I am writing in reply to a message you sent to the Linux Kernel Mailing List:

Okay, first of all, I agree that you were addressing a conspiracy theory. I can understand why you were upset. And it was the right thing to tell that person to shut up about it on the LKML.

However, you said, “Get vaccinated. Stop believing the anti-vaxx lies.”

I don’t believe you’re a medical doctor and so it’d be ill advised to give medical advice. There are some people who can’t get the vaccine because of medical issues.

Also, like me, there are people who are wary of the long-term effects of the vaccines. I personally would like to wait until the vaccines have FDA approval before I get them. Yes, they don’t have FDA approval; they have Emergency Use Authorizations, which means that it is actually illegal to require people to get them. Also, you can’t get any of them without waiving liability.

But even if they get approval, I want to know about the long-term effects before I make my decision. Maybe one or more of the long-term effects would not be good for me.

In fact, there is a whole principle in science about being cautious about new things: the Precautionary Principle, which emphasizes caution when extensive scientific knowledge is lacking, especially about things that may cause harm, such as new medical treatments. Unfortunately, it seems that otherwise sensible people have thrown it out the window.

So to have you, a programmer, tell others to get vaccinated is a little unnerving. It seems you are not thinking for yourself on this one thing, so that makes me nervous for the Linux kernel as a whole. That is scary because I use Linux as my main OS, and of course, for servers.

Because I run Linux, I have to trust your judgment in pulling code into your tree, but it is a bad judgment call to parrot a line about experimental medical treatments, so I am losing faith in your judgment.

In other words, if you have an opinion about something you’re not well-versed in, please express it as an opinion, rather than an order. And please think for yourself.

Gavin Howard

Linux user since 2011

PS: I posted this email to my blog at