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A few thoughts.

From: murph
Subject: A few thoughts.
Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2021 10:33:24 -0400

I'd like to share an experience of mine with Richard Stallman, and
some reflections on the current situation.

In about 2010 or so, I went to the Trenton Computer Festival.  Richard
was slated to talk.  It was a treat to have him speak close to home
for me.  I also noticed that he was listed as a leader in Open Source,
and I thought that it would be amusing to see how he would react to
that.  Maybe some witty barbs, and an explanation of the difference
between the Free and Open movements, as a learning experience for the
organizers, as well as the audience.

I was wrong.  It was not amusing.

I had been an associate member of the Free Software Foundation (FSF)
for a short time at that point, and I was convinced that Free Software
was (and still is) worthy of praise, and a brilliant idea for enabling
people to be free through software that they use.

When Richard was on stage, and found out about the "Open Source"
moniker, he was outraged.  I don't recall his words of over a decade
ago, but I thought I recall more than a little cursing.  Regardless of
the exact words, it was unbecoming of someone of his stature.  It was
less statesman, and more temper tantrum.

There was quite a bit of complaining, and he wasn't sure that he could
go on.  He was so disturbed by the misrepresentation. He eventually
regained his composure, and gave a speech about Free Software.

I walked away that day, not energized about supporting Free Software,
but instead thinking about the man that was in the front of the room
talking about it.  Was this the right person to further that cause?  I
was a new member then, so I didn't really feel it was my place to
bring this to the FSF.  I just let it go.  Perhaps I should not have.
Maybe I should have sent an email then, and try to raise these

I still think that Richard is a very smart man, and his codification
of Free Software is a gift to all of us.  I also think that his public
persona is not one that best serves the FSF in any sort of leadership

I haven't personally seen the abuse that people have reported, but I
have seen plenty of cringey moments in other talks and at LibrePlanet.
These moments make it easy to believe that he has said the hurtful
things that have been reported.  I'm not in any of the groups that he
has been insensitive towards, so I don't think it's my place to judge
that directly.

I don't wish to stop him from speaking his mind, frankly.  There are
plenty of people that speak without regard to others' feelings.  I
just don't think that he is someone that I can get behind and say that
he represents me.  Being reelected to the board signifies that his
present actions are acceptable, since nothing seems to have changed
other than the passing of time.   I can't get behind it, and the fact
that the board reinstated him shows poor judgment on their part, and
makes me unsure of their judgment in other matters.

Is the FSF truly only about Richard?  This is an opportunity to show
that the FSF and Free Software can continue on without the direct
guiding of Richard.  (Who will most likely not live forever,
regardless of the current situation)

I would hate to see the idea of Free Software become a relic of the
past, with the FSF as the curators of those neglected ideals simply
because they could not see beyond a single individual.

If Free Software cannot continue on without Richard's personal
intervention, perhaps the idea is not as strong as I thought, and
hoped it would be.

Thanks for hearing me out.

  --murph  (Associate FSF member)

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