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Re: Debian should not engage in politics and stay neutral [was: This is not the direction that will lead to hearing each other]

Hi Thomas, I'm avoiding this debate, still I'm writing this one because (1) I
know you listen :-) and (2) one of your statements has been repeated many times
already and it kind of bothers me:

On Fri, Apr 09, 2021 at 05:27:30PM +0200, Thomas Goirand wrote:

> It's been said that RMS current issue is his *personal* view on some
> topics, which aren't related to his work at FSF. One may agree with him
> or not, or find what he wrote unacceptable or not, disgusting or not.
> This isn't what I would like to discuss.

Please, let's first agree that it's not (only) about his 'personal view on some
topics'. Most people defending RMS on this list seem to have suddenly
s/actions/views/g in their spell checker. So, just to put words back to their
place: it's about his incessant *actions* over the years, which may or may not
been directly connected with his (publicly stated) views. And his *actions*,
and not his views alone, have hurt the community in many many ways. And this
community is about software freedom, the thing you said you believe on, and the
thing that keeps you motivated to contribute to Debian. This community is
somewhat leaded by the FSF, which has close links to Debian and a huge
influence to the future of free/libre software. How can one compare that to
'Debian taking position climate change'?

Yes, you may find that the letter makes unfair accusations. Fine, then you do
not sign it, and you vote against it. And you make your point as you're doing
in this list (thanks for always being gentle in such heated situations). And
if by any chance Debian signs that letter as a project, you feel frustrated as
I'll also feel in case another given option wins.

But please, please: even if Debian is not the place you chose to exercise
human values such as solidarity and care; even being Debian only about
'software freedom' and technical excellence, you can still realize that taking
a position on this particular issue isn't at all disconnected to your
'apolitical' and pragmatic motivations. I really see the point you're trying to
bring, but the reality is so distinct from the hypothetical situations you're
drawing here :\

> The point is: is there some restrictions on political views that the
> Debian community/project would like to enforce? I've heard someone
> complaining that the Debian project hasn't made a statement about black
> live maters and George Floyd. Is it ok if I believe in Communist and
> strongly support the Chinese government, including the social
> engineering part? Am I allowed to be a Trump supporter, denying the
> climate change is man made?

Well, I do think some people would like to push their political views on
Debian, yes. And this, in every possible political spectrum. But this is not
really happening, for reasons we can try to infer: maybe they feel that some
issues as climate change and defeating communism aren't connected enough to
Debian as a project in order to justify a public statement or a GR. It'd be
probably hard to get support for those, I suppose. On the other hand, it seems
there is a reason for all the seconds on the current GR, and despite some
aggressive opposition, the reason is not that Debian is infested of SJW willing
to take over the power to push their oppressive agenda (I'm sorry for those who
still believe on this, you're just too wrong).

> More disturbing things now... What if I'm working for NSA, and
> contribute to Debian so that the US government can spy even better on
> everyone?

I don't think NSA will spy better if you worked for them. I believe you'd end
up as our best whistleblower ever :-) Seriously, on such cases, my own view is
that software freedom comes first, and I find it a bit of a false dilemma
having to choose between software freedom vs. not being spied. This applies for
your other examples as well.

> What if I'm working in Russia, and contribute to Debian for
> improving the army missile guidance system? Or if I'm contracted by the
> Chinese government so that they can use Debian to better track their
> citizens? Is all of that OK as a contribution to Debian?
> What if I were fighting against same sex marriage? Or if I was at the
> head of a company hiring people $1 per day to make shoes in Indonesia?
> My own view on this is *very* liberal. In my view, we should allow
> absolutely all of the above, without any restriction. Why? Simply
> because otherwise, it's impossible to draw the line and set reasonable
> limits, without having infinite flame wars in our lists, which distract
> us from our very important missing: being the best free operating
> system. BTW, what's the RC bugs count for Bullseye? :)

Thomas, many of those people who're skilled enough to close these bugs also
care about Debian in a broader view. Probably not as broad as
Debian-and-the-climate-change, but for sure about the role of Debian as a
project, in keeping the free software ecosystem healthy, inclusive and
stronger. That's the point I'm trying to make here: some, including you, are
going too far on this, as this position (yet to be taken) on RMS/FSF were
similar to taking position on all kinds of random political views that have no
direct impact to our work. Again: those do not exist for a reason. 
> I've joined Debian because of its technical excellence, and I'm staying
> because I believe in software freedom. I am trying to force myself to
> not have too many interference on the interactions I have with other DDs
> because of political topics (and that, even though it itches a lot as I
> really love to share my ideas). I very much would like other DDs to try
> to do the same if possible. It would be great if we all agree that
> Debian is *not* the place to have this kind of political debates. There
> are other places to do that. Engage yourself in politics, if you want,
> but outside of Debian. I will deeply respect it, and will enjoy talking
> politics with you (I very much enjoy any political talks, and I do have
> very strong opinions on some topics), but simply, outside of Debian is
> better.
> The DFSG and social contract are there so that there's one thing we must
> agree on. I haven't signed up for one side of the political spectrum.
> Please respect this.

I don't see how it's not being respected. This is not a provocation, and I can
be wrong. Where the project is forcing you to sign up for a political side? If
it's about the GR, you have many options, including not to vote, or making your
vote public to oppose the majority if your option doesn't win. Or signing as
individual a letter of support, posting your neutral position in your blog etc.
Or doing all that. Or doing nothing at all. I pretty much doubt that someone
will ever consider a GR result as a single position shared by all DDs.
> Though as time passes, I'm seeing all of these lines increasingly
> blurred. I hope for Debian to not become too engaged (promoting views I
> share or not).
> And there's what Adrian wrote:
> > If membership in Debian would imply anything about political opinions,
> > this could get some of our members into untenable positions where
> > I would be worried about their safety.
> which I very much agree with. We also don't want Debian to become banned
> from some countries because the project is too much engaged into
> political debates (no need to name a particular country here I suppose...).
> I'm sure I'm not the only person with this opinion. Please let me know
> I'm not alone.

I fear that too, although I think the more neutral we keep, stronger will be
those oppressive governments. There's no simple solution for this, indeed.

> Cheers,
> Thomas Goirand (zigo)


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