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". So I don't buy the "because autism" line here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
If you didn’t mean it that way, than please consider that your word choices come across as mocking, which changes the received meaning.
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…
No, because obviously, his contributions to free software are more important then him making women uncomfortable in their workplaces/places of study/conferences. /snark
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.
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.
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.
> he was willfully dismissive of others feelings
I can't see why this is considered this bad honestly.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
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.
Stallman never chased away anybody from CSAIL
If someone cannot handle social situations without making people feel unsafe they should not be in a leadership position.
"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.
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.
2. It's very peculiar that you would equate admiring/objectifying women with violence against homosexuals.
Yes, if her behaviour was not workplace appropriate.
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.
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.
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.
(I can't find any actual reference to him being autistic on the web. Please enlighten me.)
I keep hearing this - has he ever been diagnosed?
Why do people keep saying this?
>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
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.
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.
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!
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?
That's quite bleak.
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.
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.