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Re: Social Contract GR's Affect on sarge

On Thu, May 13, 2004 at 11:50:12PM +0100, Henning Makholm wrote:
> I don't really think that is a good explanation. I have not noticed
> any instances of the mentality you describe here. Rather, the vibe I
> get is mostly something like
>  a) Non-free equals EVIL
>  b) Package <FOO> is really nifty and does not feel evil to me.
>  c) A lot of users feel that <FOO> is a necessary thing to have.
>  d) If we apply the DFSG consistently, <FOO> will end up in non-free.
>  e) That will make the users from (c) add non-free to their sources.list
>  f) By (a), adding non-free to sources.list is an EVIL deed.
>  g) Thus, applying the DFSG consistently will result in Debian
>     inciting people to do EVIL, which is EVIL in itself.
>  h) Plus, users with a proper sense of morals will switch from Debian
>     to some other OS, where they can get <FOO> without being EVIL.
> Pinpointing the flaws in this argumentation is left as an exercise for
> the reader.

You make a plausible case.  My biggest problem is with premise A).  I do
not think that is a position Debian should endorse.  It's fine if some
of our developers feel that way, but I do not think it is appropriate
for the Project as a whole to uphold this position.

The establishment -- or, more precisely, expansion -- of a moral
orthodoxy can be highly disruptive to the integrity of a community.

Non-free software may not be evil, but:
  * Its success often comes as the expense of Free Software.
  * It is ancillary to Debian's mission, which is to create a 100% Free
    operating system.

To analogize, IMO non-free software is like a recreational drug.  As a
libertarian-minded person, I have no fundamental problem with people
indulging in recreational drugs, but I insist that they not harm others
(a standard most proprietary software companies do not meet), and I urge
people to exercise moderation and deliberation when they indulge.

It's fine every once in a while to subordinate your free will a little
bit to external influences if it makes you a happier person.  Debian's
commitment to freedom is in service of the user's ability to control his
or her own computer -- and by extension his or her own life.  As such,
non-free software impedes that commitment.

Thus my critique of "w4r3z d00dz".  I recognize a person's right to
stock their home with a cornucopia of recreational pharmaceutics if they
like, but that doesn't mean I think it's a prudent thing to do, and it
is not Debian's purpose to encourage such activity.

In pursuing our goals, we must combat both intolerance and
injudiciousness.  That's what *I* would call "pragmatism".

G. Branden Robinson                |    Any man who does not realize that
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    he is half an animal is only half a
branden@debian.org                 |    man.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    -- Thornton Wilder

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