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Re: Women and GNU and RMS (was Re: something else)

From: Sandra Loosemore
Subject: Re: Women and GNU and RMS (was Re: something else)
Date: Fri, 1 Nov 2019 09:34:40 -0600
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:60.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/60.8.0

I'd like to clarify some things, and provide some references. Since I sent my original post in this thread, several people have accused me of slandering or defaming RMS, lying about what he has said, making false accusations against him, repeating false media reports, and the like. Well, I am not a liar.

I'm aware that some news reporting and social media posts have inaccurately characterized RMS's remarks about Virginia Guiffre as a defense of Epstein. I'm aware that is not what he actually said in that particular instance, and I have not repeated those false characterizations, or based any of my thinking on that inaccurate reporting.

Here are some actual things that RMS has said about sexual exploitation of minors, with references to the sources of the quotes.

"I am skeptical of the claim that voluntarily pedophilia harms children."

"There is little evidence to justify the widespread assumption that willing participation in pedophilia hurts children."

"Cody Wilson has been charged with hiring a "child" sex worker. Her age has not been announced, but I think she must surely be a teenager, not a child. Calling teenagers "children" in this context is a way of smearing people with normal sexual proclivities as "perverts". [...] She may have had — I expect, did have — entirely willing sex with him, and they would still call it "assault". "

"Possession of child pornography, and even incest and pedophilia .... should be legal as long as no one is coerced. They are illegal only because of prejudice and narrowmindedness."

There are many more of them, but you get the picture. These are the kind of statements I referred to as "disgusting" in my previous message. And yes, these quotes came from his personal web site and not the FSF or GNU project, but it's an organizational problem when RMS's public comments in any forum result in news coverage like this

and this

and this

and this

that all highlight his organizational ties and role in the free software movement. MIT got the brunt of it because of their other problematic involvement in the Epstein scandal, but note that the reporter of the first article linked above is specifically asking for help in investigating "abuse in the open source community" (with the underlying assumption that this actually exists and is a serious problem) so we've all been tarred with the same brush. Beyond the news articles, there've been a *ton* of blog and social media posts trashing both Stallman and the free software community for looking the other way for far too long. Some of those comments have been wildly inaccurate and off-base, but there is a public perception that the problem is all of us, not just RMS. :-(

I'm confident that RMS's statements on child pornography, pedophilia, etc do not reflect a consensus view of the GNU developer community. So why can't we stand up and say that "this is not us"? It makes no sense for us to die on this particular hill trying to defend those views or to defend having him as the public face of our organization. And trying to excuse him by claiming he didn't really say those things is not going to work, either, because the evidence is there.

I can talk about my own personal experiences working at the FSF in the early days of the GNU project in a separate post if people are interested (it's mostly tangential to the current discussion about leadership), but for now let me just say that I enjoyed my time there and have always been grateful to RMS for finding me something useful and fun to do when I was between "real" jobs. I don't have a grudge against him, and I'm not trying to smear him with fictional stories of things he didn't really say or do. It's the things he really *did* say that are problematic.


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