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Re: [Fsfe-uk] Just a Minute

From: Alex Hudson
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] Just a Minute
Date: 15 Apr 2002 17:56:01 +0100

On Mon, 2002-04-15 at 17:10, Martin Coxall wrote:
> > If you mean "without meaning", then you are wrong.
> Let's try "inaccurate" then. I don't think we can or should seek to
> advance free software in vacuum. We should seek to defend freedom and
> thus allow free software to flourish.

It's not inaccurate. either. "Pro-Free Software". That is the goal. What
you are talking about is actions. But the yardstick is whether or not
something advances Free Software. 

For example, cryptography is (in many ways) a civil liberties issue.
Restrictions on cryptography are a restriction of civil liberties. But
the fact that it also is detrimental to Free Software would give the
AFFS mandate to act. Ditto CDR/EUCD/etc. Ditto software patents. 

> > "Association For Free Software". I'm intrigued as to what you thought it
> > should be about.
> That's a fallacy of the undistributed middle.

We're the "Association For Free Software", and our goal is the
advancement of Free Software. That is no fallacy. Unless you mean that
Free Software != Free Software?

> By being pro-freedom, we
> are for free software. *However* being for free software doesn't mean
> that we should have some limited aim of "advancing free software" whilst
> ignoring the wider issues of freedom.

We don't ignore wider issues. But AFFS is not "pro-freedom"; it is
"pro-Free Software". By being pro-Free Software doesn't mean that we're
not pro-Freedom. We have to have a specific mandate to act. By being
"pro-Free Software", and by defining Free Software according to the four
freedoms, the AFFS has a set of rules that govern how we may act.

Being pro-Free Software prevents the AFFS from acting in an anti-Free
Software way. That's the key issue here. It doesn't prevent it from
acting in an anti-freedom way, but doesn't justify it.

> Making spurious statements like that isn't helpful. As I said, we are
> talking about fighting for freedom from corporate and government
> oppression. If we succeed, free software will flourish as a side effect.

Are you saying, for example, that we should be fighting for all civil
liberties issues? Women are discriminated against on a daily basis, in
terms of career, in terms of salary, etc. The freedom to start a family
is impeded by employment legislation which discriminates against women.
Are you saying the AFFS should take up that cause? If not, why not? By
what measure would AFFS draw its mandate to act? What qualitive
measurement could be used?

> Really? "Exists to promote free software" is again vague and inaccurate.
> If the constitution says this, I think it should be removed. 

It's not vague. Free Software is defined. Promoting a cause is a defined
concept. It has very real meanings. For any given cause, it is possible
to determine whether or not it falls within the scope of the AFFS.

> I think to ignore these real threats to freedom

We're not talking about ignoring them. We're talking about the basis by
which the AFFS can judge to support a given campaign (that need not
necessarily be software related directly).



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