Adrienne G. Thompson wrote:
The record on Richard Stallman underscores that he is driven by
ethical sensibilities. He's not about to approve of rape anytime
soon. So let's just tell rms to shut up about the Epstein matter, not
to attempt to
defend his idols (some of which I, *personally*, know are not worth
defending) and to get a female FSF colleague to censor all his comments
pertaining to women before these comments go public.
Or you could choose to not tell him or anyone else to "shut up" or
accept a censorship regime. And you could also reject virtue
signaling, sexism, and identity politics (regarding the "get a female
FSF colleague"). After all, for all you know he could select a woman
who doesn't agree with your take and you'll have nowhere to go because
he met your sexist and identity politics-driven request.
You could understand that he too gets freedom of speech to say things
you don't agree with (that's what freedom of speech is for, after
all). You could choose to continue to use your freedom of speech as
you've done while also respecting his. Counterspeech seems far more
appropriate for this situation where Stallman hasn't done anything
more wrong than possibly hold, share, and change views some others
His comments across some posts to his personal blog make me think I'm
getting a poorly-explained half story from others on this topic.
Considering what he wrote in
I want to respond to the misleading media coverage of messages I posted
about Marvin Minsky's association with Jeffrey Epstein. The coverage
totally mischaracterised my statements.
Headlines say that I defended Epstein. Nothing could be further from the
truth. I've called him a "serial rapist", and said he deserved to be
imprisoned. But many people now believe I defended him — and other
inaccurate claims — and feel a real hurt because of what they believe I
I'm sorry for that hurt. I wish I could have prevented the
Many years ago I posted that I could not see anything wrong about sex
between an adult and a child, if the child accepted it.
Through personal conversations in recent years, I've learned to
understand how sex with a child can harm per psychologically. This
changed my mind about the matter: I think adults should not do that. I
am grateful for the conversations that enabled me to understand why.
Media Lab Director Joi Ito confessed that he had secretly accepted
donations from Epstein after MIT had decided not to do so.
He also accepted funds for some personal activities of his own.
That dishonesty, and conflict of interest, make his resignation
But I fear for the effect on the Media Lab. Under Negroponte, the lab
was notoriously stingy and proprietary. Ito corrected that. I fear that
the next director will undo some of Ito's changes.
Jeffrey Epstein appears to have committed suicide in his cell. Or
perhaps he was murdered — it is not unusual for prisoners to murder
prisoners accused of sexual crimes.
Epstein was accused of trafficking: bringing people long distances on
false pretenses and then pressured them into sex or prostitution. He
also reportedly raped some of those people. I believe those accusations,
and I think he deserved to be imprisoned.
Some of his victims were legally adult. Some were teenage minors. I
don't think that makes any moral difference. I don't think rape is less
wrong if the victim is over 16.
as well as other posts on that same webpage, I see a consistent
objection to rape regardless of the age of the victim, and I see
public contrition for changing a view he held which he now views as
wrong. Had we followed your censorious recommendations back then (to
either "shut up" or to "get a female FSF colleague to censor all his
comments pertaining to women before these comments go public") we
might not have been able to read
today and we'd lack any principled claim on free speech.
Those who choose to conflate Stallman's views with those of the FSF or
the GNU Project seem to me to be either making a mistake in that
conflation or be opportunistic (possibly virtue signaling).
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