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Re: A possible GFDL compromise: a proposal

On Tue, Sep 09, 2003 at 08:53:06AM +0200, Mathieu Roy wrote:
> Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org> a tapoté :
> > On Mon, Sep 08, 2003 at 10:24:00PM +0200, Mathieu Roy wrote:
> > > I think that Richard addressed already several of the recurrent
> > > questions from debian-legal. Can we move forward in this direction?
> > > 
> > > Which question is left?
> > 
> > Why don't you review the mail I sent and see for yourself?
> This is the conclusions of the last mails I got from you on the list:
>         Fri, 5 Sep 2003 01:41:48 -0500
>         "One last question for now: since I do not want to leap to any
>         conclusions, how am I to interpret your recent (but
>         consistent) practice of no longer responding directly to my
>         mails, but instead mentioning them only by reference, and
>         speaking to me only in the third person?"
>         Wed, 3 Sep 2003 14:21:12 -0500
>         "Are you to be the sole arbiter of whether that additional
>         information is useful or not?
>         [...]
>         What's your definition of "harsh treatment"?  Do you think
>         there is an objective one upon which both the FSF and the
>         Debian Project can agree, or do you reserve the right to be
>         the lone applicator of this term?"
> I think it perfectly illustrates what kind of debate seems sterile to
> me. I do not think that attacks ad hominem can help when the situation
> is already problematic. 

Well, it perfectly illustrates that you do not know what an ad hominem
argument is.

An ad hominem fallacy is one that that asserts that a person's arguments
are wrong because due to the person's identity.

"You're wrong because you're ugly and your mother dresses you funny" is
an example of an ad hominem attack.  This is a logical fallacy because,
in general, the validity of an argument is unaffected by the accidental
characteristics of the proponent.  (An exception is when the proposition
being argued directly concerns the subject's own attributes.)

Not only were my questions to RMS not ad hominem attacks -- because they
made no assertions about his identity or character -- they weren't even
propositions in the first place.

One can easily imagine sincere answers to all four of the questions
above.  However, I did not, and will not, indulge in speculation as to
what RMS's answers might actually be.

How asking sincere questions of a person and working to avoid
presumptions regarding the answers leads to a blackballing, I still
don't quite grasp.

One presumption I *do* make is that it is acceptable to ask RMS, or
anyone else, questions that require him to support his assertions.
If we are to limit our queries of anyone to hagiographic rhetoric, then
when are not really serving the practice of free inquiry, and moreover,
we will make no progress towards resolving any issues of substantial

I do also presume that Debian cannot simply get its way through
obsequious flattery of RMS.  To presume otherwise credits the man with
far less dedication to principle than I think is warranted by the
historical record.

G. Branden Robinson                |    Humor is a rubber sword - it allows
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    you to make a point without drawing
branden@debian.org                 |    blood.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    -- Mary Hirsch

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