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In Defense of Richard Stallman (greer.fm)
744 points by ash 16 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 607 comments



Diversity -- but no diversity of opinion...

Inclusiveness -- but let's ostracize the non-conforming aspie...

Fairness -- but let's fire people or make them resign from unrelated positions for their personal opinions, because obviously all of a person's life should serve as a big PR, and god forbid they don't play the role 24/7. Someone might call them for it on Twitter, and what could their employee/organization do other than fire them? (in the "Land of the free" nonetheless)

Not to mention the blatant conformity and blandness -- punishing experimentation, personality, eccentricity, being the devil's advocate, controversiality, and, worse of all, being 'unprofessional' (as if the FSF is something akin to 1970s IBM)...

First they came for Patch Adams...

The current environment rewards the worst kind of scum: holier-than-thou hypocritical tell-tales and people who enjoy yielding power over others by drawing lynch-mobs.

I have wrote against Epstein here in several threads, but I could have lunch with a person who has controversial opinions on the matter like Stallman. People like those who finger-pointed and cheered on the personal consequences on Stallman, I'd prefer to live in another universe from.

Are you happy now? Justice for Epstein's victims served? (on someone who never even met Epstein)

Speak up now, or don't bother to cry crocodile tears and set up the "black ribbon" when we eventually lose Stallman, and tell stories of how he inspired you, etc...


I for one agree 100% with you here. And I don't really know what angers me more - the explicit desire to destroy a person's life, expressed by many including the original blogger that started this mess, or the relentless denial of reality, the willingness to repeat bald-faced lies, even though the source material was accessible and widely quoted.

Until this debacle I didn't realize so many people in our industry can voluntarily refrain from most basic reading comprehension. There's no discussion with people who simply refuse to read and comprehend a plain English sentence. There were moments I felt this was approaching Varelse level of Foreignness[0] - a mind so alien that it's hard to communicate, a mind that looks at a written sentence and understands the exact opposite of what it was communicating.

--

[0] - https://enderverse.fandom.com/wiki/Hierarchy_of_Foreignness


I agree that based on this single email alone, it would be shocking for someone to be forced out. On the other hand, apparently RMS has had a long history of making women feel uncomfortable around him, and not taking "no" for an answer. I feel like this is probably something that's been building for a time, and this letter might have just been the straw that broke the camel's back. It wasn't that bad in and of itself, but it's just the latest thing.

Most of the people around the campus probably don't think of him as "RMS, open source evangelist," they think of him as "RMS, that creepy guy who keeps hitting on people even after they ask him to stop." In that context, this letter can be read in a much worse light.


>On the other hand, apparently RMS has had a long history of making women feel uncomfortable around him, and not taking "no" for an answer.

I had friends meet Stallman in some conference, and they told me he could make everybody (not just women) "feel uncomfortable around him" in some ways (but nothing an adult shouldn't be able to handle).

Now, if this is about attacking women (physically, or sexually, etc) that would be something else, and would need to be addressed on its own, not using his Epstein comments, and distorting them at that.

Even so, "Not taking "no" for an answer" seems to imply something close to rape or sexual assault -- wheres "making uncomfortable" seems to imply some inconvenience at most.

If he took his willy out, or touched some woman's privates, it shouldn't be called merely "making uncomfortable".

"Making Uncomfortable", at least to my understanding, falls more on the "whistles the Popeye theme incessantly", "smells", "shouts Eureka when he has an idea", "swears a lot", "is totally blunt about weight gains", "looks you dead in the eyes for minutes" etc, realm -- not fire-able offenses outside of a customer facing / corporate environment.

>"RMS, that creepy guy who keeps hitting on people even after they ask him to stop."

Like, asking some person out or something? There's a line there in how we went about it. Many a relationships and happy marriages have started from a person who insisted (even if they were told to stop or "it will never happen between us") - and that's for both men hitting on women, women hitting on men, gays hitting on gays, and lesbians hitting on lesbians. Humans are complicated that way. Some cases persisted for months of years, but eventually the other side agreed and they lived happily ever after (I know several cases).

Of course if he was a jerk about it that's different. There's a line between "asked me out several times even though I said no every time", and "he raised his voice/threatened/followed me out/etc".

(Note that myself can't help (mild aspie) but overanalyze the situation logically, YMMV. Probably you could already tell from the balanced parentheses in prose).


> he could make everybody (not just women) "feel uncomfortable around him" in some ways

I had a colleague tell he won't invite X (a local celebrity with a lot of similarity in character with RMS) to our team because he "always feels like a fool when X is around".


Beyond this, there's also a question of who are you really selecting for when you, by negation, prefer people who'll consciously weigh their every interaction with other humans, being keenly aware of hierarchy of relations at the same time, and careful that any deviation from that would be undocumented? Who would be interested in making social structure adhere to these types of personalities? Who would throw anger tantrums if denied all this, and be willing to bring hellfire on others based on, effectively, nothing?

I'm not completely sure about the answer, but that description sits well on a spectrum of anti-social and is the only lens through which all this makes sense to me.


There is that quote in the hit piece , part 2:[0]

> “When I was a teen freshman, I went to a buffet lunch at an Indian restaurant in Central Square with a graduate student friend and others from the AI lab. I don’t know if he and I were the last two left, but at a table with only the two of us, Richard Stallman told me of his misery and that he’d kill himself if I didn’t go out with him.

> I felt bad for him and also uncomfortable and manipulated. I did not like being put in that position — suddenly responsible for an “important” man. What had I done to get into this situation? I decided I could not be responsible for his living or dying, and would have to accept him killing himself. I declined further contact.

> He was not a man of his word or he’d be long dead.”

> —Betsy S., Bachelor’s in Management Science, ’85

I suspect that he was kidding, but who knows?

0) https://medium.com/@selamjie/remove-richard-stallman-appendi...


That's definitely not the case.

Most people on campus think of RMS as a socially awkward crusader for free software. He has a reputation for pushing himself into positions where he's not wanted (e.g. handing out protest fliers at industry talks where MIT wants to maintain good relations, or responding to otherwise unrelated email threads where someone mentions proprietary software).

He had awkward posters on his door, but I've never heard of RMS hitting on people after they've asked him to stop. There's a big gap between "feel uncomfortable" and what you describe.


> and not taking "no" for an answer.

Citation needed for everything after the "apparently"; but in particular - even the gossip I've read suggests he took No as an answer just fine.

The stories on HN over the last week have generally been him asking women out in a bizarre way and then accepting a quite predictable "no". And even then most of the stories are poorly sourced.


I didn't mean "not taking no for an answer" in the sense that he'd get mad or force himself. I mean in the sense that people would tell him they weren't interested, and he'd just keep hitting on them.


If you set "making someone uncomfortable" as the bar for ousting people or even criminal charges, it's clear that this can only lead to trouble. There's a reason that the law against insults considers only the impression of a third party. The "victim" feeling insulted is not enough.


I mean, if someone was constantly making me feel uncomfortable at my job, and hitting on me even after I'd ask them to stop, I'd tell my boss and would quit if it wasn't dealt with. If enough people complained and/or quit, that person would eventually be let go. That's just life.


In that case, an impartial third party would probably consider that harassment, regardless of your feelings. And it can be harassment even if they didn't intend to harass you/did it unknowingly.

However, you _feeling_ uncomfortable is not enough. If you feel uncomfortable with people eating meat around you, that's your problem and not harassment, because eating meat is reasonable in our society.


I've met Stallman once. I'm a man, and he made me uncomfortable. Can we just stop saying that he was making women uncomfortable but instead say that he was making people uncomfortable because of his lack of social awareness (probably caused by his autism) and acknowledge that it is not a crime?

> Until this debacle I didn't realize so many people in our industry can voluntarily refrain from most basic reading comprehension. There's no discussion with people who simply refuse to read and comprehend a plain English sentence.

I can't remember exactly when "Flame Warriors" came out ( https://www.politicsforum.org/flame-warriors/ ) - possibly back in 1999 ... but it was clear trouble was ahead...


> the relentless denial of reality

This is a tried and true tactic and it works. Issue certainly is not "reading comprehension".

How many fingers?

http://www.george-orwell.org/1984/18.html


There are four lights.


There's also a perverse incentive in this age of outrage to incite public lynching and write posts to spark maximum hate where you're rewarded with reach, followers and self-reinforcing Internet points on social media and more clicks on link bait articles of which it appears to be all upside, there doesn't appear to be any downside for mischaracterizing or falsely accusing someone on social media, with enough hate-fueled reach any disinformation will eventually drown out uninteresting contradictory facts and be adopted as truth.

None of the hit piece articles I've read portrayed a true characterization of what he wrote, most presented quotes out of context and instead focused their efforts on colorful commentary to suggest he was somehow in support of child rape - an accusation that's clear to invoke the ire of the masses.

If he were more socially apt maybe he would've known to never share his opinion of what he assumed the thoughts of his late friend were, not even on a private mailing list, unless of course it's to join the chorus of hate and accusations against him.


> If he were more socially apt maybe he would've known to never share his opinion of what he assumed the thoughts of his late friend were

No, it's not about socially apt, his ideology is rooted too deeply in freedom to say opinions about sensitive issues and rejecting the norm. There were always going to be a lot of opinions "normies" wouldn't like. So the only way out for him was to fight back, attack the attackers, call the media "fake news" and all that.


I'm glad he wrote his opinion and didn't self censor. Hopefully he has good friends who support him, must be awkward to read all these misappropriations and the many personal details.


I've read the mail from Stallman and I couldn't believe people forced him to resign just because he stated that 1 it is not clear assault 2, he don't disbelieve his colleague had sex.

BTW: I have also suffered the tough, complicated, unstable and rare personality of Stallman. Not for that I want to see him dead but like everyone else, when he has been unrespectful with me, I let him know. Everyone who knows Stallman knows he's a complicated and tough guy with very radical opinions and position. I was at a conference where he was cleaning the dirt from his toes while explaining everything, imagine the scene…


Well there were also those posts about having sex with children sometimes being quite fine.

Edit: The downvotes are interesting given that this is how Stallman himself characterized those posts:

"Many years ago I posted that I could not see anything wrong about sex between an adult and a child, if the child accepted it."


What posts are you talking about? He didn't state anything related to child sex, plus, Eptein wasn't only offering that so it is unclear that Minsk had sex with minors. It's obvious that Stallman condemn that, but to his eyes, nothing is crystal clear and he is not the kind of person who will fall so easily in any logic fallacy. I think people is mob lawing him without any reason more than "he just stated some facts".


It's a public post from 2003. Funny how nobody has dug it up for 16 years.


I don't really have a side here, I am not surprised in the slightest that people say things that others can find offensive (what a shocker).

However since we're in the era of unerasable past, its kind of expected for people to do dig up the past. I do wonder if "society" will start applying a consistency stick to what people say. I.e. if they have had a consistent view on say pedophilia in this instance.

On that note was Stallman consistent over time to this day?


Time to work on the unerasability!


In that case I suggest you apply for a job at NSA.


The post has been widely disseminated on 4chan's /g/ for many years. So it wasn't totally forgotten.


I meant nobody has dug it up for the purpose of ousting Stallman. The fact that it's from 2003 and not exactly secret makes me doubt that it had any significance in Stallman being forced to step down. It looks more like the pitchforks & torches mob first decided they want his head and then looked for justification.


“I am sceptical 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.”

“There is little evidence to justify the widespread assumption that willing participation in pedophilia hurts children.“


That second quote is a summary of this Guardian article that he's linking to, published on the same day in 2013: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/jan/03/paedophilia-...

What's more interesting is the reason that Guardian article exists. It's basically an attempt to justify why Liberty (then the National Council for Civil Liberties), a respectable British political pressure group with close ties to our Labour party, was lobbying the government to legalise sex between adults and children a few decades ago. (They were also affiliated with the Paedophile Information Exchange, which was exactly what the title suggests.)

Why does something that happened a few decades ago matter now? Obviously it was relevant to the whole scandal over historic allegations of childhood sexual abuse, especially since PIE was run by pedophiles in important political positions. On top of that, one of the most important current-day Labour politicians Harriet Harman bootstrapped her political career using the important roles her and her husband played in the National Council for Civil Liberties during the exact time period where they had those ties to PIE and were doing that lobbying. She's still relevant today; various journalists and politicians are trying to wrangle her a position as Speaker or maybe even Prime Minister.

We could well end up with someone building a path to one of the most important positions in UK government on her role in an organisation lobbying in support of pedophilia a few decades ago whilst Stallman is made homeless based, in part, on his summary of the apologia for that lobbying printed in the mainstream press.

(Stallman completely missed this subtext, but that's not surprising; I don't think the full details became public knowledge until some time later.)


That's certainly a link you've made. Any thoughts on the first quote? The one where he writes "I am skeptical of the claim that voluntarily pedophilia harms children". Do you think he's just factually summarizing some news article there as well?


Presumably that was his actual views back then. People have relied heavily on that second quote to prove that he still holds those views though.


If he hasn't very publicly retracted that view and apologized (and: he hasn't), then he shouldn't be surprised that people aren't willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when he talks about sex crimes.


> If he hasn't very publicly retracted that view and apologized (and: he hasn't)

Except he has (https://www.stallman.org/archives/2019-jul-oct.html):

> 14 September 2019 (Sex between an adult and a child is wrong) Many years ago I posted that I could not see anything wrong about sex between an adult and a child, if the child accepted it. Through personal conversations in recent years, I've learned to understand how sex with a child can harm per psychologically. This changed my mind about the matter: I think adults should not do that. I am grateful for the conversations that enabled me to understand why.


That was only posted after he came under pressure, and contains no apology.


He is not stating pedophilia is good. If you assume he is doing that, then you don't understand the claims he does. (i dissagree with what he posted).


No, but he did say that having sex with children is sometimes fine. Which is what I said.


> No, but he did say that having sex with children is sometimes fine

Can you quote/link those instances since the two statements that you quoted don't say that at all.


I believe that he said that children having sex together is OK. Not adults having sex with children. That's not OK.

I mean, when I was 10-12, I engaged in private circle jerks with other boys. And we "played Doctor" with girls. No sex, but feeling and "examinations". And spin the bottle games, for taking off clothes and kissing. And holding our brearh, and squeezing each others chests to pass out.


"Many years ago I posted that I could not see anything wrong about sex between an adult and a child, if the child accepted it."


OK, I'm wrong.

As a child, I might well have argued that.

But now, I appreciate that children are easily manipulated. So while it's possible that some particular child might have freely chosen to have sex with some particular adult, there's no way to determine that. And so the rule must be that children can't reliably consent.

Still, people have the right to say whatever they like. And people also have the right to vilify them for it. And so, recursively, ad infinitum.


"I am sceptical 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."

He's rejecting the arguments that pedophilia causes harm to children, because sometimes it's voluntary and therefore isn't harmful.

Do I really need to explain how "Pedophilia is sometimes not harmful to children" can be summarized as "Sometimes sex with children is fine"?


> He's rejecting the arguments that pedophilia causes harm to children

No, he is not saying that. In that quote that you used he isn't even saying that pedophilia isn't harmful when it is consensual. I'm really interested how you reached that conclusion while reading the same text I'm reading.

> Pedophilia is sometimes not harmful to children

As far as I can see those are your words and not his. Where does he say that? Besides, not harmful and fine are to completely different things.


Edit: No actually I think I can make it clearer. Here's Stallman himself summarizing his own words:

> Many years ago I posted that I could not see anything wrong about sex between an adult and a child, if the child accepted it.

In those words he was saying that in some cases there is nothing wrong with an adult having sex with a child. So I guess what's left is whether "fine" and "nothing wrong with" are equivalent.


Well, never mind Stallman, didn't the law used to agree on that? Wasn't e.g. Jerry Lee Lewis, an adult, allowed to legally marry his 13-year old cousin (as well as countless other people)?

I find it bad myself (I'd say: have sex after 16 and generally with people closer to their age progressively -- e.g. a 16 yo should be able to sleep with a 18 year old, but not sure with a 25 or 40 year old, it would be more manipulative. After adult age, at 18 of course, anything should go), but from what I read:

"As of May 2019, in all but two states, a minor can marry with parental consent or with judicial authorisation, with the minimum marriage age, when all exemptions are taken into account, being as low as 14, and potentially lower."

So, if judges are OK with this, how can Stallman lose their job, not because he did it, but because he merely theorized about people doing it?


> No actually I think I can make it clearer. Here's Stallman himself summarizing his own words

That is not making it clearer. First, I was interested in how you interpreted the quote you used as you did. This doesn't make it clearer. Secondly, I don't know if the quote you are using now is referencing the firs quote or something else. I suspect that you do not either.

Also it seems that you have some axe to grind against the man. Here is the full quote:

>> Many years ago I posted that I could not see anything wrong about sex between an adult and a child, if the child accepted it.

>> Through personal conversations in recent years, I've learned to understand how sex with a child can harm per psychologically. This changed my mind about the matter: I think adults should not do that. I am grateful for the conversations that enabled me to understand why.

> In those words he was saying that in some cases there is nothing wrong with an adult having sex with a child.

We are not talking about those words, are we?


At this point of the conversation, your rejectal to accept that "Paedophilia is sometimes not harmful to children" effectively means "Paedophilia isn't always wrong" or "Paedophilia is sometimes fine/ok" (understanding that what could be wrong about Paedophilia is precisely the possible harmful effects for the children involved) is starting to look malicious.

Just to be clear, I agree with everything that's being said in this article. I can't understand how some people read Stallman's words and understand the exact opposite of what he is saying. But I find equally incomprehensible how can you read that quote and still need an explanation on how one thing implies the other.


Ok let's just clear this up once and for all because we're in some deep thread spiral here.

Here's where it all started:

> Me: "No, but he did say that having sex with children is sometimes fine"

> You: "Can you quote/link those instances since the two statements that you quoted don't say that at all."

Here is a statement from Stallman himself summarizing his own words: "Many years ago I posted that I could not see anything wrong about sex between an adult and a child, if the child accepted it."

So he said himself that what he was saying back then was that in some instances there is nothing wrong with sex between an adult and a child.

This is my answer to your original question. He explained it himself.


Can you link those posts?



For context, please also link to what his current thoughts are, where he's since changed his mind after being convinced he was wrong.

https://stallman.org/archives/2019-jul-oct.html#14_September...


Good point, thanks.

I'll also add some more context: These current thoughts on pedophilia were posted two days after the "Remove Richard Stallman" Medium post went up.


Are you talking about the post that intentionally misquoted him?


I would appreciate if you presented your arguments up front instead of sneaking them inside a loaded question. This is as impossible to answer as "Have you stopped beating your wife?"


Not really considering the OP post talks about it, but for more context:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21113768


Honestly, I don’t see anything wrong in his statements. He was skeptical that it’s always forced and not the arbitrary “minors” choice - okay?

This was over a decade ago (first link), and appear to be musings on the issue. It doesn’t necessarily say (as you claim) - “I support this”


Have you actually read the contents of the Guardian article Stallman linked? No? Here come a few quotes:

> If there's no bullying, no coercion, no abuse of power, if the child enters into the relationship voluntarily … the evidence shows there need be no harm.

> A Dutch study published in 1987 found that a sample of boys in paedophilic relationships felt positively about them.

> And a major if still controversial 1998-2000 meta-study suggests – as J Michael Bailey of Northwestern University, Chicago, says – that such relationships, entered into voluntarily, are "nearly uncorrelated with undesirable outcomes".

> Most people find that idea impossible. But writing last year in the peer-reviewed Archives of Sexual Behaviour, Bailey said that while he also found the notion "disturbing", he was forced to recognise that "persuasive evidence for the harmfulness of paedophilic relationships does not yet exist".

So why nobody attacks The Guardian for publishing such statements? Yes, these things are against common sense, against natural feelings, and I refuse to believe them. But Stallman was just repeating what someone else researched.


"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."

Was he repeating anyone here? Could you take the posts as a whole and resist the urge to cherry pick?


Not trying to be pedantic, but we're not exactly talking about children here.

I believe the girl was 17 and probably gave the impression (when put in a group with other girls) to be older.

And 17 is not illegal in most countries, so morally that age by itself is and should not be a major issue.


I wasn't referring to those posts, but these for example:

“I am sceptical 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.”

“There is little evidence to justify the widespread assumption that willing participation in pedophilia hurts children.“


He's entitled to have an opinion. He's not promoting pedophilia, merely stating that he's skeptical to the current opinions about pedophilia. It could be that in 300 years from now, pedophilia or rather hebephilia (what most people mean) is perfectly accepted by society. I honestly hope it won't, and I don't agree with RMS on these points, but he's allowed to be skeptical.


Oh absolutely he's allowed to be skeptical. He's allowed to say whatever he wants, and he certainly has used that freedom.


>Oh absolutely he's allowed to be skeptical.

Just not to be skeptical and keep his job...

Oh, the hypocrisy...


Yeah you can lose your job if you say stupid things in public. This is how it works in the real world at least.


I wish I had 1000 points to upvote this comment. But I just want to thank you, sometimes I feel I have become insane or out of touch, seeing the way people twit or comment here. It feels good to know there are still different opinions from the now ubiquitous ultra-SJW worldview.


It doesn't have anything to do with diversity of opinion or lack thereof. If this article is correct, the issue is simply a blatant misrepresentation of what Stallman said.

I admit I haven't been following this news very well so far, so I'm doubtless missing some important facts. I'd heard Stallman was stepping down because of something he said about Minsky, but I have no idea what that was. If this is it, and this article is correct (edit: based on additional info here and elsewhere, it seems Stallman has a long history of questionable behaviour towards women that was also addressed in the initial article, so this new article is omitting quite a bit), then I'm baffled that he has to step down from anything. What he said, that the girl was coerced to appear willing, seems pretty clear to me, and presenting that as him saying that she was actually willing, sounds like a pretty clear and blatant lie to me. Seems worth criticising the organisations that spread that lie.

I'm generally in favour of fighting rape culture and child abuse with all that we've got, and Epstein is clearly pure evil. If Minsky has sex with an underage girl, it doesn't even matter whether she appeared willing or not; that's just wrong. In that sense, Stallman sticking up for his friend was probably not the greatest idea, but if he said she was coerced, and not actually willing, then it's wrong that he should lose his job for saying things he never said.

And yeah, sure, Stallman is a weirdo. Occasionally even a disgusting weirdo maybe (I remember a video where he seemed to pick something from his toes and put it in his mouth), and I recently read a description of events where he publicly embarrassed a woman for being present at a tech related event. (Edit: it seems he has a long history creepiness towards young women, including his students.) If you're gonna fire him, fire him for that, not for something he didn't even say in a private mailing list.

In general, I'm fine with weirdos. We need more of them, not less. Being a weirdo is no excuse to act like an asshole, but on its own it's no reason to ostracise someone.

But this issue? If the description from the article is correct, it seems based on a blatant lie.


> based on additional info here and elsewhere, it seems Stallman has a long history of questionable behaviour towards women

Those are also lies, probably. Read all the comments here - or link to an actual instance of "additional info here and elsewhere" and I may be actually able to link you to a denial/ proof that it's fabricated. Eg. the most egregious stuff I've read against him was published by Gruber aka "daringfireball", and were all proven to be shameless lies (and rather obvious and easy to dispel ones, after one learns a bit of history about RMS. Like, that he was never married, wasn't on the board of VA Linux, etc)


> sex with an underage girl, it doesn't even matter whether she appeared willing or not; that's just wrong

These are very different levels of "wrong". Forced sex is much worse than consensual sex.


The original essay on Medium quoted him as saying that it was "most plausible" that the girl would have presented herself to Minsky as "entirely willing".

No basis is offered for why we should think this is "most plausible", except that Stallman likes Minsky and does not think it plausible that he did a bad thing.

There are some summaries which misrepresent what he said, but what he actually said was definitely something people could reasonably object to, especially given the longer context of him saying crazy stuff on related topics before.


[flagged]


I'm fine with that. There are weird girls who threaten to kill themselves too if someone is not going out with them. We are living in a weird world. Deal with it.


I think people who threaten to kill themselves for any reason need psychiatric help. That's simply not as healthy state of mind.


So you call suicidal people with mental health issues "weirdos". Now nice of you.


This is completely orthogonal to OP's point. Indeed the original article was libel. I can't flag post, but it should be.


I don’t know Stallman so I can’t speak to his behavior first hand. He certainly holds some controversial opinions. Some of them resulting in the philosophical structure for FOSS, some on the other hand on the fringes.

That said the language of diversity, fairness, inclusivity, tolerance, etc. isn’t meant to be taken literally (though it is by the intended audience, expectedly), or alternatively it’s applied at the discretion of those in power at the time. In the USSR and China (and other places) terms got used and abused to defeat previous in-groups (factions who held the same beliefs, mind you) who were taking too much power or were threatening those in power (even though all these people were in the same group or party).

All these terms are tools. They kind of mean them but they are double edged swords which will be used at discretion and will be interpreted at discretion as well.


My impression is that we're experiencing a somewhat less brutal version of Mao's Cultural Revolution. But who knows, possibly "psychological and moral re-education centers" are just over the horizon.

They pulled the same crap in China, with excitable young minds as useful idiots serving the hidden political agendas of actors behind the scene.

It is informative to seriously review the Cultural Revolution, and the ensuing damage to the Chinese nation.


You are being downvoted but I agree with you. Of course there is a difference of degree but it is the same mechanics. I come from a country run by authoritarians, and it is the same. Some people seem to think authoritarians admit they are the bad bad guys oppressing the people,but they ALWAYS see themselves as the champions of morality, high values and justice. It is the other group of nasty people who dare to confront their vision who need to be discarded.

It reminds me also of a funny and universal thing I have noticed for example on Reddit. Moderators of subreddits, many of them dedicated to noble causes and ideas and supposedly anti system tend to be extremely autocratic and arbitrary in their decisions, even the worst judge in America would be more level headed.


Interesting you bring it up. I don't know the history of the Cultural Revolution except for the description of it in Cixin Liu's Three Body Problem, but I've been meaning to reference that book in my next comment. There's a description there of the young people, excited about new ideas, delivering psychological and then physical violence to academic professors, because suddenly the technical, physical concepts stopped agreeing with the new social ideas. So the relativity theory must be wrong because everyone is equal and that's not relative.



I’m not sure if this is just more grandstanding of the “SJWs run amok” variety, but in case you’re unaware, his recent comments were just the tip of the iceberg:

https://medium.com/@selamjie/remove-richard-stallman-appendi...

Someone else downthread also linked about how a woman he worked with on a Linux project had to be warned of his arrival ahead of time so she could leave because of his aggressive advances toward her.


Something like 50% of that article isn't Stallman related, and some of the choice quotes are a bit unbelievable. Eg:

> I recall being told early in my freshman year “If RMS hits on you, just say ‘I’m a vi user’ even if it’s not true.”

That sounds like a joke. I mean, it is a joke. That isn't a serious comment/strategy on harassment. No creep has ever been forestalled by someone claiming to be a vi user.

1 stupid opinion and 3 negative comments, one of which looks like a joke, from 1980 to 2019 isn't evidence of a problem with Stallman.


I don't know. Have you ever read Stallman's appearance requirements[1]? I mean, yeah, it's probably a joke. But I wouldn't be shocked it it were true either.

[1] https://github.com/ddol/rre-rms/blob/master/rider.txt


Yes I have. It is more reasonable than people give it credit for. If most of the people honestly catalogued all their quirks they'd end up with something fairly similar. Usually the courtesy when travelling is to put up with whatever the host provides, but that is less realistic when someone spends a lot of time travelling.

How is a host meant to figure any of the details in that rider out ahead of a Stallman visit without him telling them? It could easily be a log of all the things that have gone wrong for him in the past.

People like to go to the parrot quote. It wouldn't at all surprise me if a Stallman fan who was putting him up the the night tried to buy a parrot if they thought it would make him happy. The man's selfless dedication to the public good has earned him a couple of true believers over the years.

It is also comprehensive and doesn't mention anything about Vi.


This is hilarious. This Selam G. is full of bullshit.


It's in the sphere of believability when it comes to Stallman. He's a pretty eccentric bloke.


He's been forced to resign from 2-3 organisations and we've got an article here that says he might be homeless and a suicide risk.

"He's a pretty eccentric bloke" is not enough to justify using something that looks like a joke as evidence of problems stretching back to 1980. That quote is 33% of the shocking evidence mentioned in this link section 2.

The vi vs emacs 'holy war' is also a long running joke that Stallman gets involved in sometimes. He doesn't actually object to vi.


see, they use the joke an abbreviation of all the problems. they've been living it, this isn't a new thing like it seems to be for many here; for them, summing up with one joke is far more efficient than listing off all the incidents that are just facts in their world.

I’d like a first hand account and link:

> Someone else downthread also linked about how a woman he worked with on a Linux project had to be warned of his arrival ahead of time so she could leave because of his aggressive advances toward her.

Just an FYI the person who said that already had beef with RMS. I’d recommend reading fully into the situation - perhaps you still believe it, but at least you’ll know.


Same author as the original medium post, so I would assume identical agenda and a risk of cherry-picking and distortion of the incidents described.


>I’m not sure if this is just more grandstanding of the “SJWs run amok” variety

Or perhaps a counter-balance to the "Stallman run amok/let's crucify him" variety? How about that?

Is the "tip of the iceberg" meant to be sarcastic? One of the headings is even "1. Richard Stallman has problematic opinions". Opinions are enough to have someone persecuted? What happened to free discourse then?

Are only "non problematic" opinions allowed? And who would be the arbiter of this? At some point a gay man being married was also a "problematic opinion". Or a mixed race couple. And not in Nazi Germany, in e.g. 70s USA. Let that sink in, before condemning "problematic" opinions.

"MIT, by endorsing Stallman, also gives legitimacy to these ideas."

MIT endorses Stallman as an academic or whatever he employs him for. Not as a wholesale controller and endorser of Stallman's ideas and personality.

"I recall being told early in my freshman year “If RMS hits on you, just say ‘I’m a vi user’ even if it’s not true.”"

That's a horrifying story? At best it's a joke about someone who hits on freshman students frequently.

"He literally used to have a mattress on the floor of his office. He kept the door to his office open, to proudly showcase that mattress and all the implications that went with it."

Oh, the humanity.

"the mattress was also known to have shirtless people lounging on it…"

Spoken like a person who has never experienced the 60s and 70s campuses...

"I don’t know if he and I were the last two left, but at a table with only the two of us, Richard Stallman told me of his misery and that he’d kill himself if I didn’t go out with him."

OK, that's creepy. Could also be a desperate attempt at connection by a depressive. It was also a conversation between two adults, and one could tell him to fuck (which from what I gather, is what happened, if more eloquently, and without further issue).

"But MIT is a privileged place. We have the right to choose who we admit, hire, or endorse."

I thought the whole idea these days was against privilege.

And where were all these good souls when their privileged MIT helped threaten Aaron Swartz with jail, and helped led him to commit suicide?


Very well said. Don't understand why this is grey?


I am sorry but that is a pretty awful article.


The whole Stallman story very much seems to be modern day thoughtcrime


> The whole Stallman story very much seems to be modern day thoughtcrime

It's actually not a modern day thing, it's more like classic propaganda. Someone motivates someone to lie about something, then tells specific people in the press who are willing to write about it, often for some monetary gain. This has been done for as long as "free" press existed.


Why did he resign? If this is just a storm in a teacup?

I haven't even found anything concrete about this whole debacle, and HN usually has the cold hard facts tldr laid bare in the top comment. Not this time. It's a mult level wtf.


Straight to the point, great comment. Someone like Stallman, founder of the FSF, GNU and other projects is just so beyond the level of decency that people complaining about his behavior have shown in recent weeks.

The MIT and some members of the FSF should be ashamed of themselves.

Never heard anything worthwhile from his critics. It is certainly not Stallman that makes our industry look bad. That is on you and that is all there is to say.


I think what we as an industry need is a blacklist of people who have been part of these kind of lynchmobs.

Let them have their own industry.


No. None of the things you mention is actually the issue.

Diversity: It's not about opinion, but about an authority figure doing things that harm his colleagues. I could have the opinion that you're an idiot and a liar, but if we were working together and I would constantly say that in the workplace where everyone hears, I would probably get fired.

Inclusiveness: It's not about ostracising, either, certainly not because of some mental disability. If someone harms his coworkers and won't stop, they cannot continue working.

Fairness: Again, the problem is not opinions but harmful actions. It certainly isn't about conformity. Harming the people you work with is not some sign of genius conducive to creativity.

I think that too many people are expressing strong opinions on the matter of sexual harassment and sexual assault without having studied the subject at all. Those are opinions based on deep ignorance of the matter.


> No. None of the things you mention is actually the issue.

> Diversity: It's not about opinion, but about an authority figure doing things that harm his colleagues. I could have the opinion that you're an idiot and a liar, but if we were working together and I would constantly say that in the workplace where everyone hears, I would probably get fired.

> Inclusiveness: It's not about ostracising, either, certainly not because of some mental disability. If someone harms his coworkers and won't stop, they cannot continue working.

> Fairness: Again, the problem is not opinions but harmful actions. It certainly isn't about conformity. Harming the people you work with is not some sign of genius conducive to creativity.

> I think that too many people are expressing strong opinions on the matter of sexual harassment and sexual assault without having studied the subject at all. Those are opinions based on deep ignorance of the matter.

I don't understand how any of this applies to Stallman. As far as I've gathered, most of the outrage against him are due to a few different posts over the last couple decades. Regardless of how morally reprehensible you think his views are, he's not saying them "constantly" and his actions certainly don't fit "harm his coworkers and won't stop".

Also you say it's about "harmful actions", but what harmful actions has he done? I ask this honestly and would like to know.

edit: Cleaned up the formatting of quotes.



Thank you that was a very good and informative read.


I will also tell you that research shows that the vast majority of sexual harassment and bullying complaints against powerful men go ignored for years. Then something happens that attracts wide public attention and some action is taken. At which point there's the usual choir chants of "witch hunt", "PC mob", and "this could happen to literally anyone" (the fact is that it rarely "happens" even to very real harassers), but invariably you find that the trigger, which may not be disastrous on its own, usually follows years of not decades of issues.



> You can start here: https://medium.com/@selamjie/remove-richard-stallman-appendi...

Start with what exactly? What is this in response to?


This is a follow-up post of the blogger that started the RMS witch hunt.


According to his closest colleagues, there was no witch hunt, but a high-profile incident that drew attention to literally decades of problems: https://medium.com/@thomas.bushnell/a-reflection-on-the-depa...


Sure there wasn't, no Vice and Forbes articles, no shitstorm all over Twitter and Mastodon, no angry blogposts full of bile spreading lies, no decades of problems suddenly drawing attention, no long HN threads. I must have imagined it.


Well, people actually familiar with the situation say that you have (at least the witch hunt aspect), so unless you know better than them, I'd say yeah.

According to those actually familiar with the case, certain recent actions by Stallman drew attention to his problematic decades-long behavior, which finally resulted, after decades of ignored complaints, in his dismissal.

There's no denying the well-established fact that the vast majority of cases of inappropriate behavior goes unpunished; in a few cases, some media attention can lead to action. The percentage of bad actors (and according to those closest to him, Stallman is a bad actor) that are finally disciplined remains, sadly, very low, but it's a start.

There are always hysterics who cry about a PC mob or witch hunts, but those who are interested in the facts, take the time to Google for relevant studies, consider the numbers, and as those shrill claims just don't square with the facts, so are best ignored.


i loved the line when she is returning home in her car, she isnt listening to songs or podcast but sitting in complete silence.


This article is complete garbage. I couldn't even read it in its entirety.

> If there are a large number of people in the United States who think that child pornography and sexual intercourse with minors should be legalized, this is the first I’m hearing of it

He never even said that!

This is just another SJW warrior pissed off about the fact that the reality differs from the fiction she has created for herself. People disagree, people are rude, and you WILL be offended sometimes, in the real world. And learning to deal with it is part of being an adult.


"[Possession of child pornography] should be legal as long as no one is coerced."

What do you think he really meant when he stated this?


It can mean for example, that having CP on your PC although highly immoral, should not be punished by law,reserving that fate for distributors and especially creators. This is an arbitrary distinction by law and even if it can be considered a regrettable opinion, nobody should face any consequence for having it.

A similar argument is already in practice in many places where illegal drugs possession is not punished (up to certain limits) but drug production is. Or when offering prostitution is not punished but requesting it is. Mind I am not saying they are exactly the same, I only showing that legal distinction is arbitrary and people should be free to comment on it.


> and even if it can be considered a regrettable opinion, nobody should face any consequence for having it.

I think this is the crux of the difference here. I don't think that expressing opinions should never have any consequences whatsoever. That's an absurd proposition to me. Maybe that's why I seem to be talking past people about this.


> nobody should face any consequence for having it.

Nobody ever faces any consequences for having any opinion, but many people very often face consequence for expressing some opinions, in some forums and under certain circumstances. For example, politician are commonly voted out of office, losing their job in the process, for expressing some opinions, and here in the UK even ordinary party members are commonly expelled for expressing some opinions. So even in free democracies, we accept and even expect certain consequences for voicing certain opinions, by certain people, in certain forums, and under certain circumstances. The decision of what those consequences are, and who, why and when they would face them is often made by a particular relevant institution. So it's a matter of degree, not of principle.


>I don't think that expressing opinions should never have any consequences whatsoever.

Which is irrelevant, as the parent didn't say that "expressing opinions should never have any consequences whatsoever".

He just said that having that particular opinion should not have any consequences.

That said,

>That's an absurd proposition to me.

What exactly is absurd about free speech and no consequences for expressing whatever opinion (even "Hitler's ideas were good") -- except when opinion becomes action?

Obviously nobody includes "people shouldn't dislike you for your opinions", or "your readership should not change for your opinions" when they say about no consequences.

They mean: not getting thrown to jail, not loosing your job, especially if it's totally unrelated with your opinions, not being ex-communicated, etc...

And if friends and family could also get sticks out of their asses, and e.g. be OK with you having a different opinion (e.g. being atheist or a Democrat or a Republican or whatever), and just judge you on what you actually do, that would be great too...

(of course you shouldn't write a post about how "X company is crap" if you work for X and not expect to get fired")


> (of course you shouldn't write a post about how "X company is crap" if you work for X and not expect to get fired")

I'll use this as my example for why I think it's absurd. Why do you think you shouldn't write that post? It's just an opinion, right?

If I understand you correctly then you're saying that there are some opinions that you could expect to be fired for expressing, even if they are completely legal to express. I agree with that.

Our definitions of what you can expect to have consequences however seems very different. And that's fine.


>Why do you think you shouldn't write that post? It's just an opinion, right?

Au contraire, I think you should write that post if you're of that opinion. And I think it would be beneficial to society to write it too.

What I wrote is that you shouldn't write it "and not expect to get fired" -- because that's what will probably happen. If it was to me, that shouldn't happen either. But a company is a private business, and the law allows them to fire people at will (I'd change that too, like we have it in Europe).

I stated though that you should not "lose your job [for your opinions], especially if it's totally unrelated with your opinions" (the job being unrelated to what you spoke, that is).


But surely you can see how that can become absurd.

Extreme example: An employee at your company keeps a blog about how having sex with children is perfectly fine, how black people are all stupid and how jews should be exterminated because Hitler had the right idea. Also that almost all accusations of rape are false because all women are lying bitches. All perfectly legal opinions that don't relate directly to his work.

Is it your position that none of this should have any effect on his position?


It depends on wether they act on it or not: do they have sex with children, treat black people at work as if they were stupid, or have problems working with jewish colleagues? Do their biases affect the workplace? To be clear, I believe that all our biases are present in the workplace, which is why the philosophy behind separation of power should apply, somehow. That being said, I'd never campaign or ask for the firing of a colleague because they held some racist ideas (I'm black), unless their actions or our interactions reflected said racist ideas.

I want to live in a free society where it's okay to be wrong.


And presumably you'd happily send your child to a pedophile's classroom as long as he only blogs about how pedophilia is completely fine?


> People disagree, people are rude, and you WILL be offended sometimes, in the real world. And learning to deal with it is part of being an adult.

This is a huge misunderstanding of the problem with "offensive".

Suppose that at a work meeting, I, the boss or a well-respected engineer, say, "French people are stupid, and their work is subpar; also, they're liars," or something of the sort. At the meeting none of the French employees are present and no one tells them about it. They are not offended personally at all. However, the damage of this offense is not diminished in the least by their absence. It creates a certain dynamic where their colleagues will disrespect them. They're feelings aren't hurt, but the harm against them is real. How are they supposed to "learn to deal with that," being adults and all?

This is what we SJWs mean when we say "offensive," or, more precisely, this is the main issue for us. Not that someone's feelings are hurt, but that they are diminished by the social dynamics that certain statements and behaviors set in motion.


The ability to brush off the words of a respected superior (parent, manager, supervisor, etc...) is not equally distributed in the population. Female students have a disadvantage over male students, especially in fields that are male-dominated (such as CS or Physics), LGBT members are even more disadvantaged. The harm is in the compounding of a hostile environment, and when the hostility comes from a person of considerable power such as the famous Stallman, the hit is all the worse. Don't take my word for it, there is a lot of research on these social dynamics.


> The ability to brush off the words of a respected superior (parent, manager, supervisor, etc...) is not equally distributed in the population. Female students have a disadvantage over male students, especially in fields that are male-dominated (such as CS or Physics), LGBT members are even more disadvantaged. The harm is in the compounding of a hostile environment, and when the hostility comes from a person of considerable power such as the famous Stallman, the hit is all the worse. Don't take my word for it, there is a lot of research on these social dynamics.

So the answer is that a respected person may not ever have any opinion that can be construed as offensive ever in their entire life? I mean in this case Stallman didn't even go to any effort to spread these ideas around. The fact that they are even known is due to the articles written about a few posts spread over the last couple decades.

Also I'm a little unclear about your references to female students and LGBT members...weren't the posts that people took offense to mostly regarding pedophelia? Did I miss his other writings?


>The ability to brush off the words of a respected superior (parent, manager, supervisor, etc...) is not equally distributed in the population. Female students have a disadvantage over male students, especially in fields that are male-dominated (such as CS or Physics), LGBT members are even more disadvantaged.

They might have been in the 70s and 80s. In 2019, if a LGBT member makes some threats, the institution will usually cave. In the old times people could lose their job if they were found out to be LGBT. Today people lose their jobs if they are accused from an LGBT perspective.

Pretending the power dynamics are the same as in decades past is hypocritical. Parents, relatives, and rural societies can still be (and are) cruel against LBGT people. Major companies, institutions, the law, modern media, etc? Not so much.

Too many people champion LGBT rights, feminism, etc today only because it's the default in "polite society" and the circles of power. If it was 1970 they would have followed the then mainstream treatment of women/LGBT, either like sheep or to their advantage -- as in fact, the majority (their parents) then did. Doesn't matter if they're different people than their parents -- the hypocrisy and the mechanism is the same is the same.

Only few courageous people have written/spoke out for decades about such matters, and now people come and use them to pursue careers, or gain followers -- and even more so, many use those causes to be cruel to people and gain power and social capital, the same way they would use their privilege against women/LGBT back in the day...

It's like Kurt Cobain seeing all the BS jocks that put him down sing "Smells like teen spirit"...

As for the "lots of research", in social studies it takes time to catch up with society (and it follows what brings in grants). There was lots of research back in the day too...


> Don't take my word for it, there is a lot of research on these social dynamics.

Well unless you cite the research, the only option you've given us is to take your word.


yes there's something stinky about the recent "movements". Even though I'm sure most population trends like this had a similar blind bias to it.


Below is a quote from an interview, where Norman Finkelstein discusses the subject of thought policing. Norman Finkelstein has of course been affected by the defense of political correctness, as documented in the documentary "The Trials of Norman Finkelstein."

"What he should have done was in my opinion deliver one policy speech. 'This is where we stand on antisemitism. This is where we stand on the mechanisms for dealing with antisemitism in our party. Case closed.' The other major mistake he made was .. a complete abandonment of the principle of free speech. People have a right to say and think whatever they want. 'I'm a member of the Labour Party. OK. I subscribe to Labour Party's political platform. That's what makes me a member.' But that doesn't mean you have the right to troll my Facebook postings, you have the right to vet everything I say or post on Instagram. I mean that's Romania under Ceausescu, that's North Korea under Kim Il Sung. That's now going to be the mandate of the Labour Party? To be trolling in your thoughts and ideas? To see whether you are an antisemite? Everybody, including you, including your camera people harbors some antisemitic stereotypes... OK. Who cares? I mean It's very hard to extirpate, ... because it's rooted in thousands of years. I mean it's everywhere. It's part of the atmosphere, it's part of the environment, it's part of the history. Do I not harbor any anti-black stereotypes any racist stereotypes? Do I harbor no sexist stereotypes? No! And now we are going to have a Labour Party, which is going to [?] the depths of your conscience, ... looking for some evidence of antisemitism, ...? It's complete lunacy and it's a complete repudiation, abandonment of the most fundamental principles of what's called the Enlightenment beginning with as the Germans put it in that nice German folk song Die Gedanken sind Frei (Thoughts are free). People have the right to think what they believe, and since thought is inseparable from speech, you have the right to think and speak as you please. And if you don't like what a person is saying then you have the right either not to listen or try to persuade the person ... but what you don't have the right to do is penalize people, punish people, expel people for their thoughts... It's a complete political disaster because all it does is it forces people to repress what they're thinking until a demagogue comes along and starts saying what you're thinking, what you were forced to repress. And instead of your erroneous thoughts having been answered, the fact that you were forced to repress them, it validates it for you. ... And then the demagogue comes along and starts to exploit all of those repressed thoughts. So morally it's unacceptable to try to police people's thoughts and politically it's a complete disaster." https://youtu.be/OPYfLY2cAi4?t=616

Update: There is also that famous video where Finkelstein talks about the "crocodile tears" of a German student taking about the son of Holocaust survivors being ... offensive. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6O5zgXeCynQ&t=209s


I agree with everything you said.

I just hope that we applied the same rationale in an even-keeled and level-headed manner in other cases where similar concerns are raised.

I hope we don't make exceptions for our favorite pet causes no matter how close to the heart and rule against those who were found to have either voiced opinions or acted in an antagonistic manner to such causes, even when those decisions are thorny and sentimental.[1][2][3]

[1] Mozilla CEO resigns, opposition to gay marriage drew fire

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mozilla-ceo-resignation/m...

[2] Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich resigns in wake of backlash to Prop 8

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/apr/03/mozilla-c...

[3] Did Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich Deserve To Be Removed From His Position?

https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2014/04/11/did-mozilla-ce...

edit: typo


I find those completely different cases. Stallman didn't say what accusations attributed to him at all, and at least some stuff that is thrown around is clearly a misinterpretation for anyone who knows his autistic nature and context of being a person many people joke about. This situation is hardly related to the Eich one.


Well fucking said


I'll speak up: I'm happy that Stallman resigned from his positions, but the final straw for me was the surfacing of Stallman's pedophilic musings over the years. You left that part out.


Actually, no, he didn't - he lead with it.

> Diversity -- but no diversity of opinion...

Is there any sort of evidence of action? Him having had sex with children?

If anything, it's you who left out the part where Stallman already said, before this incindent, that he was wrong. I.e. he said it because he actually changed his mind and believes he was wrong, not in order to "save face" or clear his image or avoid scandal or whatnot.


If someone tells me they think that it's sometimes fine to have sex with children, I don't need any evidence of action to want to distance myself from that person.

> If anything, it's you who left out the part where Stallman already said, before this incindent, that he was wrong. I.e. he said it because he actually changed his mind and believes he was wrong, not in order to "save face" or clear his image or avoid scandal or whatnot.

He posted that after the storm had started, three days before his resignation. A few days after the "Remove Richard Stallman" Medium post was written.

Do you think that's a complete coincidence? Has nothing to do with saving face and only his desire to explain that he had changed his mind?


>they think that it's sometimes fine to have sex with children

From what I can tell from the snippets posted here, he isn't saying it's fine, he's saying he's seen insufficient evidence to form an opinion - and in such a state, he resists those who would force one on him with faulty reasoning. Or, to put it another way, he views morality with three responses [yes, no, I don't know], which causes friction with people who view it with two:

"Is involuntary pedophilia bad?" [yes] "Is all pedophilia bad?" [idk - insufficient evidence on voluntary or its inherent lack of existence] "Do you think that all pedophilia is bad?" [no - position held is idk, not yes] "Therefore, you think all pedophilia is good." [no - position held is idk, not yes]

A similar comparison might be being asked if you enjoyed an unreleased book, then using "no[, I haven't read it and formed an opinion]" to justify "you think the book is bad."

ETA: also, if he hasn't said more on the subject in recent years, it's silly to assume that he necessarily still hold these views or lack thereof.


I don't think there's anything I can say to reply to this, since the strawman you've raised is not at all similar to what my views are. And I generally think it's a cheap trick to assume that other people disagree because their minds are too simple to comprehend.


> Do you think that's a complete coincidence?

You are right - I was under the impression that was posted earlier, but he posted that immediately after the email thread was "leaked" to Vice. It's no coincidence; I still think that, given his previous as well as ulterior behavior, as well as the timing, that it's a clarification he felt he needed to make (given the public accusations that started pouring). I.e. it still doesn't look to me like a dishonest attempt to save face by hiding his controversial opinions... he reacted too quick with that, while ignoring everything else.


What you call "pedophilic musings", I call natural thinking process that probably every critical thinker went through in their life. It even reaches standard socially-acceptable conclusion - it just took him way longer than usual (which frankly is hardly surprising).


Yeah, took him until a few days after the whole storm had started. Good timing to have such a profound reversal in your view on pedophilia.


So? Stallman is the last person on earth I'd suspect of opportunistic opinion changing. The whole life of this person revolves around being stubborn in his point of view regardless of what others think about it. I've seen many people suggesting that that last note is a kind of "damage control", but that's probably the least believable accusation when it comes to rms.


That's fine, I'm just skeptical. I'm sure he'd understand.


Because he probably forgot about it until then. He comments on half a dozen things a day, out of tens of thousands of comments over 2 decades only 2 were about this issue so it's not as if it was a firmly held personal conviction.


I don't know about you, but I don't think forgetting that you believe sex with children can be fine is any better really.


So is musing illegal now or what?

Can people still have controversial opinions without getting their lives destroyed?


Stallman wasn't convicted of any crime, so please drop the "illegal" thing. He can have whatever controversial opinions he wants.


He can have whatever controversial opinions he wants.

Not without losing his job, apparently.


Yes? Is it surprising to you that words can have consequences up to and including your employers no longer wanting to employ you?


The problem with your line of thinking is that it discourages people from expressing their opinions if they deviate from the opinion of the majority.

If people need to be concerned about having their lives ruined over what they write in an email, or an online forum, can’t you see what kind of chilling effect this has?


I mean of course words have consequences. Denying it is just absurd. If an employee of yours regularly expresses his opinion that your children are sexy and he'd like to have sex with them, what would you do about it that does not in any way discourage him from expressing his opinion? Surely you can't reprimand him or fire him.

Or an employee that regularly talks publicly about how horrible your company is and that no one should work there. Can't discourage any expression of opinion, so what can you do?


So would you agree if your employer fires you because of this chain of posts?


No, but I'd understand if I had been publicly saying that sometimes there's nothing wrong with having sex with children. When I say that words can have consequences, it matters which words you use.


How about "looks". Is it surprising to you that physical aspect can have consequences up to and including your employers no longer wanting to employ you?

Because what you said is such a broad generalization, that it feels "obviously true". But if you object to a person not being hired because she's black (although that's personally reasonable in some very limited circumstances) - then maybe you should object too for a person being dismissed on words completely unrelated to the work he was supposed to perform.


If you ran a company, would you make sure that none of your employees ever face consequences for expressing their opinions outside of work?


I would try. It would be almost impossible in the current climate though, so I would be unlikely to succeed given that I myself could be removed over my position as soon as someone says something distasteful and I'm accused of either supporting it or creating a hostile environment for other employees. But the world I want to live in is one where employers take no action whatsoever for opinions expressed off the clock.


So ideally you'd have no qualms with a preschool teacher who blogs about how sex with children is perfectly fine in their spare time?

Or an employee who regularly publishes manifestos on why people of certain skin colors should be murdered and exterminated?

These are extreme examples of course, but you are saying that ideally no one should experience any consequences for expressing any opinion outside of work.


Ideally, yes.

It's not that they should face no consequences - they should face consequences in the circles in which they express those views, ideally in the form of people disagreeing with them, but possibly also wanting to dissociate with them. If they try to keep those views out of the classroom, I don't have a problem with it.

In the classroom, you are the instrument of a consensus view. You must do your job. If you do it well, that's great. Your views outside the classroom should be irrelevant, and I can't help but notice that a lot of the time when people get in trouble for their views outside of work, it's because someone de-anonymised them.

We cannot have a world where people's actual opinions are forced to be equal to those their employers would be comfortable with. Your extreme examples are extreme indeed, but there are many examples, particularly in authoritarian regimes, where the extreme view is the correct one. So extreme-ness is not a good metric for whether views should be allowed or not.

I think the solution for everyone is to stay silent, and to discuss their views anonymously online. Their views will still have force at the ballot box - as they did at the last election (as much as I did not like the outcome, it was evidence that social shaming has limited power at changing how people vote). We should be suspicious of attempts to de-anonymise the internet.

Basically, dissent is important. So important that it is worth tolerating bad views to ensure dissent is not suppressed when it is needed.

Everyone who pictures the cancel-culture norms resulting in some sort of paradise where everyone believes nice things are delusional, they are simply ceding power to those who will use it for personal gain, and giving the currently powerful the tools to to cement that power.


That's fair, and thanks for the explanation. I couldn't disagree more but that's normal.

In this extreme example of mine, would you be happy as a parent to have your children in this teacher's classroom? Would you be taking part in a free speech suppressing pitchfork mob if you were to call the school and express your opinion that you don't want your child to be taught by a pedophile?


It's completely inappropriate that you use such extreme examples in a thread about RMS. Implicitly you link him to this. I would fire you...


The link is entirely of your making, I even explicitly stated that I'm using an extreme example.


That's true but something always sticks.


One could argue that in the "court of public opinion" he very much was.


Yes, his actions and words had consequences. Is this a new idea to you?


Please provide a link. I’ve seen this repeated, but no source. I don’t necessarily doubt it, but if you don’t provide a link your basically committing slander.


“I am sceptical 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.”

“There is little evidence to justify the widespread assumption that willing participation in pedophilia hurts children.“

I can give you the links but it's quite easy to Google.

Edit since I dug them up for another comment:

https://stallman.org/archives/2006-may-aug.html#05%20June%20...

https://stallman.org/archives/2012-nov-feb.html#04_January_2...


It's well-known he's since recanted his thoughts in those posts:

https://stallman.org/archives/2019-jul-oct.html#14_September...

Are people allowed to change their mind after having conversations that convince them that their position is wrong?


Of course people are allowed to change their minds. But forgive me if I take a skeptical view of someone in their sixties suddenly saying "Contrary to my writings on the subject, I've recently learned that having sex with children is wrong"

Especially if that recanting happens to take place right as the shitstorm about his writings and behavior has started.


Sure, but it's not like he was actively defending his position until the point of his public persecution. They've been the only 2 comments that I'm aware of his thoughts on the subject. Granted they were very controversial thoughts to be ever be trying to question in a public statement. Which makes me think he has no fear/reservations of openly saying what he believes at any time and is not socially-aware of the consequences of his statements, either because he's eccentric, socially awkward, or just lacking in empathy.


> Which makes me think he has no fear/reservations of openly saying what he believes at any time and is not socially-aware of the consequences of his statements, either because he's eccentric, socially awkward, or just lacking in empathy.

I pretty much fully agree with this. I don't think he's evil or anything. The consequences of his statements just finally caught up with him, and in a big way since he seems to have had a strong "It's just how RMS is, he's such a great leader, just ignore him or steer clear of him or whatever" shield around him for all those years.


I saw it, posted on a mailing list. Old stuff that he according to some distanced himself from lately.

He was merely voicing the opinion "if all is consensual what's the problem"... An opinion he changed from later.


Spot on.

You have just outlined the double-speak of the SV technocracy, which have imposed these hidden codes on those that they disagree with. Mind you that the media has now amplified this and have used all of this to create a new enemy called Richard Stallman. As long as this appalling cancel-culture behaviour stops, he certainly won't be the last one to fall victim to these purity tests.

Absolutely hypocritical indeed.


from reading just this comment, i would have assumed that stallman was stripped of all his land and titles and made to starve under a bridge.

what really happened was that he went from holding leadership positions in three prominent institutions to just one. it's easy to have strong feelings about these issues, but let's try to keep things in perspective.


He pretty much was / is. He lived at MIT, his life’s work was GNU and the FSF. All three were taken away, and more than that - people were excited and driven to do this.

He’s had to move, he’s lost all his potions, etc.

There was very little discourse and punishment was swift. That’s not really the way justice should be served. This man (RMS), essentially spent his life fighting for others. He was thrown to the wolves without discussion.


stallman is still the head of the GNU project.


That may not be the case...

We don’t know if it’s true but:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21103133

In either case, to your comment, he was stripped of his life. To say otherwise is disingenuous.

It’d be like saying: I took your house and job, but left you the car.

That’d still be striping you of land and title (to your comment)


currently, https://stallman.org/ says:

> I continue to be the Chief GNUisance of the GNU Project. I do not intend to stop any time soon.

apparently the site was previously defaced by an FSF employee.


Apparently to zero, and if we're to believe the article, he's been made to starve under the bridge too (if I'm to believe the countless HN threads about homelessness in the US, this is how being homeless looks like).


Unless something has changed recently, stallman is still the head of the GNU project (https://www.fudzilla.com/news/49493-richard-stallman-says-i-...).

and according to stallman's personal site, he's found interim housing (https://stallman.org/).


That's both good news. Thanks for the update.


Food is relatively accessible in the US for everyone but there are of course difficulties for people who need help knowing about the resources available to them or practical difficulties in taking advantage of those resources (lack of transportation, scheduling difficulties with children or one or more jobs, etc.)

Accommodations underneath bridges and even worse places for our homeless are unfortunately a widespread issue in the US.


He was fired for taking an unpopular stance about a very subjective topic in a private mailing list. He isn't a law maker or a sociologist. He is a technologist. He isn't obliged to have a socially correct opinion.

You are right. Let's try to keep things in perspective.


He lost his job from this. It is a big deal.


Keeping things in perspective, do you really believe what is happening now isn't going to ruin Stallman's life?


> You have just outlined the double-speak of the SV technocracy

It's not just them, this seems to be a far leftist direction in general.


This is positive freedom liberals vs negative freedom liberals. The positive freedom liberals believe in creating an equal playing field for all types of people at the cost of individual freedom. The negative freedom liberals believe in maximizing individual freedom at the cost of an equal playing field.

For the positive freedom liberals, diversity of minorities must be enforced and any opinion that may hinder them must be silenced. However, this is taken to a logical extreme.

Every identity must be inclusive and forced to be inclusive and accomodating even if they may be a minority themself.

In the logical extreme, fairness under the legal court is thrown out because the legal court is viewed as corrupt from being staffed with corrupt figures favoring the majority identity.

Extrajudicial means are employed to force minority identities upward because they don't believe that the negative freedom of the free market can allow for that.

Eccentricity is still allowed, however it is a different kind than the one of computer nerds like Richard Stallman. Non-conforming gender identities or images of body beauty are a-okay but not awkward men. The acceptance of the awkward men were a triumph for the awkward men against the neurotypical men, but now they have become seen as the enemy against other minorities because now their cringe-inducing awkwardness is seen as a barrier to entry that drives off neurotypical minorities.

This is all really musical chairs operating under an inherently unjust system and instead of challenging that system, they only challenge the "bad" actors and hope that somehow the system will become more friendly for everyone.


Counter points:

Diversity - I'm fine with a lack of diversity of opinions on whether or not minors can be willing participants in pedophile relationships.

Inclusiveness - Really? Nobody ostracized him because he is an aspie. It is disingenuous to even say that.

Fairness - Nobody fired him, he resigned and let's be honest, the backlash he received was fairly minor. Yes old statements were dug up, but most people are not okay with the statements he made then, they just didn't know about them.

> holier-than-thou hypocritical tell-tales and people who enjoy yielding power over others by drawing lynch-mobs

Who does this label apply to? Anyone who gets upset at a public figure's viewpoints? Where are you personally drawing the line between acceptable and unacceptable.

This isn't just about Epstein. Epstein is what brought Stallman's views to the spotlight, but the focus is primarily on former stances on pedophilia he made that are far more damaging things to say than whatever people were saying he said about Epstein or the girls involved with him. Stallman doesn't seem to believe that people can be groomed into appearing like they want to do something when they really don't or aren't aware of the consequences of it.


I think you're right to criticise "cancel culture", but I think (absent of actual law breaking), it needs to be as absolute of free speech.

i.e. people shouldn't just protest it for people they like, but people they hate or vehemently disagree with as well.


Yes, we should fire people who are borderline pro-paedophilia and are actually pro-rape. Also, just read the accounts of women who have had the bad luck of directly working with Stallman. We’re all grownups, at some point we should all be responsible for what we say and what we do.


Stallman isn't pro-paedophilia. He stated years ago that he didn't see enough evidence to believe sexual relations with children are harmful for them if they are consensual. That's _not_ believing sexual relations with children can be ok if they are consensual, that's believing you don't have enough evidence to believe the opposite.

And why are you arguing he is pro-rape?


If you need “evidence” for that you are pro-paedophilia, a child cannot give consent to an adult in order to have sex, this is like an axiom of our society. He questioned that young lady’s testimony (Giuffre I think she is called) by saying: “the most plausible scenario is that she presented herself to him as entirely willing“. When you throw in a “plausible” just to whitewash your dead friend you are pro-rape.

This whole conversation has left a really bad taste for me regarding the HN community, it really sickens me when I see that so many users in here are trying to justify pro-paedophilia quotes, I thought that the lowest this community went was when it witch-hunted a poor guy after the Boston terrorist attack some years ago, but this is on a new other (and sicker) level.


Our culture has made a very bright line decision that sex with minors is unacceptable. Expressing doubt about this cultural norm, or especially advocating against it, is considered unacceptable. Of course one can argue with the merits of those two facts, but they are plainly true and fairly widely accepted.

The very concept of statutory rape reinforces how clear this judgment is. The reference to "statutory" means that the mere facts of the act taking place mean that the conduct is off limits. Things like "consent" or even a misrepresentation of the person's age are generally considered irrelevant.

As a society we've decided that there aren't really exceptions to this. If sex with minors occurs it's not OK, there isn't much need to further investigate why it happened.

Stallman, and anyone else commenting here, has really no basis to claim ignorance of this phenomenally clear social norm, which if broken will result in being fired from just about any public facing institution. It's on a pretty short list of such norms, alongside things like displaying your genitals in a board meeting, ones highly principled views on nudism notwithstanding.

While I appreciate the efforts to make this into some kind of principled argument, I don't find "first they came for the people advocating for sex with minors" to be particularly compelling.

Nobody has suggested he be fined or jailed. His actions just make him unqualified to be a leader. The other people in those organization do get to have a say too you know.


If this social norm is so "phenomenally clear", then why are there such wildly different ages of consent even among western countries and US states? It seems strange that the ability to consent magically appears the day you turn (say) 18. I mean, the law has to draw a line somewhere, but intellectuals like RMS should be allowed to talk about such things without being cast out of civilized society.


RMS wasn’t an academic with tenure. Those are the only intellectuals who are free to discuss controversial things, apart from people with FU money, or a complete lack of fucks to give, like RMS.


> Our culture has made a very bright line decision

"Age of consent laws vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, though most jurisdictions set the age of consent in the range 14 to 18"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_consent

Things just got a lot murkier, didn't they. Actually, they have always been a lot murkier. Because "our culture" isn't actually homogenous. And these things have changed a lot over time.

> Expressing doubt about this cultural norm

Well, which norm excactly? The one at 14? Or the one at 18?

"some jurisdictions may also make allowances for minors engaged in sexual acts with each other, rather than a single age."

Murkier.

"There are many "grey areas" in this area of law, some regarding unspecific and untried legislation, others brought about by debates regarding changing societal attitudes, and others due to conflicts between federal and state laws. These factors all make age of consent an often confusing subject, and a topic of highly charged debates"

Are all the people in a society that has the 14 boundary horrible beyond the pale?

Or maybe things are a bit more complicated than you make them out to be.


So people were right to suggest that black people need special policing at the time when it was the right political message, or Bernie Sanders was quite mistaken to advocate for gay rights at a time when it was a bad issue for any candidate. Many Americans still believe that black people have special criminal characteristics or that homosexuality is a severe spiritual evil. Perhaps more social harmony could’ve been achieved had we not advocated for convenient theories of the time.

It’s history which has the opportunity of final judgement, and it almost always looks dimly on the moral sensibilities of their predecessors.

Somewhere is a metaphorical Bernie whose career has disappeared, but I’m glad for those people who didn’t hop on political opportunism just because as a messaging and thought leader it’s the strong move which reads the room.


No, gay rights and equal rights for minorities are admirable.

Advocating for adults to rape children, on the other hand, is reprehensible.

Your argument appears to be that there is no way to tell the difference between good things and bad things.

My counterargument is that there are ways to tell the difference. And that when you do, you'll conclude that adults raping children is one of the bad things.


I had sexual relations with a 23 year old when I was 16. Not by a long shot would I describe that as rape. I also then and now would not consider myself a "child" at 16.

This is a very new and very strange trend to redefine all teenagers as children and the moral panic around this is interesting to say the least. The extreme backlash against any slight questioning of this is likewise something people should be skeptical about.

Your counter-examples are historically poor choices as 50 years ago (less in many parts of the US) the majority of people would have seen homosexuality as a perversion indistinguishable from pedophilia (attraction to pre-pubescent children, not 17 years olds), and miscegenation, a word we don't even use any more, would have held the same status if you go back just a bit further.

Again, 50 years ago you could just have been one of the people who would have said "... you'll conclude that sodomy is one of the bad things" or go back another 50 and "... you'll conclude that intermixing pure blood is one of the bad things"

This moral absolutism is definitely not part of a "bright line" in our culture, and its sudden and rapid emergence needs both more questioning and more understanding. Of course anyone who proposes this is a "child rapist" in your view so we likely won't get much discourse on this topic anytime soon.


It may be unintentional on your part but your post seems to suggest that rms argued that adults raping children was acceptable.

If that was intentional the you are lying.

If it was not intentional the it's ironic that you are so sloppy and cavalier in your wording on a topic which is all about precision in language.

Please stop.


He did argue that adults raping children was acceptable, many times over the course of years. There's quotes in this thread.

Any sex between adults and minors is rape, that's what the concept of statutory rape means. He has expressed that those interactions could be mitigated by "willing" and "voluntary" actions by the children, and that in those situations there's no real harm done.

That's literally what he said. He's completely and totally within his rights to say that. I will support his rights to the death. But that saying shit like that is going to get you socially shunned, predictably, and I'm fine with a society that does that.

Society, and the groups he leads, have the right to find those statements reprehensible and cut ties with him. And I think they should.

I mean what's the counterargument that you're making, that he only kind of implied that raping kids was OK? That he merely insinuated it? That his suggestion that pedophilia was not that big of a deal fell short of actual advocacy?

Assuming you successfully win the argument that there's an important distinction here how does that change the answer?

The core point I've attempted to make is that if you write blog posts about how kids getting fucked by adults is no big deal you might lose your job.

Do you find that concept confusing? I bet you don't. Nobody really does. He knew he was going to make people upset saying that and didn't care. That, in fact, is likely why he did it.

Eventually, his actions had consequences.


>Any sex between adults and minors is rape, that's what the concept of statutory rape means. He has expressed that those interactions could be mitigated by "willing" and "voluntary" actions by the children, and that in those situations there's no real harm done.

You do understand that rape can't be voluntary, and voluntary sex is not a rape?

>Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person's consent.

It's in the definition. If there is a consent, there is no rape.

Hence, Stallman is not advocating for rape.


> Any sex between adults and minors is rape, that's what the concept of statutory rape means.

You seem to classify statutory rape as a subcategory of "rape", and thus I am assuming you would be perfectly content calling anyone convicted of statutory rape a rapist. This is semantically unhelpful. "Rape" is widely understood to mean violent rape, and statutory rape is legally (and to most people, morally) the lesser crime.

There may be cases where even you might find it desirable to make a distinction in language between someone advocating for "violent rape is ok", and someone arguing for example that the existing age of consent in their country should not be increased, which requires acknowledging that the two are really distinct things.


Gay rights are admirable to you. Rights for minorities like Latinos or blacks are admirable to you. But you don’t speak for places like America, which is diverse enough to politically contemplate whether gay people should be married or have kids, or whether Muslims and immigrants cause no-go zones.

Those politicians which advocate for antagonism against Latinos and other minorities are reading the room too.


That's correct. They're admirable to me.

Conversely the idea of adults fucking children is not admirable to MIT. So they fired him.

Nobody's talking about censorship, or politicians. We're talking about an organization saying hey we can't have a guy that seems to think adults fucking children is OK being our leader or representative. That's definitely within their rights.

You can try to die on some hill of principle here but 10/10 times if you write blog posts saying something like "hey, so pedophilia is not that big of a deal right?" you're going to have some issues in the professional world.

Not sure why everyone is pretending to be confused.


> So you're saying that the only people qualified to be "a leader" are the ones who subscribe to your particular flavour of groupthink and no other? Nice thought policing there.

> Yes, I believe publicly advocating for certain things can severely break cultural norms and make it impossible for you to effectively hold a leadership role in an educational or advocacy setting.

I'd characterize your general approach to the issue as "We don't need to debate the morality of a leader because speaking against norms is already disqualifying."

So do you want to look at a leader based on whether they simply violate social thinking, or do you want to discuss "fucking children"? But if I'm not mistaken, just discussing this matter for you is a kind of disqualification. And here you are, basically saying that other people are advocating for pedophelia and fucking kids. Is that your instinct for speech? Do you just want to talk <at> people?

Bernie Sanders spoke for gay rights at a time when it was a bad issue for any candidate. The advice for him as a campaign consultant would be to shutup, wouldn't it? Is this not a leadership sin?


Yes Bernie Sanders spoke up for gay rights. That was good, because gay rights are a good thing.

Pol Pot advocated genocide. That was bad because genocide is bad.

Richard Stallman argued that pedophila was OK.

Pedophilia is not OK. It’s really far from OK. Hence the problem.

Perhaps you think it’s actually OK as well. Then the two of you agree. If you also advocate for pedophilia in public you may find people don’t want to hire you as well.

All this talk of formerly unpopular opinions and leadership only makes sense if you think that the underlying problematic opinion will be vindicated by history, like the other examples cited.

I think it won’t.

You’re saying this:

> We don't need to debate the morality of a leader because speaking against norms is already disqualifying

Nope. Didn’t say that. I said this specific norm is well founded and valid.

You can’t debate the morality of a leader’s statements in the abstract. There’s no generic class of “norms” there’s just the facts in question.

Some statements are morally defensible, some aren’t.

Saying it’s OK for adults to have sex with children is a problem, it’s gong to upset people and make them not trust you and be leery of having you represent them.

As literally everyone knows.


> Things like "consent" or even a misrepresentation of the person's age are generally considered irrelevant

Legally, frequently you are correct, but not always culturally. To leave Minsky aside, I believe a lot of people accept the misrepresentation argument even when the law doesn't, usually when the ages are close and the minor is somewhere they shouldn't have been allowed. The typical example would be a 20 year old meeting a 17 year old at an 18+ event.

Stallman is an ivory tower thinker. His inability to accept the societal rules you mention are core to him being Stallman. At some point he seems to have decided that his moral philosophy revolves around the concept of harm rather than rules. This is what led him to his earlier posts on incest, sex with minors and necrophilia, if nobody is being harmed then in what way is it wrong? The most obvious answer is that Stallman is incorrect that nobody is being harmed, however I should point out that these topics are actually discussed in related academia (the incest and necrophilia ones are more popular because they doesn't garner the same backlash).

The Minsky issue is complicated by the difference between what Stallman was defending and what now seems to be the actual case. As far as I can tell Giuffre was actually 18 (she was 17 the previous year when she was on the same flight as Minsky) and it seems she didn't actually have sex with Minsky (this isn't clear, she never actually said she did and apparently Minsky mentioned the encounter to people at the time and said he rejected her).

However, Stallman was arguing for the facts as he thought they were, which was that Minsky did have sex with her when she was 17, with her instigating things at Epstein's behest. Stallman was again engaging his ivory tower, questioning how we can call him a rapist if she was 17 but not if she was 18, and how can we blame him for things he didn't know (that she was being coerced). This is exactly how we already knew Stallman thinks. He has ignored some things here, such as what 75 year old Minsky could reasonably believe was going on when an 18 year old came on to him on Epstein's island, but they're facts that could have been pointed out to him and might have changed his opinion. Or perhaps not, if that situation happened to Stallman he might indeed think that finally, after all these years, he has found the cute 18 year old who is into geriatric nerds.


> Our culture has made a very bright line decision that sex with minors is unacceptable.

It is not at all a very bright line when you can legally have sex with a consenting 16 year old in West Wendover, NV but be a criminal for the same act with a 17 year old in what is essentially the same city of Wendover, UT.

Assuming that by "bright line" you're not referring to the boundary separating Nevada from Utah.

But all of that is just the disparity between two states in the same country! That "bright line" gets even fuzzier when you factor in the global age of consent: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Age_of_Consent.png


Our culture has made a very bright line decision that sex with minors is unacceptable.

I wish that were true, but the sufficiently well-connected and powerful continue not to be brought to account.


>Nobody has suggested he be fined or jailed. His actions just make him unqualified to be a leader. The other people in those organization do get to have a say too you know.

Exactly. There's no need to pretend, as some other comments in here are doing, that he's being hauled off by some sort of cultural police force.


>The other people in those organization do get to have a say too you know.

True, and when squinting, the scenario is understandable: "High profile employee repeatedly receives negative press, so the organization doesn't want to be associated."

They're free to employ and endorse, or end a relationship, with anyone at will (modulo labor laws). The worrying thing here is, despite decades of bad behavior, they didn't distance themselves until he expressed unpopular opinions picked up by social media.

It's like the saying, "The ends don't justify the means." This smacks of letting social media voices have a say in staff choices. Even if most people agree with the outcome, it's the wrong process.

Edits: removing tangents to focus on the points.


> True, and when squinting, the scenario is understandable:

> “High profile employee repeatedly receives negative press [ABOUT HIM BEING OK WITH STATUTORY RAPE AND PEDOPHILIA] so the organization doesn't want to be associated."

Yeah that’s pretty much it.

Yet here we all are, with so many people pretending not to understand it.


I don’t think Minsky is accused of statutory rape as the age of consent was 16 at the time of the accused event. So at the time, in that territory, sex with minors was legal.

Personally I don’t think it’s ethical for an adult to sex with minors. But many countries and states have laws allowing sex with minors. Maybe those communities think it’s ethical, maybe it’s just one of those historical laws they haven’t gotten around to updating with modern ethics.

So I don’t this this topic really has anything to do with pedophilia and how terrible that is.


> His actions just make him unqualified to be a leader.

So you're saying that the only people qualified to be "a leader" are the ones who subscribe to your particular flavour of groupthink and no other? Nice thought policing there.


Yes, I believe publicly advocating for certain things can severely break cultural norms and make it impossible for you to effectively hold a leadership role in an educational or advocacy setting.

Are you arguing that no social norms violation should ever result in being fired? You can go to work and scream at people at the top of your lungs? Tell the receptionist you’re glad she had a miscarriage? Use the sink as a urinal?

Assuming we agree that at least one or two things may get you fired from your job, it’s then possible to follow up with some observations:

1) Saying it’s ok for adults to fuck minors is definitely on that list

2) I’m ok with that


Correct me if i'm wrong but it sounds like you're trying to say 'People who have a leadership role in an educational or advocacy setting are not entitled to have a certain opinion or preference that does not fall within the lines our "society" has drawn out to be normal?'

AFAIK there are plenty of high positioned people in important positions whom have a special preference to something. Whether it be a kink or a total different view/approach on certain topics.

Does that mean we're going to hunt down every one in a high position because they think outside of the box? Because they have a preference to something society seems not normal? Does that mean we'll need to hunt down every thought leader/high positioned CEO/CFO/COO/board member with public appearance that enjoys the occassional whipping?

This topic is pretty disturbing to me personally. Qualified, intelligent people are criticized/publicly shamed for having thoughts/opinions/preferences which have absolutely nothing to do with their occupation.

It feels to me as if we're, as a society, doing anything we can to remove people who think/feel differently from what they're actually good at/dedicated their life to. My thoughts/opinions might not stroke with what people here have written, if what has been reported is true the behavior is not OK but does that mean the man needs to be removed from a position he dedicated his life to?


I mean the guy can think whatever the fuck he wants. He can even tell his friends. He can use nipple clamps and be consentingly spanked with kitchen implements. Nobody gives a shit about any of that stuff.

But if you publicly say stuff like this:

"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 that everyone age 14 or above ought to take part in sex, though not indiscriminately. (Some people are ready earlier.)"

"I am skeptical of the claim that voluntarily [sic] 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."

Then other people might not want to make the highly discretionary decision to let you, specifically, run their organization.


There are many countries in the world where the age of consent is 14. It was so in Canada, our physical and cultural neighbor, until 2008. Why is it so wildly unacceptable opinion to question an arbitrary line of US law?


What about other topics like alcohol? Can I think that the 21 years old limit is weird?


But he was the leader of the free software foundation. Free as in speech.


[flagged]


The age of consent in China is 14. I am assuming that most people there are OK with this.

So, in your opinion, Chinese people are automatically disqualified for any and all leadership positions?


[flagged]


If you can't make your points respectfully, please stop posting here until you can.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I don't think it's disrespectful to call out someone who has previously made the _exact same_ mis-representation of a highly contentious issue as acting in bad faith and thus untrustworthy.

There is a concerted and prolonged attempt underway to completely muddy the waters around this issue and either through emotion or insincerity this poster has been hammering away at what they are aware is at best a distortion of the facts.


[flagged]


If you can't make your points respectfully, please stop posting here until you can.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> no social norms violation

There is a difference between disagreement with a norm (or, in this case, a hypothetical argument that doesn't advocate either way), and a violation. When did Stallman advocate against "fuck[ing] minors"?


Yes, we are saying that only people who subscribe to the "don't rape children" flavour of groupthink should be respected in public discourse.


Gaslighting. Stallman never advocated for raping minors.


He's made multiple comments spread over many years that make it clear he disagrees with the core concept of statutory rape, by repeatedly invoking "consent" or "willingness" and similar.

The whole point of the concept is that there's no such thing as willingness or consent with minors, that the very nature of the act having taken place constitutes rape.

A statement like "there is little evidence to justify the widespread assumption that willing participation in pedophilia hurts children" means he's saying adults raping children is OK.

He literally wrote that on his blog. It's still there.[0]

I mean, what do you think is going to happen when you do stuff like that?

He definitely has a legal right to do it, and on that I'd defend him to the death. But he doesn't have a legal right to work at MIT or anywhere else that's not comfortable with a leader who says stuff like this.

[0] https://stallman.org/archives/2012-nov-feb.html#04_January_2...


Within recent memory, the age of legal marriage has been as low as 14 in certain US states. New York State raised the minimum from 14 to 18 in 2017:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-york-ends-child-marriage-ra...

The same article notes that two states, North Carolina and Alaska have a specified minimum age of 14, and 27 states lack any specific minimum age.

I'm not arguing that the low (or no) minimum age laws are right. I am pointing out that standards, and laws, within the US, and within the past few years, have included marriage, and presumably sexual relations, among minors.

That has been changing, but it's a change that's well within the lifetimes of many adults. Richard Stallman, aged 66, has lived through a period of pretty profound change around many of these norms. Again, not to excuse behaviour, but possibly to explain a possible basis for it.

Strong cultural shifts, should you have the pleasure of living through some yourself, are remarkable to witness and experience.


you're completely misrepresenting the point.

That leaders should ascribe to societal norms is not always a good outcome. If you want to have revolution, revolutionaries needs to be in place of power/leadership. A society needs to have a mechanism to have such revolutions, or stagnate.


for some value of "rape" and "children"; Are Europeans child rape apologists for having lower ages of consent?


> Nice thought policing there.

I'd call it gatekeeping. I hear woke people are against this kind of behavior.


It's important to remember that woke people are not a monolith.


> particular flavour of groupthink

LOL - just because of the particular kind of "groupthink" you're talking about here.


> They focused on his tone deaf communication style and awkward demeanor. They spoke of behavior from decades ago and pointed out the fact that he had a mattress in his office.

It wasn't just awkward demeanor. He actively made women feel unwelcome in the workplace and behaved unprofessionally over and over again.

> He held his positions at MIT, GNU, and the FSF for over thirty years, and in that time nobody accused him of coercion, unwanted touching, or verbal harassment

Yes, because of people like you, Geoff. When people like Stallman behave like they do and say the things they say they don't have to face the consequences because people don't want to speak up, because they're afraid of being called liars or censors. That's how authority figures and popular individuals keep getting away with it.

The second paragraph of the post is irrelevant and further proves the point. Stallman's contributions to free software don't excuse his conduct.


> It wasn't just awkward demeanor. He actively made women feel unwelcome in the workplace and behaved unprofessionally over and over again.

Every episode I read about fell into the category of "socially awkward adult male". If we can't, as a group, tolerate awkwardness, we are very much down the rabbit hole of mandatory social conformity.

By all means, point me to a real abuse scenario by Stallman. I like being proven wrong.


> Every episode I read about fell into the category of "socially awkward adult male". If we can't, as a group, tolerate awkwardness, we are very much down the rabbit hole of mandatory social conformity.

Perhaps you need to read about more episodes:

> I worked 10 years ago at VA Linux which had Richard Stallman on its board of directors. You might have heard that Stallman applied his open source ideas to his publicly open marriage as well. The problem was that he was more than open. He made overt sexual advances to women at work. One young woman who worked next to me was so upset from his multiple advances that she took it to senior management. She was able to deal with the problem without taking the issue outside the company. I don’t know the details, but she was given advanced warning anytime Stallman was headed over so that she could leave. He was a creep and women at the company knew to stay away.

* https://daringfireball.net/2019/09/richard_stallmans_disgrac...


This story has obvious falsehoods and as far as I can tell, is totally false or about the wrong person.

1. As far as I can tell, he was never on the board of VA Linux.

2. RMS was never married. https://www.quora.com/Is-Richard-Stallman-married

3. It is a widely known that if anyone ever associates RMS with "open source", he will interject to say that he vehemently disagrees with open source and had nothing to do with its creation. The fireball guy who posted this story, clearly knows very little of RMS to post this without mentioning the fact that this part absolutely is false.

4. He dislikes the word "open" in general, and would never ever use it to describe anything he was involved in. Again, key fact that is clearly false.

5. RMS does not usually have bad hygiene.

6. One of the people who coined "open source" was involved with VA Linux, his name was Eric S Raymond. Perhaps this this is about him.


> 5. RMS does not usually have bad hygiene.

He does, actually. But yes, the story is most likely about ESR, and he's been quite open about his polyamorous relationships.


Also, Gruber dislikes Stallman for quite a while, and has repeteadly picked on him for various reasons like "lack of hygiene" or weird behaviour. Never, once, until now, for the sexual advances theme.... He just discovered that this was in fact the primary reason why he should've disliked Stallman, not the others.

Given this, I'd expect (A) this is close to the worst concrete evidence that one can find on Stallman's misbehaviours, everywhere; and (B ) it's not exactly unbiased. Sure it sounds bad, but I would like details. Because at the same time, there's also this tale that sounds a lot more objective, verifiable & facts-based https://archive.is/7qepC. E.g :

> One remarkable thing about the FSF at that time, when we worked out of dinky spare offices on the campus of MIT, was the degree of participation by women. In the tiny society that was then the FSF, women were more prominent than I had seen in Silicon Valley, or acadamia prior. The general culture of inclusiveness and tolerance that RMS fostered meant that, at least when I was there alongside Bushnell, that social circle in and around the organization was feminized and all the stronger for it.


> Also, Gruber dislikes Stallman for quite a while, and has repeteadly picked on him for various reasons like "lack of hygiene"

It somewhat makes me think that, coming from the greatest Apple fanboy ever, Gruber forgot that on many accounts Steve Jobs too had a personal hygiene problem.


> I don’t know the details, but she was given advanced warning anytime Stallman was headed over so that she could leave. He was a creep and women at the company knew to stay away.

If we don’t have a specific account and details are unknown, then I don’t think this is a fair characterization.

Ive had others think Stallman is creepy too. They actively avoided him, but he never did anything to them.

Sexual advances in and of themselves are not illegal - but again we don’t have a true source for this information. Assuming this is all 100% factually accurate and the sentiment is properly related: it sounds Inappropriate, but if he wasn’t fired, it sounds like it wasn’t far enough outside the acceptable conduct to warrant anything.


> it sounds like it wasn’t far enough outside the acceptable conduct to warrant anything.

That's not how things work. Workplace "justice" is quite dependent on things like internal politics and personal affiliations. You can't rely tell how bad something was by the disciplinary response.


Consequently it might be correct to reserve judgement, like the author implies.


Stallman is such an annoyance that if there were a credible harassment allegation against him, the MIT administration would have almost certainly made use of it before this.


There was a pretty big change in 2016. How sure are you that had no effect on his internal political situation?


Why is John Gruber reprinting anonymous emails that are clearly lying? Richard Stallman was never married so he never had an "open marriage" either. Given that the person writing the email didn't even bother to verify this easily verified detail I suspect the rest is also a work of fiction.


The VA Linux claim is to the best of my knowledge false. It's also second-hand information relayed by Gruber.

Eric S. Raymond ("ESR") was an author of the Open Source Definition and a member of the VA Linux board:

https://www.linux.com/news/eric-raymond-responds-changes-va-...

I find no current links indicating Stallman was ever on the VA Linux, or any other corporate board. Neither his personal bio nor Wikipedia bio mention any.


That article says

> followed up with a post relaying numerous first-hand reports from women subjected to Stallman’s harassment. One example:

The example it then lists (about Stallman at a buffet lunch) is the only "first-hand" report of harassment contained in the follow-up post. This is actually pivotal to the whole daringfireball post as he is purporting to have an ironclad case of harassment but there's only a single first-person account and an email he received about something happening to somebody else at VA Linux (I can't find any reference for Stallman ever being on the board of directors at VA Linux, although they changed their name a number of times which doesn't make things any easier).


I'm sorry for the specific request, but it must be a first hand account of an event. This second hand account can easily be the result of RMS being a difficult person to be around, for any number of reasons, constructed via word of mouth into a sexual issue.

I haven't read the description of anything that resembles sexual abuse by RMS.

(edited to remove an unintended reference to sexual assault)


Why are you shifting the goalposts to sexual assault? No-one here is saying that RMS has sexually assaulted anyone, and he wasn't fired due to allegations of that nature.


Sorry, it was unintended. Thanks for pointing it out. I edited the text.


> I'm sorry for the specific request, but it must be a first hand account of an event.

The excerpt is from an e-mail that John Gruber received in 2011. It is the written testimony of someone who witnessed the events in question first hand.


It's a blog post written around an excerpt from an email of someone who did not witness the abuse event, but knew and interacted with the abused at the time. In my book, that's a second hand account of the event.


> If we can't, as a group, tolerate awkwardness, we are very much down the rabbit hole of mandatory social conformity.

Which seem to go against all goals of diversity and inclusiveness. If we strive for more diverse community we have accept quirks of some people. Only in purely homogeneous group everybody can be comfortable and not offended.


Society: "We must embrace neuro-diversiry"

Midly Autistic, not-good-looking man: Shows signs of autism

Society: "No! Not like that! Kill it! Kill it!"


Autism isn't a catch-all excuse for his behaviour and using it as one spits in the face of people with autism who face the same challenges and work hard to improve.

Stallman didn't care.


My comment is as much a general observation as it is a specific one, because unfortunately I have seen this before.

People, even many of the ones advocating for inclusivity, are extremely unforgiving of autistic traits and will dogpile on any social faux-pass accidentally made.


Half of the academic computer science community is autistic and not attractive, and the vast majority of them somehow manages to refrain from making female colleagues and students constantly uncomfortabe, provoking outrage by doubting the well-supported testimony of a child sex abuse victim, and so forth.


Stop using autism to defend someone who's said that raping children doesn't harm them.


He stated that the absence of consent is what makes it harmful. He is against rape, independently of the victims age.


He is defending Minsky by saying Minsky did not rape this child.

In this specific example he is not against rape because he is trying to redefine rape to make his colloeague look less guilty of rape.


I don't understand how what you've answered changes the fact that Stallman openly implied with his opinion that absence of consent (rape) makes a sexual relation unethical and bad. Stallman is against rape, and arguing that criticizing the ambiguous use of a term in a certain context (sexual assault) makes he somehow pro-rape seems unreasonable (but I'm open to explanations I didn't consider, if you wish to try).

In general, if you have any sources for your claims feel free to share them (I can't find any sources quoting stallman saying anything that vaguely resembles a pro-rape argument, and I've gone through most comments in the section).

More specifically, Stallman didn't ever say that raping children doesn't harm them, if your definition of rape is sex without consent (that's the legal definition in my country). He said that if you have consensual sex with a minor then that may not be harmful for him/her (the fact that this is not "raping children" follows from the very definition of rape).

I'm trying to leave my feelings aside but you really seem to be misquoting Stallman to try to make a point. I really hope I'm wrong about this so I'm genuinely curious about what did you mean when you said he stated that "raping children doesn't harm them".


Children? ...

Honestly curious, when did he say that?


https://stallman.org/archives/2006-mar-jun.html#05%20June%20...

> 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/2003-may-aug.html

> The nominee is quoted as saying that if the choice of a sexual partner were protected by the Constitution, "prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, possession of child pornography, and even incest and pedophilia" also would be. He is probably mistaken, legally--but that is unfortunate. All of these acts should be legal as long as no one is coerced. They are illegal only because of prejudice and narrowmindedness.

> Some rules might be called for when these acts directly affect other people's interests. For incest, contraception could be mandatory to avoid risk of inbreeding. For prostitution, a license should be required to ensure prostitutes get regular medical check-ups, and they should have training and support in insisting on use of condoms. This will be an advance in public health, compared with the situation today.


> If we can't, as a group, tolerate awkwardness, we are very much down the rabbit hole of mandatory social conformity.

There's a difference between tolerating it to a degree and letting leaders continue uncomfortable awkwardness. If it's enough to distance people, maybe they're not a great candidate for a leader. That doesn't remove anything from their achievements and abilities to contribute or to spread new ideas. The post says "If an occasional social gaffe or failed attempt at humor is all it takes to get thrown out on the street" - entirely omitting the space occupied by almost all of us: between homelessness and being a leader of a global movement/organisation.

We can at the same time tolerate awkwardness and hold our local and global leaders to high standards.


> There's a difference between tolerating it to a degree and letting leaders continue uncomfortable awkwardness. If it's enough to distance people, maybe they're not a great candidate for a leader.

Honestly, they got him because they could. There's plenty of politicians, including state heads, regularly making offensive and sexist comments. I haven't seen anyone attempting or even proposing a coup because of that. It usually gets a day or two on the news, and then is remembered only in jokes.

> That doesn't remove anything from their achievements and abilities to contribute or to spread new ideas.

Of course it does, because being a leader is the ability "to contribute or to spread new ideas". Moreover, in this particular case, we're hearing plenty of voices trying to retroactively deny RMS's achievements.

> entirely omitting the space occupied by almost all of us: between homelessness and being a leader of a global movement/organisation.

In this particular case, it was a jump over that space occupied by almost all of us. In a blink of an eye, this incident made an old person not employable and apparently (according to the TFA) homeless. Maybe a different, more emotionally and intellectually balanced person could handle this and resume a fulfilling but low-profile life. But such people don't generally end up with achievements or roles as RMS did. It takes a pretty unbalanced person to persist in pushing views that go against the commercial zeitgeist so long, so successfully, and without compromise.


> In a blink of an eye, this incident made an old person not employable and apparently (according to the TFA) homeless.

He already entered his retirement age. (Unless I miscalculated) He's a clever man - if he's got no retirement fund, or stable accommodation by now, that's a different issue and only brought forwards faster, not created now.

I mean, if the accommodation was provided entirely unofficially by MIT this whole time and was yanked away without warning, I really sympathise. But I find that idea unlikely without some good confirmation.


There has to be a third option between "tolerate everything" and "completely oust him from public life as violently as you can".


Why do you think the second case happened? He resigned from a prestigious position on his own terms. If I expected anyone to tell straight "I've been forced to resign" or "I've been fired due to politics", it would be RMS. He didn't, and nobody seems to be preventing him to take part in public life - as evidenced by the number of posts, there's a number of people who still want to work with him.


He was witch-hunted on the internet by a serial witch-hunter, some "journalists" who lack basic reading comprehension and the lynch mob that ensured. It's naive to believe he resigned voluntarily. He was pressured into it, probably believed the witch-hunters, lynchmobgoers and finger pointers to a certain degree that he indeed is evil, resigned to protect what he created and therefore was nice enough to not shit all over the institutions he created on his way out.

His reputation was set on fire and burned to the ground, he was expelled from his life's work, might even have become homeless as a direct result, and most of the people he considered friends or friendly vanished over night (tho, some remain as you pointed out, but decidedly few) destroying most of his social (support) network.


He built a global movement challenging people publically and he's happy to semi-publically state his opinions about sexual assault at the worst possible time, but he will stay silent about pressure to step down to be nice? I'm sorry, but I just don't believe that.


>He built a global movement challenging people publically

Exactly, is it hard to imagine he doesn't want to take a blow torch to his own creation just as a last "fuck you" farewell?

>happy to semi-publically state his opinions about sexual assault

He said sexual assault is bad. How dare he?!


He rejects the term 'Sexual Assault' completely. https://stallman.org/antiglossary.html#assult

There's plenty of troubling stuff in his writing.


Reading your link, I don't find anything troubling. He says the term is too ambiguous and it makes it easy to (potentially maliciously) misrepresent someone's acts.

If you find anything else he's said troubling please provide me some references as I'm trying to read anything that may help me to understand this episode. (I've already read about his former and present opinions on paedophilia)


Yes, he rejects the specific term as too non-specific, not that there is sexual violence at all.


> There's a difference between tolerating it to a degree and letting leaders continue uncomfortable awkwardness.

You are saying that socially awkward people shouldn't be leaders. RMS can't change, he isn't socially awkward by choice. That's his personality.

I disagree. Leaders have flaws, and social awkwardness isn't anywhere near the top of the worst flaws. In fact, in RMS' case, I think it was part of the reason for his success in promoting free software.


> If it's enough to distance people, maybe they're not a great candidate for a leader.

Isn't the whole point of a 'leader' that they challenge the status quo not bite their tongue to follow it?


The point of a leader is that they do/present something that gathers followers. If the followers say "no, that's not ok", they're by definition not a good leader anymore (or not for that group of people - RMS can definitely create an FSF clone with people who accept him).

There's lots of leaders who love the status quo and organise people around it. No challenging needed. (for example priests being leaders for a small local community)


a minority of followers didn't like what RMS did (from what i hear). Do we now aim to please every body, even if it means removing the awkward visionaries that would've otherwise have contributed more, and replace them with crowd-pleasing socialites that navigate people gracefully?


There's also lots of leaders (many important ones on history) who say controversial things. You are saying they shouldn't be given a platform by society, which I can't disagree with more.

This isn't the followers saying "no, that's not ok", this is large institutions saying "no" on behalf of a vocal few.


Mu. You asked if leader is defined by challenging things. I gave an alternative definition with an example of leaders not challenging things. (and sure, there are also those who do challenge) No-platforming is a completely different topic, and I have expressed no opinions about it.


You didn't just give an example of a leader who doesn't challenge things. You literally stated that if a follower disagrees with the leader, then "by definition" he/she is not a good leader. You are implying that the definition of "leader" includes that you can't challenge things people may not find ok (disagree with).


You haven't responded to my point here, this is just playing semantics and making me guess your definitions.

Despite how you are dancing around responses, from where I see it: You are clearly denying him a platform by saying he shouldnt be a 'leader' (ie. keep his posts). You are making that decision by institutions instead of individuals. You are holding all the worlds 'leaders' to your own moral views which is logically inconsistent.


You've made multiple assumptions about my opinions that I disagree with, and honestly it's too much work to unwind. I'd rather leave now.


I'm trying here, but you just seem to do all you can to avoid debate and confuse discussion


How would it be the point of a leader in free software to challenge the status quo that women are welcome in the workplace and in free software?


but but ... he was tolerated ... people were complaining about him for years ...


The behavior I saw, with creepy-sounding jokes about how being molested by guards is desireable if the guards are cute and similar comments, was definitely beyond "socially awkward adult male".

There is also no reason that "male" should be a relevant qualifier.


As I referred afterwards on the thread (and should have done on the original comment), please refer to actual first-hand accounts. These kinds of stories tend to grow on each retelling.

The quote I saw was:

> OP: "CBP waved me through with hardly a word last week (TSA did grumble at me, for not moving fast enough through their fondling queue)." > > RMS: I generally ask, "Could I please be checked by a woman? It's not fair that only gays get to enjoy this."

I don't have a link, but I have not seen this one grow or change at all, everyone referring to it refers to the same thing.

And that one is pretty damn creepy.


That is obviously a joke. If that's the kind of stuff condemning Stallman, my point is proven.

> He actively made women feel unwelcome in the workplace

This sword cuts both ways.

MIT is not a kindergarten, they are adult people moving in an adult work context.

It has been said here, that some women are so terrified of Stallman that will carry plants around with they. If true this would speak volumes but not about RMS; about those women!

I assume that there are a lot of very smart but socially awkward people (men and women) in MIT. Excentricity and twisted humour is not a trait exclusive of men. Sex jokes are not exclusive of men. A fully growth women, so terrified of any contact with men to barricade herself behind a geranium all day, should raise a red flag. Maybe somebody in the administration could stop chasing the "big bad men" and kindly try to help this women to improve her social skills instead.

Dealing with sex and relationships is part of being an adult. Any adult women should be able to stop and deal elegantly with an undesired proposition. Men act nervous, clumsy and awkward all the time when try to develop a romantic relationship. This does not convert them in monsters. Is just the human nature.

Just a smile and a "thanks, but not thanks" should be enough, and this is a skill that can be learned also.


> A fully growth women, so terrified of any contact with men to barricade herself behind a geranium all day, should raise a red flag.

Cool victim blaming.

> Any adult women should be able to stop and deal elegantly with an undesired proposition.

They're in a professional environment, they shouldn't have to deal with this.


> victim blaming

Not. We need to use the correct terms. Victim blaming would be suggesting that the woman triggered the situation somehow. I'm not saying this at all.

I'm talking about the reaction. IF that history was real [and not just a silly rumour] then we must notice that there is more than a people acting weird here. To freak out and carry an antiviolator house plant because you received a twisted visit card with dirty humour, once, well... this is not normal either, IMHO.

> They're in a professional environment, they shouldn't have to deal with this.

Fair point. 100% agree with that, but if you put several adult people in a room, they will inevitably try to develop relationships.


> They're in a professional environment, they shouldn't have to deal with this.

Tell that to all the millions of people who are happily married to people they met in professional environments.


> Tell that to all the millions of people who are happily married to people they met in professional environments.

Ahh, cool, so we can keep harassing women insofar as there are sometimes positive benefits.


Some work environments are more amenable than others to developing relationships. Do realize that many people in this thread probably only exist because their parents met in a work setting. Your own grandparents may have.

For many people, the workplace is where they spend the largest chunk of their life and thus the primary method of socializing and developing relationships.

There are workplaces where this is inappropriate. There are situations, such as imbalances of power, making this inappropriate. But it is far less appropriate, edging on trolling, for you to categorize every single work relationship as "women being harassed in the workplace".

Do know it is possible to develop a romantic relationship without harassing the other person. If you're not acquainted with the method, for the sake of your potential partners, please familiarize yourself.


> But it is far less appropriate, edging on trolling, for you to categorize every single work relationship as "women being harassed in the workplace".

Try reading my post again, my dude. Maybe go a little slower. Read it backwards to forwards, forwards to backwards, and then try setting aside ideological goggles for a second.

We're talking about a workplace where women are doing something completely and totally bizarre: they're carrying around plants so they don't have to engage with someone. There's no situation in which that isn't totally bizarre--people don't just walk around with potted plants for the fun of it.

So, I say, "Hey, maybe they shouldn't have to deal with this," yet I'm the one who needs to "familiarize yourself." What a deranged cadre of people the lot of you are--you're so desperate to explain away this abuse that you can't even keep the context of a thread only 3 or 4 posts deep.


I've read your post. Your post is a reply to someone who is talking about "all the millions of people who are happily married to people they met in professional environments".

When you replied to that post, you stopped talking about MIT and Stallman, and you addressed a general situation: "Is it okay to have romantic relationships in the workplace". Maybe you should quit jumping on the opportunity to call people deranged/desperate/whatever and revise your own posts, because it's possible you're in the wrong.


The common factor in all interactions with RMS is RMS. You can shrug off one or two incidents but not as many as there has been.


Agreed. If Stallman was a charming, charismatic, handsome guy with a square jaw and good hair the whole conversation would probably have a different lens placed on it.


Hot, charming people get away with things that ugly awkward people don't. However, the lesson to be drawn from this isn't that it's ok to do those things. Rather, it's that life is unfair.


except that Stallman was let off for years ... I think people often just let him off because he wasn't "Hot, charming" and they maybe felt a certain amount of pity for him ...


> the lesson to be drawn from this isn't that it's ok to do those things

if it's OK for the charming, suave guy to do it, then the issue exists at the "victim", not the "perpetrator".

Rule of law is meant to make life more fair, and this isn't a lesson, but it is something for society to improve on.


>if it's OK for the charming, suave guy to do it,

I was saying that it isn't ok for the charming, suave guy to do it either.


Then he wouldn't be seen as an awkward guy who doesn't know any better but instead as an arrogant dick.


Exactly. The conversation should be framed around what he did (or didn't) do, rather than how others felt around him.


Yesn't IMO. When discussing RMS as a person I agree but in the context of the presidency of the FSF (which is more or less the "face of free software") we should certainly take into account what kind of energy he radiates.


Is this a joke? This is disgusting.


[flagged]


There is study after study after study concluding that pretty people on average have it easier in life, are treated better, have it easier to achieve successful careers, have it easier to find sexual partners, get away with more things, etc...


Ignoring a legal age of consent, refusing to accept the accepted definitions of assault and rape, and claiming they were actually willing are emphatically not just "socially awkward".


Claiming they were actually willing and claiming they presented themselves as actually willing are two very different things. These are very dangerous accusations you are throwing around - you might do well to stick to what he actually said and wrote.


It seems to me not credible that a 70 year old Minsky believed that a quite young lady would, on minutes of meeting him, be so attracted that she would be anxious to be intimate.


He might have thought she was attracted to him. Anna Nicole Smith claimed to have been attracted to her 90-something husband. There have been enough historical examples where power or intellect apparently attracts. Or maybe he thought she was attracted to Epstein's money and wanted to be on his good side by "entertaining" his friends. Or maybe he was fully aware of the situation.

We cannot know what he thought, and we cannot even ask since he is dead, and we did not even know what actually happened after she "offered" herself (unwillingly and coerced by Epstein, of course).


Possibly, but that is not the point. The point is that RMS never said the victims were willing, which is the quote (or one of the quotes) he's being burnt for.


According to eyewitnesses he turned down the advances...


but that's irrelevant to Stallman's comments, because RMS starts by assuming that Minsky did have sex with the trafficked coerced child.


Can you cite some specific evidence for your specific claims?


On his website, for example, Stallman says that he "reject[s] the term sexual assault" completely.[1]

~edit: I have included the full quote below as I did not intend to twist/misrepresent in any way.

Stallman writes: " The term is applied to a broad range of actions, ranging from stealing a kiss to rape, as well as other things in between. It acts as propaganda for treating them the same.

There seems to be an exception for TSA agents, however.

The term is further stretched to include sexual harassment, which is not a specific act, but rather a pattern of acts that amounts to a form of gender bias. Gender bias is rightly prohibited in certain situations for the sake of equal opportunity.

I don't think that rape should be treated like stealing a kiss, so I reject the term "sexual assault" completely."

[1]https://stallman.org/antiglossary.html#assult


I'm split on your comment.

On one side, you indeed quote Stallman itself and the source of the quote. On the other side the complete quote reads:

     The term is applied to a broad range of actions, ranging from stealing a kiss to rape, as well as other things in between. It acts as propaganda for treating them the same.

     There seems to be an exception for TSA agents, however.

     The term is further stretched to include sexual harassment, which is not a specific act, but rather a pattern of acts that amounts to a form of gender bias. Gender bias is rightly prohibited in certain situations for the sake of equal opportunity.

     I don't think that rape should be treated like stealing a kiss, so I reject the term "sexual assault" completely.
Reading the full context and your except was totally different for me. The full context, implies he doesn't accept the term, because it's an umbrella term that does more harm, than good. That's arguable, but doesn't seem a radical opinion.

In fact, IMO, I agree that using "sexual assault" for something other than rape / attempt of, is depreciating the full meaning of the term and victims are normally the first ones to be affected by it. I do agree that other crimes, born from gender inequality, are very serious as well - that doesn't mean, we should bundle them up. How would society react, if slaps started to be prosecuted as attempted murders?


Hmm. I wasn't trying to twist his words at all, so thanks for quoting in full.

If I see a problem with his characterization of the term "sexual assault" / his reasoning in rejecting it, it's that the "broad range of actions" he says are labeled with the term "sexual assault" share one common trait: they happened without the consent of one party. He kind of ignores this in favour of describing the term as "propaganda for treating [acts of non-rape] as the same". And I find the argument that "one unwanted act that I and presumably others find mostly harmless was described as sexual assault, thus this term has lost its meaning in general" somewhat hard to swallow.

Wikipedia: "Sexual assault is an act in which a person intentionally sexually touches another person without that person's consent, or coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will."[1]

If we did away with the term "sexual assault", I'm not sure what terms we would be left with when describing such things, except to describe the exact acts themselves.

In fact, I'm not sure if I buy the idea that "the term sexual assault is losing/has lost its meaning because it used to mean rape" at all, because there has always been a word for that: rape. As far as I know, this term has always existed to describe a broad-range of sexual acts performed without consent.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_assault


...and does a great job explaining his pov. It's not like he's saying that sexual assaults do not exist, and people should be able to rape / immodestly touch whoever they please with impunity.

> Sexual assault: The term is applied to a broad range of actions, ranging from stealing a kiss to rape, as well as other things in between. It acts as propaganda for treating them the same.


"Violent crime" also applies to a broad range of actions. It's not a propaganda term for treating all kinds of violent crime as the same. Why would that be the case for sexual assault?


I think the whole point of the Stallman discussion as of lately is that people only decide to read what they want to read, ignoring context.

> I don't think that rape should be treated like stealing a kiss, so I reject the term "sexual assault" completely.

From my understanding, he disagrees with the term because it is imprecise, and the greater of two evils might be mixed up with the lesser - with the result that the greater evil might be perceived as less evil as it actually is.

(Edit: A sibling comment gets the above thought better, describing it as an "umbrella term".)

The way you quote him, you try (seem to) to imply that he thinks there is no such thing denoting "sexual assault". Or using the same logical reasoning: Are you, spats1990, implying that rape should be treated like "stealing a kiss"? I doubt you are, but I strongly doubt he does either.


I've replied upthread and edited my post to include the full quote. I wasn't trying to twist his words.

As I wrote in my reply to the post you're referring to, I seem to think that the term sexual assault is necessarily imprecise--but in another sense, it isn't imprecise at all, as all the acts described by it share a single commonality, which is lack of consent.


He also explains why, and he raises a good point. Sexual assault covers a lot of different things, but to many if not most people it implies the worst.


No. Wrong. You, and many others, seem incapable of parsing basic sentences.

RMS claimed it was plausible that she presented herself to Minsky as willing, due to coercion by Epstein.

There's a big difference.


And what could be more normal than an 17 year old girl on a billionaire's private island willingly offering free sex to a man in his 70s? How could Minsky possibly have suspected that anything was amiss?


I guess it's possible Minsky confused her for a 18 year old prostitute. Whether that counts as "willing" depends on your views on prostitution, of course.


Have you considered the possibility that your definition of normalcy is not equivalent to what's technically possible, or may be even the truth?


I have read over your comment a few times and still have no idea what you mean. But yeah, I'm confident in my judgment of what is and isn't normal in this instance.


> How could Minsky possibly have suspected that anything was amiss?

Reportedly, Minsky did suspect that something was amiss and refused the offer.


I know, but RMS was saying it would have been ok if he hadn't, hypothetically.


Having a view that the law is wrong is not a crime, and nor should it be.

If it were, who needs legislature?


And he did none of these.


He did not "ignore" age of consent, and what you describe as "refusing to accept the accepted definitions" is not refusal to accept the law, as you ambiguously characterise it, but the crime of arguing how unhelpful those definitions are in the context he describes.


> claiming they were actually willing

Did you even bother to read the emails or at the very least the article? This misconception is exactly what's being argued there, that Stallman said something clearly different.

> Ignoring a legal age of consent

By doing what, raping someone underage? Or rather expressing his opinion that it's ridiculous that when in one state the age of consent is 16, in another one it's 18, and yet people are judged morally and criminally for failing to distinguish between these two? So basically what you're saying is that possessing a non-standard opinion and criticizing existing laws should make you a non-person. I believe you'd feel very much at home in the USSR, the communist party had the same ideas.


Once people have decided, or taken a position, facts and evidence are virtually useless.

I read here on HN a few days ago that the dude in question, TURNED THE GIRL DOWN. How people are crucifying two people (Stallman and the dead guy) for underage rape that never happened is just crazy.


it's SJW and cancel culture, with people who pile on as a virtue signalling that is causing this.

See how badly critics blasted dave chappel for his new show, despite the audience loving the jokes (even if they were edgy, they were done in good taste, and pin-pointed a problem that society at large refuses to comment or talk about).


Citation needed.


> Yes, because of people like you, Geoff. When people like Stallman behave like they do and say the things they say they don't have to face the consequences because people don't want to speak up, because they're afraid of being called liars or censors. That's how authority figures and popular individuals keep getting away with it.

On the other hand, so far, no one has come forward to denounce anything (harassment or similar) about Stallman.

It seems to me that Stallman's lack of social adherence is the reason why he's being attacked. Not actual facts.


> He actively made women feel unwelcome in the workplace and behaved unprofessionally over and over again.

All this is irrelevant to the quite real and undeniable truth that it's not because he "made women feel unwelcome in the workplace" that he was sacked. This is pure after-the-fact rationalization. He was sacked for having the wrong opinion and not knowing when to shut up.


>It wasn't just awkward demeanor. He actively made women feel unwelcome in the workplace and behaved unprofessionally over and over again.

Can you please cite your sources for this claim?


He’s autistic. He probably gives almost everyone he comes into contact with the creeps. Neurotypical people don’t like autistic people, and would prefer to avoid them to the greatest extent possible.

I doubt Stallman was any more unpleasant to women than to men, or showed any greater or lesser social graces. He has never, ever held back about any of his opinions or actions. I’m sure you could get him to admit to things that would get almost anyone fired by most jobs in under ten minutes and he wouldn’t deny any of it afterwards.

People like Stallman don’t do professional because he’s not a faker. He’s not trying to make money or buy prestige. He just wants free software.


>He’s autistic. He probably gives almost everyone he comes into contact with the creeps. Neurotypical people don’t like autistic people, and would prefer to avoid them to the greatest extent possible.

This is an incredibly ignorant opinion. Lots of high functioning autistic people develop reasonable social skills. People still probably notice if they hang around with us long enough, but non-shitty people (aka apparently almost everyone but you) don't default to thinking they are creepy perverts that they must escape from.

Some autistic people are so socially stunted that they have trouble interacting with people at all, but there are a lot of us that have successful careers, friends, wives, etc. We're a little weird but most of us aren't freaks. Try having some compassion.

If by some chance you have formed this opinion due to a personal struggle with autism. Theres ways to learn decent social skills.


My social skills are just fine thanks. I’m still not under the illusion allistic people like autistic people, or accept them except under the condition that they hide who and what they are.

I don’t think autistic people are creepy perverts. I think that normal people pretty much automatically think they’re creepy because there’s something off about the way they interact socially. The degree of offness varies but if you never had it you were never autistic.

If you’re under the impression people are accepting go to an autism or asperger’s support group. You will be quickly disabused of your high opinion of humanity.

https://thingofthings.wordpress.com/2019/04/24/on-stimming-a...

> Being able to pass as nonautistic is an important skill. We live in a world full of people who hate autistic people. Other people find the natural way our bodies move to be upsetting or repulsive to look at. It is not realistic to expect nonautistic people to change, so those of us who can acquire the skill of passing will often be better able to achieve our goals if we can pass.


You keep going to extremes. I'm not saying everyone treats autistic people perfectly, I'm just not agreeing that most people are so repulsed that they feel physically unsafe around us and treat us like creeps. The act of socializing itself is exhausting to me, but I don't necessarily feel like I have to hide everything about myself, its more like I have to pay attention to how I respond to people because I might say something that's legitimately rude because my instincts about what might hurt a person's feelings are out of touch with most people.

I don't know that there's a better way for society to accept us than for us to do our best to learn normal social behavior and for them to be understanding when they see that we're trying, even if we fail. Surely you don't expect normal people to just get constantly insulted forever to spare the feelings of a tiny percentage of the population.

And obviously due to variance, bad luck, ignorant local populations/culture, etc, some autistic people will inevitably have a worse experience with people than mine.


What extremes?

I said Stallman was an equal opportunity autistic asshole rather than a sexual predator. You impugned my social skills.

I never said people felt threatened by autistic people. They’re disgusted. Just like fat or ugly people. People aren’t creeped out by scary, violent men, they’re afraid of them. Being creeped out is about disgust, not fear.

I have no comment about society because that’s every individual’s own problem, just like being fat or ugly. No one except maybe your family and friends care, so deal with it or suffer or deal with it and suffer. But don’t sugar coat it and pretend things are ok and people are nice. This is a fallen world and if you find your way into a pleasant part it’s through continuous, vigourous effort.


one extreme:

Neurotypical people don’t like autistic people, and would prefer to avoid them to the greatest extent possible.

The other extreme is the way you interpret my statements to mean that I have some delusionally idealistic view of humanity. Reality lies between your overly bleak assessment of average people and the perfectly accepting world you mistakenly attributed to me.

I acknowledge that some people are jerks. However, most people try to get along with people when they interact with them. The people who don't, or who are unusually bad at it are often the neurotypical people.

The word creepy can mean fear or disgust. Frequently in the context of women thinking a guy is a creep, they mean some amount of both. If that's not what you meant, fair enough.

Are you disgusted by fat people, the mentally disabled, or people that aren't beautiful? I don't think that's as normal as you seem to think it is.

There are verifiable prejudices towards overweight people but you make it sound like people can't stand to see them.

Also, don't you think all sorts of self-help groups are self selecting for people with negative experiences?


>Neurotypical people don’t like autistic people,

Oh this is hilarious. Do you realize how many people -- not just men -- in CS, physics, mathematics are autistic, especially in places like MIT? Places like that are teeming with autistic people who somehow manage not to make their students and colleagues uncomfortable. I'll even be so bold as to claim neurotypicals are actually a minority in some of those subjects.

This is really strange atempt to spin his firing as some sort of evidence that autistic men are being oppressed in CS academia and tech. As anyone who's been in either of those environmets, that's clearly NOT the case.


> Do you realize how many people -- not just men -- in CS, physics, mathematics are autistic, especially in places like MIT?

Do you have any citations for that (for the fact that there's a significant proportion of autistic people who study/work at the MIT)? It's come up a few times in the comment section of this article, and I can't find sources for that claim.

Honestly the first time I read it I dismissed it as an exaggeration, but you (and others) seem convinced enough to use it to back some of your opinions on this topic. Before this, I would've thought that thoughts like that were merely stereotypes result of ignorance.


Stereotypes are mostly accurate[1]. If you don’t think it’s accurate you could just visually compare MIT and Harvard students. The difference in average nerdiness is neither small nor subtle. I hope you will accept the relationship between nerdiness and autism as a given.

[1]https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8d4e/4958856859323ecacca918...

> Stereotype (In)Accuracy in Perceptions of Groups and Individuals

> Are stereotypes accurate or inaccurate? We summarize evidence that stereotype accuracy is one of the largest and most replicable findings in social psychology. We address controversies in this literature, including the long-standing and continuing but unjustified emphasis on stereotype inaccuracy, how to define and assess stereotype accuracy, and whether stereotypic (vs. individuating) information can be used rationally in person perception. We conclude with suggestions for building theory and for future directions of stereotype (in)accuracy research.


I’m not saying he’s oppressed. He’s a super giant nerd and people don’t like nerds. Other nerds don’t like nerds. No one owes anyone else shit. Normal people don’t like fat or ugly people either, and avoid them too.

The idea that autistic people do not make allistic people uncomfortable is completely at odds with my experience. The more obviously autistic someone is the less allistic people want to be near them. People who are crushing monomaniacal bores with poor social skills are tolerated if they have some valuable skills, keep to themselves, or parrot the party line.

Autistic people can make allistic people uncomfortable by sitting quietly in the corner of a room. They look funny, they stim, they do that flappy thing with their hands, or rock.

Stallman wasn’t oppressed. He was booted for being a huge outspoken driven asshole with no political nous, but he’s been a huge outspoken equal opportunity asshole for decades.


They look funny, they stim, they do that flappy thing with their hands, or rock.

The problem is you are attributing the low end of high functioning with all of them. Either you have also met autistic people much closer to normal than that, or you simply haven't noticed them because you can't tell the difference.

>I’m not saying he’s oppressed. He’s a super giant nerd and people don’t like nerds

At some point most people mature enough to realize that everyone's a nerd about something and stop caring. Most people with a college education and an actual career end up meeting all sorts of people and realizing that cliques are stupid. There are still some high schoolesque antics at every company, but generally that has been my experience.


I'd just awoid stinky people no mater their neural status.


"He actively made women feel unwelcome in the workplace and behaved unprofessionally over and over again."

You are making me feel unwelcome on this forum and your comment is unprofessional.

> Yes, because of people like you, Geoff. When people like Stallm ....

It's because of people like you that allegations ruin people's life.

When there's nothing to prove, you are talking about what could have


[flagged]


You made a stupid comment. Own it. Don't play the victim.

People aren't attacking you personally.

Rather, people are criticizing your argument.


It's just a small, noisy, superficial and generally annoying minority with short attention span that goes on such lynch crusades.


The original Medium post was resting on equating Stallman saying that one of Epstein's victims may've been presented to Minsky as "entirely willing", as him saying that the girl in fact was "entirely willing".

Such intentional smear campaign makes me seriously question the author of the piece, because if they had an obvious case of wrongdoing, no such intentional misquoting would indeed be necessary.


"actively made women feel unwelcome" therefore he should be internet lynch mobbed with the same fervor that's reserved for high profile criminals? Do I get my own internet lynch mob next time someone makes me feel unwelcome or acts unprofessionally?


"Someone could have been theoretically, emotionally harmed, therefore I must cause real-world harm!"


> Yes, because of people like you, Geoff.

I don't see why you have to attack the author here, but let me ask you this -- if I "feel" unwelcomed by your conduct, for whatever reason, on a "private" mailing list, then should you be forced to resign?


I'm voting you down because you don't give specifics.

If you have something to share, put the effort to be specific. Now you are just throwing general accusations.


> He actively made women feel unwelcome in the workplace and behaved unprofessionally over and over again.

I'm 6 foot+ and 200 pounds+. I make certain women uncomfortable simply by existing. They will view every action I take through a lens of being frightened and intimidated.

Do I deserve to get fired? Obviously not.

I have also had different women ask me to join a meeting because the audience wasn't listening to them because they were so physically small. They needed someone with authority to say "shut up and listen". Those women have no issues with me whatsoever and enlist my assistance

Clearly the problem isn't with me, should the women frightened of me get fired instead? Obviously not.

Now what?


>He actively made women feel unwelcome in the workplace and behaved unprofessionally over and over again.

Please elaborate?


Then maybe we should have removed him for one of the previous instances of awkwardness, because the message I see here in no way justifies any of the things that subsequently happened.

I would not call it anything less than a disgrace for anyone involved.


Honestly I'm starting to feel that at this point we should just have businesses that are like sororities and fraternities because people can't seem to handle themselves or handle how others fail to handle themselves.


He made feel unwelcome both women and men. Not just women. It was part of his personality.


> because they're afraid of being called liars or censors

lies where told. There are plenty people afraid of pointing this out, lest they be called an "apologist" for something. Is that because of "people like you, Barrin92"?


I hope people thinking like above, or sad finger-pointers like the ones writing the articles, are removed from the tech industry...


Yes, I too would like everyone who I disagree with to be removed from my industry.

That was sarcasm, because apparently in 2019 that's an acceptable thing to say with a straight face.


>Yes, I too would like everyone who I disagree with to be removed from my industry

So, like those people you seem to applaud did to Stallman?

>apparently in 2019 that's an acceptable thing to say with a straight face

Oh, the irony...


"lynch-mobbers" are not "everyone who I disagree with".

Invoking <current year> isn't usually said with a straight face anymore.


> He actively made women feel unwelcome in the workplace and behaved unprofessionally over and over again.

How do you know this? How do you know that he deliberately tries to make women uncomfortable? I don't think any women is comfortable near a fat, bearded virgin that eats things off his foot, but to accuse him of deliberately making women uncomfortable implies that he knows some of his actions are off limits and he's deliberately crossing the line. You're just attributing malice when there's a simple answer - he's socially awkward, he doesn't know what the limits are.


> How do you know that he deliberately tries to make women uncomfortable?

He doesn’t do it deliberately (probably). The accusations are only that he does it.

> I don't think any women is comfortable near a fat, bearded virgin that eats things off his foot

None of the things you just listed were part of the reasons they gave.

> but to accuse him of deliberately making women uncomfortable

Again – deliberate not necessary for this to be a bad thing.

In case you haven’t seen it and/or for your browsing convenience, here’s a link to the main set of actual issues in question: https://medium.com/@selamjie/remove-richard-stallman-appendi... (the fact that I’m linking this doesn’t mean I agree with every word of it or take its truth as a given, by the way – just pointing out that you’re arguing against a non-position)


Ignorance is a bad excuse for undesired behavior. That's why when it comes to legal terms, you can't claim you didn't knew something was illegal and get away with it.

There are good reasons to defend (some of) Stallman's behavior, saying he don't know better is not one of them. If anything, it only makes me feel better about his current situation: Oh, the whole problem is that he didn't knew what he was doing? Well, he's learning a hell of a lesson now.


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