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Re: Women and GNU and RMS (was Re: something else)

From: Florian Weimer
Subject: Re: Women and GNU and RMS (was Re: something else)
Date: Fri, 01 Nov 2019 22:17:28 +0100

* Jean Louis:

> But if you do so, then you are allowing one new direction in the GNU
> project, that everyone involved in the GNU project should go around
> GNU contributors and whoever else is related and connected to GNU to
> see if that person did not say maybe something politically incorrect,
> so to cancel the person, to take down the person for reasons of saying
> something that you or anybody else thinks it was not politically
> correct.

Not everyone.  One of Sandra's point was that our *leadership* should
not cause entirely unrelated controversies that detract from our
mission.  This is something I fully agree with: leaders hould not
cause problems that we wouldn't have without them.

For people not in leadership positions, that is far less of a concern.
But for the health of the project, I hope that we do not continue to
tolerate positions in our midst that are antithetical to core GNU
beliefs (e.g., that copyleft is a useful default and is not evil).

The media is not always fair.  This can mean that we sometimes cannot
do what we want or what we perceive as just.  Hopefully that does not
happen often.  But sometimes, it's necessary to exercise damage
control, painful as this might be to some of us.

Similarly, when there is a irreconcilable conflict between project
contributors, it's sometimes unavoidable to tell some contributors
that we cannot continue with them.  This is always very difficult
because usually, there is plenty of blame to go around once things
have escalated thus far.  But for the project to move on, it may have
to take sides, even if the outcome is not completely fair.

> And what is politically correct is changing every few months.

The attitude towards child abuse has been fairly constant since the
70s in mainstream culture, and at least since the late 80s/early 90s
in pretty much all the LBGTQ communities (there's a reason why there's
no P there).  It's not a mere fashion statement.

> By the way, do you know that free software may be used by worst people
> on this planet? By terrorists, and all kinds of criminals, killers,
> etc. Because there is freedom zero.

Yes, and this makes the moral argument for free software suspicious.
We get away with it because so far, no major proprietary software
vendor has used restrictive software licensing to further a social
cause.  If that ever changes, we look like a bunch of nerds stuck in
the past because we use restrictive licensing to produce more publicly
available software, while someone else uses it to solve world hunger
(or whatever cause they chose).  Particularly if their approach works.

I know the reasons why free software should not restrict the act of
running a program, but they are difficult to explain.  Anyone
seriously challenged on that front will have to resort to
technicalities.  Once you need to resort to free speech arguments, you
are likely defending the otherwise indefensible.  Most people outside
the U.S. will find that rather alien, and many in the U.S. too.

(The fact that I do not discuss your comments regarding child abuse
images, lynching etc. does not mean that I agree with them.)

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