Posted by zbviqi | in AskRamble (edited )

Richard M. Stallman, known as RMS and for GNU/Emacs/GCC..., has returned to the Free Software Foundation's board of directors. Open letters called for him to be removed again or support. How do you think?

An open letter to remove Richard M. Stallman from all leadership positions

An open letter in support of Richard M. Stallman



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AWiggerInTime said ()

What surprised me is that Leah Rowe signed the support petition.

After the whole drama with stallman and libreboot's withdrawal from gnu, this was the last name I expected to popup on the petition.


onion said ()

I have to wonder whether he might be a pedophile or at least an ephebophile given some of these comments.

The allegations that he harassed women are concerning, but at least I didn't see any allegations of sexual assault.

I can see why people would feel uncomfortable working with him, and it might drive some talent away from free software. But the same could be said for any project that has an Antifa member / supporter on the board of directors. That would make some people uncomfortable and drive away some talent too.

I really dislike some of his views but I don't think anyone should be removed for expressing opinions since that leads to self censorship. If he is ever found guilty of some serious crime like sexual assault or possession of child porn, it would make more sense to remove him in that case.


Imperator said ()

Yeah, Stallman is a hard one to judge. On one hand he´s an ultra-principled free software activist with strong views about things. He has been fighting for software freedom for decades and never compromises on his principles. I´m 95% sure he has some form of autism and is, from what I heard, quite a pain to deal with. I think that the media backlash he got was totally unjustified and people took his comments wildly out of context, something that´s quite easy to do with someone who is as literal and outspoken as him. As far as I´m concerned he´s entitled to holding controversial views - such is the nature of free thought. Provided no laws are broken, of course.

So, no, I don´t think he should be removed for his views and the surrounding controversy. However, I can absolutely imagine that he´s a pain to work and communicate with in daily life. I think that it is fair that the people who work with him frequently have a right to decide whether he´s unwelcoming and whether he´s a good figurehead for the FSF. I´ll copy some stuff from the support letter:

An Unlikely Icon

“Stallman… is a hard man to like. He is driven, often impatient. His anger can flare at friend as easily as foe. He is uncompromising and persistent; patient in both.”

  • Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law Professor, democracy activist

I have had 3 lunches, 1 free software event, and 1 long car ride with Richard Stallman and can vouch for Lessig’s view. In that span of time he managed to confront and berate me countless times. He is by far the most disagreeable person I’ve ever met.

Richard Stallman has an often extreme bristliness about him and an intense propensity for confrontation, which can repel many. However, it is this same uncompromising nature that has led to his firm adherence to his principles. Even when his ideas were ridiculed, even when faced with piles of cash to be made in proprietary software, Stallman stayed on the side of software freedom. He has been preaching software freedom since nearly the origin of software and he adheres strictly to his own moral code. That is what has earned the respect and trust of so many concerned about digital liberties.

Once Stallman comes to a logical conclusion on an issue, he sticks by his views, does not matter the outside pressures. This could be his stance on neckties - symbols of corporate subservience, he won’t wear them. Or his stance on pronouns - "they” is always plural though he champions and frequently uses singular gender-neutral pronouns. Or his controversial views on age of consent laws, the term “First Nation,” prostitution, and other incredibly sensitive topics. Stallman will not, cannot keep a view - however unpopular - to himself.

The paradox of Stallman is that while his pointedness and stubbornness leads many to dismiss him as a jerk, his stubbornness and confrontations are actually rooted in his life-long obsession with morality. Though you may disagree, there is ample reason to believe he has come to hold his views from a concerted, rigorous, good-faith effort to be a voice for good in the world.

Ironically, given the smears against him, one of Stallman's core tenets seems to be consent! He has dedicated decades to arguing for free software, which protects computer users from nonconsensual activities being done on their machines (amongst other things). There is plenty of evidence that Stallman consistently applies his values of consent and freedom to romance and other relations. I find the claims that he is an “abuser” and “predator” online particularly misguided.


onion said () (edited )

Interesting. I can definitely understand where support of him is coming from then. But even people who hate him should be able to see that removing him for stating some opinions is a slippery slope.

His comment about the woman who had sex with a 14 year old saying he wishes he had been "abused" that way is messed up but a pretty common sentiment. A lot of guys find it hard to understand how that could be psychologically damaging and if he is autistic, that would make it even harder for him. I also can see how someone with autism could be particularly annoyed at laws where the difference being a rapist or not is a 1 day difference in age, or a few months, or which country it happens in. It isn't very logical but most people don't dwell on it because they have no interest in having sex with someone younger than 18. Most people who do dwell on it are pedophiles or ephebophiles, but it's possible that he just takes an interest because of his tendency to criticize anything that doesn't make sense to him. Even I, who supports statutory rape laws and the age of consent law being 18 can see that it's weird to have a sudden cutoff even though legally the cutoff has to be somewhere. But imo a 30 year old who has sex with an 18 year old is about as slimy as one who has sex with a 17 year old. I think a 30 year old would be able to see how immature an 18 year old is. Consent is a tricky area to legislate. There are lots of ways to get questionable consent while being legally in the clear.

You are right that many things are taken out of context. I looked at his site to see his thoughts on child porn in context. I think looking at child porn with real children (not drawings) for pleasure is an extremely evil thing to do and I'm glad people who do it are punished. So I was disturbed by his comment about there being "no reason" possession should be illegal. I'm glad to see that he seems to mainly be concerned with the affect the laws have on freedom. Though, I worry that if possession were made legal, it would be much harder to go after pedophiles.

These quotes are from

A man in the UK has been sentenced for prison for having a cartoon depicting a fictional child in some sort of sexual situation.

The advocates of this kind of censorship started by saying they were trying to protect real children from being abused in order to take their photos. Making such photos should be a crime, and is a crime, but that is no reason to prohibit possessing copies of the photos.

However, they have already gone far beyond that. No child was harmed in drawing the cartoon.

To criminalize possession of copies of anything published — no matter what it is — is oppressive, and leads to many other forms of tyranny.

"Child pornography" is an all-purpose excuse to attack human rights on the internet. The FBI and Holder are now using it as an excuse to demand to be able to snoop on everyone's computers. This "cure" is worse than the disease.

Germany imposes internet filtering on routers (which I suppose includes those in ISPs as well as those in people's homes), blocking sites with no trial, and claims that the names of the censored sites are a "secret".

A site that posted the list of blocked domains was threatened with blockage itself.

Germany also made a rather shocking claim that posting this list in the US is illegal under US law, on the grounds that some of the censored sites display "child pornography".

Some works are disgusting, but censorship is more disgusting.

Illustrating the evil of making it a crime to possess pornography, a man in the UK was convicted of the crime of not knowing how to delete all copies of a disgusting video sent to him by a stranger.


zbviqi OP said () (edited )

He should not be removed from FSF as far as law permits him. I want to see what he will/can do. Complete Hurd works please! :D


DcscZx5idox said () (edited )

Tor Project is "REMOVE". Tor Project posted on offcial SNS account.

The Tor Project is joining calls for Richard M. Stallman to be removed from board, staff, volunteer, and other leadership positions in the FOSS community, including the Free Software Foundation and the GNU Project. Sign the open letter:

The Tor Project

The Tor Project has made it clear to Freedom Software Foundation and #LibrePlanet in the past that we did not want to participate in the event if they welcomed RMS back.

To re-instate him without notifying the community prior to the event is against the transparency we stand for in this community.

The Tor Project

I agree the following reply.

@torproject You should focus more on privacy and security and less on trying to cancel people you don't like.

Joshua Crawford