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

The completely vile reaction to his reinstatement proves to me these people don’t believe in forgiveness for a second. Their reactions totally outweights what an old, neurodiverse geek might have done.

For me, this is the last straw. I’m not participating in public linux communities anymore.

For the record: If you have a problem with the GPL - the problem is with you.

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There is a difference between forgiveness, and reinstating the forgiven person in the same position they abused (unintentionally or otherwise) before. It takes time to talk things over with the community and negotiate terms and build up trust again. I think rms could do many constructive and non-divisive things today without resuming a leadership position at FSF. The reaction is due to continued lack of trust. If he had earned it back before rejoining the FSF board (like Linus did, incidentally), we wouldn’t be having this discussion. To my knowledge, he’s never apologized for calling for certain disabled people to be eliminated, for example. Let’s say rms isn’t neuronormative himself, which is likely, since very few constructive, agreeable people would publicly say what he said. Then I totally forgive him for the personal offense, or rather there is nothing to forgive, but I’d still rather FSF be led by a new team, and rms can contribute in a number of other ways besides leadership.

So, please don’t misunderstand the precise context and quit the community. Also, nobody is really debating the GPL.

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This is not censoring. No one remove him the right to publish what he want, he is not going to jail or anything as far as I know. Removing his access to a soapbox, especially a shared one is not censoring. No one is entitled to a audience, and I think “public boycott” is a better way to explain what is happening.

And I agree, it took a long time to reach a breaking point, but that’s because people tried softer and less public approaches before. Community members since ages have been trying to convince RMS of the problems he caused and to get him changed ( see for example this thread from Georgia Young, ex-FSF employee https://twitter.com/georgialyle/status/1374504389155508232 ). But since the community at large rewarded his stubbornness with admiration and prestige, it reinforced his tendency to not change his mind.

And let’s not forget RMS behavior over the year, like the ones documented on
Criticize Stallman and suffer the wrath of the internet | Network World (2012) or RMS: De Icaza Traitor to Free Software Community – OSnews (2009).

Since critics were shut down swiftly, and attempts to do thing differently were met by public condemnation, this had a chilling effect on community, until the current situation happened.

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To add additional context… traditionally Fedora Ambassadors (now Fedora Advocates) could request sponsorship and funding from Fedora Project (usually but not always financially supported by Red Hat) to attend and/or speak at Free and Open Source conferences and events around the world. We have done things this way maybe since 2006 or 2007.

This statement is clarifying the approach we take to reviewing funding requests for our community members (in this context, usually not Red Hat employees). If a community member requests funding from the Council or the Mindshare Committee to attend an event, we will be mindful of whether the FSF or RMS have a role at an event before approving sponsorship.

Given that we have not had mass Fedora participation at conferences like LibrePlanet before (compared to something like SouthEast Linux Fest in the same time zone as LibrePlanet conferences), I suspect this will NOT be disruptive to current processes and travel sponsorships.

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I don’t had time to read much I choose to read this one, and I agree with Stallman , we shouldn’t write apps in C# and also uninstall any application using it and Microsoft open source labs never inspired confidence , this still absolutely true .
More over Microsoft just joint to Linux because saw that is loosing the war and used the maxim if you can’t win the enemy join to him and is what Microsoft did.

Given that plenty of games are written in C# (among the fews I have installed on my PC, I see that Stardew Valley, Hacknet, Timespinner and Shenzen I/O are all in C#), having Mono is what allowed them to be ported to Linux.

From a purely strategic point of view, and given the importance of games to get some people on free software systems, it seems following RMS position would have cut us from those users, who would then have stayed on Windows or had to dual boot more often.

More users of Linux mean more people at the FSF, and more people at the FSF mean more resources to push for software freedoms. And for that, there was nothing to do for the FSF except not saying “boycott Mono, X is a traitor”. This required no compromise of their position or anything, just not antagonizing people.

We can also compare that to what happened when the FSF refused to host the tarball of the A/UX gcc port
(https://groups.google.com/g/gnu.gcc/c/nHgq0ZYcwT0?pli=1), (Porting gcc and g++ to the Macintosh).

We can see indeed how the Apple boycott in the 90s worked on the long run:

  • Apple invested resources in *BSD code, not Linux and not the Hurd (and maybe because the FSF annoyed engineers at Apple)
  • Apple pushed for LLVM, a compiler that people start to use instead of gcc (maybe for the same reasons).
  • Apple is still alive and sitting on a pile of money

I fail to see how the GNU project benefited from that and big companies investing in non copyleft code.

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I can see how this cancel culture could be used for company raids. I can see how the cost of bringing down the FSF with its GPL could be as low as $100k paid to those who enjoy spurring chain reactions of social justice.

Whatever. I seee the guy created its FSF in the first place. Why people just don’t create their own company to advocate stuff they want in the way they want?

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It is a lie , he said a completely different thing in a context where one of the chiefs at MIT was accused of harassment. Their words were misinterpreted and even he apologized for possibly less correct words.

Replying to Michael Scherer , what was the part that you don’t understood when I said that I agree with Stallman ? and Stallman don’t call anyone of traitor as title suggest, It call “in sense of blabla” if you read what he wrote, instead the interpretation of an “journalist” who want to attract visits and views with misleading titles

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But the journalist didn’t twist the word of anyone. If you look at the provided link, this is exactly what was said in the blog from Martin Owens. Granted, the article has a HTML problem, so you have to read the HTML code to get the link, and then since the blog moved, you have to also search in archive. But you can check what was written:

https://web.archive.org/web/20100105072650/https://doctormo.wordpress.com/2009/09/19/software-freedom-day-in-boston/

This is coherent both with RMS position in 2009 on Mono, cf Why free software shouldn't depend on Mono or C# — Free Software Foundation — Working together for free software and coherent with RMS strong views in the past.

Now, you can choose to focus your argument on what RMS said exactly. Maybe he didn’t use the word traitor, but Judas or a metaphor. But that do not matter, because the issue is not the word, but the divisiveness and the intention. As I pointed, this seemed like a strategic mistake, and not the first time RMS turned out to push for the wrong strategy. This is also not the first time that RMS is divisive.

While nobody is perfect, the fact this is a pattern is why lots of people think he is unfit to lead something as important as the FSF. Free Software thrive on collaboration, but the FSF is not pushing that at all.

And to answer Anatoli, it turn out that creating their own organisation to avoid RMS is what a lot of people did. For example, there is the SFC, the OSI, the FSFE, the FSF France (website is down for now, I will ask the sysadmin if it still exist). I am sure there is others.

But having created a organization shouldn’t be a prerequisite to criticize RMS and the FSF. Forking is usually a last measure when everything else failed. And if you think that’s what people should do instead of speaking of problems and asking for change, I think it reflect more on your assessment of the situation wrt FSF than anything else.

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Let’s look at his own words, from 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 [sic] 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.

“Adults should not do that” is a pretty weak phrasing from someone we certainly know is able to make strong statements. But, there’s something else here, something worse than one might take from a plain reading, which is that Stallman has repeatedly said that he does not believe teenagers are children, especially in cases which involve sexual assault (a term I am using because it is appropriate, but which he does not) by adults. For example, 30 April 2018:

It sounds horrible: “UN peacekeepers accused of child rape in South Sudan.” But the article makes it pretty clear that the “children” involved were not children. They were teenagers.

What about “rape”? Was this really rape? Or did they have sex willingly, and prudes want to call it “rape” to make it sound like an injustice? We can’t tell from the article which one it is.

So, the use of “child” in this apology cannot be read to apply to be meant to apply to children who are older than 12 or 13. This is from Stallman’s “Anti-glossary” — it is definitely not an accident.

In this full light, even the most charitable reading of Stallman’s defense of Minsky — who is not accused of “harassment” but rather a 16-year-old victim of Epstein says she was instructed to have sex with him — does not look good at all. At the very least, it needed a real apology and greater understanding, not a statement that basically says “I’m sorry I was misunderstood.”

But, it isn’t really all about this one incident. Listen to women. Listen to the Free Software Foundation staff. Listen to the FSF people who resigned. This isn’t coming from outsiders. It’s not from people who want to “bring down the FSF”, or people who are against the GPL. It’s coming from people who know.

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I’ve, recently, became aware of this article: Fedora Council statement on Richard Stallman rejoining FSF Board - Fedora Magazine and felt such disappointment; made worse, even, by the comment section being deactivated.

I cannot believe @mattdm reacted in such a way before even trying to become aware of the facts. I invite you, Mathew, to read a bit here: https://stallmansupport.org/ or to, in an independent manner, confirm the claims made.

It seems to me that letting inertia define our posture isn’t the way to go. I expect more of Fedora’s leaders. At the very least, maintaining the project away from such politics and reactions. I don’t see the Friends value in that. rms has been a good friend of the community for a while now. I met him at LinuxCabal: Richard Stallman en Guadalajara | Linux Cabal - YouTube and gnu.cabal.mx/RMS20151130.php en Guadalajara, Jalisco, México - Un Lugar Donde Confiar. He’s a kind, respectful and intelligent man; not as, Fedora’s statement, claims him to be: an abuser and a harasser.

I for one, deny this posture and object strongly to the statement made in Fedora Magazine. Please, I ask you to remove it and publish an apology statement instead.

He has been taken out of context. Parts of the story have been exaggerated and, some others, just made up.

He is socially awkward. He is a nerd. He isn’t perfect. Who, among us, is? Certainly not me. Yet, we decide to burn im at a stake just for a few mistakes made in the past? I am sure nobody would survive such scrutiny.

Shame on Fedora for posting that (and disabling comments). That’s not Freedom. That’s not Friends. That’s plain old censorship and stabbing, figuratively, Dr. Stallman in the back; while benefiting from his work and ideas. Shame on everyone that let’s this slip. This is not how one should be or act.

Lastly, apologize for my imperfect English since it’s not my primary language.

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Comments are not disabled, merely slowed down due to some egregious mishaps with others way before you can here to comment.

@suppaman , he point that comments are disabled on the blog itself, and that’s because the Fedora council didn’t want to impose burden on the Fedora magazine volunteers to moderate those (and discourse is a better way to discuss, IMHO, richer interface, etc). It might be a good idea to explain that somewhere, since I do not know where I read that (I guess in the council meeting).

Disabling comments is also a convenient way to detect early where people come from. Saying this is censorship is a weird position, since people can still post here and everywhere they want so I can’t make sense of that argument. The only way it would make sense is if people consider they have to post directly at the same level as a official position of a elected body. That would be like saying that your government is censoring you because you can’t go on TV when your president announce something, and really it doesn’t make sense.

@ renich , you seems to not have used Discourse that much since there is a popup about your last post being “3 years ago”, but the 50 comments before on the discussion are related to the topic and they address your points (cause unsurprisingly, you are not the 1st ). I would recommend to review what was said as it would be more productive for everybody than asking others to debunk again arguments.

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Fedora really shouldn’t have waded into this controversy. We should exercise a bit more caution before we vote people off the island. Words do matter, but what matters just as much, if not more, is intent. The evidence I’ve seen doesn’t exhibit malicious intent - and you need to be mindful of having the punishment fit the crime, otherwise sanctions become meaningless and you run the serious risk of bad actors manipulating the situation and the good intention of others for their own destructive agendas. Meanwhile, those who really need to be held accountable remain, rendered invisible by the distraction they encourage.

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OK, first of all @misc, thanks for the suggestion, but @mattdm moved my topic, which was independent to this thread; and which I knew nothing about, here. So, this is why it seems to ignore the conversation completely.

Now, since there is a 1 hour show posting in effect, I will have to answer to some of the replies here, in no particular order, since I am not willing to wait 1 hour between replies.

Please, don’t quit the project @sergiomb, we need diversity and, IMHO, this community is very centered around the USA culture of late. They completely ignore the Latin American approach to things. I understand completely where you come from. I live in México and I, too, think alike. This is major ungratefulness or maybe even betrayal towards rms from the Fedora project for all the wrong reasons. We need people like you that balance out and keep this community from transforming into a monoculture echo chamber.

Now I’d like to raise the issue of using twitter as a definitive source of truth. I read this post that @mattdm posted as evidence of misbehavior by rms: https://twitter.com/georgialyle/status/1374513404488994818 and, when she was asked for evidence of what she pulls the “sealioning” card. Quite convenient. Who needs evidence, right? Just take her word for it.

Every time this happens, people in the USA bring out this “micro-agression” thing. They get offended so easily by anything. This isn’t true, yet at least, here. This isn’t valid where I live.

The bottom line, please, don’t use twitter as a source of truth. It isn’t. People, even women, are human beings that might lie, exaggerate, misconstrue and go with the hurd (ironically ;D) when it comes to mob situations, like it’s happening with rms, iMHO.

Also, take the time to read the link I already posted. Especially the “debunking” section of it. I, too, support the argument that rms is, constantly, being put out of context and people ignore how he is. He’s, usually, thinking out loud. That should be, always, permitted. That’s the way to get to real conclusions. That’s how scientists did it before, right? I mean, Galileo saying the world is round and stuff. It was forbidden to do so, yet, he did.

When it comes to him being impolite to women or even harassing (this is completely overstated, in my opinion), he is a nerd. In the USA, it seems to me, people like to think of public figures as asexual. Their biology doesn’t play a role in their behavior at all. Well, where I live, nerds don’t get enough sex… by far. In the LUG I go to (LinuxCabal) you can see this clearly. Mostly men go there. When women show up; and especially, when they’re attractive, the guys, either, cramp up in a corner in fear (super funny if you ask me) or cannot stop staring at the floor, even when talked to, to avoid looking at the woman’s body. Anyone that doesn’t get this is just avoiding the issue. This happens to nerds. It’s well know. Now, if rms stared at some women’s breasts, well, I get why. I don’t condone it, but I will never cancel him for something like that.

Also, when it comes to his commentary on pedophilia, well, again, people choose to take him out of context and to “read between lines” when convenient, and be super objective when not. As far as I read in this thread, it isn’t enough for him to state he changed his mind. He has to do it vehemently or, otherwise, it doesn’t count, right? Not. You don’t see any bias there?

Someone wrote, somewhere, people focus a lot on what he says instead of what he has done. He hasn’t committed a crime. He hasn’t touched any woman, kid or animal, as far as I am concerned, in any “funny” or wrongful way. Why is he being judged so harshly? Socially awkward? Yeah! He is! Totally! Not a criminal. Stop treating him as if he was.

Then, there’s the, very convenient, part of this situation where Fedora cancels rms but keeps using his license and tools. I don’t have a word for this… it’s just so shameful. Now, Fedora, doesn’t want to have anything to do with rms, but will keep using the GPL and it’s variations, it will keep using gcc and emacs; and distributing them. How is this OK in any way? Shouldn’t Fedora throw away these and forget about them as well? Dump the man, outcast him but keep the tools and keep benefiting from them. Not OK.

Now that I think of it, why didn’t Fedora issue a statement when Theodore Ts’o had his sexual harassment scandal? We kept using ext4 as well.

What about Mr. Reiser. He went as far as killing his wife and we still distribute ReiserFS:

[renich@introdesk ~]$ cat /etc/os-release 
NAME=Fedora
VERSION="34 (Workstation Edition Prerelease)"
ID=fedora
VERSION_ID=34
VERSION_CODENAME=""
PLATFORM_ID="platform:f34"
PRETTY_NAME="Fedora 34 (Workstation Edition Prerelease)"
ANSI_COLOR="0;38;2;60;110;180"
LOGO=fedora-logo-icon
CPE_NAME="cpe:/o:fedoraproject:fedora:34"
HOME_URL="https://fedoraproject.org/"
DOCUMENTATION_URL="https://docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US/fedora/34/system-administrators-guide/"
SUPPORT_URL="https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Communicating_and_getting_help"
BUG_REPORT_URL="https://bugzilla.redhat.com/"
REDHAT_BUGZILLA_PRODUCT="Fedora"
REDHAT_BUGZILLA_PRODUCT_VERSION=34
REDHAT_SUPPORT_PRODUCT="Fedora"
REDHAT_SUPPORT_PRODUCT_VERSION=34
PRIVACY_POLICY_URL="https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Legal:PrivacyPolicy"
VARIANT="Workstation Edition"
VARIANT_ID=workstation

[renich@introdesk ~]$ grep -i reiser /boot/config-5.11.12-300.fc34.x86_64 
CONFIG_REISERFS_FS=m
# CONFIG_REISERFS_CHECK is not set
CONFIG_REISERFS_PROC_INFO=y
CONFIG_REISERFS_FS_XATTR=y
CONFIG_REISERFS_FS_POSIX_ACL=y
CONFIG_REISERFS_FS_SECURITY=y

Why, because we’re a tech organization. We stay out of politics. At least we did. We never issued statements in those cases either. But, hey, let’s just cancel rms, eh?

That takes me to the fact that free software was created so you could use it with “any purpose”. Literally, any. This means you can use it for bad things as well. Well, what if Fedora goes further and starts deciding this isn’t right and that we should act. I mean, it’s getting into that right now, aren’t we? Where will we put the definition of “bad”? In our wiki? Who will be able to edit it? You see where this is going? We should never have stepped into the politics of anything.

I, for one, will not. I’ve been here since Fedora Core 1. Not the Fedora Council nor Mathew MIller speak on my behalf in this matter. I have collaborated with the Fedora Project for along time; yet, in small ways, and I strongly, categorically and utterly oppose the Fedora Council’s decision and statement completely.

I, also, reject your position about representing Fedora in any event that the FSF hosts; even if Dr. Stallman is there. I identify as a Fedorian; a Fedora User. And I will keep on doing so and support rms. I understand the “not officially” but, then again, I could never do that. I will, however, use my Fedora t-shirt, talk about Fedora and propose people to use Fedora in every event of the FSF I attend to.

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I can see how this cancel culture could be used for company raids. I can see how the cost of bringing down the FSF with its GPL could be as low as $100k paid to those who enjoy spurring chain reactions of social justice.

No.

There is no grand conspiracy. No “cancel culture” mob and by no means a paid one. I don’t think anybody in the support of the removal of Richard Stallman wants to see the FSF fall (anecdotal, however if you can provide substantial proof otherwise I’d be surprised.) Quite the opposite, actually. His leadership position is a threat to the growth and prosperity of the FSF, and the free software community as a whole. Whether it be corporations pulling funding, his comments and actions pushing women and minority groups away from the community, or any of the other direct consequences the FSF have and will continue to receive because of his role. We are trying to protect one of the most important organizations in open source, and the free software community as a whole.

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His leadership position is a threat to the growth and prosperity of the FSF

I’ve heard the story that many non-profits fail to deliver they goals when they pivoted towards their own prosperity. Which attack is used to take ownership and maximize the profits - doesn’t matter. If you’re unhappy with this guy company - start your own. You probably already have Linux Foundation, OSI, SPDX (who are erasing public domain with their specifiers, by the way), SFC, EFF… The list doesn’t end here. Maybe FSF doesn’t matter and you just want to attack this guy, because his “Free as something” thoughts hurt your feelings?

And yes, there is no conspiracy, but yes - there is a cancel culture and you can see it the same way you see a graffity on the wall.

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It is wrong to police thoughts and censor speech. I don’t agree with Stallman but I agree with his right to think and say what he feels is right, because I don’t want my right to free speech censored either. Red Hat and Fedora have punished Stallman for exercising free speech. And they haven’t really provided any evidence of any other wrong doing. They just say he mistreats women. I would be on board with that, if it is true. But without presenting any evidence, you’ve convicted him without a trial and without transparency. How can you expect anyone to accept that decision? It is not reasonable to ask people to accept that. Why would I want to be a part of an organization which might do the same for me for no apparent reason other than they don’t like some opinions I hold? Also the punishment does not fit the crime, to completely remove someone from their life’s work just because they said something stupid.

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Richard Stallman is being cancelled, and by a mob, which is everyone who signed the petition to have him removed. Are you going to cancel everyone who says something stupid, who is a free thinker, who exercises free speech, who asks a woman out on a date, or who acts a little weird? If there really is evidence of a valid problem, maybe restricting him from holding a leadership position would be more reasonable than completely cancelling him?

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If you read my answers, you will see that for at least one of the incident I quote, the Marianne Corvellec talk at Libre Planet 2017, I was in the room. You can look up the program of the event, my name is there (3rd talk of the 1st day).

If your argument is “do not rely on your own memory”, there is a name for that, that’s gaslighting.

But even if I couldn’t rely on my memory, I can also rely on others. My partner, who co-organized LSM a few years ago, also had some anecdotes about RMS from that time. Another friend of mine reminded me of the policy among organizers to not let RMS without someone watching 24/24, and not in a body guard way, more like in a nanny way.

If you look at the people who signed the open letter for RMS, you might see there is folks who were active in the FSF (Stefano, Molly, etc). I counted around 60 people that I personally know from my free software activity, and maybe more now. I truly doubt those 60 peoples (some who had personal experience with RMS as well) are all deluded or lying.

And given I regularly heard stories about RMS behaviour since my first years of free software activity (Libre Software Meeting in Metz, 2003), I really see no reason to doubt others people testimony.

That’s why no one is asking him to go to prison. You seems to think that saying “we do not want that person to be in charge of this” as being treated as a criminal. This is not. Unless situation changed recently, RMS is not in jail. He is not stripped from his voting rights in the US, he would be able to leave the country (pandemics aside).

No one asked that, and to me, it look like a straw man argument. If you are arguing in good faith and want to convince people, I do not think that’s a winning strategy, especially one that is easy bebunked.

And “not convincted of a crime” is really a low requirement.

Why wouldn’t it be ok ?

RMS didn’t wrote most of the code for tools of the GNU project and that the ones he wrote 20 years ago have likely more code from others than him, and have surely been rewritten 2 or 3 times.

For example, the GPL wasn’t made only by him, especially the version 3.

Ignoring the contributions of all others people is really weird and kinda creepy to me. Creepy because that construct RMS as some kind of messianic figure, and usually, that do not end well.

Are you aware that you are undermining your own argument ?

The fact that no one asked to remove Reiserfs show that the removal of RMS is not linked to anything related to crime or anything, because here, there is a crime and no one did anything. Again, RMS is not accused of a crime, so arguing against how we should do nothing seems like a fallacious argument.

Free software, especially the FSF, is about politics, as a quick look at the Libre Planet schedule can show. For example, in 2017:

  • “When we fight we win: Technology and liberation in Trump’s America”.
  • “Meet them where they are: Free software and social justice today”
  • " Move fast and break democracy"
  • " Accessibility, free software and the rights of people with disabilities"
  • " Civilian Code Conservation Corps: Free software for governments of all sizes"
  • " Beyond unfree: The software you can go to jail for talking about"
  • " The surreptitious assault on privacy, security, and freedom"
  • " Freedom and loathing on the campaign trail '16"

But the question of whether free software is apolitical or not is not the point.

The point is whether RMS is a good leader or not, and whether people want him as a leader.

Even if Fedora was totally out of politics (which is not possible, by virtue of being in a society and having a impact on it) or trying to stay away as much as possible, the question of RMS in the FSF would still be very relevant to Fedora, because that’s relevant to the free software community at large and we are part of the community.

When RMS do something crappy, we pay the price.
When RMS drive people away due to his decisions (and I gave some examples ), we all lose.

Now people can choose to say "he didn’t said that’ and “you can’t trust people”, but in the end, that’s not answering the question of whether RMS is a good leader or not.

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