it is like: "lets meet in a butcher shop to sign a letter against the leader of that vegan organization"
no one doing it have any moral to call RMS a "dangerous force in the free software community"
just my opinion 🙂
@adbenitez @ehashman What’s wrong with using GitHub to promote ideas in the FOSS community? You may not like it, and I will admit that it’s not exactly ideal that it’s owned by Microsoft, but it’s an integral part of the FOSS community nonetheless.
Also, I don’t see why doing something imperfectly removes someone’s right to complain about someone else in a position of much greater power doing something far worse.
Secondly, there’s no reason for you to have been so snarky with the “what the hell is wrong with you” in your first reply and the eye roll in the second.
@clacke @ehashman @adbenitez @zootoot I’d like to interject for a moment: a previous letter was hosted on libre infra https://guix.gnu.org/blog/2019/joint-statement-on-the-gnu-project/ and folks bashed it for being hosted on libre project because it’s not on topic.
Unless you are perfect there’s always a reason to re‑focus on nitpicks and do not address elephant in the room which is that *plenty* of libre software folks and *active* developers of libre software signed it and that number keeps growing.
People are complex.
People are different.
People are irreducable.
This letter is manipulative.
It reduces a person to a set of labels and calls for action.
Even worse, it implies that differing opinions alone are a valid cause to intrude into his life and to separate a person from his life's work.
And not only him, but other people as well.
@houkimenator man, I was really excited to see your post. I thought that people were shitting an awful lot on RMS and I really liked the man's mythology. But then I looked into it more, and ended up signing the letter you're critiquing. His "life's work" should have been more inclusive. Maybe not at the beginning but by the end. It sucks to lose a hero, but I'm better than him. I hope you're better than him too.
@houkimenator has got a point.
> He has shown himself to be misogynist, ableist, and transphobic, among other serious accusations of impropriety
You don't use labels to accuse someone. You use actions they have done. Labels can be dismissed as prejudice, slander or character assassination. Actions are far more solid. "Transphobic" -> "has shown / expressed distain for trans people", or "has made jokes that are offensive to trans people". "Mysogynist" -> "has often relegated women to inferior roles" etc.
All of these must reference known instances (or accusations) of such behavior.
If you're angry and are desperate to do something, it's perfectly understandable, but you don't take a stick to a knife fight. If you're going to fight and mean it, then do it right.
> One crucial factor in making our community more inclusive is to recognise and reflect when other people are offended or harmed by our own actions and consider this feedback in future actions. The way Richard Stallman announced his return to the board unfortunately lacks any acknowledgement of this kind of thought process, and we are deeply disappointed that the FSF board did not address these concerns before electing him a board member again. Overall, we feel the current step sends the wrong signal to existing and future community members.
> That is why, ..., we call for his resignation ... The FSF needs to seriously reflect on this decision as well as their decision-making process ... etc.
So they don't mention RMS's actions but already assume they happened in their wording. They emphasize the fact that RMS did not apologize and that the decision was taken unilaterally. With this statement they put not only RMS under the microscope, but the FSF as well, practically saying: "Why weren't we consulted about this?"
Perhaps it was bad form to assume that those reading the letter already had a full understanding of the accusations against RMS, but they were nice enough to link to an article that did outline the specific concerns and accusations. And that article linked to others. This stuff is not difficult to find. It's not that people can't be awkward and make mistakes, it's that RMS has been told multiple times that his actions are problematic and he refuses to change.
@ehashman Wow. It’s disturbing so many people signed this with so much bad faith misinterpretation in the appendix. I think it would be better for everyone if valid concerns were not grouped together with slander; it distracts from focusing on what is really important, on both ends.
The appendix opens by pointing to the infamous article by Selam G., where she accuses Stallman of claims that he did not make (after quoting him, no less). The article has an appendix of its own, including anonymous testimonials. One suggests that using vi would have prevented Stallman from hitting on you, which just seems like a hyperbolic joke, while another just accuses him of having a mattress in his office, at a time when he literally lived there. This reflects poorly on the other points in the article, which do otherwise raise more serious concerns.
At the core of the appendix lies criticism of his views on paedophilia, and I see this as the only valid part. Going by his statements, he used to believe for quite a while that paedophilia would not cause children harm as long as they did not find it uncomfortable themselves at the time. I can see the problem with that, and so can he now. I’m not sure if the authors are unaware of that update, or if they consider this a relevant problem in spite of it.
Most of the other examples really boil down to him having this misunderstanding, being pedantic about word choice (which has various motivations—see the term ‘sexual assault’ or really any other word in his anti-glossary to get an idea), or questioning the age of consent (which may not help in the given situation, but is certainly not morally wrong, with the precise age itself varying under different jurisdictions).
The rest is where it gets bad in my view. To start, he recommends terminating pregnancy to prevent Down’s syndrome. Here’s his rationalisation:
That choice does right by the potential children that would otherwise likely be born with grave medical problems and disabilities. As humans, they are entitled to the capacity that is normal for human beings. I don’t advocate making rules about the matter, but I think that doing right by your children includes not intentionally starting them out with less than that.
When children with Down’s syndrome are born, that’s a different situation. They are human beings and I think they deserve the best possible care.
How is that bad? How does that in any way constitute a reason for his removal? This statement doesn’t harm or insult anyone, it just states his opinion on the best course of action, which clearly stems from his concern for the people affected with Down’s syndrome. Sure, you can disagree, but unless you principally reject abortion as a choice, I don’t see how this is a problem (much less one that in any way harms the free software community). The letter also says he’s likened people with the syndrome to pets. To quote his statement:
If you’d like to love and care for a pet that doesn’t have normal human mental capacity, don’t create a handicapped human being to be your pet. Get a dog or a parrot. It will appreciate your love, and it will never feel bad for being less capable than normal humans.
(Emphasis mine.) So what he really says is that people shouldn’t liken people with Down’s syndrome to pets. I guess someone could interpret this in a wrong way, but his later statements should have cleared up any ambiguity to his stance on this. And yet this context was apparently ignored by the authors.
Next, they accuse him of transphobia for campaigning against proper pronoun use. Here’s the quote in question, from GNU Kind Communication Guidelines:
There are various ways to express gender neutrality in third-person singular pronouns in English; you do not have to use “they.” One other method is described in https://stallman.org/articles/genderless-pronouns.html.
Again, where’s the problem? This only says there are other options besides ‘they’. Is it now transphobic to try and introduce new pronoun forms? Because those seem to me to be a staple of the LGBTQI+ movement. It doesn’t even forbid or enforce anything; it just says you have a choice; how is that anything but inclusive? The guidelines have even been updated to give singular ‘they’ the same emphasis. Should there be any doubt with regard to the intent, the guidelines clearly state:
Please think about how to treat other participants with respect, especially when you disagree with them. For instance, call them by the names they use, and honor their preferences about their gender identity.
I just can’t fathom how much of a stretch it is to call this transphobic. Not to mention that the guidelines themselves are not mentioned in any other context, even though they clearly represent effort to make the project more welcoming to people of all kinds.
All in all, it just feels as if the authors tried to put together a list of all the bad behaviour they could possibly criticise Stallman for, without really accounting for their gravity or credibility, all the while ignoring any good behaviour and betterment he’s had in the fields.
I do believe there are valid concerns to be raised and criticism to be made, but this fails completely at giving them the focus they deserve, as did the campaign 18 months ago. To me, this is akin to say that the ends justify the means, with the ends being the removal of Richard Stallman, and the means being anything you can get your hands on, no matter how twisted or overblown. Which is a serious problem when the means are also supposed to be the reason to your ends.
@ehashman Hey! Follow request! I signed the letter earlier today. I didn't realise you were on Masto too, only knew about your Twitter account.
@ehashman Thank you for sharing this!! I've personally interacted with RMS and experienced his behavior and misogynist thinking. I've also found that the following part of the letter is really important because it's not just him alone that's the problem:
"We are calling for the removal of the entire Board of the Free Software Foundation. These are people who have enabled and empowered RMS for years. They demonstrate this again by permitting him to rejoin the FSF Board."
In my experience trying to be involved in the Emacs development community, the people with the power to make decisions tend to be people who either agree with RMS or believe that free speech is more important than anything else.
This change is much needed and long overdue. I hope either the FSF and GNU take heed or new organizations spring forth to provide spaces where RMS and RMS-supporters no longer hold all the power.
On the internet, everyone knows you're a cat — and that's totally okay.