02.11.10

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FSF Smears

Posted in Apple, DRM, FSF, GNU/Linux at 6:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Mac blogger Ronald Carlson and IDG write about the FSF and the former (at the least) associates the messenger rather than the message with controversial neighbourhood

THE USE OF smears to attack a source of criticism rather than its actual message is a shameless tactic. The FSF is doing some fantastic work in recent months, e.g. [1, 2], but it is subjected to the same daemonisation tactics that Boycott Novell suffers from. Interestingly enough, Novell employees are among those who smear the FSF, not just those who smear Boycott Novell for obvious reasons (they get caught and exposed).

We were curious enough to find another FSF-hostile rant which compares the FSF to religion (explicitly evocative of “bible”). It’s a typical attack [1, 2, 3] against a largely-atheist/antitheist institute. It would be better not to parrot the slurs from an Apple proponent (he is angry because of the iPad [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]), but here is part of his rant:

That said, I don’t like DRM, but I dislike the Free Software Foundation (FSF, the actual people behind this “protest”) even less. Whereas the area of software patents needs urgent reform and the concept of fair use needs to be defined and codified, these folks want all software to be “free,” a slippery concept that they describe as “free as in free speech, not as in free beer.”

The author, Ronald Carlson, does not confuse freedom with price, but that said, the FSF is wrongly being described as incompatible with business. It couldn’t be further from the truth given the many examples where Free software pays the wages of many thousands of developers.

The above makes religious references (for example, “the bible would read if it had been written by software engineers”), but sometimes we see the FSF compared to "terrorism". That’s a lot more serious and a few days ago we found the following weirdly-worded overview from IDG, which receives income from Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It says (in full):

Our fourth annual compilation of the current year’s most notable technology-related 25th anniversaries includes Microsoft’s release of Windows 1.0, registration of the first dot-com domain names, the founding of AOL, the publication of Richard Stallman’s GNU Manifesto, and the first fatal attack by the Unabomber.

This last bit smells like a smear by association and proximity. The IDG author mentions Unabomber (who had an infamous manifesto) right after the GNU manifesto. It could be a coincidence though it could also be intentional, but it’s impossible to prove this. On several occasions, Internet trolls tried to compare yours truly to the serial murderer Unabomber, so the text above strikes a nerve.

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