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If I Shift A Bit, You Must Acquit!

Posted on | April 29, 2008 | No Comments

From the like-we-didnt-see-this-coming department:

Good old Hans has been convicted of first degree murder. Specifically, Hans Reiser was convicted of murdering his wife Nina. Authorities had no body, no physical evidence and no reliable eye witness testimony (sound familiar?). All that was missing from this trial was Kato.

Reiser, who created the widely used Reiser file system will spend (at least) the next 25 years in prison. Hans tried to use (the now coined) “geek defense” to explain his actions following his wife vanishing. I should add, those actions hung a big flashing neon side over his head that reads “I DID IT”. I think that the jury expected a software engineer to be just (a little) smarter. Ironically, this was a ‘geek’ defense in that Hans assumed that everyone but him was stupid.

Hans, while we as geeks often lack social graces, we don’t make a habit of annoying judges and taking eleven days on the witness stand to hang ourselves. The more complex the mind, the more agonizing and colorful the breakdown. Reiser is living proof of this.

I’m extremely interested to see if Hans is permitted to continue to advance free software from prison. I’m even more interested to see if any part of the FLOSS community would be receptive to working with him after his conviction.

I think a good job for Hans would be vocational rehabilitation while in prison. Teach inmates that actually stand a chance of getting out during the next two decades the ideals of our community and the importance of helping your neighbor, as well as how to use and modify free software.

Those who can, do. Those who can’t (for whatever reason) teach. Hopefully his next 25 years can be producive, apart from being a convicted murderer – he’s rather brilliant.


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