The issues raised in the film are quite large. First of all, I do not stop getting surprised about how many people, who made an enormous contribution to the world as we know it now, are left unknown. How often do we hear about so-called tech celebrities, such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and others? I do not want to make a point that they are the bad guys, it's just there are a lot of people who made not less but stay unknown. Aaron Swartz is among them. However, what is not less important than knowing these faces is reconsidering our everyday life concepts and understandings. The cases like Aaron Swartz's make us reflect upon the system we live in and reconsider our approach towards legal issues. What he was charged with may be considered a crime, but isn't the ethical system supporting such decisions missing something crucial?
Skeptics were always fascinated me the most. They question the very basis of our knowledge and beliefs, even the possibility of knowledge and judgment itself. They put to question the concepts and notions that we most strongly rely on in our lives. In fact, we rely so much on them that we most of all do not even assume a possibility they can be doubted. Such practices widen our understanding and make us reconsider the ways we previously used for treating our basic concepts, judgments, and decisions. One of such categories is the field of ethical issues. In this essay, I will argue that we need to reconsider certain social and ethical values especially regarding ones that are bound to our legal system.
The case of Aaron Swartz shows one distinct feature of our society, which we are not yet ready for changes. We might claim ourselves fighting for freedom equality, and fraternity for all, we might blame the corporations for all the evils but, in reality, we are still not ready to put aside our old values and start moving on to the new world. Swartz wanted to contribute to the whole world and make it a better place. He may have not always used the perfectly smooth and legal approach towards issues, but the response from authorities was just inconsistent with his actions. It is indeed and exemplary case, which can be examined to find the flaws in our ethical system. While declaring beautiful and altruistic ethical systems in philosophy papers and public speeches we still position profits as one of our top priorities in making practical decisions. The life of Aaron Swartz ended this tragic (Internet's Own Boy: The Story Of Aaron Swartz, further 1:34:03) not because of the evil corporation bosses who wanted to get him from their way. It is the system that nurtures them which is responsible. The only norm that he violated was that he tried to challenge the corporations’ profits which in the end played its part. What was left behind his “crimes” was the intent to provide humanity with free access to knowledge and justice. His work on making legal documents free to access, his struggle with Jstor and SOPA make a huge challenge to our conventional ethics. What should we value more – our profits or our freedom? But the problem is that this choice we should make not with our words but with our deeds. When we praise the corporations and huge financial companies, when we make a hard choice between money and liberty, when we cheer up someone who got a job at a big company which resides in the foundations of this system, we do not choose freedom. But we better choose it for the sake of our future.
Internet's Own Boy: The Story Of Aaron Swartz. Brian Knappenberger, 2014. Film.