In his escape from Rome, Peter encounters Jesus and asks him, Jesus, Quo vadis? (“where are you going?“) Jesus responded, “Back to Rome, to be crucified again”. Peter follows him, ends up being captured and crucified upside down.
(Painting: Domine quo vadis? (1602) by Annibale Carracci. Source Wikimedia)
Two thousand years have passed, yet those who defy the status quo are still being prosecuted and crucified, one way or another.
Too much hypocrisy and lack of empathy
The prosecution and public lynching that Richard Stallman, creator of the Free Software movement, has suffered in the last year and half is unparalleled. Many of those who used to praise his work and figure, are now taking the first row in the lapidation of the heretic.
Richard Stallman might not be the best in social interactions, but neither am I. Richard is not politically correct either. Some things he has said can be controversial and even disturbing. But that does not make him a criminal or a monster. In more than one occasion, I’ve noticed that I’ve misunderstood his words after talking to him or re-reading the article.
We all are imperfect beings, with imperfect genes, living in an imperfect society. We come from different cultural, social, educational and generational backgrounds. I find this enriching and fascinating. Yet, there is still too much hypocrisy and lack of empathy in our society.
Let me share a short personal story. In 2018 I was invited to give a talk at LibrePlanet. I flew from Spain to Boston, and I was excited to meet with the colleagues from the community, so I signed up to the “Welcome dinner”. To my surprise, I got this response by email upon arrival:
"The Welcome Dinner is for all women, gender queer, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people interested in free software. If you don't identify as such, we kindly request that you don't attend the dinner this year."
So I checked whether all the list elements, looking for latino, hispanic, vegan, …. but no luck… after a long haul flight, I found myself excluded from the event. Where is the diversity, where is the inclusion, where is the empathy? Ironically, I found out that the very same person who sent me the email excluding me from the dinner is now part of the debunking campaign against RMS.
Let he who is free of sin cast the first stone
Who are we to judge? On what moral grounds are they judging Richard Stallman?
Discrimination on the basis of species is as terrible as any other form of discrimination (sex, race, age..). Those who eat meat are complicit of the daily holocaust of millions of sentient beings. Those who drink milk are complicit of the systematic rape, slavery and murder of millions of persons who have the same right to live in freedom and dignity as we humans. In addition, non-vegans are responsible in the climate change emergency, pandemics and other terrible side effects of factory farming.
I am convinced that many of those who are judging RMS are meat eaters and consume dairy products. So, before they accuse him for something that he might have said, they should take a look at themselves and their ethical / moral status, for what they are actually doing. I also think that many of them would not have joined this evil campaign if they knew how much pain and suffering it has caused to Richard.
Divide and conquer. The attempt to eradicate the Free Software movement
The existing plutocracy controls de media and distorts reality. The panem et circenses formula works great in creating a numb, docile society. Their mass control devices and programs activate the dopaminergic reward pathways on the person brain, creating a short but intense feeling of instant gratification through selfies, filters, likes. You willingly provide them your personal information. They know where you are, they know what you do. They will also make a lot of money selling your information to others who will refine the mind control process. This becomes a closed loop.
They have gradually eradicated critical reasoning. Activism and social justice are now forbidden terms. “Free Software” is now “Open Source”. To be a cool programmer and a good citizen, you have to share your code “Where the world builds Software“. It’s a proprietary platform, but this fact would not make a difference to you anymore at this point. You have become part of them, and your principles about the initial Free Software movement have faded away.
After creating the “idyllic community”, it was time for them to find a common enemy. The witch-hunt started by debunking the creator of the Free Software movement and then anyone that would defy the status quo. Vilifying RMS on the news and social media was an easy task for them, provided that they control most of the media and that they already counted with an “army” ready to burn heretics. The army members did the dirty job for them, proudly posting on their timelines how they contributed to the ruthless public mobbing, lynching and lapidation of someone who most of them, didn’t even know. The rest is history.
Time to hit the reset button
No doubt that the Free Software Foundation and the movement of free software and free culture is badly injured. The enemies of social justice and freedom in our society have tried to eliminate the Free Software Foundation and divide the community.
Yet, we are strong and resilient. Let’s come together, reunite and return even stronger. Society is facing very challenging moments, and we need the Libre Software movement to be a reference of evolution, diversity, respect and inclusion. The enemies of freedom and equity want us divided, so they gain control. We can not let that happen again.
Let us all take some time for self-reflection, to get rid of any resentment. Let us find room for forgiveness to our fellow members of the Free Software movement and hit the reset button. Let us put aside the confrontation among us that will take us nowhere.
Let us also support financially the Libre Software community. Most Libre Software projects and organizations depend on the financial contributions, and they should be able to grow with the support of their individual members alone. That will bring independence from the corporation.
Our mission as individuals and members of the Libre Software movement goes way beyond programming. The code that we write in C or Python must also be the source of an optimistic message to this and upcoming generations around the world. A genuine and honest message of freedom, equity, compassion, empathy and solidarity.
Happy and healthy hacking!