I’ve been asking those who signed letter to remove RMS from all leadership positions whether they’ve read RMS statement/email that lead to all the controversies we’re now experiencing but not a single person have read the complete message/statement.
This is madness. All those who I asked have got their info on the matter from news sites that only quoted very specific part of RMS’ message out of context. They’re asking RMS to step down from his job simply because they don’t know what he said exactly.
Let me give you a backstory.
It was September 2019, just a few months after the world had learned of the horrific sex trafficking operation run by influential billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. Revelation after revelation had come out of powerful people and institutions connections to Epstein. MIT was no exception. Epstein had donated $850,000 to MIT’s Media Lab, visited campus many times, and associated with several professors and administrators. Richard Stallman was not among the MIT professors with Epstein ties, and like all decent humans was appalled to learn of Epstein’s heinous crimes.
However, Marvin Minsky, an acclaimed AI pioneer at MIT who passed away in 2016, was an associate of Epstein having been a recipient of Epstein’s research grants. Minsky visited Epstein’s estate in the Virgin Islands where one of Epstein’s 17-year-old victims was “directed to have sex” with him. In response to this and the other revelations, a protest was organized at MIT and an invitation for it was sent to various MIT email lists. Stallman was on one of these and sent a reply-all response that included the following:
The announcement of the Friday event does an injustice to Marvin Minsky: “deceased AI ‘pioneer’ Marvin Minsky (who is accused of assaulting one of Epstein’s victims)” The injustice is in the word “assaulting”. The term “sexual assault” is so vague and slippery that it facilitates accusation inflation: taking claims that someone did X and leading people to think of it as Y, which is much worse than X… The word “assaulting” presumes that he applied force or violence, in some unspecified way, but the article itself says no such thing… We can imagine many scenarios, but the most plausible scenario is that she presented herself to him as entirely willing. Assuming she was being coerced by Epstein, he would have had every reason to tell her to conceal that from most of his associates…
RMS simply explained the meaning behind a word. He is very careful about the words he uses. You can look at his glossary and anti-glossary on his website. Specifically about this matter, RMS has called Epstein a serial rapist several times but people accused him of defending Epstein and pedophilia. Something very far from truth.
Some also accuse Stallman of sexual harassment and “assault” which there’s no proof of and as a person who knows him, I can tell very far from truth. They also are annoyed that RMS had a mattress in his room/office at MIT and were seen shirtless, which I don’t know how it is disturbing. If you’re harassed or assaulted by seeing a shirtless person, man or woman, I think you’re the crazy one here.
Now with this short simple backstory, let’s get to what’s happening now.
(Don’t) cancel RMS
Few days ago, RMS announced that he’s back. Many people cheered this decision and announcement and some were upset. Well, many were upset and many are asking FSF board and RMS himself to resign over this decision. Complete idiocy.
This makes me mad not because I’m a fan of RMS’ work but because of idiotic cancel culture that is going on free software world. Misleading media and news, among those who just hate RMS are pushing lots of pressure on FSF and Stallman to make them resign from their jobs.
We should resist this. This is very dangerous. Giving organizations power to control literally the future of free software movement is dangerous. I would support a debate between RMS and anybody who wants to debate him on his claims and statements but quoting only part of his statement out of context to cancel someone is dangerous to all of us.
Imagine this. You say “those who say ‘rape is good’ are bad people.” Then I write a blog post about your statement and quote “rape is good” from you and ask people to cancel you. You literally said the opposite but because I quoted only specific part of your saying out of context, people get mad and try to ruin everything you stand for or have.
RMS is a diamond for free software world and we should keep him. Nobody can lead the movement and the Free Software Foundation better than RMS. I’ve always said, the difference between us and Open Source people is our principals. We stand by our principals and values no matter what.
If we don’t stand by our principals, which are based on justice, we’ll lose everything we have ever fought for. I highly oppose those who ask RMS and/or FSF board to resign.
I’m in process of canceling all my donations to organizations who signed that letter and I’ll stop any help I was providing to them whether they’re individuals or an organization. This is not an effort to cancel them but an effort to not be affiliated with any person or organization that doesn’t care about truth.
I would even cancel my FSF membership if they decide to resign or cancel RMS. A weak organization that doesn’t fight for truth doesn’t deserve any help or support.
Last but not least, I invite to read this great article: #Cancel We The Web?