Rhea Myers

Misunderstandings Of Free Screwdrivers

Some people might argue that the ability to stop other people from using screwdrivers freely is such an important freedom that to remove this freedom is the worst imaginable ethical harm imaginable, far worse than just removing the freedom to use screwdrivers. They should read Mill or Berlin.

Some people might not like the idea of defending the ability to use screwdrivers freely but may still want to be able to try to undercut expensive unfree screwdrivers. They would come up with a more market-friendly name that avoids the “confusion” of mentioning ethics. They should read Jemima Puddleduck.

Some people might argue that scrwdrivers with strange new shapes, added prongs or holes, different sized heads are not enough like older screwdrivers to make their use a matter of freedom. Likewise if existing legal and economic strategies to prevent people using screwdrivers freely were defeated and screwdrivers that explode when you turn them the wrong way to prevent you using them as you wish were created in response these same people would argue that we are concerned with the freedom to use screwdrivers, not the freedom to not be affected by explosive devices. They should read debian-legal.

Some people might decide that the techniques used to protect people’s ability to use screwdrivers are interesting and try to apply them to art or activism. But they would quickly find themselves confused if they concentrated on the ways in which this freedom is manifested rather than on the general goal of freedom. The result would be endless arguments over whether art should be cross- or flat- headed and whether activists should try to have a clockwise or anticlockwise thread. Whatever they read, they shouldn’t read Eric Raymond.

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