In response to Froma Harrop’s Jan. 24 editorial about computer genius Aaron Swartz’s act of civil disobedience, I find Harrop’s commentary to be exceptionally callous in light of his suicide.
It was wrong of Ms. Harrop to minimize the value of Swartz’s life and contributions. The Boston District Attorney’s office grossly overcharged this case; in particular, Swartz’s actions caused harm to no one, and the victim, JSTOR, refused to press charges. There is little doubt that Swartz violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Law, and he deserved some punishment. However, threatening years behind bars for a harmless act of civil disobedience is an attempt to shut down political speech — not enforce the law.
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