If they're going to do it anyway...

knowing-card's picture
Submitted by knowing-card on Fri, 04/09/2010 - 00:06
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We free software advocates surely know that, no matter what we say or how we say it, some people have to or (if you prefer) simply want to use proprietary software for one reason or another - and that's even when they've heard and understood everything we have to say on the matter. Many free software advocates, though, only preach abstinence from - and a zero tolerance policy towards - proprietary software. I have to disagree with this approach. Let me explain...

While many would disagree, I think educating abstinence and taking a zero tolerance policy on just about anything - while often laudable - just doesn't work well enough and in many cases can be naive and downright negligent. Take educating children to abstain from sex and/or drugs as an example.

Despite many education programs teaching abstinence from sex and drugs, pregnancies, the spread of STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) and the use of drugs amongst children continues. This is because, no matter what you say, some people are going to do it anyway.

If you think that having a zero tolerance policy and teaching abstinence is the only solution to sex and drug use amongst children and that promoting safe sex and safe drug use actually increases the chances of kids having sex and/or taking drugs, I must ask you to explain your reasons for promoting abstinence in the first place. Is it because you simply don't want kids having sex and taking drugs? No. I'm sure it's more than that. Isn't it because you care about the kids and want them to be safe and healthy?

If this is the case, then you must realise that by having a zero tolerance policy and by only teaching abstinence, you will be neglecting the kids who go ahead and have sex and/or take drugs anyway. Surely if your goal is for every child to be safe and healthy then not only should you teach them to abstain but also how to have sex and take drugs in the safest way possible.

Perhaps you think that promoting safe sex and safe drug use is immoral or unethical. But isn't it immoral and unethical to abandon the kids that fail to abstain?

So when you come across someone who is trying to teach kids how to have safe sex and use drugs as safely as possible, maybe you should think twice about slamming them for promoting sex and drug use to children. Perhaps it's just that they accept there are always going to be some kids who will - despite the best efforts of promoters of abstinence - go ahead and have sex and/or take drugs anyway, and they're just trying to help these kids be as safe and healthy as possible.

Okay so now let's put that in terms of free and proprietary software:

Despite the efforts of free software advocates to promote abstinence from the use of proprietary software, its use continues. This is because, no matter what you say, some people are going to use it anyway.

If you think teaching abstinence from proprietary software is the only policy and that promoting the use of free software on proprietary systems or proprietary software on free systems actually increases the use of proprietary software, I must ask you to explain your reasons for promoting abstinence from proprietary software in the first place. Is it because you simply don't want people to use proprietary software? No. I'm sure it's more than that. Isn't it because you care about the people and want them to have as much software freedom as possible?

If this is the case, then you must realise that by having a zero tolerance policy and by only teaching abstinence from proprietary software, you will be neglecting the people who will go ahead and use proprietary software anyway. Surely if your goal is for everybody be as free as possible then not only should you teach them to abstain from using proprietary software but also how to use proprietary software in the freest way possible.

Perhaps you think that promoting the use of proprietary software on free systems or free software on proprietary systems is immoral or unethical. But isn't it immoral and unethical to abandon the people that fail to abstain?

So when you come across someone who is promoting the use of proprietary software on a free system or free software on a proprietary system, maybe you should think twice about slamming them for promoting proprietary software. Perhaps it's just that they accept there are always going to be some people who will - despite the best efforts of free software advocates - go ahead and use proprietary software anyway, and they're just trying to help these people be as free as possible.

lozz's picture

lozz

4 years 13 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago

4

(Partly)Free Software Daily

No, that doesn't sound too crash hot.

So, what do you think our new name should be? I mean, we can scarcely go on calling ourselves Free Software Daily when half of our articles extol Windows 7 and iPads and the like.

Because we are called Free Software Daily, that's what our content tends to reflect.

I'm sure that M$ fanboys have the M$-Times, or some-such, to read, so everyone stays happy.

It's just that we mostly prefer to read about Richard Stallman rather than Steve Ballmer, I guess.

mbutron's picture

mbutron

4 years 13 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago

0

If WE're going to do it anyway...

Hello,

First of all, I own a small IT company that promotes FOSS to our customers (micro and small entrepreneurs in Mexico) in order to keep them away from pirated and expensive software. However, most of them already own one or several computers that use propietary software. I own several pieces of propietary software that I purchased before I started using Linux three years ago for which I can't find a suitable replacement. So should I stop using these just because they are propietary?

On the other hand, I am all for software freedom. I don't want anybody telling me which software should I use, even if it is a piece of propietary software. I want to be free to use any software that will fill my needs as long as I don't use pirated software. And I have found some gold nuggets priced at just a couple dollars.

So I don't want Windows/Mac/Linux/AnyOS fanboys telling me what should I use. I can listen to them if we can have reasonable conversations about the merits of their preferences. I want to be able to benefit from both worlds without somebody yelling at me.

And, to use your own eaxmple, I don't use any kinds of drugs, not even aspirin, because I usually don't get sick but for a couple of colds per year. But, due to all the pollution and our modern lifestyle, when and if I find myself undergoing some kind of very painful disease and morfine is the only thing that will help me endure that, I will go ahead and try it, for sure.

aboutblank's picture

aboutblank

4 years 13 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago

0

Users do not appreciate freedom

It is a fact that most of our community do not appreciate freedom. The reason why people do not reject proprietary software is because they don't actually value their right to freedom. They may be ignorant about the harm of proprietary software over their freedom or they may value practical convenience more than freedom. Either way, when people do not value their freedom, they are very likely to lose it.

I don't mind when users do not have the will to completely reject proprietary software and use proprietary software in the absence of a free alternative. My problem is in the fact that there is very little education towards promoting the values of freedom. When I see a promotion here about proprietary software, I do not learn about freedom. Instead, I learn some new facts about a proprietary program. My solution for this is to educate about freedom with my commentary. I will vote down an article and state why this should not be promoted.

The point of the free software movement is to promote an ethical solution to the social problem of proprietary software. If we free software activists consider proprietary software to be an unjust social problem and free software to be a just solution to this problem, wouldn't it be hypocritical for us to endorse this unjust social problem if our goal was to promote freedom?

drascus321's picture

drascus321

4 years 13 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago

1

just silly

you argument is just silly. You are comparing two things which have nothing to do with one another. One is a natural human drive linked with millions of years of evolution which people are trying to suppress out of a cultural ideology. The other is software which is not linked to innate drive has nothing to do with evolution and we are not arguing against softwares use. This is not a cultural ideology it's an argument about ethics. Namely is it ethical for a company or software to deny certain freedoms to it's users. we say the answer is no. Now it's not necessarily unethical just to use that software. but you are adding incentive for those companies to make more of that non-free software. And you are also volunteering to have you freedoms taken away.

We are not advocating for Abstinance that is assuming that people have this uncontrollable erge to use proprietary software. They do not. We are advocating people Use the Free Software alternatives instead of the non-free ones. If no Free alternatives exist we are asking people to help get those free Alternatives created.

Now maybe it could be argued that it's okay to use the proprietary ones while you wait or work on the free replacements. But that is an argument of semantics and I don't know the answer to that. I worry that if we just use the proprietary software we will have no incentive to create it. But I won't pretend that I don't use any non-free Software. However I am actively trying to replace it and I put money toward projects that are trying to replace them so I am doing my part.

there is no hard group that is banded together with one resounding "never use proprietary software ever or else" message that is a myth. Even at the FSF with whom I have frequent contact they have many differing opinions among their members. So it's hard to just try and point a finger at a group and call them silly when that group really doesn't even exist.