When the wagon lumbered up the street proclaiming the news of Aaron Swartz’s suicide, I jumped right on. I had never even heard of him, but I nevertheless jumped right on the bandwagon, eager to bemoan the passing of an individual many hailed as nothing short of a prodigy. I eulogized the man, praised his work, and condemned the system that supposedly drove him from this life. Tom Negrino of Backup Brain took a slightly different approach after spending nearly four weeks in embittered silence:
“I’m fed up with the Aaron Swartz hagiography and subsequent bullshit garment-rending from people who didn’t know him well, or at all. I’m still reading fresh examples of anguished wailing and blogging and Twittering about the guy. But to me, he seems unworthy of the sainthood that’s being thrust onto his corpse.”
With a topic such as this and words such as Tom’s, many will likely label him as insensitive and brusque. Think for a minute though, before writing a very strongly-worded tweet from the vantage point granted by your lofty pedestal, that Aaron Swartz might not have been the saintly do-gooder everyone describes him to be or the martyr we seem to be searching for so desperately. Maybe, just maybe, he was a cowardly child afraid of facing the consequences of his actions, someone that through some twisted reasoning though it acceptable to kill himself and allow one of the few people he loved to find his body suspended from the ceiling. Maybe, just maybe, Tom is right.