Archives for : evan baxter

Evan Baxter & The Election

Another election day has come and gone. After Angela Lovett’s narrow triumph, I wanted to address the campaign season’s wild card: “hacktivist” STOP’s dramatic interruption of the second Tooms/Lovett debate and what (if any) effect it had on the election’s outcome.

Despite the spectacle of STOP’s interruption and the subsequent frenzy surrounding the revelations he brought to light, they seem to have barely played a role in voters’ decision-making.

It seems that no one is really asking how much Lovett knew. As the former head of the country’s top spy agency, the answer is probably “A lot.” People seem fine with the simple promise of reforms to Internet privacy rights without any assurances. But it’s worth asking if America just made a giant mistake in the fight for not only Internet privacy but the future of piracy in general.

I’m sure wherever Fawkes is, he’s asking himself the same question: Did STOP, aka Evan Baxter, die in vain?

-Bob

FULL STOP

Two days later…and as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, STOP, the hacker who interrupted the Granville High presidential debate, has been identified as Evan Baxter, a seventeen-year-old student.

You also may have heard that he killed himself. I can confirm it, because I’ve seen the full video of the feds tried to suppress after the debate. (My thanks to the anonymous source who forwarded the video to me; what can I say, sometimes it pays to have fans.) Yes, it’s possible the suicide could have been sstaged; but given that the video was live—and how distraught the boy was (too much so to be faking it), I’m convinced it’s real. I’d love to be able to think otherwise.

Of course the media are making the most of the fact that Baxter had Asperger’s syndrome—as if that somehow explained everything about his behavior. That’s the media for you: just tick off the mental-illness box and call it a day.

Yet part of me wants some explanation for this tragic waste of a young life—want to make sense of it. Maybe Evan was just too young…impatient to make a difference, and ultimately too easily frustrated by failure. His association with Dramatis Personai (if indeed he was a member) should have been an outlet for him; but the tremendous rush of hacking and demonstrating may have given way to bouts of depression when change didn’t immediately follow. Evan’s youth—and possibly his Asperger’s—could have made it difficult for him to accept the diligence, determination, and patience required to prod social change at the hacktivist level.

And yet…maybe Evan had a point. After all the years of activity by Anonymous and Decocidio#Ө and UGNazi and their colleagues—where are we? The 1% are even more entrenched than ever, the American middle class has fallen off a cliff, and megacorporations are well on their way to establishing a kind of global feudalism.

In which case, it’s time for the rest of us to step up our game. I don’t know what the Silence of Six is—but I do know what I’m going to do about it. I’m going to do my job and find out. I’m going to expose it. In tribute to STOP. In honor of Evan Baxter.

I understand the risk I’m taking in being so upfront about this. I’m being watched—we’re all being watched. We’re never as safe, or as secret, as we think. But isn’t that reason enough to stop pretending and take a stand? Evan Baxter tried to take one—young and inexperienced as he was. Maybe he’d still be standing, if there were more of us on the front lines with him.

Stay tuned. If I have anything to say about it, the “silence of Six” won’t be silent for very long.