If you still don’t know about what happened to Aaron Swartz, you should read this, (the rest of these links are TW: suicide), this, this, this, and this. And then, if you can, sign this petition (the more signatures it gets, the more likely Carmen Ortiz will be held accountable).
Matt Stoller has suggested making today, January 18th, Aaron Swartz Day. So, in his memory, I want to do two things:
1. Talk about how the United States legal system treats young black and Latino men
Aaron Swartz at least had competent lawyers on his side, and enough money to pay them for almost a year. Now he’s getting some justice from citizen media.
Most innocent young black men who get fouled up by the “justice” system don’t get that far.
In the United States, young black and Latino men are assumed guilty until proven innocent – and sometimes even after that. This means that many innocent black and Latino men have their lives ruined by the justice system, and some face things worse that what was facing Aaron.
Aside from the black and Latino men who are legally innocent yet *still* get convicted or jailed, they are also punished for ‘crimes’ which shouldn’t be crimes, like non-violent drug abuse.
I don’t grasp the full scope of this injustice myself, but I can point in a few directions:
While not a part of the formal (in)justice system, much of the actual punishment of a conviction is that it makes it harder to get a job … but evidence suggest that it’s easier for white people with criminal records than for black people without one to get a job.
And, to go on a tangent, many young black and Latino people have very limited access to computers and the internet. Some only have access at schools and libraries … and the funding is getting cut. A young black man might have the potential to be 10 times more technologically-brilliant than Andrew Swartz, but never have the resources needed to develop it.
We should be outraged by what the legal system did to Aaron Swartz. We should be even more outraged by what the legal system does to young black and Latino men.
2. This blog is going public domain
I actually planned to do this a long time ago, but I was too lazy to implement it. Now, however, is the time for action. All material here can now be treated as public domain. If you find a way to make money off this blog, good for you. I’d rather live with scrapers than “intellectual-property” fascists.