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Michael Lear: Part Sixteen: Aaron Swartz, Chapter One

By Michael Moriarty
web posted October 27, 2014

A one-man show.

I had contemplated and even begun a one-man evening entitled Michael Lear. What I had constructed was not worth the long and arduous efforts of even learning the lines.

I threw what I'd written so far, tossed it into the computer wastebasket and then emptied everything in it. Perhaps I am lazy or perhaps I'm right to postpone or even drop any plans of returning to the stage again.

What is going on in Michael Moriarty who used to be a fairly good actor when cast in the right role?

I'm now what I've always wanted to be, all of my life: a composer. 77gelsomina is my identity now. Go and check that computer site out.

If my happiness and content at starting the day, presently working on my Symphony No. 3, is not a bit of news that pleases you, then I don't know why you are even reading this.

These thoughts arose this morning because of a documentary I viewed last night.

Titled The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.

The film begins with this opening, printed statement:

Unjust laws exist;

Shall we be content to obey them,
Or shall we endeavor to amend them,
And obey them until we have succeeded,

Or shall we transgress them at once?

                                 Henry David Thoreau


I performed the role of Henry David Thoreau once. At the Alley Theater in Houston, Texas. In the second scene of the play one night, I just up and walked off stage. I felt my performance that evening was not being good enough to be viewed.

I was, of course, summarily fired.

Because of that I sympathize, to a frightening degree, with the life of one very tragic American figure, a young genius named Aaron Swartz.

"He was killed by the government and MIT betrayed all its basic principles!"

That is one estimate of the Aaron Swartz tragedy. One I, as a Dartmouth graduate and Fulbright Scholar to London, heartily agree with. Aaron was, indeed, driven to suicide by the government and the cold disregard of both MIT and the President of the United States.

And why?

Aaron had performed what amounts to a college boy prank.

In the end, not even MIT, after calling in the authorities to arrest Swartz, chose to press charges. MIT's fallback position, however, came too late. The government's indictment had already grown from three felony charges to fifteen.

Aaron was facing a possible 35 years in prison and a one million dollar fine. And he had been, if any political stripes described him, a profoundly well-intended, classic, anti-Capitalist, seemingly Far Leftist Progressive! The very philosophy which, at that time, seemed to own the White House with Barack Hussein Obama!!

President Obama tried to distance himself from the controversial prosecution when he should have used his knee-jerk tyranny, his "Executive Action", to have the case dismissed as a felony and, at most, prosecuted as a misdemeanor.

But no.

The President's inaction and lip-service, distancing himself from the case, clearly contained a closed-door agreement between he and his Eric Holder Justice Department, that the prosecution should and would proceed. This was unquestionably one of the lesser-known crimes of the Holder Justice Department.

Aaron Swartz was a classic "nerd".

A "geek".

And, in the eyes of Obama, obviously a Jewish child of "white privilege".

Hardly a candidate for anything but President Obama's and Attorney General Eric Holder's contempt.

A college intellectual who, in this case, had clearly proven the power of his considerable gifts.

"The internet's own boy!"

That's how he was frequently described and had indeed proven to be an undeniable hero of internet freedom.

His increasingly painful story also defines the extent to which our First Amendment defines the entire integrity and soul of America.

Aaron's father and his two brothers, Noah and Ben, frequently narrate the story of Aaron's life.

"Aaron", says Noah, "learned how to learn at a very young age."

Both of their parents are impressively eloquent and attractive but stunned and painfully defeated by this clear  abuse of power by the government. A government that was determined to "make an example of Aaron Swartz". A lovely couple with three whirlwind boys on their hands, one of whom would become a legend in his own, all-too-brief time on earth. That brevity, from his earliest years on, was filled with prodigious progress on the computer.

Aaron Swartz
The Doomed Young Genius

Aaron's brother Ben also comments on Aaron's astounding early skills with the complexities of internet architecture.

My personal opinion is that Aaron was as much of a poet as he was a computer geek. His central, poetic metaphor was the computer and therefore, in the face of his era's breathtaking technological progress, "all things are possible with the computer!"

I find writing this tribute to Aaron one of the most painful writing projects I ever found myself involved in.


I can so identify with him.

Thank God I've already reached my 73rd year!

I have more barnacles on my hull, so to speak, than Aaron could possibly have hairs on his head.

Aaron was not and perhaps never could be the tough old bird that I've become.

However, and despite being "grumpy grampy" to my granddaughters, this story of Aaron makes me repeatedly weep. He was clearly a prime target for the Obama/Holder administration's racist policies! This governing nightmare continues to treat Israel itself as if the entire nation were just another Aaron Swartz!

Israel, thank God, however, will not commit suicide!!

I devoutly wish that Aaron would have run off to Tel Aviv and found the support and strength to fight the Obama administration with whatever weapons Israel could provide him.

I am certain he would have survived this nightmare with Israel at his side!!

He would be an ex-patriot.

I am, in a very real way, an ex-patriot.

Meanwhile, a 12 year old Aaron Swartz created, all by himself, a computer program he entitled The Info Network.

12 years old!!

A site where people can just fill in the information.

Experts on gold can create their corner of The Info Network, one that concentrates upon the present state and history of the gold industry. Others who read that Gold Corner can offer their own ideas and edits!!

Why not?!

"Oh, you can't do that!" hollers one a---h—le.

 Why not?!

There are no proven "experts" involved.

And here is one of the most salient issues which Aaron increasingly confronts for his entire, unnecessarily brief life: the standards for "expertise" and the weight of "supposed authorities".

Aaron's understanding of America's identity becomes, ironically, increasingly more American. Formal "degrees" mean little to him. Personal experience with each individual he meets means everything.

He eternally, and with increasing intensity, questions!

Questions all preconceptions.

His mind is increasingly a clean slate, into which, and upon which, his faith is built. Constructed upon his own personal experiences and not upon the assumptions of others. Such a modus operandi is profoundly threatening to an authoritarian and increasingly control-obsessed status quo. And, in Aaron's case particularly, an anti-Semitic status quo.

None of this highly possible prejudice is mentioned in the documentary.

For me, such anti-Semitism in the Obama Administration is the "elephant in the room".

Meanwhile, back to Aaron's Info Network, one of his teachers exclaims, "Aaron, this is a terrible idea. You can't just let anyone author the encyclopedia. The whole reason we have scholars is to write these books for us!"

Info.org won a school competition!

Aaron soon became involved with online programming communities. He began shaping a new tool for the web.

Such personal industry was its own, inner machine within Aaron and he was now, at 14 years old, collaborating with full, adult post-graduates.

His own brother, Noah, describes him as a rather self-inflated "twerp" but does so affectionately.

"Aaron was trying to make the world work! He was trying to fix it!!" says the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berner-Lee.

Gabriella Coleman, Wolfe Chair In Scientific and Technological Literacy – McGill University – says that Aaron "ruffled feathers at times… he wasn't always comfortable with the world and the world wasn't always comfortable with him."

Aaron then entered high school and hated it. He didn't like the classes or the teachers.


Aaron knew how to get information! He needed no instruction from anyone else anymore.

He needed no teacher to tell him their version of history!

"Teachers", in Aaron's own world, were "domineering and controlling!"

"Once I questioned the school I was in," he says, "I questioned the society that built it!"

Aaron particularly questioned the government that "set up this whole structure!"

That questioning soul, confronting Obama's government head on?!

God bless him! ESR

Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at rainbowfamily2008@yahoo.com. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.






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