The other place of note I visited was the Festival of Knives at Nontron. This was a festival where many of the big knife makers in France gather to display their works and to demonstrate the art of knife making. I went there with my Dad and elder brother and took a look around at their wares. It was a nominal €5 entrace fee each (about £3) and we paid an elderly French lady at the entrace (a simple table) in order to enter the heart of the festival (a marquee with knives laid out over the table, and with more tressle tables around it). The thing that stuck me the most was the lack of any security in the place. There were people picking up 12" machetes and examining them at their own will - it was a very surreal experience. It was lovely to see the mutual respect that people had regarding these weapons, that rather than have to place a barrier between the weapons and the consumers, the consumers were given the responsibility to do what they want with the weapons. There were no reported stabbings at the festival.
After writing this bit of the blog post (originally part of my holiday blog) I noted that theres a massive parallel here in what we are trying to do in the open source world. The big proprietary vendors are trying to guide us into believing that we can't have freedom - someone with do something silly with it and people are going to get hurt. It's exactly the same as the British/American attitude to hosting a similar event as the Nontron Knife Festival. Were that to be held in the UK there would be hundreds of police questioning innocent people and blocking people from entering if they looked a bit dodgy. In France, the responsibility is with the individual, and unless the responsibility is believed to be with the individual then the individual will not take responsibility themselves.
Free Software and Open Source provides exactly the same challenges. Use it and sure, there's the potential to get stabbed - but it is very very unlikely that hackers would put code in their source that would have the capability of stabbing someone. In my years in Open Source I've not heard of a single vendor who has tried that (though have seen it with stuff like the old BonziBuddy and Gator). Give the individual back the responsibility and the freedom and the users will all end up being happier.