They have always been! You could at least have the dignity to read Stallman’s writings (a fine start is available at: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/essays-and-articles.html , a more advanced diet is available at Stallman.org ) to understand just how politically charged GNU, the FSF, and Stallman have always been.
So now some members of a social movement disagree with the leader of that social movement you feel upset to see social issues discussed? That seems dishonest.
Why should any social and political movement remain beholden to one original star of the old guard as the world moves forward.
How ought the community respond to a trend to controversy and irrelevance other than by asking Stallman to step aside from the figurehead role? Is the argument here really that once you are a figurehead for a social movement you earn that position for life? I can’t think of any successful movement or organisation for which that has been the case.
GNU has always been political, the politics needed to bring software freedom to all users is different now than it was in the 90’s. Some battles have been won, others have been lost hard, new battles have arisen. An honest discussion of whether Stallman is best placed to lead those new battles is overdue.
After being embraced, extended and diluted by corporations, software freedom will slide even more into irrelevance.
This also doesn't seem to be a discussion, it's a statement towards Stallman to GTFO.
Ignorance of the fame and effectiveness of several people on that list says more about your awareness of the current state of the FSF and GNU than it does about those organizations.
Werner Koch led FSFE. Ian Jackson led Debian and SPI. Matt Lee is responsible for many of the FSF's major publicity campaigns. Joshua Gay put together Stallman's book. I don't volunteer any of them or have any knowledge of whether they want to run the project, but any of them easily could.
But, I find the implication hard to accept.
It would be to say that Stallman’s continuing presence is essential to the success of free software; surely a frightening responsibility for any one mortal person to carry through their remaining years!
Free software has had success as a movement. To believe otherwise is to take away more than just Stallman’s position, but his entire contribution to our modern society!
That means there are others who will, and for a fact do already, take care for the well-being of the GNU projects. Not all of these will believe in everything Stallman has said or represents, and things would certainly change without him.
A large and successful movement lives beyond its founder, and grows to challenge the new status quo. If it fails to grow, new movements fill the vacuum.
I don't think it will survive. Rich corporations like Google or Microsoft will continue to fund open source projects when it suits them, while locking out users through the cloud and hardware. Those other supporters will play along, because the corporations are paying their salaries or donating to their projects.
There are few honest people opposing Stallman who has, at the very least, been _extremely_ honest! You can dislike Stallman (as I do) and still believe that he is an honest man.
The real question here isn't whether GNU should be political (all institutions are political), but whether the world is really "moving forward".
If the latter, it doesn’t hurt my argument for you to pretend I never used the word forward at all, and I’m very happy for you to do so. Our common ground here is that things feel as though they are changing.
Many great leaders are as much a product of their time and circumstances as they are a reflection of their innate talents. Whether you see the world progressing or regressing you might still agree that Stallman is not necessarily effective in the current climate.
> Whether you see the world progressing or regressing you might still agree that Stallman is not necessarily effective in the current climate.
This is an amoral (and depraved) approach to this topic. The issue of what constitutes an healthy culture takes precedence over whether an individual is "effective" in that culture. There are many ways to recognize this fact, the simplest being to recognize that humanity's most horrific monsters (Hitler, Stalin, Mao) were highly "effective" leaders in their respective monstrous cultures.
The reasons some people are now getting upset is because that answer seems to have change in very recent time. It is no longer a new political movement that recruits activists from all sides, nor is acceptable any more that there is political diversity among contributors. In that environment I am not suprised that RMS do not fit with his unconventional view on multiple political topics. He is neither a true democrat nor a true republican, and if GNU want one of those then indeed there need to be a discussion for a new leader.
People are claiming here that they can have just as much an impact on open source as Stallman, but if this is the case, why haven't they already pushed Stallman out on their merits alone? Why has it taken airing Richard Stallman's dirty laundry for them to step up in the community's eyes?
Perhaps their sins are less objectionable than Stallman's - more acceptable when combined with their lesser impact than Stallman - but what about tomorrow? Who will replace them when their actions from 20 years ago come back to haunt them?
What level me mediocrity will we have to endure in 10 years just to have the least objectionable person possible in a position of power?
Yeah, he fucked up in approaching those women and making them uncomfortable. However, a couple of data points do not a trend make.
I've been in attendance at an RMS talk (HOPE 2016) when he opened by asking the organizers to turn the house lights back up so he could see if there was anyone in the crowd he might want to have sex with. I saw how many women immediately got up and left in response to that, and I don't blame them for doing so. I would've done the same, if I'd felt myself to be one of the people Stallman made a joke about maybe wanting to fuck. (And, if I hadn't thought it might be worth sticking around for the Q&A and a chance at a callout. Some goober ended up yanking the mike cord, which was fine. A lot of people thanked me for saying what I did before he got to me.)
How likely do you think it is that those women had any inclination to contribute to free software after an experience like that? How likely do you think it is that I did - knowing that to do so would associate me with people who had no problem with a figurehead whose behavior was so completely out of step with modern mores, and so discouraging to such a wide segment of the community?
Since then, I've corresponded with others more familiar than I with RMS, and from that correspondence I've learned that this kind of thing was in no way out of character for him - I don't know firsthand, because that was the last RMS talk I chose to attend or will attend in future, and decided no longer to donate my time, money, or support to any FSF project for as long as he remained chairman. I don't want to be associated with behavior like that, and I most certainly don't want to enable it - both for its own sake, and because where the culture tolerates something like that, there's reason to suspect it will tolerate worse, besides.
I'm glad that so many people who have such a strong hand in making FSF and the GNU Project what it is today - far more of a hand than RMS has had in many years now - have chosen to speak so well on the subject. I know their statement has elicited a torrent of garbage. I hope they won't let it distract them from the fact that they're doing the right thing.
There's video. This alleged event occurs at about 6:11 in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uckLT7mPPIw
I think your words mean the opposite of what RMS actually said. So much for justice.
"so he could see if there was anyone in the crowd he might want to have sex with."
RMS's actual words (speaking to a darkened room where he can't see anyone & conference organisers are having trouble getting their projector working, so he has to improvise to fill the time):
"And I always like to be able to see the people I'm talking to but it's so dark in here I can't see you. Now, I mean, I might conceivably enjoy sleeping with some of you but that's not what we're here for. Uh, so if it's possible to increase the light on the audience please?"
That's poorly judged joke/banter: If there's one lesson we're learning from all this, it is avoid jokes that are likely to be misunderstood. I don't doubt that some women got up and left, and were put off contributing. Someone should have had a word with him about how it was received.
My guess is RMS would be mortified if he thought people, such as yourself, were misunderstanding his words to that gross extent.
Frankly, given the severity of the accusations, what you have called him out for on this occasion looks to me like a brazen outright lie on your part, as evidenced by the video to correct the record.
You're welcome, of course, to maintain whatever interpretation you like of the events under discussion. But the video doesn't show the 20 or so women who got up and left immediately after he said that. You've yet to offer a compelling argument for why I, or anyone, should rely on your interpretation rather than theirs.
However the moment I found the video with the actual quote and the extent of your mischaracterization of the situation I reverted back to my former opinion on the whole issue (which is very close to "this is witchhunt").
Nevertheless I feel grateful to you for reinforcing me in the belief one should never ever trust any accusation without a concrete proof. I'm deeply indebted to you for this important lesson.
As I also previously mentioned, the video does not show the people who immediately got up and left in response to that remark. It seems I'm not alone, either, in being more concerned about their opinions than about yours. Judging by the content of the statement here under discussion, many of those who have in recent years, by volume of code and effort invested, been the actual leaders of the GNU project, incline to a reading of the situation which rather more resembles mine than yours.
I doubt you will find it easy, with intellectually honest arguments, to convince anyone that these people are engaged in a "witchhunt" which, if it were so, would critically endanger the reputation of the project in which they've invested so much.
But, again, that's your problem, not mine.
That doesn't necessarily support your interpretation.
If you think they are lying about that, or can't be trusted for some other reason, here's your opportunity to explain your reasoning on that.
I don't doubt that. And you're right to point that out.
You'd be even more right if you didn't exaggerate the words he said while paraphrasing because your version changes the story from "poor taste in jokes alienating women" to basically accusations of sexual harrassment.
And a lot of us don't like to see exaggerated accusations toward anybody, but especially given the recent scandal where RMS suffered a lot of misrepresentation and emotional overreactions all over the Internet.
Now, the change in leadership (or, to start with, decentralization) might ultimately be a good thing for the GNU project, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't treat the reputation of the outgoing FSF president with at least some respect.
So let's be correct and factual, this will really help discussions like this be more constructive from all sides.
Now, of course, a conference speaker does not typically employ his audience, and I don't argue that RMS is eligible for the civil penalties which, per that statute, may attach to the comment he made. I would nonetheless, in light of this information, find myself somewhat embarrassed to have chosen "it's just a joke, not sexual harassment" as the hill on which I wished to die.
I have a great deal of respect for RMS's legacy. For example, had he not invested the effort to bring GNU Emacs into existence, I would almost certainly not now be at the point in my profession and my career where I am; I have found Emacs an invaluable tool for something like a decade, and have no intention of ever replacing it at any time in the future. I own a signed copy of the Emacs 24 manual - bought at that same conference, and signed by RMS himself just a few hours after those events took place. I have no plans to destroy it, as I gather some have done. I was honored, and remain so, that he was willing to sign my book at all.
But the respect I cherish for the technical work RMS has done, does not extend to excusing his failures of respectful behavior, or the fashion in which they hinder rather than advance the goals of the GNU Project and the FSF as a whole. Nor does that respect extend to any longer keeping quiet about what he said or about the effect it had. Indeed, I should've spoken up long before now.
I understand the grievances of those who would hear no ill of their idol. I hope they'll someday learn to understand that facts don't care about their feelings.
Sorry, I couldn't find the definition for "sexual harrassment" in the first document. And I'm not from US, so maybe we have different expectations for the term.
Could you clarify which of the 6 examples in the second document you found pertinent to the story?
> had he not invested the effort to bring GNU Emacs into existence, I would almost certainly not now be at the point in my profession and my career where I am
Cheers to you from one of the current Emacs developers, then!
> Nor does that respect extend to any longer keeping quiet about what he said or about the effect it had. Indeed, I should've spoken up long before now.
Maybe you should have. Hopefully not in the way that the current Twitter mob has organized, though.
The way the scandal broke out, there's little opportunity now for the stories like this to have an ultimate positive impact, unfortunately. I doubt Richard is going to get a lot of speaking engagements in the near future.
Maybe you think that's an unworthy bit of lawyerly ratiocination, but even so, consider that a comment like that would get anyone who made it fired from any tech company with an HR department and an employee base the size of that talk's audience, and for the same reason around which the GNU maintainers' statement revolves.
To your last point, I don't think it is unreasonable to hope for some positive impact out of all this, or I wouldn't have said anything even now. I'm not here to try to dogpile the guy; I'm here to talk about how, no matter from whom they originate, comments like this aren't "just jokes", that they aren't harmless, and that there's nothing honorable or worthwhile in defending them or the people who, as in this case, persist in making them past all reasonable expectation or effort of curtailment.
I feel like that's worth talking about, if for no other reason than because the man's been regarded as a hero by many, some of whom may really need to be told that there are some aspects of his behavior which are not acceptable, and which they cannot expect to get away with.
I'd prefer it if someone like that were to understand why this is the case, and agree that it should be. But I'll settle for someone like that getting the idea that, whatever he may think of this whole idea, he'd better learn to keep his mouth shut instead of saying things that hurt marginalized groups, or else expect to be made sorry.
Maybe that sounds harsh to you, I don't know. It sounds harsh to me. Being made fun of for being a woman, or gay, or a person of color, or Jewish, or trans, or disabled, or... - that's a hell of a lot harsher, and it normalizes and, as is amply exemplified in history both recent and otherwise, encourages behavior that's far harsher still - discrimination, exclusion, robberies, beatings, rapes, murders. That sort of behavior, I'm absolutely fine with being harsh in an effort to dissuade.
Nobody gets to choose to be - or not to be - a woman, or gay, or of color, or Jewish, or trans, or disabled, or part of any of the other axes of marginalization in our societies. Everyone, though, has the power to choose what they say. I want people to choose wisely. If their native empathy doesn't suffice them as cause to do so, I have no problem in principle or in practice with the fear of punishment taking its place.
That, after all, is the tool societies ultimately use to discourage behaviors they regard as unacceptable. What our societies find acceptable is changing. I understand that some people really don't care for that. But, again, facts don't care about their feelings. And when we have the US Supreme Court considering whether to explicitly exclude LGBTQ people from civil rights protections, and Germany's AfD frightening Jewish people into hiding their ethnicity - when those aren't even the worst examples you can find, just the first two that came off the top of my head - it's getting awfully late in the day to take a softly-softly approach.
Aren't sexist remarks statements like "a woman couldn't manage to do xxx as well as a man could", or "make me a sandwich"? The statement was (one might say, carefully) gender-neutral, and even if you can infer a gender it might have been referring to, what negative thing would it have been implying about said gender?
> consider that a comment like that would get anyone who made it fired from any tech company with an HR department and an employee base the size of that talk's audience
It could have, but I hope nobody would call it "sexual harrassment". "Inappropriate language at the workplace", maybe? It might not (since there's no single person it targeted, to report it to HR). It probably wouldn't cause any firing at any of the places I've worked, though. shrug
> I don't think it is unreasonable to hope for some positive impact out of all this
Let's hope so. And let's hope your comments don't end up drowning in people arguing about details, like a lot of us nerds like to do.
> there's nothing honorable or worthwhile in defending them or the people who, as in this case, persist in making them past all reasonable expectation or effort of curtailment
I hope you can see that, given the unfortunate circumstances, there really is something honorable in defending the person, at least to make sure that the accusations are valid and not overblown.
> I'd prefer it if someone like that were to understand why this is the case, and agree that it should be
BTW, you know you could email him directly, right? Before that all happened, or even now.
> he'd better learn to keep his mouth shut instead of saying things that hurt marginalized groups
Again this language of emotional escalation. It's manipulative.
Making someone uncomfortable doesn't always imply hurting them. Even if they're feeling entirely disgusted by a speech, like some of the women in the audience might have been.
You don't have to equate X with Hitler to prove to people that X is bad. X can be bad on its own rights.
> If their native empathy doesn't suffice them as cause to do so, I have no problem in principle or in practice with the fear of punishment taking its place
There is still such a thing as disproportionate punishment.
That's harm, but it's not the only harm. It's not all that easy for someone to start a career in this industry, if they don't already "look like us" - the concept is typically treated under the name "culture fit": white, male, straight or at least nonthreateningly upper-middle-class gay, went to college for a degree in CS or a nearby discipline or else started programming at minus three years of age, laughs at our jokes and tells ones like them, drinks the same kind of beer we do, stuff like that. People who don't check those boxes, who don't exude the same ant smell, have a harder time. A higher standard is imposed. One way to meet it is to demonstrate both technical skill and ability to work with others via contributions to well-known projects - such as, for example, those that constitute the GNU project.
So it doesn't just hurt the project, when people are discouraged from trying to make such contributions by leaders making comments that, yeah, to people who look like us it's easy to mistake for just a joke, what's the big deal. It's easy for us not to see the problem, because people who look like us aren't accustomed to being the butt of jokes. For people who are, of course it's not "just a joke". It's the latest in a lifetime of "jokes" which, with enough experience of the sort that people who look like us are not likely to have, you learn are warning signs of a defect in the culture where such "jokes" are accepted. You learn that such a culture will not be kind to you, in the way it is to people who look like us. You learn you won't be welcome, that it'll be a constant fight to even try to establish and maintain yourself there. You learn there are better ways to spend your time, that piling that extra bullshit on top of the concerns that come with just trying to live a life in the world of the future is something best approached with great care and vast effort at self-defense, or maybe not at all.
So the project loses contributions, and you lose a chance to prove yourself to the higher standard imposed on you than on people who look like us, and our industry and our field of endeavor lose people who had the potential to be great engineers and, being not superhuman, needed encouragement and support to realize that potential - encouragement and support that people who look like us failed to provide, all while asking why's there all this fuss, anyway, over what was just a dumb joke, honestly, who even cares.
You're welcome to go on not seeing this as a problem, if you like. I don't know what more I can do to convince you. If you won't believe the stories women tell about experiences like this and the effect they have, if you won't listen when someone who looks like us corroborates those stories and says, yes, this happened, things like this happen every day, and they really do run people out of projects, out of jobs, out of careers, that if you take even a moment and look around just a little, you'll see it too - past that, I don't see what more I can do to convince you that this matters.
It's enough to make me understand why those who bear the brunt of this problem are getting past the point of trying to convince anyone of anything. It's enough to make me want to get behind them and push. If that means adding my voice to those demanding RMS, having so misused his platform for so long, now have that platform taken from him, then so be it. His work will stand forever as a legacy of what one person can do, and inspire others to do. That should be enough for anyone. And if the manner of his departure from that role inspires even one young engineer who looks like us to think twice about making some "dumb joke" that'll force whatever women or PoC or queers like me who hear it to consider whether they really want to spend their whole working life around people who act this way and worse toward them - well, there's a kind of legacy worth respecting in that, too.
Edit: About the 6:20 mark.
Again, I understand that you regard this statement of RMS's - and the many similar statements attested by others - as innocuous, and any interpretation otherwise to be false and motivated by a witch-hunting desire to tear down a great man for no better reason than because his greatness makes others feel small. You've been quite clear about that.
You haven't done a good job arguing for it, though. You reiterate the same unsupported assertions that you've already made, and in between times you sling accusations at people who disagree with you - all the while hiding behind anonymity, lest you risk having your behavior reflect poorly on you - in the hopes that those following along will be suckered into mistaking such personal attacks and unsubstantiated claims for an argument.
You're welcome to do that, of course, if it doesn't embarrass you. I'd hope that it would, but I suppose the concealment of anonymity helps with that, too.
Edit: fix unclear wording, add question
All that remains is to argue over whether or not that exception was merited, and "it was just a joke, god, why are you being so emotional, jeez" - another uncharitable but accurate paraphrase - doesn't strike me as much of an argument. Neither does, again, claiming that I must be lying about what people did, or how many, in response to that comment of his.
Would you please step up your game? Answering the same tired objections over and over again, as they're reiterated in slightly different ways, grows dull, and it's difficult to distinguish one's interlocutors from one another when they're all saying the same things.
Except it's not.
You're misinterpreting his joke.
It is a joke, but he's saying that:
1 - keeping the lights off is conducive to having sex
2 - although he might enjoy sleeping with some of the people in the room, that's not what they're there for
3 - instead, he would prefer to see the audience
4 - so he's asking for the lights to be turned on
Are you really sure that's a place you care to stand? Because, whatever you may think you're saying, that's how you're being heard - and how your audience hears what you say is not a phenomenon subject to your control, or RMS's.
Why am I not hearing about these encounters? These are the voices I want to hear. Why have these stories gained no traction until now? Why does it take a scandal to bring these issues to light? Am I just living under a rock, or is there an overarching issue with OSS culture that extends far beyond Stallman? I’m incredibly disappointed that I’m only discovering this deep in HN comments.
But view the video linked to in child comments to the one you're replying to, and draw your own conclusion about what RMS actually said and the context in which it was said.
My view is that the comment you're replying to describes an incident that grossly mischaracterises what actually occurred. There were problems, and there was an inadvisable sexual joke, and probably some women were probably put off contributing to OSS, and it echoed some aspects of misogyny taking place in the rest of their lives - workplace, home, everywhere.
Consider, at the same event, the person you replied to admits that someone thought what they were saying was problematic too (thus the yanking of the mic from their hand). So, at very least, there were strongly differing views at the time.
I think it's good that people, on occasions of heightened awareness like this, feel able to share their presumably long history of traumatic and unwelcoming experiences, in OSS and in society elsewhere.
The shit women (among others) have had to endure, and still do, continues to be awful, both in OSS and elsewhere.
But it's terrible that the same phenomenon involves people empowering themselves in groups by gathering to destroy other people from more or less the same "side", when the social errors being committed by each person are not that different from each other, and what I'd call the "real criminals" (rapists, abusive partners, abusive bosses etc) are strangely not targetted in the debate.
For a movement that is supposed to be based on high principles of inclusion, empowerment, and social justice, it's tragic to those principles made weak and breaking down, because people don't know how to apply them in situations like this.
That was what got my mic cord yanked. That was what the people who thanked me after, were thanking me for saying. I understand why that happened, and I understand why you might not want to talk about it, but don't you think it's a little inconsistent to complain about tendentious interpretations in the same breath in which you utter one?
Wherever do you come by that idea? It's certainly an odd one. In any case, we're not talking about those people here; those conversations are taking place, even now, elsewhere, and thanks to the Internet, you can find them if you so choose. This conversation is about Richard Stallman, and the fashion in which much of his recent behavior (and not so recent, I gather) has affected both people involved with and adjacent to the GNU project, and the prospects of that project itself. Please don't use matters irrelevant to the topic at hand to try to steer this conversation away from its purpose.
What I mean it looks to me like RMS made social errors such as the one shown in the video, which are indeed problematic and need to be dealt with.
But many people now villifying him are almost certainly guilty of plenty of social errors of a similar magnitude of harm to others themselves (thought not all the same kind of harm), and they are being hypocritical in focusing on grouping him with the "real criminals" in public perception, while said hypocrits aren't really all that perfect themselves, could in many cases find the same thing happens to them someday, and are quietly benefiting right now from the spotlight not being in their direction, and safety in group dynamics.
The debate is to determine what is right, just, fair, and proportionate.
Fairness in justice does, in fact, depend on the character and behaviour of the assasinators and wider social group, not just the target in isolation from them.
If you want to argue against those principles, that's fine obviously, but argumentum ad hominem fallacy does not apply where the character and behaviour of the debators is properly relevant.
(Character and behaviour are also relevant to the question of estimating how much to believe, when people are acting as witnesses rather than debators.)
I wouldn't find that a terribly comfortable place to stand. That you seem to find it congenial gives me to wonder about the quality of your own character. Ordinarily, of course, such doubts would be unworthy of this sort of discussion. But since you've found it meet to broach the subject, why shouldn't we start the inspection of character with you? Clearly you feel yourself above reproach in this regard, so I'm not sure what reason you could possibly have to demur, when I require that you prove, to my satisfaction, your standing to argue as you do on this subject.
He created the free software movement, created GNU. We're standing on his shoulders, only now (after 20+ years of standing on his shoulders) caring that yeah, he's not a perfect person we had hoped for.
The question is not how much work Stallman has done in the past 20+ years (few will have an issue with that) - the question is whether having Stallman at the helm of GNU benefits GNU projects, right now.
This is extremely unfair statement, completely misrepresenting the issue.
If you rephrased it as "one of bad things we can say about a leader is he allegedly tried to push somebody into relationship in 1985" you'd be closer to the mark.
In November of 2010, 4,600 people contributed to GNU.
If we follow the 1-9-90 rule of speaking out, for every 1 woman who went to the authorities, 9 women have spoken out publicly, and, 90 others have not. I'm aware of 6-7 who have gone public with their accusations, and none who went to the authorities. As such, it seems safe (if likely excessive) to say that less than 100 women have been actively harassed via awkward romantic advances over the last 20 years.
So, in this scenario, not even 2% of the contributors from one month were harassed by Stallman. If we consider GNU to be on par with other software projects and say that about 30% of the total contributors for that month were women, then about 7% of the woman contributors from one month were harassed by Stallman over 20 years.
It's still too high a number, but it's not exactly a vast majority.
FWIW, I will not be responding to you any further, as your comments seem to have devolved into personal attacks.
Did female harassment get solved in society at large? No. You can't solve it in online communities, you're only building bubbles of false-safety which will pop once the pressure from the real world becomes high enough.
America in particular is under so much political and social tension that it's starting to show cracks and online lynch mobs are a part of the problem.
But what we can do is strongly oppose any harassment. Clearly tell off anyone whe participates in harassment.
Of course, the leaders of any community should be a role model in not supporting harassment.
We wouldn't tolerate sexual harassment, etc., in the workplace or in civil society. I don't see why we wouldn't expect a basic level of decorum in respectable online communities.
And people will know what's fair and when they're being bullied. The change has to work towards equality, not revenge and entrapping others.
Currently the exact opposite is happening: the changes are forced by small online groups, mostly associated with software development. Which bully others into submission.
You've probably noticed how in the real world, society is quite divided, with basic civil rights being questioned. This is what happens when people "win" in their little software bubbles.
But let's pretend this isn't HN, and argue the other party's side as best we can. Suppose I was ousted, because I wanted to (a) nullify marriages and (b) leave same-sex couples without the legal protections of marriage as defined by the state of California?
Then I'd deserve ousting, at least as CEO (see the Mozilla FAQ on "remain at Mozilla in another C-level position"), because many people at Mozilla would find (a) and (b) intolerably unjust and wrong.
In fact, (a) and (b) are both false, and were in 2008. Retroactive law is unconstitutional, and then-AG Jerry Brown (who let Prop 8 on the ballot) said so at the time:
As for (b), even Obama, who said in 2008 that he thought marriage should be between a man and a woman, although he also said he did not support Prop 8, did support civil unions for same sex couples, which in California are governed by Domestic Partnership law:
I supported that civil unions law from inception through amendments to bring it to parity on positive rights with conjugal marriage, as did the majority of Californians. And I support the ancient principle against retroactive law.
This is all obsolete, due to court decisions culminating in Obergefell, and I accept the law of the land as it has been decided. But if one is ignorant of (a) and (b) being false, or if one chooses to hide the truth and paint me as a hateful person, then it's easy to see why others would want to oust me. I would too, if I believed the charges.
But the charges are false in my case. And they have nothing to do with RMS. I wish I had a nickel every time my name was dropped on HN to make invidious comparisons, and a dime every time I was compared to RMS.
The truth matters, and right vs. wrong matter. I agree with so-called SJWs that justice is not just a matter of law, that the law won't deal with sub-criminal behavior that social groups must confront and reject. Obviously we disagree on whether I'm guilty of such behavior! Still, better to agree on there being a category of social justice, and then argue the facts if we can.
To your closing point: it may be we should prefer mediocrity as the price of ousting toxic people, but we first should try harder to be sure of our collective ousting judgment. It was way off in my case, and in any event, the ousting pressure was not why I left Mozilla. There was an immediate anti-Mozilla reaction after I left, and the net effect on Firefox market share is hard to detect amid the long grim slide downward.
There's no meaningful way for me to act on this current, since "boycotting" GNU does nothing to harm these bad elements and I do not contribute back to GNU. I can merely convey my profound disapproval.
This is a disgrace. This is no way to treat someone. It's nothing short of utterly disrespectful and self-serving. RMS is, in my view, a completely innocent man; even in the most negative sensible reading of the situation, he is guilty of a minor transgression at most. Even in the most negative sensible reading of supposed transgressions spread over decades, he does not deserve this.
RMS has done more to empower all computer users than all of these signees combined. I'm very saddened by this torrent of hate, short-sightedness and obedience to the mob. To me, GNU represents fighting for freedom even if nobody else believes in it; this is the opposite of that.
Note that the Joint Statement does not take a position on the statements that the most recent controversy has been about. Instead, it speaks about "behavior over the years". Of course, the recent controversy doubtless played a role in bringing all this to a head, but it is possible for someone to believe both that RMS is "completely innocent" of wrongful conduct and that he has engaged in behavior that harms the cause of Free Software.
> Yet, we must also acknowledge that Stallman’s behavior over the years has undermined a core value of the GNU project: the empowerment of all computer users.
What they did will fracture the community anyway. You can bet there are Stallman supporters in GNU, too. If the undersigned have it their way, others will leave (or disengage), in protest. There's no winning in this. From my pov, what they did has only downsides, and no upsides whatsoever.
You don't like GNU? Fork their software, make your own GNU with vodka and hookers. Just, don't throw a public tantrum. Use official channels and due process. If the organization doesn't respond, and doesn't match your values - just leave.
Stallman created that movement and has a lot of community support. Outing him to the public without discussing in private or even giving something actionable is just inviting outrage.
If you disagree with an organization, quitting and/or forking (and announcing your reasons) is less damaging to the cause than this.
Either way, I think a lot of it is social posturing, as part of individual distancing from the transpired scandal. E.g. some of the friends/relatives of the signatories now view RMS strictly negatively, so they try their best to distance themselves (or, interpreting charitably, the corresponding GNU subprojects) to try to salvage some reputation.
"all computer users" with the implication that Stallman is not representing the ones who demand to go straight to lynch mob behavior without a shadow if due process as soon as the word "sexual" is mentioned? And therefore Stallman should be thrown out of the project that is his creation and life's work?
That's got to be one of the most forced political readings ever of that point in the manifesto.
Well, if that's the argument, I'm a computer user too and every one of these signatories have just demonstrated themselves unfit to represent me. Enough of the witch hunt, and hands off Richard Stallman's thoroughly earned standing in the GNU project!
What due process do you want, given that it's taken at least 7 years for such allegations to be taken seriously by some subsection of the community?
You came now after years with some people memories on what may have happened? Would you like to be accused of something that you may have said 20 years ago, that is not a crime but may have upset someone? Why not talk about the present, the last year and not dig ancient history because there is nothing recent to complain about.
Could you name at least couple of those conferences he was banned from? Preferably with surrounding circumstances?
But this HN comment does a good job of describing events at a recentish conference, although not a banning:
That sort of thing could get a person banned at a conference these days. (It would have been treated as humorous banter a few decades ago, and I find myself imagining that's when RMS learned his trade.) But usually there's some kind of escalation process, where people are told to stop doing it, and, if necessary, have it explained to them what is unacceptable and why.
Note: I am describing everyone, not just “other people”.
BTW, agreed sex jokes or talks should not have place in a technical conversation or conference. But I find misrepresenting comments to be questionable, and people criticizing others should at least spend the time to watch the video and transcribe the words correctly rather than misstate things.
If you ousted yourself as an asshole in public, people not wanting to associate with you isn't legal, it's civilized society.
No. This is equivalent to a threat to strike. RMS without the GNU project maintainers is just a dude with a blog. And this approximates a vote of no confidence.
One strike and your out isn't even how we play baseball.
Maybe I'm too trusting. I have no evidence that kind of a convo happened. But the allegations are that RMS has been a missing stair for well over 20 years. I find it very hard to believe that someone who's been causing problems in a community for 20+ years has never had a friend pull them aside and ask them to change their behaviour.
Dr Richard Stallman is a person, too. It's no longer a secret that he likely has high-functioning autism. What is he supposed to be being now being disbarred from his own project that he founded in 1985? If people think he doesn't deserve to be credited as the founder of FSF, just fork, and be done with it. Instead what they're doing is trying to actively ostracise the very hand that fed them.
They don't _have_ to do any of this. They _should_, though, as society demands it.
Folks are free to disagree, but this is very much the right move.
They're free to walk away from Stallman and the movement he created, but they won't because they can't let go of the shiny. Instead, they convince themselves they deserve free software and GNU without the nasty man who built it.
You can not be a part of a lynch mob, and still take issue with Stallman's statements / behavior.
I agree RMS is not a sociable person but I would have preferred to see some significant "crime" , now I have the feeling that you can be kicked out from your own project if you made a stupid comment or thing in the past and the social media gets enraged by mostly FUD and exagerations of your said comment.
I do not believe this. Stallman has no kind of irrational hate against vi beyond "church of emacs" memery. Stallman doesn't even take the editor war thing seriously.
>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.
Stallman lived in his office. This is well-known and well-documented.
It's not mentioned in this article, but there's also the claim that women kept plants around to scare Stallman off. This is also patently false; besides being obviously ridiculous, one can also find plenty of pictures of Stallman surrounded by plants.
All of these claims are so utterly ridiculous, so absurd, that I not only feel confident to dismiss them without evidence; I'm also inclined to believe that most of them were made in jest.
It becomes hard to believe any of the accusations when so many of those that are repeated in earnest are so laughable.
Reading that has been a complete waste of time. To save everyone else some effort:
1. The man has problematic opinions. Welcome to democracy, where people with uncomfortable opinions are free to hold and discuss them. This is healthy.
2. He used a bad pick-up line, saying he'll kill himself if X doesn't go out with him.
3. The MIT report doesn't mention Stallman by name.
3. Had a mattress in his office.
The discourse level in the US has hit rock bottom lately, all I see are online mobs running amok.
1. The man has problematic opinions. Welcome to
democracy, where people with uncomfortable opinions are
free to hold and discuss them. This is healthy.
These people are arguing for their own desires more than anything. They want an FSF they can feel good about, not this one with a flawed person producing the software they can't give up.
If he doesn't sit well on a pedestal, push him over and set someone else there.
No, they are coordinating a character assassination campaign and are pressuring everyone to disavow him.
It's disappointing to see people cheering mobs on, just because they seem to attack "bad" people, while forgetting that anyone can be made to look bad.
No; rms is gross and creepy because rms is gross and creepy. Not because some conspiracy has worked to make him look like he is.
Even if he were gross and "creepy", that's no reason to oust someone from the organizations they helped create and destroy their reputation with absurd unverifiable anecdotes, like the ones about plants or vi. Or the note hanging on the door, which was likely a prank.
Creepy is also a meaningless word, best associated with ghosts and monsters, not people. Nowadays it seems to be used to criticize awkward male courtship attempts, as if trying to romance someone isn't tough enough and those that don't know how to do it have to be ridiculed too.
I did not read the rest since it probably is as fake or exaggerated as the beginning.
I read in other places about RMS pathetic way of asking for a date so I know he was and is not perfect.
You're entitled to your opinion, but other people would disagree with your opinion on the topic. And because free software is free as in freedom, they're certainly welcome to attempt to route around him (whether that fractures the community will be up to the community as a whole).
The existence of some folks who skew those things IMO isn't relevant when it comes to the things that I've seen that seem like believable accounts.
Project leadership is a social task. Sometimes, being well-suited to be a chief-of-doctrinal-purity or chief-of-technology is not being well-suited to being a chief-of-chiefs.
How have they stopped you from doing so in their signed open letter?
Would you mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and using HN as intended? Regardless of how right you are, perpetuating flamewar is destructive here.
the standard is not "care", it's "gave as much of a fuck about software and personal freedom as Stallman did/does".
RMS used an absolute garbage computer because it was, in his words:
> the only laptop one could buy that could run a free initialization program and a free operating system.
i'm certainly not taking it on some contributor's word that these 20 or so odd people are as principled as RMS that i trust the project to be led by them. my guess is a large fraction are pragmatists (like most normal people) who use a nonfree BIOS setup for productivity, or have an iPhone/android because "normal", etc.
so, while certainly more like normal people, they aren't as principled. and what you want in a position like RMS's is someone so principled that they basically are immune to attack and inspire others to take on those principles. nobody's taking RMS seriously if he's giving talks from his macbook air.
as far as i can tell, RMS is so principled that it actually hindered the long term success of GCC. it would have behooved the long term strategic goals to make GCC the best/"only" compiler by making a BSD/MIT style version, so as to accept more liberal contributions, but he didn't.
he seems to be principled to a fault. is this group of 20 or so people as consistent as he was? i sincerely doubt it.
The entryists have a response for this too: call for the removal and replacement of all the leadership of relevant organizations, as they have already done with the FSF.
Open Source would never be where it is now without the Free Software movement (which is an ideological one). Maybe some corporations would still promote the OSS approach due to its economic benefits, but probably not. It likely wouldn't have the same midshare among developers that it has today.
You have already failed. I, for one, feel extremely alienated by your "joint statement".
Lest you think this is a niggling distinction, Sage Sharp pronounced Linus guilty of inciting violence by making a humorous comment about his friend Greg Kroah-Hartman's height. (Something like: "Greg is a giant; watch out or he might squish you.")
That's how they operate. They go digging to find the six words that will hang you, and if you don't capitulate they go to your boss (read: corporate sponsors if you have your own project).
* Coraline Ada Ehmke
* Sage Sharp
* Aurynn Shaw
* Valerie Aurora
* Sarah Mei
* Matthew J. Garrett
* Steve Klabnik
These are some of the loudest voices calling for the removal and systematic reputational destruction of key free-software developers based on behavior which ranges from bad but not worth a purge to downright innocuous.
The list signatories, near as I can tell, are doing damage control on the optics of being affiliated with Stallman and are, to my knowledge, not themselves calling for purges the way the above named individuals and their fellow travellers are.
(Edited to include Klabnik. He expressed the need for a "tech antifa" and approved of the use of violence by the same. I think he counts.)
* Former GitHub Community Management senior developer
* Linux kernel contributor
* Eiara Limited founder
* ext2 dirty bit, ChunkFS developer
* Chief consultant at DevMynd
* Linux contributor and winner of the FSF Free Software Award
* Frequent Hacker News contributor, author of "The Rust Programming Language," member of Rust core team.
Seems like some solid contributors to the ecosystem and people who have earned a seat at the table defining what the community looks like; not sure why we're singling them out. Or should we also disapprove of the time rms founded an entire Free Software Foundation for the purposes of putting political pressure on various institutions, organizations, and people to respect the Four Freedoms?
Are you sure you disagree with the methods of the people you listed? Or do you merely disagree on what behaviors someone's reputation should suffer for?
the downside to revolutions is that sometimes the revolution gets away from the control of those who start it. ;)
Here's Sarah Mei declaring her intent to character-assassinate Uncle Bob and have him written out of programming history. And for what? Well, apparently Uncle Bob made some remarks that "C++ is like testosterone", meaning that C++ programmers take an overly "macho" attitude to their work and look down on other programmers. Sarah interpreted this as toxic masculinity.
This is where we are today. The old standards of discourse between speaker and audience have passed away. Instead, you must now assume that your statements will be interpreted in the least charitable way by the least reasonable person on earth -- and that person has the phone number of your current employer and every future employer you might apply to.
This is how Bolsheviks operate. The means of production (in this case, open source and the discipline of programming in general) belongs to the proletarian vanguard party (the social-justice left purporting to speak on behalf of women, PoC, LGBTQ, etc.) and any kulaks (old-time hackers, overrepresented by straight white males) still clinging to their piece of it must be crushed without mercy.
"But silly bitwize," you may counter, "You are comparing losing your reputation in open source with being killed or sent to the gulag. Surely a ridiculous comparison." Apparently Jon Sterling, one of the other thought leaders you admire so much, was "only 30% kidding" about sending his political opponents to real actual gulags: https://i.imgur.com/rlqa73W.png?1
I don't see it very critical when society puts pressure on an organization to fire a high-profile leader (and decision maker!) who publicly does something harmful. But I do acknowledge that this could generate a dangerous dynamic if spun in the wrong direction. It's a tradeoff: Either you allow cancel culture or you allow bad actors in powerful/influental positions.
Eich didn't get forced out for having a "bad private opinion;" he got forced out for supporting something materially that would cause material harm to Mozilla staff, then making clear his opinion on the topic was unchanged. Staff that had a lack of confidence in his continued leadership were entirely justified.
I am legitimately asking this, say maybe I think that X feature is nature not nurture, and there is a discussion at an event about X , what do I Google to know if I should talk about X or not. The problem is more complicated if my opinion today would be controversial in the future.
There are no such guarantees (much as there are no guarantees in the tech space... That, say, your favorite language today won't be obsolete in five years and therefore diminish the value of all the time and effort you invested in memorizing its quirks). There are some useful heuristics, such as "try and be a good person, minimize your judgement of others, avoid speculating on things that other people have concrete experience with." Also, be informed about the latest social media culture; Proposition 8 was huge in California (and around the U.S.) and it should have been self-evident to Eich that supporting it was a bad call (I'm a lot less forgiving of Eich than some people are, because it's real hard for me to see his behavior and interpret it as anything other than "He put money behind his convictions and mis-estimated how much political power homosexual people and their allies had in his company to hold him accountable to putting money behind his convictions," which isn't exactly a stellar review of his behavior).
We in tech seem to like to believe that the technical world is above politics. It's not; technology serves people, so politics is, of course, part of the story. Politics is just what happens when people interact.
"I should always speak in an uncensored fashion" is, honestly, one of the poison memes of the modern internet. It's never been wise in any human interaction, and moving to the Internet didn't change that fact. It did, for a brief time (until de-anonymization and search caught up with the technology available) let people obfuscate opinion origins behind a sea of anonymity and momentarily disrupt the words from the responsibility of having reputation tied to them. But when you go looking at the most anonymity-enabling communications channels on the Internet, you don't exactly find humanity at its best. Words divorced from reputation have yet to be proven as a net positive. Hell, even on Hacker News, our handles have karma points attached.
We social creatures developed concepts like "reputation" and tools like "memory" for a reason, and it wasn't a bad reason. Like any tools, they can be abused or over-applied, but no; saying exactly what you think all the time isn't virtuous (it is yet another tool, which can be abused or over-applied).
The internet is not just a place for meeting people and discussing opinions.
For many, many people, the internet is a socially supportive space, and an activity space, and those things don't work if challenging discussions are constantly taking place in them.
For what you've just asked for, specifically about making arguments that might change your mind, may I suggest you might enjoy: https://www.reddit.com/r/changemyview/ and https://changemyview.net/subreddit/ (I haven't used them myself, just read about them.)
I think the fact it occurred to you to ask, suggests an answer. If you would feel safer testing the water with a different account, then I'd recommend you do that.
People have an annoying habit of attributing expressed thoughts to a person long after the person has openly changed their mind, as well as misunderstanding the intended meaning of a stated view anyway. Same if the person was just constructing an argument for the purpose of thinking things through (for example as in devil's advocate).
Personally, I would also recommend a "listen first" approach.
What is so wrong about being asked by a man for a date? I (a man) have been asked lots of times for a date by women I worked with, some of them my superiors. Mostly I said "no", because I generally don't like mixing love life with work life, but the best relationship I've ever had was the time I said "yes". I don't see why RMS couldn't look for such a relationship.
If Stallman looked like Chris Hemsworth, women would join the GNU Project for the opportunity to ask him on a date.
What Stallman's dirty laundry is has been thoroughly discussed.
For me, the GNU project becomes much less interesting without his blog articles, public talks, etc.
I had let my FSF membership lapse, was thinking of renewing, and now probably won’t.
Off topic, but I enjoyed seeing the leaders of the various GNU projects listed in one place as signers of this letter. I don’t agree with them but it is good to see their names and projects listed.
Notice that for most of the big projects, it is not the leader name that appears on that list, but only a particular developer.
The leaders of selected GNU projects who were likely to share the same opinion and sign. Others were not even informed of this initiative that kind of poses as speaking in their name.
I hope GNU finds a similar passioned but also humble and emotional capable leader.
I am also having a bad feeling that Linus Torwalds is next, that a list of 20 years old emails is already prepared and some people are ready to tweat something that maybe happened long in the past that made them uncomfortable. Maybe that public apology Linus did this year was a defensive move.
No, he successfully capitulated to the mob and pinky swore that he will no longer use big bad meany words that might offend the children who currently police the LKML.
Who you should really worry about is Theo de Raadt. OpenBSD is a sitting duck for Ehmke, et. al.
Just as most sports are 90% mental and only 10% physical, managing a large software project is 90% people skills, and only 10% technical.
I’ve heard a few people now assert that they “would have” contributed to open source if it wasn’t for RMS/Linus/whoever but none of them appear to have contributed to any open source not managed by those guys, or have any independent projects on GitHub, or even be employed as professional programmers.
You can't, actually. This is a deeply false ideological assumption not based on any reality or human psychology.
It would be a pathetic excuse to fire Linus because 25 years ago insulted some BSD guys in an email or some other developer in a different email, the internet was different then and there was no COC to force people to use a specific language.
Popularity is only one gauge of success. There are other metrics, such as personal satisfaction, missing features, or other things that the project may have failed or scored less well on.
Sure, the kernel will become insanely great if this happens, right?!
Next we will blame the lack of diversity in proprietary software on RMS too, I was afraid that it is something much more complicated but now that we found the problem all will be solved /sarcasm
Do you know how many potential contributors you'd lose by forcing adherence to liberal Californian politics? Most of the world does not adhere to them, even to the less objectionable ones.
Some evidence for these figures? Or did you just make them up?
Does anyone happen to of know what fraction of GNU maintainers those 18 names represent? Does this represent a majority of GNU maintainers or a small fraction?
For the curious, this list contains roughly 242 names.
The number of maintainers is surely much smaller than the number of contributors, however.
: More specifically, the `#content` `div` on that page contains exactly 242 `h4` elements, all of which appear to be names of past/current contributors
(Which, hey, speaking of RMS driving off contributors...)
Anyway, he hasn't done much in Emacs development for years now, I think. As a maintainer, his actual tenure was very brief.
Eli Zaretskii is the acting maintainer now.
No. There was some confusion on this point because a note was posted to https://stallman.org/ announcing that RMS stepped down from leadership of GNU, but this turned out to not have been posted by RMS (or with his authorization).
(It was apparently posted by someone who added RMS as an entry to the "what's wrong with…" series, with a link to the Medium post that kicked all this off. Without commenting one way or the other on the underlying issue, that is a fairly funny bit of Internet vandalism)
* Linus Torvalds (after he apologized and approved the adoption of their code of conduct)
* Ted Ts'o
* the entire FSF board
The problem is that while the old-school hackers were mainly left-liberal or libertarian, more and more open source developers these days come from the San Francisco web dev community and were immersed in the ideals and principles of the social-justice left, for whom "scratch a liberal and a fascist bleeds" is an unstated truism. More struggle sessions and purges are likely to follow, if this contingent is allowed to gain ground, and I fear for a GNU project led by, instead of Stallman or someone who espouses Stallman's liberal ideals, a commissar who strictly polices the use of gender pronouns and scrutinizes every code commit and mailing list post for hidden signs of bourgeois consciousness.
These people do not even support free speech. What makes you think they will give a milligram of respect to free software?
You, for instance, mentioned above that it would be impossible for a minor to engage in consensual sexual behavior without even considering for a moment that there are more liberal (and I'd say more civilized) societies that define "consensual" and especially "minor" quite differently. It is exactly this absolutist enforcement of a particular pov that alienates many observers.
What they are doing is a partial capitulation to those who are, most of whom are trying to effect a value shift in the free software community that undermines the bedrock principles of free software itself. I refer you to Coraline Ada Ehmke's views on the "pernicious cult of meritocracy" and her attempts to get licenses with legally sticky do-no-evil clauses approved as free/open source licenses.
What this may be really about is that Ludovic Courtès wanted a Code of Conduct for the GNU Project and Stallman did not. Since having a Code of Conduct, an easy and fashionable tool for excommunicating those you find problematic due to their pesky different points of view, is obviously the Right Thing, and increasingly considered a requirement, that meant Stallman had to go. Sorry, pal. Maybe if you'd had the right perspective -- maybe if you'd sat at the feet of your moral betters and listened -- 35 years of work wouldn't be flushed down the shitter.
This also stands as a warning to open source devs. If you have started an open source project and it becomes popular or otherwise important, you have two courses of action:
* Adopt and enforce a Code of Conduct, preferably Contributor Covenant version 1.5 or later. Enforce it preemptively against Trump supporters, right-libertarians, Brexiters, people who think border laws are a thing which should be enforced, people who oppose Xi Jinping, or just white men in general.
* Lose maintainership of your own project and have it taken over by your moral superiors, people who truly know how to lead.
(If this sounds to you like venture-capitalist takeover of a startup, you're on to something. Keep going and see where it leads.)
... but he increasingly doesn't represent the future of computing, let alone GNU and FSF. There's a reason so much of Ars Technica's reporting on rms gets headed with that "Old Man Yells At Cloud" meme image. Sometimes, leaders are changed out. Stallman's continued work is up to Stallman, but he doesn't necessarily get the privilege of continuing to lead GNU (and he doesn't have the privilege of continuing to lead the FSF).
Besides, this is open source we're talking about, not a VC company. If people rally behind rms and fork the projects, the projects get forked.
But I anticipate that won't happen, because he increasingly doesn't represent where software is going. I don't think he actually wields the thought-leadership cachet he used to. We shall see.
It was never Stallman's goal to "represent the future of computing". It was his goal to preserve the spirit of the past, specifically the 1970s AI lab at MIT where hackers could just log in and hack, and didn't have to worry about vendors locking them out from their data or equipment.
Look, I don't agree with Stallman, on a lot of things including software. But without his sort of lone-voice-crying-in-the-wilderness extremism, where would we be? Lots of people, including Gary Kildall, Chuck Moore, and Steve Wozniak could plausibly claim to have been at the vanguard of a culture of openness and sharing in computing. But it was Stallman who had the courage to come out and say, "these are the freedoms we demand, and you're a shithead if you abrogate them." We need more courageous voices like that. They are in short supply, especially as the loudest voices in open source now come from large companies who have much to gain by compromising the Four Freedoms.
The presently dominant current in the left prioritizes social justice over individual liberty, up to and including legal restrictions on freedom of speech under a constitution which expressly forbids such restriction (cf. the New York City ordinance forbidding the use of the term "illegal alien").
This 'collective of GNU maintainers'is lying about rms actions undermining the core values of GNU projects. 'Collective' is alienating us from participating in GNU projects and I suggest to remove them from further discussions about the organization of the project.
The fact that this statement remains vague hasn't helped anyone to interpret it with precision.
I'm wondering how expensive it would be (assuming he does not want to step down) for the community to fork away from him or route around him.
One of the things I hope will happen with this statement is that we will regain cohesion and we will be able to stand together again like we once did. There's lots of good people in GNU, and I think we need someone like GNU. Principled, uncompromising, and now hopefully friendlier and more helpful than we have been.
My view is that GNU should be working towards making sure we can get our software into as many people as possible by giving it an attractive interface, simple installation instructions, and a welcoming community, while at the same time refusing to collaborate with any who wish to proliferate non-free software.
"We should be friendly, unless we don't like the people using our software"
In the specific case of free software, the paradox of tolerance plays out concretely, in that failure to enforce copyleft on software can lead to the creation of software derived from that work that is itself copyrighted in such a way that the deriver could sue an original source creator deriving work from their derivations.
I don't think anyone would consider copyleft enforcement "friendly," but the alternative is "free software has no ability to protect its core tenants," so some friendliness must be abridged.
In other words - some people are going to use GNU software to take freedom from others (imagine a prison running Linux, etc) in ways that conform with the license. I do not think GNU should oppose this.
Sorry, but what does the controversy surrounding Stallmman have to do with user empowerment and trust? Has Stallman been preventing people from using GNU software? Does the trustworthiness of this free, open source software diminish because of Stallman's opinion on some social/political issues that are completely unrelated to software?
“Free software” means software that respects users' freedom and community.
The way rms treats people involved in GNU goes directly to what is meant by 'community.' Consider, as comparative example, the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the phrase "all men are created equal," and that it was penned by a slaveowner and did not lead to a government that freed those slaves for over 80 years (regardless of what the words on paper said).
Anything can have a philosophy. Just because someone is a communist or a feudalist shouldn't prevent them from contributing or being part of a free software project.
> The way rms treats people involved in GNU goes directly to what is meant by 'community.'
Has RMS done anything to prevent people from using GNU software? Has he attempted to move GNU in a direction that would violate its stated goals or philosophy? Has he made the software any less free or any less respectful of users' freedom and community?
Yes, that has material impact on the organization; it decreases people's willingness to hear its leader speak on the topic of what the organization stands for.
Don't let anyone convince you hackers are anti-deplatforming. They merely disagree on what behaviors or speech are worthy of having a platform.