Joe Brockmeier has written a good piece on why Richard Stallman needs to step down as the face of the Free Software Foundation.
I’ve gone to see Stallman a couple of times when he’s come to New Zealand — the first was in the 90s when I was still in my Linux advocacy stage of life, and Stallman’s ideologies didn’t sound as insane as they do now. Seeing him talk, I saw a great man who was a fount of wisdom, speaking of a life and a culture I wanted to live.
The last time was a few years ago, when I was at a stage where I’d grown tired of all the zealotry. That time, all I saw was a hippy with a scraggly beard, unwashed hair, spitting bile like some street preacher.
As with anything people are passionate about, some go too far. They think that their worldview is a utopian worldview and that everyone else should dance to the same tune. In the religious world they’re called fundamentalists, and in the tech world they’re called fanbois. Windows, Mac, and Linux fanbois all exist. They’re all as insane as each other, and they’re all wrong.
Richard Stallman is one of those who argues the absolute extreme of his possible worldview. I used to think that was quaint, and that the world needed thinking on each end of the scale, and to some degree I still do, because they help rational people gauge where the line of sanity is. The problem is when that thinking crosses the line into thinking people dying is good for their cause. Sure, Stallman is all talk and spittle, but as Gabrielle Giffords found out, having an extreme right-wing nutcase suggest that your death is a good idea, someone will follow through for you.
What do I think is the right worldview? People should be free to make their own choices, not have other views rammed down their throat.
One size does not fit all. Our constant wars should be testament to that. People believe in everything from doing things differently on their computers; to choosing a different platform to do their work or to play their games on; to how they license the code that they put their own effort into; to the worshiping of mythical beings.
I don’t care about your way of life. I don’t care what you think of my way of life. Deal with it and get over yourself.
While the FSF does good work, Stallman has shown that he is an irrational fundamentalist, and he is only doing harm to an otherwise good organisation.