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Why Richard Stallman Was Right All Along 807

jrepin sends this excerpt from an opinion piece at OSNews: "Late last year, president Obama signed a law that makes it possible to indefinitely detain terrorist suspects without any form of trial or due process. Peaceful protesters in Occupy movements all over the world have been labelled as terrorists by the authorities. Initiatives like SOPA promote diligent monitoring of communication channels. Thirty years ago, when Richard Stallman launched the GNU project, and during the three decades that followed, his sometimes extreme views and peculiar antics were ridiculed and disregarded as paranoia — but here we are, 2012, and his once paranoid what-ifs have become reality."
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Why Richard Stallman Was Right All Along

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 02, 2012 @07:41PM (#38567178)

    It's a little more complicated than that. If he signs it it means he thinks
    signing the legislation is a better option than not signing the legislation --
    not that it's a good law. Sometimes tradeoffs are made, especially
    in the f**ked up federal legislature that runs (poorly) the US right now.

    Funny, the captcha was "corrupt".

  • by bonch ( 38532 ) * on Monday January 02, 2012 @08:15PM (#38567494)

    I directly addressed the message in the very first paragraph of my post: free software wouldn't have stopped the government behavior that's being criticized here.

    The article is about the messenger. It's called "Why Richard Stallman Was Right All Along." I pointed out other beliefs of Stallman's that are not so obviously right to illustrate the fact that just because someone spends 30 years being paranoid about everything, and then an event occurs that justifies a portion of that paranoia, it doesn't automatically mean all of his philosophy is correct or that his solutions are the right ones. For crying out loud, the guy thinks possession of child pornography should be legal.

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @08:24PM (#38567620) Homepage Journal

    RMS is a technohippie, an archetypical one. The hippies were right about everything:
    Rock & roll
    Vietnam, and war in general
    Nixon, and politicians in general
    Capitalism (as practiced, not as they lie to us in school about it)
    Religion, and dogma in general

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @08:35PM (#38567752) Homepage

    Also, if you read the statements coming from the Obama administration around the time of the passage of the NDAA, the reason he dislikes the detention rules in it is not that it gives the president the power to ignore the Fifth and Sixth Amendments whenever it suits him, but because it suggests that Congress has to give him permission to ignore those amendments. Glenn Greenwald [] (among others) has been analyzing this pretty closely.

    Now, in theory, the Supreme Court could give this the obvious constitutional smackdown it deserves, but this court doesn't seem all that inclined to do so.

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @09:07PM (#38568092)

    Next thing you know there is a huge uproar and demands for the government to make sure nothing like it happens again.

    Where? I don't remember anyone demanding that outside the government and media.

  • by pyrr ( 1170465 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @09:10PM (#38568122)
    The more of the world I see happening around me, the more I think this notion of "informed consent" is concocted nonsense. How many grown adults of the legal age are informed enough to make good decisions regarding sex, money, or much of anything else?
  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @09:11PM (#38568130) Homepage Journal

    Why are you fixated on the government

    Because I can choose what corporations (or individuals, or used item venues, or barter events, etc.) I do business with (or not), and how much business to do if I decide to do business at all. I can't choose to do business with the government; they take my money by threat and coercion, they use it for things I would never stand behind, they make laws that force people to do things I would never have them forced to do, and in the end, they set the rules the corporations have to abide by -- and they have done so very poorly. So corporations are definitely quite a ways down the list of my concerns from a government operating well out of its authorized sphere. Getting government into constitutional compliance is far more important. Once there, it would be reasonable to revisit what the constitution allows, and perhaps make a few legitimate changes. Until then, I am not worried about Apple; I am really, really concerned about the federal and state governments.

  • by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @09:17PM (#38568186)

    The problem is there are lots of crazy people in the world, and we don't have enough time on this planet to refute every bit of nonsense they spew. Fallacies like the argument from authority or the ad hominem make for bad logical proofs, but they're necessary in day to day life.

    I can't prove a square has five corners by insulting your mother, but if the wino on the street corner tells me the end is nigh, I'm not going to bother listening to his arguments. You shouldn't believe me if I say 2+2=5 just because I wave around a diploma, but every time you cross a bridge, you're trusting in the authority of those who built and checked it without bothering to check their work.

    If Stallman comes across as a nutjob, no one will listen to him. And why should they? There are tons of nutjobs in the media, and you'd die of old age before you could listen to and analyze everything they had to say.

  • Re:Wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

    by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @09:34PM (#38568324)

    Its a very grey line. In many places sex is legal at the age of 16, yet you must be 18 to view or be in an explicit photo or video.

    you can even be prosecuted for being in possession of a picture you took of yourself.

  • by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <> on Monday January 02, 2012 @09:39PM (#38568366) Homepage

    You are under the impression there is some "good" part of our current government that should not be abolished. This is incorrect; every part is under the control of corrupt politicians and the corporations that fund them. I did a blog entry last month on the corruption around the FDA [], picking one of the easier to like departments just to show how invasive that influence is. I don't know if electing Ron Paul will be sufficient to change much, given the likely deadlocks with Congress. But a vote for anyone else is certain to be useless at improving things.

  • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @09:46PM (#38568422)

    Some of what Ron Paul says seems to ignore the idea that the Constitution is not a Suicide Pact. For example, Paul may be right about the constitutionality of the Dept. of Energy, but he hasn't proposed a solution that can be rationally accepted. Just shutting the DOE down means there would be no federal oversight of nuclear weapons when they enter the repair and maintenance process, or of spent nuclear fuel. I too once took that oath to defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, and I'm damned pretty sure I meant it, than and now, but until Ron Paul can say at least say whether the DOE plants at Yucca Flats, Oak Ridge, and others should be under control of the Fed through some agency (DOE, DOE, or other), or of various state governments, or what his shut down plan is, he hasn't really said anything. I remember classes on how Posse Comitatus itself is a Constitution derived principle which limits the military itself controlling the nuclear arsenal when it's on US soil, off military posts, and I can only wish Dr. Paul would address whether, and just how, he intends to abide by that interpretation as well, because that seems to imply the possibility the guy really plans to abandon control of operational multi-megaton devices. Now, as a loyal Tennessean, if Ron Paul wants the governor to have full control over the disposition of all nuclear weapons currently in state (including any Russian ones Oak Ridge is probably dismantling right now), I guess that's all right, but I'd think come football season Alabama and Georgia might be a trifle nervous about just what the "Vol Defense" now encompasses.
            Please understand, Hellbombs get dirtier and dirtier inside just sitting on the shelf. There is not unlimited time to take "Shut down the DOE" from an idea to an actual plan, unless you don't mind putting human workers lives at a vastly increased and essentially unnecessary risk.Even the likely delay from a mere couple of years spent actually debating a plan in congress poses a very real health risk to hundreds of DOE contractor employees. And if your interpretation of the Constitution is that it puts some form of nuclear release authority in the hands of Bill Haslam, well, I'm not sure he even wants it. In fact, I kinda hope he doesn't. By the way, for those of you in states with Democratic governors, Bill's a staunch Republican, and no, most of your states don't have nukes in them. Lest you think I'm exaggerating, well, yes I am, a bit, but I'd point out that ambiguities in the control of the Ex-Soviet nuclear arsenal did occur on just this basis, and the result, according to the CIA for one source, was supposedly that some devices came close to falling into the hands, not just of oddly behaving leaders of some break-away republics, but of actual known terrorist organizations. One of the reasons the US has spent over a decade cleaning up really hot, nastily contaminated Soviet era devices is a period of less than a single year's delay in the ongoing process of maintenance in the collapsing USSR. Do you think we'd do better, with the sort of congress we have now?

  • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @10:09PM (#38568588)

    Except that his message about software freedoms have nothing at all to do with the problems listed in the article.
    Detaining terror suspects without due process: unrelated to software or sharing
    Occupy movement called terrorists: unrelated to software or sharing
    SOPA: related to software or sharing but really is much more about malware, media control, and so forth

    Stallman was not warning about totalitarian states or access to media or censorship of the internet. He was concerned about free software, keeping alive the old 60's/70's tradition of just sharing software freely, being able to modify the software you had. Now the EFF has indeed branched out a lot and is concerned about these newer issues, but that's not the same as claiming Stallman was predicting all this thirty years ago. His enemies thirty years ago were people like IBM and DEC and AT&T, his worries were about the growing proprietary nature of the computing industry.

    Whether you agree with RMS or not his views had nothing to do with these current issues and he's only being invoked to promote a blog piece.

  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @10:12PM (#38568616) Homepage Journal

    One of the reasons the US has spent over a decade cleaning up really hot, nastily contaminated Soviet era devices is a period of less than a single year's delay in the ongoing process of maintenance in the collapsing USSR. Do you think we'd do better, with the sort of congress we have now?

    Yes, I do. Paul can't do squat along these lines unless he gets congress to go along. Which he cannot do. There's zero risk here. The DOE (and every other department Paul would like to eliminate) exists as a consequence of establishing legislation and an already obtained presidential signature, or a sufficiency of votes to obviate the need. That means that either the courts have to shut the department(s) in question down (not happening) or the legislature has to shut them down (also not happening.) Paul can't do it -- the president has no such authority.

    Paul can't make legislation. All he can do is veto legislation, or suggest it -- which is a far cry from actually getting it made into law. The area he can work in and get things done is constrained to foreign policy, war, basically commander in chief stuff. That, and delay legislation if he doesn't like it -- and we know that the metric he will use is "is it constitutional?"

    This means congress will not face the questions you lay on the table here; and that in turn means it's a non-issue.

  • by conlaw ( 983784 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @10:23PM (#38568688)
    It was the people's demands following 9/11 that gave Congress the nerve to pass the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001." And, for anyone who hasn't read the USA PATRIOT ACT, I sincerely recommend that you set aside some time to read through it at: [] and then we can all chat again about the Constitution.
  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @10:41PM (#38568778) Homepage Journal

    And how do routers affect the maintenance of the DNS roots that are affected by SOPA? If you think software freedom would have stopped SOPA, I've got a bridge to sell you...

  • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:00PM (#38568876)
    Like it or not, Ron Paul, (along with whoever the 3rd party candidates are going to be) are the only hope in restoring America. And the only ones wanting a sane government.

    Who's the better choice in 2012? Obama who helped wreck the economy (it is partially Bush/Congress's fault also), got us into yet another expensive and unconstitutional war (Libya), has failed to stop the torturing of inmates at Guantanamo Bay, ended the War in Iraq with more or less of a defeat rather than a victory, and we are still at war in Afghanistan. Or the clueless GOP?

    If the choice is between Paul or Obama/Bachmann/Gingrich/Perry/Sanatorium/Palin/Trump/etc. the choice is clear, Paul is the best candidate. And even though there are things I disagree with on Mr. Paul's policy, if he runs as part of the GOP, Libertarian Party or as an independent, he has my vote because the rest of the candidates are terrible.
  • by Presto Vivace ( 882157 ) <> on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:13PM (#38568958) Homepage Journal
    I saw Richard Stallman speak at Yorktown High School years ago, here [] is my account of his presentation.
  • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @12:03AM (#38569208)
    So who would you elect then? Like I said, I don't 100% agree with everything Ron Paul says but he's the best candidate running in 2012. Its hardly cult like to say that out of all of the people running X candidate is the best one.

    If you are so judgmental Mr. Anonymous Coward, why don't you voice who you are voting for? And don't say you aren't going to vote (assuming you are American), even if your preferred candidate has no chance of winning at least have the peace of mind knowing that you did your part the best you could.
  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @12:47AM (#38569344) Homepage

    Stallman is a nutjob in enough ways that it seriously calls into question his entire process of judgment.

    So? He might still be right. If a guy in an insane asylum believes that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter is approximately equal to 3.14159..., the fact that he's in the insane asylum doesn't make him wrong. If you have a young drug-using new-agey hippie from a broken home who comes to you saying he's got a way of making computers that are much better than anything all the established competitors have, and you refuse to work with him because he's a young drug-using new-agey hippie, you may have just missed your chance to make a great investment in Apple.

    The worst possible consequence of RMS being wrong is that we'll have freely available software that's not as effective as proprietary software and thus is a bit of a waste of time and money to create. The best possible consequence of RMS being right is that we'll have freely available software that's high quality and allows users to do a lot of stuff with it (so long as they don't take the freely available stuff and try to steal it).

  • So because his theory was flawed in some respect, we ignore him completely? Does that mean we completely ignore the free-market fundamentalists that failed to predict the current shit storm that the world is going through?

  • by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @06:12AM (#38570416)

    It is possible for someone to be anti-Semitic and to still produce rational arguments on subjects not dealing with Jews. It is also possible that if he was 17, his ideas changed later and he could be rational even about Jews.

    But strangely people can be anti-Semitic and have no problem with Arabs, only Jews. Which is really wierd since the average Arab is far more representative of the Semitic racial type than the average Jew (who typically has a lot of European blood in them).

    In fact the hatred many Arabs have of Jews is often referred to as 'Anti-Semitic' which is hilarious considering they are of the same race. I've even heard Jews insult one another by using 'Anti-Semite' in the same context that I might use "bastard!", "asshole!" or "cunt!".

    The evident hatred of Arabs among many Americans would also be 'Anti-Semitic' but its rare to hear it described as such.

    Ie chances of someone who is anti-Semitic also having poor rationality in general seem fairly high. Racism is a bit like conspiracy theoryism; its not so much about unintelligence as about having ones horizons in thought limited or curtailed in some way.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:57AM (#38570888)

    I've known Richard for almost 30 years. He's picky, partly because he can be, partly because he knows that his physical appearance and demeanor are easily mocked. He seems quite content to irritate people who are not 100% onboard with his announced belief. I recently chatted with him at a hot dog stand, and he claimed that "Software As A Service" is evil because it keeps people's data from their own control and their own computers. I pointed out that, for my work, our clients don't have the resources and the skills to manage such large and critical databases, but that didn't seem to address his concerns.

    The point is that Richard will piss off completely reasonable people if he doesn't tightly control the venue, and it will distract from his core message. He knows this, so he controls his venues very, very carefully.

  • by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @09:48AM (#38571328)
    What? We are still run by Keynesians! Where are the free markets? Everywhere you look, there is government involvement in the markets. Government intervention, government bailouts, government funded spending programs, government regulations, government, government, government!

    The free market school DID predict the current shitstorm. Ron Paul predicted it in 2002 when they passed the bill that caused the housing bubble. You had Austrian economists shouting at the top of their lungs, trying to warn people about what was coming. But everyone had faith in their "Maestro" and his apprentice, even as their arch-corporatist organization was lowering interest rates to try to reflate the bubble. Rates are still at ZERO for fucks sake! It's like trying to sober someone up by giving them a whiskey enema.

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!