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03.04.10

Divisiveness

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, Mono, Novell at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wireless and scissors

Summary: Thoughts and references about the notion that those who criticise troubles and ills are simply being “divisive”

A LOT of people have accused this Web site of being divisive. In fact, almost every Web site that ‘dares’ to criticise the unjust is bound to be smeared. The reasons for this were explained here before [1, 2], so we won’t be discussing them again.

A few days ago we found some interesting articles in PR Watch (CMD) that name MSNBC along with Fox News and others (whose divisive intent is obvious). They are rightly being accused of pushing an agenda rather than reporting news. “Cable TV Shows Rife with Hidden Flacks and Lobbyists,” writes the author, who explains:

Cable news networks like MSNBC, CNN, CNBC and Fox News routinely use commentators who have financial conflicts of interest that are undisclosed to viewers. Former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, for example, appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, to discuss the economic crisis.

Here is another new one, titled “The Media-Lobbying Complex”:

President Obama spent most of December 4 touring Allentown, Pennsylvania, meeting with local workers and discussing the economic crisis. A few hours later, the state’s former governor, Tom Ridge, was on MSNBC’s Hardball With Chris Matthews, offering up his own recovery plan. There were “modest things” the White House might try, like cutting taxes or opening up credit for small businesses, but the real answer was for the president to “take his green agenda and blow it out of the box.” The first step, Ridge explained, was to “create nuclear power plants.” Combined with some waste coal and natural gas extraction, you would have an “innovation setter” that would “create jobs, create exports.”

As regular readers may know, we include many such links on a daily basis, but the reason for including them here is to show that the mainstream media can be no more than lobbying, no more than a farce. The effects of this range from environment to what people consider ‘normal’ ways of life. The media establishes norms and consensus.

There is another lesser-known aspect that the environment debate in particular is showing these days. Climate scientists are being bullied. And to use a parallel example, Mono critics have been bullied for years. Take Sam Varghese for example; he gets abuse from people whom he dares to criticise and companies that he dares to see as malicious. These people who bully the messenger, in turn, are suffocating and suppressing free speech through a form of retaliation. “Divisive Behavior” is the title of this post about the ordeals of Varghese. It’s a fascinating read.

Past Sins

Sam Varghese wrote an article about Matthew Garrett’s LCA talk “The Linux community: what is it and how to be a part of it” [1]. In page 2 Sam quotes Martin Krafft as asking about how Matthew’s behavior had changed between 2004 and the present, Sam cites some references for Matthew’s actions in 2005 to demonstrate. I think that this raises the issue of how far back it is reasonable to go in search of evidence of past behavior, something that I think is far more important than the specific details of what Matthew said on mailing lists many years ago and whether he now regrets such email.

If someone did something that you consider to be wrong yesterday and did the same thing five years ago you might consider it to be evidence of a pattern of behavior. If someone’s statements today don’t match their actions yesterday then you should consider it to be evidence of hypocrisy. But if someone did something five years ago which doesn’t match their current statements then in many situations it seems more reasonable to consider it as evidence that they have changed their mind.

Perhaps Varghese has received the type of abuse that Richard Stallman is always getting, so it’s a badge of honour really. Matt Lee from the FSF has had this little confrontation with The Guardian recently. He explains in his blog:

Upon my return to the UK, my colleagues at work informed me that I’d been in The Guardian, and sure enough, checking the newspaper’s website, I was there, as part of a collection of ’24 hours in pictures’ for August 10th, 2007.

This seemed like a reasonable mistake, but my attempts to contact The Guardian and also the photographer were not satisfactory. Unable to be able to get a free license (CC-BY or CC-BY-SA) of my own image, I made a copy of the image and promptly forgot all about it.

Watch how they characterise him. It all seems to suit the image that the FSF is very dangerous and those ‘hackers’ (intended in a negative sense) are against society.

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3 Comments

  1. satipera said,

    March 4, 2010 at 7:39 am

    Gravatar

    I would argue that it is the forces of the majority and the status quo who are more likely to be divisive. Criticism of the majority or accepted view is often taken as an opportunity by some to cement themselves to the social majority or react in a self interested manner at the expense of the criticiser. Of course this is not always the case but there is a close correlation to this behaviour and social and financial advantage. This is not news but people can react to criticism by saying things they do not believe themselves but it suits them to say it.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Atheism faces this issue in the United States.

  2. your_friend said,

    March 4, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Gravatar

    Violent hostility towards freedom and competition is the norm Microsoft and other large publishers seek to establish. Sharing is compared to violent crimes like “piracy” and murder. GNU/Linux is called “communism” “cancer” and those using it are called impractical idealists at best and terrorists at worst. It is a shame people fall for this kind of thing but the decline of broadcast will lessen it’s effectiveness. When MSNBC is just another web site, for example, it won’t be able to set the norm as effectively.

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