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Re: PL support

From: Daniel Colascione
Subject: Re: PL support
Date: Tue, 12 May 2020 21:32:05 -0700
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:68.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/68.7.0

On 5/11/20 8:21 PM, Richard Stallman wrote:
[[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider    ]]]
[[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies,     ]]]
[[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example. ]]]

   >  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.

Supporting jump-to-definition is not tantamount to supporting a surveillance state.

   >  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.

The opposite of impact is irrelevance. Do you want free software to be relevant? If something makes a difference, that means that it has impact. If something doesn't make a difference, it's not worth anyone's time to keep doing it. If purity and not impact is the goal, why bother with continued development? Emacs is already pure.

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

No, it doesn't.

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.

Who's going to use software that's inferior to alternatives? When the pursuit of purity prompts you make free software worse on purpose, all you do is teach people that free software is worse software. I hope that's not the lesson that you want people to take away from the experience of trying Emacs.

Besides: it's not as if we're talking about adding a button that purchases Microsoft Visual Studio (or, heaven forbid, that renders emoji using multiple colors). We're talking about one piece of free software using and recommending another other piece of free software. You're worried that this other free software might through some chain of references lead users to non-free software. The same concern says we shouldn't make free software web browsers lest we lead users into temptation. The culpability for that is too speculative to attach itself to Emacs.

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