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Re: General resolution: Condemn Russian invasion of the Ukraine

Jonas Smedegaard <jonas@jones.dk> writes:
> Quoting Steve Langasek (2022-04-05 22:36:02)
>> On Thu, Mar 31, 2022 at 02:39:31PM +0200, Jonas Smedegaard wrote:

>>> No we don't - we care about our users, and our users include those 
>>> who do evil.

>> I think this thread has largely petered out, with many people having
>> laid out the reasons why Debian taking a public position on this is not
>> necessarily a good idea.

>> But I don't think it should go unadddressed that it's quite a bizarre
>> twist to go from "our priorities are our users and Free Software" to
>> "we care about evil users".

> Please note the word "include" in my sentence above.

> Point is we do *not* care about our users doing evil.

I think there's an unfortunate confusion here between "care," which is a
mental state or a moral position, and some form of action.

I do, in fact, care about our users doing evil, so I'm apparently not part
of your "we."  However, in most cases I don't think Debian should *do*
anything about our users doing evil, for a whole bunch of reasons ranging
from the tradeoffs inherent in free software principles to the law of
unintended consequences.  There are unfortunately many instances where
something bad is happening in the world but a specific person or
organization is not in a position to do anything effective about the bad
thing without causing more problems.

I suspect that you (Jonas) are largely arguing for the same thing, and
much of the disagreement is just over terminology.

> Debian rejects software licensed with the following clause:

> "The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil"

This is an excellent example of the tradeoffs of free software principles.
The problem with such a license, at least from my perspective (which, from
previous discussions on this exact topic, appears to be common) is not the
general idea that we would prefer people not do evil things with software.
It's the practical specifics, which include such things as the murkiness
of "evil" (including different and incompatible effective definitions for
every piece of software with such a license), the problems with enforcing
such a license in a legal system that exists in the real world, and the
lack of clarity and thus legal uncertainty for our users who may be doing
something that the author of the software may consider "evil" but that
many other people in the world would not.

In other words, I don't think we rejected that license because we don't
care whether our users do evil.  I think we rejected that license because
the harm is greater than the benefits.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)              <https://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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