I have to admit I've always had mixed feeling about Theo. I compared him to Stallman in the sense that there was no way to convince to bend his philosphy, or look at things in another light. Maybe convince him that their might be a slight possibility that he does not hold the absolute truth about life, the universe and everything. After reviewing this last email, I have to say that he is actually standing up for all of the open source community.
On one side we have the big companies pushing their propietary products on us. Every day they include more back doors, more phoning home mechanisims, more data mining techniques, more ways to deprive us of our freedom. The irony of it all is that we are paying them. We as consumers want to have everything, bright and shiny, right now, and at the lowest price possible (or free if that's an options). Obviously these two frames of mind cannot coexist in the same world.
Because of this yuxtaposition of ideals, the line had to be drawn somewhere. Think of it as a tug of war. Every time the big companies inch towards their objective they will just push harder. If as consumers we loosen up, they will not take a break, they'll just keep pulling and pulling, until they've achived the other end of the rope (they will get there eventually, I just hope I'm not alive to see that).
In this particular scenario, big companies don't want to open their specifications. If they do, an NDA is a non-negociable prerrequisite to receiving them. This leads into two groups. The ones that are lucky and willing to sign the NDA, and those who will hack away and try to have "compatible" (generally considered infierior) drivers. What makes matters worse is that the group behind the this particular scenario are the One Laptop Per Child group, which all other things aside, will promote open source software as part of the objectives of the project. Not planning on taking about the sociological, economical and/or political implications of the project (or at least not now ;) ).
I know it's not everyone's favorite subject, but le'ts make a breif analogy with the current situation with the MAFIIA. They want to get to a point were we declare that bit torrent (and every other file sharing technology they can't have total control over) is illegal. Yes that's right, not that the media that is being shared "illegaly" is the problem, the technology is the problem. This is more absurd than the whole "the internet is a series of tubes" thing. And if we let it happen, do you think it will stop there? Do you know they are currently lobbying to make it impossible for anyone to own any media? They want it to make it so, that EVERY TIME you listen to a song or watch a movie, they will be entitled to collect. And if they do achieve that, I don't want to imagine what they will go after next.
Theo may be hard to deal with, and may have some ideals that from time are difficult to absorb. Having said that, he is making sure we have choice, and that my friends, is what freedom is all about.