THE INTERNET’S OWN BOY: The Aaron Swartz Story
(directed by Brian Knappenberger, 2014)
**** (out of 5)
> Ah! Another modern horror story, brought to you by our criminal government, which has grown so pathologically paranoid, that it has started to devour its best and brightest. Not being young enough to be a techno-nerd, I knew nothing of the tragic story of Aaron Swartz, making me completely ignorant of this shameful chapter in recent American history. It’s a truly pathetic story that clearly illustrates how badly this wayward country has lost its way.
. One of the brightest lights of his generation is dead- and the blood is on Obama’s hands. It was, after all, his justice department (under then Attorney general Eric Holder) who viciously hounded 24 year old Aaron to his death, for having the nerve to think public records should be public.
. Aaron Swartz was an exemplary citizen. Instrumental in the development of Reddit and the RSS feed, he was a writer, programmer, social activist who founded a huge number of non-profits and public advocacy entities before the intense pressure applied by our punitive government became too much for him and he responded by taking his own life. A child prodigy, Aaron grew up to develop a keen social conscience that is badly needed in America today. Ever the idealist, he hoped someday to enter politics, with an eye to the White House itself. But the writing was on the wall. Aaron had been fighting these trumped up charges for over a year of his life, and this moment of truth was quickly approaching. The idea of being a convicted felon devastated him. Walking past the White House with his girlfriend, he ruefully remarked: “They don’t let felons in there.” And all this, for attempting to do the RIGHT thing. If you are a U.S. citizen, these files he downloaded through Harvard University are your records. The federal courts are the people’s court, and all documents they produce are a matter of public record.
. The problem began some years ago when a law was passed that gave the government the right to charge “reasonable” fees to reimburse the costs to the court. But what constitutes a “reasonable” fee? Access to this public information was awarded to an ostensibly not-for-profit entity called “JSTOR” who became the gatekeepers of the archives. Before long, they began to charge outrageous, inappropriate, I would say criminal fees to access these scholarly papers that clearly should be freely available to all who seek them. JSTOR makes millions (and billions!) in profit on this cash cow, when by law, they are meant to merely break even. This is a total ripoff to the consumer- an egregious disservice to our citizens whose tax dollars paid for most of this research in the first place and a lucrative sweetheart deal for JSTOR. Now imagine that our misguided government, in it’s zeal to make an example, decided it was a criminal act to inform the public about the very same laws they are expected to adhere to…
. Imagine no longer- this is exactly what is happening!
. The status quo powers-that-be reap huge dividends from the present (rigged) system- why would they want this to change? Big Business fights hard to control the flow of information, the better to keep the general public ignorant, and thus disempowered- and easier to manipulate. It does not seem possible any longer, for a filmmaker to make an honest, unflinching documentary about American life without it becoming a sad, pathetic, infuriating portrait of an arrogant, corrupt country behaving abysmally. THIS IS JUST WHO WE ARE TODAY: A SAD, PASTHETIC, IGNORANT, ARROGANT COUNTRY. With a world brimming with bad guys needing to be dealt with, our stupid, stupid government chooses to harass and persecute anyone who believes in transparency, as if they were our real enemies- not Al Qaeda or ISIS. Eric Holden is all but gone now, (if the lazy, ineffectual congress ever stops playing offensive political games and acts to confirm his predecessor), but as far as I’m concerned, it is not too late to hold Obama accountable. It’s time for this president to resign in disgrace. He is a dismal failure and this country would be better off without him. The best adjective to describe this whole episode is “criminal”. WE HAVE A CRIMINAL GOVERNMENT THAT IS AT WAR WITH ITS OWN CITIZENS.
. Do people care enough to change this? No, I don’t think so. As a group, Americans are scared, paranoid, childish reactionaries, who are too timid, polarized, and willfully disempowered, to take responsibility for… anything!
. Too bad.
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© Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.