Sunday, I was happy to give a talk at the FSF #LibrePlanet, wearing the Tshirt I designed for them (photo). But later that day, Richard Stallman announced his return to the FSF's Board of Directors. In this situation, I'll no longer invest my energy for them... 😿
#fsf #rms



Stallman poses a danger to the system not only because of his ideas about Free Software but because he kept alive the approach with which we have obtained all our rights: radicalism. The system try to discredit Stallman even with fake news and to incorporate only what suits its interests under the name of "Open Source" leaving out the rest of the rights-based political movement (Free Software).

I can't believe you fell for this fake news too 😕

@alexl Oh, stfu.

It's not fake news, you can easily read the documented decades of bad behaviour from RMS. We're not upset about his uncompromising attitude towards free software. We're talking about him being a constant sex pest and his decades of support for pedophilia.

@alexl Nah, stfu, you already read them and you can't see how he's a sex pest or the time the rubbed his underwear on a woman's forehead without even asking her and you think that's fine, then I can't really help you.

@alexl @davidrevoy Two things can be true at the same time: 1. A person made an important contribution to philosophy and politics, sparking a new movement. 2. The same person is a pain to deal with even for their friends and allies and their continued presence is a distraction for that movement.

To me it's also a huge red flag when people operate by "I'm controlling this thing or I'm not participating at all": What GNU tool does he actively maintain (or even just contribute to in a meaningful way)?

But even if we look at his much-desired "President of FSF and GNU" role: what initiative did he get off the ground in the last, say, 20 years, that was more meaningful than a website demanding tons of things, waiting for somebody to do it, and then chastising them for not doing it The Right Way? (Through coreboot I've been on the receiving end of that, so yeah, I do hold a grudge)
@alexl Only part of what he has been accused of was distorted. It took him years to get that there is no "but it's consensual" escape hatch to underage sex (as RMS himself writes in ).

It's part of his (apparent) approach to life of having strong opinions, strongly held: he sets up some theory, however flawed, and then it takes years for others to undo that position. RMS _always_ required a significant amount of cleaning up after him by those around him, pretty much wherever he went (and I don't mean that in a hygiene sense because I don't know about that). In this instance it simply was too much to clean up after, _even though_ some of the statements were trivial to rebuke.

Why was that? Because it was all too much in line with his public persona.

So, he was ousted for holding and expressing undesirable opinions, and some of them were distorted. The last part was unfair, I agree, but I also think that the rest was enough of a reason to get rid of him, not necessarily because of these particular opinions, but because his way of expressing and defending them made him a liability to the organization.

Let's move on to what happened more recently:

After all this happened, the FSF made a decision to appoint somebody to their BoD (who apparently aims for President) who has shown for the last 20+ years that he's an ineffective communicator, an ineffective campaigner, an absent software maintainer or developer, and a high-maintenance personality (to put it mildly).

So he's not a good match for the role. He also carries that baggage. Yet they picked him.

That doesn't look well for the FSF: Either they don't know better (in which case, wtf are they doing?) or they know better but have found no suitable alternative (in which case they could as well shut down), or - most likely - they're simply helping a buddy back to the steering wheel, which is textbook nepotism.

It also doesn't look well for RMS: Even though he should by now have learned that his presence is a liability for the FSF, he's still going back. That may be good for him personally, but he doesn't seem to care at all for "the cause".

So congrats to RMS for being back to a leadership role (because apparently he won't settle for anything less - a sign of a principled person, indeed), and congrats to the FSF for demonstrating its helplessness.

(Nothing in this piece covers the problem that some people argue that they don't feel safe around him. This is mostly because it's a) not necessary to argue that RMS is a lousy choice for any leadership position, b) something that detractors did claim in the past to be merely a political ploy and that they could bring up again to distract from that RMS is a disaster along all other dimensions as well. While I disagree with the idea that all or even most people are claiming this for political reasons, I'll stick to the bits that aren't potential minefields.)
@alexl He probably isn't autistic, but even if so, see what an autistic person has to say about that "excuse":

I am not good at social cues. I have, in my time, held quite a few shitty, offensive opinions.
But when people have pointed out how awful those opinions are to me, I've thought "Oh shit, they're right," apologised, and changed my opinions.
Being autistic *can*, on occasion, give some of us a tendency to think of moral questions as interesting hypotheticals to be discussed.
Any autistic person *with a functioning moral compass* learns there are things you don't do that about, by their mid twenties or so at latest.

So, even if RMS has some form of autism (AFAICS autism and living off public speaking is a rare combination), he still seems unsuited for that particular role. If he wants to support the goals of the FSF, he could maintain some GNU codebase or do whatever else helps the FSF, but apparently his priorities lie elsewhere.
@alexl About "he's unsuitable for that role": I disagree with mjg59 on a fair amount of issues, but he certainly gets that bit. When asked if he couldn't run for FSF President, his answer is:

"I'm far too compromised to do that. I've alienated enough of the community that there's no realistic way that any initiative I take any kind of direct responsibility for will ever be meaningfully representative. I can talk about this and I can attempt to help others, but any meaningful effort on my part to do this on my own is doomed to splinter the community more than is necessary. Instead, all I can do is attempt to encourage others to play that role and do what I can to support them."


RMS doesn't seem to care about such details, and he had 18 months to consider that question.
@alexl I'm pretty well aware of what Autism is, tyvm.

A highly functioning neurodiverse person (Assuming RMS is on the spectrum he's certainly not in the deep end, given what he did accomplish decades ago) _can_ reflect on their behavior and can adjust for that when dealing with the outside world for the most part. So there could be missteps and (potentially clumsy) apologies after feedback and reflection.

The unapologetic conduct shown by RMS might be driven by Autism underneath, but his refusal to deal with the fallout still makes him an asshole, not some excusable "weirdo":

And at that point, "asshole" is the dominating characteristic.
Using any neurological issue to excuse that only serves to make things harder for all the others who manage to live decent lives (at great emotional and intellectual expense to adapt to their environment) despite their condition. Due to that, if he were to claim autism for himself to excuse his behavior, that would just make him even more of an asshole (but, being entirely fair: he didn't, that's on his groupies.)

To summarize: I don't think he's autistic, but actually it doesn't matter if he is because he's predominantly a self-centered asshole.
And even if we disregard all that: if he's unable to function in society, he's not fit to be a figurehead for an organization because that comes with pretty specific expectations. Any other position? Potentially, but that's not what he's seeking.

@patrick @alexl Yeah it's quite baffling to me that Stallman doesn't do something useful, like, uh, write software that he says other people should write? Nah, he'll just come out of nowhere to obstruct people working on GCC from adding features that already exist in Clang because they might hypothetically be used to make proprietary software better.

@patrick @alexl
>He probably isn't autistic
His mother own mother told that he would have been categorised as such if the knowledge we have today on it was available in her time.

>But when people have pointed out how awful those opinions are to me, I've thought "Oh shit, they're right," apologised, and changed my opinions.

>AFAICS autism and living off public speaking is a rare combination
It's a spectrum, there are limitless combinations.
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