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Re: Truth matters when writing software and selecting leaders

From: Jacob Bachmeyer
Subject: Re: Truth matters when writing software and selecting leaders
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2021 21:55:28 -0500
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Akira Urushibata wrote:
Richard Stallman recently announced at LibrePlanet that he would
return to the FSF board.  Soon after this announcement, many articles
appeared online stating strong objection to his return.

Does there appear to be some form of hidden coordination behind these articles?

As I understand, RMS always thought that proprietary software companies would make some kind of large legal attack on the GNU project, so he was very particular about setting up the FSF and arranging for copyrights on many GNU packages to be held by the FSF. If we interpret the SCO mess as that attack, the strategy seems to have worked: SCO did not attack GNU, but instead attempted to attack the Linux kernel project. Ultimately, they failed but I now wonder if we may be seeing a different angle of an attack on the GNU project that RMS did not anticipate.

I have read several of them and I do not like what I see.  Repeatedly
I encounter the false claim that RMS "defended" Jeffrey Epstein.
I also see voices which criticize RMS employing vague terms such as
"bad behavior" which those not properly informed would interpret as
being fond of Epstein and antagonistic toward women who fall victim to
sexual exploitation.

Do we have properly documented refutations of these claims? That is not to say that I believe a word of them, but can we actually prove that each one is false? As in refuting "RMS said X at ABC" with "no, RMS actually said Y at ABC; Y != X", ideally with video of RMS saying Y at ABC?

In response to the storm of criticism, the FSF Board has decided to
vote to determine whether RMS should return to the board.  I observe
that both sides have initiated petition drives:

That one is interesting; the only minor quibble I have is that we really do need to have some kind of plan for "after RMS" because that will happen some day...

... and the part about using GitHub pull requests to sign the letter, which is a bit of a problem from a software freedom standpoint. At least it also provides an email address to send signatures to, unlike the other letter it mentions at <URL:>.,-fsf-board.html

According to that article, the whole thing started from a clearly true statement about sexual assault being a broad category? Wait... were those also the remarks that were taken out of context from an internal private mailing list?

In my opinion the FSF leaders are not doing things in the right order.
First they should make an official statement saying that there are
serious errors in recent news articles.  They should also consider
legal action.  The decision whether RMS belongs on the FSF Board
should wait until those who are spreading misinformation are brought
to justice.

Unfortunately, freedom of speech here in USA protects even blatant lies to some extent. (If I remember correctly, it was Fox News that took a case all the way to our Supreme Court arguing that our First Amendment protects what we now call fake news... and Fox News won the case and the precedent is set.)

I say this because I know from experience that I can't fix bugs in
software I work on in the absence of accurate information.  Any
programmer that responds to unfounded claims about misbehaving
programs will end up wasting time, or worse, breaking a program
that works fine.

That is why we write testsuites. :D (And *that* was how I got involved with DejaGnu development and ended up on a bunch of GNU mailing lists...)

Truth is important if you want to write good software.  Dishonesty
invites poor quality.  I cannot stress this too much.

"Quoted For Truth."

-- Jacob

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