Bonum Certa Men Certa

Inclusion of Dissent and Diversity of Views (Opinions, Interpretations, Scenarios)

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Apr 16, 2024,
updated Apr 16, 2024

Oslo Opera House, Norway

Published this past January: The Moral and the Legal by Richard Stallman

THE free software movement (can be capitalised, too) was born out of the desire to 'hack' on code, as in mend or fix or generally alter programs to suit one's needs. There was nothing illegal about such 'hacking'. It was actively encouraged and it helped improve efficiency/productivity at MIT, where printer code could still be altered.

Three months ago the father of the free software movement (Dr. Stallman) spoke about the difference associated with morality and obeying the law. To Stallman, being a nonconformist, merely following societal norms should not be presumed "right". One can be sceptical and vocally critical of norms. Progress, as the proverbs go, comes from 'unreasonable' people who turn down norms and reject orthodoxies. Sometimes people follow them. That's how progress happens.

Around the time Stallman was 'canceled' (only weeks earlier) he gave a talk in Russia. There's even footage from that talk:

Richard Stallman in Moscow 2019

After the invasion of Ukraine many people online demanded an annulment of the first freedom (of the Four Freedoms) and the FSF brushed off such calls, which would set dangerous precedents and lead to unintended consequences.

Stallman and others will never be "normal" and that's OK. That's what diversity and inclusion mean. It ought to mean we accept those who are different from us, including people who think differently.

Modern society advances faster in a liberal setting that permits if not rewards unusual beliefs, ideologies, or worldviews. With the Codes of Conduct we mostly see a pivot to crush that. Codes of Conduct gravitate towards "Inclusion and Diversity" the way horrible corporations view them. They want us fighting over sex, race etc. while they're fighting wars by making bombs and other weapons, including digital weapons. Dissent isn't tolerated by such corporations. Dissent hurts their bottom line (profits). It was never about morality, it was all about control.

Don't fall for it. Stand for freedom of expression as much as you insist on software freedom. In practice, freedom of expression necessarily means tolerance of views you might find "offensive", sometimes outright objectionable. Not only the US has a First Amendment. Norway has something similar in its Constitution and 3 months ago its government stated: "Freedom of expression is a prerequisite for a functioning democracy where all members of society have access to information and can participate in social and political life. Freedom of expression is also an enabler of other human rights, such as freedom of assembly and freedom of religion or belief. Promoting freedom of expression is a key priority in Norway’s foreign and development policy."

Corporate Codes of Conduct take us a step closer to Taliban rather than Nordic societies. Choose what you prefer.

Photo credits: Richard Stallman in Moscow 2019. By DonSimon. Simon Kwong/Reuters for the image below.

Programmer Richard Stallman says a powerful computer is all he needs – he can usually manage without an internet connection. Photograph: Simon Kwong/Reuters

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