06.11.10

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Constructive Critics Defend Spectators’ Freedom, So Why Do Passive Observers Criticise Them?

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 5:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Richard Stallman

Summary: An exploration of FSF disdain, including the special case of Richard Stallman who is the public face of this organisation

ON NUMEROUS occasions — and last year in particular [1, 2] — we wrote many posts that explain why people who report negative news are often portrayed as “bad guys”. As those who speak out against injustice, they put themselves out there, sometimes to be attacked by the same large entities which they stand against.

Our readers too sometimes ask, why is it that critics are portrayed as “bad guys” rather than those who fight for the rights of the very same people who sometimes criticise them? Well, that’s just a fact of life and it applies not only to IT. Incitement against critics is more organised than most people realise (there are whistleblowers).

People from the United States have probably witnesses the right wing (Fox News et al.) daemonising Michael Moore and making him look extreme (which he is not) for daring to stand up for his neighbours’ health, not the cartels which profit from mortality. We have just found a recent video where Wendell Potter and Bill Moyers explain this. The Ogg Theora version is just partial for technical reasons.


As everyone can see, the multi-trillion dollar ‘Medical Industrial Complex’ is trying to radicalise the image of Michael Moore, who is simply the messenger. If they can squash the messenger, then they can extrapolate this to squash anyone who bears the same message. The same type of tactics are being used against the FSF and Richard Stallman in particular. Too few people pay attention to what he says and instead they pay attention to those with a financial agenda against him. In their minds they have a radicalised vision of the messenger, who is an atheist and pacifist; it’s intentional and it is part of the propaganda. The following posts about Richard Stallman hopefully help clarify common misconceptions:

There are many other people — myself included — who are being daemonised based on falsehoods and one common tactic is to make the messenger look radical or dangerous. The goal is to prevent people from communicating with the target, referencing it, or even just mentioning it.

Anyway, earlier today we found this rant about the FSF and here is one response to it.

Campaigns like DefectiveByDesign or Windows7Sins are *very*small* things compared to the rest.

That you should choose your position over them rather than the whole, and totally demonstrate you missed the point of software freedom, is really revealing that you don’t give a damn about your community’s software freedom.

You just want, like a spoiled child, to run all the software you want at your will, regardless of whether you’re infringing the law.

Openuniverse responds to the part of this rant which says: “I am a very positive person, even if I might might look ranty or grumpy from time to time,”

“…and whether you believe it or not,” Openuniverse writes, “stallman is exactly the same. but if a friend tells you you’ve got crap on your face, you have choices- you can thank them and wipe it off (free software,) you can leave it on and not care (non-free software,) or you can find friends who won’t even tell you- the latter is called the “open source” movement, and these people like having stallman’s ideas pre-chewed for them. it’s always an option, don’t let anyone tell you different.”

In a separate message, Openuniverse writes that “there’s a surely unintended, very subtle question i found amidst this article- does “open source” give microsoft something to “support” while using it against free software? (much like foreign exploitation of the confederacy in the civil war)”

“[D]oes “open source” give microsoft something to “support” while using it against free software?”
      –Openuniverse
This is an issue that we covered last night with regards to Apple. This issue was mentioned many times before; companies like Apple and Microsoft love the term “Open Source” when they are using it to remove the “F” from FOSS. Apple increasingly uses this trick, the other one being the trick of “UNIXwashing” (associating oneself with the reputation of code one exploits, BSD in this case). Separately, writes Openuniverse: “it’s amazing that people will take “windows7sins” literally, when stallman is a strong atheist and doesn’t believe in sin- i mean, it’s a serious joke, but it’s still a joke”

The same thing happens with “virgin” jokes and parodies about organised religion. Some people who want to daemonise Stallman pretend not to understand the humour (or maybe their humour meter is just broken).

On the other hand, Stallman and the FSF do have some real critics and it is worth recognising that they exist. Jos Poortvliet from KDE, for example, sent me the following messages earlier today: “he is right. FSF often kills opportunities for FOSS with companies by dumb behaviour like that, unreasonable and extreme.”

He then added: “besides FSF dislikes constructive (or any) criticism alot. Maybe FSF hurts FOSS more than it helps these days.”

“Anyway it doesn’t hurt me,” Poortvliet concluded, “so I usually stay away from the FSF flames, let them screw up I don’t care. FSFE does lot better btw”

This is a matter of personal opinion and Poortvliet deserves to be heard about it. My personal belief is that the FSF promotes more than just software freedom and that’s what makes it controversial in some circles. It makes the FSF an easier (more vulnerable) target, offering more ‘dirt’ to those who constantly mine for it.

“Microsoft does not like negative or even objective press coverage and they have a tendency to be a bully about it. If something appears that they don’t like, they have the ability to punish the publication.”

Knight-Ridder New Media President Bob Ingle

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A Single Comment

  1. your_friend said,

    June 11, 2010 at 6:51 pm

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    Jos Poortvliet’s quoted statements are not constructive criticism, they are the same old slander that’s always been thrown at the FSF and Richard Stallman. Constructive criticism would point out exactly what behavior had been foolish and recommend positive action that achieves the desired goals without compromising principles.

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