Dessalines
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Anytime RMS’s name comes up in FSF circles:

Travis Skaalgard
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I’d upvote this a thousand times if I could.

ufra
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Anyone major player in efforts to eliminate the idea of copyleft from their conception of an open exploitation source community must be drooling over this divide.

@adrianmalacoda@lemmy.ml
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Indeed. This is a dark day for the free software movement, and I am concerned about the future of the FSF (RMS or otherwise).

For the record, I have always admired RMS as a hacker and philosopher, and consider him one of the most influential people, of the last 40 years, in tech. That said, after careful investigation of the facts I have come to the same conclusion as this letter, that he is doing more harm than good and the FSF and wider free software community should have distanced themselves from him in 2019. Now that the FSF has reversed its decision and brought him back, we have this to deal with now.

However, while I agree with the criticism of RMS presented by this letter, I can’t bring myself to sign it. Specifically, I am concerned with what they credit him with (emphasis mine):

While these ideas have been popularized in some form by Richard M. Stallman,

They do a fairly good job of minimizing his (very important, IMHO) contribution to free software and tech in general. Also note the “in some form” phrasing, which to me implies that they take issue with the way RMS actualized the movement (that he founded). Contrast this with Guix’s statement from 2019,

We, the undersigned GNU maintainers and developers, owe a debt of gratitude to Richard Stallman for his decades of important work in the free software movement. Stallman tirelessly emphasized the importance of computer user freedom and laid the foundation for his vision to become a reality by starting the development of the GNU operating system. For that we are truly grateful.

My worst fear is that the writers of this letter, and some or many of its signatories, see this not as a way to preserve the GNU/FSF founding philosophy while moving forward, but the first salvo in a damnatio memoriae campaign against RMS and his philosophy. I would have liked to believe we could leave RMS the person behind while holding true to the founding philosophy and principles (copyleft, the four freedoms) but I lost all hope of that with this letter.

ufra
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Well put. That guix letter escaped me previously and respect for his efforts lends much to their credibility imo.

Personally, I need to do more research on the issue. The original history up through the split around netscape ipo, oreilly and linus is familiar but the last 20 years is not. On the surface it looks like extinguish is working.

This mirrors my thoughts exactly. I was going to sign it until I saw that nearly half the authors are OSI/Debian folks.

GadgeteerZA
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As the issue has been more and more unpacked I’m also hearing there are agendas for wanting to bring down the FSF itself by other role-players (there is a growing ethical software movement that is at odds with no holds barred open source, as well as increased commercialisation of open source). RMS of course always steps straight into a controversy and is very binary about what he believes in. This has been good, as well as bad, for open source. Because of this too, he was not the best spokesperson for FSF, as he did not even engage on platforms that were proprietary in any way, yet those were the folks that needed to hear his message.

Times and feelings have changed and the binary attitude just does not go down well. That said, I believed his heart has always been in the right place regarding open source, and I’d certainly want to have heard more detail about why he said what he did (remembering that RMS is rather direct and not very empathetic in his way of expressing himself). Knowing his personality and way of speaking in general, I’m just wondering if he should not rather have had some counselling instead, versus being banished altogether. He’s obviously made a lot of enemies along his journey as he never pulled any punches whether it was a government, BigTech, or others he was addressing. Clearly he should not be thinking out aloud. I don’t agree with what he said but am not sure he deserves the same censure that child molesters and rapists have received. I really think he needed support in terms of changing the way he thinks about some non-OSS matters especially when it comes to human beings.

Anyone know if he made any statement at all about what he said? Maybe I missed that.

@ndarwincorn@lemmy.ml
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His heart’s in the right place (with much needed self-criticism regarding super regressive shit he’s put out in the world) in general, but when it comes to free software there’s the incredibly relevant problem of his unwillingness to recognize the contribution of women to the field and FOSS in particular. In an 07 interview:

I don’t have any experience working with women in programming projects; I don’t think that any volunteered to work on Emacs or GCC.

That was bullshit then, and it’s bullshit now, and if you don’t think you can trace a straight line from that sort of shit to the over-representation of cis white men in tech idk what to tell you.

Between that and the decades of interpersonal harassment that many women experienced at MIT, sorrynotsorry he’s not redeemable at least when it comes to being a worthy representative.

Ephera
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Not to discredit the message based on the messenger, but why would anyone publish something like that on fucking GitHub of all places? Do they want people to not read it? Are they even part of this community that cares about software freedom? Just what in the fuck was the thought process here?

poVoq
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Signing it requires making a PR, and people in support of this letter most likely have a github account already.

They can email too if preferred to not use GitHub.

I think this really hurts the FSF. Open source software is one of those communities that gets really toxic and countless talented people have been turned away because they didn’t feel welcome.

I understand stalman was very important to the movement but can’t board members just maintain a relationship with him outside of the organization if he really still has an important vision? I think putting him back on the board really sends the wrong message.

poVoq
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But this is exactly the kind of toxic behavior that turns people away: Going on holy crusades and endlessly debating about technicalities.

Putting him back on a back-seat of the board of directors was a bi-partisan move of no real significance to the operations of the FSF, but a peace offer to bridge a significant rift in the support base of the FSF.

Pointing out toxic behavior is not toxic behavior.

Its not a holy crusade to hold people accountable and realize that reinstating stalman sends a bad message to the kinds of people that stalman has made feel unwelcome.

@ndarwincorn@lemmy.ml
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Pointing out toxic behavior is not toxic behavior.

It is when the folks doing it are doing so out of bad faith. Nearly half the authors of the OP are OSI/Debian folks, and I haven’t seen a single one of them call out Raymond or Perens for the nearly-identical misogyny they’re shedding crocodile tears over in this letter. Both of them were in leadership positions at the OSI more recently than Stallman at the FSF (until this week I guess).

RMS needs to go, but I will not put my name on their cooption of feminism in service of a long-held grudge towards the FSF.

Hey, thank you for the response. I would like to educate myself on this more, do you have any links to read about the behavior of raymond or perens?

There’s some rabbit holes in the response I wrote to the OP.

@Helmic@lemmy.ml
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Issue is that people outside of that beef are going to see this as the FSF being reactionary. And who can blame them? The guy got metoo’d, the position is utterly ceremonial and does nothing but voice support for a grown man that had to be told the issue with “but what if the child consents.”

This benefits no one but Stallman himself. That it so clearly doesn’t even benefit the FSF makes it seem as though it’s a move meant to spite women in FOSS for saying anything. If he was at least going into a position to do actual work then arguments about him showing remorse would be relevant, but instead the FSF’s credibility among non-chuds is getting questioned so that Stallman can try to salvage the legacy he tarnished himself.

poVoq
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I disagree with the second part. This was clearly intended to the benefit of the FSF. Just look at the comments and votes here. There is a significant portion of the FSF support base who disagree with RMS’s cancellation and it is threatening to tear the FSF apart. These are not “chuds” for the most part, but rather deeply insecure male nerds with bad social skills, who see RMS as one of them. Apparently this was a miscalculation though, as one side of the conflict still feels vindictive and is not willing to go along with a reasonable peace offer to the other side.

It is really a sad state of affairs and this kind of behavior is threatening IMHO the very existence of the FSF, because who wants to put effort into a movement where the current supporters apparently spend more time hating each other than trying to overcome their disagreements?

@Helmic@lemmy.ml
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If it were a “resonable peace offering” there would be no controversy. What you’re describing is just pandering to reactionaries and then acting surprised anyone with a modicum of genuine concern about women in tech takes issue with that.

If people were mad RMS had to leave over his decades of sexual harassment, then good. They need to self-crit, not demand the FSF make a gesture to signal that they never really wanted to condemn his actions.

It would honestly be more of a compromise if RMS was going to do actual work, but it’s a ceremonial position, it exists purely as a fuck you. FSF did very little with RMS in actual positions of power and it’ll accomplish nothing by associating with him now when RMS hasn’t even demonstrably done anything to address his previous harm other than let people know he had to be convinced that “but what if the child consents” was a shit take.

FSF entirely brought this down upon itself trying to appease a faction that has no place in the free software movement, and now it is endangering its fundamental goals as people associate the movement with that faction.

1000% agreed.

My rationale above is why I’m not signing the OSI’s open letter. But RMS needs to go, there’s no way in hell you’ll see my signature on the other one. So I wrote my own.

Travis Skaalgard
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<offtopic> Threads like this are where I point when people accuse Lemmy admins of not allowing different opinions. How many people in these threads got banned for a different opinion, hmm? </offtopic>

(apparently I need to clarify, nobody has been banned for dissent. This is a pro-mods comment)

I’ll be honest, this discussion on Lemmy has been a breath of fresh air compared to that on Reddit, Twitter, or even Hacker News of all places.

Travis Skaalgard
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I agree. Most viewpoints I’ve seen here are pretty rational takes on the same thing, just differing slightly on recommended action.

@Zach777@lemmy.ml
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How so? I have mostly seen the admins behave nicely toward different views.

Travis Skaalgard
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Exactly. Nobody has been getting banned for dissent. But people still say that.

@Anachron@lemmy.ml
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Also see the open letter supporting RMS https://lemmy.ml/post/58022

@Milo@lemmy.ml
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FSF is software movement and those are his personal views he has not expressed them with in FSF. Also there is no pure evil with those thoughts, please let him discuss whatever he wants in his personal website…

@Anachron@lemmy.ml
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I agree wholeheartly. That’s why I wrote a kind of “reply” here: https://github.com/rms-open-letter/rms-open-letter.github.io/issues/672

@uthredii@lemmy.ml
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Stallman is the kind of guy who will be diefied once he’s dead.

@Helmic@lemmy.ml
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deleted by creator

poVoq
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Sigh that was really unnecessary and will make quite a few people sympathize with RMS even if they agree with the allegations against him.

First of all, the guy is a 68 year old ex-hippy boomer with likely some sort of mental health issues. Let him sit a few years more on the board of directors as a quiet founder and just let it be…

And aside from apparently unpleasant behavior against students (something shockingly common with professors… and anyways irrelevant to his FSF role), the main allegations expressed in their annex don’t really hold up.

The first point about relativizing child abuse, is true (and was a very common view in hippy circles), but RMS has publicly stated even before all this that people convinced him to change his mind about it. Maybe that isn’t fully true, but people deserve the benefit of doubt that they can change their mind.

The second point about down syndrome is a very common majority view-point in most of the world, and I wager even in the US it is secretly held by the majority. And it is also hypocritical, as in essence criticizing it, is questioning the right of a woman to have an abortion…

And the last point about gender pronouns… well come on… I 100% agree that we as society should start adapting our language to be more accommodating to trans persons, but this is a 68 year old boomer we are talking about. And his views on it aren’t even especially transphobic, but just somewhat pedantic about “correct” language use.

I don’t agree, it feels like you are excusing stalman for his behavior because other people also behave the way stalman does. That is not how that works ESPECIALLY when someone represents the figurehead for an entire movement/community. Is stalman significantly more toxic than many 68 year old white men? He definitely isn’t alone in his behavior but the point is its one thing if its your retired uncle who behaves this way and its another if its someone who has a ton of responsibility to shape a community.

Stalman’s time has far past.

poVoq
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Yes, but why this unnecessary commotion now? He was removed from all relevant positions years ago and this re-appointment to a back-seat on the board of directors of the FSF is basically just a minor nod to his important past role in the FSF. It’s like putting up a picture of the founder on the wall… no real harm in doing so and he is the founder of the FSF after all.

@rockroach@lemmy.ml
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is there a thing such as unnecessary commotion ? Since we have had good discussions on the anarchist community I feel compelled to ask you if this isn’t just a point made by people who are not affected by his negative behavior. as in it’s easier to forgive racism when one is white. I hope it’s not the case and I have misunderstood you.

poVoq
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The justified commotion already took place two years ago and has resulted in RMS losing all his former positions and probably gave him much to think about.

There was so much bad blood over this, why can’t we just move on and accept this peace offer to the other side? Why does it have to be total annihilation? In the grander scheme of things RMS is a small fish that is in some ways more of a friend than an enemy.

And last but not least, I find it really questionable that people who claim to fight against discrimination, now dogpile on a clearly weak target who to a large extend seems to have said the things he did because of his asberger syndrome or something like that. What kind of shitty bullying is that?

I welcomed his removal two years ago, but at some point is it time to move on and extend a hand as a peace offer so that we can work together on more important issues.

@rockroach@lemmy.ml
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And last but not least, I find it really questionable that people who claim to fight against discrimination, now dogpile on a clearly weak target who to a large extend seems to have said the things he did because of his asberger syndrome or something like that. What kind of shitty bullying is that?

legit causes can always be used to get acquire more power etc… but I don’t see how it can be good for him to return.

Why does it have to be total annihilation? In the grander scheme of things RMS is a small fish that is in some ways more of a friend than an enemy.

I am unaware of rms efforts to change, I am also unaware of him having changed positions and showing it with action. At worst, him coming back(with the small amount of information I have) sounds just like defiance and lack of respect for oppressed people.

There was so much bad blood over this, why can’t we just move on and accept this peace offer to the other side?

As someone who believes in restorative justice I’d like to know more about the peace offer. :)

@Nevar@lemmy.ml
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The logic you’re using here; that if RMS is put back on in a minor position he will use it to acquire more power; if the same logic that people who dislike women, lgtbq, etc. use for denying those groups position of power. I just want to point out the hypocrisy that you’re giving special treatment to one group over another. Which is why identity politics in general is so toxic.

@rockroach@lemmy.ml
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sounds like trolling. sounds like ignorance at best, if that’s the case I am sorry this is not a good place to help you. if it’s the former … see you later

yeah definetly trolling

legit causes can always be used to get acquire more power etc… but I don’t see how it can be good for him to return.

was clearly a criticism towards the fact we can legit causes to get power and exclude rms.

@Nevar@lemmy.ml
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Oh I misinterpreted your original comment. Didn’t realize it was based on malice towards RMS. I see now. You’re advocating social justice causes over free software causes. Edit: In other words you would take down a vaccine developer company if the lead scientist believed against trans conversion before adulthood, or something controversial like that. Instead of having a vaccine as long as they weren’t in a position of power.

@rockroach@lemmy.ml
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I advocate for a society in which we don’t miss the opportunity of working with talented people because toxic behavior drives them away from contributing to a better society. But I also believe that we should first ensure people’s right to live, so I wouldn’t refuse access to vaccines based on these principles. I am more likely to ask the company to try to put money(if possible) in education programs, giving the people a chance to act towards change seems to work a long way to build justice.

poVoq
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This isn’t about him returning in any comparable function. The new position is largly ceremonial and low profile.

Asking RMS to change (beyond what he already did) is a bit like asking a gay person to become less gay. He clearly is neurodivergent and has issues seeing beyond technicalities in discussions he feels strongly about.

As for the peace offer: we in the broadest sense won two years ago, and this peace offer is towards the many supporters of RMS who are not all bad people.

@Helmic@lemmy.ml
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deleted by creator

@peppermint@lemmy.ml
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forgive my harsh judgement, this is just another media attack. the guy founded gnu, and made more than most people will ever do. I don’t care how judged he is as a person. that’s nothing to do with his contributions.

we’ve seen media attacks against Weinstein, and that was useful for sumney redstone who bought the company for third of its original valuation and a lot of people who stood up to sexual harassment. I can hardly imagine the latter happening with stallman’s removal.

My position is, why would you sign it if nobody is paying you to do it. Ideals are good but if you’re not getting paid for a media attack than somebody definitely is.

@rockroach@lemmy.ml
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are you implying that talking sexual abuse is just a tool to get money ? I hope you aren’t

@peppermint@lemmy.ml
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no, I’m implying that crowd hate is a tool to justify accusing someone without a judicial process.

Jia Ming
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deleted by creator

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