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Re: Meanness

From: Eli Zaretskii
Subject: Re: Meanness
Date: Sat, 26 Jul 2008 18:16:09 +0300

> From: "Alfred M. Szmidt" <address@hidden>
> Date: Sat, 26 Jul 2008 07:49:27 -0400
> Cc: address@hidden
>    Everybody here is adult enough to respect others' views on contentious
>    topics.  Let's do this.
> On cannot respect a view that concedes that doing something immoral
> and unethical is right; non-free software is always the wrong way to
> do things.

You are exaggerating, and so are others who expressed similarly
extremist views in this dispute.  "Immoral" and "unethical" are very
strong terms that should be reserved for something that either
immediately harms life and happiness of people, or (if the effect is
not immediate) whose long-term harm can be proven or is recognized as
such by a majority.

The idea that a world where everyone has freedom to modify and
redistribute software is a better world, while I (and everyone who
reads this list) agree with it, does not satisfy these criteria.
Therefore, fighting holy wars on its behalf, and in particular
condemning people who use non-free software as unethical, will only
harm the Free Software movement by rejecting those who may for some
reason be unwilling or unable to embrace it 100%.

Let's assume that I have a spouse or an elderly parent who are asking
my help with their PC running a non-free OS: by the above reasoning, I
should divorce my spouse or renounce my parents, rather than helping
them, if for some reason they absolutely won't have me install a free
OS.  If someone thinks a world or a society where this is the norm is
more moral than the one we have now, then we probably have two very
different notions of what is moral.  If someone thinks I'm unethical
because helping people is more important for me than converting them
to my beliefs, then that someone's ethics is quite different from

We have a common goal here: improving Emacs.  Let's not put that goal
in jeopardy by emphasizing minor (yes, minor!) differences between us
on how soon and how completely should each private citizen switch to
using Free Software and Free Software alone.

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