User:Techpriest/Sandbox/Richard Stallman

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The following is an archived Sandbox. It's contents were included in the mainspace article (Richard Stallman) on June 22nd, 2020. The contents of this Sandbox are preserved for the sake of recordkeeping, but will not be edited.

Rationale for sandboxing: Stallmans firing from the FSF is currently understated and misrepresented in the main article. The page got locked over anonymous users edit warring over it.


The following sentence is a suggested replacement for the lede, which currently includes a description that accuses Stallman of inaccuracies caused by reductivized reporting that would violate the RW policy on Living People.

Richard M. Stallman, otherwise known as RMS, St. IGNUcius,[1] and the Chief GNUisance,[2] is the founder of the free software movement, which is heavily involved with the core userspace of the Linux (or, in Stallman-speak, "GNU/Linux") operating system. To this degree (and perhaps greater), he can also be considered one of the founders of the modern free content movement (although he was fired from the FSF due to Crank related behavior). Stallman is also an outspoken individual, his views often shifting from the rational territory into the Moonbat territory.


The following paragraphs are suggested to replace the current "Crankery, sort of" header that is currently in the article. Stallman has a long standing history of Crank behavior that is not currently documented on the main article.

Stallman proves that even though you may have some good ideas on software, it doesn't automatically make you a good person.

  • For a time, Stallman neither rejected nor accepted 9/11 conspiracy theories.[3]
  • Along these lines, he expressed the view that one way US civilians can get even for 9/11 is to legalize gay marriage, since both the Muslim fanatics in Al-Qaeda and the Christian fanatics in the Bush administration hate gays.[4] This bit is less crankery and more applying engineering skills.
  • Stallman supports the Organic Consumers Association's petition to mandate labeling of GMOs.[5]
  • Stallman believes that Bestiality is acceptable, as long as the animal consents[6][7].

Views on pedophilia[edit]

Stallman has stated on several occasions that he does not believe pedophilia harms children[8][9] and he does not believe that Child pornography should be illegal[10].

However, he has since walked back these views[11], although notably only after the comments that would later cause him to step from the Free Software Foundation were made public and people started digging up the previous comments he made.


Stallman's track record when it comes to sexism has been rather poor. In 2009, when at the Gran Canaria Desktop summit, Stallman made a sexist joke about the text editor EMACS[note 1], insinuating that if a woman had never used EMACS, it was his duty to "relieve them of their EMACS virginity".[12]. When criticism arose over this joke, Stallman eventually wrote a non-apology[13] to the GNOME mailing list, where his only defense was "it was just a joke" and that he had been doing the joke and associated routine for years.

Other incidents include Stallmans habit of referring to his business cards as "pleasure cards", and they notably include a list of Stallmans personal interests. While he hands them out to people of any gender, there is a certain amount of unwanted sexual advances in listing your personal interests on a business card. A scan of one of these cards can be found in the book "Free as in Freedom"[14].

Allegedly (although mostly from anecdotal reference), Stallman's behavior eventually got so severe at MIT that every female CSAIL professor bought plants to keep him out of their office (since Stallman hates plants).[15]

Firing from the FSF[edit]

The leadup[edit]

For the longest time, Stallman was the leader of both the GNU Foundation and the Free Software Foundation. The story Stallman typically tells (and the one repeated by his fans) is that he resigned from Computer Science AI Lab (CSAIL) at MIT to start the Free Software Foundation, after hacker culture at MIT started to fragment due to proprietary software interfering with their ability to do research. There is truth to this story, but what is often left out is that while Stallman did on paper leave MIT, the truth of the matter is that after he left, Marvin Minsky, the co-founder of the MIT CSAIL lab and a friend of Stallman offered him an office at CSAIL very quickly afterwards.

As a part of the investigation into Jeffrey Epstein's pedophile ring, in september 2016 Marvin Minsky's name popped up in the investigations as one of the men that Epstein instructed Virginia Giuffre to have sex with (. As Minsky had passed away earlier that year, no charges were brought against him over this. Later during these investigations, it also became apparent that MIT had been receiving donations from Epstein and as a part of this, the director of MIT, Joi Ito, resigned.

Shit hits the fan[edit]

As this information became apparent, a protest was eventually organized against the dubious funding practices of MIT and an announcement was send to the internal mailing list of CSAIL, which Stallman is a subscriber of. Stallman however has a habit of defining language in very specific ways that often don't match up with the way most people define language. One of these cases became apparent on the mailing list, where Stallman ended up taking issue with the fact that the announcement used the word assault to describe the actions alleged against Minsky. The problem is that Stallman defines assault as exclusively being physically violent, which resulted in a back and forth between Stallman and CSAIL members, which started with the following section:

The announcement of the Friday event does an injustice to Marvin Minsky:

“deceased AI ‘pioneer’ Marvin Minsky (who is accused of assaulting one of Epstein’s victims [2])”

The injustice is in the word “assaulting”. The term “sexual assault” is so vague and slippery that it facilitates accusation inflation: taking claims that someone did X and leading people to think of it as Y, which is much worse than X.

The accusation quoted is a clear example of inflation. The reference reports the claim that Minsky had sex with one of Epstein’s harem. (See Let’s presume that was true (I see no reason to disbelieve it).

The word “assaulting” presumes that he applied force or violence, in some unspecified way, but the article itself says no such thing. Only that they had sex.

We can imagine many scenarios, but the most plausible scenario is that she presented herself to him as entirely willing. Assuming she was being coerced by Epstein, he would have had every reason to tell her to conceal that from most of his associates.[note 2]

I’ve concluded from various examples of accusation inflation that it is absolutely wrong to use the term “sexual assault” in an accusation.

Whatever conduct you want to criticize, you should describe it with a specific term that avoids moral vagueness about the nature of the criticism.


Eventually, discussions between Stallman and the rest of the CSAIL mailing list would end up getting forwared to another student at MIT, who published the story on Medium.[16] The story started getting minor traction, until VICE ran an article on it[17]. The article, whilst mostly accurate would remove the second sentence from the emphasized paragraph, which ended up making Stallman look like he was defending Epstein. This resulted in the story blowing up and most news outlets, rather than verifying the original emails (which VICE had attached to their article[18]) simply ended up copying VICEs shortening of the headline.

While there are plenty of issues with Stallmans behavior, including later down the mailing list where he makes some appalling comments[18] about how it is morally absurd to use age of consent and the country where something took place to define whether something is rape or not, Stallman never defends Epsteins actions. What is concerning however is the fact that Stallman did defend Minsky's actions and the overall exchange was a reiteration of Stallmans earlier established views on pedophilia.

Due to the VICE article, several members of the Free Software Foundation removed their memberships, eventually causing Stallman to willingly resign from the FSF[19], but not from the GNU Foundation[20]. In response to this, several project maintainers at the GNU Foundation signed a joint statement[21] asking for him to step down.


  1. Stallman is a major contributor to the editor
  2. Emphasis added manually.


  3. Oh come on.
  10. (search for "Dubya has nominated another caveman")
  12. A Good GCDS Beginning (with a significant disappointment), Open Source to GO
  13. For avoidance of misunderstandings, GNOME mailing list
  14. Free as in Freedom - Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software, O'Reilly
  15. starsandrobots, Twitter
  16. 16.0 16.1
  18. 18.0 18.1