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[flagged] The Burden of Leadership: Why Richard Stallman Was Right to Step Down (righteousruminations.blogspot.com)
40 points by renegadesensei 30 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments



Having spent a bit of time with Stallman (an afternoon), honestly, I don’t think he understands how his comments impact people. At least initially.

I also agree that the media has over stepped here (as has Stallman).

Stallman approaches things with an uncompromising view of moral integrity. He was wrong in this case, but IMO it’s the equivalent of me telling my non-tech friends about how we should lock down our phones. They don’t get it or care. Stallman likewise didn’t seem to care too much here, and now he’s paying the price.

All that being said, his belief system guides the FSF. I’m concerned that the FSF will degrade with him being gone.

Still head priest at the church of GNU though.


“All that being said, his belief system guides the FSF. I’m concerned that the FSF will degrade with him being gone.”

It may also improve. Often things just keep going once the person thought to be indispensable leaves. It’s a good test for the organization if they have people who can step up. I wonder how Linux will do once Linus retires.


Nobody else at the FSF has been anywhere close to as visible and vocal an advocate of software freedom as Stallman. It really shouldn't be hard to be more charismatic than Stallman... but where/who is such a person?

That's an earnest question. I would sleep better tonight knowing the FSF will be in safe and effective hands.


> It really shouldn't be hard to be more charismatic than Stallman... but where/who is such a person?

I don't think anyone will be able to top rms in charisma, in the sense of having that feeling that Free Software is their calling in life, above anything and everything else.

That said, I think a movement only needs a charismatic founder to keep going for centuries with more regular leaders. I think there are a few worthy candidates, like Eben Moglen, Karen Sandler and Mishi Choudhary, and I'm sure a few more can be found in the FSF ranks themselves, now that obfuscating spotlight is gone.


His age would have forced the issue anyway at some point.


No doubt. But I'm still worried for the future of the FSF.


I'm sure Linux will be fine. Greg Kroah-Hartman seems quite capable of stepping up and is quite public as a figure in the Linux community. I can't think of anyone like that in the FSF. Hopefully they get someone good to represent the FSF with Stallman stepping down.


The following is the quote from RMS found on page 16 in the document posted by vice https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6405929-091320191420...

"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."

The following quote posted on righteousruminations blog does not appear in the PDF file posted by vice. Here is the quote from the blog -> "it might not be so terrible if a 73 year old * an underage girl if he didn't know she was underage and being coerced." (I removed the curse word so this post doesn't get blocked)

I assume the quote by the righteousruminations blog to be an opinion and not an actual quote from RMS.


There is more I didn't see and it doesn't look good for RMS.

On page 7 of the same email list documents released by vice. RMS wrote the following: "I think it is moraily 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." https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6405929-091320191420...

RMS also wrote the following on his blog in 2006: "I am skeptical of the claim that voluntarily pedophilia harms children. The arguments that it causes harm seem to be based on cases which aren't voluntary, which are then stretched by parents who are horrified by the idea that their little baby is maturing." https://stallman.org/archives/2006-mar-jun.html#05%20June%20...


More generally, if your leadership position depends on making and defending an argument that is based off of strong premises, and you seek to amass a lot of support for that argument, it seems the most effective pathway is to be very visible when making that argument, and rather private otherwise. This is just because if you are trying to maximize support among those that agree with your argument, you are going to attract people that disagree on other arguments. It requires focus. As soon as you, a leader, weigh in on another divisive argument that has nothing to do with your charter, it acts as a filter that can jeopardize large swaths of support.

I'm also a little fascinated, just generally, by the tendency for very smart people to make "good points for bad reasons" - strenuously quibbling with some premise that would make no relevant impact to the lemmas and conclusions constructed atop them. It's like an inability to grasp larger points.


I do it all the time (not to claim I am very smart though). I had to catch myself trying to defend Stallman in this case all day today.

Little picture: Stallman is basically reasonable in his email thread, all the headlines are outright lies which wholly discredit their newspapers/sites

Big picture: he is still a huge creep and should have been gone from leadership positions decades ago

To me it's when I see something wrong being said/done, I want to correct or resist it, even if overall it doesn't matter. Like people who lie about things Trump has said -- which is ridiculous, why not just take one of the many dumb things Trump did say -- I'll have the urge to spring to the his defense and point out how some criticism is irrational or misconstrued. Even though it's Trump. I also found myself correcting misinformation about Louis C K during his shit the other year, though I didn't die on any hills or anything.


Thanks for replying - why do you think you want to do that?

Although, I can see a good reason for it in a case like Trump, if it's from the point of view of someone that is trying to muster resistance against him - from that perspective, true arguments against him are clearly better than false arguments, as the latter can be counterproductive. So I totally get that.


Somehow it's related to "the ends don't justify the means". These lies and misrepresentations are immoral acts even if they're being done to a bad person.


A responsible leader wouldn’t have waded into the Epstein issue at all, knowing that any comments made would reflect on the FSF. There is no upside reason to risk the FSF, but Stallman can’t think that far ahead.


He answers anything he's e-mailed.


So ? Doesn't mean he can't have a filter.


I forgot that whole Stallman-performing-nasal-sex-on-himself-at-dinner and please-use-my-body-for-necrophilia comment. It was a simpler time back in 2003...

.... However, I did not know about his quote on this page (https://stallman.org/archives/2003-mar-jun.html#28%20June%20...) starting with "The nominee is quoted as saying". I honestly cannot tell if that was an attempt at a bad joke or dead serious.


With Stallman, I just assume it's a (bad) joke unless it's about Free Software. I feel like I've been right more often than not, so it's a good rule of thumb.

He's an eccentric character, and I'm sad that he's stepping down, but I also think it's for the best. He's contributed what he can, and I think it'll be good for someone else to carry the torch; sometimes a change of leadership is what an organization needs to refresh the vision and increase reach.


"Right wing SJW" what... is that?


Neoliberals maybe?


Feels weird for right wingers to be defending a hippie like stallman.


This video by Tim Minchin basically sums up my feelings on RMS.

(NSFW: Language) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFsZRQL6QdI

I grew up with RMS as one of my heroes, even if a lesser hero and one that I tended to shy away from for his dogmatism. I no longer have any respect for him. His work was good for the FSF but them's the breaks. No more respect.




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