A mild non-political story from me admittedly, but I thought I'd write a few words explaining the difference between how the media portrays something, and the way the world actually is. You see, over there to the right - in the side-panel - you'll see it says I'm a "part-time hacker". This post is intended to explain exactly what that means.
There are actually two communities on the Net that call themselves hackers. The first is the community that you've all heard about. They're the ones that take pride in maliciously breaking into other people's systems. However, there is the other community of hackers who have been around much longer and actually consider it rather an insult to be mistaken for the first community.
Just to explain, imagine how annoyed and insulted a car mechanic would be if when the media said "car mechanic" they actually meant "car thief"? Imagine what it would be like to have to tell people you were a "car mechanic" and everyone to assumed you were a "car thief".
A hacker is like the car mechanic. A hacker loves computers, and wants to get under their bonnet's. The hacker wants to make computers do impressive things through tinkering. The hacker isn't interested in breaking into other people's computers and stealing information. The hacker see such acts in the same way they see stealing a car. It's wrong.
The next time you hear the word "hacker" uttered by people like John Snow or Jeremey Paxman, remember that what they're actually talking about are what hackers call "crackers", or, more perjoratively, "script kiddies".
A hack is legal. A crack isn't.