Committing suicide isn't something i condone but it in effect left the government with no one to scapegoat there lack of modern awareness and values towards freedom of information. Suffocating education with fees to the point students don't have access to servers that contain information that essentially propagates further research. Swartz downloaded all of these documents for the world to see without any fee and they treated him like a murderer.
Our cultural opinion on suicide does not change the definition, nor does how effective the death is for the cause change that it happened...As if martyrdom effectiveness can be rated mere months after the fact anyway. Jesus, Socrates, China's "Tank Man," all could have lived by denouncing their cause. Swartz couldn't fathom punishment for what he believed was right...Acceptance would have been a form of denouncement. I do not believe suicide should be celebrated or encouraged for any cause, however my opinion does not change the word's definition.
Aaron Swartz was prosecuted for something that was equivalent to checking out too many books from a library. This is one of the failures of the justice system and how the law regarding internet security is enforced. This is a lesson that the law and justice system must be taken seriously and be relevant to today.
We can never know with complete certainty why he decided to kill himself, but we can have a very good idea. He was fighting for a cause that he believed in, and being persecuted for it made him want to end his life. I hope that nobody else will have to die to protect our rights.
Calling him a martyr may be romanticizing it a bit, but it makes sense. He fought for what he believed in, and even if many people disagree with it, he did no harm. He put in a great effort to stop SOPA, and many people have educated themselves about internet freedom because of him.
Aaron Swartz had the idea that public records should be free to access. The charges brought against him were ridiculous. What he did was access a lot of files and the government thought that in doing so, he deserved to have a 35 year prison sentence. It is equivalent to borrowing all of the books from your local library. The actions brought against Swartz is what caused him to end his life, thus making him a martyr.
Aaron Swartz is no Jesus Christ, but he is most definitely a martyr. He died for a cause that he believed deeply in, and that was the freedom of information. Only after an overbearing government threatened to take him to trial for his actions did he realize that suicide was the only way out.
Aaron Swartz did something that happens all the time all over the Internet. He violated the terms of service for a website and was one of the few that was caught. He simply wanted to share academic papers to people, not classified documents. Had they been classified documents that reveal things about the government I'd still support him. The way he was harassed and hounded by the government is deplorable. The government seems hellbent on making examples and throwing not just the book, but the entire library at anyone who defies them even a little to keep everyone subdued and compliant.
No, he was a coward who refused to accept responsibility for his actions, unlike a real martyr. Ghandi, Martin Luther King Junior, and other historical figures who were dissenters were actually willing to accept the consequences of their actions. Aaron Swartz did something he knew was illegal and when faced with the consequences of a first offender federal felony, he chose the easy way out and committed suicide instead.
Where Swartz was prosecuted and penalized for crimes he obviously committed in a fight for what he believed was right, his death was not one of martyrdom. He would have done his cause more good living than as a few-day bit on the news after his death. Without knowing his personal life and assuming his death was about his work, it seems more likely that it came as a result of disappointment and exhaustion.