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Entries in Activist (2)

Saturday
Jan122013

Online Activist Aaron Swartz, 26, Found Dead

Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Aaron Swartz, a precocious web pioneer who advocated for free online content, was found dead in his Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment of an apparent suicide.

Swartz, 26, was discovered hanged in his apartment on Friday, according to The New York Times.

Swartz’s federal trial on computer fraud charges was scheduled to begin next month. In 2011, Swartz was arrested after prosecutors alleged he illegally downloaded millions of scientific journals from an online archive within the Massachusetts Institute of Technology network.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

When Swartz was 14 years old, he helped create RSS software, revolutionizing the way people subscribed to and consumed information online.

As an adult, he co-founded Reddit, a social news website, and rallied against Internet censorship through the political action group Demand Progress.

Technology bloggers paid tribute to the the man who “had more work to do, and who made the world a better place when he did it.”

“Aaron had an unbeatable combination of political insight, technical skill, and intelligence about people and issues,” Cory Doctorow posted on Boing Boing.

And in true Aaron Swartz fashion, Doctorow’s lengthy tribute came with a disclaimer: “To the extent possible under law, Cory Doctorow has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to ‘RIP, Aaron Swartz.’”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec162010

Gay Activist Dan Choi Hospitalized for Breakdown

Lt. Dan Choi, who on Nov. 15 handcuffed himself to the White House fence while demanding the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell.' Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BROCKTON, Mass.) -- The stress of being the gay soldier who publicly challenged the "don't ask, don't tell" law -- facing the inevitable scrutiny that comes with being an activist -- may have become too much for Lt. Dan Choi.

Last Friday, 29-year-old Choi was admitted to the psychiatric ward at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Brockton, Mass., telling supporters in an e-mail that he had experienced a "breakdown and anxiety attack."

Those close to Choi said he would likely be released Thursday or Friday. He did not return telephone calls and e-mails from ABC News.

Choi, who had chained himself to the White House fence three times in protest of the law that bans gays from openly serving in the military, said all veterans carry "human burdens."

He wrote on friend Pam Spaulding's website, Pam's House Blend, that he had been betrayed by "elected leaders and gay organizations as well as many who have exploited my name."

When ABC Radio contacted Choi in his hospital room Wednesday, Choi said only, "It's not easy," sounding glum, according to reporter Steve Portnoy.

Choi claimed that he had been involuntarily committed, but a spokesman for the Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services was not immediately able to comment.

Dr. Una McCann, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and director of the anxiety disorder program, said hospital emergency rooms can legally hold a patient for 72 hours if they are deemed a danger to themselves, to others or are incompetent.

After three days, only a judge can order a hospital stay without a patient's permission.

"My guess is that [Choi] has something in his genes or in his background of either being depressed or anxious," said McCann. "The campaign he has been waging has been extra stressful and my guess is he has not been getting sleep and it has influenced his ability to cope."

Serving in the military and being gay could also have been a big stress, she said. "Who knows if he was bullied as a kid - all these things affect who you are. Unless you have a supportive environment it may have been a struggle growing up."

Those in the gay community who knew Choi said being in the spotlight and traversing the country staying with friends, as well as the inevitable "hate" that comes with activism had contributed to his breakdown.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio