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Spin isn't an argument (Re: FW: MS's response to Nader)
On Sat, 15 Nov 1997, Paul Crowley wrote:
>No, the big difference is clearly that Gates is not a fascist and has
>never hired goon squads or otherwise used violence to promote his business
>interests. While Microsoft's current power in the market, and their use
>of it, is a Bad Thing, they aren't Nestle (third world baby milk), Union
>Carbide (Bhopal) or even Exxon (Valdez). They aren't British American
>Tobacco or Rio Tinto Zinc, or the Mafia. While I'm sure that the stress
>of having to use NT every day doesn't do my health any good, it's hardly
>like smoking or BSE-tainted beef. And it's not like driving a car that'll
>kill you if you crash in it.
I heard Rev. Jesse Jackson on CNN this week say that ``exclusion is a form of
violence.'' He was, of course, talking about racism and sexism, but couldn't a
similar moral point be made against MS?
I find it totally unconscionable that MS for the sake of increased profit and
domination excludes computer users from Internet content: whether other
companies in other industries have done the same things is UTTERLY irrelevant.
MS does it, and it's MS we're appraising on this list and in Nader's
Granted, it is not politically fascistic like Stalin, Mao, or Hitler for them
to exclude others from information for profit. But it is, nevertheless, a form
of or desire for totalitarian control. Does anyone really think MS will stop
on its own?
The MS defenders on this list have been crying ``foul'' at the notion that MS
is in some sense fascistic. And, yet, that is a common bit of our common
language as Americans. Any time a political or economic force tries to squash
freedom of expression, freedom of access, it gets called fascistic. Of course
no one means that the fascists are like Hitler. They do mean that the one
accused of the fascism is squashing dissent, manufacturing consent, and
I think we should all reread MS's response to the Nader conference from the
first day. There is no counter argument, no logic, no meaningful assertions
whatsoever. The writer of the response takes it as axiomatic that all one has
to do to understand what is going on at the AM conference is to understand who
works for whom. This is a form of ad hominem attack. It is not rational, it is
Is my argument, whether political, legal or moral, against MS vitiated by the
fact that I am a Sun employee? Nope, not at all. Just like the
arguments---when they have them, which is rare---of MS defenders on this list
aren't vitiated because many of them are dependent on MS for their living.
Those facts may be important to evaluating their credibility (the degree to
which you can take their avowals at face value), but they are irrelevant to
the logic of the arguments themselves.
This is, surprisingly enough, one thing Scott McNealy (Sun CEO) got right in
his keynote address.
Too many journalists seem to be blithely ignorant of these basic facts (no
offense meant, Declan, your comments on the AM conference seemed fair and
fairly insightful <g>). I looked at a lot of online coverage of the conference
and VERY FEW of the ``journalists'' went beyond the spin that MS spun the
*you can't trust these AM people because they all in one way or
another are connected to MS's competitors and, hence, they are MS bashers*
That's not an argument, and it's not a refutation of an argument. It's just
pure spin, it's propaganda.
The case for antitrust regulation of MS that has been getting made quite well
by Behrmann and Mueller and others on this list has, as far as I can tell, not
only gone unrefuted by MS and by their toadies; as far as I can tell it has
simply gone unaddressed. As for any moral criticism of MS that has come from
this list and from others, MS seems totally and blissfully ignorant of that
dimension of the cumulative case against MS. In this they are sadly
unoriginal: business in America is almost entirely ignorant of and apathetic
toward moral criticism. MS is just being a corporation like almost all others
in this regard, nothing special at all, except that the stakes are higher
in their case: for us and for them.