The freedom for consenting adults to do what they like is as fundamental a freedom as I can think of and the protecting of it one of my most important interests. About once a week I say something like “I’m a big fan of consenting adults doing what they please.” I’m not a fan of people preventing consenting adults from doing what they like or a person involving someone who doesn’t consent.
I find its purest (or at least most influential and inspiring to me) statement in Henry Thoreau‘s Civil Disobedience, the re-reading of which on the occasional Martin Luther King’s birthday is one of my favorite pastimes, along with the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution. I find centralizing power enables some of the greatest threats to it.
In my day to day life, I think people see my resistance to attempts by one person to impose his or her values on another as how my interest in freedom manifests. Maybe it’s through my talking about the people whose actions in this tradition have impressed and inspired me most, like MLK, Gandhi, and Mandela.
I want not just to know about this tradition of freedom, but to contribute to it. I’m writing today because I was just inspired by Eben Moglen‘s talk on political liberty and free software (the keynote links here) at a free and open source developers’ conference in Europe this weekend.
Based on 1) the success of his and his colleague’s contributions to freedom (Wikipedia, the Firefox, GNU/Linux operating system, etc), 2) my skills, knowledge, and circle of influence, and 3) proprietary software’s contribution to centralizing power, I believe contributing in the areas he talks about my best way to contribute to the tradition. I’ve written before why I don’t like using un-free software. Watch the video of Eben’s talk (or several others at the bottom of this page) for more background. If you love freedom you’ll love them. It will help if you’re geeky.
I don’t think people get that my using Linux and GNU is more than anything else an act to contribute to freedom and resist the contrary, but it is. The technical differences between Free Software and proprietary software aren’t that important to me. If the software is Free, we can fix any technical issues.
Anyway, I recommend watching some of Eben’s talks.
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