I don't want to defend Thompson at all. I do think that if people are committing criminal acts, like fraud, or intimidation, or harassment, or contempt, then we already have laws to deal with that, and we should use those laws. We don't need an extrajudicial process -- the judicial system should eat its own dog food.
And what laws exist for the behaviors that Thompson did? Thompson did not threaten anyone physically so he cannot be arrested. He just falsely accused everyone of crimes because they opposed him in any real or imagined. The law has no course other than defamation. The bar has rules of conduct and he was disbarred.
The concept of mandatory bars and disbarring seems, ironically, to be unamerican. I can see having bar membership as an optional accreditation. We have ASE certified mechanic, or CCNA IT guys. Actually disallowing someone from doing a job, though, merely because someone else says they're unqualified seems incongruent with basic capitalism and free market principles.
Only if you distill the reason down to a very simplistic level. Remember that professional organizations are made up of peers. Yes there are politics involved; politics are always involved with groups. However, if someone's peers says that they are unqualified, that should carry some weight. In the case of Thompson, he wasn't merely disbarred because of his qualifications. He was disbarred for abusing the legal process for petty, vindictive, harassing, and arguably insane actions.
Unlike other professions lawyers have to oppose each other. It's part of the job. Thompson seemed to take it personally every time a lawyer opposed him in any way by doing their jobs. He took it personally every time a judge ruled against him in any way. To him everyone was on a crusade to get him.
For example, in the Devin Moore (Strickland) case he was thrown off the case because he seemingly lied in his pro hac vice application. The question in the application asked whether Thompson has ever been in a disbarment or disciplinary proceeding. Thompson's reply was "None but please see attached letter." His letter only mentioned a complaint made against him. In fact, Thompson had been in a disciplinary proceeding and took a guilty plea. The judge found Thompson's explanation of this major discrepancy unpersuasive and revoked his license throwing him off the case. For 18 months after that, the judge received documents and complaints 3-5 times a day almost daily (even after the case had been resolved in the court). He also accused the judge of "fixing" cases and witness tampering. In the same case, he sent a letter to the opposing lawyer who was female: "You disgrace us as lawyers. Shame on you. Shame on you as a woman as well."
In another example, Thompson accused Al Cardenas of Tew Cardenas: "More specifically, Mr. Cardenas personally and his firm collectively have protected the distribution of pornographic material to children and helped target me and my family. .
If you take a whizbang feature from Java and use it in Python, you're more likely to be sued by Oracle than doing the equivalent getting you sued by Microsoft.
Except that Java is covered under the GPL which would forbid that. Oracle can still be dicks about it but the Oracle - Google case, the lower court ruled for Google. It was remanded for reconsideration back to the lower court. The other difference is that Sun open sourced Java and Jonathan Schwartz (former Sun CEO) did not think that Google did anything wrong. It was Oracle who later bought Sun that re-interpreted what they would allow.
In this case MS from the beginning has issues with claiming
Yes, there is a difference between open source and free. But you completely missed the point in that the authors are complaining that "Open Source"
For example, if there was a library that I wanted to port from
Microsoft has very specific requirements for its browsers - namely corporate use. Other browser manufacturers don't have this pressure.
I'm afraid you got that backwards. MS imposed very strict requirements on corporate use because IE (and MS) gave the finger to standards compliance for a very long time. Now that they have a huge install base on a browser in a mess they created. Either IE breaks with backwards compatibility for standards compliance on the next version or they have to release a different browser (Spartan) and keep IE for legacy. Either way it's going to be painful.
Basic HTML is easy. HTML5 and extensions like scripting are harder; however, that's why other browsers have spent years working on these whereas MS has tried to stay entrenched on their browser and lock-in. They are just playing catchup now.