Bonum Certa Men Certa

Journalists Attack Free Software -- The Next Anti-Linux Crusade?

There appear to be a new coordinated effort to discredit the FSF. Yesterday I spotted yet another attack on Stallman and the GPL, this time in computerworld.com.

After discussion with a few friends, as well as exchange of a few letters which were sent to editors, there is something to show to public. As I have obtained permission, I would like to share with the readers a discussion that Slated.org had with an editor about an article that, using some form of twisted humour, suggested that the FSF is hypocritical. It publicly portrayed the FSF/SFLC as money-making machine. Here are the relevant bits of the coversation:

Journalist: How exactly is disclosing absolutely no details about a seminar that's three- to four-times the going rate for a legal seminar "transparent"?

Slated.org: I wasn't aware that transparency was proportional, or in any way related to price. Perhaps you could explain that relationship to me.

As for the lack of details about this event; a legal seminar is not a policy meeting, it has no relevance to the drafting process which is, and remains, transparent. For someone who, by his own admission, knows nothing about this proposed seminar, you seem to have drawn some surprisingly certain conclusions about it.

Journalist: Is it ethical to use the information the steward of the GPL process to make money, particularly when that group is also the enforcement arm of the GPL?

Slated.org: It's difficult to make sense of your poor grammar, but I think the gist of your meaning is that the SFLC are somehow behaving unethically, because they dare to charge a fee in order to explain the finer details and implications of a software license to some lawyers. So in your opinion, if one is working as a legal advisor in an organisation related to another which produces a legal document, that legal organisation is unethical if they spend time and money organising a seminar to explain the details of that legal document to other lawyers, and then subsequently charge a fee for their time and effort.

I suggest that in future you spend time contemplating the semantics of an article, before you submit it for publication, and embarrass yourself.

Neither the costs nor the publicity (or lack thereof) of this event is in any way relevant, or contradictory, to the principles upheld by the FSF or its legal arm the SFLC.

In fact this entire issue is a non-event, not even worthy of the back pages of some crass tabloid.

Your genre of journalism is purely sensationalist, without substance or merit, and I find it surprising that The Register would retain someone of your ilk for any purpose other than humour.

Journalist: Are you a GPL fanboy?

Slated.org: That question pretty much confirms my suspicions about you.

To answer the question: No, I am not any sort of "fanboy". Unlike you, I formulate opinions based on fact, not uniformed bigotry. As someone who purports to be a journalist, I would have assumed you'd understand how important that principle is in your line of work.

Commentary: I remembered this article very well, but in order to perserve anonymity, I will not link to it. It seems to have been either filled with malice or perhaps it was just a blunt expression of opinion with anti-FSF agenda. It was just one among many. You ought to know that many people have been paid in the past to do such things.

Maureen O'Gara, Dan Lyons, Rob Enderle, and Laura DiDio are all notorious for their bias (and sometimes their funding sources). Only by standing up, as Slated.org did above, can we truly discourage this from recurring. Other victims include: Richard Stallman, OLPC, OpenDocument, PJ/Groklaw...

Returning to the correspondence, here is the presumably final reply, which indicates that the journalist has given up.

Journalist: My piece speaks for itself. I stand by it. I respect your opinions, even though I disagree with most of them.

Slated.org has an afterthought to share: Hmm, yes I can certainly feel the "respect" and sincerity.

So in the end, another one of the brainwashed sheep bleats back into his pen, with yet another reason to hate FOSS and its advocates.

Sorry, but I can't help myself. If someone rants about Linux because of a genuine technical problem, I'm more inclined to respond positively and helpfully (I understand frustration as much as the next man).

But here we have a journalist, who presumably understands the responsibility that such a position entails, who without any technical nor rational reason decides to attack FOSS based on nothing... absolutely nothing at all. A veritable storm in a teacup, and all in the name of sensationalist journalism. It's despicable; it truly is, and (again) sorry but I'm disinclined to show any mercy. He's been Slated€® and he'll feel the burn for a long time to come.

You may have noticed a considerable reduction of my activity this past week; there is a particular reason for that.

Since the miserable flop that was the Vista launch, and the ensuing dissent in the Blogosphere, the MS-payroll journos have been out in full force poisoning that Blogosphere with anti-FOSS sentiment, in a desperate (and futile IMHO) exercise in damage limitations. I find it very disconcerting, and I determined myself to do something about it. This publisher is just one of many I've been "moderating" this past week; here's another:

http://blogs.cio.com/what-cios-dont-get-about-open-source

I must say I really like Bernard Golden's style and frankness, but apparently he's upset a few Munchkins who have infiltrated his Blog with poison posts. If you look down at the comments, the second one is by some idiot called James Gingerich @ iAnywhere Solutions (remind me never to buy anything from them). My comments follow (posted as "Slated"). You'll notice that he had no response to my follow up. IOW he admits his anti-FOSS dissent is just bigotry, he gives up, he's been Slated€®.

I'm seriously considering dedicating a new section of Slated.org to these Shills that I have given a public bitch-slapping, because I think people really need to be aware this kind of Blog poisoning is going on.

There's an increasing amount of this sort of activity, both on Blogs and also on more traditional Tech News sites, much of it (rather disturbingly) emanating from (supposedly) contract journalists. My feeling is that the level of anti-FOSS bigotry has not actually increased at all, it's just the level of exposure of that bigotry is on the rise. IOW the bigots are feeling more threatened than ever, so they are protesting ever more vocally.

That is the surest sign I've seen yet, that Linux advocacy is succeeding, and that the Microsoft FUD is failing; that Linux adoption is now epidemic, and Windows dissent is more rife than ever.

Commentary again: An InformationWeek writer, for a change, takes a stance that favours free software.

I've come to the conclusion that software should be free. And I mean really free--as in free beer. Or free advice.


Let us hope that the press will sidle with logic, rather than the money machine.

Comments

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