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Re: Is this list informational or idealogical?
On Mon, 3 Nov 1997, Charles Kelly, NT*Pro wrote:
>I joined this discussion list hoping to hear an informed discussion about
>issues in the computer industry which affect us as professionals and
>consumers. My perception when I joined the list was that the discussion would
>be technically correct, factually correct, and even (perhaps...) devoid of
>religion and personal vendettas.
>If the religious fervor of the messages I've seen on this list so far are
>typical of the views which Mr. Nader proposes to speak on behalf of, then I
>would say that Mr. Nader does not speak for me personally nor for many
>thousands of other like me. Indeed such rhetoric may prove to be very
>counter-productive when dealing with an informed audience.
>Thanks for listening to my viewpoint. I hope I was able to express it without
>resorting to the personal and religious fervor that often creeps into (and
>destroys) such a discussion.
Mr. Kelly, et. al.:
I don't know why the list can't have both kinds of discourse. All I've been
trying to clarify is that there are two things that should be considered when
you appraise MS: the legal situation and the moral/ethical/ideological
In other words, there are legal issues surrounding MS, and its going to be
those that will change MS in a \\dramatic way\\, by intervention of the DoJ or
by the resolution of a class-action suit, or if MS, for example, loses big to
Sun over Java.
Those are absolutely important and thrilling if you happen to dislike MS like
Now, the second set of issues are equally important, but in different ways. My
whole point has been that even if there were no activity on the legal front,
these other issues would still be live issues: MS would still be doing things
that many people feel are unethical or just ideologically displeasing. These
issues, while lacking the capacity for \\dramatic\\ change of the situation,
are no less important as agents of change: I mean if every OS/2, Apple, and
free Unix user gave in and used MS until MS were legally dismantled or
chastised, then there would be NO MS alternatives, there would be no reason to
have an appraising MS conference, there would be no reason for any of this.
Assimilation would be complete.
These are real issues but, unfortunately, the aren't real for everyone. Some
people don't think that business has any moral or ethical dimension; others
think it does but that MS is ethically defensible. The first position I
disagree with completely; the second, I think, arises frequently from
ignorance about the way MS practices business.
In other words, whether is it, strictly speaking, legal or not that MS forces
computer makers to pay for a MS OS license for every machine they sell, even
if I buy a machine without a MS OS at all, I'm only indirectly concerned with.
It strikes me as a profoundly objectionable way to do business ethically. I've
explained that to many people: some scoff, some mull, and some agree
immediately, but then say: but what alternatives to MS are there? That's the
opening I'm looking for to say: Apple, OS/2, or Linux---depending on their
needs, interest, and ability.
So, what I advocate is that this list can equally be a forum for both kinds of
appraisals of MS. Why should we limit it to one or the other? Even if all
legal actions against MS should fail, that still means that, in my opinion,
they are a company I could never support in good conscience.
It strikes me as odd that many people will quit using MS or look for an
alternative only if they lose a significant legal struggle. It's totally
acceptable and totally American to abandon MS even before that. It's called
freedom of choice. We have it and we ought to exercise it.
I didn't understand either this list or the conference it seeks to enlarge to
be strictly concerned with legal issues. I know that Nader isn't only
interested in legal issues; the last time I heard him speak (on C-span) he
gave what seemed to me a thrillingly compassionate (you would say
``religious,'' but that's a terrible misuse of the word) moral AND legal
criticism of the corporatization of American life. For whatever it is worth, I
think Nader isn't interested SIMPLY in the legal aspects of a MS appraisal.
Finally, I would like to make a small plea for linguistic precision: I know it
is Usenet and Internet practice to belittle another's position that you don't
agree with, especially when that other person is passionate about the ways in
which they advocate their position. That belittlement very often comes in the
form of calling the position ``religious.'' I submit that this practice is
imprecise and also offensive. There's nothing vaguely religious connected to
any of these issues, but there are, for many of us, moral and ethical aspects
of MS practices (no, religion doesn't equal ethics/morality, nor vice versa).
If you don't like ideology on this list, fine. If you don't like any non-legal
appraisals of MS on this list, fine. But say that. Don't just call the things
you don't like ``religious'' and think you've made a point. You haven't.
PS--I hope the tone of my reply is sufficiently dispassionate and bloodless
that you will read for its meaning and not for its style.
Linux is free. Life is good.