"Aaron Swartz hung himself
If you are like me, you never heard of him before today, or knew that he was an internet prodigy who helped to develop technologies that millions use. He also had trouble with depression. The news says that he believed in an open and free internet, and that the U.S. Justice Department was prosecuting him to the limit for downloading millions of pages from the online journal library, JSTOR, without paying for them.
I don't agree with Swartz's action, but I think I know how he felt. Some say that genius and madness are close. Witness the painter Vincent van Gogh, his missing ear and his reported suicide. More like, it's because anyone with depression who wants to feel good about something has to try harder. Whether it is art, science, engineering or some other challenge, sometimes, if not often, only the satisfaction of accomplishment can ease the pain. Otherwise, it's like Prometheus, with his liver growing back time after time just so the eagle can tear it out and eat it again, bit by agonizing little bit.
The loss of all hope of accomplishment is worse than death. In its zeal to prosecute and make an example of him, this is what the U.S. Department of Justice took from Aaron Swartz. Almost like it did when the FBI went to prove its manhood on the Branch Davidians. But this time, they took out someone who arguably had a lot more to contribute to the world. Someone whose future work might conceivably have helped with the battle against terrorists. All over a philosophical difference that JSTOR reportedly didn't want to prosecute, and already-published academic information that had no apparent national security implications.
Oddly enough, some people never seem to realize that when they start a peter-matching contest, the only peters anyone else can see are the ones sticking up above their shirt collars. Something the Justice Department has a hard time learning. So if yahoos are cheering or jeering about this death, the hell with them."