Let me be on record: I do not like Richard Stallman.
Once upon a time in the 80s I was working for Apple Computer. Out of the blue, the company sued Microsoft for “look and feel” infringement. In passing talk with my manager, I let him know that I thought it was a poor idea (he’s got a background in law, and he agreed). But what are you going to do?
A month or two later, I found out what RMS wanted me to do.
It was at a Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house in Palo Alto that I found out. I was there, and a cow-orker of mine was as well. In the course of conversation, Stallman found out that I worked for Apple. He immediately said:
“Quit in protest.”
“You should quit Apple in protest of the lawsuit against Microsoft.”
At this point, two responses came to mind. The first, which I should have used, was “Fuck you,” the second was to debate the matter and try to get him to realize how stupid the idea of ‘quitting in protest’ was.
So, after (what seemed) a couple hours of me saying, “You’re crazy, they don’t give a shit if I quit or not,” and him saying “But if you’ve got a conscience you have to,” I left the damned dinner. (Well, I was done anyway).
The thing that irked me (in addition to being flamed at for a couple hours) was: My cow-orker was standing there the whole time. Not once did I see him harangue her about quitting, and he knew she worked at Apple.
Draw your own conclusions. RMS may be a fine programmer, but his mission is not my mission, and I won’t jump off a bridge for someone else’s idealistic cause.
I’d love to see Jack Tramiel and Richard Stallman in a debate. God, that would be just great.