Friday, September 25, 2009

De Icaza "civil and polite"?

In response to RMS: De Icaza Traitor to Free Software Community:
Kudos to De Icaza for remaining civil and polite despite such a low blow from RMS.
While I certainly think that RMS went a little too far in his comments, it's unfair to overlook the highly personal attack with which De Icaza opens his post:
I want to say that God loves all creatures. From the formidable elephant to the tiniest ant. And that includes Richard Stallman.
I'm not familiar with De Icaza's religion, but it's common knowledge in the Free Software community that RMS is an atheist. Many atheists, especially in the United States, find proselytizing of the "God loves you" sort to be highly insulting. In this situation, especially, it feels like De Icaza is trying to evoke the popular image among the religious of the Bitter Atheist, the sort who really believes in god but hates him so pretends he doesn't exist, vs. the Friendly, Reasonable Theist, who is just trying to get the Bitter Atheist to see the truth.

Furthermore, the widely quoted comments from RMS were made in the setting of a spoken forum. Once the words are out of your mouth, there's no Backspace key to take them back, and we already know that RMS can get quite emotional about issues affecting the Free Software community.

But De Icaza had a chance to consider his response carefully (he was, after all, writing a blog entry), and he opted to publicly, albeit indirectly and with some subtlety, attack RMS's lack of religion. Being polite doesn't make you right, but even if it did, who was really being less "constructive and civil" here?

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