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Richard Stallman has resigned from the Free Software Foundation and MIT

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Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation has resigned and he's also left his position in CSAIL at MIT.

Why is this significant? Stallman and the FSF were responsible for the creation of the GNU Project, widely used GNU licenses like the GPL, the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) and more that were used in the creation of Linux.

Posted on the FSF website last night was this notice:

 On September 16, 2019, Richard M. Stallman, founder and president of the Free Software Foundation, resigned as president and from its board of directors. The board will be conducting a search for a new president, beginning immediately. Further details of the search will be published on fsf.org.

Stallman also noted on stallman.org how he's stepped away from MIT as well, with the below statement:

I am resigning effective immediately from my position in CSAIL at MIT. I am doing this due to pressure on MIT and me over a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations.

The question is—why? Well, an article on Vice picked up on comments Stallman made around convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Unsurprisingly, this caused quite a lot of outrage inside and outside the Linux community.

Not long after Neil McGovern, the GNOME Executive Director, made a blog post about it where they said they asked the FSF to cancel their membership. McGovern also noted that other people who they "greatly respect are doing the same" and that GNOME would sever their "historical ties between GNOME, GNU and the FSF" if Stallman did not step down.

McGovern of GNOME wasn't the only one to speak out about it, as the Software Freedom Conservancy also put out a post calling for Stallman to step down and no doubt there's others I'm not aware of.

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130 comments
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razing32 17 September 2019 at 10:54 pm UTC
Curios what is the best way to handle this.
Should an organization terminate all contacts with an individual for their opinions ?

Don't agree with what Stallman said but don't think he should be fired for it/forced into resignation.
They could just issue a statement publicly saying "we don't agree or hold these views" and privately message him"wtf dude"
Not sure how much this applies to him being head of the FSF but those were mailing lists and opinions not a public statement.
And like someone said , a lot of these "news" sites are more clickbait than actual journalism.
Also worried anything someone said at one point that's a bit controversial can be spun to get rid of them.
How many dark jokes have all of us heard and told in private with close friends that we dare not say to random passers by on the street.

Seems we are still figuring out this digital age , and time will tell what it evolves into.
Purple Library Guy 17 September 2019 at 11:53 pm UTC
My take on this:
Stallman is opinionated, pedantic, and tries to be precise in his thinking. And in certain respects not very social. So his comments on this stuff involved a certain amount of what many would consider hair-splitting: Trying to define things carefully both in terms of what they are and what they are not, looking at things dispassionately and parsing them. (I also think he somewhat underestimates the complexity of this sort of thing and so overestimates his ability to come to good conclusions without any relevant background) Given that approach, no matter what his specific position it was going to end up looking bad in a situation where people are upset (for damn good reasons) and calling for broad, blanket moral condemnations.
Probably I wouldn't agree with the specifics of what Stallman thought about the subject, although the one specific quote I've seen in this thread seems reasonable within the very specific point it is making. People may draw implications from that quote, like that Stallman had more general ideas that were apologetics for similar bad stuff, but I don't think that follows--he was making a specific point about a specific definition and its application to a specific act. If you'd asked him if Minsky was doing a total douche move, or committing some other crime that wasn't rape, he might well have said yes. He was being pedantic, and tone deaf about the fact that this was the wrong time to be pedantic.

So OK, I think this is clearly throwing Stallman overboard. And it has nothing to do with "cancel culture" or "SJWs" or whatever bullshit--Epstein was horribly evil, and lots of people were colluding with him, and people are furious and want some blood, whether they're "SJWs" or not. And once they get their blood up they don't want to hear someone being dispassionate about it and they're not going to look at the fine print when they see something that looks bad. This tends to be true of people whatever their politics, and I would hope that people are none too pleased with scuzzbucket rich folks using kids for sex, whatever their politics. If there's someone whose politics are OK with that, I'm fine with cancel-culturing them.

But what I notice is that it's clear a fair number of other MIT people did actual things, like taking Epstein's money and defending taking Epstein's money and probably knowing all along just how much of a douchebag he was and helping to cover it up. But it's Stallman, who wasn't involved in any of that, and who would be far more likely to have refused the money than any of these Negroponte types, who gets hung out to dry. Note the way only Stallman's name stays on that email string. Stallman's an easy sacrifice because he wasn't a power broker and always made the powerful types uncomfortable. It's the upper echelon sleazebags that actually need to be burned at the stake; Stallman is a convenient patsy to take the heat.


Last edited by Purple Library Guy at 17 September 2019 at 11:55 pm UTC
Imnotarobot 18 September 2019 at 2:20 am UTC
Opinions about other stuff should be just that. Opinions about other stuff. Has nothing to do with the work the guy was doing. He also has not been put in jail or anything so he has not done anything wrong. Simple as that. Someone/something clearly wanted to smoke him out.
orochi_kyo 18 September 2019 at 4:19 am UTC
The only sin Stallman committed here is to forgot that PEOPLE CANT HAVE AN OPINION THESE DAYS, you have to shut the f/*c up or follow the hypocrite standard of having the same opinion of the all SJW media.

And you cant tell anyone what you really think, we live in a de-facto censorship, not email, not social networks, anyone!!. Remember that guy that told a joke to his friend on the ear about "big dongle" in a computer conference and a feminist just heard him and make it public? He lost his job. And the SJW media was fine with it.

Human relationships are overrated. SJWs destroyed freedom of speech. It doesnt matter if opinions are unpopular or arent political correct, you should respect them and not make a fuss about it.
Purple Library Guy 18 September 2019 at 4:40 am UTC
Liam Dawe
johndoe
GustyGhostDon't be surprised if in the next few days, articles are published detailing: John Smith, CEO/PR Rep/Analyst/whatever of Microsoft has graciously assumed the role of president of the FSF.

This is exactly what I think, too.
There is a lot more going on behind the scenes.

I also read every day linux news form "lxer.com". There you can read some more "facts" what is going on at FSF - I really don't like it.
I simply can't understand how it is possible that such companies like MS or Apple can even get a seat at FSF?! Something bad is going on IMHO.
Frankly, I think that's tin-foil hat level stuff there.
Well, frankly Liam, I think if we'd told you a year or two ago that a respected tech billionaire who went around donating tons of money to science was a vicious pimp rapist who coerced children into sexual slavery and had bunches of the best and brightest going to his sex parties and they were all in on keeping it quiet, you'd have said that was tin foil hat stuff. But here we are.
Purple Library Guy 18 September 2019 at 4:41 am UTC
dubigrasuHow can I filter out these kind of not (really) gaming related topics?
I filter out topics I'm not interested in by reading the article's title. Works pretty well.
dubigrasu 18 September 2019 at 4:56 am UTC
Purple Library Guy
dubigrasuHow can I filter out these kind of not (really) gaming related topics?
I filter out topics I'm not interested in by reading the article's title. Works pretty well.
Yeah sure, but I'm asking specifically about the control panel settings.
dvd 18 September 2019 at 5:27 am UTC
orochi_kyoThe only sin Stallman committed here is to forgot that PEOPLE CANT HAVE AN OPINION THESE DAYS, you have to shut the f/*c up or follow the hypocrite standard of having the same opinion of the all SJW media.

And you cant tell anyone what you really think, we live in a de-facto censorship, not email, not social networks, anyone!!. Remember that guy that told a joke to his friend on the ear about "big dongle" in a computer conference and a feminist just heard him and make it public? He lost his job. And the SJW media was fine with it.

Human relationships are overrated. SJWs destroyed freedom of speech. It doesnt matter if opinions are unpopular or arent political correct, you should respect them and not make a fuss about it.

You are hung up on a bunch of right wing nonsense. If you are an amercian, be glad you are living in a state that somewhat supports your rights. The kind of rhetoric you and a bunch of others support here leads to you taking the proverbial dongle sooner or later.

On the topic: I always really admired Stallman for what he did, and i think he is the single person whose work was invaluable for the free software community. However, I was schocked when i read up on this topic. Why would he go on commenting about this topic at all? It has nothing to do with his field, and given that, he still commented on it, even though he must've known this is a rather political and emotional matter and he and his movement can only lose on it.


Last edited by dvd at 18 September 2019 at 5:27 am UTC
Purple Library Guy 18 September 2019 at 6:21 am UTC
dvdOn the topic: I always really admired Stallman for what he did, and i think he is the single person whose work was invaluable for the free software community. However, I was schocked when i read up on this topic. Why would he go on commenting about this topic at all? It has nothing to do with his field, and given that, he still commented on it, even though he must've known this is a rather political and emotional matter and he and his movement can only lose on it.
Well, copyright itself is a somewhat controversial topic with a lot of vested interests wrapped up in it. If he was the sort to shut up when people wished he would, we probably wouldn't have Free Software today. A certain bullheadedness can be both a strength and a weakness.
soulsource 18 September 2019 at 6:40 am UTC
amataiIt is not because some of the english-speaking newspaper have a terrible coverage of the issue that a professor who relativizes rape on a mailing list containing its student don't have to resign.
Even with plenty of bad faith, that part can't be defended.
Quote>Giuffre was 17 at the time; this makes it rape in the Virgin Islands.

Does it really? I think it is morally absurd to define "rape? in a way that depends on minor details such as which country it was in or
whether the victim was 18 years old or 17.
I think the existence of a dispute about that supports my point that
the term "sexual assault" is slippery, so we ought to use more concrete terms when accusing anyone.
Then, he keeps going after a student ask him to stop. When he calms down and realizes what he has done, he was to resign.
Stallman is not wrong about the fact that laws about this topic are different in different countries. Where I live, Austria, consent between a 17 year old and a much older person is legally possible, unless there is a situation of power or money involved. On the other hand, in some US states there will always be a rape investigation, even if the underage participant clearly states it was consensual (source)...
Edit start:
Where I am getting here is that basing a discussion on terms that vary by legislation and even more by culture is probably a bad idea, and that a more concrete language or a more verbose formulation is required to avoid confusion.
:Edit end
Please don't get me wrong, in my personal opinion the whole Epstein case is disgusting, and I'm rather certain that there was no consent whatsoever there.

dvd[...]Why would he go on commenting about this topic at all?[...]
If I understand the newspaper articles correctly, that was in defense of a coworker, who is suspected (don't know if there were any sentences yet) of being involved in the Epstein case.


Last edited by soulsource at 18 September 2019 at 7:03 am UTC
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