29 votes

Richard Stallman has returned to the Free Software Foundation as a member of its board of directors

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19 comments

  1. [12]
    RNG
    Link
    I think the topic of RMS's behavior is difficult for a lot of folks because they are committed to gender equality and feminism while also benefiting from or otherwise aligned with the free...

    I think the topic of RMS's behavior is difficult for a lot of folks because they are committed to gender equality and feminism while also benefiting from or otherwise aligned with the free software movement and the good free software has done for the world. RMS can both be likely the single largest contributor to the free software movement while also holding viciously misogynistic views and acting accordingly (read: abusively.)

    If you are inclined to reflexively defend Stallman from his initial expulsion or from the social consequences he faces for his behavior due to your respect of him and his work, please take a moment to hear out other voices. You can still appreciate the tremendous good that has occurred through the FSF and Stallman's contributions to free software while also being critical of his terrible behavior, and supportive of those he has harmed.

    26 votes
    1. [5]
      bloup
      Link Parent
      I'm definitely not gonna defend any of the awful stuff that RMS has done or said, and I don't think he's entitled to a platform for any particular reason (any more than anyone else should be,...

      I'm definitely not gonna defend any of the awful stuff that RMS has done or said, and I don't think he's entitled to a platform for any particular reason (any more than anyone else should be, anyway). But, I do wish people would look at the situation a little more compassionately. RMS definitely had a very privileged upbringing, and, in my opinion, clearly struggles with mental health issues that I find all too familiar. Honestly, some of the stuff he has said that people criticize him for, I would have thought sounded perfectly "logical" when I was a teenager because I was about 5 years behind the curve on social development, and a really scary thought I have is that if I wasn't lucky enough to be around people who were willing to challenge me, I could have turned out just like him!

      In some respects, I think RMS is himself a disabled victim of institutional racism and misogyny (and is actually a great example for how the sword cuts both ways).

      12 votes
      1. [2]
        vektor
        Link Parent
        I think some[maybe even most] of it still does, if you lift the veil of shitty delivery. If you look at the first paragraph here, he's being reasonable and making good points that do not point...

        Honestly, some of the stuff he has said that people criticize him for, I would have thought sounded perfectly "logical" [..]

        I think some[maybe even most] of it still does, if you lift the veil of shitty delivery. If you look at the first paragraph here, he's being reasonable and making good points that do not point towards him having detestable notions of what is right and wrong. And that is what Wikipedia lists as the statements that essentially caused his "cancelling".

        I wasn't able to track down what exactly he said about sex with minors, but even the [potentially] cherry-picked quotes of it I found included the caveat that consent is necessary, and made the point that in his opinion, it is also sufficient. He was not advocating for pedophilia. He said nothing about the relation of an age gap with the younger party's capacity to consent at all. In a charitable interpretation, he advocated for the removal of arbitrary age restrictions. If you look at what some US states will do to a 17/18 year old couple, I think that is an entirely valid point.

        7 votes
        1. hungariantoast
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          05 June 2006: 14 September 2019: Stallman never explicitly mentions an age range, but that he uses the term "children" and not "teenager", or some more specific alternative, does not work out in...

          05 June 2006:

          I am skeptical of the claim that voluntarily pedophilia harms children. The arguments that it causes harm seem to be based on cases which aren't voluntary, which are then stretched by parents who are horrified by the idea that their little baby is maturing.

          14 September 2019:

          Many years ago I posted that I could not see anything wrong about sex between an adult and a child, if the child accepted it.

          Through personal conversations in recent years, I've learned to understand how sex with a child can harm per psychologically. This changed my mind about the matter: I think adults should not do that. I am grateful for the conversations that enabled me to understand why.

          Stallman never explicitly mentions an age range, but that he uses the term "children" and not "teenager", or some more specific alternative, does not work out in his favor.

          Frankly, if Stallman didn't want people to think he was saying adults having sex with prepubescent children is okay, which is specifically what pedophilia is, then he should have been exceedingly specific about the age range he was discussing.

          12 votes
      2. [2]
        RNG
        Link Parent
        I appreciate your standpoint, but I don't care for the insinuation that folks with "mental health issues" like the ones RMS is alleged to possibly have don't have moral agency for their actions,...

        I appreciate your standpoint, but I don't care for the insinuation that folks with "mental health issues" like the ones RMS is alleged to possibly have don't have moral agency for their actions, or that they are predisposed to being abusers. RMS is just as responsible for his actions as anyone else is.

        7 votes
        1. bloup
          Link Parent
          Okay, well I definitely didn't insinuate any of that and I am actually pretty offended that you wrote this. Nobody is saying RMS is not responsible for his actions. I'm saying that everyone else...

          Okay, well I definitely didn't insinuate any of that and I am actually pretty offended that you wrote this. Nobody is saying RMS is not responsible for his actions. I'm saying that everyone else is responsible for his actions a little bit too, and the sooner we stop pretending like that isn't the case, the sooner we can actually solve these sorts of problems.

          7 votes
    2. [3]
      babypuncher
      Link Parent
      I think it is worth judging actions on their own individual merit. I can still appreciate all the good things Stallman has done even if his behavior towards women is abhorrent. Kicking him out...

      I think it is worth judging actions on their own individual merit. I can still appreciate all the good things Stallman has done even if his behavior towards women is abhorrent. Kicking him out when this came to light was the right thing to do, and I hope they're only letting him on the board if he's made a genuine effort to improve in this space.

      Similarly, I can still enjoy the Harry Potter books and movies even if my opinion of J.K. Rowling is in the toilet. I have no desire to buy anything new she puts out, but I'm not going to pretend her work wasn't extremely important in my formative years and still holds a special place on my bookshelf.

      11 votes
      1. lionirdeadman
        Link Parent
        Considering the statement when he made during LibrePlanet, the answer is no, he didn't. The quote : I can't read this any other way than entitlement unfortunately.

        I hope they're only letting him on the board if he's made a genuine effort to improve in this space.

        Considering the statement when he made during LibrePlanet, the answer is no, he didn't.

        The quote :

        I have an announcement to make. I'm now on the Free Software Foundation Board of Directors once again. We were working on a video to announce this with, but that turned out to be difficult, we didn't have experience doing that sort of thing so it didn't get finished but here is the announcement. Some of you will be happy at this, and some might be disappointed, but who knows? In any case, that's how it is, and I'm not planning to resign a second time.

        I can't read this any other way than entitlement unfortunately.

        9 votes
      2. RNG
        Link Parent
        This comparison to Harry Potter is a really great analogy to how I feel about this situation. I'm also a bit of a Lovecraft fan, though the man himself was a pretty vicious racist (even for his...

        This comparison to Harry Potter is a really great analogy to how I feel about this situation. I'm also a bit of a Lovecraft fan, though the man himself was a pretty vicious racist (even for his time...)

        I like this comparison especially because the whole culture and community surrounding the work isn't the sole ownership of the author, rather those that coalesced around the work and built out the community and fandom. This is even more apt in RMS's case, as no individual, not even RMS can claim ownership of the free software movement.

        6 votes
    3. [3]
      vektor
      Link Parent
      This is true in particular because FOSS as a movement is a collective in two ways: One, the decentralized way the community is structured. I don't care much what the FSF does, because the projects...

      This is true in particular because FOSS as a movement is a collective in two ways: One, the decentralized way the community is structured. I don't care much what the FSF does, because the projects I use and the projects I run are largely independent of it - irrespective of the impact of the FSF or any other body.

      Two, because FOSS software is set up intentionally as separate from its author. Yes, I am still legally the author of the software I write, and I might not even be able to rid myself of liability in some jurisdictions. But once I release it under a FOSS license, for all you care I can go to hell (until you want a bug fixed). Stallman can go to hell if you don't like him, you can ignore him, block him, whatever. You don't have to purge his software from your machine, because it's not really his software.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        Thra11
        Link Parent
        My main problem with just ignoring an FSF that has Richard Stallman in a prominent position, is if someone is new to the idea of Free Software and googles it to learn more, there's a chance that...

        I don't care much what the FSF does, because the projects I use and the projects I run are largely independent of it

        My main problem with just ignoring an FSF that has Richard Stallman in a prominent position, is if someone is new to the idea of Free Software and googles it to learn more, there's a chance that they'll instead end up reading about Stallman, his personal hygiene, his personal views on other topics, and his behaviour. As far as I'm concerned, that's got nothing to do with free software, which is about normal people having control of the software they run on their devices.

        4 votes
        1. vektor
          Link Parent
          I was not advocating for ignoring Stallman. I was advocating for divorcing your attitude towards him from your attitude of FOSS. What I am saying above is that you can safely cancel RS if you...

          I was not advocating for ignoring Stallman. I was advocating for divorcing your attitude towards him from your attitude of FOSS. What I am saying above is that you can safely cancel RS if you wish, because your GNU/Linux machine will not break if you do, and you will not have to make it break or switch to Windows in order to be consistent.

          5 votes
  2. [3]
    hungariantoast
    (edited )
    Link
    EDIT: Ars article is up now, here's the old link: https://streamable.com/nzthxn Sorry for only linking to a Streamable clip, but there are no articles out on this at the moment. Feel free to...

    EDIT: Ars article is up now, here's the old link: https://streamable.com/nzthxn

    Sorry for only linking to a Streamable clip, but there are no articles out on this at the moment. Feel free to change the link/title when some are available.

    Literally an hour ago I finished writing a formal outline for a speech about Richard Stallman as a school project, which among other things recounted his decades of problematic behavior (not just towards women, but also towards his male colleagues at MIT), so that's all fresh on my mind and now there's this.

    I'm not really sure how I feel about this news yet, but I'm leaning towards "let's see if he does better this time".

    10 votes
    1. [2]
      lionirdeadman
      Link Parent
      I'd love to have the sources for that for future reference. I am hoping the formal announcement says something. If nothing is said, I'll be very disappointed.

      which among other things recounted his decades of problematic behavior (not just towards women, but also towards his male colleagues at MIT)

      I'd love to have the sources for that for future reference.

      I'm not really sure how I feel about this news yet, but I'm leaning towards "let's see if he does better this time".

      I am hoping the formal announcement says something. If nothing is said, I'll be very disappointed.

      4 votes
  3. [4]
    freddy
    Link
    Posting these two links for the sake of discussion: #Cancel We The Web? Vice dressed as virtue

    Posting these two links for the sake of discussion:

    4 votes
    1. vektor
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      The "We the Web" one makes me think that Stallman isn't so much a horrible person as much as a very socially inept one. Which isn't that suprising, but the so called cancellable offenses listed...

      The "We the Web" one makes me think that Stallman isn't so much a horrible person as much as a very socially inept one. Which isn't that suprising, but the so called cancellable offenses listed there are mostly either him musing about controversial issues in

      (a) either entirely valid reasoning, but too-easily-attacked / tone-deaf presentation or

      (b) naive, ill-informed takes. Reasonable takes though.

      Basically, the guy's heart seems to be in the right place. His Reasoning is solid. He's occasionally uninformed and more often socially inept.

      That said, I'm well aware that article is unlikely to be a neutral view. However, for all I know the most neutral source on the topic, Wikipedia, quotes him as saying: "the most plausible scenario is that she presented herself to him as entirely willing", "It is morally absurd to define 'rape' in a way that depends on minor details such as which country it was in or whether the victim was 18 years old or 17", but he also said "We know that Giuffre was being coerced into sex – by Epstein. She was being harmed."

      That's an entirely reasonable take. The definition of sexual assault usually involved either coercion or a lack of consent. Both can be argued to be Epstein's work rather than Minsky's - at least without further info. In the case of lack of consent, a bit of "mental gymnastics" is needed, because if the victim presented as consenting due to coercion by a different party, I don't think Minsky can be said to have violated her consent - at least not in any way that would make him guilty. What could make him guilty is him knowing what is going on - knowing about the age of the victim, knowing about Epstein's/Maxwell's coercion of the victim. But I know not enough about the entire SNAFU to judge that either. I could imagine this whole thing being presented to Epstein's client as perhaps Epstein organizing the presence of prostitutes.

      I don't know dude. I'm not sure what's going on with RS, but I'm not yet convinced there's anything there but smoke. That said, I didn't engage much with the topic last time around. He's being accused of misogynist behavior in this thread, and I can't make my mind up about that. Not that anyone here would be obligated to make the case, as I'm indifferent of RS.

      14 votes
    2. [2]
      DanBC
      Link Parent
      It's difficult to know if you think the cruel moraliser is RMS or the people who finally had enough of his abusive behaviours.

      It's difficult to know if you think the cruel moraliser is RMS or the people who finally had enough of his abusive behaviours.

      11 votes
      1. freddy
        Link Parent
        I just think its an interesting essay to read in conjunction with the whole issue.

        I just think its an interesting essay to read in conjunction with the whole issue.