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[flagged] Richard Stallman Resigns from CSAIL and FSF (forbes.com)
38 points by jes 36 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 31 comments

This comment is about Forbes, and news reporting, not Richard Stallman, so no flames please.

Forbes twists the quote in the "topline" ("claimed [she] was 'entirely willing'"), then includes a more-complete quote two paragraphs later ("most likely 'presented herself to him as entirely willing'"). I don't know how an editor can see both of those things in their field of vision and think they're equivalent.

Again, ignoring the actual topic completely for the purposes of this comment, this is a good example to frame on your wall of how the "content industry" will squeeze any nuance out of a statement to generate clicks.

Even the more complete quote is out of context. The full context was:

> We can imagine many scenarios, but the most plausible scenario is that she presented herself to him as entirely willing. Assuming she was being coerced by Epstein, he would have had every reason to tell her to conceal that from most of his associates

I've sent a comment to their "corrections" address. Newsguard gives Forbes the highest possible score. If that rating is accurate, they'll update the story.

Forbes probably felt compelled to write an article about this but also didn't want to go against the narrative and be accused of sympthathizing with someone who is now widely believed to be a pedophile apologist.

The misquote actually alters the narrative from “pedophile apologist” to “child slanderer”, since he’s supposedly declaring his knowledge of the mental state of the child concerned. Which, amazingly, is an even worse narrative.

To be fair, earlier submissions all got flagged off the front page fairly quickly, so later submitters may well not have known about them.

Any reason to duplicate the discussion?

Not on this basis. Forbes parrots much of the mischaracterizations.

I find it surprising to the extreme that a person like Stallmann, supposedly smart and well versed in legal matters lacks the understanding of how the legal system works:

"Unintentional crime is still a crime."

Unwittiness in committing a crime is, at best, a mitigating circumstance, that does not justify or excuse the conduct.

The second issue is that does not matter what you and I (or Stallman) think. All that matters is what the law says - it is a crime when the law says so - we can't be going around redefining laws so that they don't apply when it does not suit us. The most one can hope for is to have a law redefined in a court of law (precedents, interpretations etc).

Some unintentional crimes are crimes, but many, maybe most require intent. This is called mens rea and it’s so important you’ll learn it in your high school introduction to the law course.

Actually what we learn (or should learn in high school) is that pleading ignorance: "I did not know this or that" is a terrible starting argument for many crimes.

This is what I was referring to in my observation. Stallman should know better than to argue ignorance.

Beyond that, the law is complex and generalizations (which I myself did) run the risk of oversimplifying realities.

I was specifically referring to this case, where Stallman argues that his friend was just misled. I believe that argument not just "tone deaf" but actually wrong.

We can imagine a number of scenarios, but the most plausible scenario is that RMS presented himself as entirely willing to step down.

His statement says he is stepping down due to misinterpretations and misunderstandings (AKA he stands by his statements), which IMO means he was given the ultimatum of "your job or your opinion" aka if he wanted to stay he would need to repudiate the things he said, and he likely chose to stand by his interpretation of the discussion and resign.

Read his recent emails and you'll understand my comment better.

Excellent comment! It exposes the perfidiousness of Stallman's argument.

Good article for me as someone who is entirely outside the news cycle about this.

Pretty insane that you loose your job just because you have the wrong opinions about something. I don't understand why not FSF and others simply stand behind him in events like these?

This is pretty ridiculous and I hate this PC-elite that is currently ruling tech. I don't care about your code of conduct or what your thoughts are about different words.

I just hope Stallman the best and that he should not back down to the kind of bullshit that's been thrown on him. That is simply letting them win.

Fuck everyone that has the "you said something that I do not like, now you must resign"-mentality.

He demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of how the legal system works.

IMHO he is not qualified to lead FSF.

Simplifying the issue this much to boil it down to "a difference in opinions" is a bit dishonest. It was a very specific opinion that crossed the line, it's not like he said he prefers chocolate to vanilla.


The slippery slope is a very tired argument. When people start getting fired for illegitimate reasons then I'll defend those people. The outcome of this specific situation seems rational, fair and expected. "Don't say controversial shit on the job" is a really low bar, even if what is controversial changes from time to time.

Nah man, the "dont say controversial shit on the job" is a very tired argument. The slippery slope is a real argument that is based in reality. Just look at events like this one and say to me with a straight face that is hasn't become 1000 times worse in the last couple of years. I say whatever I like and feel is fit for the current discussion.

If you don't like that, you may choose not to hang with me. You decide for yourself, not for me. If you think your coworker is a shitty person because what their opinions are then quit the job, don't force others to do it in order for you to have a safe space.

That is what I believe and fight for. People don't tend to realize that next time you may be the victim and then I'll defend you, the hate-crowd which you defend this time won't.

Here I am saying with a straight face: this hasn't become a 1000 times worse in the last couple of years. Do I have any data to back this up? No. Do you? If you do I'd like to see it, otherwise this is irrelevant to the discussion.

You keep turning this discussion into something big, like this giant problem that society is facing or something and I just disagree it is that serious, that's all. Stallman was wrong and no matter how this was handled the outcome was acceptable (to me). If this happens to someone that isn't wrong then I'll be on your side next time. I won't defend someone who is wrong out of principle.

All I have is a lot of anecdotal evidence. But it's evidence nonetheless. Stuff like this wouldn't simply not happen or noticed 10 years ago but today it is a big deal.

Well, it's because I believe it is something big and a giant problem.

Stuff like this has been happening since at least the 60s, 20 years ago it was happening to the dixxie chicks for being against the war, 30 years ago it was happening to gay people when their bosses found out, etc. This isn't new, it just gets more attention from the media.

And anecdotal evidence is the opposite of evidence, it is meaningless. Your personal experience can be biased in so many ways I wouldn't draw any conclusions from it.

I think everyone is tired of these likely stories regarding Epstein, then RMS wanders in to defend a 70 year old pervert.


Can you show me where he excused the actions of Epstein? From what I saw, he called him a serial rapist and said he deserved to be locked away in prison.

And doing so on a work related mailing list.

Please quote a full sentence wherein he excused the actions of Epstein.

It's pretty incredibly how many pro-pedophile and pro-rape comments there are on HN, although I'm not surprised as this isn't the first article I've experienced this in on this site

1. "The word 'assaulting presumes that he applied force or violence, in some unspecified way, but the article says no such thing. Only they had sex" -stallman

First of all, having sex with someone unwilling is applying force. There was obviously an abuse of power at play, and to discount someone being raped because you don't think they got beaten or something similar and that somehow makes it not a sexual "assault" is twisted, disgusting, and again, rape apologism

2. "We can imagine many scenarios, but the most plausible is that she presented herself to him as entirely willing" -stallman

She said that she was raped. Saying that the "most plausible" scenario is that she was willing is clearly acting as a rape apologist. Not all woman will physically fight off the attacker when they are raped due to differences in power structure, age, physical strength, their ability to escape, etc.

>Giuffre was 17 at the time; this makes it __rape__ in the Virgin Islands

3. "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" -stallman

Again, rationalizing and acting as a rape apologist for his friend who raped children. It doesn't matter whether he thinks its absurd, if you fly someone into a country or location where they are a minor, legally cannot consent, and you have sex with them you are a rapist.

I'm sure I'll get told how my liberal, PC nonsense needs to go find a safe place. I am generally the last person to support political correct nonsense that leads to censorship and other issues, but frankly what Stallman wrote was disgusting and clearly discounting rape survivors based on false assumptions and pedantry. I'm glad he lost his position and will not be able to spread such a toxic way of thinking. I'm also looking forward to all the downvotes from people supporting child rapists with no actual counterargument, as is standard on HN




Can you provide complete, in-context quotes from Stallman's emails to support those claims in paragraphs 3 and 4? I mean directly from Stallman's emails, not copied from Forbes or Vice or the other articles that have taken things massively out of context.

>What an emotional, insulting and ultimately terribly inappropriate reply for you to write on Hacker News

Please reflect on this one for a bit...

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