For newcomers to the projects this can lead to unpleasant interactions that push people away from volunteering on the projects.
At the same time, this shouldn't push you away from getting involved with a GNU project if you find it interesting. Many of the projects are full of kind, helpful, hardworking people. The maintainers in particular are mostly excellent. If you have an unpleasant interaction, I'd encourage you to reach out to one of the maintainers in a private message to ask for advice on how to contribute and work with the community. Often they can help by pointing you to specific people to talk to and interact with.
To me, they both come across as eminently reasonable, and it makes me think the the Guile project is going to be in good hands regardless of what happens.
I think that the idea that anyone who isn't involved with the project (RMS or otherwise) gets to pick the maintainers of projects, and doesn't just defer to the existing maintainer teams in all but exceptional cases. is untenable (and has been causing unnecessary interpersonal conflicts in GNU for decades), and I hope one of the long-term results of all this is to get rid of that norm.
For an example of doing things pretty firmly in the other direction, I've always liked how new hires on Canonical's OS engineering teams aren't immediately appointed Ubuntu maintainers - they have to go through the same process anyone else would. Of course they have lots of advantages (a full-time job where they work closely with most of the existing maintainers to learn everything they need to publicly demonstrate their fitness for the role), but it makes it clear that the maintainership of Ubuntu is driven by Ubuntu and not by managers at Canonical.
Disagreements over what it means to be a part of GNU have been a (usually minor) issue for decades.
Well, this issue was much more complicated than that, wasn't it? In this case the role of RMS is more as that f an arbiter.
Apart from that, RMS is the leader of the GNU project. When I submitted my little project to GNU, I first talked to RMS (it was many years ago, o I don't remember the details, but I wrote to some general address and he answered). By submitting my project to GNU, I accepted his leadership, and it was a conscious decision, I knew very well what to expect. Actually, RMS seemed to me quite reasonable and down-to-earth about technical issues, even though I often disagree with him on philosophical issues.
In an ideal world, everyone collaborates harmoniously and no intervention is needed. In practice, clashes do happen sometimes, and under such circumstances the role of the leader is crucial in helping to find a reasonable solution.
All those references from stallman.org seems like perfectly reasonable opinions to hold and express though.
Seems like you'd have to be fairly deep into radical leftism to read it as anything that "speaks for itself" that the author is due for an extra large helping of sexual taboo condemnations and being ousted from his job.
But if this is the level of differences that will cause cooperation-breaking conflicts these people can't work together.
Most regular contributors found this behavior frustrating, and would discuss it privately, although rarely if ever discuss it on-list. These are people who are absolutely committed to free software, they were just sick of dealing with RMS. Wingo's stated attitude seems pretty typical: RMS was damage that needed to be routed around.
After developing this reputation, it's not shocking that most maintainers and contributors accepted his resignation from the FSF with a shrug. They were sick of dealing with him anyway - they're not going to protest to try to get him back.
That makes me suspect that his personal political views are not the reason feminists want him out.
> The great tragedy of RMS's tenure in the supposedly universalist FSF and GNU projects is that he behaves in a way that is particularly alienating to women. It doesn't take a genius to conclude that if you're personally driving away potential collaborators, that's a bad thing for the organization, and actively harmful to the organization's goals: software freedom is a cause that is explicitly for everyone.
and this, from a former member of the FSF Board of Directors who resigned so he could speak up: http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2019/10/15/fsf-rms.html
> More importantly to the FSF, I attempted to persuade RMS that launching a controversial campaign on sexual behavior and morality was counter to his and FSF's mission to advance software freedom [....] After years of conversing with RMS about how his non-software-freedom views were a distraction, an indulgence, and downright problematic, his general response was to make even more public comments of this nature.
and this, from another former member of the FSF Board of Directors: https://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/52587.html
> Stallman is driving away our natural allies. It's inappropriate for him to continue as the figurehead for free software.
It is not because they simply disagreed with his political beliefs - he can believe what he likes. It is about the fact that, as a leader in the free software movement, he was driving away more people with both his public advocacy of his views and his behavior (hitting on women at conferences as soon as he met them, etc.), i.e, he was not doing his job.
While most of the GNU maintainers appear to have tried to resolve things amicably with RMS, the social-justice contingent within open source have been calling for his removal for at least a year now, probably much longer, and they usually cite his views on sexuality as the reason why he is "problematic".
However, there have to my knowledge never been similar calls for the removal of the likes of Rubin and Butler from leadership positions in their field by social-justice advocates (within open source or outside it), despite them publicly expressing even more abhorrent views about sexuality with respect to children than Stallman has. The work of Rubin and Butler is foundational to queer theory and gender theory, so modern feminist activists are likely to be at least passingly familiar with them. Stallman may even have been referring to their scholarship when he made his controversial (and imho very wrong) paedophilia statements.
This tells me unpleasant things about the relationship between social-justice activists and paedophilia. They're made more unpleasant by the fact that I have seen at least one social-justice advocacy group defend a known, active paedophile within their ranks.
- Rubin and Butler's jobs are to make controversial statements about sexuality, Stallman's isn't (i.e., the call is to remove him as leader of the free software movement, not to get him to take down stallman.org; if he wants to wage a campaign to change social norms about pedophilia, it's a free country, but people ate equally free to point out that he can't also wage a campaign to change social norms about free software and be successful at both)
- while there may be a group more closely associated with the academic feminism community than the free software community who is dissatisfied with his statements on the merits, and we can discuss whether they are hypocritical in not criticizing Rubin and Butler (or whether there is a fourth wave of feminism and they are in fact criticizing Rubin and Butler, or whatever), the successful campaign to remove RMS from the FSF was not solely or primarily their doing. It was the work of free software hackers who a) have made it clear their concern wasn't solely views but effect of RMS's advocacy of those views on the health of the free software community - a concern that doesn't analogously apply to academic feminists advocating such views - and b) aren't obligated to have opinions about Rubin and Butler anyway.
Or put another way, if a feminist thinks Rubin and Butler's advocacy re pedophilia harm the feminism movement, they can start fourth-wave feminism with differing principles and values. If a free software hacker thinks Stallman's advocacy re pedophilia is harming the free software movement, they can't meaningfully start second-wave free software because there are no different principles and values with respect to free software.
> I still think the FSF is a valuable institution worth helping and saving
Worth saving, as is heading towards implosion and it need to be saved.
If you told members of the FSF Board of Directors that FSF would destroy itself over a political dispute over a question like "was metoo a media frenzy", it would had sounded silly. If I would had said after the 2016 election that FSF would need to take a side, left or right, no one would even consider it. FSF a year ago would never had said if they are pro-feminism, pro-MRA, pro-socialism or pro-liberalism. The closest to a political affiliation that FSF had done in the past has been their occasionally aligning with the goals of the natural allies EFF and ACLU, but even there it has only been in technical topics such as patents, copyright, forced backdoors, and crippling of software. To my knowledge FSF has never commented on non-technical ACLU work.
One thing I completely disagree with the above quotes however is the implication that he equally advocated his political views on sex as with free software. I have been to a couple of his talks and seen several on video, and sex is not a topic he mentioned. His talks are often transcripted and put online so I am open to be proven wrong, but here is a few examples: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-digital-society.html, https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/copyright-versus-community.ht..., https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/danger-of-software-patents.ht...
I don't think this is true - my sense is that 10-20 years ago, claiming "in the future, the FSF will destroy itself because RMS waded into a controversy he didn't know how to back down from" would have gotten responses of "oh, yes, of course," and at least as far back as Gamergate, "the FSF will get caught up in the broader 'culture war'" would have sounded totally plausible too. (I'm not sure "culture war" is exactly the term I want to use, but it serves the right denotational purpose here.)
Relevantly, "is RMS subject to the LibrePlanet code of conduct" seems like a thing that also touches on the "culture war" - and that was an issue in 2017. https://announce.asheesh.org/2018/12/libreplanet-speakers-as...
Oh, and people had accused free software of being socialist/communist as far back as the '90s. The whole reason the "open source" movement got started was to rebrand free software in a corporate-friendly way.
This is an excellent way to view recent events. My compliments to the author!
Alright, I guess we're gonna have to unpack this.
In the item "prudish ignorantism" [0,1] Stallman suggests that a British woman having sex with adolescents is not an issue as long as they used protection, and that adolescents don't need to be "protected" from sex. The adolescents involved were reportedly as young as eleven. It is not perfectly reasonable to consider sex between a sixty year old woman, her seventy year old husband and children as young as eleven to be appropriate.
In the item "pestering women" [2,3] Stallman dismisses the behavior of a man who constantly pesters women for sex as not being an issue because he didn't force them to have sex, or punish them for refusal. While it is true that both of those would be worse than the behavior described, the behavior described is nevertheless a form of sexual harassment and it is not perfectly reasonable to consider such behavior harmless.
In the item "age and attraction" [4,5], Stallman is upset that men should ever be expected to find a woman over the age of eighteen to be attractive, and likens the societal norm that considers relationships between older men and younger women to be akin to an attempt at conversion therapy for gays.
In the item "sex according to porn" [6,7] Stallman believes adolescents should be allowed to pursue sexual relationships and are harmed by the unrealistic image presented to them in pornography.
While I do actually agree, in theory, that pornography creates unrealistic sexual expectations, especially for men (but I would have to bring up certain trigger words that HN doesn't like to read to have that conversation) most reasonable people would consider the "cure" of having adolescents pursue sexual relationships with adults for the sake of sexual education far worse than the problem of adolescents being exposed to, and misinformed about sex from, porn to begin with.
In "Respecting people's right to say no" [8, 9] Stallman expresses outrage that anyone would condemn someone claiming he cannot be attracted to a woman over 50. In a vacuum, this probably wouldn't be an issue - he's right, there's no accounting for tastes. But given Stallman's prior views on the sort of relationships that most would consider pedophilic at worst, or maybe (because some people like to be pedantic on this point) ephebophilic, it implies that he is once again defending what many would consider inappropriate relationships, not simply someone liking women a few years younger.
In "stretching meaning of terms" Stallman does not accept that a doctor who reportedly secretly spied on young male athletes at Ohio State, was engaged in sexual abuse of any sort, because he wasn't actually touching them while doing so. In other words, he wouldn't consider spying on women without their consent to be harmful either, so long as physical contact wasn't involved.
I'm not going to continue because I shouldn't need to, but the point I'm trying to belabor is that all of these examples, anecdotal evidence  provided by others regarding their interactions with Stallman, the emails which led to the viral outrage leading to his resignation  and his infamous (and now redacted) belief that pedophilia is not harmful , all point to views on his part which would not require one to be "fairly deep into radical leftism" to object to, and would not be considered perfectly reasonable by most people.
One can object to such views leading to his dismissal, but it is simply not the case that RMS's views and behavior are harmless idiosyncrasies blown out of proportion by radical feminists, leftists, a secret cabal of corporate agitators looking to undermine Free Software, or whatever bogeyman the community chooses to latch on to. The fact is, the culture around tech and RMS in general simply does not consider his "sexual taboos" or objections to his behavior to be relevant in the light of his status in the community of Free Software.
Edit: The important takeaway for me is that he regards a host of project-unrelated views, including pro-free-speech views, as disqualifying.
I read the email that this post links to, and thought he seemed fairly reasonable, even if he seemed to be airing some dirty laundry that didn't seem to do much other than to stir up drama.
Now that I read the two articles you posted, I feel unsure of who is in the wrong here. As someone who almost certainly falls into a part of the political spectrum that he views as "problematic", I feel less inclined to take his plight seriously...
I read the e-mail thread and was trying to understand its relationship to the ongoing public arguments over the leadership of GNU. Andy Wingo's blog posts seemed to illumine his perspective in that debate.
The FSF owns the copyright to most GNU projects, and RMS has resigned from the FSF. It's unclear why he would continue to have any formal authority beyond his personal power of persuasion.
Although we were only intimate partners for seven years, the relationship was not in any way a matter of her taking advantage of me or abusing me. The relationship changed my life dramatically for the better, and I still love her, even though it has been some years since we last saw each other.
I thank God I lived in New Mexico, where the age of consent was low enough to protect her from legal risks in addition to the social ostracism she did suffer.
To state my position clearly, there is nothing wrong with sexual relationships between adults and older teenagers. It is not a result of pedophilia, nor is that situation inherently abusive. It does require special attention to issues of inequality of power stemming from economic and social differences, as well as the special difficulties faced by any relationship involving teenagers or people in their early twenties stemming from inexperience and higher levels of impulsivity.
Of course, the relationship that provoked this controversy had nothing of this egalitarian character. According to the account of Virginia Giuffre, the victim, she was enslaved by serial rapist Jeffrey Epstein, who preyed on teenagers precisely because of their economic and psychological vulnerability; he ordered her to have sex with a variety of men who were presumably unaware of her enslavement. Her obedient efforts at seducing Stallman’s friend Marvin Minsky included accompanying him on travel around the country, but she has not alleged that they actually had sex or that he knew of her enslavement. Physicist Gregory Benford testified to observing Minsky reject Giuffre’s advances.
Epstein may have had an additional motive for preying on teenagers: he maintained a large library of surreptitious video recordings of famous men having sex with enslaved underage women. There is evidence that Epstein was working for the US Intelligence Community; prosecutor Acosta accepted an unconscionable level of impunity as a result.
Stallman defending his dead friend Minsky from wholly unfounded allegations of “sexual assault” on the basis of the above facts is what provoked the current controversy.
I find it profoundly appalling to see people like Andy Wingo equating people like my beloved first wife to perpetrators of atrocities like Jeffrey Epstein, asserting that the most important fact about our relationship is that I, like Giuffre, was 17 years old when it began.
And Mr. President "infinite wisdom" still "grabs them by the pussy". This is totally schizophrenic even for a plural society.
One of the problems with Stallman is he doesn't realize that it's a normie's world and normies make all the rules.
The upshot of this is that his autistic well-actuallyism w.r.t. definition of terms (like "sexual assault") is at best annoying and at worst causes psychological harm to vulnerable individuals. What Stallman needs to do is read more Wittgenstein and understand how words are actually used by real humans. Their meanings are not DEFUN forms in some piece of Lisp code. A spoken word's meaning is the effect it has on those spoken to. Mainstream society considers any sexual activity by an adult on those under a certain age to be assault, therefore, "sexual assault" is an appropriate term to use for any such activity. Mainstream society considers copying a copyrighted work without permission to be a form of theft; therefore, "theft" is an appropriate term to use for copyright infringement. RMS insisting it is not theft does not change the fact that James Gosling feels very much stolen-from.
If "autistic well-actuallyism" is the only way to rebut entirely groundless accusations of sexual assault, then I guess society needs a great deal more autistic well-actuallyism, because widely-believed baseless accusations of serious crimes are very destructive to society; they were the major excuse for lynchings, for example. Rather than "autistic well-actuallyism" I usually use terms like "due process", "justice", and "rationality", but if you want to call those "autistic well-actuallyism", that's up to you.
It's also factually false to claim that mainstream society considers any sexual activity between an adult and a 17-year-old to be assault. While my wife did suffer social ostracism due to our relationship, almost nobody believes that she "assaulted" me. That is far from a mainstream belief. Are you saying you think she did?
I've already explained what happened in the Gosling case in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21252185, but I'll summarize again here. Gosling was just lying about what happened. After Stallman had been maintaining EMACS for five years, Gosling wrote a clone of it for Unix, incorporating code from some other people. He gave permission to one of those people, Fen Labalme, to redistribute his modified version of it. Stallman wanted a Unix Emacs, so he started working on Labalme's version of Gosling's clone, but had to replace most of it. When he published his version, Gosling had apparently changed his mind about the redistribution permission, so he threatened legal action. Stallman at first responded by protesting that Gosling had no right to attempt to retroactively revoke his permission (particularly when Gosling was profiting by selling his Emacs clone, including the contributions of Labalme and others, to Unipress), but after a short time, he replaced the remaining pieces of Gosling's code to eliminate the issue. This all happened within a few weeks in 1985. As far as I've been able to find out, the Unipress lawsuit Gosling referred to never happened.
Gosling doesn't, I guess, "feel very much stolen-from". He tried to make a buck by copying Stallman's work and sending legal threats to Stallman about it. This led to Stallman publicly vilifying him; that's why he hates Stallman. Most people wouldn't respond to hating somebody by lying about them to damage their reputation, but that's what Gosling did.
But it is clear that a number of people involved in the GNU projects have had issues with the management style and personality of RMS quite separate from his non-conformist views raising views on sexual mores.
Andy Wingo focusing on his views relating to sex risks turning one thing into another. He should just focus on the management issues within GNU projects and ignore the unconventional sexual views.
The Epstein case shouldn't be an excuse or a rationale for focusing on the leadership of RMS.
Having RMS as the leader of the GNU project is like having mildly eccentric relatives, especially parents. You just have to live with them.
Damn, isn't that what made Guido quit Python as well?
The title makes it sound like rms' fault but he only features to be ritually denounced in the first half.
I had to google what guile was I'll certainly be trying to avoid it now.
Regardless of whether the statements are accurate, I'll hold judgement until hearing the other side though it does seem odd. I'd be curious what the prospective co-maintainer wants since he quit prior without resolving issues.
> Secondly, there was a specific purpose to raising my grievances on the
> internal mailing list. It's because you are vigorously arguing for
> collective decision making within GNU, while at the same time you are
> acting in a dictatorial manner within the Guile project, failing to even
> consult your co-maintainers on core language changes. I think that's
> hypocritical, and I said so.
By avoiding Guile or Wingo's otherwise instructive technical notes (see, e.g., https://wingolog.org/archives/2017/06/27/growing-fibers), aren't you likewise conflating character with merit?
I've never used Guile (I'm invested in Lua), but I like to follow the development. It's an interesting and high-quality project.
Trivial but worth a frame on the wall.
But he is also (relatively) a old person. He comes from a era when to get heard you had to shout. His generation turned out a lot of well intentioned, but bullying, people.
We are much more inclusive these days, we make efforts to broaden the appeal of our groups and ensure that people other than the usual alphas can function in them. But in that process we have become intolerant of the shouty bullying men (usually men, but not always) of old.
This is mostly good. But for RMS and Linus and lots of others of the old guard there is a difficult adjustment.
It is OK to have opinions. It is OK to express them. But what RMS and co. (me too, I had to, I am the same generation) had to, have to, learn is that we need to always speak our opinions softly. Because those who are "weaker" personalities than us view our shouted opinions as a affront. And if we want them in our groups, and I know I do, we have to accommodate them.
It seems RMS is stepping out of the way. I know Linus did. Any takers for a sweepstake on when Theo de Raadt will?
When and how did Linus step out of the way? Are you referring to this event (quoting Wikipedia):
>On Sunday, September 16, 2018 the Linux Kernel Code of Conflict was suddenly replaced by a new Code of Conduct based on the Contributor Covenant. Shortly thereafter, in the release notes for Linux 4.19-rc4, Linus apologized for his behavior, calling the personal attacks of the past "unprofessional and uncalled for" and announced a period of "time off" to "get some assistance on how to understand people's emotions and respond appropriately". It soon transpired that these events followed The New Yorker approaching Linus with a series of questions critical of his conduct. Following the release of Linux 4.19 on October 22, Linus went back to maintaining the kernel.
I'm hazy on the details thanks for the extra information