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Re: PL support

From: Richard Stallman
Subject: Re: PL support
Date: Mon, 11 May 2020 23:21:37 -0400

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  >  If someone downloads Emacs and 
  > it doesn't even approximate a modern editing experience out-of-the-box, 
  > people are going to use other, less-free or non-free tools.

Just because a different way is "modern" does not make it morally
legitimate.  Especially not in computing!  The modern way of doing
computing is to use apps on a smartphone, each spying on you for a
server -- and that is almost always unjust.  It takes special care
to do it in a way that isn't unjust.

  >  The moral 
  > purity of a program doesn't matter if it has no impact, and a program 
  > with no users has no impact.

The assumptions in the concept of "impact" do not fit the free
software movement.  That word assumes that we accumulate a certain
amount of capacity to have impact, which we can then use against
against whatever target we choose -- like ammunition in a shooter

That may be valid for some kinds of goals.  Especially those, such as
profit, that can be achieved with popularity regardless of how that
popularity is achieved.  But it is not valid for what we do.

The impact we aim for in the GNU Project consists of leading people to
move away from nonfree software and to understand how it is unjust.
To achieve this, we have to act in accord with our moral stand, in a
way that is visibly firm and sincere.

To attract more users by yielding on the moral plane would be
self-defeating, since that would undermine our fitness to teach what
we aim to teach them.  If we yield partially, we have to do that in
a way compatible with purity.  

Therefore, we need to be very careful about tolerating nonfree
software in any way.  Even tolerating supporting Emacs on nonfree
systems is problematical.  We do it, but we had to design careful
limits for it, so that we can yield in ways that dont cancel our
moral purity, rather than in ways that would do so.

I address that in another message, posted with this one, which talks
about walking the ridge between two cliffs.

  > You can instead bundle known-good versions of 
  > external tools with Emacs and run them in a controlled way from 
  > filesystem locations that Emacs controls. Downloading revisions of these 
  > tools that hash to entries on an Emacs whitelist is equivalent.

This is ok in carefully chosen cases, precisely because it is controlled.

Dr Richard Stallman
Chief GNUisance of the GNU Project (https://gnu.org)
Founder, Free Software Foundation (https://fsf.org)
Internet Hall-of-Famer (https://internethalloffame.org)

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