Six years ago, I posted an article related to my (limited) direct experience with Richard Matthew Stallman, which I concluded by: although he values his freedom and values freedom in general, working with him, even in a very distant way, is just a matter of subordination; he’d make a credible science-fiction character: distopian guru, the Pied Piper of MIT.
You would assume that I would approve his removal from Free Software Foundation. But no: I was not expecting this to be based on the current trendy totalitarian philosophy. No one should be happy that someone is prevented to do his work due to his identity or political and philosophical opinions – or, worse, how he is depicted by an angry mob no matter what he actually thinks or said.
In regard of Free Software, RMS is as important as Winston Churchill was regarding UK’s position during World War II. He built the philosophical base of what Free Software is. It would not be, or in a completely different form, without him. And you cannot claim to promote of something “meant to serve everyone regardless of their age, ability or disability, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, religion or sexual orientation” when you actually exactly do the contrary. This way of thinking when you make a list of people always right other always wrong, when you silence the one that are wrong, matches totalitarian ideologies, not freedom.
So I really don’t care about RMS position at FSF, it is probably for the best that he is no longer in his autocratic position. I surely don’t care about his personal opinion about this or that topic unrelated to software. I guess some other people might think likewise. But it is not a reason to keep silent toward ideological violence.
If you like to rethink all these dark events in history, that are never black or white, you’ll consider that the issue is not that much about the main protagonists, following their path whether they’ll turn out to be criminals or freedom fighters. No, the issue is regarding the bystanders, that will see questionable things being done but won’t comment, because it does not affect them really, because they felt no connection to the one attacked or, because they felt maybe it is was on some other level deserved. But history judgment is harsh on them, nonetheless.
“We ask for contributors to free software projects to take a stand against bigotry and hate within their [FSF] projects”, they wrote. Bigotry and hate are terms that can easily be turned to describe them, or easy to manipulate in every direction. When you silence people, there is hate. When you create a work environment in which people are silenced due to their opinions, there is bigotry. I believe that the sane way to regulate society is called rights of man: can be punished, silenced, only if they have been proven of breaking legitimate laws by a legitimate court. And that led me to sign the letter in favor of RMS, even though I do not think he should not be at the head of FSF. We should not accept a society of oppression, no matter in which name, especially not in the name of greater good because that’s always the one invoked to do the worse. We thought ideologies were dead. No, they are as dangerous as ever.
PS : since GNOME Foundation is heavily involved and claim acting in regard of Free Sofware credibility, it is easy to point out they are not exactly known for that. Regarding Mozilla, RedHat, and similar companies, etc, hum, if they really want to howl with the wolves, maybe some day no one will care to promote their work instead of “don’t be Evil”-company.
PPS: seems that some people that want RMS eviction also advise to blacklist, recruitment-wise, anyone that signed the letter in favor of RMS (a, b, c, etc). The whole process is definitely quite disgusting, besides being completely stupid.
PPPS: some other made named-based statistics to guess which ethnicity or genre is voting for or against. I do not think there is any progress in essentialism and surely we cannot call democrats people in favor of racial or sexual-based voting rights (except by erasing concept of modern citizenship).