Photo Credit: Patrick Hoesly
Aaron Swartz, Activism,
and the 'Rewards of Courage'?
by Ritt Goldstein
Aaron Swartz was an activist that allegedly wrongly downloaded documents, facing a potential prison term for this reportedly more severe than that for "Killers, Slave Dealers And Bank Robbers". But, was this alleged act the sole motivator behind governmental action? Had Aaron's 'politics', his victories on behalf of internet freedom, anything to do with the severity of circumstances he faced?
In America, I too was once an activist, writing police accountability legislation, and even chairing a hearing in Connecticut's legislature on my proposal (hearing highlights - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdDIp5PlW60 ). My Connecticut legislation was actually raised by the Republicans and cross-endorsed by both the Democrat and Reform parties - a lot of folks thought it was pretty good. But then, shortly after the hearing, I was charged with 'making a false police report' regarding being attacked with pepper spray -- recall how 'generous' police were with pepper spray and Occupy -- police claiming I had never been assaulted and charging me accordingly. 'Coincidentally', I believe I was also fairly close to getting a Congressional Police Accountability hearing at the time.
My police accountability efforts were effectively ended. Aaron Swartz's actvism was ended with his life, my police accountability efforts ended with exile.
Having received an explicit death threat, and after having the steering unscrewed on my car, being shot at, and enduring more attacks with Mace and pepper spray than I can count, I fled to Sweden in July 1997, seeking political asylum ( http://www.fecl.org/circular/5501.htm ). In October 2006, I was granted 'Humanitarian Asylum' and permanent residency (http://www.opednews.com/articles/Investigative-Journalist-W-by-Joan-Brunwasser-111127-971.html ).
Has the US Justice System sometimes been used to fight more than simply crime? Over the years, America has chastised many for the alleged politicization of their justice systems, but...what of our own?
The recently revealed FBI files upon the 'Occupy Crackdown' described how peaceful, constitutional protest was treated as a major threat ( http://www.opednews.com/articles/Revealed-How-The-FBI-Coor-by-Naomi-Wolf-121229-403.html ), and so the question seems, 'a threat to whom, to what?' And, there is another question upon our justice system, a question which Occupy often chanted, and a question which the last days have kept echoing within me...'Who do you protect, whom do you serve???'
Copyright January 2013