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Recently a big controversy surrounding the Free Software Community appeared and cut deep into the community when it was announced without warning that Richard Stallman (RMS) had returned.

This controversy reached a boiling point, as we covered before with a petition to have Stallman removed. Since then, the FSF repeatedly put out statements about their policies, things that will change, people resigning, a Twitter post and more - but not once did the FSF mention Stallman or what the heck was going on. Finally, multiple weeks later, both the FSF and Stallman have released new statements.

In the FSF statement, it's mentioned that FSF staff had no idea what was going on and neither did organisers of LibrePlanet where RMS returning was announced. RMS was voted back in by voting members and the board of directors after "several months of thorough discussion and thoughtful deliberation". The FSF acknowledge how "badly we handled the news of his election to a board seat" and take "full responsibility". With RMS back on the board as an "unpaid volunteer" the rules still apply including "prohibitions against conflicts of interest and sexual harassment and those outlining whistleblower processes and fiduciary duties". The FSF linked to the changes the organisation is committed to implementing and will "continue to pursue additional ideas and actions designed to improve transparency and accountability".

RMS clearly isn't going anywhere, as the FSF see "his views will be critical to the FSF as we advance the mission and confront the challenges that software freedom faces".

While it took a while, it seems like the FSF are fully aware of their need to improve everything surrounding this. We should give them some points on that.

As for the statement directly from Stallman, it goes over and actually acknowledges some real personal issues and social problems. Then leading into the comments Stallman made about the likes of Marvin Minsky and Jeffrey Epstein, mentioning how the comments were "tone-deaf that I didn't acknowledge as context the injustice that Epstein did to women or the pain that caused". Stallman ends the post with "I've learned something from this about how to be kind to people who have been hurt. In the future, that will help me be kind to people in other situations, which is what I hope to do.".

It will be interesting to see what happens as a result of the public apologies from both Stallman and the FSF. Let's hope that all of this can lead somewhere productive and have less in-fighting with more fighting for software freedom.

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TheSHEEEP 12 Apr
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Quoting: tomaszgSad he had to apologize. It's only encouraging more attacks of this kind on other people.
Well, he did something that one should actually apologize for. It's not one of these situations where some bored blue checkmark dug up some ancient tweet or forum post, removes all context and starts going on a crusade for virtue currency.

He made really bad comments on topics he didn't know much of anything about - on a public space.
Like... stuff that makes casual N-wording seem innocent (IMO).

But it was so odd and so out of touch, it's easy to see how if that wasn't edgy satire, he simply didn't know any better (and his general social awkwardness is well known, not all people are aware of all things social), so an apology and quite a loss of power is fine.

Of course, to the cancel and outrage mob, an apology and sensible consequences is never enough and once they smell blood, they'll keep at it until the target has been properly removed from society or they get bored and move on to their next ritualistic public hanging.

It definitely speaks against the FSF that they were unaware about the uproar this would cause in modern times.
But their handling of the situation - from not letting a member getting cancelled to seeking to improve their structure to prevent further similar incidents, it's all just very level-headed - definitely made me a supporter.


Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 12 April 2021 at 5:51 pm UTC
scaine 12 Apr
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Quoting: heidi.wengerBryan Lunduke's take on this

https://odysee.com/@Lunduke:e/DefenseofStallman:9

"Internet mob descended on Stallman because they didn't like some things he said". Sure Lunduke, that's why people don't like Stallman. Wow. Stopped watching at that point.

No, the reason I don't want Stallman representing free software is that he's a constant stream of incredibly sexist, ableist, wildly inappropriate views, often about children and when they should be considered adults for sexual purposes, views are which are shared publicly without any sign of emotional growth, or remorse, over time. No hint that he's becoming a better human.

If he were to substantially evolve his world views and mature emotionally, that would be incredibly welcome and perhaps some of that "mob" referred to by Lunduke would eventually forgive those insanely controversial, frankly unbelievable world views. He can do this without being part of an influential body that represents the interests of free software. Maybe even one day start contributing to it again, a changed man.

But instead, he's just back and that's it? Okay then. As I say, FSF can get in the bin alongside him. Some will support this move - fine. I just don't. It hurts free software, it drives women away in particular and I don't want to be associated with any of it.
gabber 12 Apr
Stallman is not what worries me, it's the outrage mob going after him.

Quoting: scaineI'm not outraged, but Stallman, and hence the FSF, can definitely get in the bin. The fact that they took weeks to address something as simple as voting back in a confirmed abuser to their board shows me all I need to know about this organisation.

Pretty incredible really. I don't trust them to represent my interests in free software at this point.

"confirmed abuser" - source?
"all you need to know" -> excactly the problem. One bit of info is enough, burn everything down.

And trust, the anti-Stallman mob is comprised of Microsoft, IBM and the likes of Coraline Ada Ehmke. Yea let's trust them, let's have a license which demands you agree with the political view of the programmer.
CatKiller 12 Apr
Quoting: scaineBut instead, he's just back and that's it? Okay then. As I say, FSF can get in the bin alongside him. Some will support this move - fine. I just don't. It hurts free software, it drives women away in particular and I don't want to be associated with any of it.

There's a reason the labs at MIT are full of plants.

The FSF have rendered themselves completely irrelevant by their continued association with rms. The Free Software movement will continue to be championed by, say,

3NSoft
Aaru Data Preservation Suite
Calyx Institute
Ceccun
CH Open
CommitChange
Creative Commons
Cusy
Data + Feminism Lab, MIT
DataMade
Dot HQ
Echap
Espen Gottschal (Norway)
Exercism
Exherbo Linux
Exodus Privacy
EZPZSoftware
Ferrous Systems GmbH
Fivnex
Framasoft
Freedom of the Press Foundation
GlobaLeaks
Globenet
GNOME Foundation
GNU Mailman
GNU Radio
Great Scott Gadgets
Innatical
Kludge Cyber Systems
LineageOS
May First Movement Technology
Metaform
MidnightBSD Project
MousePaw Media
Mozilla
OBS Project
Open Life Science
Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI)
Open Source Collective
Open Source Diversity
OpenTelemetry
Organization for Ethical Source
Outreachy
Palante Technology Cooperative
Progressive Technology Project
Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science
RACTF
Radial Source
Riseup Networks
Sanctuary Computer
Solidaires Informatique
SumoStack
SUSE
TEN7
The FreeDOS Project
The HardenedBSD Foundation / The HardenedBSD Project
The Linux Experiment
Tor Project
Velvetyne – Libre and Open Source Foundry
wiquaya.org
X.org Foundation
April
Document Foundation
EFF
Fedora Council
FSFE
KDE
May First Movement Technology
Mixxx
OpenUK
Organization for Ethical Source
OSI
Outreachy
OW2
Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science
Red Hat
Software Freedom Conservancy
Solidaires Informatique

and the rest of us will try to minimise the harm done by the FSF.
scaine 12 Apr
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Quoting: gabberStallman is not what worries me, it's the outrage mob going after him.

Quoting: scaineI'm not outraged, but Stallman, and hence the FSF, can definitely get in the bin. The fact that they took weeks to address something as simple as voting back in a confirmed abuser to their board shows me all I need to know about this organisation.

Pretty incredible really. I don't trust them to represent my interests in free software at this point.

"confirmed abuser" - source?
"all you need to know" -> excactly the problem. One bit of info is enough, burn everything down.

And trust, the anti-Stallman mob is comprised of Microsoft, IBM and the likes of Coraline Ada Ehmke. Yea let's trust them, let's have a license which demands you agree with the political view of the programmer.

One bit of info? It's a constant stream, over decades. Stallman, at this point, is utterly toxic, especially to women. As can be seen by the open letter to the FSF signed by several thousand individuals, including various open source leads and with several organisations denouncing him completely, including the Fedora Council, KDE, Red Hat and the EFF.

But sure, they all just overreacting because of cAncEL cULtuRE. Is that what you're saying?

p.s. Coraline wrote the Code of Conduct. That's all. It was up to others to adopt her work which basically amounts to "don't be a dick". And yet I often see hate sent her way... why? Why is she so offensive to you that you put her in the same camp as Microsoft, while in the same breath, defend Stallman??

Curious.
minfaer 12 Apr
Quoting: scaineconfirmed abuser

Yes, please provide a source! This would make me reconsider my view on the entire story! (Unless if there is no proof for this claim, which would mean your post is defamatory fake news and Lunduke is right.)

Quoting: TheSHEEEPIt definitely speaks against the FSF that they were unaware about the uproar this would cause in modern times.
But their handling of the situation - from not letting a member getting cancelled to seeking to improve their structure to prevent further similar incidents, it's all just very level-headed - definitely made me a supporter.

This. Agree 100%
Rooster 12 Apr
I'm gonna link this article here, as I find it to be the least one-sided most reasonable take on the topic: Stallman isn't great, but not the devil
Milanium 12 Apr
Seems like they tried to silently bring Stallman back without anybody noticing. Whatever they had in mind, they definitely can't handle news and press very well. For an organization that is mostly representing that is not acceptable. This is a disgrace for everybody who believes in free software and writes free code. I will call it Open Source exclusively from now on.
nullzero 12 Apr
Quoting: LiamWhile it took a while, it seems like the FSF are fully aware of their need to improve everything surrounding this. We should give them some points on that.
[...]
It will be interesting to see what happens as a result of the public apologies from both Stallman and the FSF. Let's hope that all of this can lead somewhere productive and have less in-fighting with more fighting for software freedom.

Liam, given how polarazing this thing can be, thank you for writing the news as independtly and hopeful tone as possible.
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