07.27.09

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How the “Zealot” Label Gets Used by Hypocrites

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 2:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Portrait of Gandhi
Was Gandhi “a zealot” for sticking to principles?

Summary: Self-appointed judge and jury call “zealots” those whom they are overzealous over

THERE is an interesting trend we have been noticing. Apple/Mac enthusiasts like Matt Asay are calling FOSS advocates who are actually GNU/Linux users “zealots”. Asay is doing this repeatedly. Yes, apparently sticking to FOSS makes it a case of “zealotry” now. That’s how compromise gets justified, by ridiculing those who don’t. Tarus Balog from OpenNMS is rather disturbed by this.

I didn’t make it to OSCON this year (thanks for everyone who voted for us for the CCA, by the way, even though we lost out again to Firebird) and I am quietly thankful for it, because it seems like the conference kicked off a new round of hyperbole and hypocrisy from the fauxpen source crowd and I’m going to try to stay out of it (instead of any kind of rational discussion, this round seems even more full of ad hominem attacks).

I’ve been labeled both an open source purist and a zealot simply because of my assertion that the term “open source” is defined by the open source definition. And while no one calls me a pragmatist, only a pragmatist could have kept a company like OpenNMS going through good times and bad without investment.

As Dana Blankenhorn points out:

Open source advocates still called zealots

[...]

We are no longer talking about something that is unproven, or risky. The open source model is a decade old. It has already saved enterprises, small businesses, and individuals literally billions of dollars. It has empowered programmers, it has built new fortunes. It’s not communism, but capitalism at its very best.

Another person suggests that the use of the word “zealots” is supposed to associate FOSS with “terrorism”. We saw this before when Rob Enderle wrote in relation to FOSS advocates: “I have a hard time seeing the Zealots as any different from terrorist… I strongly believe that if September 11 showed us anything, it was that zealots…”

Our reader Goblin compares this to a Monty Python scene when he writes: “He’s not the messiah he’s a very naughty boy!

We sometimes wonder if people who are not even FOSS users are trying to hijack the voice of FOSS. Black Duck comes to mind.

As one of our readers correctly points out, some of those who accuse of “zealotry” are simply “overzealous for themselves”. This is hypocrisy. Even Microsoft is a very zealous, but big entities are rarely thought of as “zealots”, who are conveniently perceived as a small minority (and thus “mistaken”).

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