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Aaron Swartz was murdered on Human Trafficking Awareness Day

January 13, 2013

The official story is that Aaron Swartz killed himself because of depression. That story is unsatisfactory. Even if we believe that Swartz took his own life, he was still murdered (by our copyright culture; “we are killing our artists!”).

We could treat this as a mental health problem (which is how the media likes to treat everything these days) but as with guns, we can realize that the regulations of intellectual property on the internet are wrong, having criminalized youth culture for far too long, and violate the spirit of the First Amendment.

At the same time, January 11th was National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Human trafficking (according to Wikipedia) “is the illegal trade of human beings mainly for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor.”

Forced labor is related to the original meaning of zombies (in Haitian sugar trade). At what point does “(file-)sharing” become “trade” become “trafficking”?

The question of exploitation is not just a factual question, it is a moral political question. Questions of human trafficking require at least some moral understanding of what we mean by humanity (are there human-subhumans?).

It seems clear (though a trial would have been nice) that Swartz violated the letter of the law, but the law was and is wrong. He was an activist who seemed prepared to fight the law. Even if he was doomed to lose and spend decades in prison, too many major corporate interests will benefit from his death. He is now a matyr for the cause of information trafficking, and information is what makes humanity.

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