EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

06.13.19

Guest Post: Notes on Free Speech, and a Line in the Sand

Posted in FSF at 4:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Stuttering

Summary: We received this anonymous letter and have published it as a follow-up to “Reader's Claim That Rules Similar to the Code of Conduct (CoC) Were 'Imposed' on LibrePlanet and the FSF

I have never attended LibrePlanet. I have considered attending several times over many years, but I have always been turned off by the policies described around the event. These are not welcoming policies, they are stifling.

They are worded in a way that is difficult to find fault with — but what is not difficult is to figure out how they might be unfairly or unevenly applied to people.

“And yes, it is unreasonable to consider RMS a person who needs to be controlled.”I don’t mean that RMS (Richard Stallman) enjoys an unfair exception to the rules. If LibrePlanet’s rules are so stringent that Stallman runs afoul of them, then the problems are clearly with the rules themselves. And while the rules themselves have always steered me away from the event, I never thought they would be used to try to exclude Stallman himself.

There is no Free Software without Free Speech — the freedom to code is a subset of the freedom to self-express. And yet today, there are people from Debian, Red Hat, GNOME, Creative Commons and even the FSF itself who would throw away freedom of speech for the need to control people unreasonably.

And yes, it is unreasonable to consider RMS a person who needs to be controlled. He is a grown man, with problems like everyone else — in fact he has the exact sort of problems that your rules suggest you don’t want to discriminate against.

If you honestly don’t know what that means, I suggest you read “When Nerds Collide” by Meredith Patterson. It is the best article on the subject, and it talks about the stifling trend of controlling speech to the point of absurdity in geek-laden communities.

“It is talked about briefly in the biography once sold by the FSF, it was used in dishonest ad hominem attacks from both OSI president Simon Phipps and OSI co-founder Eric Raymond.”Stallman did not grow up in a time when he was likely to be diagnosed with his disability or condition. It is talked about briefly in the biography once sold by the FSF, it was used in dishonest ad hominem attacks from both OSI president Simon Phipps and OSI co-founder Eric Raymond.

While a disability is not a blank cheque for allowing unwelcome behaviour, it should at the very least not be a reason to discriminate unfairly against a person who created the very reason your Free Software movement exists.

What the hell is wrong with you people? If you wish to be anything but hypocrites, you would be creating a safe space for free speech, not a Trojan horse for unscrupulous people and narcissists to kick founders out of events hosted by their own organisation.

“Some of the same people participating in that debate have tried to pressure the FSF board of directors to stifle Richard Stallman’s contributions at LibrePlanet.”In 2014, Debian used a set of community guidelines to stifle a vital debate about the future of Debian. Some of the same people participating in that debate have tried to pressure the FSF board of directors to stifle Richard Stallman’s contributions at LibrePlanet.

Since that time, the quality, reliability and security of Debian have gone downhill. It was an operating system I had relied on, and raised funds for. But what Debian decided to do was hand over a major portion of its development to an arrogant, obnoxious, condescending German developer, who now works for a monopoly that assisted actual nazis in genocide — a monopoly who (unlike other such companies, such as Siemens) has never apologised for or admitted their thoroughly-documented participation in those atrocities.

This is a developer who won a Pwnie Award not just for his poor commitment to security, but his notoriously terrible attitude about it.

“This is a developer who won a Pwnie Award not just for his poor commitment to security, but his notoriously terrible attitude about it.”Well done, Debian! And you think you have a moral right to decide whether Richard Stallman is “safe” enough for LibrePlanet.

Obviously, the future of Free Software is what’s at stake here. If there is no freedom of speech, there is no “Free as in speech” either.

The future of Free Software is corporate policy, corporate control — and monopolies influencing development and silencing even the most important of critics.

This is not about who is “welcome” at events. It is about making valuable contributions unwelcome. How far along this doublespeak has gotten, to infect the FSF itself.

This is not about safety, any more than secure boot is about security. Like secure boot, this is about making these events safer for corporate sponsors.

“This is not about safety, any more than secure boot is about security. Like secure boot, this is about making these events safer for corporate sponsors.”As much as pointless, dehumanising nonsense like putting shoes on conveyor belts is security theatre, what you are doing is creating diversity theatre — you say you are doing it to be inclusive.

There was a time when everyone was welcome in Free Software, and all you had to do was decide to participate.

Today, it is about making people feel more welcome by kicking the most necessary voices out for saying things that might make someone uncomfortable.

You are fighting implicit and perceived exclusion with explicit and actual exclusion. And unless your desire is to silence people, you are doing a terrible job.

This goes against the foundations of education. Honest education cannot be determined solely by who is comfortable. Teachers must be free to teach facts regardless of whether people feel comfortable with those facts.

This goes against science. Facts cannot be determined by what people would simply like them to be.

“This goes against science. Facts cannot be determined by what people would simply like them to be.”This goes against freedom. If you only allow participation and communication from people you like, then there is no freedom– you are simply controlling everything.

There is a comic by Randall Munroe, which implies rather plainly the ridiculous argument that freedom of speech isn’t threatened unless the government is doing it.

Let’s be serious — if there is no culture of free speech, if the people will not stand up for the rights of others to speak — then the government certainly isn’t going to either.

You are engineering a future with no freedom, with no philosophical foundation for Free Software.

LibrePlanet isn’t Libre — it is subjugated by the desire to make speech “safe” for everyone.

“LibrePlanet isn’t Libre — it is subjugated by the desire to make speech “safe” for everyone.”Freedom of speech is not safe. And as Benjamin Franklin said, “[t]hose who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither.”

I am confident that Franklin would not be welcome at your events either.

That only makes a complete sham of your event — and people should rightly boycott it and just enjoy the (very nice) videos made there.

Through your content policy about the LibrePlanet videos, others may comment and participate in a way that you don’t control. That would probably be a better option than funding LibrePlanet at this point.

This trend does not bode well for the future of Free Software, or the Free Software Foundation. They have made admirable efforts (KIND) towards guidelines that are less likely to exclude someone with Stallman’s disability and gifts.

“Without diversity of opinion and diversity of personality, there is no freedom of speech (nor reason for it).”We should continue to try to make LibrePlanet more inclusive again. But only if we are honest about what inclusion really means. Our efforts to do so must not allow narcissists to exclude the most important critics and philosophers from sharing their points of view — all we will achieve is to steer the conversation towards something that could be very wrong.

Without diversity of opinion and diversity of personality, there is no freedom of speech (nor reason for it). These codes of conduct are about uniformity and control, they are not about safety. You should be absolutely ashamed of your dishonesty and manipulation — and your attacks on freedom.

You are hypocrites as well as liars, and you will destroy Free Software if people are foolish enough to cede control to you.

It would not be possible to say these things at LibrePlanet. And that is precisely the problem.

No free speech, no Free Software — FREE RICHARD!

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

2 Comments

  1. Canta said,

    June 13, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    Gravatar

    I understand that writting about this issue is hard (you mention it on the linked post from April), but frankly is also hard to understand what are you talking about.

    “There was some kinda-secret CoC on LibrePlanet, with bully enforcers, and that was yet another move towards big corp culture.” That’s what I understand from both posts.

    Given that it’s you bringing the issue, I believe it. But is really weird so much secrecy around that CoC that should be very easy to get by now: just everybody that opened their mouths in front of a mic on LibrePlanet must have it. How is it not everywhere already?

    I say this because I feel there may be a valuable debate in the reader’s feelings (most likely shared by you) about free speech and its relation to… well, lots of things. But without the CoC in question the whole thing is just not serious.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Maybe the issue is being addressed a year too late.

What Else is New


  1. Some Patent Attorneys Dislike Techrights Not Because It's Wrong But Because Software Patents Are Wrong (and Sometimes Illegal)

    Odd rants which misuse common law and ignore alleged Fair Use (and misinterpretation of copyright law, for censorship purposes) would have people believe that we're wrong; but it's more likely that the person in question is jealous, insecure, or offended by our stance on patent scope, which is very much rooted in the law itself (and the views widely held by software developers globally)



  2. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Distro-libre and feature-schema

    "Every time a distro does not suit a user's purposes, and it is less work to adapt the distro on one's own than to affect the distro in any other way, a distro is born."



  3. Links 21/8/2019: Dell's XPS 13, Mesa 19.2 RC1, Librem Update

    Links for the day



  4. Links 21/8/2019: Open Source POWER, Alpine 3.10.2, Netrunner 19.08

    Links for the day



  5. Edward as a Nodder to Team UPC Kool-Aid

    Bristows LLP is at it again and it's getting pathetic, not just dishonest as usual



  6. Guest Post: António Campinos' European Patent Office Redefines Modern Slavery in the Heart of Europe in 2019

    The European Patent Office’s (EPO) President António Campinos — like his predecessor Battistelli — emulates Chinese labour practices



  7. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: There is More Than One Iceberg Ahead

    "This strategy is not far from when Microsoft talked about "de-commoditizing protocols" in the late 90s, as part of their plans to control, dominate, and end Open Source and Free software."



  8. EPO Cannot Handle Patent Justice With a Backlog of About 10,000 Cases at the Boards of Appeal

    The EPO's long war on judges and on the law has proven to be costly; it's difficult to pretend that the EPO functions like a first-world legal framework



  9. The European Patent Office Increases Surveillance: Can't Get Food Without Being Spied on

    The infamous "War on Cash" has been 'won' at Europe's second-largest institution, where people's diet can now be monitored and indefinitely retained on the system



  10. To GNU/Linux, the Operating System, GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) is Not the Threat. Microsoft is.

    Don't let Microsoft get away with its bogus narration; GNU/Linux is primarily under attack from Microsoft, whereas Software Freedom in general is under attack from many directions



  11. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) Has the Full Support of Techrights

    Our support for the FSF is strong enough that we want to occasionally suggest improvements; there are growing frictions designed to isolate the FSF and cause self-restraint/censorship



  12. Why We Support Phoronix (Whereas Some Others Do Not)

    Some people try to characterise Michael Larabel as the 'bad boy' of Linux even though Michael is probably the hardest working Linux journalist out there



  13. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: The Simplest Ways that AI will Change Computing

    "AI is already used to help kill people. We should be cautious, and know that the best rules we come up with (like no doing magic outside the school grounds) won't be followed all the time."



  14. Links 20/8/2019: DragonFlyBSD Developing DSynth

    Links for the day



  15. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Narcissism in The Community

    "Narcissists are drawn to intelligent people. They take great pleasure in attacking, controlling and defeating intelligent people because it makes them feel smarter and more important."



  16. Breaking the Law Has Become the Norm at the European Patent Office

    The European Patent Office’s ongoing practice of destroying critics/whistleblowers and crushing unions, judges, examiners etc. — as well as threats and bribery of the media — ultimately mean a perpetual state of lawlessness that, if it prevails, will let patent trolls raid the European economy and stall innovation



  17. Links 20/8/2019: KMyMoney 5.0.6, Kdenlive 19.08

    Links for the day



  18. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Free Software in Education

    "If everyone learns to code, then everyone gains some understanding of how to code in other languages."



  19. Links 19/8/2019: Another Linux 5.3 RC, OpenSUSE's Richard Brown Steps Down, Slackware Creates Patreon Page, Qt 6 Initiated

    Links for the day



  20. Speaking Truth to Monopolies (or How to Write Guest Posts in Techrights)

    We need to have more articles tackling the passage of all power — especially when it comes to software — to few large monopolies that disregard human rights or actively participate in their abolishment in the digital realm



  21. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Free as in Speech

    "While a new breed of so-called anarchists campaign against expression that even the state allows, people are also foolishly overplaying the relevance of the state to free speech issues -- as if it's not a freedom issue when a project is increasingly thought-policed, because the thought-policing isn't on a state level."



  22. Toxic Culture at Microsoft

    Racism, intolerance, sexism and bullying are rampant at Microsoft; but Microsoft would rather deflect/divert/sidetrack to Google and so-called 'GAFA'



  23. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Introduction

    "The FSF isn't just threatened, it will hit a large iceberg in the future that changes it permanently."



  24. Linux Journal and Linux.com Should Have Been Kept Going

    There's apparently no good explanation for the effective shutdown of Linux Journal and Linux.com; London Trust Media Holdings (LTMH), owner of Linux Journal, saw numbers improving and the Linux Foundation, steward of Linux.com, is loaded with money



  25. 2019 Microsoft Glossary

    How Microsoft internally interprets words that it is saying to the public and to the press



  26. 2019 Surveillance Glossary

    Distortion of technical and nontechnical terms in this day and age of '1984'



  27. Openwashing Report: It's Getting Worse, Fast. Everything is Apparently 'Open' Now Even Though It's Actually Proprietary.

    The latest examples (this past week's) of openwashing in the media, ranging from 5G to surveillance



  28. GitHub is a Dagger Inside Free/Open Source Software (FOSS); This is Why Microsoft Bought It

    A year later it seems pretty evident that Microsoft doesn’t like FOSS but is merely trying to control it, e.g. by buying millions of FOSS projects/repositories at the platform level (the above is what the Linux Foundation‘s Jim Zemlin said to Microsoft at their event while antitrust regulators were still assessing the proposed takeover)



  29. Microsoft Grows Within and Eats You From the Inside

    Microsoft entryism and other subversive tactics continue to threaten and sometimes successfully undermine the competition; Microsoft is nowadays doing that to core projects in the Free/Open Source software world



  30. Links 18/8/2019: New KNOPPIX and Emmabuntus Released

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts