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Re: Support RMS

From: Thomas Lord
Subject: Re: Support RMS
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 2021 22:19:05 -0700
User-agent: Roundcube Webmail/1.3.16



(Honestly, my current assumption is that the list is dominated
by a few trolls now and ought to just go the way of all things.)


On 2021-04-17 21:48, Aaron Wolf wrote:
On 2021-04-17 8:49 p.m., Alexandre Oliva wrote:
On Apr 16, 2021, Aaron Wolf <> wrote:

Like here's one story: I was at LibrePlanet 2014 and RMS was speaking
and mentioned offhand how a certain sort of older computer with no disk,
they used to joke and called it a dickless computer.

Ah, yes, that was exactly the tasteless pun I alluded to the other day.

I heard second hand that he had to
have someone pull him aside and emphasize the problem before he realized
the issue and apologized.

Well...  Here the recollections diverge.  To me, it was quite evident
that he realized his own mistake right away. It may have taken someone
to pull him aside and advise him to explicitly apologize for it, I'll
give you that.  But suggesting he didn't realize it by himself fits in
perfectly in the pattern of twisting, exaggeration, and false reporting
that has led so many to see a false pattern of misbehavior.

Oh I had the exact same impression, that he realized the mistake, was
100% sincere in the award and gratitude to the women involved, and that
he sincerely wanted to be respectful of everyone. I also have seen him
in his political notes *constantly* promote feminism and women's rights
over years.

But I recall discussing that joke in 2014 that day or maybe it was
within the following week, and someone else who was discussing the
problem about it told me then the claim that someone had pulled him
aside to mention it. I have no idea if they were speculating or not, and
I have nothing but their claim to go on.

I had certainly assumed he was just self-reflective enough on his own
(though I assumed that was because he had many past cases of feedback
which he has just been slow to fully shift his habits). I'm not going to
even presume what is actually true. I do not know whether or not his
apology was entirely independent, I was only in the audience seeing what
everyone was seeing.

And although I might disagree with Deb in some of her exact tactics in
engaging, you might notice that she has not made such accusations.

She co-drafted and undersigned the hate letter. Its appendix has plenty
of just the sort of accusation you say she did not make.

Well, I suppose my charitable-interpretation inclination is consistent.
I don't know that she co-drafted the letter, I just see her in the
medium-long list of primary co-signers. That itself is troubling enough.
The letter is unfair as are the selections of accusations in the
letter's appendix.

I sincerely respect many of the signers, several of whom I've met in
person and some with whom I've had decently long one-on-one discussions
at conferences and such. I'm a bit sad, confused, and also maybe still
open-minded and curious about how these people could have supported the
letter as-is.

In my mind, for all these people to have supported that letter, there's
got to be more going on than what it superficially appears to be.
However, I don't jump to concluding what that might be.

Perhaps there are indeed elements of anti-free-software corporate
interest in defanging the FSF and RMS. I'm quite skeptical though. Some
of the people who signed are among the most ardent free software people
I've met.

Perhaps there are deeper issues with RMS that are subtle, hard to
capture, would *still* not make him evil or anything, but are just hard
to express, and so these folks are failing to make it clear to us (and
to me, I really am giving them *some* benefit of the doubt for the main
reason that most everything else I've heard from these people makes
sense to me, their credibility is good in my eyes on *other* topics).

Perhaps there's an echo-chamber kind of effect where certain styles of
language, certain words (e.g. misogyny) are used in well-meaning social
activist circles, and the letter writers are essentially writing with
their own echo-chamber in mind as their audience without considering
building a wider coalition or consensus.

Perhaps they are just all feeling *that* outraged, scared, triggered,
exasperated, or similar. And people in that state are predictably likely
to exaggerate, take uncharitable interpretations of their targets, and
be generally in a state of blame, and it's from that emotional state
that the letter comes.

To be most charitable, just maybe they really care about software
freedom, really believe that RMS staying in leadership will undermine
the cause, and they are engaging from a place of real *fear* as they
anticipate losing allies and friends who leave the movement and then see
a downward spiral that results in all the worst outcomes for software
freedom. Others may disagree with their assessment of the impact of RMS
continuing in leadership, but it's possible that the drama is all
between software-freedom advocates in two camps: one camp who are
sincerely scared that RMS will inadvertently sabotage software freedom
and lead us to the worst-case future, and the other camp who thinks RMS
is still a valuable leader who will further the cause of software freedom.

Even if she were to retract them, which would be the honest thing to do,
there's no way to gather all of the feathers to put them back in the
pillow after the wind scattered them all over the place.

Sure, but every possible scenario is still a chance to learn. It's never
too late to make the best *next* decisions from this very moment
forward. And even if Deb or others do not change their views on this
issue in the slightest, I *still* would prefer that they and everyone
(whether I agree with someone or not) take the experience of drama as a
prompt for self-reflection, take radical responsibility, and practice
the most constructive communication.

The story in my mind is: if the style of communication that Deb used in
her more recent posts here had been the style of their initial
engagement with this issue, it would have led to less drama, less
divisions, and possibly even to constructive discussion where everyone
in the movement could creatively seek win-for-all ways to move forward.

And even though it's too late for that, there's always a question of
whether the *next* situation is as productive as possible rather than
having such drama and antagonism.

And I'll continue to emphasize that the best way to react to Deb and
others is to *show* them what it looks like to treat everyone (including those you disagree with) with some basic dignity, charity, and fairness. I don't see any good coming from those people who think it's now okay to
be as unfair to Deb or others as they see them being to RMS.

In solidarity,

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