(again) defaming Richard Matthew Stallman

Perspectives on our world and our universe, how it works, what is happening, and why it happens. Whether by a hidden hand or natural laws, we come together to hash it out, and perhaps provide a little bit of education and enlightenment for others. This is a place for civil discussion. Please keep it that way.
Forum rules
1) Remain civil. Respect others' rights to their viewpoints, even if you believe them to be completely wrong.
2) Sourcing your information is highly recommended. Plagiarism will get you banned.
3) Please create a new thread for a new topic, even if you think it might not get a lot of responses. Do not create mega-threads.
4) If you think the subject of a thread is not important enough to merit a post, simply avoid posting in it. If enough people agree, it will fall off the page soon enough.
User avatar
τ > π
Redshirt
Posts: 52
Joined: Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:11 pm
Real Name: Joan
Gender: Female
Location: Euphorean Union

(again) defaming Richard Matthew Stallman

Post by τ > π » Sat Mar 27, 2021 8:10 pm

Richard Matthew Stallman is being defamed for political purposes. I know: 1 of their 3 claims, is false. Specifically: They (falsely) claim: Stallman is transphobic. Really: He proposed some pronouns; My understanding: He has never forced them on anyone. I know: 1 other of their 3 claims is sensationalized; They misrepresent his thoughts about childlove as condoning rape.
They (falsely) claim: His thoughts entail: He is unfit to lead. Really: Irrelevant! Further: Punishing him for (intelligently) discussing controversial topics shall chill further discussion on these topics. Further: Punishing him arbitrarily shall stall the progress of freedom. He is a public benefactor. Consider signing this letter supporting Richard Matthew Stallman.

nosystemd
Redshirt
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2019 2:27 am

Re: (again) defaming Richard Matthew Stallman

Post by nosystemd » Sat Apr 03, 2021 5:20 pm

Thanks for this.


The board of directors (which I was asked to join once or twice, but I recommended someone else) does not open its internal processes to a democracy of FSF members (let alone non-FSF members like myself) and it's important to note that this isn't a vote.

With that said, there are about 5000 names "for" and 3000 "against"-- and while I think all the "for" votes are to defend Stallman and free speech, a lot of the "against" votes are only in support of other signatories. This is not just my opinion, I can quote one of the anti-Stallman signatories.


It's important to figure out what this is really about. Many of the signatories have used this opportunity to remove someone from control of a project they don't like the leadership of. I don't mean just that they don't like the person-- I mean they don't like the person because he didn't support their project they way they wanted.

I'm one of those people (please note-- he is a personal hero and I signed the PRO-Stallman list) who do not like the way things are being run, but I refuse to side with opportunists smearing a person's name because they would like a coup.


This is a mob, and mob justice is not known for its fairness or its care in determining guilt. I would like to see an end to mob justice in the tech world (though I'm very fond of a loud protest myself, and I do that all the time.)


But my own opinions aside, I want to defend Stallman on a few key points--


1. Stallman has had a lot of controversial opinions in the past-- the worst of them are very old news and well-known among many of his supporters and detractors. They are used regardless of whether he holds such positions in the present to bolster #2:

2. The very worst things he's accused of saying, he has often said the EXACT opposite of what people claim-- and the real phrases are still available from the mailing lists and websites that were misquoted. These dishonest misquotes and inverted summaries are used by the media to try to remove him from the organisation he founded.

3. He is painted by detractors as being Sexist, Transphobic and Ableist. These points needs to be addressed directly.

One of his most passionate supporters (whom I spoke with the other day) is openly trans. There is absolutely nothing to the claim that he is transphobic.

Specifically, he is pedantic about grammar and has proposed alternatives to "singular they"-- (I'm a huge fan of singular they myself and don't agree with Stallman on this) but as activist Leah Rowe has stated in her defence of Stallman, he will use whatever pronouns you ask him to.

On the charge of Sexism he has been defended by someone no less prominent than Nadine Stossen, feminist and former president of the ACLU: https://www.wetheweb.org/post/cancel-we-the-web


Note that I've been following this story since I *predicted* his ousting in 2019, and I'm typing this all off the top of my head. I don't typically have to look this stuff up. (I did add the url though, just to be sure.)

Regarding ableism, many of the slurs used against Stallman and his supporters are themselves ableist. Stallman has his own legitimate challenges and as with the baseless charges of transphobia and sexism, I think people are trying really hard to nail him for anything they can dredge up.



4. He does not want to be president again-- at least he said so in the minutes of a relevant board meeting.

5. The movement against Stallman personally has already turned into people making browser plugins that "highlight" any of his supporters, so they can be targeted for political reasons and singled out for harassment or shunning.


I wouldnt have brought this up here, though as a free software user and advocate I'm pleased to share this board with another Stallman supporter.

Please note that I support a variety of progressive causes (arguably not always from a mainstream methodology, but no less sincerely) and I lean hard towards the trans-friendly side of the feminist spectrum.

I've supported organisations for being trans-friendly and I've withdrawn from organisations for NOT being trans-friendly.

I am not currently a member of the FSF, though I was in the past-- and I've spent 1 1/2 years complaining that Stallman was removed from his position for unjust and dishonest reasons.


I don't expect people on this forum to take a side on this, but it's a tender subject I suppose-- you can be assured I will not try to debate or engage anybody here who strongly feels that Stallman has done some awful thing.

I offer my position in agreement with the OP, as it is something of great importance to me personally.

Furthermore I submit this writing to the Public Domain, so that anybody who would care to share or reuse it for any purpose may do so.

User avatar
Deacon
Shining Adonis
Posts: 44193
Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2003 3:00 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Lakehills, TX

Re: (again) defaming Richard Matthew Stallman

Post by Deacon » Sat Apr 03, 2021 6:21 pm

I honestly have no context for what any of this is about outside what’s written here. But it’s both sad and encouraging to know that infighting is omnipresent in any group. Sad because, well, it’s negative. Encouraging because, well, at least we know whatever groups we’re in aren’t uniquely sad in that way.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

nosystemd
Redshirt
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2019 2:27 am

Re: (again) defaming Richard Matthew Stallman

Post by nosystemd » Mon Apr 05, 2021 1:46 am

Deacon wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 6:21 pm I honestly have no context for what any of this is about outside what’s written here.
A (very) quick overview spanning roughly half a century:

There once was an operating system called UNIX from Bell Labs. Eventually you needed a very expensive license to get it use it legally. But it came with source code and many universities worked diligently on that code until one (UC Berkeley) was able to create a fork that did not contain any of the original.

That fork of UNIX was called BSD, which today lives on in FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD (among others.) It is to some degree the basis of macOS as well as the operating system on the PlayStation.

GNU began in the 1980s to create a free (as in speech) version of UNIX, and several years later was combined with the new Linux kernel to create a system that GNU proponents call "GNU/Linux" and Open Source proponents call "Linux".

This story is about the person who founded the GNU Project, as well as the Free Software movement that pre-dates the Open Source Definition by several years. I've left out all the controversial parts-- we covered some of those farther up.

Of note to BSD fans like myself (I suppose in a way that includes macOS fans here as well):

The two people who encouraged BSD to be released under a free license were Richard Stallman (founder of the FSF) and John Gilmore (co-founder of EFF) as relayed by Keith Bostic (UC Berkeley) via email. He gave more credit on that to Gilmore, though he named both.

A bunch of people just left the FSF, including Kat Walsh (whom I've met twice, though I can't say we ever spoke much) and the executive director-- who held the position of half-vice-president or co-vice president (I compared it to The Office) during the time that Stallman was in exile. The executive director along with one are two others are "outgoing" if you go to the staff and board page: https://www.fsf.org/about/staff-and-board but are actually still there for the moment.

If any details mentioned here hint at causes for a major disagreement, now you're up to speed for the top of the thread, and while the FSF will probably preach love and tolerance I'm not sure it's what's really going to help them with this. Love and tolerance are great, but so is standing up for yourself when necessary.

10-second version: Guys in ties and suits vs. loud-mouthed hippies (like myself) some of whom are very likely on the spectrum. That's said with love and admiration, but if you're like me and advocate you still know it's a factor in this kerfuffle. In fact if it were better understood by the broader public this kerfuffle would likely be far less of a kerfuffle. Note I am not blaming his condition: I am blaming the public's lack of awareness and understanding of the subject.

User avatar
Deacon
Shining Adonis
Posts: 44193
Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2003 3:00 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Lakehills, TX

Re: (again) defaming Richard Matthew Stallman

Post by Deacon » Mon Apr 05, 2021 1:17 pm

nosystemd wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 1:46 amIf any details mentioned here hint at causes for a major disagreement, now you're up to speed
Thanks! That helps.
Note I am not blaming his condition: I am blaming the public's lack of awareness and understanding of the subject.
I didn’t see him mentioned as having a condition. Are you saying he’s on the spectrum himself in a way that’s caused some trouble?
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

nosystemd
Redshirt
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2019 2:27 am

Re: (again) defaming Richard Matthew Stallman

Post by nosystemd » Mon Apr 05, 2021 2:07 pm

Deacon wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 1:17 pm Are you saying he’s on the spectrum himself in a way that’s caused some trouble?
(And sorry for the length, there is so much to say about it-- nobody will hold it against you if you merely skim this.)

Whole kettle of fish there involving debate in the ASD community around self-diagnosis vs. proper diagnosis vs. collective diagnosis, but if Stallman isn't on the spectrum then Stephen Hawking probably wasn't in a wheelchair. The traits and challenges as well as gifts that Stallman presents to the world are not just personality traits. At any rate, it isn't just something people put on him-- it's talked about in his biography (originally written by someone for O'Reilly publishers) that was sold on his own organisation's shopping page. It would help considerably if he would just go get a formal diagnosis-- not as a blank cheque (as some unpleasant people will argue) but so that he can be "attacked (relatively) fairly" at least. Autism isn't a defence-- it's an explanation. It is a mitigating circumstance. IMO people who call it "a defence" are dancing on the verge of bigotry, but it's a complex and nuanced topic.

Stallman is extremely outspoken and more than a little pedantic, and that itself is no basis for diagnosis (nor does anybody intend it as such) but the effect is profound. Even if he was the nexus of a new discovery of an autism-Like condition that is NOT ASD, the defence around it would still be relevant, as some of his more prominent attackers (Phipps for example) have repeatedly spread falsehoods about ASD to try to discredit Stallman, such as that old line about how people with ASD don't have empathy. Sorry Mr. Phipps, you're thinking of sociopaths, not autists. Note also that the more prominent attackers have political reasons to attack him (they're in direct competition or defecting to it, but feign concern for the welfare of the org he founded) which makes the complaints about his situation even more appalling.

None of which removes the possibility of a legitimate grievance. But this is the backdrop such a grievance would be set in contrast to. Many of us have had conversations with Stallman that didn't go as we had hoped, and still deeply admire him and find ourselves inspired. I'm typing this from a machine running BSD, in a browser that is GTK-based, and if not for Stallman this OS wouldn't be free, the browser probably wouldn't exist (AOL would have killed it years ago) and GTK comes from software that was part of the GNU project Stallman created.

Lawrence Lessig, who founded Creative Commons and ran for president in 2016, says that his ideas about free culture (which CC is based on) are largely a "ripoff" of Stallman's ideas. Lessig used to be on the board of the FSF. He teaches constitutional law at Harvard. Like many of Stallman's admirers, Lessig has noted that Stallman's personality can be tricky to deal with at times. Stallman in turn, has dedicated significant time and effort to smoothing himself over in that regard (not just his image.) It's sad to see someone who was already a wonderful person, work so hard to better himself and still be treated unfairly about it. Alexandre Oliva's blog expresses a similar lament of how he is being treated: https://www.fsfla.org/ikiwiki/blogs/lxo ... om.en.html

One of the more notable axes of this debate is completely about autism and discrimination as the attackers are basically saying "We don't want outspoken autistic people leading their own organisations-- they shouldn't be spokespeople"-- of course they would (probably) never get away with putting it in such words. The problem is that if we don't address that, everyone with ASD loses ground if Stallman does, because he's being attacked on those grounds among others.

As I said-- most of these attacks are very old and have been used by competing organisations to try to remove him as the head of his own for literally decades. What's changed is scandals at MIT and Harvard (which he actually condemned) that people have misquoted him as defending-- on top of these other old attacks. Many years ago, I was a member of the FSF. I am actually one of its more vocal critics now, but I still defend Stallman (the founder and for most of their 35 years, its president) because the attacks on him are unfair. I'm still on decent terms with a close friend of his, who is well aware of my positions on the FSF itself.

IMO this is also about New England tech vs. Silicon Valley rivalry, going back half a century at least. It's a rivalry (with no less drama, even DARPA is commonly part of the picture) of East and West that reminds me of Biggie and Tupac. If that sounds ridiculous, the reality isn't a lot better. So much of the attack is coming from California, and aims not just at Stallman but at Boston and everybody who represents him-- I refuse to link to this, but on Github you will find "A cross-platform utility to highlight [Pro-]RMS letter signers" when their names are on a webpage. For what purpose, exactly? I can't actually claim a side in the East/West thing, but most of the trouble DOES come from Silicon Valley. I still use BSD though (B as in UC Berkeley.)

User avatar
Deacon
Shining Adonis
Posts: 44193
Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2003 3:00 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Lakehills, TX

Re: (again) defaming Richard Matthew Stallman

Post by Deacon » Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:56 am

That was a legitimately interesting read. Thank you for taking the time!
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

nosystemd
Redshirt
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2019 2:27 am

Re: (again) defaming Richard Matthew Stallman

Post by nosystemd » Tue Apr 06, 2021 5:57 am

Deacon wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:56 am That was a legitimately interesting read. Thank you for taking the time!
If you can tolerate my rambling, I can overlook your flattery-- thanks!

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Common Crawl (Research) and 0 guests