To throw down a few thought's about Aaron Swartz's untimely death:
- One cannot blame any one thing in particular for his suicide; it is rare for depression to be caused by a single reason.
- One must question whether it is fair to judge people based upon knowledge they did not have at the time they had when they made the decision.
- The judicial system in the US seems flawed in that there is so much weight on everything before the trial (which often ends up pretty much agreeing how the trial will play out, by the virtue of plea bargains), and so easily manipulated by money (through choice of lawyer having such a large affect). (For the curious: I maintain the view that being able to negotiate sentencing is ridiculous, as sentencing should not even be a matter of discussion pre-trial; the only concern pre-trial should be whether or not a prosecution is likely to be obtained on the evidence available (i.e., whether or not the case should be brought before a court of whether it would merely be a waste of court time as the case was not viable; it is important that the "victim" isn't involved in this choice as it avoids the victim being blackmailed into dropping the case), and once in trial the only thing to be determined should be the guilt of the accused, and only once their guilt has been established should sentencing be discussed, but quite possibly my Scottish upbringing is just showing through here).
- That (successfully) prosecuting people is a method of career advancement is by-and-large nonsense. It gives them an inherent interest in getting people found guilty, regardless of their actual guilt.
- Prison sentences seem astronomical in the US: that someone can get as harshly punished for copyright violations as murder seems backwards. But this seems part of a larger belief in the US that people must "pay" for their crimes through sordid conditions (at the tax-payers expense!) rather than having a sentence that compensates the copyright owners for what they have lost (in the UK, it is exceptionally rare to see trials for piracy, because the amounts that are likely to be awarded don't justify the legal expense).