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

Sarah Newman newmans at sonic.net
Tue Sep 17 11:27:39 PDT 2019

On 9/17/19 12:31 AM, Rick Moen wrote:
> 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':
> https://medium.com/@selamie/remove-richard-stallman-fec6ec210794
> 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
> out.
> Article:
> https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/9ke3ke/famed-computer-scientist-richard-stallman-described-epstein-victims-as-entirely-willing
> Direct link to Vice.com/Motherboard's curated thread copy:
> https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6405929-09132019142056-0001.html?embed=true&responsive=false&sidebar=false
> 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).
> https://sfconservancy.org/news/2019/sep/16/rms-does-not-speak-for-us/
> 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.

Yes, it was opportunistic. But considering his entire history, do you honestly believe he is the most effective leader and advocate for free software 
right now? Just because he started the FSF doesn't mean he's the best person to carry the movement forward.


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