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What does that have to do with it?

What does that have to do with it?

Posted Jul 30, 2013 21:15 UTC (Tue) by epa (subscriber, #39769)
Parent article: MIT's report on the Aaron Swartz case

Why does it matter 'that the defendant was an accomplished and well-known contributor to Internet technology'? Doesn't the law apply equally to everyone, no matter how famous?

Similarly, since when was it MIT's job to judge which laws are 'poorly drafted and questionable'?


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What does that have to do with it?

Posted Jul 31, 2013 1:51 UTC (Wed) by dilinger (subscriber, #2867) [Link]

"Doesn't the law apply equally to everyone"

Wha..Ha. Hahah. HAHAHAHAHAHA. BWAHAHAAHHAHAAHAHHAH!

Good one! You had me going for a second there.

What does that have to do with it?

Posted Jul 31, 2013 1:55 UTC (Wed) by ssmith32 (subscriber, #72404) [Link]

>Similarly, since when was it MIT's job to judge which laws are 'poorly drafted and questionable'?

Hrm.. I think it's every persons responsibility to judge when laws are poorly drafted and questionable, and devote a proportionate amount of energy to fixing unjust ones. Not that I always meet that standard, but MIT does have that responsibility - at the very least, as one of the putatively injured parties, it could have filed an amicus brief or something (IANAL) if it judged the legal systems reaction to be too harsh...

I grew up in small town, and knew a couple kids who accidentally set their neighbors tree on fire. Given that they woke up the neighbors to let them know, called 911, and put the fire out with a garden hose before the fire department got there, and planted a new tree.. when the local court system wanted to charge them with "detonating a terrorist device" (this is well before 2001), the neighbors basically were like "WTF? No, they're kids", and the case did not go far.

I think we all have a responsibility to keep the justice system in check, particularly so when we are the injured party.

What does that have to do with it?

Posted Jul 31, 2013 9:22 UTC (Wed) by dakas (guest, #88146) [Link]

The "Since when is it my job to question the authorities?" stance was good for maintaining Hitler Germany with an embarassingly low ratio of people who actually did worse things than "just following orders".

The MIT is supposed to be a hive of the smartest people in the U.S.A., and that's the image they are trying to project. Artificial dumbness does not fit with that theme.

If anybody has a responsibility to think about the consequences of their acts, it is the purported smartest and brightest.

If they don't bother applying their intelligence to arrive at more than redneck morals, it is better to dissolve the institution.

Intelligence unchecked by morals is a danger to society.

What does that have to do with it?

Posted Jul 31, 2013 15:19 UTC (Wed) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198) [Link]

> If anybody has a responsibility to think about the consequences of their acts, it is the purported smartest and brightest.

This is a fantastic statement, and the critical point from which all responsibility derives. The ability to predict the consequences of ones actions creates the requirement to do so because it creates the responsibility for the foreseeable outcomes of those actions. The real difficulty with responsibility is in assessing the ability for one to predict the consequences of their actions and whether they were foreseeable at the time when the assessor has the benefit of perfect hindsight. In the case of MIT the additional intelligence creates additional responsibility and diminishes the protection of an unpredictable consequence.

Is anyone arguing that MIT staff knew or should have known that by allowing the harassment of Aaron Schwartz that his life was in danger? Or is it that by allowing the harassment they created a dangerous and unpredictable situation where any number of bad things could happen?

What does that have to do with it?

Posted Jul 31, 2013 19:22 UTC (Wed) by Wol (guest, #4433) [Link]

As has been pointed out on Groklaw, Aaron was charged with "unauthorised access".

At NO POINT WHATSOEVER does there appear to have been any attempt by either MIT or the prosecutor to find out whether Aaron was or was not authorised.

And given that MIT seems to have had an "access is open to anyone" policy, it seems highly likely that Aaron's access was not unuauthorised (note the careful use of the double negative, and not the positive).

This is the gaping hole the prosecutors drove through to charge him.

Cheers,
Wol

What does that have to do with it?

Posted Aug 1, 2013 21:22 UTC (Thu) by jospoortvliet (subscriber, #33164) [Link]

I don't think they had to predict he might kill himself to know that himb being prosecuted was bad and that them stopping that would be good... There ain't much more to morality than 'good' and 'bad', so that was all they needed to realize and act on.

If an action makes the world a better place, you're morally obliged to do it to the extend it makes the world better. And if an action makes the world a worse place, you're morally obliged to refrain from it to the extend it makes things worse...

And for what makes the world worse or better, I really like the 'veil of ignorance' by Rawls as a measure of what is good or bad. That and the valleys and peaks of the moral landscape from Sam Harris.


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