Advocacy doesn’t work if you tell someone they’re wrong

Jelle Hermsen jelle at
Wed Nov 3 19:39:13 UTC 2010

On Wed, 2010-11-03 at 18:01 +0100, Theo Schmidt wrote:
> Stephane Ascoet schrieb:
> > Jelle Hermsen a écrit :
> > 
> >> I derived this idea from social psychology and I would love to hear what
> >> you all think of it.
> > Hi, I think you're right. We're facing the same issue while trying to convince people to stop meat consumption.
> OK, hands up for those who love free software and open content, go easy on the 
> meat, prefer cycling to driving and using trains to planes, and try to use solar 
> energy rather than fossil or atomic fuels! :-)
> Seriously, I find some of these things go together, but professing to them all 
> is guaranteed to get labelled as a "do-gooder" ("Gutmensch" in German), not 
> meant as a compliment!
> Theo Schmidt
I agree that it might be a good idea to compartmentalize your ideals, so
that you're not spreading them thin. But being a Gutmensch also implies
that you're naive and impractical and I think that might be somewhat of
a harsh judgment. Take RMS for example. When I take a look at his
website ( ) it's hard to miss that he cares about a
lot of issues, but I wouldn't say he's naive or impractical, au
contraire, mon frère. 
However, I do believe you raise an important point. Where do we draw the
line. Which issues belong to the FSFE and which don't? It's obvious meat
consumption doesn't, but what issues surrounding free software and
computing in general should we fight for? 

- Do we care about the low participation of women in floss (I know I

- What do we think about the digital divide, in which people (mostly
elderly, but don't forget illiterates) miss out on the digital age. Free
software could be of great importance here!

- And what to say about the need for widespread broadband internet
coverage. Children are growing up in rural areas in Europe without
access to all the digital goodness we take for granted. Tried to surf or
apt-get/yum with a 56k6 modem lately?

Just to name a few. I don't say we should care about every single thing
and it's very important to keep your focus, but when it comes to caring
about other people and good causes in general, I'd rather be a somewhat
naive altruistic sissy than a clear headed guy who knows when to tone


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