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January 30, 2004

I was reading an article in a techy magazine yesterday and they had an article by Mike Tiemann, the CTO of Red Hat Inc, a major Linux distribution vendor. He said, "[Mandating open-source software] is far less serious and immoral than the United States' willingness to export democracy by force." Normally, I'd back this guy up, given that I'm a Linux fan, but his political statement instantly drove up my blood pressure a bit, and I felt enmity towards him. The same reaction happens when I hear about celebrities like The Dixie Chics making not-to-subtle political statements against the US and it's administration.I caught myself, and I asked myself why do I get so worked up over what somebody says? They too have the freedom of speech and thought. However, I don't think I'm unique to this effect. I can think of other things, such as religion, and to a much smaller degree with some people, cars (Ford vs Chevy, etc). People can get irrationally emotional about some things they strongly believe in, even people that aren't real emotional, like me for example. Why do I care what some outspoken person says, when it likely won't effect federal policy? Why do I want to start calling these people names? Granted, thinking about things, and actually voicing or publishing them are significant differences, but it seems awfully immature to me. Again, I see this in a lot of people on different sides of lots of issues. In asking myself "Why the passion?" in order to have a rational explanation of the reaction, I can't come up with anything other than the fact that we strongly believe in things and don't like it when someone feels differently.Can any of you give me a better reason?

Posted by charr at 3:52 PM
Reader Comments

It's precicely because humans are not, by nature, rational beings. We can, if we study and practice, learn the skill of rational thought. But it's in our nature to make snap judgements based on emotion and intuition. When someone makes a comment insulting to something we happen to hold in high regard, we feel insulted ourselves, and we feel upset and often retaliatory. That's just the way we're wired.Besides, I do wonder if we have been in the business of exporting democracy by force. Are you opposed to the suggestion that we're doing that, or are you opposed to the characterization of it as seriously immoral?

Posted by Levi at January 31, 2004 1:04 AM

I think you could say the US is exporting democracy by force in Iraq, but I really don't like that wording. Whether it's appropriate or not in Iraq is a different story. They didn't ask for it, but I also think they welcome it, despite the ongoing problems. Assuming there was another cause to invade Iraq, then I see no problem trying to establish a democracy as we pull out. Of course, it's that other cause people aren't sure about. The published cause was WMD, but deposing a mass murderer and tyrant works for me.

Posted by Cameron at January 31, 2004 8:31 AM

We all have our little buttons and when those buttons are pushed, we push back. Human nature.

Posted by Jan at February 2, 2004 6:23 AM

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