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not.this at seebelow.org
Fri Nov 2 21:03:33 CET 2001
In article <mailman.1004679422.6477.python-list at python.org>, "Tim says...
>>> FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION TO ALL PSU MEMBERS
>> The PSU failed! A post about the PSU escaped to the world in its
>> We are fre
>In case the intended word was "free", I'd like to point out that there are
>different philosophies about free software, only one is correct, and
>c.l.py's mission is to educate the world about which one that is. Don't
>forget that extremism in defense of freedom is no vice.
Can one likewise conclude that freedom is defined as defense of extremism in
vices? (Just wondering <wink>.)
And BTW, I'd just like to take this opportunity to address the concept of "free
beer"--a subject which, in these periodic debates of "free software", invaribly
comes up, but then passes by without receiving a level of thoughtful critical
thinking commensurate to that given to the other freedom-related subjects.
Specifically, I think we need to re-examine the concept of free beer itself;
then, we will have a more solid footing for the rest of our arguments--if not
for our feet. Can free beer itself truly be free in a "free beer" sense? I'm
not sure. For one thing, one's freedom to consume free beer is severly limited
by one's physiology. In the most obvious sense, one is limited in one's freedom
to consume beer at least by the rate at which one can pee. But in a somewhat
more abstract (though still physiological sense), one's freedom to consume beer
is limited by the beer's potential lethality if consumed too quickly.
(Admittedly, this point probably applies to free liquor more than free beer, but
freedom is freedom.) Further, one's freedom to consume beer comes in direct
opposition to one's freedom to operate a motor vehicle--not just in the legal
sense, or even in the more important menace-to-society sense, but also, in the
limit, in the physiological sense: at some point, one's freeedom to drink beer
leaves one no longer free to use one's motor skills to exercise one's freedom to
drive motor vehicles--even if one were legally and morally free to do so at such
Clearly, then, even in a free society, we all have to accept limits on our
freedom. Or, as a wise man once said, "the freedom to swing your fist stops at
the the tip of my nose". Likewise, the freedom we have to speak freely leaves
us _unfree_ to be unoffended by the free speech of others. At best, then,
freedom is a cage of liberation.
Is The Glass of Freedom half-empty, or half-full?
Neither. And both. We must consider freedom as a tradeoff, not as an absolute.
Our discussions of freedom should therefore center on _where_ to make the trade,
not on what the absolute should be. In that vein, we might consider the
constitution of the United States of America as a practical example which
manifests a balance between fist-swinging and noses. We see that, although it
preserves a variety of essential specific freedoms, it also specifically
establishes authority in Congress to create patent laws. Thus, paradoxically,
it both protects "freedom" and limits it in the same stroke of a pen. But in so
doing, it makes a tradeoff which most of us who fall under its jurisdiction find
In summary, then, we see that even free beer is not free in a "free beer" sense;
that freedom is not an absolute; and that intellectual property in particular is
not--and need not--be free in a "free beer" sense--even if free beer itself
That being said, I am not trying to limit anyone's freedom to focus on, then
discuss free beer as a serious intellectual and philosophical endeavor; quite
the contrary: if some folks have consumed free beer freely enough to freely
conclude that the terms spelled out in the Gnu Public License which limit their
use of the applicable intellectual property somehow protect their freedom (if
not in a "free beer" sense, even assuming that free beer itself were free in a
"free beer" sense), then I freely respect their right to consume freely, so long
as, in the process, they don't drive their motor vehicle into the tip of my
I hope, though, that such folks never succeed in their evident campaign to force
_all_ who provide free beer to give away their recipe. Personally, I am more
interested in the beer than the recipe--assuming it's good beer. Also, of
course, many beer recipes are already freely available--more than I can count.
But more importantly than the question of recipes itself, I suspect that any
such restrictions on the freedoms of those who provide free beer will, if
anything, reduce the aggregate quantity of beer freely available, rather than
accomplish their (purported) purpose of engendering more free beer. And
speaking as someone who has occasionally enjoyed a little free beer (though who
more often ends up paying for it), that can't a good thing.
Grant R. Griffin g2 at dspguru.com
Publisher of dspGuru http://www.dspguru.com
Iowegian International Corporation http://www.iowegian.com
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