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He’s autistic. Suddenly the people who were annoyingly vocal about being “inclusive” are forgetting Stallman’s disability. He says “creepy” things because he doesn’t understand social cues or casual communication at a certain level. Everyone in this thread demonizing RMS should be ashamed of themselves. This is the same reason why he can’t hold a relationship, or why he sleeps in his office. He’s just far out there - This doesn’t take anything away from his hard work, his genius, or his dedication. He never had a chance. People look at the “evidence”, but refuse to look at it with the proper context.



If you have a condition where you have trouble interacting socially with people, while also running an influential organization and acting as its figurehead, you need to be able to mitigate these issues. If this means you have an assistant who you run emails by before sending them, so be it. If your assistant also takes a look at your office (given to you as a favor by a respected educational institution) and tells you that "Knight of Hot Ladies" is not appropriate, then you take it down. If female colleagues are putting plants in their offices because they know you don't like plants and it will deter you from visiting them, you either need to recognize that on your own and do something about it, or allow a trusted someone to help you fix the situation.

Autism isn't an excuse for bad behavior. It can explain some bad behavior, but that bad behavior cannot continue over decades; it must be dealt with in some manner.

I cannot believe people keep defending him given the accounts of what he's actually done (assuming you believe the accounts). What about the women who have been creeped out or harassed by him, or who have left the field because of him? Don't they get any consideration?

As Matthew Garrett has pointed out (through personal experience with RMS), "the problem isn't that he's unable to understand, the problem is that he's unwilling to"[0]. So I don't buy the "because autism" line here.

[0] https://twitter.com/mjg59/status/1172422966904160257


At what point is your work no longer your own? FSF wouldn't exist without Stallman's vision and subsequent decades of tireless effort. Who gets to decide that Stallman no longer deserves stewardship over his own life's work because of a poster and some tired anecdote about plants?


At the end of the day, the FSF board had to decide what they wanted to do, either a) let RMS continue to do his usual thing without repercussions and become a less-relevant organization that people don't take seriously, or b) clean house and maintain some level of trust. Presumably they also considered a c) let RMS continue to do his thing and hope that there's no fallout. But I guess they considered (c) wasn't realistic, didn't want (a), and decided on (b).

No one is saying that RMS's work with GNU or the FSF is somehow invalidated. He's done some absolutely fantastic and amazing work, and I honestly do believe that, without him, we are actually losing something valuable. But we're also losing some bad stuff too. My feeling is that the bad stuff outweighs further good that he could do, but of course that's open for debate.

> ... because of a poster and some tired anecdote about plants?

Deliberately minimizing and dismissing the allegations against RMS is a bad-faith way to push forward your argument. Please don't do that here.


What makes it bad faith? Read through this thread. There's a lot of hearsay and misrepresentation and obviously some people just plain uncomfortable with RMS's persona regardless of what he did or didn't say.

And that's why I think this argument:

> a) let RMS continue to do his usual thing without repercussions and become a less-relevant organization that people don't take seriously

doesn't hold any water. First of all, as a lay person, I don't take the FSF seriously anymore because of this move. How can an organization defend our liberties when it's not willing to stand up to a witch-hunt targeting it's founding member? Second and more importantly, I think the people who do matter don't care: they have the reference point to know that this culture shift is fleeting and that, more importantly, FSF wouldn't even exist without someone who stubbornly, aggressively defends digital civil liberties. You can't _have_ the FSF without a Stallman behind it, and my bet would be this is the start of the FSF's slow fade into obscurity.


> First of all, as a lay person, I don't take the FSF seriously anymore because of this move.

I get that, but you're just one person (as am I). If we take all of the people who previously had some respect for the FSF, my guess would be that more than half of them will continue to respect them after this, or actually respect them more (as I will). If all of this had come to light and the FSF have done nothing, I'd respect them less and take them less seriously. I suspect that's true for a lot of other people as well.

Of course, I don't know this for sure, it's just what I think. But that's all we're doing here anyway: just throwing around our opinions.


> the problem isn't that he's unable to understand, the problem is that he's unwilling to

This is a common line used to attack non-neurotypical people (and not only!). They have not considered the possibilities that their explanations or arguments are weak however.


Or, the simpler explanation, given that MJG has known RMS for many, many years, and had interacted with him often, is that his assessment is actually correct.

But still, regardless: assuming all the allegations dredged up about him over the past couple weeks is true, do you actually believe it's ok for him to behave that way? If so, then we should just stop discussing this, because it's not going to be productive. If not, then what would you suggest instead? I presume you'd suggest something less harsh than pressuring him to step down from his leadership roles. But what exactly is there that we can do to improve his behavior, after decades of his lack of desire to change? Would you be fine telling women who have to interact with him that they just have to deal with his harassing behavior? I certainly wouldn't be.


> If your assistant also takes a look at your office (given to you as a favor by a respected educational institution) and tells you that "Knight of Hot Ladies" is not appropriate, then you take it down

The top-posted article/parent says this is exactly what happened to the Hot Ladies remark though! Someone else wrote it on his door, took a picture, and it was taken down!

Yet here you are referencing it as if it was something RMS actually did. How many other lies are being spread and believed due to the game of twitter telephone being played here?


We have one person (this article) claiming this, and others claiming RMS put it there. I'm not sure who to believe, but given the other allegations, it doesn't seem out of character.

But ok, let's assume for a second that the article is telling the truth, and that someone put that there to mess with RMS, and it was promptly taken down, unfortunately too late to prevent a photo getting taken.

So what? How does that invalidate all the other bad stuff RMS has done?


Allow me to substitute autism for a different handicap and see if you still agree:

If you have a condition where you have trouble not swearing, while also running an influential organization and acting as its figurehead, you need to be able to mitigate these issues. If this means you have an assistant who you run emails by before sending them, so be it. If female colleagues are putting plants in their offices because they know you don't like plants and it will deter you from visiting them, you either need to recognize that on your own and do something about it, or allow a trusted someone to help you fix the situation. tourettes isn't an excuse for bad behavior. It can explain some bad behavior, but that bad behavior cannot continue over decades; it must be dealt with in some manner.


Yes, I absolutely still agree. A mental illness does not absolve you of responsibility for your actions. If someone is a well-known member of some community and is in a position of power and influence, and they have a condition where they have trouble not swearing, I would think that having someone (without that condition) vet their public communications before sending them out would be a minimum logical, smart thing to do.

I think your analogy is a little bit fallacious, though. We're not talking about a verbal tic here; we're talking about actual actions that make women feel unsafe in his presence.

Put another way, I would be far far more comfortable telling someone "hey, yeah, he has a verbal tic that makes him say 'fuck' a lot; it's weird, but just ignore it" than I would be telling a woman, "hey, yeah, he's [something] and that makes him inappropriately hit on you all the time in situations where he has power over you; it's weird, but just ignore it". Yeah... nope.


For what it's worth, since anyone can predict what Matthew Garrett's opinion on this was going to be, it is in the Bayesian sense very weak evidence for anything.


This is a perfect example of an ad hominem attack which adds little to the discourse: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem


The comment I was replying to was also using the fact that mjg is a specific person who knew Stallman as a reason they are credible. When the thing being discussed is how reliable someone is at conveying private information they have, rather than them making some argument devoid of experience, ad hom is not a fallacy.


That’s not how your comment reads. It reads as “well, we know how he feels, so keep that in mind.” Which, is an ad hominem attack.

If you didn’t mean it that way, than please consider that your word choices come across as mocking, which changes the received meaning.


It absolutely is an ad hom, I'm just claiming that that is not a fallacy in this case, since the trustworthiness or bias of the dude is the thing we are discussing. Ad hom isn't always a fallacy. Nobody has even discussed any arguments coming from mjg, they're just chalking him up on a tally of who is on whose side. And I think the dude is super biased, and that whose side he is on isn't evidence of anything since he picks sides based on ideology, not on a case-by-case basis.


If you have cancer, you need to mitigate these issues. Cancer is no excuse for dying…

Yes – autism is a perfect explanation for behavior not following typical social norms. That's more or less exactly the core of this disability.

From my point of view RMS really tackles his disability as far as he can: Announces his preferences, choosing interaction forms appropriate to him (email), openly telling that he'll refrain from group discussion…

Besides that I still don't see, where RMS really crossed the lines which requires actions to actually destroy his life. In the same time someone like Trump permanently crosses really vital red lines in all aspects… every… fucking… day…


> I cannot believe people keep defending him given the accounts of what he's actually done (assuming you believe the accounts). What about the women who have been creeped out or harassed by him, or who have left the field because of him? Don't they get any consideration?

No, because obviously, his contributions to free software are more important then him making women uncomfortable in their workplaces/places of study/conferences. /snark


If he had the capacity to comprehend any of this he wouldn't be the sort of person who talked about the Knight of Hot Ladies at work. Unless Garrett somehow turned out to be a some kind of medical expert, his opinion on Stallman is about valid as Stallman's on anyone else.


Even if that's the case, so what? People seem to have been trying to help RMS fix his behavior for decades, and he hasn't. It doesn't matter if that behavior stems from a mental health issue or just him being an asshole. The behavior needs to stop. Ejecting him from MIT, the FSF, and the GNU Project are certainly drastic actions to remove him from places where he can do harm, but at some point, after literally decades, maybe you just give up on trying to change or moderate someone, and get them out of your life.


You don't have to be a doctor to diagnose asshole behavior.


But you do to judge what people with any given type of mental health issue can and cannot do.


I think that's fair, but I think there are also a lot of people in this discussion who reject out of hand the idea of: "this person shouldn't ever be in a position of authority over people because their mental health issues cause them to act around those people in ways that end up being construed as inappropriate at best, and actively making people feel unsafe at worst".

A handicap might mean that you just can't do certain things. No, it's not fair, but it's not like we expect the a quadriplegic person to be a long-distance runner... at least not with the medical technology available to us today. I hear a lot of rhetoric (that I agree with) around how a mental illness should be treated just like any other illness and not stigmatized as something to be embarrassed about. But it goes both ways: if a mental illness is just like any other illness (or handicap), then it's perfectly possible that some mental illnesses might mean that some activities aren't feasible, at least not until we understand them well enough to provide better treatments.


I don’t mean to sound snarky, but this really discounts so many factors in how autism is dealt with and even worse it makes it sound as if autistic people are unable to learn how their actions impact people around them, which is of course completely untrue. Autistic people may have difficulty interpreting things such as social cues, but they are absolutely not incapable.

We have indications from many of those closest to RMS that he was willfully dismissive of others feelings. It wasn’t that he was unaware, he was both aware of his difficulties reading others, and made a choice to be dismissive.

It’s painful, I get it. I met RMS many times and still consider him to be one of our era’s great minds and one who’s actions have had nothing short of an incredible impact on society. However, he has–despite this article from his publicist–a long history of bad actions.

I believe there should always be a path forward if people wish to remain a public figure. But this path can’t start with easily disprovable excuses.


The ability to overcome the effect of a disability is partly how severe it is, partly how much and what kind of support one gets and partly time and effort. It's a constant effort and during times of stress it's hard or impossible to maintain.

An awful lot of so-called "normal" men manage to offend women right and left. There are raft loads of women very up in arms about "normal" male behavior.

The world generally has a very long way to go to resolve that question.


Sorry but I'm going to have to ask for the basis of your claim here. It is wellknown that autistic people's lack of selfawareness is varying and inconsistent and how much they can overcome this depends heavily on how much help they received. Normal people misread the intentions of each other on a regular basis yet are somehow experts on the autistic mind?


I offer http://www.mit.edu/~jcb/tact.html

> he was willfully dismissive of others feelings

I can't see why this is considered this bad honestly.


> how autism is dealt with

Stallman was born 67 years a go.

Autism wasn't even a thing.

Until the 1980 it was diagnosed as schizophrenia and only in 1987 a checklist for diagnosing it was proposed

Anyway, not caring too much about other people's feelings when people don't care too much about your medical condition is perfectly acceptable


> Autism wasn't even a thing.

Just like in the middle ages, there was only a single illness that caused fever (aptly named "fever"). More advanced illnesses required bacteria and viruses which were not invented until 1676 respectively 1892.

I wonder how genetic disorders worked back then considering genes didn't exist yet.


I've come to a very similar conclusion. Outrage culture does have a way of disproportionately targeting those on the spectrum as well as people who might suffer from ADHD/ADD. People who fall into those categories will often be a bit more impulsive when saying whatever's on their mind and will by definition have quite different ways of thinking about things. Simply telling one of these people to stop saying stupid things isn't going to work and makes the person come across as being just as ignorant.


This is bull. He had decades to learn not to make women uncomfortable by doing one single thing - calling his business card his "pleasure" card when he handed it to a woman - and he still does that. That's not autism. Autism might hypothetically lead to doing that until someone pulled him aside and told him it was creepy and made others uncomfortable. After that it's just being an asshole.


> Autism might hypothetically lead to doing that until someone pulled him aside and told him it was creepy and made others uncomfortable.

It's not with autism, but I have first hand experience telling a mentally ill person (diagnosis was schizoaffective) that certain behavior is creepy and made women uncomfortable. They didn't listen. They argued it with me very intensely instead. In some cases part of the illness is not realizing there's a problem. It's not always going to work to politely flag a behavior as off putting and they get it right away.


Such person is then not suitable for leadership position nor any position where communication matters. The way leaders interact trickle down and creates culture. People mimic leaders more then we care to admit.

And when you put such person in position where women have choice between leaving and being undermined by his behavior or being insulted or have to work around potential danger to reputation etc or what it is that he was doing, you are in fact disadvantaging women in that organization. You dont get to claim there is no sexism here nor claim that it is all meritocracy nor fair nor babble about natural self selection.

It makes not just women leave, it makes men who dont care about being members of such culture to leave.

For the record, a person that mistreats males would be same case.


I don't think what you've written is in conflict with anything I said.

In the case of this person I am referring to, it's been rather self-selecting and he's not in any positions of authority. It's pretty different from Stallman's purported autism-spectrum behavior too.

But it's also important to note that with the right medications, people like the case I'm describing can do better. So I'd like to afford that, while we agree that people don't make great leaders, authorities, communicators in that state or condition, they don't necessarily get there by being bad or totally irredeemable people, help is available to them and we should hope that they find it and stay "on the wagon", to use a metaphor from somewhere else.


> they don't necessarily get there by being bad or totally irredeemable people, help is available to them and we should hope that they find it and stay "on the wagon", to use a metaphor from somewhere else.

I agree with that and I did worked with people who are on the spectrum.

My pet peeve in these discussion is the argument that boils down to "he is autistic therefore everyone else should bend over and take whatever abuse that person unleashes on them and be understanding back". This argument is present up thread.

That does not work and just makes situation worst for everyone.


Was the argument about whether the behavior made people uncomfortable? Because I'm thinking that after 10, 20, 50 people told him that it did, it might sink in.


Well, with this topic I am getting far from Stallman, who if we assume is on the autistic spectrum is quite a bit different from my experiences with delusional people or psychotic disorders.

But if you've ever argued with a delusional person, they don't give up their beliefs easily. Frequently what happens is they'll turn it on you. So if I say, "you're making those women uncomfortable", he'll argue and say there is a problem with me, that I am too prudish or jealous of his romantic success. And they get very angry and obsessive about being confronted.

I don't know what it'd be like for 20 or 50 people to question these beliefs, but 10 definitely won't convince him. And with the nature of this complaint, a lot of time people are either too polite or too scared to tell him. It seems to me though, the best way to get it to sink in for him is an atypical antipsychotic.


I'm copy-pasting a comment from earlier on because I got late to that discussion and it's doubly relevant when the standard here has gone down from "hindered the work of MIT/FSF" to "made XX-class people uncomfortable".

--

I think the most interesting part of this gotterdamerung is the claim in “Remove Stallman appendix A” that if the work of a Great Genius hinders The work of some number of talented skilled folk, then society is ultimately at a loss. I’m not certain that this is necessarily true. Or false for that matter. I have an intuition, possibly colored by an overall culture of hero worship, that it is false.

This is the rationale: the dynamics large groups of people inevitably approaches that of a committee. Committees are averaging devices that smooth potentially groundbreaking ideas out of serious consideration. Genius on the other hand is not only extraordinarily capable of such groundbreaking ideas but is able to insist on them doggedly.

OTOH it means that one true genius (and maybe Stallman isn’t one, but true geniuses have very very often been assholes) is worth almost an infinite number of merely talented folk.

The ultimate question: what lifted us from mere animal status 10-15K years ago? A handful of geniuses or a general society awakening?

But also; how may “young talented physicists” it takes to change a lightbulb?


The problem with your argument is that it implies that the people who were chased away from CSAIL, MIT or CS in general by people like Stallman were all planning to pile into a giant ineffective committee with each other and thus can be assumed to be No Great Loss, which is... a rather peculiar leap of logic.

There's no reason to suppose this. Even accepting your logic, the people he discouraged from CS might have wound up being highly effective solo contributors or worked in small teams.


> people who were chased away from CSAIL, MIT or CS in general by people like Stallman

Stallman never chased away anybody from CSAIL


I doubt he was the sole cause of someone leaving CSAIL or CS, but I've met plenty of women who were discouraged from CS by constant "weird dudes leering at my chest" or "constantly asking me for dates" etc. Based on the tales of his behavior the balance of probabilities are Not Good that he hasn't been at least partially responsible for some people deciding "well, maybe CS isn't for me".


Probably a general society awakening, my gut says to be honest with you. I think quality of life, progress, and stable economies/societies are ones that efficiently organize themselves into groups or orders.


What about all the women he made feel unsafe, should we not be inclusive of them too?

If someone cannot handle social situations without making people feel unsafe they should not be in a leadership position.


So by that logic, if there was a group of mostly autistic/aspie men and they felt unsafe around one neurotypical woman, she should be the one to lose her position at a university, lose her position at a nonprofit that she founded, and be kicked out on the street, right?

"Feeling unsafe" is an absurd metric to use. Lots of things feel unsafe but are actually extremely safe. Many people feel unsafe flying on airplanes. Though they may not admit it publicly, lots of people feel unsafe around black men. Also, since one can't introspect another person's feelings, the metric of "feeling unsafe" is ripe for abuse. If you don't like someone, simply claim you feel unsafe around them. You can't reliably tell the difference between a liar and a fragile soul.

There is only one thing that generalizes: objective rules and encouraging people to be more understanding. And part of becoming more understanding involves growing a thicker skin. That's the only way that you can have a functioning community that includes communists, libertarians, young earth creationists, Muslims, Mormons, Quakers, atheists, pro-lifers, pro-choicers, Trump supporters, and Bernie supporters. We may not be able to converge on beliefs, but we can get along and work towards common causes. That is, provided that people in the group aren't catastrophizing and looking for any possible reason to be upset at one another.


Well, if she had a decades-long pattern of abusive and tasteless behavior towards people with less power than her, such that people went out of their way to avoid interacting with her at all, then yeah, I’d say hit the bricks.

You’re tilting at strawmen to get around the fact that Stallman can’t seem to control his inappropriate behavior. This isn’t a hypothetical, perfectly spherical, frictionless situation, this is documented patterns of behavior. Not that it should be necessary for understanding, but would you want to explain to your wife/daughter/sister/mother/aunt/any other woman in your life how a sign reading “Knight of Hot Ladies” is at all an appropriate thing to display in an office at MIT? Imagine being gay and Stallman had a sign that read “Knight of Bashing Homos”. Try to imagine how that would make you feel if you were gay.

People feel unsafe because he says the same things abusers say, and act the same way they act. Abusers don’t treat women like people or colleagues or equals, they treat them like objects. And, if I take the gold medal in mental gymnastics I can imagine years of Stallman not realizing that all of the stuff he says and does is harmful, but that doesn’t make it any less inappropriate.


The "hot ladies" photo was by someone who vandalized his sign and took a picture. He didn't do that. I looked around quite a bit, but I could not find a single instance of abusive behavior. No unwanted touching, no abuse of power, no coercion. I did find quite a few outright lies, such as John Gruber claiming that Stallman had an "open marriage" and "made overt sexual advances to women" while on the board of VA Linux.[1] Of course, Stallman has never been married and he was never on the board of VA Linux. There are many stories along those lines, and they've been repeated over and over despite being either unverifiable or verifiably false. You'd think that after 30 years of abuse, there would be a single person who would tell their story to a respected journalist (so that their report could be trusted while still having their identity protected). Hell, considering how famous Stallman is, you'd think one liar or crazy person would have tried this already. Still, nothing.

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


Sounds like someone has attributed their experiences with ESR to RMS.


1. You apparently didn't read the article. Otherwise you would have read that he didn't make that sign.

2. It's very peculiar that you would equate admiring/objectifying women with violence against homosexuals.


> if there was a group of mostly autistic/aspie men and they felt unsafe around one neurotypical woman, she should be the one to lose her position at a university

Yes, if her behaviour was not workplace appropriate.


That's a different question. None of the stories about Stallman are from coworkers. They are from people who shared meals with him, people who attended talks he gave, or people who went to his office. In his position at MIT, Stallman did not teach classes. Anyone who didn't like his behavior was free to tell him off and/or leave. They would suffer zero consequences to their career or schooling.

Also, I replied to someone who said, "If someone cannot handle social situations without making people feel unsafe they should not be in a leadership position." That commenter did not seem to care about whether the behavior was workplace appropriate; only about the feelings of some people who encountered Stallman. That was my point of contention: feelings are too subjective and too easily faked to justify what happened to Stallman.

One thing that has really annoyed me throughout this whole kerfuffle is how slippery the anti-Stallman arguments are. First people claimed he supported Epistein and child rape. Once those were revealed to be blatant lies, people fell back to anonymous emails claiming weird (but not coercive or harassing) behavior from decades ago. When none of those stories could be confirmed (and many of them were disconfirmed, such as the "hot ladies" photo and John Gruber's claims of "overt sexual advances to women"), people fell back to, "He made women feel unsafe." These claims of unsafe feelings lacked objective quantifiable behavior. I feel unsafe around my CEO. It's possible that he could be having a bad day and fire me for no particular reason. Does that mean my CEO should be forced to step down from his position? I don't think so. In Stallman's case, there wasn't even a power differential. He had no influence on the livelihoods of those who felt creeped out by him.

Now you put forth the standard of acceptable workplace behavior in non-workplace environments. If that makes one guilty then none of us are innocent.


The fact that the arguments are so slippery makes me want to automatically disbelieve any new arguments that surface. The motivation of those attacking him obviously have nothing to do with the actual content of the arguments, they already know they want to unperson him, and are then going looking for reasons. The result is selection bias and vague criticisms that could be levelled at pretty much anyone if you had the motivation to dig deeply enough.

It's character assassination as a show of political strength, and as a warning to anyone else who does not submit completely to the narrative, that they will come after you. Well, warning received. I'll ramp up the pretending to be super woke in public. So will everyone else, and we will all know everyone else is pretending too, but there'll be nothing we can do about it because if we deviate from the narrative, most people will come after us to keep up the act in order to save themselves.

I'll be sure to only express opinions anonymously and in the privacy of the ballot box. The far left will keep wondering why it loses elections when everybody outwardly appears to agree with them, and will continue to fight to prevent anonymous forums, but tech will stay ahead of them . Note that Sarah Mei claims to be a die-hard contributor to open source, but has three github contributions in the last year. Yeah, these are not the people who are going to win the arms race when it comes to fighting this battle with technology.


I don't see how "overt sexual advances to women" is by itself bad behaviour anyway. Sure, the appropriateness depends on the situation, but humans by and large do have sexual desire, often of heterosexual orientation. Is phrasing the "overt sexual advances to women" implying that covert sexual advances are better?

This way of phrasing it makes it seem as though "overt sexual advances" would necessarily be unwelcome, or part of a behaviour profile that constitutes harassment.


He is? Working in CSAIL for years, I would never have guessed that he was autistic. The email threads are lost to me now, but I remember him being unyielding and obnoxiously dedicated to free software, but he never seemed unaware of social cues. He always struck me as a very good communicator - someone who understood exactly how obnoxious he was, he was just a true believer so he didn't really care.


Is he actually autistic? Or is it a convenient diagnosis people give him to excuse his behavior?

(I can't find any actual reference to him being autistic on the web. Please enlighten me.)


I've been wondering that myself. I've yet to see anything from him that says so.


Easily the most autistic person I know. No contest.


Meaning he actually has a diagnosis? Or he just kind of behaves like you think an autistic person probably behaves?


I couldn't find any authoritative source, but it's hard to believe anything else if you've been following him for a while.


>He’s autistic.

I keep hearing this - has he ever been diagnosed?

Why do people keep saying this?


IIRC, in a biography about him, his mother suggested that autism would certainly make sense given some of his childhood behavior. As far as I know, he doesn't have a formal diagnosis, but I'm hardly some expert on RMS.


Found a few passages in Free as in Freedom (https://static.fsf.org/nosvn/faif-2.0.pdf):

>A December, 2001, Wired magazine article titled “The Geek Syndrome” paints the portrait of several scientifically gifted children diagnosed with high-functioning autism or Asperger Syndrome. In many ways, the parental recollections recorded in the Wired article are eerily similar to the ones offered by Lippman. Stallman also speculates about this. In the interview for a 2000 profile for the TorontoStar, Stallman said he wondered if he were “borderline autistic.”

>In recent years, Lippman says she has taken to reading books about autism and believes that such episodes were more than coincidental. “I do feel that Richard had some of the qualities of an autistic child,” she says. “I regret that so little was known about autism back then. ”Over time, however, Lippman says her son learned to adjust. By age seven, she says, her son had become fond of standing at the front window of subway trains, mapping out and memorizing the labyrinthian system of railroad tracks underneath the city.

>Watch the Stallman gaze for an extended period of time, and you will begin to notice a subtle change. What appears at first to be an attempt to intimidate or hypnotize reveals itself upon second and third viewing as a frustrated attempt to build and main-tain contact. If his personality has a touch or “shadow” of autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, a possibility that Stallman has entertained from time to time, his eyes certainly confirm the diagnosis. Even at their most high-beam level of intensity, they have a tendency to grow cloudy and distant, like the eyes of a wounded animal preparing to give up the ghost. My own first encounter


Twice exceptional individuals have especially frustrating lives. Their high intelligence masks their difficulties and then other people claim they are making excuses and not trying hard enough.

No one wants to cut any slack for a smart person with disabilities. They just want to double down on "Smart people are lazy, arrogant, over entitled asshats and you need to behave better!"

There are generally too few resources available for such people. Most resources help with one issue or the other (giftedness or disability), not both at the same time. Such resources are a poor fit for the needs of 2e people.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twice_exceptional


To drum up sympathy for his behavior, by blaming it on a medical issue.


You make it sound as though autistic people are unable to learn appropriate social behavior. That is not only false, it does an extreme disservice to the entire community of people on the spectrum.


Well it's a spectrum, right? Some can, some can't - or refuse, for reasons related to them being on the spectrum.


I'm not sure that interpretation accurately represents the abilities of someone on the spectrum that is able to do productive work in society. But regardless, not everyone with all disabilities are qualified for all jobs. In this case, whatever the cause of Stallman's unwillingness &/or inability to behave in a way that doesn't make people feel uncomfortable or bullied, it also makes him unsuitable for these leadership roles. While some of GNU & FSF can be laid at his feet, in many ways they became successful despite him, not because of him.


As a non-neurotypical person, I will have to honestly say that teaching autistic people ""appropriate"" social behavior is comparable to abuse, steaming from the unwillingness of neurotypical to accept something that is not them and consider logic above their feelings for once.


Autistic people do not actually interact in logical way. They are unaware of own emotions and unaware of other peoples emotions. Their behavior or opinions are not more logical nor more correct. Angry yelling autistic is as illogical as angry neurotypical. Just because autistic is totally convinced he or she is super right, does not make it so. Just because neurotypical do not share autistic preference does not make him illogical, does not make his code "objectively" shitty or crappy. It does not make non-autistic illogical to not keep same routine nor to unintentionally disrupt autistic routine. No matter how much autistic calls neurotypical doing something different as yesterday stupid or irrational.

I agree that neurotypical should accept autistic needs and personalities, but not to the point that they allow themselves to be bullied. And vice versa.

Autistic people do have feelings and react to them. Quite strongly. Autistic do get insulted too.


I think this is an undervalued and very important aspect in the whole discussion.

In the meantime a completely mentally disabled person is leading the country and attacking every imaginable person in the world for years and… nothing happens at all!

Weird times.


>He’s autistic.

this is literally the "we need better mental health facilities because of gun violence" argument. the vast majority of autistic people do not behave like stallman. it's not a pass. if he's so fucking smart why didn't he figure out how to comport himself better amongst the normies?


Plainly spoken, he probably underestimated the mental abilities of his listeners and wasn't prepared for his statements to be misinterpreted in this way.


You can start by reading something about the condition, instead of assuming and insinuating, and making inacurate similies.


> He’s autistic... He never had a chance.

That's quite bleak.


Autism has become the junk drawer of disorders everyone seems to think they're somehow qualified to diagnose.

Could you provide some actual evidence of RMS being formally diagnosed as autistic?

Because otherwise you're basically spreading a rumor that RMS has a mental disorder, which is not right.


The other term people are using is "neuro-atypical". That might be a good phrase here. Whether its autism or not, its pretty clear there's a great deal of neuro-atypical happenings in that brain, and many of those clearly impinge upon his social abilities in a really extreme way. There is years of public evidence to support that (including the current crap-storm).


There's a lot of neuroatypical people who don't defend pedophilia or harass people. Don't make it an excuse, it ends up making you sound like you're saying all autistic people are harassing assholes who can't help being assholes. Which is patently untrue.


> He’s autistic.

Please. He's not been "autistic" in that conversation thread. He's been rational. That's not a kind of disability that needs to be excused.




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