GNU FSF: Richard Stallman Returns

grarpamp grarpamp at
Mon Apr 12 23:13:00 PDT 2021

RMS addresses the free software community

by Richard Stallman — Published on Apr 12, 2021 10:24 AM

Ever since my teenage years, I felt as if there were a filmy curtain
separating me from other people my age. I understood the words of
their conversations, but I could not grasp why they said what they
did. Much later I realized that I didn't understand the subtle cues
that other people were responding to.

Later in life, I discovered that some people had negative reactions to
my behavior, which I did not even know about. Tending to be direct and
honest with my thoughts, I sometimes made others uncomfortable or even
offended them -- especially women. This was not a choice: I didn't
understand the problem enough to know which choices there were.

Sometimes I lost my temper because I didn't have the social skills to
avoid it. Some people could cope with this; others were hurt. I
apologize to each of them. Please direct your criticism at me, not at
the Free Software Foundation.

Occasionally I learned something about relationships and social
skills, so over the years I've found ways to get better at these
situations. When people help me understand an aspect of what went
wrong, and that shows me a way of treating people better, I teach
myself to recognize when I should act that way. I keep making this
effort, and over time, I improve.

Some have described me as being "tone-deaf," and that is fair. With my
difficulty in understanding social cues, that tends to happen. For
instance, I defended Professor Minsky on an M.I.T. mailing list after
someone leaped to the conclusion that he was just guilty as Jeffrey
Epstein. To my surprise, some thought my message defended Epstein. As
I had stated previously, Epstein is a serial rapist, and rapists
should be punished. I wish for his victims and those harmed by him to
receive justice.

False accusations -- real or imaginary, against me or against others
-- especially anger me. I knew Minsky only distantly, but seeing him
unjustly accused made me spring to his defense. I would have done it
for anyone. Police brutality makes me angry, but when the cops lie
about their victims afterwards, that false accusation is the ultimate
outrage for me. I condemn racism and sexism, including their systemic
forms, so when people say I don't, that hurts too.

It was right for me to talk about the injustice to Minsky, but it was
tone-deaf that I didn't acknowledge as context the injustice that
Epstein did to women or the pain that caused.

I've learned something from this about how to be kind to people who
have been hurt. In the future, that will help me be kind to people in
other situations, which is what I hope to do.

Statement of FSF board on election of Richard Stallman

creato da Free Software Foundation — Published on 12/04/2021 10:25

The voting members of the Free Software Foundation, which include the
board of directors, voted to appoint Richard Stallman to a board seat
after several months of thorough discussion and thoughtful

We decided to bring RMS back because we missed his wisdom. His
historical, legal and technical acumen on free software is unrivaled.
He has a deep sensitivity to the ways that technologies can contribute
to both the enhancement and the diminution of basic human rights. His
global network of connections is invaluable. He remains the most
articulate philosopher and an unquestionably dedicated advocate of
freedom in computing.

RMS acknowledges that he has made mistakes. He has sincere regrets,
especially at how anger toward him personally has negatively impacted
the reputation and mission of FSF. While his personal style remains
troubling for some, a majority of the board feel his behavior has
moderated and believe that his thinking strengthens the work of the
FSF in pursuit of its mission.

We take full responsibility for how badly we handled the news of his
election to a board seat. We had planned a flow of information that
was not executed in a timely manner or delivered in the proper

FSF staff should have been informed and consulted first. The
announcement by RMS at LibrePlanet was a complete surprise to staff,
all those who worked so hard to organize a great event, to LibrePlanet
speakers and to the exhibitors. We had hoped for a more inclusive and
thoughtful process and we apologize that this did not occur.

In his position on the board, RMS has the same responsibilities as
other members. He is an unpaid volunteer and subject to the
organization's policies, including prohibitions against conflicts of
interest and sexual harassment and those outlining whistleblower
processes and fiduciary duties. The responsibilities of the board are
described at

We believe his views will be critical to the FSF as we advance the
mission and confront the challenges that software freedom faces.

In recent weeks, the board has committed to a series of changes
related to organizational governance, including plans to adopt a
transparent, formal process for identifying appropriate candidates to
become new board members, future changes to the organization's bylaws,
and the addition of a staff representative to the board of directors.

Selected by FSF's unionized staff, senior systems administrator Ian
Kelling was elected to a newly created staff seat on the board of
directors as a voting member on March 28.

The FSF board will continue to pursue additional ideas and actions
designed to improve transparency and accountability.

There is still considerable work to be done. We recognize the need to
attract a new generation of activists for software freedom and to grow
the movement. We will report our discussions and activities to the
community as we move forward.

As we work on these issues, let's not forget the purpose of our
movement, or the great work of our staff and all the good people of
the free software community who are dedicated to users' freedom.

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