[svlug] Richard M. Stallman has resigned from FSF and from MIT CSAIL

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Sep 17 00:31:05 PDT 2019

tl;dr:  https://www.fsf.org/news/richard-m-stallman-resigns

In the wake of the Jeffrey Epstein matter, controvery arose about
dealings between him and the (also now-late) MIT AI scientist Marvin
Minsky, and about MIT administration actions related to Epstein.

Richard M. Stallman is intimately associated with not just the Free
Software Foundation (that he created) but with MIT CSAIL (Computer
Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) operation.  Fairly
recently, there was a discussion on one of CSAIL's unadvertised and
privately archived mailing lists, csail-related, where Stallman posted
comments.[1]  Those comments (mostly about matters peripheral to the
late Dr. Minsky) became known to MIT alumna, grad student, and
mechanical engineer Selam Jie Gano, who is said to have been sent them
by a subscriber.  Ms. Gano was very incensed by Stallman's views that
she asserted were, among other things, 'defending Epstein'.  She
publishes an essay on Medium entitled 'Remove Richard Stallman. And
everyone else horrible in tech':

She also provided what is asserted to be the entire thread to Vice.com's
regular 'Motherboard' feature, which published a rather inaccurate piece
based largely on her allegations, though providing a curated copy of the
mailing list thread with all participant names except Stallman's blacked


Direct link to Vice.com/Motherboard's curated thread copy:

Quite a number of other outfits have picked up the story in various
ways.  Stallman responded by objecting (with perfect justification, as
far as I can see) that in no way was he defending Epstein; that this is
just not at all what he said.

The persons now running Software Freedom Conservancy took advantage of
this squalor by 'calling for' Richard to retire from the free software
organisation & movement he created (unsigned because they have _that_
little moral backbone).

There was also pressure for Richard to resign from his position at
CSAIL (where ISTR he's been Visiting Professor).  He has now done so,
citing 'pressure on MIT' -- along with resigning as President and Board
of Directors member at Free Software Foundation.

IMO, this affair (e.g., things like the unsigned editorial from the
jackals at Software Freedom Conservancy) has opportunism written all
over it.

One of the less-sucky bits of news/analysis (apparently just before
things came to a head) was here:

https://lwn.net/ have not yet caught up with events, and can be expected
as usual to be guarded to a fault when they do.

https://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/libreplanet-discuss/ has some
discussion, but likewise has not caught up with events.

[1] None of what I'm writing here imply endorsement of Richard's
assertions in the mailing list thread, by the way.  In fact, I very much
do not concur with some, and would have, among other things, politely
corrected his factually incorrect understanding of the legal concept of

Cheers,                                    Views expressed are my own.
Rick Moen                                  
rick at linuxmafia.com                       
McQ!  (4x80)

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