52 votes

Remove Richard Stallman

65 comments

  1. [37]
    hungariantoast
    (edited )
    Link
    This article isn't about Stallman being a moron, awkward, a quirky butterfly, or anything else. This article isn't about outrage. This article isn't about sexual assault, rape, laws, crime,...

    This article isn't about Stallman being a moron, awkward, a quirky butterfly, or anything else. This article isn't about outrage. This article isn't about sexual assault, rape, laws, crime, Epstein, or any similar bullshit.

    This article is about Richard Stallman, the man whose name is basically synonymous with "free software", founder of the free software movement, and president of the Free Software Foundation, being a massive chump, failure, and roadblock when it comes to professionalism, courtesy, ethics, and women in STEM.


    In case I'm not making sense, let me explain what I'm saying in less uncertain terms.

    Richard Stallman is an asshole. He might be an innocent, quirky asshole who has difficulties with people and he might not understand why he's an asshole, but he is an asshole.

    There is zero, and I mean abso-fucking-lutely zero reason for this motherfucker to hop into the CSAIL mailing list, a MIT mailing list, and be all like "ackchyually, he didn't 'assault' that underage girl, he just had sex with her, knowing she was a harem."

    And yes, he used the fucking word harem.


    If you're still not understanding what the issue is here, what this article is about, that's okay. There's so much shit flinging going on today about this, that I don't blame you for being confused. Let's go over it again.


    There was a message posted to the MIT CSAIL mailing list promoting a protest against the university's relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and the culture it had of covering that relationship up. The author of this opening message mentions Marvin Minsky, co-founder of MIT's AI laboratory and an "AI pioneer", as having been "accused of assaulting one of Epstein's victims".

    That part right there, the "accused of assaulting one of Epstein's victims" bit, is what Richard Stallman decided was important enough to comment on.

    Stallman entered the conversation saying:

    The announcement of the Friday event does an injustice to Marvin Minsky"

    The injustice is in the word “assaulting”. The term “sexual assault”
    is so vague and slippery that it facilitates accusation inflation

    The accusation quoted is a clear example of inflation. The reference
    reports the claim that Minsky had sex with one of Epstein’s harem

    The word “assaulting” presumes that he applied force or violence, in
    some unspecified way, but the article itself says no such thing.
    Only that they had sex.

    We can imagine many scenarios, but the most plausible scenario is that
    she presented herself to him as entirely willing. Assuming she was
    being coerced by Epstein, he would have had every reason to tell her
    to conceal that from most of his associates.

    I’ve concluded from various examples of accusation inflation that it
    is absolutely wrong to use the term “sexual assault” in an accusation.

    Whatever conduct you want to criticize, you should describe it with a
    specific term that avoids moral vagueness about the nature of the
    criticism.

    So, according to Stallman, calling it "assault" "is so vague and slippery that it facilitates accusation inflation". Stallman would like us to understand that all Minsky did was "had sex with one of Epstein’s harem."

    Again, yes, he used the word "harem".

    Is Stallman technically correct? Fuck no. He's not fucking "technically correct", which makes this all the more stupid. Minsky, having sex with a sex-trafficked, underage girl is sexual assault. Stallman can fuck right off with his bullshit.

    But even if he was technically correct, do you now fucking see how goddamn stupid, tone-deaf, and insensitive this behavior is?

    This is the guy who represents what is arguably the most important software movement in history, but he can't get his head out of his ass or stop making a fool of himself. This behavior is the kind of shit that Stallman does consistently and regularly. It's embarrassing, cringey, harmful, and rude, yet we still put up with it.

    Now, in his defense (yeah, we're at that part of the comment), Stallman might just have "problems". Stuff like "trouble empathizing with people" or "understanding social contexts". That's my guess. Those are the claims and guesses I've been reading all day. They make sense to me, but I'm not a doctor. Stallman might be fucked up because of things outside of his control, or he might be fucked up because, it turns out, he's just an asshole. I don't know.

    I don't care, either.

    Why don't I care? Because he's bad news. He harms the image of the FSF, he's the perfect example "of what not to be" if you're a white male in STEM, and unlike someone else who has had issues in the past, Stallman doesn't seem to give a fuck or have any interest in "correcting" himself. There's also the bit where he's gone above and beyond the other shitty behavior that we've seen from other open source/free software figureheads.

    Stallman's bad for business. Drag him behind the curtain, replace him with someone else, and be done with it.

    60 votes
    1. [15]
      Wes
      Link Parent
      I think that's a bit unfair to your fellow commenters. Especially as they (we) have remained mostly neutral in tone, while your comment relied on emotional language and name calling.

      I really hoped we'd have a better discussion about this issue than the "other Internet spaces" have had.

      I think that's a bit unfair to your fellow commenters. Especially as they (we) have remained mostly neutral in tone, while your comment relied on emotional language and name calling.

      44 votes
      1. [4]
        vivaria
        Link Parent
        Neutrality in tone shouldn't be the only indicator of how well a discussion is going. I think @hungariantoast's perspective is valuable and adds a dimension to the discussion that wasn't there...

        Neutrality in tone shouldn't be the only indicator of how well a discussion is going.

        I think @hungariantoast's perspective is valuable and adds a dimension to the discussion that wasn't there previously.

        26 votes
        1. [3]
          Wes
          Link Parent
          We all take different things from what we read online. I appreciate your view, but I found their comment mostly served to add fuel to the fire, and this thread became more heated as a result of that.

          We all take different things from what we read online. I appreciate your view, but I found their comment mostly served to add fuel to the fire, and this thread became more heated as a result of that.

          15 votes
          1. mike10010100
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            You're right, we should all sit back and dispassionately discuss whether or not calling "having sex with an underaged girl as part of a harem" is more or less inflammatory than calling it "sexual...

            but I found their comment mostly served to add fuel to the fire, and this thread became more heated as a result of that.

            You're right, we should all sit back and dispassionately discuss whether or not calling "having sex with an underaged girl as part of a harem" is more or less inflammatory than calling it "sexual assault". Clearly that's the issue at hand here, and not Stallman jumping into a thread he wasn't even remotely involved in to pull an "ackshually, based on a very narrow definition of sexual assault, I don't believe it was that extreme", in order to defend a dead pedophile.

            We should also completely divorce the conversation from his long history of making arguments about legalizing child porn, as well as a buttload of other issues he's had in the past.

            https://geekfeminism.wikia.org/wiki/Richard_Stallman

            18 votes
          2. vivaria
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            I have a high tolerance for frustration when it is coming from a place of hurt. We live in systems that discourage speaking up about hurtful or discriminatory behavior, whether because of inaction...

            I have a high tolerance for frustration when it is coming from a place of hurt. We live in systems that discourage speaking up about hurtful or discriminatory behavior, whether because of inaction or outright retaliation. People learn to stay quiet unless they can guarantee their own safety. Outside of private and trusted circles, some of the only times we hear certain perspectives are when a person is pushed and prodded until they can no longer bottle their feelings. It gets messy, and that's okay given the circumstances. In those situations, it's better to listen than to critique tone and delivery.

            So, depending on the source of the anger, there are times when people are deserving of leeway, patience, understanding, and empathy even when their words are heated. I believe that this applies to both @hungariantoast and the author of the article.

            12 votes
      2. [10]
        hungariantoast
        Link Parent
        You're right, that was unfair of me and I have removed that part of my comment. Just to explain myself, I included that bit because: I was frustrated I felt like the comments here, like everywhere...

        You're right, that was unfair of me and I have removed that part of my comment.

        Just to explain myself, I included that bit because:

        • I was frustrated
        • I felt like the comments here, like everywhere else on the internet, weren't recognizing the point of the article.

        The "point of the article" being that Richard Stallman and his behavior, seniority, fame, and influence are a problem for the inclusion of women in STEM, that he's a great example of what not to be.

        Ironically (hypocritically), I only glossed over that idea in my comment as well.

        Sorry about that.

        20 votes
        1. Wes
          Link Parent
          Thanks for being open to what was (hopefully) constructive criticism. I think your point shines through much more clearly in that comment, and certainly does add to the discussion.

          Thanks for being open to what was (hopefully) constructive criticism. I think your point shines through much more clearly in that comment, and certainly does add to the discussion.

          13 votes
        2. [8]
          unknown user
          Link Parent
          I sincerely wonder why that has to be true and how the event at hand (RMS' nitpick around Minsky's BS) relates to women in STEM. The wiki page on him doesn't include anything about misoginy, and a...

          The "point of the article" being that Richard Stallman and his behavior, seniority, fame, and influence are a problem for the inclusion of women in STEM

          I sincerely wonder why that has to be true and how the event at hand (RMS' nitpick around Minsky's BS) relates to women in STEM. The wiki page on him doesn't include anything about misoginy, and a search for "richard stallman misoginy" only returns this blog post and idiotic news stories it prompted. This page has a few negative things but nothing really serious apart from what has been noted here.

          Please illuminate me as to why one of the most important persons in the history of computing and technology needs to be "taken behind the curtains" or removed, when there simply isn't a reason except possibly taking the wrong stance in a couple points in history. If I'm really missing something concrete that renders all this hate somehow just, I really want to learn that.

          9 votes
          1. [5]
            vivaria
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Here is a short list of things represented in RMS' actions that struck a nerve: Discussing a serious, painful situation using nonchalant and insensitive language. Not acknowledging (and outright...

            Here is a short list of things represented in RMS' actions that struck a nerve:

            • Discussing a serious, painful situation using nonchalant and insensitive language. Not acknowledging (and outright minimizing) the gravity of the situation by not treading with care and tact.
            • Allocating way too much focus towards protecting the accused, as opposed to empathizing with and trying to understand the experiences of the people who were hurt. (The "nitpick", as you put it, doesn't exist a vacuum. It says "this nitpick is my priority here, rather than any other aspect of the situation.")
            • Playing into tropes which shift blame to victims, and put them at risk by planting seeds of skepticism. ("the most plausible scenario is that she presented herself to him as entirely willing.")
            • Opinions that are indicative of a larger pattern of questionable/problematic beliefs, specifically towards consent and pedophilia.
            • How common it is for men to lack emotional skills, and to prioritize "facts" and "logic" over them.
            • The tendency for privileged groups to ask questions or make points without considering whether the setting is appropriate, or the impact that speaking could have.
            • The tendency for privileged groups to feel the need to give opinions on subjects they have little-to-no lived experiences in. (i.e. Having the ego to feel that their opinions are always valuable, while not acknowledging potential gaps in their perspective.)
            • Giving people passes for problematic behavior on the basis of status or power. (i.e. Certain people are 'untouchable' and free to do as they please.)
            • Allowing dangerous individuals to rise to status or power in the first place, even when the harm they've caused is readily apparent. Sweeping that harm under the rug by focusing on their positive attributes or contributions.
            • The presence of systems which apply the above points inconsistently between groups of gender, race, sexuality, class, etc.
            • Generally, any actions which perpetuate structures that allow harassment, misogyny, and discrimination to thrive.

            This isn't just about RMS. This is common anywhere [white/straight/affluent/male] people make up the status quo or hold positions of power. This incident is representative of larger, ongoing issues. Combined, these points create a hostile and uncomfortable environment. They signal to marginalized groups: "Your concerns aren't as important as our concerns. Your safety isn't guaranteed. If something happens to you, you can't come to us for help. Your identity is lesser than ours. Your existence isn't welcome here. If you want to stay, you'll feel a constant obligation to fight, and to prove, and to defend your experiences and your perspective." In that sense, it's not a leap to go from what RMS wrote to 'women in STEM'.

            Inadvertently, you (and others in this thread, on lobste.rs, and on HN) are contributing to these systems as well by defending RMS in the way you have. I can bet you there are many folks lurking who see these things and nope right out of here. When the conversation is dominated like this, it contributes to Tildes itself being an unwelcoming place in much the same way as STEM as a field.

            15 votes
            1. [4]
              unknown user
              Link Parent
              That's incorrect and I refuse that accusation. All I'm talking about is the post cited in the OP, I was unaware of the rest of the facts about him. As I said before, his interpretation is...

              Inadvertently, you (and others in this thread, on lobste.rs, and on HN) are contributing to these systems as well by defending RMS in the way you have.

              That's incorrect and I refuse that accusation. All I'm talking about is the post cited in the OP, I was unaware of the rest of the facts about him. As I said before, his interpretation is "possible but improbable".

              The other thing I did was to ask for proof as to why Stallman should be removed, because I don't think this e-mail alone requires that. Almost an hour and a half before your comment I've finally found good evidence in @hungariantoast's comment, and declared that thereafter I changed my mind and now support him leaving the leadership positions he's in.

              Extending all that, or the said e-mail itself into all this is irrational. Sorry, but your comment does not really reply mine. The Appendix A that hungariantoast linked does. The entire body of text that you wrote is devoid of any concrete fact that convince someone with scarce knowledge of the situation for the removal of rms, whereas a sum of the GeekFeminism wiki page plus the OP's Appendix A is good enough.

              It is really sad that you can so blatantly accuse people here of something they never did, inadvertendly or not. Behaviour like yours, or @anowlcalledjosh's, or @FZeroRacer's, i.e. accusing fellow Tildes users of bad faith or participating in systems like you describe is unjustified and unfair. Especially given the majority of most prominent users here (nor I) are not part of the priviledged groups you mention.

              The snark in your last sentence is sad.

              6 votes
              1. [2]
                FZeroRacer
                Link Parent
                The first few posts in this thread that you made consisted of Claims that the author was merely looking for something to be mad about and hoping that RMS would sue the people involved Calling out...

                The first few posts in this thread that you made consisted of

                • Claims that the author was merely looking for something to be mad about and hoping that RMS would sue the people involved
                • Calling out Toast at the top level, claiming his comment was indicative of reddit-esque behavior and demanding instances of his behavior (both of which could've been found in the article or through a very, very brief cursory search)

                I called you out for engaging in bad faith because from the beginning it seemed like you weren't actually willing to engage here and when people did engage you, you shrugged them off. And frequently when I see men accused of such behavior (with a history of said behavior!) I've seen arguments and demands for 'evidence' in a way that honestly becomes really fuckin' obnoxious. Especially when the article in question directly had evidence of what occurred.

                And I'm sorry, but I don't think it's 'unjustified' or 'unfair'. It's an argument. If multiple people here are telling you something stinks, maybe it has something to do with the tone and the way you set the stage.

                6 votes
                1. unknown user
                  (edited )
                  Link Parent
                  Thing is, I didn't know things, and people refused to tell me those when I asked what info I lacked. Basically, I looked at the OP, and that was the mere source of my information. I did not...

                  Thing is, I didn't know things, and people refused to tell me those when I asked what info I lacked. Basically, I looked at the OP, and that was the mere source of my information. I did not believe the other claims initially, and asked for sources. I did not know the rap sheet of rms, and I was saddened by the initial tone of hungariantoast (like calling someone a motherfucker, regardless of whom, and it's not like they've they haven't admitted they don't like that tone either). W.r.t. author's tone, well, I'm not really at a different position: it's unnecessarily inflammatory, enough to be off-putting, especially if you don't know the list of rms' bad conduct.

                  FWIW, I had read the entire article, and the info that made me change my mind wasn't in that, but in the Appendix A that was added after I read the entire thing.

                  This is my last comment in this thread, given I am no longer holding the initial perspective I did, and a discussion of good faith or bad faith or my comments in and of themselves (cc @vivaria) is off topic.

                  4 votes
              2. vivaria
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                People rarely act "irrationally" -- they act according to their understanding of (and outlook towards) the world. They'll have their reasons! If someone's behavior seems irrational to you, though,...

                Extending all that, or the said e-mail itself into all this is irrational.

                People rarely act "irrationally" -- they act according to their understanding of (and outlook towards) the world. They'll have their reasons! If someone's behavior seems irrational to you, though, it usually means there's something about their perspective or circumstances or reasoning that you're missing. Typically, the remedy for that is to ask more questions and listen with curiosity, which helps bridge the gap.

                I believe that the email alone creates an unwelcoming/hostile atmosphere, and that RMS is unfit for his position based on the above bullet point list. I believe that your comments create an unwelcoming atmosphere on Tildes, too. That's my perspective, and if you want to learn more, I'm happy to answer questions about my reasons. If you're going to reduce what I believe down to irrationality, though, then there's not much more I can say that will make a difference.

                3 votes
          2. mike10010100
            Link Parent
            Please illuminate me as to why Stallman should have any right to insert himself in a discussion about a dead pedophile, or how his credentials in computing somehow make him untouchable when...

            Please illuminate me as to why one of the most important persons in the history of computing and technology needs to be "taken behind the curtains" or removed, when there simply isn't a reason except possibly taking the wrong stance in a couple points in history.

            Please illuminate me as to why Stallman should have any right to insert himself in a discussion about a dead pedophile, or how his credentials in computing somehow make him untouchable when considering his long history of wrong stances.

            https://www.datamation.com/osrc/article.php/3830651/Richard-Stallman-Leadership-and-Sexism.htm

            https://geekfeminism.wikia.org/wiki/Richard_Stallman

            Please note his repeated postings of legalizing child pornography. This stuff doesn't exist in a vacuum.

            10 votes
          3. Sill
            Link Parent
            Not weighing in on the women in STEM/Stallman stuff (I'm uninformed and it isn't a priority issue for me), but two things on your searching: It's misogyny, as in androgyny or gynecology, but I...

            Not weighing in on the women in STEM/Stallman stuff (I'm uninformed and it isn't a priority issue for me), but two things on your searching:

            • It's misogyny, as in androgyny or gynecology, but I doubt that effected your results.
            • The most recent incident is going to be dominating all search results for Stallman, so adding a "before 2019" clause to the search is a good way to filter that out. Unfortunately I don't think you can do that with DDG.
            6 votes
      3. Removed by admin: 3 comments by 2 users
        Link Parent
    2. [12]
      unknown user
      Link Parent
      This comment is no different from the article, sorry. Please tell us the ignorant folks why he is an asshole, and what an asshole is in this context. With actual instances of him being so, please....

      This comment is no different from the article, sorry. Please tell us the ignorant folks why he is an asshole, and what an asshole is in this context. With actual instances of him being so, please.

      And please explain to me why some tone deafness or a mistake in interpreting some event should have a bearing on his status as a leader of Free Software movement, to which he gave all his life, to which he contributed with software that enabled today.

      Fuck this purism. People are flawed. I don't see malice in his post. I don't get why a mistake in one field should have a bearing on a totally different part of your life.

      And, while at it, please explain to us who this Minsky is and what he had actually done. Because I really don't know.

      15 votes
      1. [3]
        deing
        Link Parent
        First of all, I believe it's commendable that you choose to interpret his words charitably on this issue. Now, let's try and see him from a public perspective. Why is he the asshole here?...

        First of all, I believe it's commendable that you choose to interpret his words charitably on this issue. Now, let's try and see him from a public perspective.

        Why is he the asshole here? Interjecting on some mailing list with an unsolicited essay about your peculiar opinions on the definition of "sexual assault" in a manner that'd get you booed for pointless pedantry even on this site definitely qualifies as asshole behavior, at least for me. Your mileage may vary, obviously, though I found that most people that don't exhibit knee-jerk "political correctness gone mad!"-style reactions to this piece agree with me on this point.

        Why does it matter? In one word: optics. Stallman isn't some rando on the internet (though we might be better off if he were). He's the almost revered leader and founder of the Free Software Movement. He's the president of the FSF. "What if the child consents tho" isn't something you want your organization's president to say, most definitely not publicly. It's utterly irrelevant what intentions he had. It looks like he's defending paedophiles. These new comments don't come off as much better, either. If he wants to serve in a public-facing role, he needs to be aware of the implications of his words. He either seems to be blissfully and completely unaware of them or not perceive them as negative.

        Who is this Minsky person?

        Marvin Lee Minsky (August 9, 1927 – January 24, 2016) was an American cognitive scientist concerned largely with research of artificial intelligence (AI), co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AI laboratory, and author of several texts concerning AI and philosophy.

        Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

        Stallman, in the part of his mail quoted in the article, accepts that that Minsky had sex with one of Epstein's underage victims.


        And yes, the author is upset. She admits it in the very first sentence. Because this is another example of the tech community just shrugging off these things because the assholes are "important". It's similar with sexism in the tech community (which is why the latter part of the article talks about it), but maybe pointing out this social anti-pattern of "they've worked so hard for us, you can't hold them to too high standards, give them a break already" works better with an example that is something more clearly offensive to the average techie than the sexism they might participate in themselves. I sincerely hope it does.

        34 votes
        1. [2]
          unknown user
          Link Parent
          Thanks a lot! He didn't say that about the Minsky case. What you link is indeed tasteless, tho. It's hard to discern if it's about sex between adults and children or between adolescents of similar...

          Thanks a lot!

          "What if the child consents tho" isn't something you want your organization's president to say, most definitely not publicly.

          He didn't say that about the Minsky case. What you link is indeed tasteless, tho. It's hard to discern if it's about sex between adults and children or between adolescents of similar age.

          I'm not a fan of the "optics" argument. If a person is guilty of something, okay. But saying "remove RMS" just because what boils down to "I don't like him" is hugely disproportionate.

          W.r.t. Minsky, well, he's deceased, so we'll probably won't know if he was aware that the girl was a minor or that she was coerced into what she did. IDK, but if I was to guess, I'd say he most probably was well aware of both, but RMS' interpretation is not impossible either (tho rather improbable).

          The huge, glaring, big issue here is that the reaction is very disproportionate when you consider the action neutrally, but the reaction is not purely a reaction to what RMS said, but loaded with a particular hatred against the guy and a collection of hatred against certain stereotypes. If RMS is indeed propagating sexism and abuse of minors, they go ahead and depose him. But up until this point I'm yet to see where and when that's the case.

          12 votes
          1. mike10010100
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Or, you know, just a basic knowledge of his long history of harmful and downright terrible actions/behavior? https://geekfeminism.wikia.org/wiki/Richard_Stallman

            The huge, glaring, big issue here is that the reaction is very disproportionate when you consider the action neutrally, but the reaction is not purely a reaction to what RMS said, but loaded with a particular hatred against the guy and a collection of hatred against certain stereotypes.

            Or, you know, just a basic knowledge of his long history of harmful and downright terrible actions/behavior?

            https://geekfeminism.wikia.org/wiki/Richard_Stallman

            8 votes
      2. [8]
        anowlcalledjosh
        Link Parent
        Question: why do we have to find these things? Why are you incapable of Googling "richard stallman asshole", or going to the Wikipedia page for Marvin Minsky and looking under the heading "Child...

        Question: why do we have to find these things? Why are you incapable of Googling "richard stallman asshole", or going to the Wikipedia page for Marvin Minsky and looking under the heading "Child sex trafficking and abuse allegations"?

        12 votes
        1. [7]
          unknown user
          Link Parent
          Because I'm not the one making the accusations about and insulting RMS. I'm asking the commenter to substantiate their claims, that's not my responsibility. But if we can throw shit at someone...

          Because I'm not the one making the accusations about and insulting RMS. I'm asking the commenter to substantiate their claims, that's not my responsibility.

          But if we can throw shit at someone like RMS w/o substantiating it at all, both in the OP and in the top-level comment; if @hungariantoast's comment is really exemplary of Tildes, why are we here anyways, let's all go to Reddit.

          20 votes
          1. [3]
            anowlcalledjosh
            Link Parent
            This is verging on off-topic, and I don't want to accuse you of acting in bad faith, but I want to explain why I asked: your original comment sounds like sealioning. The OP substantiates their...

            This is verging on off-topic, and I don't want to accuse you of acting in bad faith, but I want to explain why I asked: your original comment sounds like sealioning. The OP substantiates their claims with direct quotations from emails sent by RMS, and @hungariantoast's comment is essentially a shorter, more expletive-heavy rewording of the OP, and I don't understand what information they could provide that would further answer your questions.

            Sure, accusations should be backed up by evidence, but equally, there's no necessity for that evidence to be bundled up into a nice, easy-to-digest parcel with accompanying explanatory notes and context. Requiring a bare minimum of effort on the part of the reader (for example: going to Marvin Minsky's Wikipedia page instead of asking an easily-answerable question) is not a problem.

            22 votes
            1. [2]
              unknown user
              Link Parent
              I asked for evidence once, to a certain person. And what the OP cites does not substantiate their arguments, which is why I asked for further substantiation. It surely is, but I will not enter...

              Sealioning (also spelled sea-lioning and sea lioning) is a type of trolling or harassment which consists of pursuing people with persistent requests for evidence or repeated questions, while maintaining a pretense of civility.

              I asked for evidence once, to a certain person. And what the OP cites does not substantiate their arguments, which is why I asked for further substantiation.

              Requiring a bare minimum of effort on the part of the reader (for example: going to Marvin Minsky's Wikipedia page instead of asking an easily-answerable question) is not a problem.

              It surely is, but I will not enter that debate here.

              10 votes
              1. mike10010100
                Link Parent
                How so? The quotes fully encapsulates the issue here. And once it was substantiated, you continued to deny it. I'm beginning to think there isn't any level of evidence that could be provided to...

                And what the OP cites does not substantiate their arguments,

                How so? The quotes fully encapsulates the issue here. And once it was substantiated, you continued to deny it. I'm beginning to think there isn't any level of evidence that could be provided to you that would "substantiate the argument" from your perspective.

                It surely is, but I will not enter that debate here.

                It's literally included in the article above. Did you not even read that article?

                10 votes
          2. [3]
            FZeroRacer
            Link Parent
            I'm going to go the full distance here and accuse you of arguing in bad faith. Posters have more than substantiated their claims against Stallman and even a little bit of cursory searches can tell...

            I'm going to go the full distance here and accuse you of arguing in bad faith.

            Posters have more than substantiated their claims against Stallman and even a little bit of cursory searches can tell you that he has this pattern of behavior. As someone in the software industry I've heard my fair share about him.

            Your post if anything reminds me of the Reddit-style of argumentation where you immediately sweep away all claims against Stallman while demanding evidence that'll never actually convince you. As another poster says, it seems a lot like sealioning. Especially when there's multiple types of evidence here, ranging from testimonials to actual chat logs and screenshots. In fact there's even been an update with even more details.

            13 votes
            1. unknown user
              Link Parent
              Well, I will refuse that and leave it at that.

              I'm going to go the full distance here and accuse you of arguing in bad faith.

              Well, I will refuse that and leave it at that.

              7 votes
            2. mike10010100
              Link Parent
              It's a mix of JAQing off and sealioning, and the fact that this kind of nonsense has infiltrated Tildes is deeply depressing.

              It's a mix of JAQing off and sealioning, and the fact that this kind of nonsense has infiltrated Tildes is deeply depressing.

    3. Adys
      Link Parent
      Personally, I have little patience for RMS nowadays. He's allowed extreme amounts of leniency on the basis of purely his name, because it's not like he actually does much at all nowadays. I'm not...

      Personally, I have little patience for RMS nowadays. He's allowed extreme amounts of leniency on the basis of purely his name, because it's not like he actually does much at all nowadays.

      I'm not a fan of that woman's approach either, and I actually agree with his followup classifying this as a "witch hunt", but it's not like he doesn't bring this shit upon himself.

      I don't have much to contribute to the discussion, I've just been bewildered for a long time at why people worship this fucking guy. You can agree with his philosophy about free software without seeing him as a faultless god.

      13 votes
    4. [5]
      mike10010100
      Link Parent
      Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you have sex with an underage girl who is thus not legally capable of giving consent, isn't that rape? Isn't calling it sexual assault a bit of an...understatement...

      Minsky, having sex with a sex-trafficked, underage girl is sexual assault.

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you have sex with an underage girl who is thus not legally capable of giving consent, isn't that rape? Isn't calling it sexual assault a bit of an...understatement actually?

      9 votes
      1. [4]
        hungariantoast
        Link Parent
        My understanding is that sexual assault is a sort of 'umbrella term' that includes many things, rape being one of them. As far as whether what Minsky did is rape or not, I would say yes, his act...

        My understanding is that sexual assault is a sort of 'umbrella term' that includes many things, rape being one of them.

        As far as whether what Minsky did is rape or not, I would say yes, his act constitutes rape, but I am not a lawyer.

        As far as sexual assault being an understatement for his actions, it's a little more complicated and really boils down to whether you include the specificity of rape a greater offense than other acts covered by sexual assault, such as groping, torture, or abuse.

        Personally, I just kind of consider them all equally awful. Plus, "sexual assault" was the term used in the article and the mailing list, so I just went with it and used that term too.

        10 votes
        1. [2]
          spit-evil-olive-tips
          Link Parent
          I think this is the heart of the problem - it's both an umbrella term, and (in some jurisdictions) a crime with a specific definition. If I steal something, the specific crime I get charged with...

          My understanding is that sexual assault is a sort of 'umbrella term' that includes many things, rape being one of them.

          I think this is the heart of the problem - it's both an umbrella term, and (in some jurisdictions) a crime with a specific definition.

          If I steal something, the specific crime I get charged with might be robbery, burglary, larceny, embezzlement, and so on, each of which has a specific definition. And yet "stealing" or "theft" are umbrella terms that are accepted for describing all those specific crimes.

          If there's a news story about me stealing a car, no one's going to play "actually, it's grand theft auto..." games.

          The closest umbrella term we have that I'm aware of (and that doesn't overlap with any existing definitions of specific crimes) is sexual "misbehavior" or "impropriety". The problem with those is that they can easily be interpreted as diminishing the severity by lumping major crimes such as rape into "misbehavior".

          7 votes
          1. mike10010100
            Link Parent
            Why does that make it a problem? It's still having sex with an underaged girl as part of a harem. No amount of "umbrella terms" can make that sound any better. The fact that Stallman jumped on the...

            I think this is the heart of the problem - it's both an umbrella term, and (in some jurisdictions) a crime with a specific definition.

            Why does that make it a problem? It's still having sex with an underaged girl as part of a harem. No amount of "umbrella terms" can make that sound any better. The fact that Stallman jumped on the "well I don't think it's really that bad, because ackshually" train kinda reveals his motivations here, especially when combined with his long list of defending and rationalizing pedophilia.

            1 vote
        2. mike10010100
          Link Parent
          Yeah, fair enough. I just find it revealing that Stallman tried to argue that the true acts that occurred were somehow made more extreme by calling it "sexual assault" than by not calling it...

          Yeah, fair enough. I just find it revealing that Stallman tried to argue that the true acts that occurred were somehow made more extreme by calling it "sexual assault" than by not calling it sexual assault.

          1 vote
    5. [3]
      TheJorro
      Link Parent
      If nothing else, this is at least an example of RMS' stiff approach to understanding the world lending itself to idiocy.

      If nothing else, this is at least an example of RMS' stiff approach to understanding the world lending itself to idiocy.

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        radmind
        Link Parent
        Wait, I do not understand your sentence, but I feel that there's a quality point being made. So, this medium article is an example supporting the view that the world is lending itself to idiocy?...

        Wait, I do not understand your sentence, but I feel that there's a quality point being made.

        So, this medium article is an example supporting the view that the world is lending itself to idiocy?

        If so, I agree.

        1. TheJorro
          Link Parent
          No, I'm saying that RMS is being an idiot.

          No, I'm saying that RMS is being an idiot.

          4 votes
  2. [10]
    jzimbel
    Link
    Also see the /r/programming comments on same, and discussions in other subreddits. Hacker News comments are a bit more level-headed as usual. I think a lot of the reactions to this are strong...

    Also see the /r/programming comments on same, and discussions in other subreddits. Hacker News comments are a bit more level-headed as usual.

    I think a lot of the reactions to this are strong examples of the "guys who love logic" phenomenon posted and discussed here on Tildes about two weeks ago.

    22 votes
    1. [8]
      Wes
      Link Parent
      The current top comment on HN is the only one that seems to hold a decent, nuanced view. This is two people coming at this event from two completely different worlds. Stallman as an awkward...

      The current top comment on HN is the only one that seems to hold a decent, nuanced view.

      This is two people coming at this event from two completely different worlds. Stallman as an awkward pedant, focusing on the language and being extremely precise. The article author instead lives in - let's call it "the real world", had no idea who RMS was prior to this, and perceived his pedantry as endorsement.

      I don't find myself taking either side here. I've never cared much for RMS, but as a person with pedantic-tendencies I think I can understand where he was coming from. His comments were dumb and tone deaf, but I don't read malice in them.

      Like the HN commenter, I agree that it may be time for RMS to step back from the limelight, but not to be forced out.

      26 votes
      1. [7]
        babypuncher
        Link Parent
        I think Stallman is factually incorrect in his own pedantry. Sexual assault is an act in which a person intentionally sexually touches another person without that person's consent, or coerces or...

        I think Stallman is factually incorrect in his own pedantry. Sexual assault is an act in which a person intentionally sexually touches another person without that person's consent, or coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will. Physical violence is not required to meet this definition, as he seems to suggest.

        Either way, complaining that the name of a man credibly accused of raping a child is getting dragged through the mud is not a good look. It doesn't matter if Minsky beat the victim in the process, because nobody has actually suggested that.

        22 votes
        1. [6]
          nathan
          Link Parent
          I think he was trying to say that Epstein did the coercing and Minsky was unaware. It seems obvious (to me at least) that Minsky had to be aware or chose to ignore the element of coercion in his...

          I think he was trying to say that Epstein did the coercing and Minsky was unaware. It seems obvious (to me at least) that Minsky had to be aware or chose to ignore the element of coercion in his acts, but Stallman was trying to raise the point of who committed the crime if one person does the coercing and one person does the sexual act.

          6 votes
          1. [2]
            babypuncher
            Link Parent
            True, but coercion in a conventional sense isn't required to fulfill the definition of the crime since we are talking about minors. When the incident occurred in 2001, Giuffre was 16 and Minsky...

            True, but coercion in a conventional sense isn't required to fulfill the definition of the crime since we are talking about minors. When the incident occurred in 2001, Giuffre was 16 and Minsky was 73. I don't think anyone in their right mind is going to buy the claim that Minsky didn't know exactly what he was doing.

            Stallman is splitting hairs to sympathize with a dead pedophile, and that leaves a sour taste in my mouth regardless of whether or not he is technically correct.

            17 votes
            1. mike10010100
              Link Parent
              It's also leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth from everyone defending Stallman's "technically [in]correct" classification. It's not even remotely correct. It's blatantly defending a pedophile.

              It's also leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth from everyone defending Stallman's "technically [in]correct" classification.

              It's not even remotely correct. It's blatantly defending a pedophile.

              5 votes
          2. [3]
            mike10010100
            Link Parent
            Irrelevant. The girl could not consent, therefore it was at the very least sexual assault. That's not "too extreme" of a classification.

            I think he was trying to say that Epstein did the coercing and Minsky was unaware

            Irrelevant. The girl could not consent, therefore it was at the very least sexual assault. That's not "too extreme" of a classification.

            4 votes
            1. [2]
              nathan
              Link Parent
              Agreed, I just felt that in discussions online people either misread or mischaracterized what he was saying. What he was saying was shitty enough on its own, people didn’t need to change it to...

              Agreed, I just felt that in discussions online people either misread or mischaracterized what he was saying. What he was saying was shitty enough on its own, people didn’t need to change it to something even shittier, that just leaves wiggle room for intolerant people to yell “he didn’t say that” and ignore what was actually said.

              2 votes
              1. mike10010100
                Link Parent
                What did you feel they were mischaracterizing? How were they making it worse than what it was?

                I just felt that in discussions online people either misread or mischaracterized what he was saying.

                What did you feel they were mischaracterizing? How were they making it worse than what it was?

  3. [12]
    markh
    Link
    For those that didn’t see, he posted a follow up on his political notes section titled Statements About Epstein. In his own eccentric way, I believe he was trying to argue that word choices are...

    For those that didn’t see, he posted a follow up on his political notes section titled Statements About Epstein.

    In his own eccentric way, I believe he was trying to argue that word choices are important (is the word assault a requisite term in the definition of rape? should age play a factor in the definition of rape?) and that accusing someone who has already passed away of having committed a serious crime is perhaps unfair. But this is such a controversial topic that any insensitivity - perceived or real - is going to spark often-uncivil discussion.

    I don’t think large groups can talk about topics like this civilly.

    20 votes
    1. [8]
      unknown user
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I commented on this then removed, because I was sure the discussion would be based on the heavily biased and misrepresentative interpretation of RMS' words by the author (luckily I was wrong)....

      I commented on this then removed, because I was sure the discussion would be based on the heavily biased and misrepresentative interpretation of RMS' words by the author (luckily I was wrong). Apparently the author was in search of something to be mad at, and is dishonest enough to mention RMS among Epstein and Kalanick. If this is sincere, then it is sad that you can graduate from MIT when you lack basic reading skills.

      Edit: also, the Vice article the post links to is even more malicious. I hope RMS sues these people.

      11 votes
      1. [3]
        babypuncher
        Link Parent
        I read RMS' email without reading the posted article. I think it would be fair to characterize his words as insensitive. He's splitting hairs over the definition of sexual assault, all to...

        I read RMS' email without reading the posted article. I think it would be fair to characterize his words as insensitive. He's splitting hairs over the definition of sexual assault, all to sympathize with a dead pedophile. His own definition of the term contradicts that of Wikipedia, especially considering the fact that minors can't give consent to adults. Stallman's assertion relies on Minsky not being aware of the age of the victim, which seems unlikely but not technically impossible.

        Obviously he didn't say anything to defend Epstein, and was merely commenting on the newly revealed allegations against Minsky in his own eccentric way. As usual, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

        10 votes
        1. [2]
          wantavanta
          Link Parent
          Wikipedia is not wrong?

          His own definition of the term contradicts that of Wikipedia,

          Wikipedia is not wrong?

          1. mike10010100
            Link Parent
            He hasn't provided any definition that would make the classification incorrect.

            Wikipedia is not wrong?

            He hasn't provided any definition that would make the classification incorrect.

      2. [4]
        SourceContribute
        Link Parent
        Wasn't even on the email thread, not involved in the original conversation and is writing an article about it and trying to report this moral outrage to reporters? Definitely sounds like it. I'm...

        trying to get the full email thread (I wasn’t on the mailing list). I even started emailing reporters — local and national, news sites, newspapers, radio stations.

        Wasn't even on the email thread, not involved in the original conversation and is writing an article about it and trying to report this moral outrage to reporters?

        Apparently the author was in search of something to be mad at

        Definitely sounds like it.

        I'm reminded of this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Horsemen_of_the_Infocalypse

        5 votes
        1. [3]
          mike10010100
          Link Parent
          Oh my good lord is this an unfair representation of what's happening.

          Oh my good lord is this an unfair representation of what's happening.

          2 votes
          1. [2]
            SourceContribute
            Link Parent
            How so? I was agreeing with an opinion and pointing out a small portion of the OP's article?

            How so? I was agreeing with an opinion and pointing out a small portion of the OP's article?

            2 votes
            1. mike10010100
              Link Parent
              Someone who heard about and saw portions of an injustice being performed is somehow in the wrong for wanting to report it to a broader audience?

              Someone who heard about and saw portions of an injustice being performed is somehow in the wrong for wanting to report it to a broader audience?

    2. [3]
      mike10010100
      Link Parent
      Okay. By any definition of sexual assault, this qualifies. By any definition of statutory rape, this qualifies. His claim that "technically" he believes that other words should be used does not in...

      In his own eccentric way, I believe he was trying to argue that word choices are important

      Okay. By any definition of sexual assault, this qualifies. By any definition of statutory rape, this qualifies. His claim that "technically" he believes that other words should be used does not in any way change the fact that the guy was accused of having sex with an underage girl as part of a harem.

      How exactly is "sexual assault" any more extreme than "having sex with an underage girl in a harem"?

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        markh
        Link Parent
        It’s not, and I tried to be careful about stating what I thought he did, versus what I felt about what he did. For someone who calls Trump “the scapegoater”, “the bully”, and many other names,...

        It’s not, and I tried to be careful about stating what I thought he did, versus what I felt about what he did. For someone who calls Trump “the scapegoater”, “the bully”, and many other names, jumping into an argument over pedantic semantics seems one-sided at best in this case. He was arguing the technicalities of the accusations against someone he respects to lessen the magnitude of the allegations.

        But Stallman has also in the past written about his thoughts on sex between an adult and a child (and stated he saw no harm if both parties consented), although he walked that back seemingly as a result of these discussions. It seems he is trying to protect his reputation.

        1 vote
        1. mike10010100
          Link Parent
          Yes, and it's absolutely disgusting. Agreed. He's been a consistent shitbag. An innovate shitbag, but a shitbag nonetheless.

          He was arguing the technicalities of the accusations against someone he respects to lessen the magnitude of the allegations.

          Yes, and it's absolutely disgusting.

          But Stallman has also in the past written about his thoughts on sex between an adult and a child (and stated he saw no harm if both parties consented), although he walked that back seemingly as a result of these discussions. It seems he is trying to protect his reputation.

          Agreed. He's been a consistent shitbag. An innovate shitbag, but a shitbag nonetheless.

  4. [6]
    deing
    Link
    The Software Freedom Conservancy, an organization offering infrastructure and legal resources to several major FLOSS projects, just published a statement titled "Richard Stallman Does Not and...

    The Software Freedom Conservancy, an organization offering infrastructure and legal resources to several major FLOSS projects, just published a statement titled "Richard Stallman Does Not and Cannot Speak for the Free Software Movement", calling for him to step down from positions of leadership.

    10 votes
    1. [5]
      hungariantoast
      Link Parent
      Riding off your comment: The author of this article has posted a followup: Remove Richard Stallman: Appendix A The Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation cancelled their FSF membership and...

      Riding off your comment:

      The author of this article has posted a followup:

      Remove Richard Stallman: Appendix A

      The Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation cancelled their FSF membership and announced that GNOME would be "severing the historical ties between GNOME, GNU and the FSF" if Stallman remains:

      GNOME relationship with GNU and the FSF

      9 votes
      1. [3]
        hungariantoast
        Link Parent
        Stallman just resigned from MIT: https://stallman.org/archives/2019-jul-oct.html#16_September_2019_(Resignation)
        7 votes
        1. spit-evil-olive-tips
          Link Parent
          Yep, sounds about right. A classic "I'm sorry you're so easily offended" type of apology. "A series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations" puts the entire blame for the situation on other...

          I am doing this due to pressure on MIT and me over a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations.

          Yep, sounds about right. A classic "I'm sorry you're so easily offended" type of apology.

          "A series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations" puts the entire blame for the situation on other people. RMS seems determined to not learn anything, admit he was wrong in any way, or change anything. The entire situation was caused by other people misunderstanding and mischaracterizing what he said (which of course, was nothing more than a statement of "facts and logic").

          8 votes
      2. unknown user
        Link Parent
        Thanks for these links! Especially that Appendix A, when combined with some stuff in the GeekFeminism wiki page I linked in another comment, paints a very different picture of Stallman, and in...

        Thanks for these links! Especially that Appendix A, when combined with some stuff in the GeekFeminism wiki page I linked in another comment, paints a very different picture of Stallman, and in that light it looks like he better step down. What with scarce knowledge seems to be a couple mistakes or idiosyncratic traits become evidence of a really problematic / abusive personality.

        FWIW, I still don't agree the original article in the way that I stated before (rms is making a valid but unlikely point, i.e. something that's possible, but almost totally improbable, which is that Minsky ignored either or both the coercion the girl was victim of and her age).

        It's sad when you discover this sort of realities behind people you look up to. Stallman has done immense good to the society, both to the tech community and to the entire world; he's kickstarted a great beautiful thing, the Free Software movement, the GNU GPL, the GNU programs. When you look at a person so good and virtuous in one way like this, you expect them to be similarly good and virtuous in other parts of their life. But well, I'm deluded.

        6 votes
        1. Removed by admin: 3 comments by 2 users
          Link Parent
  5. Comment removed by site admin
    Link