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[flagged] A Critique of the Open Letter Calling for the Removal of RMS (meribold.org)
234 points by meribold 12 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 245 comments





> The primary author of the open letter, Molly de Blanc, writes on her personal blog:

> > There is no space to argue over whether a comment was transphobic – if it hurt a trans person then it is transphobic and it is unacceptable.

Ah, postmodernism! Where the words are made up, and intent doesn't matter!


Please don't take HN threads into generic ideological flamewar. It isn't interesting: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&sor...

Snarky one-liners on flamewar topics are flamebait, which the site guidelines ask you not to post: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

(Edit: I made a mistake in the following bit because I missed your initial ">". Sorry! Quoting the OP is obviously legit.)

Hauling the most triggering thing you can find on someone's personal blog into a thread on a flamewar-prone topic is guaranteed to make things worse. We're trying to avoid the online shaming/callout culture here: https://hn.algolia.com/?sort=byDate&type=comment&dateRange=a...


Sorry for being snarky, and as you discovered while I was sleeping, it was quotes from the article.

But on a serious note, this is the core of bullshit that powers progressive identity politics, and progressive cancel culture.

I understand RMS' comments on "them/they" as a pedantic, semantic, technically correct grammar nazi argument. But then, the authors of the demand letter to cancel RMS argue, because a trans person took offense with his statement, RMS is a transphobe.

And this kind of smearing is only possible if you subscribe to the postmodern notion that intent doesn't matter, and that "x-phobe" simply means that you offended a person of group x, regardless of your intent.


Is this really shaming?

It's a quote from the article that's key in presenting the principles of their open letter. If the poster had gone to Molly's website and found it for themselves, and posted it here I'd certainly contest it's flamebait.

This seems different, because we're accepting that this article has a place here, I don't see how you can not quote key segments of the article.

The rest I definitely agree with.


Oh, I misread it. I thought the GP had specifically gone to someone's personal blog to find something worse. If it was quoted by the OP that's not the same thing at all. Thanks for pointing this out, and sorry henrikschroder!

The cancel culture loves to state absolutes as gospel truth and that hurt feelings are all that needs to happen in order prove their point. It's pretty weak from any logical point.

Molly de Blanc, whoever she is, is a bully. Plain and simple. These are textbook bully tactics practised by children in schools everywhere. You learn where people's weaknesses are and you prod. You learn where the boundaries are and stay just on the right side of authority to avoid being in trouble yourself.

In a sphere where we usually choose our names and expect other people to use them, instead of what's written in some official document, I don't see how chosen pronouns are any different.

Honestly, it's not hard to call people what they want to be called.

You might feel the line between innocent mistake and maliciousness has not been crossed. Other people do disagree.


Because pronouns are ingrained into our language centers; we automatically and subconsciously classify people based on physical appearance and derive pronouns from that. For better or worse, it's part of our programming.

Names, however, are not. We've learned names are not connected to any physical trait, and thus we process and store them differently.

Expecting the entirety of humanity to simply "unlearn" language is a huge stretch - especially for those with gendered languages (English is not a gendered language).

Further, the fact that pronouns "hurt" trans people is largely subjective - there is a very large portion of the trans community that would disagree with that assertion.

Words are words. Perhaps we should stop placing as much weight in them, fullstop.


Exactly.

Well ... no. People are called Baker because some ancestor was a baker. Then over time the link from the name to the occupation got lost.

Just as we might have "derive[d] pronouns from that" but are currently on the same way as with "Baker" - removing the word from it's physical beginnings.

Then in the end words are a tool and not a thing by their own - as evidenced that you can hardly read a 500 year old text - including your pronouns, that were different back then.

If it helps - at least one party - communication to use different/new pronouns, this is where language will go.


Being a baker is not a physical trait.


The linked blog post says nothing about pronouns specifically, it's making a much broader statement that is clearly nonsense.

When you promote putting people on lists, bear in mind that some of us are happy to reciprocate. I certainly wouldn't want to employ someone who thinks "if it offends a trans person, then it is transphobic" is a reasonable maxim.


[flagged]


The OP was responding to the maxim he quoted, specifically:

> There is no space to argue over whether a comment was transphobic – if it hurt a trans person then it is transphobic and it is unacceptable.

That is a much broader statement - pronouns are only one possible example* of something which might "hurt a trans person".

Stop playing games.

Edit: Other examples are arguments about trans access to women's sports/prisons/shelters/etc., which TERFs may say "hurt females" and are thus misogynistic. Whose hurt wins?


This appendix is pretty much filled with lies and misrepresentations of his statements. Please avoid spreading it. It is pretty much "fake news".

>"RMS has spent years on a campaign against using people’s correct pronouns."

This is false.


Pronouns are just a way to refer to an entity in your text, the issue with classical pronouns like he, she, and it is that they imply certain properties about the entity that they refer (that they are a single entity, their gender, and whether they are a human). The pronoun itself is not a gender and I just can't see how using any polite pronoun that tries to not make any assumptions regarding properties of said entity is transphobic. Another alternative is to use the person's name to refer to them.

I guess using gender neutral pronouns exclusively for transgender people can be considered transphobic but this is not something that stallman advocates for. In fact his statements regarding gender neutral pronouns do not mention transgender people at all, it seems that he advocates for the gender neutral pronouns to be used for _everyone_ (which should in the long run be advantageous to transgender people).

Regardless though, he himself uses the pronouns that people ask him to use for them. So he is basically being accused for being a transphobe for... saying that having a single gender neutral pronoun to replace all pronouns is better? Really? It saddness me that people decide to "cancel" him instead of engaging in a (public or private) dialog with him. There is a good chance that he hasn't even heard their arguments.


Your comment is posted here as a reply to another comment, but it seems like the content is unrelated. The quoted sentence says nothing about pronouns in particular. Instead, it says that if someone says anything at all that any trans person finds offensive then the person saying it becomes tainted without any recourse. (I checked the post it was from and it hasn't been taken out of context - it really is as general of a statement as it appears to be on its own.)

Ironically, that means that if a trans person finds your comment, or the blog author's post, offensive in some way then now you or they are transphobic and there's nothing you can say or do to dispute that. Clearly, that is unacceptable.


Thanks for expanding my snarky comment, but yes, this is exactly my point as well. There is absolutely no way to defend yourself against this kind of smear, because someone, somewhere, will find your opinion offensive. And if that's enough to cancel you, then it's no longer possible to have public opinions. At all.

But intent matters. It has to matter. I believe RMS' intent with his "they/them is plural" statement is to be a grammar nazi, and not that he wants to put down trans people. His argument is tactless, pedantic, and he's wrong because language changes and grammar is descriptive, not prescriptive, but he's not transphobic. He's wrong, but not because some trans person took offense with what he wrote.


The problem is you alone cannot be victim, judge and executioner.

>Honestly, it's not hard to call people what they want to be called.

How does one express what gender neutral pronoun they want to be called without expressing their preferred gendered pronoun?


There are many languages without gender neutral pronouns.

[flagged]


You've been all over this thread and other threads perpetuating ideological flamewars. We ban accounts that do this, regardless of their ideology. Please stop now, and review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and use the site as intended: thoughtful conversation on topics of intellectual curiosity. Not smiting enemies.

Try the standard English pronouns and see how it goes.

English is not the only language people speak you know.

We're talking in English about Stallman's idiosyncratic English pronouns. What other language did you have in mind when you wrote Apache helicopter gunship?

[flagged]


The pronoun associated with a gunship is "it", I have no problem referring to people as "it" if that's what it prefers.

[flagged]


Of course you'll agree. You will do it for two reasons: 1) you are a nice person and would like to be polite, avoiding offending anyone, 2) if you fail to do so, there are people who will make sure you'll regret your decision.

[flagged]


Would you please stop posting flamewar comments? It's not what this site is for, and it destroys what it is for. You've posted dozens of them in the last 24 hours alone. This is not cool.

Moreover, using HN primarily for ideological or political battle is one line at which we start banning accounts—regardless of what they're battling for or against—and it looks like your account is well over that line. If you'd please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and use HN as intended, we'd appreciate it. There's lots more explanation here: https://hn.algolia.com/?sort=byDate&dateRange=all&type=comme...


I just realized I might have been guilty of that, too. In general, I try as best as I can to avoid these discussions as they seem counterproductive, but it's a bit more difficult regarding the recent RMS issue. This is Hacker News, and he is the hacker. Literally one of the main characters in Levy's famous book. And independently from valid criticism, he's now under flood of accusations, some of them being false. Not because I read something, but knowing RMS personally I know they are false. That's why it's sometimes hard to resist answering a comment or two. I really appreciate your work and I'm sorry if I cause any trouble by that.

The comment you replied to seems to be about what Stallman said. ("You might feel the line between innocent mistake and maliciousness has not been crossed. Other people do disagree.") It certainly was about names and pronouns. Not a variation on a tired transphobic straw man meme.[1]

[1] https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/i-sexually-identify-as-an-att...


[flagged]

kodah 12 days ago [flagged] [–]

You didn't provide criticism, you made a word meme. There's a big difference. Your reaction does not add to this discourse and furthermore I'd say it damages it.

Consider this: If I disagree with the sentiment that "if a trans person is offended, then it is transphobic" and someone reads your reactionary comment, guess how much more work I have to do to positively engage with someone? The answer is a lot. Said another way, your reactionary statement justifies someone else's extremism.

If you cannot debate people positively, maturely, and without reaching for tools like reactionary statements or sarcasm then please just sit the conversation out.


> Honestly, it's not hard to call people what they want to be called.

That's true and RMS will gladly call you using any pronouns you choose: https://libreboot.org/news/rms.html#rms-is-not-transphobic


It's sickening that the media continues to give people like that any semblance of credibility.

Lots of people think that's the media's job. There's a meme going around showing some rich wall street tycoons sitting in their office watching the Occupy Wall Street protesters from years ago with a speech bubble saying: "Introduce them to identity politics".

Here it is - https://m.imgur.com/gallery/KdeMOdA

Another version has a timeline chart below it showing some interesting facts but I can't find that one right now.


It’s a form of extreme subjectivism that is just not practically feasible in any society.

Postmodernism is truly nefarious.


So anything non-deontological is postmodern?

We cannot truly know someone's intent. We can evaluate the impact of their words and actions. If you define words like “racist” and “transphobic” to be solely about professed intent, then you will find that bigotry seemingly doesn't exist.

Tomorrow another group of people might decide something about your intent and you might have no way to make your case.

Anyway, you have to really stretch it beyond reason to see transphobia behind anything RMS has said, written, or done.

As for the impact of his works and actions, everyone has access to a full software stack to explore, learn from, and work on, without the need to be inside some university or company, i.e. to have the money or to pass admission processes that might be putting certain groups at a disadvantage, or outright excluding them. This was also his intent all along and he sacrificed a lot for it.


> We cannot truly know someone's intent.

Oh, you can get pretty close. What you do is you look at their attitudes towards the marginalized individuals, to marginalized communities, their opinions as a whole, their advocacy, their friendship groups, etc.

If, on balance, they appear to support and promote people of colour or transgender people (as much as they do any other people group) - then this person is probably not racist or transphobic.

However, that's haaarrrd. And doing that groundwork doesn't win you clicks as a media outlet. Whipping up a mob does win you clicks however. And advertising revenue.

And then many people - who have only read those articles - shout about it, like mobs tend to do, it seems like it has universal approval, and people assume it's probably true.

If you don't define words like "racist" and "transphobic" to be solely about intent, those words become meaningless.


The purpose of a system is what it does.

Really? Is the purpose of a combine harvester to kill people? Of course not. Yet people have died in combine harvester accidents.

Is the purpose of the electric car to make CO2? Of course not. Yet for a long time (not sure whether this has changed yet) more CO2 was wasted in their production and transport than they could ever hope to save in over 10 years of operation.

Is your purpose to make blaisé, ill-thought-out over-generalisations on the internet? Of course not. I imagine you lead a full and fulfilling life offline, spoiling orphaned kittens rotten and brokering peace treaties in your spare time.

Just because a person (or, if you prefer, a system) produces an unintended side effect - whether by accident, ignorance or bad publicity - it does not make that their purpose, or even reflective of the kindness in their core being.

And sometimes, these things can be fixed with education. Sometimes these things can be fixed with holistic reporting and good PR. Sometimes, other people need to learn to do their own research to understand and accept the context in which things are said.

But alas, the internet will never learn these things. Because the purpose of a system is what it does - and what the internet does really well is spread hate and division.


> I think a good argument against RMS can be made, but the authors of the letter instead chose to incite as much outrage as possible at the cost of honesty and nuance.

My thoughts exactly. I'm not defending RMS but the original letter was very clearly written in the key of "outrage".


> written in the key of "outrage".

I've never seen that turn of phrase before, but I quite like it!


> A competing letter in support of RMS exists and has accumulated considerably more signatures than the letter condemning RMS.

> In response someone created a Chrome extension that marks repositories owned by a signatory of this support letter with red text on GitHub.

This is incredible worrying. This is basically maintaining a repository of people with "incorrect" opinions. How long before such repositories are integrated in HR systems, tied to you identity for subscriptions/memberships. [1] You have to carry a tag of being not progressive enough across the internet?

[1] https://twitter.com/kmlefranc/status/1221869659139366912


Frankly, I wish there was a list of people using that Chrome extension, so they could face the same treatment they are giving others.

Ultimately I think things like that extension will do more to drive people to sign the letter in support of RMS than deter people, because the signal it sends is to me far worse than anything RMS has been accused of.


The competing letter in support of RMS can be found here: https://rms-support-letter.github.io. The original letter denouncing RMS can be found here: https://rms-open-letter.github.io. At this point in time there are 5,871 signatories in support of RMS, and 3,012 signatories denouncing RMS. Not sure what that means, if anything, but it does lead me to conclude that RMS may not be the pariah of free software that he's made out to be.

Freedom of speech has lost, freedom of thought is next and they are coming for it fast.

I have created an issue on this repository to have an option to highlight rms supporters in a more friendly green. It is always nice to know that the software is made by decent people.

Please, vote for my issue: https://github.com/sticks-stuff/highlight-RMS-supporters/iss...


It surprises me that so many people are outraged by a Chrome extension that highlights names - and does nothing more as far as I know - denouncing it with all of the righteous anger that Hacker News can muster (including wanting to blacklist anyone who contributed to the extension, and wanting to see everyone with progressive politics purged from free software entirely) yet no one seems too bothered when RMS supporters want to have Molly de Blanc arrested for simply writing a petition[0] to begin with.

The hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance among Stallman's supporters never ceases to astonish.

edit: fixed the link.

[0]https://debian.community/molly-de-blanc-arrest-and-prosecuti...


>including wanting to blacklist anyone who contributed to the extension

I think you refer to https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26722528, if so it is more about giving them the same treatment that they give others. If anything it is hypocritical to say that the extension is fine but giving them the same treatment is not.

>and wanting to see everyone with progressive politics purged from free software entirely

This is... not true. RMS himself has progressive politics. A progressive can still reject insanity caused by other progressives.

>RMS supporters want to have Molly de Blanc arrested for simply writing a petition[0] to begin with.

Just a few corrections:

- It is not RMS supporters, it is a specific timecube-like conspiracy theorist that has been known to debian for a few years now.

- This article is more about the plainly false libel in appendix that molly knew about but has refused to correct.


> It surprises me that so many people are outraged by a Chrome extension that highlights names - and does nothing more as far as I know

Nothing more as of now but you should see the support for it on twitter. This rationale is similar to Nothing to hide argument[1]. Path to dystopian future is paved with good intentions. And maintaining a naughty list is definitely not in good intentions.

> and wanting to see everyone with progressive politics purged from free software entirely

Where are you getting this from? Absolutely no one suggested that.

> The hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance among Stallman's supporters

I am not a Stallman supporter, fwiw.

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


Looking at both examples, the entire situation is bothersome and, frankly, exhausting. I don't know where people find the energy to fuel all this outrage when there is surely somewhere to meet in the middle. It's difficult to take seriously, and understand the genuine underlying issues, when emotions all around are amplified to the extreme.

Campaigning to have someone arrested on one end and employing totalitarian tactics on the other comes across as absurd to me. It's practically authoritarian in-fighting.

I'm sure there is a real problem that deserves discussion here, but it's difficult to see through the dense fog of anger.

(edit: I did remove an original sentence from this comment about it being a toxic squabble. I decided that was a bit too dismissive, but you'll still see it in all its glory in one of the responses)


> I don't know where people find the energy to fuel all this outrage when there is surely somewhere to meet in the middle.

Extremists and activists like this don't want to meet in the middle. They want to move the middle towards their point of view and then they want that middle-ground to be the only acceptable ground to hold.

It's an unreasonable position to hold in a free society, and we as a people should not encourage these individuals by giving them attention or giving in to their demands.


> Looking at both examples, the whole situation seems like yet another toxic, mind-numbing internet squabble.

It really is. There have been hundreds of threads just after Stallman's recent reappointment to the FSF board of directors alone, to say nothing of his "cancellation," many with hundreds if not thousands of comments, most of which are just a cesspool of toxicity, trolling and outrage porn.

The truth is that both sides have a point, and both sides are acting in bad faith towards the other.


My second favourite conspiracy theory is that a lot of the transgender flame wars are fanned by secret agencies to distract the activist populace from topics that are more important and less convenient for the powerful elite (economic justice comes to mind).

The trope of wealthy people standing atop their terrace, drinking and partying, while the poorer people below fight between themselves is a well known one.

Highlighting or keeping lists of people one disagrees with in various ways have a long history of being used for persecution, and worse.

That nobody is calling for that now does not mean it is not chilling to see someone want to highlight someones political views in a context where they are not relevant. These things have an ugly tendency to start out presented as something much more innocent than what they turn into.


A user seemingly representing the site you are linking to made some comments on the support letter's github page and they were not very welcome. The comments and responses are still there because nothing has been deleted.

Respectfully, you seem a bit confused. There are three such extensions that I know of. Some people on Twitter already talk about "no hire" lists. Not that I would would care to work for such people and their bullshitware. But it is clear that a lot of supporters are afraid to speak out, while I do not think the same holds at the other camp. I bet that some signatures in the attack letter are only there due to fear. Yet the votes in support are almost exactly twice as many and (important) it is translated in double the number of languages (30+).

Do not forget that the supporters are defending someone. While you may not agree about everything every single supporter says, this is all in response to the other campaign, which is attacking. The attack letter is such an incompetently written and fierce text that I am really baffled. Do they really believe the things they are writing? Did they just do it intentionally? I do not think a single explanation applies to all people related to that campaign. I have at least three in mind. In the end they and their obscene accusations and demands are backed by corporate money anyway. Livelihoods and careers are threatened. Why?

RMS actively supports all these groups that the letter claims he is against. Just look (besides his general character and actual actions) at his thousands of political notes, not just the three that are supposedly bad. He is not paid to write them. And it is not the same generic, colorless, tasteless, mechanically generated copypasta that is thrown around by people that are paid shitloads of money and claim to care about diversity.

Just look at the bigger picture.


You are surprised because you equate two things that are qualitatively different.

Some people advocating for arresting someone for something they did, even if it is way too crazy is quite different than tools that enable discrimination based on an opinion. Remember these people are just supporting RMS, not advocating for slavery or exterminating the Jews (and even then I don't know whether you could support such a thing).

Just take a look at the "yellow badge" [1], the Jewish insignia that Nazis made Jews wear to distinguish them. This extension has far more many similarities with this example than with what you compare it to.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_badge?wprov=sfla1

Also, your link is broken. And please before you speak of "hypocrisy" and "cognitive dissonance" think of the matter at hand a bit more. Your comparing these two issues is so obviously wrong it's not even funny.


>Some people advocating for arresting someone for something they did, even if it is way too crazy is quite different than tools that enable discrimination based on an opinion.

It isn't different at all. Both are forms of discrimination based on an opinion. What Molly De Blanc "did" was express an opinion. On the one hand, you have a Chrome plugin that highlights public information, and on the other hand you have Stallman supporters wanting to use intimidation and violence to suppress their political opponents, and here you completely dismiss the latter while you (and many other commenters here) have to twist some macabre hypothetical Nazi allegory from the former, as if it were somehow even plausible that Molly De Blanc actually wants to send Stallmanites to the camps.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case.


At this point I think the most important thing is that mob rule is shown to not be the way.

I don't know RMS, I don't even know much about RMS... but I have heard enough to know he's not the intolerant idiot he's been made out to be in these hateful letters. There are possibly other very reasonable criticisms for him being removed from his position, but the mob made that impossible to discuss now due to the overwhelming irreverent bias - so now they should be made to wait for a very long time.


> mob rule is shown to not be the way.

I guess humanity just has to re-learn certain lessons every couple of generations.


[flagged]


Please stop posting flamewar comments to HN. It's not what this site is for.

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


Come on Taze, put some effort into it: "I don't know anything about the target, but this trial by public opinion is fundamentally unfair and shouldn't be used to decide anything".

RMS might be a serial killer or pedo but until this is proven by the authorities what a sane person can conclude is that there is no actual evidence for such accusations, just some people with a grudge on RMS remembering 20 years old stories of RMS committing the crime of making them uncomfortable.

Or some argue that RMS did no crime but is just not good for PR reasons so we should put someone more cool on the top, someone that speacks using political language.


Who said RMS is a serial killer or a child abuser? Why do you assume that he is being accused without evidence?

Yes, that should be our default assumption.

Isn't the core principle of the justice system great?

I was not aware that the justice system operated on the principle of “if I believe someone is innocent, I do not have to consider any of the evidence”.

That is not even near the same galaxy of what I wrote. But you do you.

Please stop posting flamewar comments to HN. It's not what this site is for.

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


> RMS has (for some reason) tens of thousands of political notes on his website ready to be cherry-picked

It used to be quite okay to share your opinions, political or not, on your website.

It they concern anything that is of importance, some people will find it disagreeable and even offensive.

The fact that we are at a point where expressing this is somehow strange and it’s accepted that you can be subjected to cherry-picking and so should abstain from posting anything that might be considered controversial by some radical;

That’s a horrible place for our society to be in. I’m glad the competing support letter has far more supporters.

I’m tired but not surprised that we have to include politics in everything.

Make software better instead.


> That’s a horrible place for our society to be in.

This is encouraged from early on in school these days with ideas like "safe spaces" where people can be "safe" from so called "micro aggressions" (basically having their own convictions challenged, even for valid reasons).

It seems like just having common disagreements is considered inappropriate now, and the more opinions you express publicly, the more "micro-agressions" you must accept that you are imposing on others. And thus obviously you are terrible person and must be cancelled.

And so comes the (now traditional) SJW witch-hunt.

Whoever supports these ideas really needs to be considered the enemies of a healthy democracy, and their ideas needs to be constantly and publicly challenged.


I am becoming increasingly skeptical whenever I read claims of transphobia being made. To be sure, there are those who seek to undermine the rights of transsexuals, and who seek to pass legislation accordingly. But at the same time I see issues like this one, or the one with J. K. Rowling, and it does not seem so clear cut at the least, and at the worst is bad faith sanctimony.

JKR's writings are meant to seem reasonable to the lay person who does not know much about the topic. To understand criticism of them you need to develop a deeper understanding of the subject independent of what she wrote. Context is key.

Something similar could be said about the topic of the OP. I think people are too quick to assume that criticisms are in bad faith when they are unfamiliar with the background.


I am afraid to put my name/email/github id in support of RMS because some mob in future will draw incorrect equivalence with whatever they want like "you support RMS then you are an X " where X seems to be a pedo.

I am also wondering how many GNU/FSF haters are participating in just because they prefer MIT/BSD and see GNU as a cancer eating at their money making scheme.


> I am afraid to put my name/email/github id in support of RMS because some mob in future ...

That's exactly what these totalitarian wokists aim for: to make people afraid to oppose them. The only way to stop it is not cave in to their absurd demands. Be strong, live without fear, and do the right thing.


Another way is to comment and show support in a way that is not linked to your real identity. If people try to claim these are fake accounts, point out how people fear to show support publicly.

That is far from ideal. In Russia there is a whole new industry of bot commenters who flood all online forums, comment sections and social networks with pro-Putin comments, drowning the opposition by the sheer numbers of persons with fake identities. The result is an illusion of an overwhelming support of Putin.

This tactics can be applied to almost anything, so no, supporting anonymously is not the solution.


And this is what has made the far right (and Trump) so attractive recently. The far right says "No, fuck you!" to pretty much everything the far left says, speaking power which is attractive. And in a country where you only have two political choices, it's always a devil's bargain because the policies of those parties become more and more polarized by their extremist elements.

Most people don't want the far left OR the far right, except they basically have no choice but to pick one, so they pick the one that feels the least like they're being trampled upon and then dutifully demonize the opposition. When both sides are peddling oppression, the people choose out of pain avoidance rather than positive, thoughtful action.


> That's exactly what these totalitarian wokists aim for

That’s pretty much the core of the entire SJW-movement right there.


So:

    I’ll leave you with three more bits of evidence that things are more complex than the open letter would have you believe:

    1. A competing letter in support of RMS exists and has accumulated considerably more signatures than the letter condemning RMS.
    2. In response someone created a Chrome extension that marks repositories owned by a signatory of this support letter with red text on GitHub.
    3. The announcement of this extension was welcomed with 394 likes on Twitter.
Just tell us why is it bad again?

There is a public repository, with people signing publicly. The plugin does not reveal any hidden information, the only thing it does is make it easier to find out if someone publicly supports RMS. If you look at outliers you may find individuals who equate signing the letter with being a pedo, but I have yet to see a major Twitter account implying so. For me it just means I might not get along with the person since they do not think RMS being in the board is an issue for FSF.

Also, "the mob this", "the mob that", you can't just label people "mob" when you disagree with them.

> That's exactly what these totalitarian wokists aim for: to make people afraid to oppose them.

Look who is insulting people here and making assumptions.

Please, be strong and talk freely, I don't care.


The trouble is that one generation ago we as people of the free world abhorred the idea of punishing individuals for their beliefs. Now that has changed.

It's not the first time this happened, and it certainly won't be the last, but it's always ended badly in the past.


religious beliefs != informed opinions

Your boss or project maintainer in an open source project starts spreading conspiracy theories on the internet (Q, Flat Earth, whatever), to the point he becomes a public embarassment. Do you want to continue working with him?


> religious beliefs != informed opinions

Opinions are beliefs, and beliefs aren't by necessity religious.

> Your boss or project maintainer in an open source project starts spreading conspiracy theories on the internet (Q, Flat Earth, whatever), to the point he becomes a public embarassment. Do you want to continue working with him?

Thank you for the example. This never used to be an issue. 15 years ago, one didn't care what a colleague believed, so long as they conducted business in a professional manner. Nowadays one feels a need to distance ones self at all costs lest one be tarred with the same brush and similarly punished (as we see happening all around us these days - and in fact specifically in your earlier Chrome extension example).


Stallman has informed opinions on these topics however. He is not some Q nutjob.

As for me, as long as they were being tolerant of others and did not withdraw from public dialogue then sure, I would not mind working with him.

>>That's exactly what these totalitarian wokists aim for: to make people afraid to oppose them.

>Look who is insulting people here and making assumptions.

Is there any other reason for the plugin? I personally know at least two people (not including myself) who did not sign it because they feared of being "cancelled".


>Your boss or project maintainer in an open source project starts spreading conspiracy theories on the internet (Q, Flat Earth, whatever), to the point he becomes a public embarassment. Do you want to continue working with him?

Say I created an open source library and you are a contributor, now you find out that I am a pro-life (or communist or watch dubious japanese adult content), you are free to stop contributing sure, but why should you try to steal my job and project because you don;t like my opinions? You probably will say that is bad PR for my library and my library is very important for the community so you should spread a lot of missinformation about me to force me out and free the library using mod tactics.


> For me it just means I might not get along with the person since they do not think RMS being in the board is an issue for FSF.

This is where you and I diverge. I have worked with a lot of people that I think have had bad opinions. People that were leftists and people that were conservative. While I kept in my mind that this person had bad opinions I was usually able to get a beer with them, it didn't mean we'd be fast friends though. Would I draw a line? Probably, notice I left out far-right; because I'm probably not getting a beer with a racist or someone who believes in ethnostates.

I will get a beer with someone who is a devout socialist or communist whose ideals will inevitably end in a lot of bloodshed when property is ultimately seized. I'll still get a beer with someone who has a nuanced opinion on pronouns. Just because I disagree with them does not guarantee me alienating them, because I might be the opinion they need to hear for their views to be swayed, or more practically their opinions in isolation can only become worse.

What bothers me is this idea of enforcing camped friend-groups or work circles. From everything I've learned about Russia, this is exactly what they want you to be believing. Their attacks on US democracy weren't just trying to embarrass the right by giving their extremists power and influence; they were far more foundational. They invested in promoting discourse on the far right and the far left that made discourse seem impossible to a nation that by its own distinction was very friendly to a wide range of views. They attacked the very foundation of American culture.


> I am also wondering how many GNU/FSF haters are participating in just because they prefer MIT/BSD and see GNU as a cancer eating at their money making scheme.

Bingo! Corporate interests have been taking aim at the GNU license and the FSF for decades. They hate that they can't steal free software, make it proprietary, and profit from it - without having to make the entirety of the source available to their customers which thwarts their profit plans.

How many Ask HN posts have we seen where someone is complaining that someone swooped in and "stole" their software, utilizing some form of a BSD license, and are now profiting from it? If you want to protect yourself from such hucksters then become a member of the FSF and license your code with GPL. Now you have legal protection.


That's pretty much the whole point of astroturfing this mob.

If RMS declared his undying love for MIT/BSD tomorrow the instigators would likely lose all interest in RMS's views on Minsky and their outrage-puppets would abruptly move on to a different scandal.


The very fact that we're having this conversation now means the world has become a sad place.

This is a refreshing, level-headed text, signed by the real name of its individual author. It is not intended to stir the mob but as a kind path towards understanding; I like it.

It's a bit calmer than other defenses. The attack letter is an attack but because it's vicious and misleading doesn't mean all criticism becomes invalid. But it is the mob. Damned if you do and dammed if you dont.

(Don't be surprised if HN users flag this submission however because I think they don't seem anything new)


Ok I’m missing a key part of this: Why should I care about this recurring drama? Is the leadership of the FSF even important? I’ve gone my whole life without needing to follow board composition of the FSF.

A principled head of the FSF is bad for corporate profit margins but good for anybody else who participates in the free software ecosystem.

There are quite a lot of powerful people who would like to see it water down its principles. Thats a lot easier without Stallman.

I don't for a second believe that this is actually about what RMS said. This scandal has corporate PR fingerprints all over it.


I was wondering who would have this vendetta to elevate RMS' various comments as so insensitive compared to what other people do or say

They just seem so innocuous, unrelated to leadership, and with FSF being too obscure of an organization to even bother. Even the generalized argument in favor of dismantling perceived oppressive systems by ostracizing all the leaders just seems so misplaced here.

Thanks for a perspective on who and why.


A reason: Lots of software is licensed under "GPL V2, or newer" or "GPL v3, or newer"

The Free Software Foundation can release a new version of that license, which will relicense all those works under those new terms.


As I read it, users will still have the option to choose the existing concrete license (ignoring “or later”), so if V4 became a restrictive license somehow, “V2 or later” is no more restrictive for users who don’t want it to be.

I think the worry is that a V4 could be less restrictive. Imagine the FSF gets bought out and releases a GPLv4 that's essentially the MIT license. All existing "GPLvX or later" software like the Linux kernel could then be extended without releasing the source code.

Linux is mostly GPLv2-only. Parts of it are under MIT, BSD, or even GPLv2-or-later, but the whole work is GPLv2-only.

I wish you were correct. Hypothetically there could be a new version of the GPL that is crafted without any CDDL incompatibilities and we'd finally get to import ZFS into Linux, but alas, even if a GPLv4 came around to do that, Linux wouldn't benefit.


The Linux Kernel is GPLv2 without the "or later" clause.

Starting from v3 no, thats why many projects are still on GPL v2

Could you expand on that?

Suppose there’s a library “foo” licensed under GPL v3 or later.

GPLv4 comes out and has a term I don’t like (maybe it says “may not be used by anyone with more than 2 ‘o’s in their name”). Am I not free to use foo under the v3 terms, ignoring “or later”?

From the v3 license: Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program specifies that a certain numbered version of the GNU General Public License “or any later version” applies to it, you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that numbered version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of the GNU General Public License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation.


You continue to be able to use it under GPLv3 terms, but if you distribute it (and don't hold the full copyright) you must distribute it in a "or newer" compatible way.

Interesting. I’m not sure if I don’t understand or if I disagree.

Let’s imagine it’s 2005, I’m TiVo, and the Linux kernel was licensed under “v2 or later”* and GPL v2 is the latest version of the license that exists.

I ship a product using the Linux kernel complying with the GPLv2. FSF dislikes what I’ve done and releases a v3 license in 2006. I claim that in 2007, I’m still allowed to ship my product, by electing to “follow the terms and conditions” of the v2 version of the license and only if Linux relicenses itself as “v3 or later” could I not ship such later licensed versions but I could keep shipping my product as-was with a “v2 or later” kernel, even though my product is compliant with the v2 distribution terms but not with the v3 terms.

Q1. Do you see it differently?

Further, someone else could start a ViTo company in 2008 and ship a same conditions product without violating the GPL “v2 or later” (that there isn’t anything special about TiVo doing it before v3 was released). Q2. Does that change anything?

* - I know Linux kernel is “v2 exactly”, but this was the simplest readily understandable example I could think of, so let’s use that incorrect hypothetical here.


I would say it's complicated. The scenario in my head is like this: I take "GPL3 or newer" software and build my derived software on top and distribute that without thinking about the "or newer clause" now G pLv4 comes along, my user has the "GPLv3 or newer" component and uses GPLv4 with it, which might have requirements impacting my software ... or not ... I don't know.

All I can say: that "or newer" exists and a misguided FSF can cause trouble (see also outcry with GPLv3, where people removed the or newer clause for those reasons)


GPL v3 have "or later" in it's body. So any GPLv3 licensed code automatically licensed under GPLv4 once it would be available.

I believe that the text "you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that numbered version or of any later version" means that it is still available to be used under the terms and conditions of GPLv3 or GPLv4 at the option of the person using the code (such that if v4 prohibited use by people with 3 o's in their name, I could still use foo under the v3 terms).

Do you claim that once v4 is published I cannot use code licensed as "v3 or later" by complying with the v3 terms and conditions? That seems to me to directly contradict the language in the license. I agree that "v3 or later" code automatically is available for use under v4 terms once v4 is published, but it also remains available under v3 terms.


What if it became less restrictive?

Fair! Many contributors would likely relicense under a fixed version, so old code that was licensed “or later” is permanently leaked under the license they now find too permissive, but code that’s not maintained has significantly less value.

Following on from that, what does the FSF even do now other than making cringe infographics and some weird animated series about proprietary software being supervillains?

Having a party on your “side” of an opinion spectrum that is very extreme — like the FSF under Stallman - is important for maintaining the Overton window of acceptability where you want it. If you want the minimum wage raised to $10, Bernie Sanders arguing for $15, and bringing people into that worldview, helps you. Such has been the FSF for open source especially in its nascent days with corporate interests still thinking they could kill it.

Great comment - the extremes of the overton window determine what is acceptable as the middle. And the middle is crucial, as we are, as people, almost always framing issues as having two sides, and compromising to something in that middle.

Without one of those extremes including your own position or including it and being further left/right, no compromise will ever happen that includes what you want.


so from what I can tell, people tried node-based "cancelling" where they try to ostracize people and organizations associated with the target person, and it failed and this is the tail-end of that saga

the FSF folded in the past, and has since called the weakness of this vendetta and particular approach, and it would be redundant to even rehash the particular comments Stallman has said or evaluate his leadership

people have tried tying morality to prosperity, and there is no reality where that is related

okay, anyway


> RMS has (for some reason) tens of thousands of political notes on his website ready to be cherry-picked

That would give me literally nightmares, I really don't understand people who write their opinions online (or sharing or liking of other peoples opinions) using their real name. It seems incredibly foolish. Even if you think you are woke enough, chances of getting cancelled in the future seem very high.

I have this fear that I won't be able to find a job in the future because my absence online will be viewed with deep suspicion.


"If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged. "

- Cardinal Richelieu


He clearly states that his opinions are his own, and do not represent GNU, FSF, or anything.

The world there your private views might impact your work is a bad one, and everyone who values human rights and democracy must fight to make it safe to express your views.


Assume this: My open, but as a private person, opinion is that it's ok to steal money from my employer. Should I be CEO?

And if you hold the same opinion just not in the open?

If you wanted to become a thought leader, what other way could there be beside sharing your thoughts and ideas publicly?

You see, when he started doing this, the world was a different place. Also, he really believes it's important to fight for what he believes in.

The 'open letter' language reeks with the odour of the Komsomol [1] assembly. It was a form of self-governance, where the missteped members were subjected to a court of their comrades, who unleashed their denunciation on the faulty offender, who had to stand in front of them in shame, listening to their dispraisals, and repent from his erroneous ways.

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


It looks as nobody would learn from others' mistakes. US will have to go through komsomol, purges, and gulag to finally understand what's going on now.

This reminded me of the Opal incident: https://github.com/opal/opal/issues/941.

Regardless of the letter, I have a little story to add. I first heard of RMS back when I was living in an isolated land on this planet (there are only a few of them). A self-made hacker, which was to some extent my mentor told of his communications with him, since he was active in some GNU projects and RMS had assisted him with publishing his work. Not much, but it was a positive move in support of a young man in a remote place.


> In response someone created a Chrome extension that marks repositories owned by a signatory of this support letter with red text on GitHub.

why stop there? out with their tongues and off with their fingers, lest they continue to blaspheme.


As much as I like rms, I find it very difficult to move past his comments on child pornography[1].

[1] https://stallman.org/notes/2011-mar-jun.html#4_June_2011_(Bo...


From what I understand his actual views aren't that horrible. But it's almost as if he goes out of his way to write things in the most provoking way possible. He really has no regard for how a reader might interpret his text. Which is expected if he has some form of autism.

I really think he should run everything he writes by someone who is more empathic. He is a public figure. He has a serious disability when it comes to public communication. He should take measures to deal with that. But I guess he's too proud?

I truly think Stallmans intentions have been OK. But you can't just pretend like it doesn't matter how communications are received by the reader. That's the whole point of communication. It's a bit like driving with poor vision. You don't intend to crash, but it's kind of inevitable if you don't correct for your disability.


While I agree that part of the outrage is probably a bit over the top, I think it's exactly comments like the on linked in the GP that are a good reason why RMS shouldn't be in a top leadership role. That and plenty of other things like him blocking improvements in GCC, Emacs and other GNU projects merely by being able to veto plenty of things outright. This is not the look you want to present to the public if you're the FSF.

From what I understand his actual views aren't that horrible. But it's almost as if he goes out of his way to write things in the most provoking way possible.

Stallman is an activist, the kind of person that intentionally provokes outrage to make a point and bring issues to discussion.

The bizarre part of all this saga is that he's being attacked by exactly the same kind of people using his very same tactics. It's like some of those Godzilla vs Kong movies.

Honestly I don't find this funny. But I don't care about it either. I had not heard much about the FSF last decade.


> Which is expected if he has some form of autism.

There's something ironic about a lynch mob calling someone ableist because he's got autistic communication issues.


Since the sky is blue police has been using CP as an excuse to break encryption, search electronic devices, etc.

RMS is not wrong.


I think both comments above have taken the argument to the extremes on both ends.

OHO, I think RMS is making a point about the excuses governments and LEOs make in favor of censorship/anti-encryption - a good one, at that.

OTOH, he does a pretty piss-poor job describing it in that blurb. I'm not convinced this is an argument in favor of child pornography. I'm simply choosing to believe it's poor wording on RMS's part trying to make a point about encryption and he's not actually in favor of child pornography.


Part of his argument is that there would be nothing wrong with possessing child pornography if it depicted consensual intercourse - and Stallman's (recently recanted on, to be fair) views that pedophilia is not harmful and that children can give consent and should be allowed to engage in sexual intercourse with adults are well documented.

His general argument is a good one, even given how reprehensible child pornography can be - there are ways to fight it without giving open ended backdoors and carte blanche to law enforcement. But part of that argument does rest implicitly on an argument that child pornography itself isn't harmful. His rationale that simply possessing an image does no harm doesn't take into account the harm that went into creating that image or the networks of harm that their creation and distribution supports.

Setting everything else aside, that's not really the sort of argument people should want a spokesperson for free software to be making on their behalf. Most people don't see child pornography as mere images with no context or moral weight, so an argument that deviates into a tangent of "and they're just pictures anyway so what's the harm? Maybe the kids were into it" isn't going to be compelling.


I don't think the originally linked blurb is implying everything you claim it does - unless you are trying to read between lines, something which I adamently do not do if I do not know the subject personally.

Do you have sources for the "well documented" views that pedophilia is not harmful and that children can give consent and should be allowed to engage in sexual intercourse? Because the blurb above certainly does not say any of that.


>Do you have sources for the "well documented" views that pedophilia is not harmful and that children can give consent and should be allowed to engage in sexual intercourse? Because the blurb above certainly does not say any of that.

Apart from the appendix linked to in the open letter being critiqued in the OP, there is this often mentioned quote by the man himself:

“I am sceptical of the claim that voluntarily pedophilia harms children. The arguments that it causes harm seem to be based on cases which aren’t voluntary, which are then stretched by parents who are horrified by the idea that their little baby is maturing.”

[0]https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21287006

[1]https://selamjie.medium.com/remove-richard-stallman-appendix...

[2]https://medium.com/@thomas.bushnell/a-reflection-on-the-depa...

[3]http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2019/10/15/fsf-rms.html


That's not really the part I have an issue with, its more the assertion that child pornography "does not hurt anyone".

I'm tired of people with poor reading comprehension and poor adherence to the intent of the writing.

You equate this: "Having a photo or drawing does not hurt anyone" to "child pornography does not hurt anyone".

Do you really think those two sentences mean the same thing? Really? This is the reason the following saying is a thing.

>Give me six lines written by the most honest man in the world, and I will find enough in them to hang him.

Stop being so aggressively bad in finding faults. I mean, just being realistic, Stallman has most likely been stopped and searched multiple times crossing borders. You'd think if he was a pedo he would've been caught by now. Instead he's speaking his mind about censorship and freedom yet people that will never have an iota of the drive this guy had at least once in his life are trying to tear him down.

Do you take some sort of pride in attacking him or something? Regardless of his flaws, what have you done?


No I don't, until fairly recently i was an ardent supporter of RMS and still do support him in most aspects.

> You equate this: "Having a photo or drawing does not hurt anyone" to "child pornography does not hurt anyone".

This was admittedly poorly written, however I do not believe that possession of child pornography is a victimless crime either.

> Stallman has most likely been stopped and searched multiple times crossing borders. You'd think if he was a pedo he would've been caught by now

I am not saying he is a pedophile but that doesn't make what he said any less bizarre.


It's not poor reading comprehension. It's poor writing at best.

"Having a photo or drawing does not hurt anyone" is factually wrong.


Would you care to expand on that? Right now I disagree.

You can read my other post[1] where I provide some examples.

My examples were porn-related since that's the topic of RMS' post. But they don't need to be.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26722248


He refers specifically to possession, which is true. The arguments against it tend to be very similar to the arguments against piracy (they even include the whole "illegal prime" concept). He does not say that producing child pornography does not hurt anyone however.

I don't think the same logic that is applied to piracy can be applied to child pornography as possession of child pornography has the added caveat that the subject within most likely did not give informed consent to it being made.

I do not see how this changes anything.

Well by possessing Pornography of someone who didn't want it made, you have to have obtained it. By obtaining said pornography another person is now in possession of compromising material of someone that they didn't consent consent to the production of, by having more people possess the material, the issue becomes worse.

You are taking his arguments out of context.

Everything out of context will sound strange.


Because there has been this "out of context" argument used several times in this discussion, and I don't understand it:

Can you explain to me how the context of [1] and [4] makes [2] and [3] - "is having that photo is not hurting everyone" - sound different than without the context?

"[1] This "child pornography" might be a photo of yourself or your lover that the two of you shared.

[2] It might be an image of a sexually mature teenager that any normal adult would find attractive. What's heinous about having such a photo?

[3] But even when it is uncontroversial to call the subject depicted a "child", that is no excuse for censorship. Having a photo or drawing does not hurt anyone, so and if you or I think it is disgusting, that is no excuse for censorship.

[4] The government will invent an unlimited number of opportunities to censor us and search us if we grant the legitimacy of its all-purpose excuses for doing so."


I think that #3 is one of rms’s terribly ineffective and perhaps self-destructive “technically correct” arguments.

I read that he’s intending the extremely literal meaning of “having” as he often takes extremely precise, literal meanings that make his writings more difficult to understand than would otherwise be.

Let me be clear: I’m not in any way supporting child porn, but I can see how rms could hold a view that merely having a specific sequence of bits that can be displayed as a picture does not harm anyone.

Perhaps someone was harmed by the circumstances under which the picture was taken. Perhaps some ex- is harmed by the thought that you might have that photo. Almost surely allowing the purchase or trading of such pictures encourages future harm. There are lots of reasons to oppose child porn, but rms is, for reasons known to him, choosing to argue that, in a very literal sense, the passive having of the bits is not among them.

Context: I’ve read a lot of rms writings and worked for FSF as his typist for 9 hours back around 1990 before I quit. (I wish I’d have been able to do it longer, but it wasn’t worth the $10/hr to listen to rms dictate keystrokes and enter them. I would frustrate him as I was trying to learn what the keystrokes were doing and he just wanted me to type faster. When I told him I was quitting after the third three hour session, he graciously offered that I was just getting fast enough to not be frustrating, that most people quit in session 1 or 2, and he’d make sure FSF sent me the $90 which they did.) I don’t consider myself to have a particular “side” here, but if my minor interactions with him are relevant to anyone, I wanted to disclose them.


Like I wrote in another comment, this would split the fact of "stealing" from "having a stolen object". Like "having the stolen object" does not harm anyone, the taking away is the harm done. I don't think this argument flies with anyone - it did not fly in kindergarten for me - and I'm not sure if RMS sees the world this way or it's only with child porn.

To play devils advocate here:

Taking GPL code into your product and selling it, the fact of selling your product is not harming the person who wrote the GPL code. But with GPLed code RMS has a totally different view than with pictures of nude children.


Having a stolen physical object of mine means I don’t have it. You are literally continuing to deprive me of the property by merely having it.

I can imagine reading an rms essay on how coming into my yard and taking my ladder without permission, using it without damage, and returning it before I noticed it missing imposed no harm upon me, so the taking of my property was not wrong, though the ongoing possession would be.

To your later-added devil’s advocate paragraph: rms is fine with you selling a product that includes GPL code and as far as I can tell always has been. What he’s not fine with is you imposing restrictions that prevent someone that you do sell the code to from effectively modifying or further sharing that product.


If I copy your GPLed code you still have it.

You added that part afterward in an edit and I was still replying to that part, but you’re right and that’s what rms is encouraging: that we both have the code and both have the freedom to learn, modify, and tinker on it as does anyone we convey the code to.

Only with the consent the author == if my code is GPL, not if I'm copying the code into my proprietary code.

Sure, it’s the L in GPL that gives everyone the right to use GPL code in their product under certain conditions as spelled out in the license.

Nothing in the license precludes the sale of such a combined work though, as in your devil’s advocate query.

I’m not even sure where the confusion or disagreement is in this sub-thread to be honest. The license is short and fairly clear; there’s ample additional “what does this mean for inclusion of GPL code in commercial products?” FAQs and a fairly large body of commercial products openly marketed which include GPL code in them.

[0] - https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLCommercially


You misunderstand the point of the GPL. It's not there to protect the author of the code. It's there to protect the user of the code, i.e. the one you're selling the product to.

In your scenario, the user won't have access to the code they'd need to modify the product you sold them. That is the harm the GPL is designed to protect against.


Maybe if you and your girlfriend are 17 , she sends you a picture, then next day you are 18 but her picture is of a 17 years old so you are a criminal now.

So make CP illegal, find the criminals if you can, stop the commerce with such material , my paranoia is that I could be setup by police, or by someone that does not like me or even by a fucking troll. In today world such an accusation can destroy your life.


There have been cases of both the girl and boy being about 16 and sexting each other, and still being convicted for transmission of child pornography. I recall a specific case where the girl's father was pissed off when he discovered what they did, and used the photos to drag the boy to court. The boy is now registered as a "sex offender", same as a child rapist.

Strange how the law sees nothing wrong with two teens fucking each other, but somehow sending nude photos of themselves to each other is a felony.


Not really. Here's the context:

This "child pornography" might be a photo of yourself or your lover that the two of you shared.

Having a photo or drawing does not hurt anyone, so and if you or I think it is disgusting, that is no excuse for censorship.

Having a photo of you out there, shared to people you did not intend or want to have it shared with can most definitely hurt someone.

I can't find the quote right now, but there was an interview in the news here last year with a woman who's dad had taken and sold explicit images of her as a child, and she said a major part of her issues as an adult was that a mere glance from a stranger could trigger a crippling fear that the stranger had seen those photos and had recognized her. Let alone a proper look from someone.

Even though the images might have been taken with consent, unlike my example case, they might later have been spread without consent as in the numerous "revenge porn" cases. Again this can inflict real hurt to those depicted.


Can you explain how a drawing of imaginary person hurts somebody? What about texts? the characters in some books like the ones used in Game of Thrones TV series are very under aged, do you accuse the readers of the crime ? if yes who was hurt ?

I understand the point about hurting children or adults by the porn industry but I would hope we can find better methods to stop this crimes , social media justice is not the way,,, I read about under cover cops catching soem criminals so let's fund them to do their jobs ... and I also read about some teens killing an old man because someone accused him to be a pedo


I can come up with some scenarios where it might lead to someone getting hurt, but IMO drawings of imaginary persons is one of the least interesting subset of possible cases.

Even in the case that you bring up having the photo in your possession should not be illegal. Distributing it or producing it without the consent of the ADULT subject should be illegal. That's where the damage is being done. Every new set of eyes that sees the photo makes it worse.

In other words if:

1. someone already has a photo.

2. No one interacts with it besides the current owner

3. Nobody knows or will ever know about it but the current owner

Do you think there is damage being done? Right now I don't think so. I think all of the damage is done when material is produced and spread, and then spread again.

I dislike talking about this subject so I'm alright with disagreeing.


I don't disagree entirely with your post, as with most things legal it comes down to a balance of many aspects.

I also don't disagree entirely with the point RMS is trying to make regarding unmotivated searches of property and person. I do disagree with the specifics of his argument though.

Child pornography is in many cases indeed a heinous offense, however blanket searches of person and property is also a grand invasion of privacy.


Does he still assert that still, or are examples of past being re-used over and over?

I think the main issue is that there are too many things grouped under the label of 'child pornography'.

Anyone making actual CP should be thrown into vulcano, but teens sending nudes to each other are as innocent as they can be.


I don't think this is the case here:

"But even when it is uncontroversial to call the subject depicted a "child", that is no excuse for censorship. Having a photo or drawing does not hurt anyone, so and if you or I think it is disgusting, that is no excuse for censorship." - https://stallman.org/notes/2011-mar-jun.html#4_June_2011_(Bo...


Alternate take: child exploitation has been a pervasive and damaging disease in society "since the sky is blue", and in more recent decades law enforcement has begun seriously attempting to counter it.

He seems genuinely ignorant (to his defense) that those are not just still pictures, images, "doing no harm", but that they have a story, they have been taken at some point, sometimes under duress, and then that some people are paying to get them, so it's a whole economics, and it's powerful enough to crush the weak at the bottom end, including non-consentant enslaved children.

Then again, maybe what should be prohibited and punished is the sale and the buy, rather than just the possession. But is it technically feasible?


I don't understand the need to "move past" this. It's a personal opinion expressed on his blog, without much context, not even tangentially related to his professional work.

Is it reasonable to expect public figures to be 100% agreeable? I don't think so. In fact I think we'd all be a lot better off if we just stopped judging these peoples' character altogether. Shitty people can do good things. Why would we want to stop them?


On the other hand, when children can get themselves and their friends on sex offender lists for privately sharing pictures of themselves, there is undeniably something wrong with the laws in question.

I don't find it difficult at all, because the way he sees it, what he says is strictly logically true. Possession of CP material does not hurt anyone. The fact that people who want to possess (and are willing to pay for) CP material are a huge reason for CP material to be created by whatever means available (that's the part that hurts people) seems to be lost on him.

His ideas on free software and freedom in general are certainly noble and inspiring, but it's like he went a hundred steps too far in simplifying everything.


I would really like to understand his opinion on accessory-after-the-fact and other crimes like dealing in stolen property.

It would illuminate whether he’s actually a CP apologist or merely a poor legal philosopher who has bad judgment on the subject matter of his thought experiments.


What about neither? Have you accounted for that option?

Possession of CP is not an accessory-after-the-fact. CP is also not a physical good. This argument is similar to the argument comparing piracy to stealing a car.


No, the fact is simply that the law frequently criminalizes those activities which encourage or generate demand for criminal activity. Hence secondary or inchoate offenses exist (like various forms of accessory, solicitation, conspiracy, attempt) as well as specific crimes that relate to knowingly dealing in the profits of crime.

The law doesn't criminalize dealing in stolen goods because those goods are physical in nature and receiving them perpetuates the inability of their actual owner to enjoy them. That is a red herring of your own introduction.

It does so because allowing easy disposal of stolen property to third parties who stand to profit from it encourages theft.


Me having kicked you doesn't hurt anyone - the act of kicking you does hurt. So after I have kicked you, and you no longer feel pain, no harm done? I'm stealing your lunch and the next day you have a new lunch and are no longer hungry, no harm done?

I think the act can't be seperated from the result - this is were people go wrong.


Yes, it can be separated. Let's say some kid takes a you-know-what-kind of photo of himself. Then, he stores it in a pendrive. He forgets about it, loses the pendrive while on vacation in the other corner of the world. There, another person finds it and distributes it. The kid never finds out.

There, completely separated. Possession of that specific photo would not do any harm to the kid in any way. It's contrived, very, very improbable and not how all of it happens in reality, but there it is.

Also, by the way, just by participating in this conversation, we are going to be labeled of being pro you-know-what in about five years from now, giving the current trend.


You missed the ease of digital replication: one needs not participate in a sexual act involving children to replicate child pornography. It's not like it's a healthy thing to consume such material, but the distinction must be made to avoid the concept being abused by digital publishers who think one sharing an ebook with a friend would cause lost in their revenue.

If I steal an apple from you and grow more apples from it and give them away, there is no difference to the act of stealing your apple and eating it.

As a side note: RMS seams to be totally against "stealing" digital GPLed code.


If I take your apple, scan it in my StarTrek replicator, then put it back, I've not stolen anything. At worst, I've borrowed it without your consent. The fact that I can use my replicator to make as many apples as I want, which are just like the one I borrowed from you, is not stealing.

Not saying it wouldn't be wrong. But it's decidedly different from stealing.

Likewise, getting a copy of a copyrighted movie with Bittorent through the Pirate Bay is not really stealing. It may still be wrong, but since it does not deprive the original owner from their own copy of the movie, it's different from stealing.

In general, non-rival goods should be treated with different rules and laws than rival goods. Turning them back into rival goods like copyright does strikes me as a very bad idea. Artificial scarcity is… non optimal to say the least.


>If I steal an apple from you and grow more apples from it and give them away, there is no difference to the act of stealing your apple and eating it.

Certainly, but we talk about digital good here, stealing the first apple harms me (unless if I was not going to use it regardless), copying it however does not.

>RMS seams to be totally against "stealing" digital GPLed code.

Please explain what you mean by stealing here. He is against taking GPLed code, modifying it, compiling it, and then distributing the binary without distributing your modifications. He has no problem with selling the application/code. He has no problem with keeping the modifications to yourself as long as you do not share the binary. He has no problem with distributing the unmodified binary and/or code.


"He is against taking GPLed code, modifying it, compiling it, and then distributing the binary without distributing your modifications."

Yes.


Is there anything specific that you disagree with? I personally find his comment totally sensible.

likely a risk of being amplify of false accusation. last time there's a dude being false accuse of rape and throw into jail for 10 years

If a 16 years old girl sends nude photo her 16 year old boyfriend in Germany, it's fine. If she does the same in US, he's pedophile. This is what RMS was talking about.

No.

"But even when it is uncontroversial to call the subject depicted a 'child', that is no excuse for censorship. Having a photo or drawing does not hurt anyone, so and if you or I think it is disgusting, that is no excuse for censorship."


>But even when it is uncontroversial to call the subject depicted a "child", that is no excuse for censorship. Having a photo or drawing does not hurt anyone

Yes, the vast majority of people, including me, would disagree with that.

However, why is somebody holding these opinions a show-stopper?

One could argue that that's because in many cases somebody holding these opinions is a "dog whistle" for the person actually being a paedophile. In the case of RMS, though, we have no evidence that he actually is a paedophile, despite him being pretty thoroughly scrutinised over the years. We also know that he has a need to question everything and write about where he disagrees with society, which he presents in excruciating detail on his website, so it's not that he has some sort of fixation on this topic.

I'd argue that in an ideal society we should encourage thoughtfully heterodox people, since once in a while they'll invent something revolutionary like free software and copyleft, while them also sometimes holding some very weird opinions is not much of a cost.

In the non-ideal real world, once RMS came up with his revolutionary ideas, he probably should have stopped talking about his most fringe ideas, so his resignation as president of the FSF, for instance, had been sensible and over-due.


Is it fine in Germany? I believe that over here in the Czech Republic it's the same pedophile story. You can literally have a bunch of 15 year olds having hardcore bdsm group sex, but they're criminals the moment someone snaps a photo of a nipple.

>Is it fine in Germany?

Yes.


That is the most generous possible interpretation, and frankly, I do not think it's supported by the actually linked text.

The only line that could be interpreted in that way would be:

> This "child pornography" might be a photo of yourself or your lover that the two of you shared.

And even then, it is ambiguous.


I don't agree with him but he always has a mathematical way of thinking about things, using logic. In contrast with others that are the reverse, they assume that porn/violent video games, other legal stuff might have an effect so then they argue only based on assumption on removing freedoms. So personally I think when we want to remove a freedom we try our best to prove that we are doing something that has a significant good effect(I am speaking in general).

"if it hurt a trans person then it is transphobic" But this is... plain stupid. What's her position again?

You see totally different demographics between software design/development and the politics of software.

In this letter I see names that have never done anything significant, yet they feel entitled to correct one of the forefathers of software development.


That's because they are first and foremost victims.

These people aren't interested in working and contributing to this field. They are interested in benefiting from it. Any successful endeavour will attract freeloaders like moths to a flame and that's exactly what we are seeing here.


> in response someone created a Chrome extension that marks repositories owned by a signatory of this support letter with red text on GitHub

Ok. I think I need this extension for Firefox, to know what software is written by decent people.


A critique of "A Critique of the Open Letter Calling for the Removal of RMS": the author claims that Stallman's transphobia is down to Stallman proposing a set of singular, gender-neutral pronouns other than 'they', 'their' and theirs'. Which Stallman indeed does, but if you read on, Stallman also says he'll flat out refuse to use someone's preferred pronouns if they disagree with his scheme. To overlook that in a critique of a critique is a massive oversight at best, it not outright disingenuous.

> if you read on, Stallman also says he'll flat out refuse to use someone's preferred pronouns if they disagree with his scheme.

This is false: RMS does not refuse to use someone's preferred pronouns (as explained by a trans person who worked with him and who thinks that RMS' proposal is stupid but not transphobic). He just proposes people to use his pronouns, but will use whatever is asked to.


... and what's actually the problem with that stance that justifies what is being done to Stallman? It should be OK with everyone to be referred to by name and the set of generic English words that can be applied to anyone.

The problem is that gender is a complicated social issue and not every transgender person wants to be thrown into an "other" category with their pronouns. Given how simple it is to use someone's preferred pronouns once they've been made clear to you, I don't see how it's a problem to do so.

This problem was created by trying to force people to say specific words.

You try to force RMS to say some words? guess what, he will now try to force his words onto you. You don't agree? neither does he, great, just great. There is no difference here. It is no more valid for you to force language on others than it is for him to try and do it.


> You try to force RMS to say some words?

You mean like “GNU/Linux”? It's really not a big leap from RMS’s thinking he gets to name other people’s things without their consent (and insist that other people folloq his preference) to his thinking he gets to name other people without their consent, and its truly backwards to think that either of those stems from people trying to “force” anything on Stallman.


So, you realize that RMS is wrong on the GNU/Linux thing and somehow are still on the side of forcing pronouns?

> So, you realize that RMS is wrong on the GNU/Linux thing and somehow are still on the side of forcing pronouns?

No, I recognize that RMS is wrong on trying to impose his choice of names as designators of other people’s work, and also recognize that he is wrong, for pretty much the exact same reason though with more significance, to impose his choice of pronouns as designators of other people’s persons.


Except that is not how it is. They are both asking, demanding, someone else to only use the words they deem tolerable.

Whatever the situation, no one has to comply with such demand.


> They are both asking, demanding, someone else to only use the words they deem tolerable.

Nope. No one is demanding that Richard Stallman restrict which pronouns he uses to some set of nonobjectionable pronouns.

People are demanding that, when referring to another person, Stallman not impose names or pronouns he has chosen when he has been informed of the name or pronouns (if any; in some cases the applicable preference is “don’t use pronouns”) which the person identifies as labels for themself.

> Whatever the situation, no one has to comply with such demand.

There are very few times when one strictly has to do anything. OTOH, people don’t have to voluntarily associate with, work with, or contribute to Richard Stallman, or projects or organizations he is associated with, either.

You are free to proudly, publicly proclaim that you will only refer to the 43rd President of the United States as Bu$Hitler, and that no one can impose on you a different choice of names for that person, but you probably should not expect to get a job as executive director of his Presidential Library having done so.

Doing essentially the same thing to a much larger set of people is likewise something one can do, but expecting it to not have consequences, especially on one’s suitability for a position that is fundamentally about public communication, is irrational.


> Nope.....

> People are demanding that, when referring to another person, Stallman not impose names or pronouns he has chosen when he has been informed of the name or pronouns (if any; in some cases the applicable preference is “don’t use pronouns”) which the person identifies as labels for themself...

So in short...yes, they are demanding someone else to only use the words they deem tolerable.


> yes, they are demanding someone else to only use the words they deem tolerable.

again, no.

They are insisting that Stallman only label individuals with the labels the individuals have defined.

This isn't about Stallman being allowed to use words any more than insisting he not rape people is about him not being allowed to have sex.


If you think you are so in the right at least have the guts to admit what you are demanding others to do instead of using contradicting language to try to weasel your way out of admitting what everyone already knows.

And please do not insult and offend rape victims by claiming not using the words you want is the same as rape.


It blows my mind that you think that people wishing to be referred to in a certain way that has absolutely 0 negative effects on you or anyone else is somehow a bad thing which you need to argue against so much.

They can wish it all they want. They cannot force it.

What should blow your mind is people mounting huge campaigns to completely cancel someone and then when unable to really defend their positions having the guts to say "it isn't really an issue, it has 0 impact!"

It either is an issue and worthy of ruining someone's life or it isn't. Either simply "feeling" discriminated against is the bar or it isn't. Some people feel bullied when forced to speak a certain way, shouldn't others also be forced to accommodate their feelings?

You can't have it both ways.


They are demanding not wishing.

Do you call people by their names? Seems like you're already forced to call people what they want you to. I believe there's a difference between asking people to refer to you by some identifier and whatever nonsense you're equating it to.

You are not forced to call anyone anything. You have no right to compel anyone to say anything. You can ask, that's about it. They can say no.

And they can be considered an asshole and asked to not continue their role as a leading representative of a diverse community of people.

Of course!

And the people "asking" can also be considered assholes.


RMS's stance is that "they" is not a grammatically valid singular pronoun, so he'll not use it.

If somebody told you that their preferred pronoun was "we", I doubt you'd use it.

> not every transgender person wants to be thrown into an "other" category with their pronouns

RMS's pronoun "perse" is gender-neutral (not non-gender).

The stance is IMO crazy, but he does have a point that using "they" as both singular and plural introduces ambiguity.


It does introduce ambiguity in certain sentences, but pronouns already do that and we don't have much issue using them. The solution is to just not use the pronoun if it's ambiguous, pronouns are just a convenience.

Can he have this private opinion? Yes sure, I would just avoid him.

Can he be in a leadership role and organize conferences? No.


>Can he be in a leadership role and organize conferences? No.

Conferences on gender studies? Maybe.

Conferences on software and IT? Why not?


RMS' entire post about gender pronouns is weird [1]

> There are those who claim that we have an obligation to refer to someone using whatever pronouns person might choose. I disagree with that position, on grounds of principle and grounds of practice. I think we should respect other people's gender identification, but which pronouns we use for any particular gender identification is a separate matter — a matter of grammar. We do not owe it to anyone to change our grammar according to per wishes.

That's four lines after, saying we should all switch to his personal favourite pronouns:

> Use the elegant gender-neutral pronouns "person", "per" and "pers".

I'd be interested to her when RSM would not use someone's preferred pronoun and instead call them a 'perse'?

1: https://www.stallman.org/articles/genderless-pronouns.html


I don't see the weirdness. I see two statements:

- A person may choose which pronouns apply to themselves (on grounds of principle)

- A person must not dictate which pronouns apply to a whole gender (on grounds of practice)

I'd be interested to [hear] when [RMS] would not use someone's preferred pronoun and instead call them a 'perse'?

Presumably, when the pronoun preference of the person isn't known to the speaker?


Why this post disappeared from the home page?

Molly de Blanc must be cancelled and removed from all open source projects

People should call for a neutral investigation, not for a mob justice.

You know what I think is the craziest thing about this whole saga: Stallman’s email just accepts, as fact, that Minsky had sex with an underage girl. With one accusation and a dead defendant, why would anyone make this assumption without further corroboration? Did Stallman know it was true or was he just assuming it was?

Literally says so:

"Let’s presume that was true"


Yes, but... why?

If you accuse my wife of stomping a puppy to death I would say “she didn’t do that” or “that is a baseless accusation without a shred of evidence, and would be deeply out of character for her.” I wouldn’t say “let’s assume that was true. The puppy must have been biting her.”


Ever heard about concept of 'friends' or even 'close friends'?

Can you state your point rather than obliquely suggesting it?

So RMS thinks "having" child pornography is no harm done to the child, but digitally "having" GPL code in your own proprietary code does harm to the author.

I don't believe that I have ever seen RMS using this argument regarding GPL.

So I can take GPLed code (make child pornography), relicense it under MIT (copy it to the internet), someone takes it (copy it from the internet), includes it into his own ("have it") and sells it closed source?

Hopefully besides the China decoupling we also get an USA decoupling. You can have whatever cultural revolution you want but keep your -ism to yourself, please.

I think in the darkest communist times there hasn't been such foaming mob rhetoric.


SJW cancels another noble person

Using a throwaway ID for reasons that have been stated in this thread over and over.

You know what stuff like this makes me think, as someone in Europe? Between Trumpists and SJWs/cancel culture the only sane thing to do is have as little to do with the US as possible.

That means not depending on organizations located in the US or with a US majority membership, for one.

All you americans are doing is further isolating yourselves from the rest of the world. I thought that was the trumpist line, but cancel culture is getting as good as it as they are.


Aprox 10 minutes before dang sees this and deletes it

He stated at <https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26713636> that it's users and not moderators that are flagging all posts related to RMS. He even said he'd be willing to disable flagging on a somewhat neutral submission, if I'm reading his comment correctly.

"Will no one rid me of this troublesome post?"

RMS is a terrible spokesperson for free software. I wish the FSF could just fire him and move on.

How do I know he's a terrible spokesperson? Because we're talking about him and not about free software. It's that simple.

I want the FSF to focus on free software and I want the discourse around the FSF to be about free software. Not RMS.


> Because we're talking about him and not about free software. It's that simple.

No it's not that simple. Because the other side of this is that we are talking about Free Software because of him, indluding his personality. Few people would stand up for this thankless job. Few people would have created and promoted the GPL.

We are taling about RMS because some people decided to attack him unfairly. There may be people better suited for the job. But that is a different argument from the one you made.


We are currently talking about an attempt to crucify him by mob rule, which is not only about him, but about a dangerous trend in society.

I sure he'd rather that he wasn't the topic of discussion.

If some people on HN started talking about AndyMcConachie would that be justification enough for getting you kicked from HN?


But RMS is one of the main reasons why there is any free software in first place. Without his obsession, it would be long destroyed.

Wernher von Braun is one of the main reasons why there is any space flight in the first place, without his obsession it would be much delayed.

Doesn't make him a good person to lead NASA


That sounds like an unrealistic claim. Do you think that once RMS is dead it's only a matter of time until the end of free software?

your wish i prefer rms to stay



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