NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 17, 2013

The bitter taste of suicide

By all accounts, Aaron Swartz was a wunderkind in the truest sense. At age 14, the Chicago native helped develop computer code that became “Real Simple Syndication,” or RSS feeds, a staple of technology used by millions of websites across the world. He co-founded the message board Reddit, a social news website that has gained an audience of millions.

At age 26, he was a young man destined to do great things, perhaps some day to take his place among American tech pioneers such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. But that bright future won’t come to be.

Swartz hanged himself last week in a Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment, apparently in despair over what his parents called the government’s threats and intimidation related to a cyber crime that he committed. What a sad end to such a promising life.

Swartz broke into a closet at MIT and downloaded “an extraordinary amount” of academic articles that are only available through a paid subscription service called JSTOR. He faced the potential of over three decades in jail. It wasn’t the first time Swartz had broken into secure computers in order to freely release information to the public -- he had done the same with material from the Library of Congress and federal court records. He believed that public information should be free and accessible to all.

Swartz’s death is a tragedy that reminds us of the empty and bitter end that is suicide. It is an ultimate act of desperation and pain that creates a ripple of guilt, anger and sadness among friends, family and loved ones.

And that is certainly the case with Swartz’s death. The recriminations and angry tears are flowing furiously right now, as his parents and legions of fans seek to place blame on the Boston-based U.S. Attorney’s office that leveled the charges, and on MIT. Some 31,000 people have signed a petition demanding the removal of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Recapping a Blockbuster MLB Trade Deadline Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Is Justin Bieber Dating a Model? Guardians of the Galaxy (Trailer) 'Sharknado 2:' Hottest Memes Surfing The Net Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans