rest of the world looks on in horror at prison camp America which locks up slightly more people than the Russians. Ever tried looking in the mirror?

    I'm not surprised this guy looked at the options and chose the one he did, it was probably the most rational sane thing to do.

  • by darkeye (199616) on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:25AM (#42580921) Homepage

    it's not how MIT acted, but the copyright law, that's what they should investigate. like how come someone can be threatened with 35 years in prison and a $1m fine for making state-funded research papers accessible to people at large?

    for killing a person, you only get 4 years.

    yeah, for killing Micheal Jackson, you get less than for distributing one song of his 'illegaly'

    this has to stop.

  • Re: Unusual (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fredprado (2569351) on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:28AM (#42580941)
    And when it is not legal and you use a crowbar you get up to 30 days of prison in the worst case scenario for trespassing, but when you do it electronically it magically becomes 35 years.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:29AM (#42580951)

    Based on what I've read and heard so far about this matter, I fail to see how MIT should be responsible for something that Swartz did to himself, in his own apartment.

    In fact, it sounds like MIT is very much a victim of this whole ordeal, too, and were dragged into it solely by the actions of Swartz that happened on their property.

  • Prosecutors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qbast (1265706) on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:33AM (#42580971)
    I would rather see internal investigation in prosecutor's office. Or if they are unwilling, external one.
  • Re:good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DigitalSorceress (156609) on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:33AM (#42580975)

    So, he followed along in the tradition of TMRC / the original MIT computer hackers?

    I like this Swartz guy more and more!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:39AM (#42581003)

    What you have to understand is that majority of people posting on this site are anti-copyright zealots, because to them digital stuff should all be free as in beer. Music, movies, games, code, lecture videos, journal articles, whatever. (Ironically, all the stuff which the USA happens to be good at vis-a-vis China and other countries, but that is no matter). So they're going to blame Swartz's death on those who enforced copyright.

  • Re: Unusual (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:40AM (#42581007) Journal
    Perhaps, but the problem here seems to be the plea bargaining system rather than the actual law.

    In the case of a crowbar it wouldn't take too imaginative a prosecutor to come up with an argument for attempted burglary and to consider the crowbar as a weapon.
  • You Disgust Me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:48AM (#42581053) Journal
    Okay well I suppose this is going to be a really unpopular post but I don't see anyone else saying anything like this.

    First off, I am deeply saddened and distraught that such a prolific person that had already helped the world so much took his own life. I hope his family and friends take solace in the amount of achievements this young man had made before his decision to take his own life.

    3% of Americans are under the correctional supervision of their justice system. There are seven times more people in prison in the US as a percentage of the population as there are in Europe.

    There is no evidence that this policy is any more effective than things like removing Lead in Gas for reducing overall crime. The rest of the world looks on in horror at prison camp America which locks up slightly more people than the Russians. Ever tried looking in the mirror?

    The US Justice System is there to enforce the law. I don't know what relevance this has or what you hoped to achieve with your parroted statistics but I don't find it very helpful here. He was charged with wire fraud, computer fraud among other things [archive.org] and when someone alerts the authorities that this may have taken place, they investigate it. If I bypassed your home's security and installed a laptop in your home that connected to your network and took all your files, would you want there to be laws against that? That's what they were investigating -- is there any evidence of undue or unjust actions in this investigation? I think that's what MIT wants to find out here.

    I'm not surprised this guy looked at the options and chose the one he did, it was probably the most rational sane thing to do.

    You know, that almost sounds like an endorsement for suicide which is probably one of the most disgusting and vehement posts I've read here so far. There is nothing rational nor sane about taking one's own life. When I was 16 one of my friends committed suicide and more recently a roommate's girlfriend came over while my roommate was gone and committed suicide. As someone who has witnessed the aftermath both to someone who meant so much to me and someone I barely knew, I will tell you right now that it is a terrible act that impacts everyone -- and most often in a profoundly negative way. To call it 'rational' or 'sane' in any case reveals that you do not know anything about suicide.

    I didn't know Aaron Swartz although I've been following this case with interest. What I suspect happened was that Swartz wanted to make a statement about opening up journals to the public and he wagered that it would be hard to pin any fallout on himself if he did all of this covertly. And he tried. But at the end of the day they figured out who was taking these articles of information. Did you know he was a Fellow at Harvard University's Center for Ethics? What do you think this meant for his career to be indicted on such charges? How would you, as a student, listen to a lecture on ethics from someone who had broken laws and evaded police? I think that Swartz saw this as a sort of "civil disobedience" but when his peers did not agree, he took the coward's route instead of letting society decide his fate for his actions -- and I think the case was still open!

    Let's assume Swartz was completely in the right on all of his actions. What, precisely, would you have MIT and the US Government do differently to prevent this suicide? What actions of theirs do you find culpable for forcing Aaron Swartz into no other choice than to take his own life?

  • Re:Good for them (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:50AM (#42581077)

    Just to be clear, the 3% number includes Americans who are on parole or probation. It's about .8% in prison. Still very high.

  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:54AM (#42581107) Homepage Journal

    I really don't think it is so clear cut. If you bully someone into a corner, with 30 years of imprisonment, which is effectively a life sentence (the guy wouldn't be out until 56), then from a certain perspective committing suicide doesn't seem such like a bad alternative.

    I would love to see the prosecutors to be disbard for inappropriate behavior that turned what was otherwise a minor of offence into something that was treated as was worse than murder. I would love to have the prosecutors and judge interviewed to understand why they had such a large axe to grind.

    Justice should be about fair and appropriate punishment and not something used to make prosecutors feel like rock stars.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:57AM (#42581133)

    MIT had no role, nor did any other party. Instead of facing the consequences of his actions, like a mature human being would do, he chose to kill himself. The motivation, as well as the blame, was his alone.

    A frustrated child may scream: "I'm going to hold my breathe until I turn blue!" The wise parent, however, will not succumb to the ploy.

    Why have we decided to accept suicide as a tool for extortion? Swartz in no way can be construed as a helpless victim; rather he is the sole perpetrator of his own destruction.

    Suicide is an act of cowardice and weakness, and the responsibility for it belongs solely to the one who carried out the act.

  • by tibit (1762298) on Monday January 14, 2013 @08:58AM (#42581145)

    You seem to think that just because something is breaking the law, it should be punished to the fullest extent. Protips:

    1. Most people break the law many times each day. The accumulated penalties for those crimes, in most any western country, even if you took the minimum sentences prescribed by law, would immediately put many a country's population behind bars for millenia or make them owe millions of dollars in fines. Mostly both. Just like that.

    2. There's this thing called prosecutorial discretion. As in the prosecutor has full control over what cases they want to prosecute. Just like that.

    3. Copyright violations, while a matter of criminal law in the U.S. and thus prosecutable ex officio, require participation of the injured parties. If no party claims that a copyright law violation took place, then there's nothing to prosecute. This is where copyright violations differ, from, say, murders. In an attempted murder, it doesn't matter all that much that the victim forgave the attacker and doesn't want them punished. The prosecutor is free to ignore that. In a copyright violation, the victim has pretty much full say in keeping the legal action going, and it's up to them whether it keeps going or stops. Same goes with regard to criminal trespass -- if the injured party says that there was no trespass, the prosecutor has no leg to stand on. Anything else is vigilante justice and amounts to harassment of the defendant. Just like that.

    So there.

  • by roccomaglio (520780) on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:03AM (#42581179)

    What you have to understand is that majority of people posting on this site are anti-copyright zealots, because to them digital stuff should all be free as in beer. Music, movies, games, code, lecture videos, journal articles, whatever. (Ironically, all the stuff which the USA happens to be good at vis-a-vis China and other countries, but that is no matter). So they're going to blame Swartz's death on those who enforced copyright.

    The articles were from publicly funded research. We the people already paid for the research once, why should the results not be free to us? If the public is going to fund the research the results should be made freely available to them.

  • You Disgust Me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mister Liberty (769145) on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:05AM (#42581191)

    Take your penultimate question and look at it a bit broader
    (not that others haven't done that already -- therefore my surprise).
    Look at proportionality. Keep your suspicions out of the picture.
    Good luck.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:07AM (#42581213)

    No, they're just double checking whether there were any mistakes. MIT did *nothing wrong*. This idiot *insisted* on trying to steal millions of dollars of material, involving the free republication of millions of man-hours of research that get only limited funding and rely on these sorts of copyrighted publications for some of that limited funding.

    He was screwing with thesis writing and core research, abusing the credentials of Harvard to sneak onto the MIT campus, and he *kept insisting on doing it!!!*. MIT kept doing as little blocking as feasible to protect their access to critical research material, and he kept insisting on abusing that resource. If there's any failure, it's on *Harvard* for giving this idiot credentials. MIT was tolerant and patient in the extreme: the police only caught him when he was *breaking into the wiring closet* to re-establish his illegal access to that resource with his illegally connected laptop.

    I'm sorry for his family that he chickened out and committed suicide, but MIT has no guilt here. This was too big to whitewash: they did everything they could to give him chances to stop his abuses. They didn't help stop him because he was stealing, they helped stop him because he was *sucking up all the bandwidth* and overwhelming the resource. This isn't like stealing some dry ice, this is like staling *all* the dry ice and making experiments fail because they can't preserve tissue samples.

    The man deserves no sympathy. His family and friends may deserve some, but only because he was too cowardly to face the charges for his actions.

  • Re:You Disgust Me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:07AM (#42581217)

    3% of Americans are under the correctional supervision of their justice system. [...] There is no evidence that this policy is any more effective than things like removing Lead in Gas for reducing overall crime.

    The US Justice System is there to enforce the law.

    So, what's your point? That anything which is law must be good policy? In the US, the penalty for identity fraud is up to 30 years in prison. In Germany, fraud, in "especially serious cases," may get you 6 months to 10 years. US law imposes harsher sentences for similar crimes (especially certain classes of crime), and these draconian penalties seem to serve no social benefit.

  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:11AM (#42581239) Homepage

    I'm not surprised this guy looked at the options and chose the one he did, it was probably the most rational sane thing to do.

    You know, that almost sounds like an endorsement for suicide which is probably one of the most disgusting and vehement posts I've read here so far.

    Just as a reminder, Swartz was subject to bouts of extreme depression. Although it's a human tendency to want to find external causes and somebody to blame, it is most likely that depression has more to do with his suicide than any other factor.

  • Re:You Disgust Me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:13AM (#42581263)

    In your idiotic support of the current system you seem to miss out a lot of things. Maybe your ignorance or your unwillingness to confront them leads you to spout this nonsense.

    1. MIT's investigation is not about just and unjust actions - it is more about the fact that they did not actively stop the justice department from going after Schwartz. JSTOR aggressively responded to the prosecutorial threat and declined to pursue charges, whereas MIT did not. If MIT too had strongly declined, then, the prosecutor would have very little grounds to prosecute Aaron.

    2. The justice department is there to enforce laws - yes. But Very often, due to the fact that most prosecutors seem to aim for political office, they make their prosecutions a populist action. Thus you have prosecutors often hiding exculpatory evidence, going after lifetime charges against kids to please the local population and basically looking out for themselves. That's not exactly a 'justice is blind' policy - it is more like 'what do I do get headlines and further my career'

    3. After watching US going after Assange, Lulsec and others and basically meting out punishments in decades to computer hackers, a person who is facing 35 yrs in the slammer wont exactly be happy. Especially because no one recently has managed to get out of such charges. So now 26 Aaron had a choice. Fight for 3-4 yrs in the courts and then spend 15-20 yrs in the slammer or hug the grim reaper.

    Finally, if ignorance is your excuse - learn to keep your rants to your head. Unfortunately, the world has too many of you, and too few of people like him... we can ill afford to lose people like him ... and would not feel the difference if 100s of people like you disappeared this instant.

  • by aepervius (535155) on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:21AM (#42581307)
    There are a lot of ethical action which are unlawful and vice versa, a lot of unethical action which are perfectly lawful. I would certainly hear the lecture of somebody which know the difference between ethical and lawful and the ramification.
  • Re:You Disgust Me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vintermann (400722) on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:25AM (#42581341) Homepage

    The problem is that he ran into a careerist prosecutor. To be a former prosecutor with a record of being touch on cybercrime, especially anything related to "information activists" (think Julian Assange), is a big red loyalty star in the party book, and this prosecutor was (is) running for office. Aaron's earlier stunt with the legal database PACER was also completely legal, yet pissed off many in the US legal establishment.

    Not all lawyers are created equal. O.J. Simpson could afford a team of star lawyers, one would have to be pretty naïve to think it didn't matter. One would have to be similarly naïve to think it didn't matter that Aaron was a prize target for a powerful Democratic party apparatchik.

    Unfortunately for Aaron, he wasn't as rich as O.J. (It's well known he'd given away a lot of the money he made on the reddit sale to charity). He really wasn't prepared to fight on the terms of this corrupt system. Something the prosecutor exploited grossly in the plea bargain, of course - a great example of how plea bargains corrupt justice.

    If he hadn't been a high-profile target of a high-ambition prosecutor eager to score political points, charges would have been dropped the moment JSTOR asked for it.

  • Re:You Disgust Me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:28AM (#42581359)

    Overcharging is the issue. The DOJ has a habit of charging misdemeanors and felonies and low felonies and high felonies in order to try to get plea agreements. And US Attorneys have a habit of using high profile criminal cases to get publicity to run for office or to get appointed as a federal judge. The overcharging happened here. They charged Aaron Swartz with anything they could remotely stick to him and exaggerated his downloading of academic documents to look like a major cybercrime. There is nothing about this case that served justice. The only logical reason that this case was prosecuted with the ferocity and with the resources that were expended is that the US Attorney and Assistant US Attorneys involved wanted a trophy they could put on their wall.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:33AM (#42581399)

    He wasn't charged with breaking Copyright law, rather he was charged with wire fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, recklessly damaging a protected computer, and aiding and abetting.

    If convicted on all charges and the judge chooses the maximum sentence and chooses to have all sentences run consecutively then yes it would be 35 years. However, both the federal sentencing guidelines and common sense indicate that someone like Swartz with no criminal record and relatively benign offenses would not receive anything close to that.

    According to insiders he was being offered a plea bargain which would probably be 6-24 months in jail but it was the felony conviction that would end up on Swartz record that scared him the most. No more having everything handed to him on a silver platter.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:37AM (#42581429) Homepage Journal

    Nothing is rational or sane about suicide. It is the ultimate selfish act for cowards.

    The first sentence is true, the second only half true; I see you've never had the misfortune of knowing anyone with clinical depression. You can no more blame a suicide's death on the suicide victim than you can blame the victim of a heart attack for his. It's a disease; clinically depressed people can't just shrug it off any more than you can shrug off cancer. It needs professional treatment, and like cancer treatments, sometimes they fail.

  • Re:You Disgust Me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:51AM (#42581539) Journal
    Let's assume Swartz was completely in the right on all of his actions. What, precisely, would you have MIT and the US Government do differently to prevent this suicide? What actions of theirs do you find culpable for forcing Aaron Swartz into no other choice than to take his own life?

    Let's assume you didn't mean that as a troll.

    For a nonviolent crime with no victims and no damages (sorry, but we really need to move beyond considering people torrenting movies as "lost customers" - And even JSTOR, for all their other evils, did the right thing here and decided not to pursue any civil penalties), what would you consider a proportional reaction by the relevant authorities?

    Ideally, this should never have reached the police intervention level (never mind the feds) - The only "real" offense here involves misusing access to MIT's network. A purely internal student misconduct disciplinary board could best have handled the whole affair with a semester or two of probation.

    Once it did go to the police level - Okay, he technically committed a crime. Guilty as charged. Which better serves society and justice - 30 years in prison (or a death sentence, as it turns out), or 100 hours of community service?

    Everyone, at every level of escalation here, should have taken a step back and considered what really happened. A kid abused his uni's access to a subscrption service to download more than he should have. That is not a fucking capital offense.
  • Re:You Disgust Me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:55AM (#42581585) Homepage

    The US Justice System is there to enforce the law.

    No it isn't. Start with this: https://secure.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/20/myths-of-the-criminal-justice-system_n_879768.html [huffingtonpost.com]

    And the problem is that it's becoming nearly impossible to know what the law actually is. The U.S. Constitution outlines just three federal crimes -- treason, counterfeiting, and piracy. Various projects have tried to count the number of federal criminal laws passed since, and many have simply given up. But by most estimates, there are at least 4,000 separate criminal laws at the federal level, with another 10,000 to 300,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally.

    In his most recent book, the civil libertarian and defense attorney Harvey Silverglate argues that most Americans now unknowingly commit about three felonies per day.

    link to the book referenced: Three Felonies a Day, how the Feds target the innocent: http://www.harveysilverglate.com/Books/ThreeFeloniesaDay.aspx [harveysilverglate.com]

    The Federal criminal system is designed to give the Feds total power and control. A government can take such control in several ways. The transparent manner is for a government to just do what it wants without explanation. Such governments are rightly despised as despotic. The US Federal government has chosen a different method. It has made so many crimes of such a vague nature, that everyone commits them without even knowing it. As a result, the Feds have no difficulty figuring out how to persecute a person should they decide they don't like that person for one reason or another. They just shuffle the deck and "pick a crime, any crime."

    Now, whether Swartz committed a crime or not is sort of beside the point. Even assuming that he did, how does a 35 year prison term fit into what he did? It doesn't. It lacks all proportionality. What this lack of proportionality does do howver, is give the Feds absolute despotic control over people's lives, a power which they can exercise at will, with total immunity, against any person they decide to hate.

    And worse, despite its ruthless disproportionate persecution, a signficant portion of the population will respond like you by blaming Swartz for being a crook. Problem is, with so many laws on the books -- you too are a crook. You just don't know it and not knowing the law is not a defense (except for police and prosecutors). That's a nice catch 22. You can't use lack of knowledge to defend yourself, but the code is so vast, vague, and disorganized, you can't know the laws.

  • Reflection (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:57AM (#42581597)

    ".... Now is a time for everyone involved to reflect on their actions, ..."

    Seems to me that before his suicide would have been better timing.

  • Do you see what happened here? Charge with 35 years offer 6-24 mos. In the context of the trial, sounds like a great deal. In the context of reality --- WTF? Two years in prison for what?

    Americans are becoming enslaved -- quite literally -- to the special interest groups that can afford to buy legislation. Welcome to fascism -- government for the benefit of the mega-corporation.

  • Re:You Disgust Me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) on Monday January 14, 2013 @10:22AM (#42581819)

    "There is nothing rational nor sane about taking one's own life."

    Please do not generalize. I've witnessed the suffering of a terminally ill relation who more than once pleaded with me for some drug that could end it all. I find it more disgusting that you'd presume to know some other person's pain well enough conclude that surviving to the end of your natural lifespan is the end-all of human existence.

  • It's a disease (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 14, 2013 @10:22AM (#42581821)

    Nothing is rational or sane about suicide. It is the ultimate selfish act for cowards.

    The first sentence is true, the second only half true; I see you've never had the misfortune of knowing anyone with clinical depression. You can no more blame a suicide's death on the suicide victim than you can blame the victim of a heart attack for his. It's a disease;

    Having personally known people who committed suicide after suffering intense attacks of depression, I will agree. But then you shouldn't blame a suicide's death on MIT or the Justice Department, either. They didn't cause the disease. (Swartz had written about depression years before; no, being charged with a computer break-in did not cause his depression.).

    clinically depressed people can't just shrug it off any more than you can shrug off cancer. It needs professional treatment, and like cancer treatments, sometimes they fail.

    I'll agree here-- suicide is not a heroic act of defiance against the system; it is, for the most part, the result of a disease that is difficult to cure and far too often fatal. Clinical depression is not to be taken lightly.

  • by afeeney (719690) on Monday January 14, 2013 @10:25AM (#42581841)

    Agreed. The following is based on my own experience.

    To put it metaphorically, depression manages the volume control for positive and for negative thoughts and emotions. It turns the volume to almost zero on positive thoughts and to zero on positive emotions. At most, after something that makes a normally functioning person happy, the person with severe depression is only aware that something good has happened.

    For negative emotions and thoughts, on the other hand, it turns the volume to maximum. Problems become insurmountable and the person with depression is typically too emotionally drained to contemplate or execute ways to solve them. (This is one reason why cognitive behavioral therapy is such a vital part of successful treatment. The brain needs to get out of that groove once the underlying physiological problem is resolved by relearning how to process negative and positive thoughts appropriately. It's another reason why the placebo effect is so powerful with depression. The person may well have been recovered physiologically but the brain had gotten into a rut of negative thoughts.)

    It is quite possible that anything bad might have tipped Swartz over the edge. The end of a relationship, the death of a pet, a personal or professional failure, anything like that.

  • Re:You Disgust Me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Monday January 14, 2013 @10:33AM (#42581881)

    > There is nothing rational nor sane about taking one's own life.

    Fallacy.

    Why prolong pain and suffering when you can give a world a message that they might actually pay attention for a brief second instead of watching all the unreality and whatever passes for mindless entertainment these days.

    If I have the right to life then that ALSO implies I have the right to death.

    NOTE: It is _perfectly_ legal to perform suicide in most countries.

    * You can smoke yourself to death.
    * You can drink yourself to death.
    * Etc.

    But the instant somebody decides the time frame is far too long and should be minutes instead of years all of a sudden everybody throws a hissy-fit. Why is the _duration_ the focus instead of RESPECTING a person's right to life AND death?

    > To call it 'rational' or 'sane' in any case reveals that you do not know anything about suicide.
    Statements like this just proves you _know_ _nothing_ about what happens after death or before life.

    However, with all that said, I would put this big disclaimer out there: Death does NOT solve any problems -- it just merely DELAYS them. You can't run away from yourself -- sooner or later you WILL be forced to confront yourself. The ONLY fallacy in suicide is the incorrect thinking that somehow you avoided a problem.

  • Re:You Disgust Me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (retawriaf)> on Monday January 14, 2013 @10:59AM (#42582149) Homepage

    1. MIT's investigation is not about just and unjust actions - it is more about the fact that they did not actively stop the justice department from going after Schwartz. JSTOR aggressively responded to the prosecutorial threat and declined to pursue charges, whereas MIT did not. If MIT too had strongly declined, then, the prosecutor would have very little grounds to prosecute Aaron.

    You seem to be suffering from the common delusion that anyone but the prosecutor has any say as to whether prosecution goes forward or not.
     

    After watching US going after Assange, Lulsec and others and basically meting out punishments in decades to computer hackers, a person who is facing 35 yrs in the slammer wont exactly be happy. Especially because no one recently has managed to get out of such charges. So now 26 Aaron had a choice. Fight for 3-4 yrs in the courts and then spend 15-20 yrs in the slammer or hug the grim reaper.

    You left out a third option - don't do the crime.
     

    Finally, if ignorance is your excuse - learn to keep your rants to your head. Unfortunately, the world has too many of you

    Advice you should repeat in front of a mirror three or four times a day until it sinks in.

  • Re:You Disgust Me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by steelfood (895457) on Monday January 14, 2013 @11:09AM (#42582237)

    the US has not gone after Assange (not yet, anyway).

    Not officially, and not in so many words ("No comment" is only two words). But we all know who's pulling the strings behind that fiasco.

  • Re:You Disgust Me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FileNotFound (85933) on Monday January 14, 2013 @12:40PM (#42583257) Homepage Journal

    > The case is about someone gaining unauthorized access to the system - repeateldy, tresspassing and wire fraud.

    "wire fraud" is a bullshit crime used by the corrupt to intimidate the innocent. It's the perfect example of the problem here. It's a manifestation of the fascist approach to enforcing the law here.

    It's nonsense to "trump up" charges with.

    THIS is why we don't want cops on campus. I fear cops much more than I fear a psycho with a gun. Cops are much more likely to destroy your life over some trivial shit and it won't ever make the evening news.

    So you don't think breaking into a network closet and hooking up a hidden unauthorized laptop to a switch is a criminal act?

    Seriously, read the posts when he was first indicted - most people agreed that he WAS commiting criminal acts.

    He kills himself - and suddenly the public is upset about trumped up charges on an innocent kid.

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/07/19/1839237/aaron-swartz-indicted-in-attempted-piracy-of-four-million-documents [slashdot.org]

  • Re:You Disgust Me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FileNotFound (85933) on Monday January 14, 2013 @01:30PM (#42583823) Homepage Journal

    If someone plugged in an unauthorized machine into a switch inside a secured network closet with the intent to gain access to content that they had been blocked from - I would want them prosecuted AND to serve jail time AND to have a felony on their record. No matter how you twist it, no matter what the goal, it was a criminal security breach at that point.

    There is just no way around the fact that he was actively and knowingly trying to circumvent security and would NOT stop trying well past the point of reason.

    MIT nor JSTOR did not care when it was wifi, they blocked him and blocked him over an over all without involving authorities. When he broke into their closet and hardwired in a laptop - authorities got involved.

    I fully agree that the "maximum" 30 year sentence would have been outrageous had it been the sentence that was given. For all I know, he may have been given a very lenient peal bargain had he waited.

You can't take damsel here now.

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