Subject: Re: the walls have ears
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 16:25:27 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "rms" == Richard Stallman <> writes:

    rms> Other people object to copyleft, because they want to be able
    rms> to use our free code in their proprietary software.

Selfish, but not evil.  Of course, some people object to copyleft
because they want to be free to allow third parties to use _their_ code 
in the third party's proprietary software.

    rms> Some of them are so selfish that they seek to manipulate the
    rms> situation purely in the hope of being allowed to use the code

Um, they've announced this publically?  They have _no_ principles
whatsoever that might account for the smallest part of their
opposition to the GPL?  This is not an isolated instance, Richard; you 
use words like "purely" far too often for my taste.  They cost you a
lot of credibility in the political arena, in my opinion.

    rms> we write.  Most often they make scrurrilous attacks on the
    rms> GPL itself, but they also call me names, such as "communist".

Evil.  If it's not true; philosophical Communists are not evil, only
misguided (IMO YMMV).

However, what _I_ disagree with, Richard, is what I perceive as your
strongly held belief that there is only one way to free software, and
that is monopoly[1] free software, namely GPL programs with copyright
assigned to a single holder powerful enough to defend them, in a pure 
free software environment.

What I object to is your consistent harassment of developers who
happen to be associated with alternative lines of development of GNU
tools as "destructively competitive" [this was precipitated by my
.sig, qv], and of people who use non-free programs as "backsliders."
I can speak to the two quoted insults from personal experience; they
certainly color my perception of your style in other utterances where
your intent may be debatable.  You are being disingenuous to attribute
any share of the "insults" and the "scurrilious attacks" to
self-interest; certainly from personal experience I cannot rule out
"response in kind" as explanation.

I admire your stand on principle, the principle that a pure free
software environment is worth devoting a programmer's life to (namely
yours) and sacrificing flashy applications (linking Qt) and even
privacy (eg, an ssh interface to GNU Emacs's mainline incarnation).

But I do not find your apparent belief that those who do not conform
to your values are unworthy of consideration by any member of the
Church of Programmer Libris very admirable.  I don't care if that's
the way you personally wish your own software used, by Freed
Programmers and Users only.  But I see no justification for your
public advocacy that XEmacs _not_ include an ssh interface; all of
your arguments that I have seen so far eventually reduce to the
assumption that monopoly free software is an overriding principle that
trumps individuals' preferences for privacy and variety.  (Anti-XEmacs
inter-fork politics is an obvious alternative, but you have denied
that motive on many occasions.)

I think your maintained position that you can predict the evolution of
the software industry (eg, that the GPL is a better tool than the BSD
or Aladdin licenses for encouraging development and distribution of
software to which the "4 freedoms" apply) is inconsistent in the face
of your statement

    rms> My special abilities are in programming and determination,
    rms> not in dealing with people.

Especially since I'm a specialist (nearly, anyway, as a theoretical
economist) and I don't know anybody in the field who would be willing
to stake money on any of the free public licenses as "optimal
mechanism" for any of the goals that free software might have in view,
including the goal that I have (somewhat contentiously) characterized
as "monopoly free software."  Of course the GPL and the FSF have
worked extremely well, a fully proven approach with the advent of the
GNU/Linux system.  But who is to say that with a leader of your skills
and determination (an honestly-felt compliment) the BSD License and a
hypothetical BSD-Licensed Software Foundation couldn't have done
equally well, or better?[2]

On top of all of the above, you _have_ rubbed me the wrong way in
personal matters---but then, I did so to you, too.  We managed to get
past that and have a useful (to me, at any rate) exchange of views.

So I think it quite possible that many people disagree with you for
reasons of principle, and get upset with you purely on the basis of
your public political behavior.

Sincere Regards from a Member of the Loyal Opposition
Stephen Turnbull

[1]  "Monopoly" does not here refer to the FSF, but to the requirement
that a single copyright holder exist for a whole program.  I do not
assert that you want all free software assigned to the FSF, merely
that you believe that enforcing the GPL requires this, and that means
that for FSF-sponsored programs you need assignment to the FSF.  The
FSF's centrality here is in some sense a historical accident, not an
imperialist policy.

[2]  Purely hypothetical.  I am sure your considered judgement is that 
the GPL was necessary, and so is mine, pretty much "of course."  But I 
can't _prove_ that, it is my somewhat expert opinion, and therefore
inherently unreliable---as is _anyone's_ "expert opinion."

University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences       Tel/fax: +81 (298) 53-5091
What are those two straight lines for?  "XEmacs rules."