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Involuntary involvement to counter smear

From: Brian.Tiffin
Subject: Involuntary involvement to counter smear
Date: Sat, 02 Nov 2019 14:25:48 -0400
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:52.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/52.0 SeaMonkey/2.49.4

Hello, GNU maintainer here, co-maintainer for the GnuCOBOL package.

I've been making noise in private channels that any overly publicized
discussion about the GNU project management, leadership, and future is
an obvious opportunistic attempt to weaken GNU from within.  Ulterior
motives at play during a smear campaign directed at the founder of the
free software movement, Richard Stallman.  Richard, third party through
a deceased second party implicated in nefarious activities of the first
party.  This triggered a mob response, immense pressure and a
resignation from well respected positions.  Shortly after this
unfortunate turn of events, internal GNU lists get an announcement of a
public statement about issues regarding GNU internals, raising questions
of leadership, with undertones of assuming rights of "ownership".

I voted no to holding further public discussions during a smear
campaign.  Utterly inappropriate timing, either as part of forwarding an
agenda, perhaps to ultimately weakening the GPL in the eyes of the
public and courts, by continuing to spread hearsay and misinformed
opinion using public network pressures against the founder of GNU, lead
architect of the GPL and model of truly free software.

The smear campaign has handed GNU some wedge issues, at a very critical
time in its history.  This is an obvious play at distracting the base
membership, to maximize effect of initial headlines and misrepresentations.

We, or some, have fallen for the wedges, began arguing in unkind, heated
fashion, while reports go undefended against Richard and GNU.

Instead there is growing pressure from within to disrupt the status quo
of the GNU arm of Richard's project.

I find this unacceptable and recreant behaviour from anyone that
actually stands firm for the form of truly free software that is GNU.

These conversations, important conversations, are continually discussed
under less public light between GNU volunteers.  The current public
discussion is a wedge issue, timed to maximize on public pressures. 
Misinformed, opinion based network mob pressure.

Richard pondered codes and contracts, and delivered the Kind
Communications guidelines.  Perfect.  Decision made.  Richard's
decision.  The GNU decision.

Richard has indicated the current governance issues are also being
pondered, along with the development of a model to ensure a solid and
future proofed transfer of GNU rights is put in place.

Here's a thing; any pressured discussion regarding replacing Richard,
governance, leadership, roles, is moot; outside the event horizon of any
final result decisions. GNU is Richard's project.

Richard has indicated that he has been reading, and taking inputs for
further thought.  GNU is a volunteer project organized under an
individual.  Decisions for GNU are Richard's to make.  No amount of
public network pressure changes that fundamental fact.  Current flash
and mob pressure discussions are simply flash and mob pressures,
dividing GNU volunteers in negative ways.

To ensure a future GNU, there are activities required to ensure present
GNU.  Time sensitive and critical events are in progress.  I vote no on
prioritizing this discussion at a time when there is an active campaign
that can be seen as an attempt to weaken free software and respect for
the GPL.

We can discuss future proofing GNU when it is apparent that current
externally generated events are properly defended.  GNU is what GNU is
because, recursion.

There is little room for kindness when facing internal existential
threats in tandem with outside threats.

There can be bluntness.  Bluntly, continuation of this distraction, at
this time, under this spotlight, is dangerous. We are being played.  We
were handed wedges and we are being played.  We don't need to tear apart
GNU to remake GNU when there are forces that would like to see GNU torn
apart, weakening free software and potentially tainting the GPL.

Bluntly, I expect reasonable people to see that head strong continuation
of this distraction regarding the make of GNU is an indication of bias
filtered ignorance or malfeasance. Player or played.

Unkind words, intentionally.

Even as I type this note in an attempt to diminish damage that is
occurring to the reputation of Richard and GNU, I'm diminishing the
reputation of GNU with a display of infighting.  Played.  Admitted. 
Wedged apart from respected peers.

Time to tout free software, tout the GPL, tout GNU.

GNU volunteers should be rallying, allowing truth to form amongst all
the public network misinformation and hearsay, not piling on for an
opportunity to further personal agendas.

We are all being wedged to pick sides on emotionally charged issues, to
the detriment of the future of truly free software, possibly tarnishing
the past and continuing life works of Richard Stallman.

As I was falling to the wedges, I was overly excitedly in the more
private channels of GNU, and unkind.  Digging deeper than simple
headlines, the overall reaction to the Slashdot article that was part of
the unfortunate timing after the MIT mailing list flash point, seemed
overly dismissive of skill of the signatories of the Joint Statement,
which I also found unfortunate.  We need to limit mob influence over
reputations and sense of well being if truly free software has a chance
to flourish into the next generation. These threads, at this time, only
add to the potential of additional ruinous public overreaction and
utterly misinformed mass opinions, perceptions and summary judgments.

This is all adding moral and ethical debt to the volunteer time of GNU
as we eventually restore reputations during the unwinding of internet
history.  The efforts being expended here in this current collection of
Joint Statement threads are only adding more layers to unwind and clarify.

We should clarify the misrepresentations now, correct the misinformation
and publicize facts instead of turmoil, however cathartic that turmoil
may seem to some with a need to express visions of future GNU and
volunteer structures.

I truly believe that history will apologize to Richard for the current
round of smears, however long it takes for fair truth to form in the
public perception. It does not feel inappropriate to start apologizing now.

Sorry, Richard.

It may never be proven as to where from, but reasonable people can only
conclude that we are being played, from inside and out. This has not
been a truly organic sequence of events or public reporting. 
gnu-misc-discuss is now under a form of moderation that can only be seen
as an attempt to control the narrative, or simply add wedges.

It may already be too late, but the only way to win these (or in this
case not lose, as there is no winning here) is to not play or be played.
Not losing GNU, not allowing a weakening of the GPL and truly free
software will require unwinding accumulated misrepresentations.

Time to tout GNU, Richard's GNU.

Brian Tiffin

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