No need for geniuses
I didn't know Aaron Swartz personally, but I certainly knew of him, through friends and acquaintances and, of course, his work. It's immeasurably sad to see someone so brilliant and so young choose to end his own life.
I'm not sure anyone is capable of figuring out all the elements that go into making such a final decision. But I'm pretty sure that one of the main ones was the fact that he was being pursued with single-minded, Javert-like obsession by the US Justice department over an alleged crime that hurt no one and which was not even being pursued by the alleged victim.
If you're unfamiliar with what they were doing, this will fill you in on the details. I suspect it was this that animated their idée fixe, more than anything:
...the feds found someone with enough "hacking" activity under their belt that they feel comfortable turning the defendant into an "example."
That's how they roll. As we've seen with RIAA, the Manning case and Wikileaks, the government seems to be overreacting to "computer crime" much like the authorities in the Salem Witch trials overreacted to some hysterical teen-age behavior. One can only assume that they fear the penetration of their "secrets" as something akin to being possessed by the devil. But the fact is that we are supposed to be a democracy in which the government works for us, not the commercial enterprises and national security apparatus that apparently has the government obsessively chasing citizens who have the talent and the ideals to expose their crimes and shortcomings.
This is a very ugly, very shameful episode. I hope the US Attorney who decided that this was a worthwhile pursuit sleeps well tonight. It's not as if the world needs idealistic geniuses, right?