Sometimes the bravest thing a man can do is stand on the back wall and cry. Which is what I did at the Central Avenue Synagogue in Highland Park, my community, the community I was raised in, for the funeral of Aaron Swartz.
I stood on the back wall and listened. At the front of the room, there was a microphone. As tempting as it was to step-up, and speak from the heart, I felt an overwhelming urge to listen.
When Aaron was 2-years old, he began talking in full sentences. In the code of sounds, he taught himself how to speak.
When Aaron was 3-years old, as the family was sitting in the kitchen, Aaron asked if later that night, he could go to the festival in downtown Highland Park. Not knowing how their little boy had learned of the festival in downtown Highland Park, they asked Aaron, who pointed to a postcard announcing the event his mother had taped to the refrigerator. In the code of letters, he taught himself how to read.
When Aaron was 14-years old, he changed the world. In the code of information, he taught himself how to re-imagine web feeds.
Aaron went to high school. He grew bored, dropping out. No because high school was too hard or to be a punk, but to challenge himself. He created RSS.
Aaron went to Stanford. He grew bored, dropping out. Not because Stanford was too hard or to be a punk, but to challenge himself. He created Reddit.
Aaron was the most beautiful punk in the history of punks. He was also a kid.
This kid’s imagination was too free for any institution: not high school, not college. So what made Carmen Oritiz, the United States Attorney from the District of Massachusetts, think 35-years in prison was a good idea? For Aaron?!!
Aaron Swartz did not commit a crime with intent to harm. Aaron Swartz did not commit a crime with intent to defraud. Aaron Swartz did not commit a crime with intent to withhold the truth. Aaron Swartz did not commit a crime with intent to withhold access to information – it was the opposite.
Please allow me remind you…
Not 1-banker has been charged. Not 1-AIG Bonus has been returned. Not 1-member of the Bush Administration has been subpoenaed for torture. And yet, our government decided to harass Aaron Swartz? With a gavel?!!
Carmen Ortiz needs to be found guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter. She needs to be fitted for an orange jumpsuit. She needs to spend 35-years in prison. When she’s done being fully institutionalized, disbarred and disgraced, Carmen Ortiz needs to spend the rest of her life working at Walmart, where ambition goes to die.
When your ambition places greater importance on “the case” than “the kid,” you’re sick.
This is the world we live in, a world where sadistic adults prey on imaginative children, rubbing the clit of their ambition, finger banging their greed, getting-off on the media glory hole, with an eye on the governor’s mansion, even at the expense of the future, especially at the expense of the future.
Scared to death, literally scared to death, Aaron Swartz hung himself. He was 26.