In Support of Richard Stallman

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Comments in Support of Richard Stallman

This is a sample compilation that includes only a few of the hundreds—probably thousands—of comments that people made in blogs, social media and news sites to voice their support for Richard Stallman when he was defamed back in September 2019 and again in March 2021. The single items do not have a date because most websites show a period of time (e.g., “4 months ago”) rather than a precise date. Therefore, we state the date when it was retrieved. (Sometimes the text has been highlighted for emphasis, absent in the original.)

Other statements of support:   Testimonies, Letters, Writings and More   Articles

Kira #kira

Великолепная лекция. Замечательный опыт увидеть и услышать Ричарда в живую. Очень образованный последовательный и рациональный человек.

[Great lecture. A wonderful experience to see and hear Richard live. A very educated, consistent and rational person.]

https://yewtu.be/watch?v=VpCfN5NSIcQ (Retrieved September 29, 2021.)

Nina Paley #nina

@rcz Thanks for asking. Yes I spent plenty of time with RMS; he stayed in my NYC apartment twice while on speaking tours.

He can, indeed, be “creepy.” He commits no crimes, and backs off when told. He’s presumably autistic. I understand why many women feel uncomfortable around him.

BUT THAT’S NOT A GODDAMN CRIME. Richard doesn’t understand many common social cues but as far as I can tell has ALWAYS respected stated boundaries.

The whole point of Richard Stallman is he’s weird, sometimes “creepy,” disagreeable, socially challenged, Asperger’s-y, and simultaneously brilliant and perfectly suited to what he does best. That was something that always inspired me about him. Talk about “able-ism” - Stallman himself is pretty severely “challenged” but nonetheless contributes to the benefit of all. His story showed me that you don’t have to be nice, or likeable, or agreeable, or socially skilled, to make profound contributions.

https://neenster.org/notice/A5ZS8mNuQVki5GPd3I (Retrieved March 30, 2021.)

bdalzell #bdalzell

I was a female, non-computer science person (geology/biology) who had a marvelous job at the MIT AI/Logo lab in 1975/76. One of the people I met and had long discussions with, often late at night, was RMS. I was never insulted by any male person at the AI lab at that time nor even propositioned. I felt that a number of the tech guys were a bit clueless about details of social interaction but so were most of the geologists I had known.

My personal interpretation is that many brilliant science oriented persons are just not sensitive to the social forms that are employed in interactions to soothe feelings and avoid offense.

I greatly admired Marvin MInsky and this whole thing with Epstein is a terrible episode.

But attacking RMS and separating him from his life’s work because he expressed an opinion and tried to start a rational discussion on the matter is, in my opinion, a terrible mistake.

To this day I use GNU/Linux and support its goals and the goals of the FSF.

https://itsfoss.com/richard-stallman-controversy/#comments/329411 (Retrieved March 4, 2021.)

Emma Pam #emma

Hi.
My understanding is that Richard Stallman believed that the victim was coerced—and not that she was “willing.“ However, he believes that the victim was required/forced/coerced to maintain the appearance of being “willing,“ in order to trick Minsky into believing that she was willing. Here’s the full quotation:

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.

The key phrase seems to be “presented […] as entirely willing,” which some people seem to be interpreting as “was entirely willing,” yet Stallman seems to be using to mean “maintain the appearance of being willing.” His second sentence clarifies this.

It’s as if someone pointed a gun at a victim, told the victim to text her mother, and to tell her mother that everything is okay. Even if the text message gives the appearance of the victim not being in peril, clearly the victim actually is in peril.

Furthermore, I kindly suggest that I think you’re wrong about what Stallman means by “misunderstandings and mischaracterizations.” I think that the “mischaracterizations” are about the phrase “presented as.” Given the news coverage, that interpretation would make the most sense to me.

https://fossforce.com/2019/09/yesterdays-man-the-fall-of-richard-stallman/#comment-22596 (Retrieved March 29, 2021.)

Carla Schroder #carla

I see this too, with RMS in particular singled out for ridicule and personal attacks. I admire Stallman. He is consistent and thoughtful, and it seems people forget how often he has been right. His mission has always been to further user freedom and rights-- what's not to like about that? He is right about Android, just like he was right about Tivoization, DRM and the loss of our rights with music, movies, books, and other creative media, software as a service as a GPL dodge, privacy issues, corporate control, and on and on. The statement that makes me saddest, that we hear all the time, is "people just want stuff that works and they don't care about all this freedom and privacy stuff." That is so not true. A lot of people care about those things, and it's silly to use that as a criticism of Stallman and the FSF.

Yes RMS has his flaws, and he's not always right. Whaddaya know, that's true of everyone.

https://www.linux-magazine.com/Online/Blogs/Off-the-Beat-Bruce-Byfield-s-Blog/Bad-mouthing-the-Free-Software-Foundation (Retrieved March 29, 2021.)

Mike

I’m sorry. I didn’t read your article because the first thing you said is literally incorrect. He did not suggest than any of Epstein’s victims willingly prostituted themselves. He suggested that, from Minsky’s perspective, the victim may have appeared willing.

There’s a decent argument over whether he should have even discussed this, but please represent the problem correctly.

https://fossforce.com/2019/09/yesterdays-man-the-fall-of-richard-stallman/#comment-22595 (Retrieved March 29, 2021.)

Don Barry

Byfield’s typically slippery and dishonest reply misrepresents both the facts and the social responses to the witch-hunt against Stallman. Byfield’s own career has followed no particular defense of anything save his own interests.

It is unsurprising that he would jump on the current bandwagon and declare a “consensus” against Stallman—a consensus which exists only in his mind and in the minds of a currently au courant group of upper-middle-class aspirants who would reduce all social issues to gender and race.

Stallman has proven right time and time again on issues of software licensing. His views on other areas (many of which I disagree with), are of little concern to me, and in any event are his right to express. The wholesale suppression of speech and “cancel culture” is not a healthy development, and in fact is intended more broadly to suppress political thought outside the pseudo-left promoted by the Democrats to eclipse the actual left.

I support Stallman. History will show who leaves the greater imprint. And the organizations who have broken with him for their own petty economic and careerist reasons have already reduced themselves to coattail-chasers, contributing nothing novel or of enduring value. The role of the SFC is particularly despicable in this—the actions of the opportunists at Gnome, of Google and Apple and RedHat careerists, are on the contrary completely predictable.

And I no longer support the FSF, despite Stallman’s (mistaken, in my view) hope that they will prove capable of maintaining his vision without him. The current political climate, among the social layer from which the board has been drawn, does not have the ability to maintain the firm independent vision that Stallman has. The climate that allowed such organizations to be created and grown in the 1980s is considerably different, given the commidification of free software.

If Stallman forms another organization, I will support it and him. For the moment, I call for the casting out of figures like Bradley Kuhn and others who did not close ranks in defense of Stallman from the FSF board. They no longer enjoy my confidence.

https://fossforce.com/2019/09/yesterdays-man-the-fall-of-richard-stallman/#comment-22643 (Retrieved March 29, 2021.)

Jan Vlčinský

Justice stands on our effort to describe and interpret things as correctly as possible. Richard Stallman did that.

https://itsfoss.com/richard-stallman-controversy/#comments/340862 (Retrieved March 29, 2021.)

Nick

Anyone who follows Stallman, or knows Stallman, is going to know that this is how he responds to improper uses of specific terminology. As stated in the article, it’s his form of “intellectual discourse.”

To expect him to answer questions in any other way, is like getting mad at Schwarzenegger for saying “I’ll be back.” You KNOW he’s going to say it.

Stallman’s response was no different than when he explains the difference between “Open Source” and “Free” when someone uses the wrong terminology.

I read nothing that condoned the actions of Epstein, or even the alleged actions of Minsky. The media and social groups in this country are too quick to judge when they hear one little thing that seems to be out of place, and then give no one a chance to explain anything.

https://itsfoss.com/richard-stallman-controversy/#comments/326114 (Retrieved March 28, 2021.)

Dr. λ, Creator of Variables, Binder of Variables, Applicator

It is true that many men do not always nod with a friendly smile whenever someone says something to them. RMS is a man with strong opinions and he communicates clearly. This makes him seem rude to people who disagree with him since he won’t take the time to sugarcoat his words and he won’t bend his principles to be more agreeable. However this behaviour is also what led to the creation of the FSF and GNU. As for his actual flaws: everyone has flaws, but not every changes the world for the better like RMS did.

https://itsfoss.com/richard-stallman-controversy/#comments/325382 (Retrieved March 29, 2021.)

William B Peckham

After careful reading of Stallman’s words related to this event, I find no defense of anyone, but a call for clarity of language. I find the program against him unsupportable, and the caving to it without proper evaluation offensive in the extreme. Have we fallen so far that it only requires an unsupported accusation?

https://itsfoss.com/richard-stallman-controversy/#comments/325357 (Retrieved March 28, 2021.)

unrealist #unrealist

i only met richard once, at a decus (yeah, back when digital was a company). he was the only one in the free software foundation booth. no one was helping him; no one else in the room really cared all that much. not even me, if truth be told. but it speaks to your point that we have the vibrant open source, free software world we have today because of richard stallman. and pretty much no one else.

the online world has turned into a rabid lynch mob ready to pounce just like china during mao's cultural revolution. it's an embarrassment to the country and an indictment of human nature. i'd vote to give richard's positions back to him in a flash.

thanks much for writing this. richard deserves better.

https://geoff.greer.fm/2019/09/30/in-defense-of-richard-stallman/#comment-4635083522 (Retrieved March 28, 2021.)

lightweight

The lack of natural justice in all of this really undermines much of the moral high ground claimed by RMS' detractors. In my opinion, their hysteria has undermined the small bits valid concern people might have had about RMS' behaviour. Those could have been handled with grace and decorum - i.e. people voicing their concerns to RMS civily, and, I think everyone would have been far happier with the result and we wouldn't be discussing this witch hunt debacle. The only ones who have won out of this are proprietary software corporations.

https://geoff.greer.fm/2019/09/30/in-defense-of-richard-stallman/#comment-4635585261 (Retrieved March 27, 2021.)

Dan Calloway

Thank you for your support of such an important human being. For all the apparent flaws that this man seems to have, deep down he is a kind, gentle, caring, and super intelligent human. I hated to see him step down from CSAIL and FSF. What a tragedy.

https://geoff.greer.fm/2019/09/30/in-defense-of-richard-stallman/#comment-4658548000 (Retrieved March 27, 2021.)

Carlos

Christopher Patti:
You may believe him to be undeserving of his forced resignation on the basis of recent events, and that's fine, but I would argue that in 2019 it does not serve the free software community to have someone who has consistently shown such a total lack of decorum to be the voice of the free software movement. I admire Mr. Stallman for his positively monumental contributions to free software, but I have also been present and witnessed behavior that was and is unacceptable in a professional context. I think it is time for us all to give him our heartfelt thanks and ask him to step aside and let someone else take the head.

This is unrelated to the fact that he was an unjustly accused victim of flagrant lies amplified ad nauseam by social media. There is no way other than mystical thinking that any argument along the lines of he deserved it for other reasons, anyway (variations of which I've read lately many times, as a way of rationalize the desire to see him fall) would make sense.

https://geoff.greer.fm/2019/09/30/in-defense-of-richard-stallman/#comment-4636690840 (Retrieved March 27, 2021.)

Radek Kujawa

That's so typical, when the lies are debunked, RMS enemies pull the “30 years of bad behaviour” card.

No one has ever officially accused Richard of any harassment. Let that sink in. There's just gossip and lies constantly repeated by his enemies, in hope that the lie repeated long enough will eventually become truth.

Giving someone a “pleasure card” (google it up, it's just a weird business card) is not harassment.

Asking someone on a date once also isn't. I've seen some women complaining on Twitter that they were asked on a date by Stallman. Was he rude? No. Did he try to assault them? No. Did he continue once he was refused? No. His only crime was politely asking them on a date. How is that harassment?

Richard has been advocating for women's rights for years, yet some stab him in the back just because they found him "creepy".

Re: [libreplanet-discuss] Apologies
Thomas Lord on Twitter

https://geoff.greer.fm/2019/09/30/in-defense-of-richard-stallman/#comment-4635621621 (Retrieved March 27, 2021.)

anonymous

rms often criticizes US law, many right-wing US law btw. There were a lot, there still are. He travels a lot, that’s a sufficient reason not to take the law for granted, especially morally. And he talked morally, not legally, that’s different. He argued for used words that matched morality, not the law. But seemingly people are sadly not anymore able to relativize the law.

He said Epstein might have forced her to look willing, there’s an ocean of difference.

https://geoff.greer.fm/2019/09/30/in-defense-of-richard-stallman/ (Retrieved March 27, 2021.)

kofiallstar

The media lied, they did not cary out their journalism properly in a very sensitive matter. Campaigners made it appear as if Stallman was pedophile himself. Or if he commented on Epstein. MIT did nothing to defend him. Stallman had the courage to defend Minsky, a dead person who was smeared as an assaulter.

although

—we don't know if the girl was underage at that time (see protocols), she failed to confirm that
—we know that she was pressured to have a sexual encounter with Minsky but she did not say it actually happened
—there is no reason Minsky had to assume she was below the age of consent

I know that Stallman is highly problematic but what happened deserves apologies and resignations from the persons who spilled lies and hate.

Oh, I just noted that EFF (a former free speech group) — hate texpert York called you an “asshat” for this article. This harassment has to stop. Stallman wrote excellent anti-harassment guidelines. GNU Kind Communications Guidelines.

Media should be asked to correct their slanderous articles and apologize for their bad research and lies:

TechCrunch:
Computer scientist Richard Stallman, who defended Jeffrey Epstein, resigns from MIT CSAIL and the Free Software Foundation

The Verge:
Richard Stallman resigns from MIT over Epstein comments - The free software campaigner blamed ‘a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations’

...Instead of correcting lies Jon Porter puts RMS's factually true statement in quotation marks

New American, Lui Miguel:
Software Activist Resigns From MIT After Defending Epstein, Pedophilia

https://geoff.greer.fm/2019/09/30/in-defense-of-richard-stallman/#comment-4635169167 (Retrieved March 13, 2021)

enriquto #enri

He literally used to have a mattress on the floor of his office. He kept the door to his office open, to proudly showcase that mattress and all the implications that went with it.

LOL'd hard at that. My PhD student used to have a mattress on her office because she liked to take a nap after lunch. She also had her office next to the main door, and left it always open (except when taking the nap), so the mattress was visible to everybody that went into the lab. As far as I can tell nobody felt "threatened" by that, if anything many people said that it was a good idea and that they would like to bring a mattress as well. If you see "implications" in something like that you are truly a deranged person.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26535687 (Retrived March 22, 2021)

DukeOfGeeks

I'm curious... what would you have considered an acceptable “I screwed up and I learned my lesson.” statement?

I had never heard of him before and obviously he had some wrong opinions that he unfortunately voiced, but shouldn't a person be allowed to learn and change? Or is it “the internet is forever and so is your sin”?

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/03/richard-stallman-returns-to-fsf-18-months-after-controversial-rape-comments/?comments=1&post=39760611 (Retrieved March 22, 2021)