Tuesday, October 31, 2006

religious requirements for free software development

Relgions commonly require contributions to charitable causes and helping other people. Developing free software without expecting a reward seems to fit that criteria.

If my primary religious belief (atheism) turns out to be incorrect then I am certain that whatever deity might exist would want me to do Free Software development.

It seems to me that denying people the ability to contribute to Free Software development or forcing them to use proprietary software is therefore an infringement of their rights to freely practice their religion.

Prisoners should be permitted to do Free Software development. Kevin Mitnik was prevented from using computers while incarcerated and after being released (which is wrong in so many ways). It has been recently announced that pagan prisoners in the UK are being given time off prison duties for haloween. I think that allowing free software development for people who believe that it is a religious requirement deserves at least the same protection.

Also government agencies should not require the use of MS file formats or IE for communication.

PS Day 24 of the beard is depicted above.


John H said...

Nice idea, but I think it could be open to abuse.

After all, plenty of people regard it as their religious duty to inform other people of their religious beliefs, either going door-to-door or by approaching people in public places. But good luck to the prisoner who attempts to argue that their religious freedom is being impinged by their inability to walk the streets proclaiming their religion.

Then there's the religions that practise human sacrifice...

Leon Brooks said...

Russ, I think you're about to run into some odd/flavoursome definitions for the term "help people". (-:

You might, for example, wish to consider a few like Roman Catholicism (whose definition of "help others" typically includes "...to become Catholics") or selfish-Atheism (which consists of wiping out one's competitors as fast as possible) or Satanism (which typically uses longer words to advocate basically the same thing).

There are many more, um, interesting ones about, as well. Do keep us posted if you try any out...

Jason said...

What a strange post. BTW, though, Atheism is not a religion.

etbe said...

John H, I think that a prisoner who wanted freedom to convert other prisoners would be granted it. I have heard about bible study groups etc in prisons.

AFAIK Freedom of religion has never permitted human sacrifice in any country with a legal system based on the English legal system. But anything that doesn't involve hurting anyone else, drugs, or public nudity generally gets permitted.

Leon, what do you mean about "selfish-Atheism"? I've never seen any evidence of Atheists trying to convert Buddhists, Baha'i, or other non-invasive religions. It's when a religious group wants laws to restrict other religious beliefs (including Atheism) or harms other people that Atheists attack it (but not for religious reasons).

Jason, can you prove beyond all doubt that there is no God? If so then Atheism becomes a scientific fact, until/unless you can do so it's a belief. An unprovable belief concerning what happens (or doesn't happen) after you die and/or the existance of a God (or lack therof) has to be considered a religion.

Leon Brooks said...

Russ, selfish-Atheism works against any competitors, invasive or not, overtly religious or not.

I don't think I've seen any official organisation, since that's also something which would often be regarded as both a competitor itself & too overt.

The attitude isn't limited to Atheism or Atheists, but (I suspect partly due to the relative popularity of evolutionary morality amongst Atheists) seems to find readier traction there.

"Helping people with their evolution" seems to play a leading role, as "helping people to heaven" or "helping them to end their frustration" does with more overtly deistic flavours.

These are basically idle observations rather than anything definitive, by the way, because I've never had similar attitudes myself.

Either way, writing FOSS seems to fit well into most categories except for the overtly competitive (where it could be regarded as, in its own way, robbing newbies of their karmatic learning).

I'd be interested in seeing how well you got on with putting such a claim (FOSS for my religious beliefs) In Real Life.

Sam Jose said...

itz the need of the time hour to maximize the spread of open source. but i think religion must not be a question here. Allowing prisoners work with computer is better idea (as far as they don't show online criminal tendencies.

Sam Jose

etbe said...

The problems with prisoners committing crimes with prison computers are vastly over-rated.

It is not difficult to have a strict firewall with a white-list and to log all data transferred for some years. I'm sure that the idea of having their actions on the net discussed at a parole board or being used when deciding to grant privileges such as TV access will cause most prisoners to do the right thing.

Also most prisoner computer access does not require net access. A prisoner who wanted to do free software development could be given access to a FTP mirror run by the prison and allowed to send out 10 messages per day (which could be reviewed by a censor).