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Re: Support RMS

From: Thomas Lord
Subject: Re: Support RMS
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2021 13:23:10 -0700
User-agent: Roundcube Webmail/1.3.16

  The raising of voices in conversation does not have a context
  independent or culturally universal emotional valence. For
  some it is normal and expected.  For some it borders on a

  Taking the complaint about RMS raising his voice at face
  value: it borders on antisemitism. I don't mean that every
  Jew communicates in the style of RMS (of course).  Perhaps
  we can step back and think about this complaint in that

  Here is a story that might help: Long ago, in the very early
  days of the FSF, I was an employee and there was more or less
  one person handling most of the operational day to day
  corporate business. One day, I had done something that
  (understandably) pissed RMS off.  You see: after a brief chat
  with a board member other than RMS, I unilaterally decided to
  work remotely.  I packed up and moved several states away,
  almost overnight, to be near my sweetheart (who is now my wife
  - it's a very romantic story, in retrospect).  I did not
  notify RMS I was doing this.  It upset him.  He called and
  yelled.  I was very distressed by this - I didn't expect it at
  all.  I sought and received consel -- very good consel -- from
  that woman who was running the day to day business.  "Just
  hang up on him if he gets like that," she advised.  Later I
  understood this could be generalized: walk away, if need be.
  One can also really productively engage, sometimes, also, just
  by yelling back if you have something relevant and coherent to
  say.  As an older person now, I realize that part of RMS'
  reputation comes from him being actually a better and more
  dynamic conversationalist than most people have ever met --
  and yes, that can be hard to come to grip with at first.

  This doesn't mean that RMS or anyone has free reign to be a
  constant holy terror, always screaming and yelling, but that
  is not what I ever saw RMS do and is not what any of the
  complainers have said he does.  Raised voices among
  friends and allies typify some cultural backgrounds --
  including mine, ironically enough.  It can, when in those
  cultural contexts, a bit creepy if someone does not communicate
  this way.  One asks: what is that quiet person hiding from

  Interruption is a similarly culturally variable communication
  style.  In some cultures I mix in, it is expected and is often
  a sign of engagement with what one is saying - silence comes
  off as rude / checked out. In other cultures, the opposite --
  interruption is not allowed.  In a multi-cultural world, we
  should all be tolerant and flexible in our communication
  styles.  (RMS, meanwhile, is being made to do the limbo by
  people who think they get to define the One True Civil
  Converstation Style.  Flexibility in style is a two-way
  street, chums.)

  None of this means that people making complaints have invalid
  feelings that should be ignored. Of course not.  But it does
  mean that the particular demands against RMS, and the
  relentless character assassination, need to stop.

  Lastly, neither Deb nor any of us is qualified to assess
  whether or not a single person, RMS in this case,
  "drives people away from the movement" on balance.
  That's an incredibly arrogant assertion that centers
  one own cultural expectations and projects them onto
  an entire planet of people.  Can we end the pointless
  debate of such assertions once and for all?


On 2021-04-14 12:28, Deb Nicholson wrote:
I can't comment on the censored email that no one saw.

     > It actually serves the opponents of free software quite well to
     > someone who pushes people away and facilitates a hostile
     > environment, be in charge of the FSF.
     Quite opposite is true, RMS was never facilitating hostile
     environment. FSF is not public, but privately founded non-profit,
founded by RMS, it is equal as his own, and legally he could, if he would want, keep it totally under his control, but he did not, it is
     gift to mankind.

The FSF is a public charity. It is bound by it's US tax status to serve
   the public good, not a personal goal although of course there is
   sometimes overlap.
   As for a hostile environment, I have witnessed repeated hostility
   (bullying, ad hominem attacks, dog-piling, etc.) on the GNU mailing
   lists. I have seen RMS shout at people at least a dozen times in
public. He inspires others to also interrupt and shout at people in the middle of their public presentations. Those are hostile acts. You may
   say they are justified, but they are undeniably hostile.
That you come here with this perversion of truth without any facts or

     evidences is disgrace.

   I'm not "coming here." I've always been here. I'm a former FSF staff
person who built LibrePlanet into a multi-day event and helped set up the LibrePlanet wiki and this list. You calling me a liar is a perfect example of the hostility that I'm telling you pervades the FSF and GNU

     > Also, RMS is not the free software movement.
     RMS is the core and heart of the free software movement.
     > It's dangerous to conflate an individual with a movement. To say
     > that the "free software movement is being attacked" when what's
> actually happening is that a bunch of individuals are calling for
     > one person to take responsibility for their behavior is a sloppy
     > generalization.
     This is just trolling. But censor will like your trolling, as that
     why your message pass through.

   More ad hominem. Ok.

     > It's disappointing that so many people have chosen to disbelieve
     > former FSF employees, hundreds of women who have encountered RMS
> conferences or MIT and many, many free software creators. The vast
     > majority of the people who signed the letter asking for RMS to
     > down, care deeply about free software. I wish more of you would
     > to consider that.
     I am also researcher Deb, and I say, if he did something illegal,
those people handle that with him. I have not found anything related to RMS that justifies that type of cyber-bullying online harassment
     public shaming.
Buf if he did not do anything illegal, and somebody complains on his
     behavior, don't mix that with his capability to lead FSF or speak
     free software, it is not related.

   If free software is a public good and the goal is for more people to
   use free software, then having a leader who drives people away is at
   odds with that goal. It's not illegal to poorly mismanage a public
   charity, but it does break the trust that donors and volunteers have
places in the organization and they have a right to speak up about it.

     Take action in Free Software Foundation campaigns:
     Sign an open letter in support of Richard M. Stallman



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