Boston Software Party

Fake News written by James Baughn on Sunday, July 4, 1999

from the polluting-the-atlantic-with-toxic-waste dept.

BOSTON, MA -- Thousands of disgruntled Linux revolutionaries showed up at the Boston Harbor today to protest "taxation without representation" by the oppressive Microsoft Corporation. Thousands of pounds of Microsoft boxes, CD-ROMs, manuals, license agreements, promotional materials, and registration forms were dumped into the harbor during the First Annual Boston Software Party.

Some attendees sold hastily printed T-shirts with slogans like "July 4th, 1999: Microsoft Independence Day!" and "What do you call 10,000 pounds of Microsoft software at the bottom of the ocean? A darned good start!" Others sold fake dollar bills with a portrait of Tux Penguin and the saying, "In Linus We Trust".

One highlight (or lowlight, depending on perspective) of the event was an impromptu speech given by Eric S. Raymond in which he compared the Open Source movement with that of the American Revolution. "The Colonists had the Stamp Tax, we have a Microsoft tax on new computers pre-installed with Windows... [T]hey had the Declaration [of Independence], we have the Cathedral and the Bazaar. They had the Constitution... we have the Open Source Definition. They had Thomas Jefferson, we have, um, me!"

Raymond's speech ignited a long-running thread on Slashdot entitled, "Top Ten Differences If Thomas Jefferson Behaved Like Eric Raymond During the American Revolution". Some items from the original post include:

2. The preamble to the Constitution would say, "We the pragmatists of the Open States of America, in order to foster the production of higher quality tea and tobacco..."

5. The phrases "the right to bear arms shall not be infringed" and "Geeks With Guns" would be plastered throughout the O.S.A. Constitution.

9. Instead of Congress, the "Open States Institute" board of directors would make all of the national legislative decisions.

10. Raymond, New Hampshire would be the home of the O.S.A. capitol.

The thread immediately turned into a Raymond vs. Stallman flame fest. "If Stallman had been a Founding Father," one rebuttal post argued, "we'd be living in the GNUnited States of America. Our Constitution would be called the General Public License..." The discussion went downhill from there.

Dotheads weren't the only people to scoff at the Boston event and ESR's ego-boosting speech. One Australian ranted, "I'm getting a little sick of those Americans comparing the Open Source movement to some kind of US-centric democratic revolution. It's software for crying out loud! Eric Raymond is not Thomas Jefferson. Linus Torvalds is not George Washington. Bill Gates is not the King of England. Get a grip, people! If you want to combat an oppressive regime, move down to Australia for awhile and revolt against Net censorship!"

A history professor at a Boston university commented, "Dumping Microsoft stuff into the Atlantic might be therapeutic, but it's a waste of time." Any idiot who has studied history knows that revolutions are most effective if enemy territory is attacked. The French stormed the Bastille. We should storm Redmond!"

A controversial InfoWorld pundit wrote in his daily column, "The protest in Boston just proves my contention that the Linux community is full of Get-Back-To-Earth spirtualists bent on World Domination and Marxist dogma. Linux is doomed. Windows Y2K is the future."

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