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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 1/15/13

Shava Nerad's memorial to Aaron Swartz

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Aaron Swartz meant so much to the Internet community and more to his loved ones. His life meant a great deal to those whose dissent rose en masse against SOPA and PIPA bills to censor the Internet and bind global Internet freedoms.  The Swartz' family loss is so deeply felt by those who admired him and were inspired by his work. 
I was priveleged enough to come by the work of Shava Nerad, a Boston resident and technology native who is organising a vigil memorial for Aaron Swartz. 
"My instinct is that when you see resources expended out of proportion, look for the proportionate end.  Aaron was not being chilled for his potential in copying files, I suspect.  He just handed them something for which he could be charged.

We can't let it go without response just because it is classic and chronic.  I am organizing a vigil at 1 Courthouse in Boston 2pm Tuesday, probably small, and we'll follow on from that at MIT,"says Nerad.
Aaron's death has undoubtedly led some to despair.
Tending fires of Internet Liberty is a longterm task that belongs to all who enjoy those freedoms now. We are Aaron's legacy. We are the guardians of the future of Internet freedom. 
Ms. Nerad composed the following letter to mourners to inspire the genius of longterm work ethic in fights of public interest.  Where some of these ideas had grown murky, or even misunderstood, she has brought a light to show us non-violent confrontation with those who demean our humanity should be reasoned with.
"It is part of the principles of formal nonviolence theory that you must not hold the passive evil as irredeemable and no-negotiable.  This is what the truth and reconciliation process is about.

Without that possibility, there is no movement forward.

I believe in that process as an article of faith; I've seen it work in phenomenally bad situations.  This is, I hope, not that bad.

You can not negotiate across a table without having an understanding and some empathy or at least openness to the needs of the person across from you.  My father, a pacifist, taught his children to study military history,strategy and tactics, economics, diplomacy, history, and politics.  In the sixties, when so many hippie children were disparaging everything having to do with The Establishment, I was studying the deep roots of the conflict in southeast Asia in the interest to find the magic button on the puzzle box to undo the entire unsolvable morass and make it resolve (Walter Cronkite seemed to beat me to it, in a way).

So please do not consider me naive when I say [Prosecutor Ortiz] does not seem evil.  What I am saying is this:  She seems like a rational actor in most of her recorded works.  That means I can likely approach her in negotiation.  She is likely not psychotic.  She is likely to play by some reasonable subset of the Rules of the Game, and not "disappear" me, or act out of psychosis or completely outside the rule of law.

It's risk management, do you see?

I have come against people who I believe to be what I would call truly evil -- who believed internally that they acted as agents of the forces of evil in the world. And/or who were socio- or psychopathic in various ways clinically and were not safe to be around.  Some of those people had enough power or authority to be dangerous.  And/or who thought that people like me or people I was advocating for did not qualify as truly or fully human and therefore were not worth accounting for in their priorities and decision making, which in my value system makes them evil because I believe that people are equal.  Various things.

Even some of those people, but only some of them can be reached in this lifetime.  Some of them can not.  It is a liberal myth that you can persuade all people to your side through verbal means.  You can't.  Some you can only reach through emotions or symbolic means.  Others, you will never reach in this lifetime once they are imprinted, I'm convinced.

So much of the change we try to effect is generational; we need to be patient, and that's very hard, especially for the young people.

So yes, I am a warrior, but in my way a very "yin" warrior.  I expose myself to the "enemy," learn their needs, favor compromise, and evolve into the Beloved Community with them. Resistance is futile.  Assimilation is inevitable.

At least, that's more or less the hope.

It's amazing how often one finds out they have the same values and were pressured into a bad compromise.  And of course, you don't compromise past your own ethics.  But it's rarely a comfortable path.  It involves building trust with people you probably don't like, paying dues, being tested, suffering fools gladly, exercising power to show that you can play the same
games, and all the traditional crap that the old system uses.

Until you've sent all the protocol signals that clear you for entry to real dialogue.

This is how I got to be Chair of Budget and Finance of Multnomah County Oregon for the Democrats in one year and then Democrat State Committee the next with no previous office in the Democratic Party.  It's social engineering.

This is how I ended up VP of Marketing and BizDev of a tiny fannish company in PDX and taking them to 285 on the Inc1000 in three years in 2003 (after the dotcom bubble busted, note...) on the basis of the contracts I negotiated for them, coming from a background in nonprofit administration.

You just walk in and do it.  It's a LARP.  It's performance art and improv. But it's not in the least naive.

If you avoid negotiating with people because they might be evil, work with evil, have done evil things, you can't change the world.  Those are the exact people who are acting with power now.  Am I right?

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Sheila Dean is the blog editor for and speaks for the 5-11 Campaign, an anti-national ID advocacy campaign. Sheila promotes American Bill of Rights retention and deliverance from the federal banking system. She also produces (more...)
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