[License-discuss] Language, appropriateness, and ideas

Russell McOrmond russellmcormond at gmail.com
Wed Feb 26 23:31:19 UTC 2020

On Wed, Feb 26, 2020 at 3:29 PM VanL <van.lindberg at gmail.com> wrote:

> the right of ESR to share them - this isn't "appropriateness as
> censorship." But in my experience, such strong language is usually not
> effective in changing opinions, and it can lead to a situation where we
> only hear from people who agree with us, to all of our detriment.

Sometimes strong language is required to emphasize when it is felt that an
attack on basic principles is underway, and the attacker is abusing a
language of "ethics" to try to suggest that anyone opposed to their attack
is somehow "unethical".

This is the same debate that has been happening around freedom of speech
for as long as I've been alive.  A belief in freedom of speech is not
indicated when you applaud someone expressing something you agree with, but
when you defend someone's right to say something you consider abhorrent.

Free Software and Open Source software only works in an environment that
protects software freedom in the same sense, meaning you only believe in
software freedom if you will defend software freedom for entities you
consider abhorrent.  Otherwise, you were never defending software freedom
in the first place -- only the alleged right of software proprietors to
express their personal political views in software and software licenses.

I have found the fact that these entirely conflicting ideas have been
entertained as potentially compatible with software freedom for so long to
be offensive.  If someone wanted to ask why so-called "ethical software"
was incompatible with software freedom, we could document that.  But when
the topic continues to be how to do an end-run around the OSD in order to
allow "ethical software" to essentially steal the work of reputation
building that the Free Software and Open Source software movements have
done over decades, it is hard to understand why people would consider that

I guess I've seen so many actual social justice movements corrupted over
the decades that I don't trust that OSI will automatically survive it
without adequate fighting back.

I'm extremely happy that ESR has been using strong language to make the
critical points that need to be made.  I don't agree with all of ESR's
personal political views, but that is the point: we each fight hard to
defend each others software freedom, regardless of our personal political
views outside of software freedom.

Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <http://www.flora.ca/>

"The government, lobbied by legacy copyright holders and hardware
manufacturers, can pry my camcorder, computer, home theatre, or portable
media player from my cold dead hands!" http://c11.ca/own
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