How is this video discussion about Aaron Swartz by the Wall Street Journal any different from the way Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! would cover this same story?
Very little -- okay, well, maybe the suit and ties and the shorter hair, and maybe the quoting of Abraham Lincoln on copyright and patents -- which David Reith, assistant features editor, quotes as saying "add the fuel of interest to the fire of genius". And sure, there's a vague nod to the need to modernize law but still have some law.
But Mary Kissel -- an Alyona Minkovski-in-training (Minkovski previously served as the Kremlin's RT propagandist and is now at Huffington Post) -- hammers in the copyleftist viewpoint which we should maybe re-dub the copylibertarian viewpoint in their hands. Without referencing at all the 6-month plea bargain actually offered by the prosecution -- which is irresponsible for the newspaper of record and business to be doing on January 16 when this fact is known -- she scarifies with the "35 year sentence" and "up to a million dollar fine" and then goes on to boost the anti-SOPA movement as well.
Oh, and no doubt here's a cultural difference between these people and Amy Goodman and crew: they snicker over the kinds of papers Aaron stole -- academic monographs on "Uzbek women's rights" (Sarah Kendzior, call your office) and other "goofy and seemingly worthless" stuff. But there's nevertheless a "principle," as Reith hastens to explain: we need to distinguish between "Kim Dotcom and Megauploads and Internet tycoons" who ostensibly should be prosecuted and "people making political statements" like Swartz.
So...no difference at all with anything that Lessig or Ludlow or Goodman would say and in fact are saying.
These WSJ officials in suits end up biting the bait given them about "prosecutorial overreach" because they are libertarians -- young, hipster New York libertarian types, and not classic conservatives. They don't want to have their own uploading and downloading cramped in the slightest and they don't think there should be any friction involved in them moving any content they grab around on any device for any reason.
The Wall Street Journal is the largest circulation newspaper in the United States -- still -- and read every morning by every CEO and every business person and many others. It hasn't lost that stature despite the difficulties of the news industry and since the Murdoch buy-out. So that means everybody of means in America pretty much will start thinking this way -- Aaron Swartz isn't really a thief; hacking on the Internet isn't really stealing.
To be sure, of the editorial board does make the point that in fact innovation needs not liberation, but protection of IP -- in some broad way with lots of exceptions, especially for political actions about. And here's where the contradiction kicks in: even political actions about ...undermining IP by essentially forcing everyone to share and urging them to give everything away for free in exchange for attribution, and not providing any engineered means to get paid quickly and efficiently? Political actions that take away the ability to have pay walls like the Wall Street Journal has?!
So Rego, despite any nod to IP, sets the stage to make this argument: that as long as the hacking isn't for commercial gain, and isn't "like Kim Dotcom," and as long as it is "to make a political point," why, it's okay.
Yet Lawrence Lessig and Aaron Swartz and the Electronic Frontier Foundation gang wouldn't think Kim Dotcom should be prosecuted, either. They think information needs to be free and there is "way too much copyright" and there is "way too much severe prosecution" and they wouldn't be for jailing Kim Dotcom -- probably at best they'd want him merely to be asked to take down his purloined files or pay some minor fine.
I totally disagree. I think you don't get a pass on breaking the law just because you have a crusade and a cause. Hacking is hacking; theft is theft; damage is damage. It doesn't get exonerated and doesn't get a halo around it just because it's "for Internet freedom" (like the halo in the photo of Swartz being widely reproduced now in the cropping of the photo "just so" to get that lamplit effect of a halo).
The narrator -- really, she's got the Minkovski style down pat -- forces the somewhat hapless Reith to concede that "maybe we should go after Chinese hackers instead of this kid in America".
Nonsense. They are no different, and the ideological (rather than the economic) form of technocommunism is actually work.
Because the purpose of Aaron Swartz's hack was to destroy a system; an institution. That's what anarchism and terrorism does: it destroys. The system intended for destruction was the one of choice and of free market commerce -- the choice to put a pay wall around content or to have a walled garden (to define the community of users by log on and credentials of some kind, either loose, like Facebook, or more stringent like a university).
Swartz's hack was intended to take away choice in the name of "liberation" which means that only those with the technocommunist perspective get to decide how the Internet will be for all of us.
The Wall Street Journal continues to be a huge disappointment to me in how they are covering this issue, as they are letting the young libertarian extremists of the Reason and CATO Institute type define this issue, along with L. Crovitz who serves as a louspeaker for Google.
As I said on Stamos' blog in the discussion there:
So often the young hipsters today don’t really want to do civil disobedience — which means non-violence and going limp and accepting the arrest at the end of your sit-in — they want to do anarchic direct action and then pretend that they did civil disobedience but that it’s wrong to punish them.
I would add as I have in other discussions that they don't want to make a distinction between non-violent and non-coercive civil disobedience and direct action, which is violent and which does coerce and cause damages.
When the Berrigans threw blood on files or smashed hammers on missiles, they knew that destruction of federal property was a serious crime and they would be doing the time for that as conscientious objectors to war. They didn't start trying to prove that the blood didn't really stain the papers or that there were carbon copies of the papers, or that the smashed missile really wasn't a dent in national security. They didn't Fisk and prevaricate and dissemble: they accepted that what they did was a crime but that they were seeking something "higher". They didn't say "we need to get rid of laws that make it a crime to destroy federal property". They said "we'll even destroy federal property and do the time for that to make the larger point about the war."
We don't have people of conscience anymore in these new movements for "change". We have liars and dissemblers.