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Re: Should we take steps to reduce russian access to Free Software?

From: Valentino Giudice
Subject: Re: Should we take steps to reduce russian access to Free Software?
Date: Tue, 1 Mar 2022 05:59:06 +0100

> There is NO conflict between software freedom and making political
> statements!
Absolutely correct.

> It is perfectly sensible for anyone, including FSF or individual
> projects or developers, to make a strong public statement condemning
> acts of war and stating explicitly that we do not support the use of our
> software by the Russian military, even though their use is legal.

Absolutely not correct, and this kind of thing is, in my view, the
biggest issue in free software organizations: the fact that such
organizations lose their focus and are used by their boards
effectively as personal blogs.

Individuals have the right to make any statement they wish. Stallman
can talk about his favourite food, on his own blog, and that has
nothing to do with the GNu project. People who happen to be on the FSF
board (including Geoffrey Knauth) are well within their right to state
their opinion on what the best movie of all time is. On their own
personal blog.

But the FSF has a raison d'ĂȘtre, a very specific mission and ideology
and a reason why people support it. If one supports the FSF, they do
so because they want to support the free software ideology and the GNU
project. They could have any opinion on any unrelated topic.

The mere fact that something doesn't contradict software freedom
doesn't mean it should be FSF's job to talk about it. For that to be
the case, the topic must be related to software freedom and FSF's
opinion must follow from their mission.

Otherwise, it would mean the FSF is no longer a tool at the disposal
of its mission, but rather a tool at the disposal of whomever happens
to be in the organization. We have seen this happen multiple times
with multiple free software organizations and it's never not ugly.

People that disagree on most topics (and any two given people will,
provided they think with their brain, given the amount of opinions you
could have about anything) should be able to work together on the
topics they do agree on: that is why organizations exist.

If the FSF starts doing this sort of thing, supporting it in good
faith becomes impossible *even if the opinions they express are 100%
right* because an organization is not merely a group of people and the
mission should play a stronger role than who happens to be on the
board at any given time. If an organization is treated as a tool to
express any opinion at all on any topic, it's of no substance and if
the FSF started doing so now, that would be a betrayal of anyone who
has supported it thus far: we don't know their opinion about this war
and we shouldn't care, because that's separate from what the FSF
should be doing: support software freedom and the GNU project.

> Acknowledging that we don't have the power to stop the use of software
> and don't support discriminatory licensing, we are still totally free to
> make statements and requests about the use of software!

Yes, you can do that as an individual and every person in the FSF can
do so as an individual too, but only speaking for themselves.

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