Richard Stallman resigns from MIT and the Free Software Foundation

Originally published at:


Stallman is yet more evidence that the white male Boomer assumption that one has to be an arrogant sexist arsehole in order to get things done can self-sabotage even the most impressive CV of worthy and world-changing accomplishments. I’d like to think we’re breaking out of that paradigm as a society.


Many years ago we met rms at a couple of convention parties. He hit on my (now, then not) wife. She says, “I am not surprised.”


A middle-aged white guy not seeing a problem with another middle-aged white guy exercising his enormous power over vulnerable young people. Color me surprised. Even if we were only talking about the difference between “17 and 18 years old” (which is NOT what Epstein was accused of exploiting) the fact that RMS can’t see the issues with that just screams privilege.

Full disclosure: I am a middle-aged white guy.


Just googled a photo of Marvin Minsky and no, that doesn’t seem very likely.


These accusations and rumors of some of his own activities have existed for YEARS.

He has never been a decent guy, a crass and offensive asshole…and yet folks always seem to give him the pass. Each and every time. Especially from folks that run this site that have worked closely with him in the past.

It is almost an analogy for those on the fringe willing to excuse anything so long as someone legitimizes their fringy belief system.


“Stallman said “it is morally absurd to define ‘rape’ in a way that depends on minor details such as which country it was in …”

Ah - the old it’s absurd to define it as rape if a guy rapes his wife wife as that’s not defined as rape in say Afghanistan argument. Asshole.


I don’t see why anyone’s surprised, he was advocating relationships with minors years ago.

I seem to remember people being scandalized by a blog post he wrote way back when I was in college.


I support open source/free software, yet I can’t help but feel that Stallman’s disgusting remarks about Epstein, pedophilia, and child porn stem from the very same libertarian idealism* that led him to create the free software movement. It’s more proof, imho, that unwavering belief in libertarianism is very problematic.

* Plus a penchant for misogyny that probably predates Stallman adopting the ideology he is known for


In a way, that small-l libertarian absolutism is a variant of the Californian Ideology taken to some dark and harmful extremes.


Stallman’s final interview as FSF president: Last week we quizzed him over Microsoft visit. Now he quits top roles amid Epstein email storm


Hey, it’s free! It’s not like the guy sees if a shekel if you do.


So will I. That doesn’t mean we can’t also acknowledge it was produced by a raging sexist arsehole who doesn’t deserve the wider image he craves as a champion of the downtrodden.


It’s the trap most self described libertarians fall into. They try to apply an economic system to all of society without taking a moment to think about it. I am fine with condemning the harmful parts of a person’s ideology, an hold an expectation that there be an apology and correction in behavior.

I don’t like the current method where we cut people off and proceed to ignore the problem going forward. Makes me want to hang up some “mission accomplished” signs to celebrate our ridiculous behavior.


It’s very compartmentalized. We respect what he has done, but we also hate the kind of person he is?

With Stallman, it isn’t all that compartmentalised. He fancies himself a freedom fighter because of his work, and to a limited extent that’s true. But that’s more than offset by his consistently crappy behaviour toward women and really toward anyone who dared question his wisdom.

It’s also a version of Engineer’s Disease (and there’s a lot of overlap between engineers/coders and Libertarians).


It’s something some of us grow out of.


I don’t think we have much of a choice, at least for now. As you know, GNU software is pervasive. And even in cases where we do have a choice, suddenly ceasing to use RMS-related software probably isn’t the best idea: I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the global economy would suffer for a period while every developer who prefers EMACS transitioned to VIM.


Also, there is Hakim Bey who is nominally on the left, but whose ideas about Temporary Autonomous Zones trancend the left-right split.

Hakim Bey is also a paedophile apologist, he has written articles for NAMBLA on the subject.

They are not excused for being shit people just because they had a good idea once.


Allen Ginsberg too, which bothers me to no end.