- Free software advocates attacked Unisys for claiming ownership of LZW and insisted that they drop their lawsuit threats against people including the algorithm in the GIF spec.
- Free software advocates venomously attacked SCO for claiming ownership of parts of Linux's code-base and insisted that they drop their lawsuit threats against Linux distributors.
- When Sun asserted that Java was all theirs and sued Microsoft for trying to extend the language, those same advocates of free software were nowhere to be found. And why? Because Microsoft is evil, of course, and when Microsoft tries to do the right thing then it must be the wrong thing because Microsoft is evil.
And eventually Microsoft was forced to drop all Java support and fold their VM-efforts into the creation of an unrelated (on paper) language. And what's the first thing they did once they finalized the language? They handed it off to a standards board to be made into an open standard. And yet the free software crowd wants nothing to do with it, even though it's the free and open standard and the other is closed and proprietary.
And that, my friends, is a double standard. One of the reasons that I have bottomless respect for the National Organization for Women is because they offered to help finance Paula Jones' sexual harassment charges against Bill Clinton. While it was certainly not in the best interest of NOW to back charges against a president who was clearly a friend of NOW's point of view, they did realize that it would be a clear double-standard if they fought sexual harassment on all fronts but one.
And if you're gonna be an advocate of a particular point of view, whether it be free software or womens' rights, you need to defend that viewpoint everywhere, even if it makes you hold your nose from time to time.
And that's why I have little respect for free software as a movement. It doesn't seem to have any kind of driving philosophy that would lead it to reach consistent conclusions over issues like the ones I pointed out above. Its driving personality, Richard Stallman, strikes me as pretty poorly thought-out about his position, and whenever I seem in interviews, his main points seem to boil down to some pseudo-socialistic "workers of the world unite" platitudes and soundbites.
Wouldn't surprise me if someday free software went the direction of the new efforts to privatize space exploration. That whole movement scrambled about for decades accomplishing essentially nothing until a couple of people with the ability and means to actually make it worthwhile scrapped the whole movement and rebuilt it in their own image. Private space exploration made bigger strides in the past two years than it did in the previous forty, and for that very reason. Maybe that'll happen to free software someday. Somebody will pick up the whole blanket, shake it out, and make it something philosophically coherent.