Free software advocates seek removal of Richard Stallman and entire FSF board

I think this twitter thread from a former FSF employee adds to the conversation. One of the replies notes “For me, these are the first arguments against RMS at all. Before that I only read about unspecific accusations nobody dared to explain. Now I can see, why he shouldn’t be in charge of FSF. Different reason. Same result.” I obviously don’t agree with (the first part of) that, but perhaps this will connect with other readers who feel the same way.

Thread unrolled at this link if you want to read it all in one place. This isn’t some out-of-nowhere anti-FSF thing. I want to see a healthy, functional FSF that can meaningfully address the many challenges free software faces in the next 35 years. I don’t think Stallman is the person to do that, and I don’t think rallying around him as a singular figure helps the cause.

I would like for things to be different, but we can’t always have the heroes we imagine; everyone is just people. I really, really wish the FSF board had chosen to address this in a different way, and still have some hope that it’s not too late.


It is a lie , it is a bad semantic deduction of his own words, in my point of view it even alert for flaws in the laws in US and I’m not deflecting the specific issue if mistreatment anyone.

I think you don’t understood the analogy , Stallman create the GPL License which is basically the free software and created the FSF . So by itself is very stupid try remove a person from a foundation that he created .

Maybe today if Stallman does not existed, we don’t had Gnu Linux and free software at all . So these persons that talks about non-safe place (what is talking about ?) . And the other comment that talks about “RMS was a rather shitty boss in the 2000s” (which is offensive) .
Why you don’t do a new License, a new foundation and a new movement ? that is the point of my analogy .

Moreover, these type of initiatives will only divide the community and weaken it, as the proprietary software companies want, like Microsoft and other the like it


Despite starting this discussion it is clear that I have no where near enough information to properly discuss this.

However, I believe this logic is inherently flawed. Regardless of who you are, you are at the mercy of your consequences. Considering the FSF is not a private company or property owned by Stallman, it seems completely fair for members to “coup” against an original founder if seemed fit.

And that shouldn’t be an excuse for misconduct. Doing the most beneficial thing is often the the “right” thing to do.

I agree that Stallman’s contributions were monumental in helping the OSS community. But as I said above, ones good deeds does not make a wrong right. In addition, we do indeed have many more OSS licenses outside of GPL like the MIT/X11 license or the Apache License(and many more).

I apologize but I cannot understand your third paragraph.

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Sorry, I was talk about argumentation of 2 persons/tweets mention here. In my point of view the argumentation doesn’t have much relevance for this discussion.

If you check the twitter thread, you will see that for example RMS did threaten to fire people when he was angry with them, and that’s why the staff (eg, the 12 or something people who are paid by the FSF) decided to create a union around 2004 to be protected from him.

Working in a place when you knew the boss could fire each time he is angry is not exactly a good place for the workers.

But the foundation is separate from RMS. If he wanted to be president for life, he could have said so in the bylaws, but he didn’t.

And even, he is 68 years old. What would happen once he retire, and if he doesn’t, if he dies ? Assuming the FSF can’t work without him is a recipe for disaster.

So, I do not understand, you say that dividing community is bad (which is kinda weird given how often people say that Linux is about choice) and at the same time, you seems to say that people should make their own foundation ?

It seems like a contradiction, so I maybe misunderstand your analogy.

At our meeting today, the Fedora Council unanimously approved a statement which will run on Fedora Magazine tomorrow (when it is no longer April Fool’s day, to avoid any confusion in this serious matter).


I think you don’t understand me again
Let’s suppose that is true “RMS was a bad boss in the 2000s” and “did threaten to fire people when he was angry with them” , what these have to do with “equality” and values that we are discussing ? Zero , nothing , niente.

So do me a favor , don’t make me waste my time reading that , 95% of that texts have zero relevance for this discussion , IMO.

Replyng to “why 12 or something people who are paid by the FSF decided to create a union around 2004 to be protected from him.” again let suppose that is true, what these have to do with “equality” and values that we are discussing ? Zero , nothing , niente. What I could say is , I don’t understand why that people want to work in that place. The only reasons I can think of, it is better not to write here .

I disagree. For a start, the call to remove him is about leadership at its core. No one called for anything more than a change of FSF leadership. So testimonies on RMS behaviour while in a position of power are all about that.

Because in turn, this bad leadership had impact in the community. It is well documented that he made women uncomfortable over the years, and I personally know several persons in that case who signed the letter. And hints of it was even in his official biography (the whole “staring at chest of my wife” part in chapter 14 of the 1st edition).

He also displayed several time a attitude of feeling above the rules such as code of conduct (again, a behaviour I witnessed myself at Libreplanet 2017, and that can be seen on video) because he is the leader.

This clearly go against equality to have a special group of people for whom rules do not apply, even a group of 1.

And when one member of that special group is also making others uncomfortable on a regular basis since years and shield itself from consequences and has no will to change, this is a problem and that person is not suitable to be a leader.


what these have to do with “equality” and values that we are discussing ? Zero

Not really.

What I could say is , I don’t understand why that people want to work in that place.

And this is exactly the point. The open letter doesn’t tell RMS what to do. It says “we are not going to work for you or with you anymore”

FSF isn’t our formal employer. But many of us informally and implicitly were working for FSF and RMS by writing and promoting free software, which FSF claims to “own”. FSF put itself in a position to be the owners of the definition and the process around free software, thus it has direct impact on our Freedom and Friends values.

With great power comes great responsibility, and you can not claim that you own the definition of the term Freedom for the entire community, and at the same time say that it is none of community’s business how do you manage it.

It may be it was wrong for us to let FSF have this role for such a long time. But that’s the current state of things.

And now we say - if you don’t change, we don’t want to work for you anymore. And we don’t want to support your claims for the ownership on definitions of our values.

We are still going to work on free and open software, but we do not work under your leadership.


well this is my last comment , I don’t like wast my time in stupid argumentation, you are trying to push Stallman from FSF based on “scandal” of 2019 , that I just knew 5 day ago, and accusation of “he’s exhibited seriously inappropriate behavior and views that are transphobic, ableist, and misogynist among many other things” and "defend sexual molestation of children” , here we end up with an argument with zero relevance about the accusations I just cited .
There is a value that I highly appreciate and that is gratitude and you, in my point of view, are a bunch of ungrateful people, so I plan announce after your declaration of great ingratitude and lack of recognition of the work done, that I will not collaborate more for this project.


I am sad to hear that but that’s your choice.

Just one note on this: we didn’t sign the open letter.

I personally don’t agree with the way the problem is described there. But I do support the statement we wrote as a Council. Therefore I am not discussing the accusations someone else made, but I do try to explain our position.


Which project? Fedora?

Having read the official Fedora Council statement, I’m confused about a particular point:

In keeping with our values, we will stop providing funding or attendance to any FSF-sponsored events and any events at which Richard Stallman is a featured speaker or exhibitor. This also applies to any organization where he has a leadership role.

What does not “providing…attendance” mean? That Fedora (Council) members and/or contributors should (shall) not attend LibrePlanet (for example)? Are being active in the Fedora community and an FSF member now to be considered incompatible?

Thanks for clarifying.

My understanding is that this would be for official attendance, e.g., Fedora will not have a official booth at Libreplanet nor be sponsor there, and Fedora will not reimburse Ambassadors who want to go to Libreplanet to represent Fedora (taking Libreplanet as a example). But if people want to get there by themself, they can.

And I do not think being a FSF member is incompatible, people can have plenty of reasons to be FSF members. The FSF is still important, still defend the GPL, and I can see how someone agreeing that RMS is not a good leader could try to change FSF from inside.

And I personally think that plenty of reasonable people I know who disagree with the rms-open-letter text (mostly on the form, to be honest), or prefer to not be involved for whatever reasons.


I agree that would be a reasonable interpretation, but due to the ambiguity I hope that someone in an authoritative position can issue a clarification or statement as to how this new policy is to actually be implemented.

That’s exactly the point. I agree with you.

@misc is correct; the statement is about formal sponsorship and attendence. And I would expect anyone from Fedora who decides for whatever reason to attend such an event to not portray that as representing the project officially.

I also personally agree with the points on FSF membership.


Thank you

Personally I don’t know anything about RMS other that his being an important foudational figure in open software. That aside, in general, I will say we can not tolerate people who are intolerant of others producing harmful speech and other forms of abuse for reasons that are personal to the one(s) being harmed. Becoming aware of someone’s personal information whether intentional or accidental must not be an occasion for any form of punishment, abuse, or discrimination. People in authority who engage in such practices must not be condoned or tolerated for any reason.

There are laws controlling freedom of speech when individuals or organizations can demonstrate they have been harmed by speech. Many individuals and organizations choose not to seek redress under the law due to the expense involved and/or fear of more harm. That does not make the harmful speech acceptable in any degree.

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I’m saddened and disappointed it took this long for the prominent members of the free software community to censure Richard’s (and by extension the current FSF management) unfortunate and often deeply cruel (in effect, if not intention) comments, and I think the worst pertained to his persistent dehumanization of the disabled and their families, and I hope he philosophically reevaluates those ideas too in order to reach more positive conclusions about others’ health differences to foster a progressive medical science instead of a eugenics of elimination. I am glad it has finally come to a point where Fedora, GNOME, and other leaders are putting inclusivity and compassion and constructivity first by drawing this line for participation.