I want to take a brief moment to apologize for getting so torked off at Richard Stallman (yes… you heard me right… I’m apologizing).
So, we had Richard Stallman on the show. And it didn’t really go as planned.
The plan was, roughly, this:
RMS would come on the show. We would ask him some questions and let him talk about a few things he wanted the opportunity to talk about (namely eBooks). Then we would talk about practical solutions for migrating a piece of proprietary software to be licensed under the GPL… all while trying to maintain steady income for those involved.
Then, after the show, I was going to turn around and try to put one of RMS’s suggestions into practice with some of my own software. Turn the whole thing into a real-world example of some of his ideas.
But that’s not exactly how it turned out. I’m not going to go into it all in detail here, as you can easily watch (or listen) the episode.
But what I will say, is this:
I allowed Stallman’s responses and ideas (which he has every right to have) piss me off. And that resulted in me loosing my cool.
Do I agree with Stallman’s views on children? No. Not even a little bit. I find his views to be deeply unethical and frightening.
But that should not have been part of the discussion. Initially I brought the word “child” into the conversation as a means to illustrate the reason for a need (that most of us have) for a practical solution to migrating software to the GPL (“how do I put food on the table and feed the kids”). Stallman’s reaction here surprised me (in retrospect, it really shouldn’t have). And once Stallman ratcheted it up a notch, by declaring that nobody should have children… well… that kinda broke my brain.
On the other hand, I also have (fairly major) disagreements with his valuation of software licensing and his stances on how best to implement said licensing.
Those disagreements should have been the focus.
I doesn’t matter, not even a little bit, what Stallman thinks of children (or the people who have them). What does matter is the specifics of the licensing (that he has made his life’s work) and the practical applications therein.
Was the interview a wasted opportunity? No. But it could have been even better. I could have pressed Stallman harder for an answer to the questions presented to him. But I let myself get derailed.
And that is my bad.
When I see, what I feel is, harmful extremism. It makes me cranky. Should it? Probably not… there’s plenty of it in this world, and a man can’t be cranky all the time. When that extremism is directed towards children, I get doubly-cranky.
And that’s what happened here.
So, to Stallman: I would like to apologize for focusing on this topic, and your statements relating to children, when there are other areas you would be better prepared to comment on. I would also like to apologize for discussing this topic after the fact, when you were not there.
To everyone else: I would like to apologize for the exact same thing. How many of us really care what Stallman thinks of children? Does it actually matter? Are any of us going to be having him over to babysit for us next weekend? No. So the topic isn’t relevant and simply serves as a distraction away from the areas where he does have an influence.
Now, all that said.
Next Sunday’s Linux Action Show is going to be a much more up-beat one. It’s time to play games.