I ask you to read the whole article instead of going straight to the downvote, report or ban button. It is a public draft, I’ve been making a lot of improvements and corrections. I appreciate feedback and constructive dialog.

@polymerwitch
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165M

What if we don’t think that people should be disposable and erased completely from society, but also believe that we should openly discuss harm, power dynamics, cult of personalities, and toxic cultural trends in our communities? I can recognize what RMS has contributed in both actual code and free software philosophy. I can also recognize that as a vocal figure and visible figurehead some of hist writing and actions have caused harm to others. I don’t think he is being “lynched”, and I don’t want to see him literally killed. I don’t want to see him imprisoned. I don’t want to see him ostracized. I don’t even want to see his contributions diminished. I do want to see him work with willing community members to work to do better and heal some of the harm that he caused. From what I’ve seen he’s said he is at least willing to consider this.

The question remains though, should he remain in a position of power in the free software community while he is working with the community to find justice and work toward healing? I’d argue it’s pretty clearly not an appropriate position for him at this time, and it will cause more detriment to creating a healthy thriving community than stepping down and working on those other things. Imagine if he did step down and started working with the community to talk about what he learned and how he’s growing, and advocated for more community members to work toward building the free software community by creating a welcoming space for them.

Instead, I keep seeing posts like this that are knee-jerk reactions to people’s anger that seek to defend his worst actions from any accountability. I don’t know how a community grows and thrives from that position. It feels like the free software community is turning further inward and actively pushing people away. And, FWIW, I also feel like creating an atmosphere that demands that transgressors are disposed of and erased from the community also drives people away. The path to a just, welcoming, and thriving community is somewhere between that.

@Ferk
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I totally agree that we should be able to openly discuss about the toxicity and attempt to put measures to avoid those situations. And, while I agree RMS has done a lot for the community, I don’t think this is really about that. Toxicity is bad no matter what other good the person might have done. But for that same reason, we should be careful when we acuse someone because if it’s done unfairly and without care, the accusation might end up being just as toxic.

The open letter was as much of a “knee-jerk reaction” to the readmission of Stallman as “posts like this” are to the open letter.

should he remain in a position of power in the free software community

It depends what you mean by “position of power”. He’s no longer president of the FSF and his return did not change that. The current president is Geoffrey Knauth.

Him being in a board of directors doesn’t mean he’s the embodiment of the whole Foundation. He still needs to abide by the rules, “including prohibitions against conflicts of interest and sexual harassment and those outlining whistleblower processes and fiduciary duties”.

Should being “tone-deaf” to social cues mean he cannot be part of a board of directors? does this also disqualify people with autism?

Note that I’m not saying “there should be no accountability for bigotry”, because there should.

And related to that: how should people react when a socially handicapped person that firmly believes in ideals of feminism and trans rights has problems reading social cues and is misunderstood? should we give him a chance to explain himself? should we have an honest open discussion with him before throwing accusations and calling him the opposite of what he actually defends?

I think the open letter should have been much more moderate and cautious in its tone. Your comment is much more honest and clear in its intent than the letter which was full of insults, they interpreted his words in the worst manner and disregarded any corrections that he himself might have done. They direct the letter not to him but to the FSF to remove him, with no intent to look for any sort of explanation or understanding, just purely demanding not only his destitution but also for the entire board of directors to step down.

@sirl1on
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I appreciate feedback and constructive dialog

Then don’t write your opinion piece in a tone that accuses any one disagreeing of being an enemy, bad faith actor, lynch mob, … Because that’s how it sounds to me.

Pedophilia and child abuse defender?

Misogynist?

Transphobic?

You know, I agree that he said dumb things, didn’t mean them. He apologized and/or clarified. Good for him!

But I am extremely irritated that he gets a free pass on this time after time. He fails to communicate his “showings of ineptitude” to not be (accidentally) hateful and hurting. We progressive leftists inside the free software movement would NEVER EVER be that lenient towards someone without the clout, history and power RMS has (or - gasp - uses proprietary software). Your take of RMS (and you!) being the helpless powerless victim, canceled by an unnamed, uninformed, ill-guided and conspirative mob is exactly the take conservatives and fascists use when they are called out for their behavior.

I (and most people not okay with Stallman being a representative) do not wish to unacknowledge his tremendous work creating the free software movement, prevent him from contributing, voicing his personal opinions or anything like. I just want to not have him in a position of being a role model and representative for Free Software. Because he has shown that - while technically brilliant - voices problematic or at least not well expressed standpoints that are taken as position of FSF or the general Free Software movement because of his position of power he holds in it.

Ableist?

I can’t really agree with you here.

“Pro-Choice” means that it is the decision of the mother to abort the pregnancy at an early point to prevent giving birth to a child she can’t/won’t raise - could be because of a diagnosed disability or not.

There is also a term used when this decision is made by other people or institutions because of some higher perceived values of worthiness or empathy: euthanasia.

This again is at best a take RMS had without ill intentions but uttered in a convoluted way open to interpretation.

The last Free Software total devotee

The collapse of the Free Software movement

What needs to change

I have a problem with the FSF being the pinnacle of free software, the standard bearer, the one voice of the free software movement.

Your idolization and apologetic defense of RMS paints Free Software more of a cult than a movement. If we are dependent on one organization, lead by one leader, irreplaceable, uncritiqueable, driven only by perceived meritocracy, then this isn’t a healthy movement, just a bunch of very technically talented libertarian people coding software for “muh freedom”. But if we want to have any meaningful impact we need to create a movement aiming not only for freedom for those in power & authority but also the people using the software in a world full of digital surveillance and vanishing privacy!

My solution to this: Decentralize the FSF! There should not be one voice, but many voices organically representing the spirit of free software!

Well, after reading your post again I hope you at least read and consider my points. The accusatory tone, judgmental terms and construction of “us vs. them” does not reflect your wish for constructive feedback at all.

EDIT: Off Topic, would you mind sharing a bit info or resources about gemini?

@salarua@sopuli.xyz
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65M

Off Topic, would you mind sharing a bit info or resources about gemini?

here’s its website: https://gemini.circumlunar.space/

@avalos
creator
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45M

Thanks for your feedback! I understand your points and made a lot of corrections to my post accordingly.

kazutrash
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25M

I’ve take a bit of look at Gemini, it’s some kind of network protocol.

@TheAnonymouseJoker
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You know what is the problem with cancel culture advocating “progressive (liberal) leftists”? These people would rather support anti-FOSS corporations and their interests rather than the “muh communist” anti-corporation anti-capitalist RMS, and that is why this anti RMS stance will continue to get less support.

The problem with this is RMS actually cares about free software principles unlike the capitalist megacorporations. Everybody knows the liberals and right wing are alike on one point - being pro capitalism and pro bourgeois.

When politics starts to become bigger than the work itself, and when trashy politics starts to encompass the social liberty movement and the advocates resort to semantic argumentation to put across their point, you know there is a problem.

Decentralisation does not work like you want. Different structures work differently. Where do you want the decentralised power to go to, from a bunch of people holding onto their FOSS libre freedom values? Corporations?

@professor_qza
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The letter and the lynching mob

I find the use of the word ‘lynching’ incredibly off-putting. I understand that this language is pulled from Renata Avila’s defense of Stallman, but it is equally problematic there. It draws a false equivalence between the rampant literal hanging of people because of the color of their skin and discussion of the social consequences facing Richard Stallman, even if that is not the intent.

He denies being autistic, but he clearly is.

I am also very uncomfortable with the framing of this argument. It is, at its core, ableist – we are assigning what we perceive as social deficiencies to something we can easily categorize and then disregard. If the argument is that Stallman should be able to say what he wants personally, then please make that argument.

What’s with all those claiming to respect neurodivergence while also completely ignoring the struggles of an autistic person? Hypocrisy at its best.

Both I and my partner are proudly neurodivergent and I find being called out on this front additionally curious. It makes me feel dismissed because I am not simultaneously aligned with neurodivergent advocacy and support of Richard Stallman (which is another false equivalence, or, at best, incredibly reductionary). Overall, it’s really outside the scope of the argument that is being made and worth re-approaching.

I dare to say that he’s the only person qualified for the job of leading and promoting the Free Software movement

This is, in my opinion, a dangerous position to take. Isn’t free software part of a larger ideology of freedom of information and sharing advancement? Why does it need a singular leader? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, because individual people are fallible – revolutionary ideas survive them.

In total, I think it is worth considering who your intended audience for this piece is, and what you want to say to them. If you are making an argument, make that argument. As it stands, I have a difficult time taking any of the positions seriously since the tone, much like the open letter in support of RMS, is immediately oppositional, rather than collaborative, and the defense is reliant solely on presenting counterpoints, not a cohesive counterargument.

@avalos
creator
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55M

I really appreciate your feedback! I made a lot of corrections based on your points.

@TheAnonymouseJoker
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I dare to say that he’s the only person qualified for the job of leading and promoting the Free Software movement

This is, in my opinion, a dangerous position to take. Isn’t free software part of a larger ideology of freedom of information and sharing advancement? Why does it need a singular leader? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, because individual people are fallible – revolutionary ideas survive them.

RMS is one of the only people in the world going to lengths to demanding libre open source JS on websites, denying to use Netflix with his friends, using a fully free libre computer and so on and so forth. Can you go to that lengths? Can these cancel culture pro bourgeois “leftists” go to that length? Even I cannot go to that length, as a privacy and freedom advocate myself.

@professor_qza
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It’s not an all-or-nothing thing, though. One can use proprietary software and still support, contribute to, and advance free software.

As an analogy, I am also an anarchist – and even though I’m not an ethical vegan, I can still do the work to advance the cause because we have the same values and dreams. Likewise, I can still be a part of the free software movement, even if I have to use zoom for work.

Edit: Also, just because you don’t know me doesn’t mean I’m not also doing everything I can to live an ethical life. I have stopped my workplace using Amazon, I bank black, I buy local, I only use jellyfin for my media. My small contributions have inspired other small contributions and that’s how we make the world a better place. It’s not worth disregarding all of the people who support the cause because they are not perfect.

@ishigami_san
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05M

I think by being flexible so as to use proprietary software, while contributing to free software is some what similar to:

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin, 1759

@TheAnonymouseJoker
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-45M

Do you understand that RMS is the personification of free software movement, what he founded? You and I are hypocrites compromising to some degree, regardless of what argument you formulate to self coax yourself.

RMS displays to the world a person that practices in absolute form what he preaches, does not fake it behind doors, and that is a symbol we need and cannot be replaced until someone actually lives like that. We currently do not have a replacement for RMS, period.

@professor_qza
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65M

I am not a hypocrite, I am a free software activist. I don’t think you are a hypocrite either.

Free speech does not need an idol, so I don’t understand what fundamental difference there is that makes free software need one.

@TheAnonymouseJoker
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Any ideal needs a personified idol to show that an idealistic way of life can be lived in real world. You and I are hypocrites to an extent because the ideals are not being practiced ideally.

I am no less a privacy advocate, and c/privacy has !libre_culture and my own !privatelife in its sidebar for a reason. I have been advocating for a true pro privacy libre culture for a good while now.

All these downvoters are hideous corrupted people. Funnily, the same 3 people have downvoted my comments on this post.

@Lightbritelite
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55M

Honestly, the Epstein stuff did seem like mischaracterizations of what he said, but the sexual harassment stuff stuff is where i draw a hard line. Apparantly, women would avoid going anywhere near his office.

@avalos
creator
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35M

One of the reasons was apparently because there was literally a mattress in his office at MIT and he left the door open. But the mattress was actually Gerald Sussman’s. They saw a shirtless man occasionally, who Sussman and Stallman confirmed was a person named “Tom” that they allowed sleep in there.

There were more reasons, but it was never because of actual sexual harassment, if I understand correctly.

@marmulak
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25M

I heard the mattress story and thought it just meant be slept in his office at night. I guess if someone else was sleeping in the office it’s just the same.

@someone
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45M

Thank you, this was a pretty good read.

@maddox
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35M

This website explains it all https://stallmansupport.org/

@curious_one
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35M

nice post. I think that the root of the problem is if the FSF should fight only for software freedom or should they also fight on all other fronts. I believe there is great danger that their message wil get diluted to OSI-stuff if they will go down that path. That is probably the main motivation behind all the corporate power that is pushing against RMS. I strongly prefer neutral and freedom respecting GNU system than corporate sponsored social issues aware Android spying machine. Both are open source but only one is in practice free software.

Good job.

@TheAnonymouseJoker
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-35M

I wholly support your use of the word “lynching”. This is what the mob cancel culture has come down to, semantic BS, mob attacks, and this is how corrupted the liberal left has become. This is wrong. (Before liberals think I am attacking them, which I frankly do not care about, they should consider viewing themselves from a third party POV.)

It is absolutely sad to see this as a demsoc (with some anarchist shades) who understands ample amount of politics, where liberal left started off as all that opposed the wrongs of the right wing/conservative people, and the liberal left of today has so much common with the very thing that they set out to destroy. The meme is becoming a reality where it should not.

Cancel culture is basically longing for a correct goal with the wrong approach and means. And moreso, cancel culture is not going to address anything by cancelling RMS, apart from further empowering the anti FOSS corporation bootlickers.

@cyrus
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deleted by creator

@TheAnonymouseJoker
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Dr. Richard Matthew Stallman (born 16 March 1953), known by his initials rms (occasionally uppercase RMS) is an American computer scientist, programmer, philosopher, free/libre software movement activist and ethical hacker. He pioneered the campaign for software to be distributed in such manner that its users receive the fundamental freedoms to use, study, distribute, and modify it. Software that respects these four freedoms is termed free software (or libre software).

What is libre culture?

Libre culture is all about empowering people. While the general philosophy stems greatly from the free software movement, libre culture is much broader and encompasses other aspects of culture such as music, movies, food, technology, etc.

Some beliefs include but aren’t limited to:

  • That copyright should expire after a certain period of time.
  • That knowledge should be available to people, not locked away.
  • That no entity should have unjust control or possession of others.
  • That mass surveillance is about mass control, not justice.
  • That we can all band together to help liberate each other.

Check out this link for more.

Rules

I’ve looked into the ways other forums handle rules, and I’ve distilled their policies down into two simple ideas.

  • Please show common courtesy: Let’s make this community one that people want to be a part of.

  • Please keep posts generally on topic

  • No NSFW content

  • When sharing a Libre project, please include the name of its license in the title. For example: “Project name and summary (GPL-3.0)”

Libre culture is a very very broad topic, and while it’s perfectly okay for a conversation to stray, I do ask that we keep things generally on topic.

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