An Open Letter to Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann

Aaron Swartz was an amazing man, a genius, and more importantly someone who fought for what was right.

The last few days have been a horribly sad and hectic time. I am sure it has been the same for you. I wanted to write this letter to you right after we all found out about Aaron’s death, but I thought that waiting until I had cooled down would be a wise decision. Cooling down period over, it is time to speak my mind.

What you have done should be considered murder in this country. Nothing about your prosecution of Aaron Swartz was just. I have to wonder how many other people in a similar position to his you have put in prison. How many people who do not deserve prison time are currently sitting in a cell wondering why you did this to them? The world would be a far better place with less people like you in positions of power. Everything about your process and methods in this case, and seemingly in every other one you have ever been attached to, is horrible. Your tactics reek of coercion. The law, this country, and by extension the entire world would be better off without you around.

I would love for you turn yourselves in to the authorities, to resign from your posts and accept the just punishments for your crimes not only against Aaron but against all of us who are devastated by his loss. But the system has been so poisoned by generations of terrible people such as yourselves that there is no chance of justice for you through the system.

If only someone would go after you for your real crimes as harshly as you went after Aaron for his imagined ones, I can only guess that you would end up with the death penalty. Knowing that you won’t actually kill yourselves over this how about something else? Maybe you could take a long hard look at the laws you abuse and realize just how bad they are. The laws pertaining to computer crime in this country are broken, and have been for many years. The only way to begin any road to redemption is through legislative change. Use the power you so readily weild against the public to sway the law makers and get us the change we need.

For everyone else, we should use this event to fix a lot of the problems that led us here. Marcia Hofmann’s article title “How To Honor Aaron Swartz”[1] is one of the best pieces written on this topic. Everyone should read that and talk to their representatives. Everyone should sign the petition to remove Carmen Ortiz from office[2]. The next thing I think everyone interested in this should read is Lawrence Lessig’s article “Prosecutor As Bully”[3]. Last but definitely not least is something we should all be aware of called Jury Nullifcation[4][5].

1. How To Honor Aaron Swartz
2. Petition
3. Prosecutor As Bully

Image by Dave King