Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Swartz, again

Boston.com
During plea talks held in the months before his death, federal prosecutors told Aaron Swartz and his attorney that the computer prodigy must spend six months behind bars and plead guilty to 13 federal crimes in order to resolve the criminal case short of a trial.

Swartz’s lead defense attorney, Elliot Peters, said today that both he and Swartz rejected the plea deal offered by the office of US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, and instead were pushing for a trial where federal prosecutors would have been forced to publicly justify their pursuit of Swartz.
The whole thing is an insult to the poor schmucks doing time for petty theft, and to the truly tragic cases living half their lives in prison under Rockefeller drug laws, who were never millionaires and never worked for Conde Nast and never got to go to Stanford or Harvard or hang out at MIT.  I couldn't help but be reminded of this. Josh Marshall posts a letter from a reader, on a different subject.

Marshall:  "It’s a ‘complicated issue’ as we all say about pretty much every issue. But when I read it I could not help think, ‘Yeah, you’re definitely on to something.’"
I view gun control from the prism of the gender wars. It’s a last-gasp attempt by lower-income men to hold onto some shred of self-respect: at least a capacity for autonomous violence, if they are left with nothing else. And they are being left with nothing else, since the job market is increasingly feminized on all but the highest levels, most remaining male-gendered work (except uniformed public service) is increasingly losing income and status, and patriarchy is no longer a particularly strong legal or cultural norm. This is responsible for many things: almost all bad. I call it the Scots-Irishization of lower-income white men.
The politics of this are miserable, at least in the short and medium terms. In a democracy rife with veto points, a passionate small group will preserve the status quo every time. About the only exception to this (and the only small ray of hope) was the civil rights movement of 1915-67. But that’s fifty years, folks. And that movement at least had the advantage of extreme sectionalism: there were no passionate segregationists outside the South.

I despair of rational gun control until some progress is made with this situation. And I only see it getting worse.
I have more respect for lower-income men than I had for Aaron Swartz. More and more it reminds me of a sadder version of the fiasco of Henry Louis Gates.

A friend has been saying I've been too hard on Swartz and not hard enough on his "enablers". He's right. Swartz was never prepared for this fight; he was too fragile, done in by his friends more than his enemies. "I remember a creature who seemed at first almost to be made up of pure data, disembodied."  He was a human being.

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