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Joined 4M ago
Cake day: Feb 15, 2021


At the end of the day, you and me are not the ones who can solve this conflict, but RMS/FSF along with those who represent the victims and know of the abuse. They need to sit in a table together and actually talk about details, making sure the facts surrounding the matter are clear so specific actions can be taken.

We don’t know the details ourselves, and I think the main difference of opinion between us is when it comes to the different impressions we get when doing our “guesswork” on those details, which were left untold in the letter.

But these are just guesses and I cannot feel strongly for something that I do not have any strong evidence for me to judge how undeserved or deserved the accusations are. This is why I think the approach from Debian in this case here was appropriate, not pronouncing themselves towards any side until something more concrete resurfaces.

It would be great if the EFF takes a more active role in regards to Software Freedom and takes some of the load from the FSF.

There’s one historical detail that makes the FSF still being there kinda important: the FSF is the copyright holder assigned to a lot of free software projects.

I mean, that shouldn’t be a huge deal, since it’s all GPL after all… but the copyright holder is who has ultimatelly the power to enforce the license. Although I doubt that this will really become a problem.

Another is the “GNU GPL version x or any later version”… it would be bad if the disinterest towards the organizations that hold control of the license ended up resulting in unexpected new developments for future versions.

I think this is what might have motivated the FSF board of directors to review the selection process for new members of the board.

Wow… I didn’t even know there was a character limit… :P

Once again, very reasonable response(s). Honestly I think we fundamentally agree in most of the arguments, to the point that I’m running out of things to add -says as he proceeds to drop another column-

I’m sorry but in my quote-posting I’m gonna cherry-pick specific parts, not because I want to misrepresent you but because I don’t want to make it unwieldly. However, please call out at any point if I’m missing something important you said or misinterpreting something.

there should’ve been an internal investigation, but that didn’t happen. The problem then though is: What now? As with allegations of (sexual) abuse, those things are hard to proof to the public.

This is the part that still seems strange to me. If these episodes are so frequent and blatant there must be plenty of testimonials, it wouldn’t be impossible to record conversation, an email thread… or someone could prepare a public interview with him where he’s confronted about controversial behavior, maybe giving opportunity to the victims to talk (anonymously maybe even, just a recording without the face, maybe even altered voice) and see RMS reaction and response to it. Specially for things that you said were recurrent and he has not fixed for years. Confront him about the fact that those have not been fixed for years and show it to him, then show the public what he has to say.

Just having these kind of things exposed might actually spark change already, even without the need to collect signatures.

I understand that it’s still a lot of effort and it’s not as easy to prove as more public forms of abuse, but I find it hard to believe that there would be no verifiable testimonies or some form of evidence. Specially in the world of Software, where a lot of communication happens electronically, even internally. If the issue is privacy policy, RMS could be publlicly asked for permission to show his private responses in such interview… if he actually refuses then… well, that’d already look fishy and uncooperative which is something that’d be good to get exposure on.

If RMS had rejected to participating in such interview then… well, that’s something that could have been in the letter. If they cannot provide anything solid at the very least they should be convincing about why that is.

Sure, but then it’s bad rep for mostly him and the Free Software movement (bad enough), but the FSF could easily do something like distancing themselves from him. This would do them very good in all such occasions.

It would give good rep with those who were exposed to the proof. And at the same time it would also give bad rep with those who think that the removal was undeserved. This is why it’s important to be convincing.

Had the FSF listened to the letter, removed RMS and completelly changed the entire board, it would not be a total surprise to me if the same motivation that pushed for the anti-anti-RMS letter ended up giving birth to a new alternative movement, more welcome to RMS and the directors from the previous board. Maybe a new foundation would have been created, in a similar way as how the Open Source Initiative separated itself from the FSF. Creating more division and taking a bite of the FSF cake.

Maybe many in the OSI are secretly happy about all this drama, I wouldn’t be surprised if they got at least a small bump in supporters. After all they exist as a more pragmatic alternative to Stallman’s FSF. It’s also interesting that 4 out of the 16 people who appear as authors of the open letter are Directors or Former Directors of the OSI.

Obviously it’s important to treat malice different from unintentional things when it comes to judging (and I know, you read the letter as judging and I didn’t but I see where you’re coming from and admit that it’s bad that it could be read that way). However, if you read the letter just as a demand to remove him to stop further harm (my reading) then, this is pretty much irrelevant

That’s sensible. I agree.

If it isn’t read as an accusation of being “misogynist, ableist, and transphobic” (although if “internalized” had been added then I’d not argue), then you are right. If I do the exercise of reading it as only a demand, that would take away most of my criticism about the “wording” of the letter, and the only thing that would remain is my criticism of whether what was demanded actually stops further harm.

People pressed for changes, but nothing could be heard over the deafening presence of RMS. Maybe the best criticism of the FSF is that it’s just “The RMS Society”. Which isn’t necessarily bad, but it means that we have gap there, where an FSF that wouldn’t be “just RMS” would be.

I agree it would be good to see a new flow of progressive change. But the sad thing is that there has not really been any loud voice inside or outside the FSF that introduced any new strain of philosophy as groundbreaking as the initial movement was in the 90s. The thing is that we aren’t talking about a new approach, we are talking about the respect for others that already has been claimed. What we are talking is not being progressive but being consequent with values we already are meant to defend.

Are these values not being respected? That’s the issue. There’s division on this topic, and if the division is not solved and it keeps scalating then ultimatelly it could mean the FSF itself could divide, with a new organization appearing or maybe the OSI taking over the banner.

The problem here is that both sides see each other as the enemy (this is very clear when seeing twitter), one side dehumanizing the other, as in a sort of ideological warfare. Dehumanization sparks dehumanization. And it’s hard to convince someone about what in our view might be “the right thing” when they have already dehumanized us.

We will see. My hope is that RMS & the FSF will both see the mess and try and take the kind of measures that the open letter should have requested in the first place and it didn’t (things like making sure RMS controversial behavior is under leash, communicates only in written form externally or internally with those outside the board, never go to any event without some form of caretaker that knows how to deal with him, etc… or whatever measures would actually help with those problems that the letter didn’t explain). And then hopefully this whole war will slowly be forgotten.

First of all: sorry for the huge wall of text… as you can guess I also enjoy the discussion.

I never intended to insult you, by the way, if that came of as such. I very much enjoy the discussion.

Oh sorry, that’s not what I meant.

It was an example to illustrate why I called some of the accusations of the letter “insults”, I didn’t want to imply that you insulted me. I should have said “someone” there (in fact I think I did it in a later edit but I might have been too late… ugh).

how would you word a letter like that, when you know, from decades of experience, that the person will likely not change their behavior the same way they didn’t for years? Without implying that the person either a) lacks capacity to reason or b) is outright malicious?

Why not just state the facts and let them speak for themselves?

Intentionally hurting people would definitely be a cause to remove him. I expect that’s actually against the FSF code.

The thing with making a public open letter like this is that you need to convince not only the FSF but also those that you are asking signatures from. Specially if they’re also being asked to boicot the FSF donations and events.

proof is not needed as we don’t want to judge him in front of a jury. The FSF in almost all accounts does already know what the people are talking about. This letter is not addressed to the public to hold condemnation and grudge against RMS, but addressed to those who know of the incidents.

Then it shouldn’t be surprising to see a counter-reaction from those who do not have account of those incidents and who do not think the accusations are deserved.

Like you said, this should not have been about “deserving punishment” but about protecting others. Yet the letter seemed to be seeking punishment for his behavior without really talking much about the victims, the harm and what caused it.

Even if they really did believe that RMS is behaving like that on purpose out of malice/phobia/insanity/whatev, had they made the exercise of assuming that it was a reiterated and constant mistake would have gone a long way to actually get the point across. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

It’s also ironic that when they actually try to give examples, the only thing they show are either things that have been later corrected by RMS himself (like the child consent thing, but also the GNU Kind Communication Guidelines) or things that when in context are clearly misunderstandments (he clearly isn’t saying that every single down syndrome child must be aborted…) or about that publicly available email thread about Minsky where he’s really not saying anything crazy when you actually read through it.

RMS was in the city and we allowed him to stay for a day in our room at university. Little did we expect him to not move out at all. The only way to get him out again was to pay for a ticket to the next conference.

That must have been quite a thing… he also came to my University (ages ago) and I heard some things from the organicers about how particular he was. I don’t really remember the details but I can imagine there are many stories like that. He’s definitelly very quirky. But I’m sure there’s more than one board of directors with a “strange” nerd on it.

it’s a very bad thing if people’s identities (e.g., trans, non-binary people) are invalidated and disregarded (despite scientific evidence!) because he’s being pedantic about words.

I agree, but are you refering to this? https://stallman.org/articles/genderless-pronouns.html

I get that he’s trying to “respect the wishes” of non-binary people without really understanding what their wishes are. And knowing how particular he is about the correct manner of saying “GNU/Linux” I can imagine how a conversation about the topic with him could be difficult…

My understanding is that seeking a gender-neutral pronoun can actually be the wrong call, even as an heterosexual male I would find it patronizing if Stallman used the gender neutral pronoun on me, so I expect the same would happen for someone who identified as “she” / “they” or any other pronoun. But is it actually transfobic?

The open letter is locked now and they even closed the issue tracker, but before they closed it there was this comment from a trans person who actually thought accusing him of being a transfobe was too much.

But do you seriously believe that this would stick? He basically made him member again w/o consulting with the board before … he speaks when he wants, and just not making him spokesperson won’t change that. Unfortunately.

But asking for his removal and the disolution of the entire board did not stick either.

And even if it had, he speaks when he wants. Do you believe that not being in the board would have changed that?

If the intention was to play poker and ask for something crazy to try and get anything at all then… well, it shouldn’t be a surprise for crazyness to be called out and have mixed reactions that result in the real point getting lost, mudding the waters. Sure, in the end it might actually work (there’s already some reaction inside the FSF, if that what was intended) but at what cost? many portrayed this as a “witch hunt” and I don’t think those reactions were completely unjustified. This is not just bad image for RMS is also a bad image for the anti-RMS crowd, to the point that an anti-anti-RMS letter came up with 6000+ signatures.

As far as I understand this works through remote desktop, FreeRDP in particular, and relies on weston rdp backend.

This means the same server-client architecture could be used also from Linux to Linux (including the custom shell they created for this). It would be a nice thing for Wayland Linux desktop remote access… it’s done in such a way that you no longer need to open a whole remote session desktop window, but instead it’s seamlessly integrated so each window is rendered separatelly, as if it was actually running locally instead of remotelly (“VAIL optimized” as they say).

The contributions done to FreeRDP and the plugins are all free software, so I think this is an interesting development for Wayland, even if you don’t care about WSL. This might mean finally there’s a way to set up proper seamless remote access for Wayland, something that it was lacking compared to X11.

The changes on RDP client though, I’m not sure if those have been released… there’s the WSLDVCPlugin but it’s not clear to me if that’s enough or not.

A lot of people could have agreed all the years before – they didn’t. full stop.

The signees didn’t suddenly change opinion and agreed on something they disagreed with before. Like you yourself said, “this is nothing new”, Stallman has been heavily criticized multiple times by his social behavior. I expected you’d have agreed with me in that.

The only thing that makes this time different is that they started collecting signatures and getting organizations to sign for an open letter that was created as a knee-jerk reaction to RMS being admitted in the board of directors of the FSF. A collective campaign as public and well known as this had never happened before, but people accusing Stallman in a such a way have existed for many many years. This is nothing new.

I’m baffled how one can rile up so much about the wording of the letter, but when RMS said something far more insulting that’s okay, for some reason.

Note that I’m not saying the people who signed (or even wrote) the letter are bad, or toxic, or any other adjective. I’m saying the letter itself (not who wrote it) is misdirected and could result in toxicity. This is the same kind of criticism I throw at Stallman. It’s not in me where you’ll see the contradiction.

I’m sure who wrote the letter had the best of intentions, and most likely they were motivated by a will to improve the FSF, not hurt it. I just think the approach was incorrect. Not only in the wording but also in the demands they made.

If instead explaining that what I say is incorrect, someone tells me that I lack the capacity to reason, I see that as an insult.

The only way for it to not be an insult is if they came with solid evidence of the claim (ie. solid proof that I’m unable to reason). Then it will just be a description of what I am, based on proof. But I’ll feel insulted if you call me “fascist” and I’m antifa. Would you not feel insulted if you were accused of being the complete opposite of the values you hold dearest?

Stallman has proven more than once that he’s a person committed to the ideals he holds (and one of them is to end “racism, sexism, antisemitism, caste prejudice, and others”), and has also proven that when confronted about a topic in conversation he can change his mind (as he did about his views on child consent). So if we are to categorize him with the dehumanizing accusations the letter used, we better have solid proof that it wasn’t a mistake, that he really deserves it and that his public statements stating the opposite are a farce. Because he’s known to be misunderstood pretty frequently due to his social impairment. This is nothing new.

I’m all for criticizing him about his mistakes and confronting him, even to the extent of making him take responsibility for his social behavior. I can agree that he should not be a spokesperson for the movement, so I rather have him in a role where he can provide direction on the topics he’s good at (and that could be within a board of directors) but making it a rule to avoid using him as spokesperson in situations that could result in harm for others. That’s what the letter should have demanded, instead it demanded to remove Stallman from all directive positions (and not just him, but the entire board!) all the while throwing unfair accusations that could lead to him being dehumanized by many when done in such a public way.

Too bad this time they decided to use insults and serious accusations rather make the argument you are making, which is somethig a lot more people would have agreed with.

As it is, the request from the open letter is missing the point. RMS having such position is not what allows him to become a spokeperson. He doesn’t even need the FSF to go out and make public appearances in representation of the movement he founded (even if he’s not representing the FSF, that matters little). It might have actually ended up making the problem with RMS social ackwardness and the image of the movement worse if it meant kicking RMS out and leaving him to his own devices (and to his own “tone deaf” social skills). He’s still connected to the Free Software movement (he’s almost more of a figure in the movement than the FSF itself is) and removing him from any and all organizations is not gonna change that.I wouldn’t be surprised if this had damaged the FSF more than it would have damaged RMS (which for the looks of it was the intent). The letter was asking for the wrong thing in the wrong manner.

I personally doubt that he has much of “hate” for most or any of the groups, but, at the end of the day, he treats people in very demeaning matter.

And every time he treats people in a bad manner he should be reprimended. This isn’t about tolerance towards hurting people, but about judging if the person is actually a “misogynist, ableist, and transphobic” and all sorts of accusations the open letter claimed.

not as a spokesperson

Oh, we could agree on that.

I might have even agreed with the letter myself had it been more reasonable. But removing him from every “position of power” isn’t the same as banning him from being a “spokesperson”.

In fact, the letter misses the point so much that even if the FSF had listened to it, it would have still been perfectly possible for RMS to abandon any hope for joining any advisory board and end up as mouthpiece for defending Free Software, doing even more public speakings… essentially making him more of a “spokesperson”.

I totally agree that we should be able to openly discuss about the toxicity and attempt to put measures to avoid those situations. And, while I agree RMS has done a lot for the community, I don’t think this is really about that. Toxicity is bad no matter what other good the person might have done. But for that same reason, we should be careful when we acuse someone because if it’s done unfairly and without care, the accusation might end up being just as toxic.

The open letter was as much of a “knee-jerk reaction” to the readmission of Stallman as “posts like this” are to the open letter.

should he remain in a position of power in the free software community

It depends what you mean by “position of power”. He’s no longer president of the FSF and his return did not change that. The current president is Geoffrey Knauth.

Him being in a board of directors doesn’t mean he’s the embodiment of the whole Foundation. He still needs to abide by the rules, “including prohibitions against conflicts of interest and sexual harassment and those outlining whistleblower processes and fiduciary duties”.

Should being “tone-deaf” to social cues mean he cannot be part of a board of directors? does this also disqualify people with autism?

Note that I’m not saying “there should be no accountability for bigotry”, because there should.

And related to that: how should people react when a socially handicapped person that firmly believes in ideals of feminism and trans rights has problems reading social cues and is misunderstood? should we give him a chance to explain himself? should we have an honest open discussion with him before throwing accusations and calling him the opposite of what he actually defends?

I think the open letter should have been much more moderate and cautious in its tone. Your comment is much more honest and clear in its intent than the letter which was full of insults, they interpreted his words in the worst manner and disregarded any corrections that he himself might have done. They direct the letter not to him but to the FSF to remove him, with no intent to look for any sort of explanation or understanding, just purely demanding not only his destitution but also for the entire board of directors to step down.

Is there nothing that Stallman could say or do that could possibly bring light on the issue?

If Stallman deserves all the “adjectives” that the open letter accused him of, I think ultimately there would be some more solid proof that justifies the slander, given enough time I think ultimatelly it’d be proven he’s what he’s accused to be, and then he’ll deserve to be criticised by Debian and many other projects.

If, on the other hand, it turns out that the mob accusing him was misinterpreting and dehumanizing him, then I’ll agree, I think the opinion on him will never change no matter what he does… even if he begged on his knees crying, he’ll still be dehumanized.

Debian values are also in the open: https://www.debian.org/social_contract One of the points is “No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups”.

Imho, what’s missing is the aritmetic that connects the dots and proves (or disproves) that any of the points of the Debian social contract are affected by “all that RMS did”.

If the connection isn’t clear, then I think the wise move is to not move in either direction. Making a move just because “Debian is political” would not be good, imho.

When there’s actual proof that RMS is incompatible with the values that he himself claims to defend, then it would make sense for them to be against him.

Not issuing a statement is by itself a skeptical position. I don’t think it’s about pretending not to be political, but rather avoid getting involved in something that shouldn’t have been taken so seriously.