Maddog's revelation reminds us of FLOSS ideals

Moving past historical prejudices

In an eloquent message to the Linux community that he faithfully advances, Linux International executive director Jon "maddog" Hall has announced that he is gay.

This is, for me, not news. That's not said in the arrogant sense of "I knew it all along" (I didn't) but more in the sense of "what's the big deal?" Having worked with Hall a few times in the past, and even having my theories shot all to hell by him once in a while, it affects me not in the slightest. I will still pay attention to this man who has done so much for the cause of Linux and free and open source software.

I am not naive enough to imagine that Hall won't catch some flack for this, because as he points out in his blogged announcement, there are people in this world that have a problem with homosexuals.

To think that this attitude might exist within the open source community is distasteful, though. This is, in all honesty, probably coming from an attitude that I am right and intolerant people aren't. But there is also a bit of logic to this, as well.

After all, it is a hallmark of the free and open source software communities that that which is different from so-called norms is not to be rejected out of hand but judged on its own merits. That's a big driver of FLOSS: to rail against the tools that society and big business would want to foist upon us.

We are not perfect, of course. The often knee-jerk hatred of All Things Microsoft can border on the pathological at times, and while I too have harbored my own ill feelings for Microsoft and its ultimate goals, it is probably a habit the FLOSS community should break. Hatred for anything or anyone will eventually just kill you faster.

Hall noted this not only about the FLOSS community, but the broader computer science community as well.

"In fact, computer science was a haven for homosexuals, trans-sexuals and a lot of other 'sexuals,' mostly because the history of the science called for fairly intelligent, modern-thinking people. Many computer companies were the first to enact 'diversity' programs, and the USENIX organization had a special interest group that was made up of LGBT people," Hall wrote.

So here we are, 11.5 years into the 21st Century. There are still no flying cars. No one-button time-saving kitchen-o-mats. But there can be something better: a chance to show that "open" means "open," that race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation is not something to judge, but to accept. What matters are the works we do, and the way we treat others.

It's in the code, after all. Why not the way we live?

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Open for Discussion blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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