Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Emailing Richard Stallman

I emailed Richard Stallman at the encouragement of a couple of friends here in order to get my concerns in front of him, and hopefully, to get a response. The entire exchange pretty much speaks for itself, I'd say, so I'll simply reproduce it in full here.

My initial email:
Dear Dr. Stallman:

I was in the audience during your keynote at the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit, and I was perplexed and distressed by a few things.

The lesser of these was your tendency to shout over questioners while they were in mid-question, and to dismiss their questions as “silly”. However, this is not what I’m mainly concerned about.

The more significant problem was your comments regarding “EMAC virgins”, which you defined as being specifically “_women_ who had never used EMACS”, and for whom being “relieved” of this “virginity” was a “holy duty”. My reaction, and the reaction of a large number of members of the audience with whom I’ve spoken was one of great dismay.

Your remarks gave the distinct impression that you view women as being in particular need of technical assistance (presumably by men, since there's apparently no such thing as a _male_ "EMACS virgin"); additionally, women are quite capable of making their own decisions about who might relieve them of whatever sort of “virginity”. I (and many others) viewed these remarks as denigrating and demeaning to women, as well as completely out of place at what is, in essence, a technical conference.

As a member of the GNOME Foundation Advisory Board, I engage in regular discussions about the relatively small number of women involved in open source. I feel that it is thoughtless comments like your remarks on “EMACS virgins” which contribute, quite heavily, to this situation. Given your position with respect to the free software community, I feel you did your audience a great disservice. If those remarks were intended as a joke, the joke was, frankly, not at all a funny one. I’d strongly encourage you to refrain from such comments in the future.

I also think you may find it worth considering that there are active and important members of the free software community who consider themselves Christians—I’d cite Michael Meeks as just one example. While no one insists that you agree with or subscribe to a particular religion, people are every bit as entitled to their own beliefs as you are to your lack of them, and I thought it likewise inappropriate to take keynote time to create a situation in which you marginalize members of the community by mocking Christianity. Again, this is a technical conference.

I personally feel as though you owe your audience, and in particular the women attending the conference, an apology. The remarks came across as thoughtless, inconsiderate and sexist--again, this is not simply my own opinion, but one which I’ve heard echoed, over and over, in my discussions with others who were present at the time. I would imagine that this was not your intention, but it was indeed the reaction of many members of the audience.

I hope you will take this letter in the spirit in which it’s intended. I’ll look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

David “Lefty” Schlesinger
Dr. Stallman's reply:

The Cult of the Virgin of Emacs, like the rest of the Church of Emacs, is meant to poke fun at religion and at myself. I think that you and some others have misunderstood it.

>While no one insists that you agree with or subscribe to
> a particular religion, people are every bit as entitled to
> their own beliefs as you are to your lack of them,

Yes, they are. Are you accusing me of wishing to deny them these rights? If so, you do me wrong. I defend religious freedom as strongly as anyone.

However, freedom of religion the freedom to criticize religious views. No human views are off limits to criticism, or joking. People have a right to criticize religion directly, or to ridicule it harshly.

However, St IGNUcius does neither of those; at most it makes gentle fun of religion, tangentially. There is no reason for religious people to take offense at that. I have presented St IGNUcius with Catholic priests in the audience, and it did not offend them.

>I personally feel as though you owe your audience,
>and in particular the women attending the conference,
>an apology. The remarks came across as thoughtless,
>inconsiderate and sexist--again, this is not simply my
>own opinion, but one which I've heard echoed, over and
>over, in my discussions with others who were present at the time.

I do not believe I owe anyone an apology. I did not insult or attack them, but it is clear some people are attacking me. I think I am being criticized unjustly criticized, and I feel I have been wronged.

I am concerned about this reported hostile reaction. But I am not sure what to make of it, since it goes against nearly all the rest of my experience. I have had very few negative reactions to St IGNUcius in the past; the only one I can remember was from someone who was hostile to begin with. So this seems like an anomalous case. I don't understand why it happened.

You said that you "heard it echoed, over and over", but how many people actually had this reaction? Maybe it was a few people who started a lot of conversations.
My second email:
Dear Dr. Stallman:

I'm honestly a little surprised--amazed, really--that you managed to completely ignore the three central paragraphs which I identified as being the core of my concerns, choosing instead to focus on the side issue of the anti-religious bent of your "St. IGNUcius" routine.

Let me reiterate, without the distractions:

> The more significant problem was your comments
> regarding “EMAC virgins”, which you defined as being
> specifically “_women_ who had never used EMACS”,
> and for whom being “relieved” of this “virginity” was a “holy
> duty”. My reaction, and the reaction of a large number of
> members of the audience with whom I’ve spoken was
> one of great dismay.
>
> Your remarks gave the distinct impression that you view
> women as being in particular need of technical assistance
> (presumably by men, since there's apparently no such
> thing as a _male_ "EMACS virgin"); additionally, women
> are quite capable of making their own decisions about
> who might relieve them of whatever sort of “virginity”. I
> (and many others) viewed these remarks as denigrating
> and demeaning to women, as well as completely out
> of place at what is, in essence, a technical conference.
>
> As a member of the GNOME Foundation Advisory
> Board, I engage in regular discussions about the relatively
> small number of women involved in open source. I feel
> that it is thoughtless comments like your remarks on
> “EMACS virgins” which contribute, quite heavily, to this
> situation. Given your position with respect to the free
> software community, I feel you did your audience a great
> disservice. If those remarks were intended as a joke, the
> joke was, frankly, not at all a funny one. I’d strongly
> encourage you to refrain from such comments in the future.

Perhaps you can respond to _these_ concerns rather than the more tangential ones.

> I am concerned about this reported hostile reaction.

I would hope so.

> But I am not sure what to make of it, since it goes
> against nearly all the rest of my experience. I have
> had very few negative reactions to St IGNUcius
> in the past; the only one I can remember was from
> someone who was hostile to begin with. So this seems
> like an anomalous case. I don't understand why it
> happened.

I understand exactly why it "happened": as I said, your remarks were sexist, thoughtless, dismissive and denigrating.

> You said that you "heard it echoed, over and over",
> but how many people actually had this reaction?
> Maybe it was a few people who started a lot of
> conversations.

I would estimate that I've spoken to well in excess of a hundred people at the conference about this; most of them initiated the conversation with me, rather than the other way around. The virtually universal reaction has been exactly what I described to you: dismay, unhappiness and concern over the view of women which your idea of "gentle fun" implied.

Again, you did your audience a serious disservice with these remarks. I stand by my statement that you owe all of us an apology.

Sincerely,

David "Lefty" Schlesinger
Dr. Stallman's reply:
> I'm honestly a little surprised--amazed, really--that
> you managed to completely ignore the three central
> paragraphs which I identified as being the core of my
> concerns, choosing instead to focus on the side issue of
> the anti-religious bent of your "St. IGNUcius" routine.

I did respond to the other points, just more briefly.

>> The remarks came across as thoughtless, inconsiderate
>> and sexist--again, this is not simply my own opinion, but
>> one which I've heard echoed...
>
> I do not believe I owe anyone an apology. I did not insult or
> attack them, but it is clear some people are attacking me....

Thus, I think your criticism of my response is inaccurate. However, my response naturally reflected my own priorities.

> Your remarks gave the distinct impression that you
> view women as being in particular need of technical
> assistance (presumably by men, since there's
> apparently no such thing as a _male_ "EMACS virgin");
> additionally, women are quite capable of making their
> own decisions about who might relieve them of whatever
> sort of "virginity". I (and many others) viewed these
> remarks as denigrating and demeaning to women,

The cult of the Virgin of Emacs is simply intended as a joke about the cult of the Virgin Mary. I assure anyone who perceived derogatory meanings in it that I did not intend them.
Wow. Just wow. In anyone can find the point in his first message where he responded, "albeit more briefly", to the issue I raised, can you point it out to me? I sure don't see it.

315 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   1 – 200 of 315   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

Does RMS think all source code should be free, or his private e-mails as well??

I did not hear his presentation, so I am not going to say anything about the merits of this discussion.

Tom said...

On the one you try to defend "women rights" on the other you just publish private emails.

I don't get what your fuss is about. But not everybody gets a joke.

Try watching South Park .. it will help you.

Anonymous said...

> Does RMS think all source code should be free,
> or his private e-mails as well??

Have exactly the same question. Any further discussion of political correctness is pointless before this question is answered, as you cannot seriously request polical correctness without respecting it yourself. Sounds fishy.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I agree with the others: publishing a private email is very rude.

Moreover, could you please avoid your religious concerns to be syndicated to planets ?

Thanks.

Lefty said...

I'm not sure in what sense these emails are "private". Since he won't read the web, he won't respond to the blog entry; the only way to get a response to my concerns is via email.

Having gotten the response, it seems to me to be worth sharing with the larger free and open source community. If Dr. Stallman would like raise an objection with me about it, he's welcome to.

flauran said...

Geee, another defender of the female cause. Most of them are grown up and fully able to defend themselves.

+1 on the publishing of private email. I don't think you got permission from RMS, so I suggest you remove his answers and replace them with brief summaries. Him not answering on public mailing lists doesn't give you any right.

Anonymous said...

Lefty, you have serious issues! Of course email conversation is private by default, unless stated otherwise! It's extremly rude, if not unlawful to mail someone privately and to publish the conversation later without asking the communication partner for agreement!

DUDE! REALLY!

Btw, I am pretty sure you only got positive response regarding your concerns during the converence because of people's politeness: (Uh? What the heck?) "Yes, RMS' talk was strange." (Now let's get on-topic.)

Anonymous said...

I agree with RMS that the religious concern is completely non-founded and off-topic. I agree with him that we have the liberty to mock religion and that it has a place in a technical conference.

But, regardless of that, the sexism is a lot more disturbing. The fact that he's trying to avoid replying you is a good indicator.

The problem is that RMS is *really* rude. I was shocked the first time I saw him ( http://ploum.frimouvy.org/?97-it-s-a-long-way-to-the-top ). This guy does more harm than good. He's a fanatic and, like every fanatic, he's dangerous and never accept that he can be wrong sometime.

A simple answer like "It was intended to mock virgin mary and I didn't think it would be understood as sexist joke" would have been enough. But no : YOU didn't understood it correctly. He was too subte for you.

Regarding other comments : this discussion should really be on the planet (I hate those planet cleaner that want it whiter than white). I also think there's no arm about publishing those emails. You are discussing a public conference. Hey guys, this is not privacy. Just use common sense instead of being bound to the letter. There's nothing not public in those emails.

Lefty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam said...

Grow up and learn to take a joke.

Frankly I find it sexist that you think women are so fragile that you need to filter what they hear in case they are offended. He didn't mean anything by it and caused no material harm.

And if your religion can't stand any kind of criticism or having fun poked at it, just requires blind acceptance from everyone, what does that say about your religion?

Tom R said...

Got to say I'm with Stallman on this. His routines aren't offensive and certainly aren't intended to offend.

Are you not you being slightly hypocritical by jumping to the defense of women in this knee-jerk manner? Surely they can voice their own concerns.

Also did you ask his permission to publish this conversation?

Anonymous said...

I think you need to learn what "irony" and "sense of humor" are...

Because Stallman is ironically portraying religion as sexist, he, in facts, critics sexism in religion, so accusing him of being sexist is a bit ridiculous...

The problem is not Stallman, it's you who don't get irony.

Frej said...

Maybe it's just his his quirky nature so you don't know if he is serious or joking..?

But he does claim he is poking fun at religion - And the view of women in said religion. If that's the point he was trying put out (badly?), i don't see it as a discrimiation of women.

But i wasn't there...

Anonymous said...

I think you didn't get RMS answer: The Cult of The Virgin of Emacs is meant to parody the Cult of The Virgin Mary.

Thus, it shares some Christian customs, in particular, the notion of what a women should be.

Note that RMS doesn't view women as Christian religion does.

tm_lv said...

Feels like wanting to gather a mob. The virgin thing you addressed in the first email was answered in the last - that it is not about virginity, but the holiness of virgin Mary, and that kind of changes the whole perception now, doesn't it?
It might be rough at the edges, but does it really deserves to be put on pgo (4k subscribers just in the google reader).
Not even deserves - is it worth it?
Do you expect a public apology or public hanging?

Anonymous said...

Lefty said: "As I said, if Dr. Stallman would like to assert his copyright over his emails, he's entirely welcome to send me a "cease and desist" letter."

Nobody is making a point about the copyright; just about privacy and the expected secrecy of correspondence.

Lefty said...

Feels like wanting to gather a mob.

Not at all. I believe I've been pretty even-handed about the whole thing, and have attempted to state the facts, without undue embellishment.

I'd be interested in someone explaining to me why it's on the one hand okay to "share" an mp3 of a copyrighted song with one's "neighbors", yet somehow not okay for me to similarly "share" Dr. Stallman's messages with my "neighbors". Dr. Stallman is clearly a public figure, and someone who has some significant influence within the free and open source software community. There's certainly nothing in there which is either of a private or personal nature.

I frankly suspect that the folks complaining about this are doing so out of a sense of outright embarrassment. I further suspect that if I had simply summarized the content of Dr. Stallman's email messages, folks would be jumping up and down, asking how they could know that he actually said such things.

There's no pleasing some people.

Lefty said...

Got to say I'm with Stallman on this. His routines aren't offensive and certainly aren't intended to offend.

Well, Tom, they were most certainly felt to be offensive by many, many folks here at the Desktop Summit.

abrander said...

Relax. Go home, drink a beer. Stop publishing private emails.

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, man!!!

Let it GO.

You starting to make a fool of yourself.

Anonymous said...

I found this post utterly ridiculous, and the fact that you drag the GNOME advisory board into it even worse. Stallman regulary does the same at most of his talks, it's meant to be good fun and he is completely within his right to do so. Furthermore, I have yet to see a woman offended by it, and I have seen quite a few of them present at his talks.

idaho said...

Dear Mr. David Schlesinger (aka "Lefty"):
Please, stop embarrasing yourself.

Best Regards.

Hannes said...

Just wanted to say that I am glad you brought it up. I was not there, but if anyone got offended (and you claim there were many) then I think it is worth to discuss.

If RMS was any kind of decent person he could at least have apologized. He is well in is right to still believe that he has said nothing wrong. But a "sorry to offend you, that was not how it was meant to be interpreted" would almost instantly have made him look less like an insensitive bastard. At least then it is a question of poor jokes, and not of being sexist.

What I am most shocked about is actually the huge number of RMS "supporters" writing here. The comments displayed here if anything shows that there are sexist tendencies in this community that frankly needs to go away.

You have to be really strong, regardless of gender, to stand up and say "I was actually offended" when a whole bunch of people, who were not targeted by the "joke" in the first place, are telling you to just "take a joke".

Lefty said...

Dear Mr. Idaho:

Thank you for your concern, but I'm entirely capable of making my own decision about such things.

Sincerely,

David "Lefty" Schlesinger

Anonymous said...

You may have felt offended, you may have wanted to complain to RMS, but you are wrong to publish this conversation online.

It is obvious that you are attempting to devaluate Stallman's public image because your ego feels hurt that he did not reply to your moral indignation as you wanted him to.

In actual fact you only demonstrated that you're a prick.

Just O Bare said...

Offended or not. Publishing emails like this is not right. Two wrongs do not make a right.

Tom said...

Boohaha, I'm a christian and I don't get jokes!

Boohaha, freedom of speech, who cares?

Boohaha, privacy, who cares?

Boohaha, I speak for women, cause they can't!

Please stop. It is getting pathetic. Your value system has bugs, fix it.

Paul said...

I was at the talk Saturday, and I was offended. I was at a different conference a month ago, talking to the organizer, where we had 50% attendance from women, and we talked about women in open source.

RMS's comments, tone, and "jokes" were out of place and have no business being in a presentation.

I hadn't met Lefty before this conference, and Lefty - thank you for posting this, I think this is an important topic, and I absolutely agree with you.

Blue Lightning said...

I was not at GCDS, nor do I in any way consider myself religious, but having read your posts (and others) regarding Dr. Stallman's talk I have to say I agree with calling him out on his comments. The fact that a number of people clearly *were* offended means that it was offensive in the context that it was delivered. Publishing the emails may be slightly questionable but to my mind it is besides the point.

Dr. Stallman's behaviour confuses me. If he truly wishes to spread the free software message further, perhaps he might consider whether or not the material such as what we are discussing here actually helps in that direction. Personally, even if it was intended to be a joke, I'm not sure that it does.

Sean Tilley said...

David, don't let these people get you down. I, for one, am totally with you on this issue. As someone who is technically gay (a complicated issue that can be understood on my blog), I deal with lots of persecution on a daily basis. And while I understand these peoples' arguements about "Hey, let women stick up for themselves!", the fact of the matter is THEY WEREN'T THERE.

Honestly, most of the commentors today are acting like absolute children. They mix their own "Moral Absolutism" (OH MY GODS, HE PUBLISHED AN EMAIL?!) with a philosophy of "Chill the f*ck out".

I'm glad you stood up against something that was clearly out of line. Even if Stallman "didn't mean it that way.", I could sit in front of a tech conference dressed as a black slave and talk about how "the white massa Microsoft" was trying to whip and control the Linux community. It would be tasteless, wrong, and would offend people, regardless of my intended message.

Bottom line: Stallman doesn't just owe YOU an apology, he owes every female member of the world an apology.

Katie said...

So much to say, where to begin?

As a woman (lightly) involved with open source/free software, I was disturbed by Richard's "joke" a few years ago when I attended one of his talks, where he also specifically referred to EMACS Virgins as being women specifically.

Being one of only a handful of women in an audience at a male-dominated talk amplifies the awkwardness when such sexual jokes are made, especially when you don't know many people there.

I'm not a complainer by nature, so I never bothered to complain about his behavior. I've just made it a point to avoid his talks in the future (which, afaiu, is the exact same talk anyway).

With regards to South Park, that show is a great example of insensitive jokes that are meant to offend. Not everyone is into that kind of comedy, thus making it completely inappropriate at conferences where the speaker does not know the audience well enough to judge their comedic tolerances.

One of the things that defines great speakers is the ability to adjust their talk to fit the audience they are delivering it to.

Richard Stallman clearly did not know his audience well enough to deliver his EMACS Virgins "joke" because clearly many people did not get it and/or were offended.

Being that Richard Stallman is supposed to be a leader of Free Software, it makes it doubly important for him to provide a good example for other speakers to avoid insensitive jokes (or images as with the Ruby conference earlier this year) that may offend portions of their audience.

Thank you, David, for bringing this to the community's attention.

Hopefully this will help make people aware that they need to try and be more empathetic to their audience and tailor their jokes accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Due to all the negative voices in this I wanted to pipe in and say "Good Job".

I find this parallel to the problems that happened at a recent Ruby conference and find it sad how few people understand the importance of being friendly and open especially one which cause is or is trying to be mainstream. You have people of different backgrounds. Which is more important to communicate effectively the technical ideas or to ostracize and claim its other peoples fault? The purpose of communication is not to just speak but to be understood, so the fault in bad communication lies predominately with the presenter and is the only person you have control over.

This is a public conversation that needs to happen and I think sharing the result of a query is important so we get some clue as to whats going on.

Publishing private emails is a sticky issue.

A person speaking in private might give a different voice than what they speak in public, not because their argument is different but because there are unknowns in how people will take things. On the other hand, it doesn't seem like RMS cares about his tone all that much.

If instead these emails were just summarized, people would complain about whether RMS's opinion was properly conveyed.

zanko said...

>Well, Tom, they were most certainly felt >to be offensive by many, many folks here >at the Desktop Summit.

But that's the fault of Stallman if these people don't understant irony. They are the ones to blame for lacking such a basic sense of humor.

Stallman may be a bit rude, but I don't think he is sexist. He is even propably an advocate of female cause, given the number of subjects on which he is more or less engaged (just look at his personnal webpage : from ecology to freedom of speech and other things, this guy is progressist on nearly all political issues - which is great -, so don't bother him because you fail to understand what he said).

Danny said...

Well, I generally dislike RMS 'cause he tends to come across as a pompous asshole, which he probably is. I generally don't reply to silly blog posts by random open source guys so this is fairly new to me.

But! everything about this whole thing being blown out of proportion just goes to show what is wrong with the world today. We're turning into a bunch of can't-fend-for-ourselves can't-stand-other-peoples'-believes not-in-my-backyard bunch of whiners.

It's besides the question whether or not you found his jokes or remarks out of line. Good for you if you think they were, don't go to his next speech. If it's indeed true that a shitload of people actually agreed with you and they draw the same conclusion and stop going to see him speech as well, he'll stop acting like that soon enough. However, since he's been at it for quite some time, I think he has an audience that appreciates it. Sucks for you if you don't agree, but doesn't mean he owes you, or anyone an apology.

Anonymous said...

It's like trying to get a straight answer (or any answer at all) out of Roy Schestowitz.

Ian said...

Thanks for publishing this conversation, Lefty. The question I want answered is, is RMS completely oblivious to the harm he does, or is he just indifferent to it? The debate goes on.

Anonymous said...

Q: Why did the woman cross the road?
A: Who cares? What was she doing out of the kitchen?!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sending the mail and letting us know what he replied, Lefty.

David Schleef said...

As a GNOME Advisory Board member, you are in the position to advise GNOME and the conference organizers to not invite him back until he learns to communicate better with his audience and not be offensive. This would be a basic requirement for a non-celebrity presenter.

Cody Russell said...

I think it's great to increase awareness of this side of RMS. I was at his talk at the Summit, and I was not happy with most aspects of it. This was the first time I had ever seen RMS speak, and I have to say that if nothing else it's quite disappointing (if not outright disturbing) to see him being paid to go around and act like this.

Fanboys defend him all you like, but I think it's great that Lefty is getting this out there. I'd like this to be the last time RMS is invited to speak at a Desktop Summit. If he's going to sit around and talk about relieving women of their "emacs virginity" and talking about why we shouldn't use certain technologies after he has just admitted that he knows nothing about them.. he's just not doing anything for us. Why is he being paid to stand up there and act like a jackass?

I think we've all just out-grown RMS, as people and as a community. He did good stuff for us back in the day, but we've got new and more effective leaders now.

Ian said...

"[...] and I have to say that if nothing else it's quite disappointing (if not outright disturbing) to see him being paid to go around and act like this."

Exactly. Paying him to offend your community - not with on-topic, technical discussions - but with ignorance and tangental humor? Ridiculous.

sn0n said...

you should watch some Josh Blue.. funny comedian.. pure comedy.. ;-)

Lefty said...

They are the ones to blame for lacking such a basic sense of humor.

That's absurd, zanko. This is a conference, not a comedy club, and the folks who sponsor it aren't paying to have someone come in to be offensive and off-topic.

"Saint IGNUcious", and Stallman's "sense of humor" (soi disant), have nothing to do with free software. He should pay his own way to a bar with an open mike if he's dying to be the next George Carlin (although he'll definitely need much better material).

Lefty said...

As a GNOME Advisory Board member, you are in the position to advise GNOME and the conference organizers to not invite him back until he learns to communicate better with his audience and not be offensive. This would be a basic requirement for a non-celebrity presenter.

I've done exactly that, David. It seems fairly certain that he won't be invited to participate again in the future, and that's just fine with me.

Adhemar said...

We should not discriminate people because of their religion, their sex, their sexual preference, their nationality, their height, whether they have a significant other (or more than one) and a kid (or more than one), the intensity of their dreams (unless free software-related, maybe), and a whole bunch of other traits. We should not do that, and that’s a good thing. I don’t see anybody here (= in these comments) arguing otherwise. No sexist tendencies here, luckily.

Lefty and others would go a big step further: if they would have it their way, joking about stereotypes, particularities of religions, etc. should be banned as well. I am not at the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit, so I only know about the “incident” from what I read on the planets. But I have seen and heard Richard Stallman saying similar things before. I must confess taking his side in this argument. I get the joke. I get it’s a joke. I get it’s meant as a joke and not meant to offend. I admit: the joke isn’t particularly funny. But if we ban this, we must ban the funny ones as well. And eliminating the humour from life is not a good thing. The political correctness tendency that tries to do so, scares me.

Frankly I find it sexist that you think women are so fragile that you need to filter what they hear in case they are offended.

Adam makes an excellent argument. Claiming that women must be offended by Stallman’s remarks, amounts to proclaiming that women are so fragile that jokes will harm them. This all-women-are-vulnerable-attitude is prejudiced, and definitely more sexist than Stallman’s joke.

What I am most shocked about is actually the huge number of RMS "supporters" writing here. The comments displayed here if anything shows that there are sexist tendencies in this community that frankly needs to go away.

Hannes’ remark freightens me even more. What Hannes is preaching, is not only political correctness, but political meta-correctness. If Hannes has it his way, not only should we not joke and ban joking, but we also should ban defending the very concept of humour!

In Hannes’ view, the fact that the free software community is not unanimously outraged about Stallmans joke is an indication of “sexist tendencies” in the community. By that logic, the fact that the world is not unanimously outraged about South Park, is proof that human society is doomed.

Adhemar said...

This is a conference, not a comedy club, and the folks who sponsor it aren't paying to have someone come in to be offensive

I find this an interesting point, perhaps the best argument in the whole discussion.

But I remain unconvinced. I even find the logic dangerous. If risqué humour is only acceptable to audiences who have paid (or have at least especially turned up) to hear risqué humour (but not in public), then talking about free software would only be acceptable to audiences who have especially gathered to hear about free software. The talks at the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit would still be OK, but all other evangelising would be unacceptable.

By that logic, talking politics would also be only acceptable to audiences interested in politics (thus not in public) and praying would only be permissible in church/temple/mosque (but not in public, or at a free software conference).

Ian said...

"I get the joke. I get it’s a joke. I get it’s meant as a joke and not meant to offend. I admit: the joke isn’t particularly funny."

No, this really misses the point. Intent matters, but so do results.

People were *actually* offended here, whether RMS *intended* it or not. And yet his response shows no concern that he actually offended anyone. Why should he be invited back, given that he's not concerned with offense he caused? That is the issue.

Anonymous said...

Are people really offended about the publishing of the emails, or are they just offended that these emails show RMS's character to be what it is?

Cody Russell said...

"By that logic, talking politics would also be only acceptable to audiences interested in politics (thus not in public) and praying would only be permissible in church/temple/mosque (but not in public, or at a free software conference)."

But this isn't just some guy in the halls at a software conference talking about politics or something else that's not on the topic of free software. If there's a guy in the hall saying things of very questionable humor that might be offensive, it's annoying but you're much less likely to feel any obligation to sit there and listen to him be a dick than if it's Richard Fucking Stallman standing in front of a large audience doing this. We're talking about a very well-respected guy who was invited, because of his reputation and experiences in creating the free software movement, to come speak at a free software conference. You would expect under those circumstances that he would behave professionally and talk about the subject that is the common interest between him and the audience. And he did--but for less than half the time he was actually standing there.

So don't sit here and tell us that we're trying to oppress someone's free speech because we can't take a joke or something. We and the companies some of us work for (by way of registration fees), the GNOME Foundation, and whatever KDE's equivalent foundation is all -paid- for him to come out and speak, so I think we have a right to complain if we feel that we didn't get our money's worth. He offended people (whether he meant to or not), and he was clearly not very well informed on one of the controversial discussions that actually was related to free software.

Anonymous said...

Lefty utterly transparent here.

Stallman speaks of the risks of the Mono risks and a week later this Monosoft sycophant resorts to attacking the messenger.

andre said...

I attended that RMS talk, and I was offended by it, and I'm with Lefty here. And I"m a bit bored by people commenting here telling me what to think or not. If I was offended by it I was offended by it. Fullstop.

- andre klapper

Adhemar said...

You would expect (…) that he would behave professionally and talk about the subject that is the common interest between him and the audience. And he did--but for less than half the time he was actually standing there.

Fair enough. I agree completely.

However, the issue Lefty complained about (Stallman telling the joke) is a very different issue than the one you complain about (Stallman not speaking on topic about free software-related stuff during more than half of his invited talk).

Your criticism has to do with the length of the joke; Lefty’s with the content.

Your criticism is actually a very good reason not to invite Stallman again. He didn’t do what he was asked and paid to do.

Ian said...

"Your criticism has to do with the length of the joke; Lefty’s with the content."

Do you suffer from some kind of myopia?

If you invite me to dinner with your parents and I spend part of the evening calling your mother, in well meaning jest, a two bit whore, and then refuse to acknowledge your being offended, you would feel perfectly fair in not inviting me back.

And that's precisely what Lefty's post establishes. He notified RMS that his talk offended many attendees, RMS showed it was no concern of his, and Lefty's recommending RMS not be invited back to speak based on this.

Utterly reasonable.

Anonymous said...

Grow up dude and get a life. Emails whether or not just shows your own immaturity to post. But just shows the type of character you have.

How do we even know you didn't edit his responses with your own? Quit trying to read between the lines and twist his words around to what you want to hear.

People have the right to criticise any religion they choose to. They is there own opinions. If you want to where you can't voice your own opinions. Go live in the middle east. Where you can get killed or imprisoned for saying bad things about religion. Respect people's opinions and their privacy and show your own ignorance by plastering emails.

Anonymous said...

Mmm, lots of fuss.

a. Emails .. my amateur understanding of the Law (in this country) is that any publication (in this case, email) is by default the copyright of the author. Intentional re-production and publication of copyright material is an offense and I understand a mother of 4 just for fined a couple of million $'s for doing just that with 24 music tracks. I suspect RMS wouldn't stoop to engaging lawyers, but if he did my guess is that he'd nail you to the wall.

b. I wasn't there, but I'm assuming that anyone could have stood up and left at any point. People who were REALLY offended would surely have done so .. and I would've thought 100 people doing this would've conveyed the message to RMS. Given this didn't happen (?), either those concerned weren't THAT offended, or had no backbone. Either way, I don't see complaining after the fact is either useful or anything other character assassination. And of course people not leaving conveys the message to him that what he's saying isn't "THAT" offensive.

c. I'm guessing he was invited to speak by someone .. and this "joke" isn't new .. so whoever invited him will have know the content (roughly) prior to inviting him .. I don't see the organizers being mentioned here?

d. Those people who commented they'd heard the joke before .. and still come back to hear him talk again .. even tho' they'd been offended previously .. seriously ?!?!

Our freedom's have been eroded to the point where we don't really have that many left .. and even then we still seem still to have people trying to tell us what it is we can and can't say, or in this case, what RMS can or can't say.

There are natural barriers to people behaving badly, in this case the barriers don't seem to indicate that what was said was THAT offensive. (caveat; I've never heard him talk or even met him..)

However, it is a fact that Women do not (in general) seem to have either much interest in or an aptitude for computing / computer programming, and given women often laugh at my many sterotypical qualities, I'm generally not offended by the concept of a little good-natured payback .. I mean .. it's not like he commented on their driving or anything .. ;-)

Just to re-iterate , whereas the "woman driver" thing is generally "myth", there really aren't many female programmers about, and the ones I've met, by and large, aren't really "into it". (although I'm sure there are some women out there who are, it's a pretty reliable generalization)

It's also a fact that there are people out there (somewhere) who think EMACS is wonderful whereas the majority of us think it's unusable crap .. hence I can see where the joke is coming from.

To be honest, anyone hearing "EMACS" in a "line" should probably assume a joke is coming .. or indeed at the point of hearing "EMACS" that it's come. (look, that's me exercising my right to express an opinion, while I still can)

Anyway, offending people is not good. When offended, it would be right to do something at the time with a view to mitigating the offense suffered and indeed to obtaining an apology if deemed appropriate.

However, to continue to suffer the offense at the time and only later decide to take action .. did you only then discover how offended you were?

One poster here calls you a "prick", I think this is a little harsh and indeed quite offensive .. personally I would have gone with "exhibition of poor judgement".

It does make me wonder now what sort of people sit on the "GNOME Foundation Advisory Board" ... (!)

Walther said...

Well done Lefty. I have felt awkward at one of his talks. After having been a christian for a number of years you get a thick skin, so I didn't complain to him about it at the time.

Let's hope he learns from this. He's got some good things to say and I think they'll come across better if he takes these comments to heart.

mojo said...

It IS very rude of you, RMS. Publishing private email without mutual consent could be considered as crime. I really think the one who has issue is you, RMS. It's a joke and people don't take joke seriously. Nevertheless, I find you so offensive with Dr.Stallman, I think you should give an apology to him.

Lefty said...

my amateur understanding of the Law (in this country) is that any publication (in this case, email) is by default the copyright of the author....

Yes, your understanding is amateurish at best.

I completely agree that I've violated Stallman's copyright by posting these emails. That's just tough. Write your Congressman, or call the cops if you like. If Stallman wants to send me a proper DCMA "takedown notice", he's quite welcome to.

But since these emails clearly have absolutely no commercial value whatsoever, there's no way that he could collect so much as a counterfeit nickel in damages.

Again, I'm very interested in understanding how it's somehow just fine to take a Metallica album, turn it into MP3s, throw 'em all into BitTorrent and "share them with your neighbor"--a sort of activity which I believe Stallman supports--but it's somehow a serious problem for me to share emails (containing neither private nor personal information) with my neighbor.

You can't have it both ways, sorry. If you think I'm wrong to post emails, then you must also think it's wrong to give away copyrighted music, right...? And unlike these emails, those songs do (arguably, anyway, I'm not much of a Metallica fan) have commercial value.

Lefty said...

Publishing private email without mutual consent could be considered as crime.

There's no substitute for actually having some idea of what you're talking about. Too bad you don't.

Lefty said...

How do we even know you didn't edit his responses with your own?

You could write him and ask, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

People get offended at the smallest of things these days. Is RMS really that horrible of a person? He doesn't deal drugs or steal from people or kill anyone...ok maybe he hurts a few feelings.. but still he's a decent human being, give the man a break.

If he has done this act many times, I can see why he wouldn't understand why it would be raising issues this time around. I think this crap should just be removed, and let people get back to flaming about stuff like mono or whatever is next in line, instead of writing a desktop environment that can compete with the big boys.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious. Political correctness all the way. It's okay to mock church, but it's not okay to make a parody of it if that involves "women". Of course RMS should have said "Virgin men and women alike, nevermind that it's just stupid".

Anonymous said...

"...a lawyer with the Software Freedom Law Center; this person saw no problem with my publishing Stallman's responses."

You mean he told you all that stuff like Stallman won't be able to sue and whatnot? Or he said it would be "ethical" or something?

For example: you are a moron. Is it okay that I said it? I say it is. If you disagree, call the president. Or Virgin Mary for that matter.

Lefty said...

You mean he told you all that stuff like Stallman won't be able to sue and whatnot? Or he said it would be "ethical" or something?

No, it was suggested that I provide a summary of my issues directly to Stallman, and share the response I got. Which I've done.

For example: you are a moron. Is it okay that I said it? I say it is. If you disagree, call the president. Or Virgin Mary for that matter.

Oh, I always say, "If an idiot calls you 'a moron', what's that prove?"

Lefty said...

It's okay to mock church, but it's not okay to make a parody of it if that involves "women".

I think you need to work on your reading comprehension. I was pretty clear that I don't really think either of those things are "okay" in the context of a keynote at a technical conference.

Anonymous said...

I find it very sexist for a man to take the initiative to fight for woman rights. On the other hand you might argue that the lack of a public female reaction clearly shows the need of a strong man to protect the weak...

Lefty said...

I find it very sexist for a man to take the initiative to fight for woman rights. On the other hand you might argue that the lack of a public female reaction clearly shows the need of a strong man to protect the weak...

I'm not "fighting for woman [sic] rights" so much as pointing out totally inappropriate behavior. And you might want to actually read some of the other comments, where women who were actually at this conference are agreeing that RMS' behavior was inappropriate.

But really, this is just another dodge on the part of folks who can't bear to see someone calling a spade a spade here.

If someone is making racist comments, you don't need to stand around waiting for someone of the particular race being abused to show up and say that such comments are wrong. The same applies here.

Lefty said...

Is RMS really that horrible of a person? He doesn't deal drugs or steal from people or kill anyone...

So, the position you're staking out is that, short of dealing drugs or killing anyone, I can do anything I like and no one's entitled to complain...?

Or does that only apply to Stallman?

Lefty said...

If Hannes has it his way, not only should we not joke and ban joking, but we also should ban defending the very concept of humour!

This is nonsensical. I, and most of the people I know who make presentations with some regularity, use humor all the time. We attempt, however, to avoid "humor" which is calculated to offend--i.e. jokes at the expense of minorities, or ethnicities, or religions, or one specific gender--and if we do learn that we've offended someone, we attempt to understand why, we apologize, and we endeavor to do better in the future.

Stallman, in contrast, makes no effort whatsoever to understand what the issue is, indulges in transparent self-justification, takes offense himself at the notion that anyone might be offended, and flat-out refuses to apologize.

Melissa said...

I believe that it is a tribute to Lefty's character that he understands that everyone including himself is responsible for behaviour like this existing.

Richard Stallman is responsible for his behaviour, but You, I, Lefty and every damned reader of this blog is responsible for the continuation of it if we choose to let it slide. Lefty has decided he is not going to let it slide, and I damn well salute his courage.

Without people from all genders speaking out against sexualised and sexist behaviours in professional settings, arguments against it will only ever be attributed to a woman's emotions (which is sexist), or to a man's bravado (which is equally sexist).

Just as women should not feel forced to tolerate sexualised or sexist behaviours for fear of failing, men should not have to feel that they must tolerate the same behaviours for fear of emasculation. To emasculate a man for speaking against such behaviours is just as sexist as objectifying a woman.

Lefty said...

Btw, I am pretty sure you only got positive response regarding your concerns during the converence because of people's politeness...

Are you, now?

Do you have these delusions that you possess psychic abilities with any frequency...?

Adhemar said...

This is nonsensical. I, and most of the people I know who make presentations with some regularity, use humor all the time. We attempt, however, to avoid "humor" which is calculated to offend--i.e. jokes at the expense of minorities, or ethnicities, or religions, or one specific gender

Hannes didn’t express shock about the risqué humour; he expressed shock about the fact that there are people defending Stallmans humour. If he has it his way, he really wants us to not defend the very concept of risqué humour!

Stallman never calculated his humour to offend; I think we established that.

Some of the world’s very best jokes (and Stallman’s is not among them) are “at the expense” of minorities, or ethnicities, or religions, or one specific gender, or people with disabilities, or people with certain political views, or people in general. Or about people with other traits. Or you. Or me. The fact that not everybody gets them, or finds them funny, is really not a good reason to ban them. Chances are that somewhere some people find your humour not very funny too.

If we do learn that we've offended someone, we attempt to understand why, and we endeavor to do better in the future.

If I were to express being offended by Hannes, when he said that defending Stallman on this issue amounts to having sexist tendencies… (I suppose that Hannes actually meant that, I don’t think it was a joke) would that mean that Hannes should now be banned from saying this (and that is what he feels) on this forum? Of course not.

I believe that it is a tribute to Lefty's character that he understands that everyone including himself is responsible for behaviour

I would agree with that if we were talking about actual inappropriate behaviour — such as actually discriminating women or men, homosexuals or heterosexuals, or other minorities or majorities. Everybody should stand up against that.

There are also people here standing up against Lefty’s publication of private emails. In this case, I don’t think Lefty did something unethical, although it’s border line. In any case, even Lefty admits it’s a violation of copyright law. If I had to choose between the two actions (the joke and the e-mail publication) and choose which is the most unethical and therefor the one to stand up against, it definitely would be the e-mail publication.

Anonymous said...

>Yes, your understanding is amateurish at best.

Mmm, perhaps a crude comparison with regards to the RIAA case (I was trying to dumb it down for you as it appears you don't "get it") but the point still stands. Irrespective of your view or advice, in absolute terms it does rather appear that you have broken the law (based on what you've said) - whether or not the those with the power choose to enforce the law or not and whether they are able to effectively enforce the law, isn't really relevant.

The fact that you sit on such an esteemed body and are happy to behave in this way is .. a little concerning.

Other than to belittle my understanding of the law (which is based on 25 years in the industry and many hours in court) I notice you don't take issue with the REAL points I made ...

Just to add one more point, it doesn't appear that RMS has broken the law by saying what he did, yet it appears that you have knowingly (as you appear to understand the issues and have taken advice) done so in response. So, who exactly do you think is in the "wrong" ??

It seems your viewpoint is that it's not Ok to say what you think, but it is Ok to break the law (as long as you can get away with it) ??

Commercial damage isn't the only consideration with regards to compensation, consider the laws of liable and defamation where awards are made without any implication of commercial loss.

Take a look at the site for harveyingram.com (just for example), in particular the page about Reputation management, Defamation and Privacy.

Anonymous said...

>he expressed shock about the fact that there are people defending Stallmans humour.

Really?

I thought people were defending his right to free speech?

White people can't make black jokes, Christians can't make Muslims jokes, men can't make "women" jokes .. where's it going to stop?

If someone offends you, leave the hall, turn off the telly, wear ear plugs, but don't sit there and take it, then bitch later !

Anonymous said...

Lefty,
I have a couple of questions.

1. Was you actually surprised that RMS made an irrelevant talk with lame jokes, given that it's the same talk every time? Did you know his talk was planned? Why did you not raise the objections before the talk?

2. Do you think pursuing a good goal justifies questionable things like publishing private email and offending folks in comments that disagree with you? Words like "delusions" or "no idea what you're talking about" are outright offensive.

davidecr said...

it was a JOKE!!!, I wasn't there, but even funny in your explanation.

& is totally rude to publish private emails... I think you were trying to make it public to put him in an awkward situation, but doing that, just left you in a very bad position.

Ratna said...

What is the whole point of this fuss? That you are politically correct? Or, do you expect from somebody who has done so much for the freedom to be a saint? Or do you have any sense of humour? Or, do you think because you are a member of the Gnome team you must speak for women? If you are nitpicking about politeness, how about learning not to publish personal communications without the permission of the other party?

You, not RMS, has embarrased the software community.

BAz said...

Well done sir. You should be applauded, cheered, patted on the back, promoted, and have drinks bought for you.

You took the easy inference, and harvested the low hanging fruit of effortless morality and now enjoy the plaudits lavished upon you by your equally validation-starved brethren.

How dare he make a joke that you choose not to interpret correctly, let alone find funny. Doesn't he realize we are men of science?

Tom said...

By publishing private conversations you loose integrity.

And integrity is a tricky beast.
If you don't have it people won't tell you. Better be careful.

PS. And I am not talking about file sharing. Your standard excuse.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous: I guess it's because the first time is either the only one (seeing RMS eat his nose droppings too, but that's another issue, especially when speaking about "logiciel pwiwateuh ;))" or a clear sign of lack of judgement.
when you go see RMS at a conference, you expect him, 26 years after THE day, to be at least not that clueless). If he wants to give a one-man show that never evolved in nearly 3 decades, he has the right to; BUT the very fact that he is invited to a TECH conference should give him at least an hint on the seriousness he's expected to carry. Blatantly coming like a bug, announcing he will talk about "Free Software" and deal his crap St-IGNUcius shitload, may have made his fellow MIT hairly-curly printer engineers 2 decades ago, it's not even remotely relevant now.
So to summarize: he's invited, paid and fed, by a community he founded and funded, by a community he keeps giving lessons of political and moralo-ethical behaviour to, and to meet the terms of this friendly and respectful invitation, he's rude, he's late on schedule (same thing last year in LSM), forcing the staff to change any other schedule, and he gives the same crapload of old, ancient humour that may have lasted at best one hour in the book of funny things. In my native language, we call that "connard". Jackass, parasite.
I can't imagine how many here lurk for any occasion to praise their God of Anti-Conservatism (and Nose Dropping Diner :))
So yes, maybe Lefty knew, but everyone's got the right to hope that someone she respects enough to pay for, to be a human being from time to time.
Last but not least: if anyone here seriously thinks, this man is still relevant about Free Software, please refrain from now on on talking about it, just go trapeze in a circus.

Anonymous said...

Richard stallman seems to be quite right. Virgin EMAC is correct. I met one woman among the few thousands I have known who understands technology. The rest play solitaire. Some even need help starting it or even finding it.

Adhemar said...

Richard stallman seems to be quite right. (…)I met one woman among the few thousands I have known who understands technology. The rest play solitaire. Some even need help starting it or even finding it.

I know men who only use computers to play solitaire as well. That’s no reason to generalise their use of technology to their entire gender.

If you must sexist views (anonymously), please do not falsely attribute them to Stallman.

Anonymous said...

Some years ago, Lefty was threatening to sue members of an Anthroposophical mailing list who published his private emails. Lefty was asking $5,000 per email as damages. It was quite a kerfluffle. Here it is, somehow preserved:

http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/archives/WCA9904.1.html

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous: the pb with you guys, is that you can't stand someone touch RMS. So as soon as someone state the obvious (he's a dirty man, who eats whatever insect crawls in his hair, he's antipathetic, he's rude, he's kinda selfish -- funny for someone that self-righteous -- he's a parasite, and he can't admit any wrongdoing -- color me convinced that he's become the very fraud he would tell us to despise), you just go dig on the OP for something not relevant here.
You just can't answer this simple question: what in the last ten years has RMS done worth a dime, worth you lose your credibility defending him like he's flawless (funny for someone who would tell you to despise religious bigotry) while he behaves like a jackass ?

Sylvain said...

@regala
Beware of your language ! SV is watching you ...

Lefty said...

Some years ago, Lefty was threatening to sue members of an Anthroposophical mailing list who published his private emails. Lefty was asking $5,000 per email as damages.

It was a publication fee, not "damages", and it was instituted after the moderator of the mailing list in question had been sent, and had ignored, numerous "cease and desist" notices. This was done at the request of the members of the mailing list which I ran, after many of their own postings--which _did_ contain information which was both private and personal--were reproduced without permission and over the explicit and repeated objections of their authors.

Worked, too. However, it's not especially relevant here. As I've said, Stallman is entirely welcome to send me a DMCA "takedown notice" if he cares to (which would have been a more efficient and effective remedy, had it been available in 1995)...

Anonymous said...

"RMS really that horrible of a person? […] but still he's a decent human being, give the man a break."

Definitely not. I've seen him being very rude with a woman who has a baby at a conference. He was a complete asshole with the wife of a ethousiast who invited him for the night. This woman don't want to see him anymore, never. I also remember him refusing to answer a (interessant) question about patents because the guy was not speaking a good english. He was so rude and did so bad joke about the accent of the participant that the guy was completely humiliated, standing with the microphone in the middle of the audience. In general, he admit to hate children and babies and it looks like he's very often rude with women.

I quitted the conference and never attended one of his talk anymore. All my friends agree with me. I've seen him once more in a hall and, guess what, he was not gently at all to walk in the crowd.

This guy acts like a complete jerk when in public (I don't know him privately). Before I saw him for the first time, I wouldn't believe what friends were telling me. But, indeed, this guy deserve no respect at all, at least not anymore.

Anonymous said...

Women are stupids in computers by nature.

Anonymous said...

Not sexist at all. "Emac virgins" is a pun against the christian story about Virgin Mary that happens to be female. RMS explains this in both letters. Let me go one step further. It can be interpreted as a joke against the sexist christian view of virginity (there is no such thing as male virginity for christians).

And BTW, we have the right to make fun of religion (just as we have the right to make fun of the Flat Earth Society and people who believe that elephants can fly).

Anonymous said...

From: Michael Kopp (mkopp xtra.co.nz)
Subject: RE: Setting the Record Straight (Lefty)
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 16:39:41 +1200
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
In-Reply-To: (199903310922.BAA25572 lists1.best.com)

)Robert Tolz (RTolz TNSJ-LAW.COM) wrote )
)
)A week or so ago, I made a comment that I had never recalled anyone
)being dis-invited from this list by Dan.
)
)) I subsequently received private email from a former participant
))indicating that Dan had removed him from the list for filing a complaint
))with Dan's web host.
)
)It's no secret. When David Schlesinger (Lefty Redux) made repeated,
)serious attempts to shut down the list, he was reluctantly excluded. He
)also made repeated demands for tens of thousands of dollars from other
)list members for daring to re-post the nasty e-mails he would not stop
)sending privately to list members. I call these extortion threats.

Reminds me of what the fascist Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposphy apologist and
propagandist David Schlesinger, aka "Lefty" and "Lefty Redux", said when he
kicked me off the Waldorf list:

Just for the record, a check of the archives indicates that the first stone
is almost always cast by a Defender of the Faith. The archetype was the
fascist slime-slinger David "Lefty" Schlesinger, way back 3-1/2 years ago
in the first weeks of the list's existence.

The vilification of me and others by such Steiner/ Waldorf/
Anthroposophical mafiosi as the fascist "Waldorf List" owner David "Lefty"
Schlesinger (who was on this list until he was finally booted for going too
far) was really something to behold.

http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/archives/WCA9910.3.html

Anonymous said...

RMS Goes to the Zoo:

With a twinkle in his eye and a skip in his step, RMS slammed his sky-blue Chevette's rusted-out car door and turned on heel toward the MIT Zoo entrance. Today was a Sunday, and RMS had decided the daily stresses of Free Software, the GPL, and his crazy drug-smoking habits could go away for just one afternoon while he enjoyed the zoo.

"That'll be twenty-five dollars, sir," the lady at the admission booth said glumly. She looked at RMS expectantly.

"I was expecting this zoo to be Free," RMS stated loudly, eyes darting around to gauge onlookers' reactions. There were none: RMS's capital F had went unnoticed. "Can you ensure me that this money will not help fund –"

The admissions lady cut him off. "Twenty-five dollars, or twenty bucks with a Bawls can," the lady cut in.

With a grumble and shake of his beard, RMS handed over twenty five of his hard-earned dollars. Considering that the GPL works to unemploy programmers, one must wonder where this money came from.

By evening, RMS found himself in front of the penguin exhibit. He felt himself start to sweat, which would have been no surprise — his thick, full, grizzly beard was worth a thousand down comforters — except that he was wearing only a pair of nylon biking shorts and a travel pack around his waist. He stared at his hands. What was wrong?

"Awk" a nearby bird squawked. RMS wheeled in the direction the screech had come from. He was met with the steely, unfeeling stares of a penguin. "Awk! Ooooh God, the penguin said awk... Lord, lord lord, it's GNU/Linux. The penguin is Tux!!!" RMS blurted out. He felt dizzy, and cold sweat now washed over his brittle, hairy chest. He looked this way and that. From nearby a bird again squawked.

"Awk! Awk! Awwwwk!!!"

RMS ran as fast as his atrophied hippie-programmer legs could carry him, right through a gate and into an exhibit. He realized what he had done, and before he could turn around, he heard a low, ominous sound. Like the Devil's riding mower.

"Moooooooooooooooo!"

RMS gasped and darted his eyes around him as he stood deathly still.

"MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

RMS was standing in the Gnu section, and it seemed these bull yaks were in rut and ready to mate with the first hairy thing with a hole in its center they found. Bad luck for RMS and his beard. Just then he felt cloven hooves push him down, and the world became fuzzy. RMS blacked out and remembered no more.<

Anonymous said...

(there is no such thing as male virginity for christians).

Eh? Where on earth did you get that idea, it's utter rubbish and betrays complete ignorance on the subject.

Anonymous said...

looks like Lefty has a nasty history of his own with women?


"I’d save the ASCII totem for an occasion just prior to your court
)) )date, in the event that ever actually comes to pass: you’ll need all
)) )the good luck you can scrape together.
)) )
)) )–
)) )Lefty Redux [gYon-Pa] (lefty apple.com), (dns netcom.com)
)) )C:.M:.C:., D:.O:.D:.
))
)) I was utterly shocked by the vicious animosity of these messages. In all
)) honesty, I have find them to be quite intimidating. They have affected my
)) sleep and my appetite. I do not know to what lengths this man will go to
)) for retaliation. I hope that his anger is limited to email and I have not
)) exhibited foolish bravado in posting these. However, I will not participate
)) in his abuse by continuing to allow him to send me these types of messages
)) privately with the thought that his threats of extortion will keep me from
)) sharing. Every abuser needs to be drug into a public forum posthaste. It is
)) only in a public arena that this type of behavior can be halted.
))
)) I hope that others of you that have been subjected to this type of abuse
)) will ignore his threats and make his behavior public.
))
)) Kathy Sutphen"

quoted from here :

http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/archives/WCA9707.html

BAz said...

Is this going as well as you'd hoped Lefty?

Anonymous said...

Richard Stallman is a huge idiot. Everytime he opens his big mouth, it makes me embrace Windows more, or dream of somebody creating a better commercial OS than what Microsoft or Apple offer.

Lefty said...

Fair warning: I'm summarily deleting any further repostings of 10 year old, unrelated email messages.

Anonymous said...

Its extremely relevant, Lefty. And that you would delete it is troubling. You must really fear these troubling echoes of hypocrisy from your past? Please do not stoop that low, as I respect you and all you do for Gnome; and I would not want to lose that respect.

Lefty said...

I'm perfectly satisfied with things, thanks for asking. Given the level of desperation on display, more satisfied than the folks who disagree with me, certainly.

If the best response you can come up with is cherry-picking decade-old flame wars, that pretty much establishes that you don't have anything relevant to say.

Anonymous said...

RMS may have a dismissive attitude towards religion in general (or at least claim to have), but he reserves particular disdain for Catholicism. This is twice in less than two years that he's gone out of his way to insult his Catholic hosts.

Anonymous said...

Lefty your argument would have more clout if I didn't read a couple posts down how a troll on a mailing list ruined your vacation.
RMS made a fool of himself and instead of seeing how the whole performance was irrelevant and that RMS did try to make a albeit un funny joke, everyone is caught up in the gossip.
And if you wish to discuss sexism in the open source community, what about projects such ubuntu woman? Are woman not capable of using the plain vanilla ubuntu distribution? Just as slapping pink paint on a hammer or a drill does not make it anymore "Woman Friendly™" the same goes for computers, I find this offensive.

But your post has neither to do with computers or feminism now does it Lefty?

Anonymous said...

I think that you (Lefty) should realise that, from what I read, you offend a lot of people with this blog post and the following comments. If the standard procedure when offending someone is to apologise then you should too.

I'm not going to comment any more on the subject as things are already perfectly clear to me. I'm just going to give you an advice on (and to) the people who use offensive language purposely to offend.

"Don't argue with fools coz' people from a distance can't tell who is who"

theSamo said...

i think RMS is rather easily anticipated. you guys shouldn't have invited him if you don't want comedy. (yea yea, its not comedy for you. you're "offended")

it's really sad that the mono (anti-freetard) group had sunk to the level of PR warfare against FLOSS icons. Most p.g.o members seem to have considerably different (read: corporate) ethos than the userbase.

also where can i get the keynote video/audio/text whatever?

Janvl said...

Did you ever hear jokes about being blind told by blind people? They are what you would call denigrating.
Did you ever hear jokes told by monks on religion? You would not dare tell these in public.
Did you ever hear feminists tell jokes on women? You wouldn't dream off telling your wife.

So let us leave it for what it is, other people can defend themselves, thinking they cannot is a flaw in your character.

Anonymous said...

Meh, it was a bad joke. I don't think it was sexist just slightly stupid thinking on RMS's behalf. People take things way to seriously these days. Lighten up a little....

abrander said...

I think that you (Lefty) should realise that, from what I read, you offend a lot of people with this blog post and the following comments. If the standard procedure when offending someone is to apologise then you should too.

I was thinking exactly the same.

Anonymous said...

> As I said, if Dr. Stallman would like to assert his copyright over his emails, he's entirely welcome to send me a "cease and desist" letter.

You're wrong! Copyright is totally irrelevant here. How could you deal with free software and copyleft issues if you even don't see a difference between intellectual property and privacy?!

Lefty said...

I think that you (Lefty) should realise that, from what I read, you offend a lot of people with this blog post and the following comments. If the standard procedure when offending someone is to apologise then you should too.

Try and see whether you can discern what the distinctions are between an individual posting on his own blog, and a (supposed) "leader of the Free Software movement" giving a keynote address, on the organizers' dime, at one of the most important conferences the community holds.

Take all the time you need. But don't hold your breath waiting for an apology. Especially when you're posting anonymously.

Anonymous said...

My capability to abstract is not good enough to see why it's okay to offend at one location and not the other. I had hoped you could help me with that one.

Thank you.

You have my IP that's more unique to me than my name.

My name is Samuel if you're really interested.

Harsha said...

Dear Mr. Lefty

Did you by chance had flunked in Biology/chemistry subject in your school?

I request you to realize nature better than computers :)

Cheers!!
Harsha

Lefty said...

People take things way to seriously these days. Lighten up a little...

You first.

Lefty said...

I had hoped you could help me with that one.

If you can't see the difference, then no, I doubt I can help you.

Anonymous said...

You guys need to grow up!
Both the speech and the response are fine.

Anyone trying to make him look bad based on this is just spreading FUD.

Score one for freedom of speech.
Lose one for the sad people who chose to see evil where there is none.

Anonymous said...

I for one is laughing my pale ass off.

Who the fuck cares what RMS says or means. Move on. Be happy.

Anonymous said...

To the author: Why do you think you are so entitled as a woman and a Christian? Are those 2 groups some how protected from being offended?

Get over your self, there are 7 billion of us, you are not a special flower. No. One. Cares.

Move on with your day. Stop listening to Richard. Tell people not to go to his shows, spread your own word.

But Demand an Apology? Get serious, he doesn't owe you a damn thing.

[for the record, i've seen the St Iguseasus sketch and I found it hilarious, so put that in your pipe and smoke it]

John said...

There's such a thing as being overly politically correct. Who exactly are you trying to garner favor with by posting your white-knight emails? being big brother or the guardian of "proper comedic value" sometimes comes off as more than a little overbearing. BLEH, let it slide, and de-stress a little bit. just because someone once made an off-taste joke doesn't mean that that set of words defines who they are. ugh.

Aaron said...

This is pathetic. It's like attending a Chris Rock show and complaining that he made fun of white people. Oh yea, and publishing a private email conversation...that's rude.

Lefty said...

Mmm, perhaps a crude comparison with regards to the RIAA case (I was trying to dumb it down for you as it appears you don't "get it") but the point still stands.

Impossible, there wasn't a point in there to begin with. And that comparison wasn't "crude", it was "pointless and inapplicable".

...in absolute terms it does rather appear that you have broken the law...

Indeed, at least in some extremely abstract sense. For the record,I've also jay-walked, exceeded the speed limit, and returned library books late. It would seem that you, in contrast, have never failed to completely and fully observe every law on the books, is that right?

The fact that you sit on such an esteemed body and are happy to behave in this way is .. a little concerning.

I'd write the President of the Internet, right away.

Other than to belittle my understanding of the law (which is based on 25 years in the industry and many hours in court) I notice you don't take issue with the REAL points I made...

It was quite a long comment, but surprisingly point-free. As for your "understanding of the law"...

Commercial damage isn't the only consideration with regards to compensation, consider the laws of liable and defamation where awards are made without any implication of commercial loss.

Well, I can't help but find it intriguing that in that "25 years in the industry" you've failed to manage to discover the correct spelling of the term "libel", nor the fact that libel is a form of defamation, not a separate thing.

It's likewise surprising that you seem unaware that it's impossible to libel someone by quoting their own words.

Moreover, I can't help but wonder how, in that 25 years of experience, you managed to avoid learning that the bar for defamation of a public figure--and Stallman is, for better or worse, most certainly a public figure--is vastly higher than that for others. Specifically, you'd have to show a clear and malicious intent to defame, just for starts. My quoting Stallman's own emails certainly won't get you there.

If anyone's defaming Mr. Stallman here, it can only be Mr. Stallman himself.

Also a bit surprising is your apparent infamiliarity with the notion of "Fair Use", which arguably covers my reproduction of those emails here.

Maybe you should have paid a little more attention while you were in the courtroom.

But as long as we're here, perhaps you'd like to detail the specific fashion in which you believe I've committed "liable" against Mr. Stallman. While your at it, please detail what elements of these emails you feel are "private".

Take your time.

Lefty said...

It's like attending a Chris Rock show and complaining that he made fun of white people.

Except that, as I've said, this wasn't a comedy show.

This was a free and open source software conference, sponsored by a number of major companies, to which roughly 1,000 people flew, and at which they stayed for a week, at some significant expense.

We came here to talk about open source, not to be subjected to unfunny and offensive soi disant "comedy".

skain said...

What happens when a pompous ass meets a self righteous jerk? Now the world knows . . .

You two are truly meant for each other.

Mackenzie said...

@flauran:
Know what happens when we women try to defend ourselves? We're told we're just being oversensitive, and our concerns are dismissed because "she's a woman, must be PMS." The only way to get guys to listen is to get a guy to say it.

toolmaxsam said...

Although RMS's comments you described do concern me your response was also poor. My first though was "well, if you talk like that he sure won't take any of your comments to heart". It seems you wrote the email more to amuse your audience than to inform Richard Stallman of how he was being insensitive. Maybe next time try to imagine your RMS receiving the email and think about how you would react to the overall tone of the email. Your email didn't help the situation at all and will probably just make him more resistant to any future attempts to make him aware that he is alienating members of the open source community. It is also very rude to publish private emails on the internet without permission. (i assume you didnt' get permission since its not mentioned in the article.)

LWheatherly said...

Score Lefty +1, RMS -1

Lefty said...

Maybe next time try to imagine your RMS receiving the email and think about how you would react to the overall tone of the email.

Perhaps, if Mr. Stallman had shown even the slightest glimmer of making an effort to imagine his audience listening to his off-topic "comedy" and thinking about how they would react to the overall tone of it, I might have done that.

As it is, I think my emails were balanced and even-handed.

Lefty said...

Know what happens when we women try to defend ourselves? We're told we're just being oversensitive, and our concerns are dismissed because "she's a woman, must be PMS." The only way to get guys to listen is to get a guy to say it.

@Mackenzie, for what it's worth, I don't get the impression that the folks who are incapable of listening to you are having a lot of luck listening to me, either...

I'm pretty impressed that the publication of a couple of emails containing absolutely zero personal or private information seems to bother some folks a lot more than the content of Mr. Stallman's "keynote". Not postively impressed, but nonetheless...

Tom Willis said...

I predict that someday technical conference keynotes will be so constrained by politically correct legislation, that it will be about as boring as c-span at 4am, it won't even be worth going anymore.

You've ruined my vacation plans jerk.

Anonymous said...

I have to take RMS' side on this.
He did response in a very briefly manner, simply dismissing your point entirely.
which I think is his god givin right if he feels he did nothing wrong.
I feel people shouldn't get so wound up about words, they should rather take a laugh at it than a frown because you know - don't worry, be happy

Anonymous said...

I think RMS has bad manners and I don't fancy much his jokes, but I like his ideas and believe they are important; Much more important than the "norms" of the politically correct speech.

Also, I prefer bad jokes over the private email publication, which is rude and wrong.

Anonymous said...

Again, I'm very interested in understanding how it's somehow just fine to take a Metallica album, turn it into MP3s, throw 'em all into BitTorrent and "share them with your neighbor"--a sort of activity which I believe Stallman supports--but it's somehow a serious problem for me to share emails (containing neither private nor personal information) with my neighbor.

In the first case you are stealing a few bucks from a bunch of rich guys.

In the second case you are violating right to privacy of an individual.

Both are not correct, but the second one feels more serious to me.

Anonymous said...

Lefty,
I am glad to see that not only does RMS have his flaws - but you do too..

But yours are at a much more basic level. Please get some bugfixing done.

MemBrain said...

Dave, what did the women you talked at the conference to about this issue say?

Anonymous said...

"Wow. Just wow. In anyone can find the point in his first message where he responded, "albeit more briefly", to the issue I raised, can you point it out to me? I sure don't see it. "


The Cult of the Virgin of Emacs, like the rest of the Church of Emacs, is meant to poke fun at religion and at myself. I think that you and some others have misunderstood it.

- Just because you don't understand his response doesn't mean he didn't respond.

Brenda said...

Thanks for publishing this Lefty - Your communications to RMS are clear and he is avoiding the main concern, very likely because he knows he's wrong.

Turning up to an opensource event, especially a large one with 500+ people in it, and discovering there are only 10 women is something I'm used to. But once it turns into jokes about a duty to remove a woman's virginity from her, I feel distinctly uncomfortable and don't want to attend such events.

They happen from time to time, stupid rape jokes by 20-something newbs at conferences. When they happen I get out of the situation quickly. .

I don't expect to receive such behaviour from the leaders in Open Source. RMS was out of line. I know he's going to be quoted by drunken idiots at the next opensource conference I attend.

Anonymous said...

Honey, baby, darlin'...

http://coffee.geek.nz/about-site.html

You have about as much to fear from rape as you do from a gold plated. winged manatee falling from the sky and crushing you.

Were you Velma from Scooby Doo as a child actress?

Jeffrey Stedfast said...

As posted on Travis Reitter's blog on the same topic, there was a comment which I thought linked to an excellent article on HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux.

3.1. Don't tell sexist jokes

Sexist jokes are the number one way to drive women out of any group, and they are more common than many people realize. I have more than once heard a man say that he doesn't make that kind of joke, and then hours or minutes later, hear the same person make a joke about pregnant women or PMS. Sometime he just doesn't realize that he made a sexist joke, for example, "blonde jokes" are actually "dumb women" jokes. Sometimes he tells me that it's okay to make a sexist joke if it's true, or it's funny (funny to whom?). What some people fail to realize is that jokes about gender of any sort almost always make fun of women, and will make most women angry, regardless of the context. It doesn't help to first make a sexist joke about men and then one about women.

You can argue that women shouldn't be so sensitive (and I will disagree with you) but even then, regardless of should or should not, your comments and jokes are driving women away. If that's not what you want, then don't make sexist jokes. If you're not sure if your joke is sexist, find something else to say.


The very next suggestion is to protest the telling of sexist jokes (which is exactly what Lefty has done).

To quote:

The next time you see someone joking about women on your local mailing list or in person, complain about it. It's difficult to do this without making yourself a target for ridicule, but it's even more difficult for a woman to do the same thing. Women keep silent when we see sexist jokes because if we protest, we will immediately be attacked for being over-sensitive, uptight, or a "feminazi."

This jives with what Mackenzie said above.

It also perfectly describes what many of the people attacking Lefty have done.

Some of you wonder why women haven't complained earlier - with the kind of personal attacks and insults that Lefty is getting, it's really no wonder why they didn't. Who wants to be personally attacked/flamed with the vitriol that some of the anonymous flamers on this blog have shown?

Instead of speaking up, many might simply become discouraged and leave the FLOSS community altogether.

Anonymous said...

dude, you're a freaking moron for printing this waste of space. get a sense of humor or at the least get over yourself and your self righteous indignation in an obvious effort to puff yourself. did you go to stallman directly after the speech and ask him up front, you know, man to man? of course not. take the plank out of your own eye so the verse goes. if you are aware of stallman's speaking style (and no doubt you are), then this cannot really be of shock value. again, i say you are a sexist bating, religion bating moron.

happy day to you idiot.

women are more than able to defend themselves. they do not need you as its' spokesperson.

have i told you that you are an idiot?

Walther said...

@Brenda: I'm sorry about what anonymous said. Please ignore him.

@others: Please stop saying women can defend themselves. They should not have to defend themselves. When you are dealing with offensive behaviour it is much better if somebody not from that group defends them. Otherwise they will be dismissed as whiners etc (see also Mackenzies post).

The same with religion. If you want to have a debate with muslims/christians or whatever about their beliefs, they can defend themselves. But if somebody offends them, it is much better if an atheist complains to the offender.

Anonymous said...

you are all bullshitters! go take care of the family.

Anonymous said...

While I don't agree with many of RMSs views and may or may not find all his jokes awesome, that doesn't justify publishing his email like a total dick.

Anonymous said...

i don't need you to apologize for me brenda. if women want equal rights (and they should and do for the most part), then they are quite capable of defending themselves. it comes with the package. speak for yourself, not for me. i am speaking to the person who printed these private emails. he is what the majority of those who have commented on this topic have so rightly in their own way called "an idiot". are we so pc that we can't even state our views on the internet without people like you having to go behind us and apologize on our behalf, in effect defending others. why don't you speak for yourself brenda, you certainly don't speak for the majority of us.

Anonymous said...

brenda said:
"i don't expect to receive such behaviour from the leaders in Open Source. RMS was out of line. I know he's going to be quoted by drunken idiots at the next opensource conference I attend."

so is it the LEADERS in open source or is it RMS?

hey brenda, it's real womanly of you to prejudge the supposed upcoming actions of drunken idiots who will be at the next conference. really non judgmental of you. and by the way it's open source, not opensource.

thanks.

now that i think of it, you appear to be an idiot also.

go cry me a river. waaaaaaaaaa.

RMS for life baby, RMS for life.

Zim said...

I have some points to make:

First of all, how the hell do you guys dare to post an _all-biased_ comment? You're not even giving a valid argument! It doesn't contribute to the discussion at all, it's just you showing how dumb you are. (eg anonymous above me).

And what's wrong with defending women? It's *decency*! According to most of you, I can't open a door to a woman without being tagged as sexist. If "Lefty" was a woman, would you be still critisizing his right to defend women and him-... herself?

Also, Stallman does these comments that may or may not be interpreted as sexist. May or may not be considered as insulting. Personally, if I was among the target audience of the "joke", I would just ignore it. Some people wouldn't. What Lefty was doing was suggesting Stallman to apologize to the target audience, even if he didn't mean to do it. It'd leave his ego intact and make the target audience feel better. Everybody happy. Even better, just avoid doing them. He regarded these suggestions as utter non-sense.

Now take yourself as an example. If you insulted a friend of you (intentionally or not. Unless he deserved it), would you apologize? I bet you would.

That's not how a leader should act. He is giving a bad reputation to the Open Source community. In fact, he is acting like religious fanatics who he dislikes so much. He ain't open to reassoning (very open-source...).

Some of you may think I'm a hypocrite. Maybe I am, but atleast my points are well founded. Anyway, I see no way I could agree with Stallman.

Regarding posting e-mails on the internet, --hits "Lefty" with a newspaper-- bad Lefty; don't do that again.

Anonymous said...

That's what free software is all about. If you don't like it, nobody's going to force it down your throat.

I do agree that RMS's remarks are a bit rude (it was a bad joke by the way). But that's just him. That's the way he jokes. If you don't like to listen to him, DONT. Nobody cares. You have the freedom not to.

Anonymous said...

>>But as long as we're here, perhaps you'd like to detail the specific fashion in which you believe I've committed "liable" against Mr. Stallman. While your at it, please detail what elements of these emails you feel are "private".

Eh?

Are you deliberately mis-reading my emails or just trying to be even more offensive for the sake of it?

I did not say you had committed "liable" against RMS I was simply pointing out YOUR ASSERTION that because your actions caused any direct financial damage, you would not be subject to a claim for damages from RMS .. and I mistakenly thought a simple example showing ( lack of financial loss != immunity from prosecution ) might help.

Maybe if you actually read what people write and try to understand it .. (?!)

With regards to which parts of the emails are private, ALL THE PARTS ARE PRIVATE! Do you not get this? When you write an email, you own it. When you send it to someone, you are giving them explicit permission to read it. You are NOT giving them implicit permission to publish it, technically you're not even giving them permission to forward it on to anyone else.

With regards to spelling .. you're quite right .. it's 3am, I type too quickly and generally rely far too heavily on a spell checker - guilty as charged.

Once again you launch into a personal attack on someone else rather than trying to address the points made ..

You seem to think I made no points .. let me refresh your memory - perhaps if I shorten them a little;

i. Why is it people did not stand up and complain or walk out?

ii. Why are you not addressing your complaint to the organisers of the event who will have known the content in advance and who were ultimately responsible for inviting him?

iii. When are we going to see your apology to RMS for publishing his emails without permission?

iv. Please can you confirm for us whether the Gnome Foundation is backing your complaint or whether this is purely a personal issue?

Anonymous said...

>That's not how a leader should act.

I've spent most of my life working on / with and developing Open Source software .. he ain't my leader.

>He is giving a bad reputation to the Open Source community.

Urm, no, Lefty is trying give HIM a bad reputation. Whether he is also giving himself a bad reputation is debatable - but HE is NOT the Open Source Community - he just started it.

>In fact, he is acting like religious fanatics who he dislikes so much. He ain't open to reassoning

From what I read I'm inclined to agree with you .. this however does not excuse Lefty's posts.

What I'm trying to figure out is why Lefty has it in for RMS. Maybe RMS's replies didn't show the proper level of respect for such an important Gnome .. dunno .. on the other hand, maybe RMS ran over his cat.

Anonymous said...

hahaha! now that's funny. RMS may not be your leader, but he damn well should be. he didn't start the open source movement, he started the FSF. i know you try to make them both out to be one and the same but they certainly are not.

and you don't have to worry about RMS giving the open source movement a bad name, they do a great job of it all by themselves by engaging in this bunch of crappola.

hey i just figured it out. you consider email to be code and as such must make it freely available.

lol!!!!!

idiot

Anonymous said...

Huh. I'm mostly surprised by all the fanboy-ism here. As far as Stallman, nearly every remark I've ever heard about him was negative. I always found that a little suspect until he toddled onto the OpenBSD mailing list and stirred up a veritable shit-storm for some idiotic reason. I'm sure it made sense to him.

He did there what he did with this correspondence. He never seems to think he's wrong or just doesn't care. He's frequently dismissive, inconsiderate, nonsensical, goes off on tangents and is occasionally offensive. He doesn't back down, ever.

How do you reason with someone like this? I'd rather be insulted by Linus. At least then it'd probably be funny and make sense.

Anonymous said...

I invite you all to think about something: a geek from the late 70's making a joke about women and technology.

Please, pull your head out of the sand.

Blue Lightning said...

Talk about "stooping low". People are now attacking the messenger by dragging out some ancient internet flamewar simply because Lefty dared to speak out against Richard Stallman.

Any previous unrelated discussions are *irrelevant* to what is being discussed here. Their existence does not change the fact that Stallman's comments were offensive.

Lefty said...

I did not say you had committed "liable" against RMS I was simply pointing out YOUR ASSERTION that because your actions caused any direct financial damage, you would not be subject to a claim for damages from RMS .. and I mistakenly thought a simple example showing ( lack of financial loss != immunity from prosecution ) might help.

First of all, copyright violation is a tort, not a criminal act, so it isn't "prosecuted" at all.

Second, if Stallman (or his legal counsel) wished to bring suit against me, the very best result that they could come away with would be nothing more than an order from the court that I remove the material, period, end of story.

The problem with your "simple examples" is that they show (in spite of your anonymous 25 years experience) pretty thorough-going ignorance of the actual law.

(For what it's worth, I'm a member of the FSF-Europe's Legal and Licensing Network, and participated in their workshop back in April. And I'm not posting anonymously, so my claims can be checked.)

Now, on the subject of the publication of email: this is, at best, nothing more than a custom, "netiquette", if you will. Folks may consider it rude, but that's about the worst thing you can say about it. Publishing actual private information, say a personal address or phone number, from an email would arguably be an invasion of privacy; I have not done that. I'm amazed that some folks (folks who, hilariously, tell me my "value system" is out of kilter) get much more excited over a couple of emails than they do over the incident itself. It's quite revealing, and it says nothing good about the folks who take this position.

i. Why is it people did not stand up and complain or walk out?

Many did walk out during the talk. Many complained about it afterward. Of course, Stallman did not stick around nor did he spend any time with the cnference attendees. He was hustled off to a "press event", and that was the last we saw of him.

ii. Why are you not addressing your complaint to the organisers of the event who will have known the content in advance and who were ultimately responsible for inviting him?

I have spoken directly to the organizers. There's general agreement that the "keynote" was offensive and out of place.

iii. When are we going to see your apology to RMS for publishing his emails without permission?

When Hell freezes over. You folks are just back-seat drivers here, the only one with the actual standing (it's a legal term, look it up) to complain is Stallman himself, and I haven't heard from him.

iv. Please can you confirm for us whether the Gnome Foundation is backing your complaint or whether this is purely a personal issue?

I don't really understand the question. If you're asking whether the GNOME Foundation Board is going to pass a motion to censure Stallman or something, then I doubt that will happen, nor should it, really--that's not what the Foundation is about. However, I've spoken to every member of the Board and the Executive Director of the Foundation, and they agree with me, not with you or Stallman.

Lefty said...

>Again, I'm very interested in
>understanding how it's somehow just fine to
>take a Metallica album, turn it into MP3s,
>throw 'em all into BitTorrent and "share
>them with your neighbor"--a sort of
>activity which I believe Stallman
>supports--but it's somehow a serious
>problem for me to share emails (containing
>neither private nor personal information)
>with my neighbor.

In the first case you are stealing a few bucks from a bunch of rich guys.


Uh huh. And when a million people do it, they're collectively stealing a few million bucks from a bunch of rich guys. And violating their copyright. But that's evidently just fine with you. Breaking multiple laws (since commercial copyright infringement actually is a felony) is okay, somehow.

In the second case you are violating right to privacy of an individual.

At worst, I committed an act counter to generally-accepted "netiquette". I didn't post his phone number, his address or his social security number, so it's difficult to see what aspects of this individual's privacy you're all hot and bothered about.

Both are not correct, but the second one feels more serious to me.

Then I would suggest that you seriously need to think about why that it.

If you're more concerned about a couple of emails containing nothing of either a personal or private nature than you are about actions which perpetuate the situation where men outnumber women in open source project by a ratio of twenty to one, then you're not thinking clearly.

And if you think that outright theft is somehow better than publishing emails, even if it's just when you're stealing from "a bunch of rich guys", then you're not thinking clearly.

And if you think it's okay to violate anyone's copyright except Stallman's, then you're not thinking clearly.

Please try and see whether you can manage to get your head sorted out.

Lefty said...

...what did the women you talked at the conference to about this issue say?

The most common thing I was told, and those comments are echoed here, is that it made them extremely uncomfortable. Some put it in stronger terms, some much stronger ones. All agreed that it certainly didn't encourage women to participate in free software projects, and would probably drive a woman who was considering getting involved away from such involvement.

Khaled Hosny said...

Guys, don't argue with monotards, they are brain washed, believe only on one thing; Mono the God. Now Lefty is trying to convince us that he is defending women, really? are we assumed to believe that? and it is a mere coincidence that the so offensive talk by RMS (in which he almost repeats what we have said, including jokes, hundreds of time before and people still invite him and attend his talks) is the talk where he says bad things about Mono! Oh my God, how dare he to offend our God we monotards, lets start a dirty war on him claiming he is a sexist offending women, publishing private emails (where he says concisely and clearly it isn't about women, but we will ignore that any way). I got sick of all this s**t, I got sick of mono, I got sick of monotards with hidden agenda attacking any one and every not agreeing with them!

Lefty said...

Guys, don't argue with monotards, they are brain washed, believe only on one thing; Mono the God.

Khaled, considering that there's not a single word in any of this regarding Mono, you really have to bend over backwards (displaying your obsessiveness and paranoia in the process) to make the case that this is really about Mono rather than what it plainly and clearly says it's about.

Let me be abundantly clear: I don't care strongly about Mono. I have no objection to it, and I use F-Spot and Tomboy, but if the decision were made to remove it from Ubuntu (the distribution I typically use), I'd be fine with that.

I do object to folks like Roy Schestowitz using falsehood and defamation to attempt to make their "case", I likewise object to anti-Mono trolls disrupting the mailing lists I read, and I strenuously object to attempts on the part of the anti-Mono crowd to interfere with the lives and livelihoods of those who hold other opinions, for the reasons I've detailed in another posting.

So, no, this has absolutely nothing to do with Mono. The fact that you seem intent on casting it as that pretty strongly underscores the fact that your technical "arguments" against Mono are pretty completely without substance, though.

No one is above criticism, not me, and not Stallman. If you want to respond to that criticism, have at it, but don't try to sidestep the actual issue here: Stallman's gratuitous denigration of women (as well as religion, and, since Spain is a predominantly Catholic country, many of our hosts here) in a keynote address at a major technical conference.

Mike said...

Mountain.... molehill.

Blue Lightning said...

@Mike: well said, sir, well said. On the one hand, we have the mountain: the bizarre attitudes that some men have (and others think women should have to put up with) in the open source / free software community. If you don't think this is a serious problem, then you are part of it.

Then, we have the molehill: the publication of a few private emails that serve to illustrate the problem above.

Anonymous said...

>First of all, copyright violation is a tort, not a criminal act, so it isn't "prosecuted" at all.

It's a Criminal offense to intentionally infringe for purposes of commercial advantage or personal financial gain.

I don't know whether this could be proven in your case, but your statement in the general context given is not accurate.

>Second, if Stallman (or his legal counsel) wished to bring suit against me, the very best result that they could come away with would be nothing more than an order from the court that I remove the material, period, end of story.

If he sent you an email asking you to take it down and you did, sure. If you didn't and forced him to go to court, then again, inaccurate - there is a possibility you could have court costs awarded against you.

.. so attending a "legal workshop" makes you an expert on the law? .. have a read of www.copyright.gov and see how that ties in with your statements.

In particular - just for general interest;

§ 504. Remedies for infringement: Damages and profits (c) (2)

§ 505. Remedies for infringement: Costs and attorney's fees

§ 506. Criminal offenses

>Now, on the subject of the publication of email: this is, at best, nothing more than a custom,

That's strange, there does seem to be a pretty rigid legal definition of works covered by copyright, and there's no escaping the fact that by default emails clearly fall within this definition.

>Many did walk out during the talk.

I take it these were the 100 people you talked to afterwards .. strange you didn't mention this earlier [?] - so what was RMS's reaction to having 100 people get up and walk out?

>Many complained about it afterward.

Sure, we've covered this.

>He was hustled off to a "press event", and that was the last we saw of him.

Mmm, trying to interpret your language, maybe it wasn't a cat, maybe it's just envy.

>I have spoken directly to the organizers. There's general agreement that the "keynote" was offensive and out of place.

So they won't be inviting him back?

>When Hell freezes over.

I guess unlikely with Global warming an' all. Obviously you don't think one is due ... odd that you are critical of RMS for taking exactly the same stance.

>You folks are just back-seat drivers here, the only one with the actual standing (it's a legal term, look it up) to complain is Stallman himself, and I haven't heard from him.

Yes, unlike you I do actually recognise the term without having to look it up. In additional I understand that anyone can complain, but only RMS had the option of obtaining a legal remedy.

>I don't really understand the question.

I'm pretty sure you do.

>If you're asking whether the GNOME Foundation Board is going to pass a motion to censure Stallman or something, then I doubt that will happen, nor should it

No. clearly I wasn't asking this.

>However, I've spoken to every member of the Board and the Executive Director of the Foundation, and they agree with me, not with you or Stallman.

That was what I was asking. You are saying the entire Board agree that (a) it's ok to publish other people's emails without their consent and (b) someone (you?) should be allowed to control what other people say.

(in summary these were the two points I and a number of others were trying to make)

This is a pretty astounding statement from the Gnome board!

Everyone you talked to after the talk was offended .. and the entire board agrees with you and as you've pointed out specifically, not with "me" ... I'm sort of assuming to disagree with me they would all have has to read this posting .. yet nobody seems to have identified themselves as a member of the board and specifically associated themselves with your comments.

Maybe you exaggerate just a little ??

Anonymous said...

1) Publishing the email is ok since the subject it addresses is of a public nature, nothing personal was divulged in the email that would invade anyones privacy. Further the nature of the email makes it obvious that his replies would be scrutinized publicly, and that is probably the reason he kept dodging the "women" question. Stallman's own supporters consider him as rude, and yes his comments could be considered rude and should not have been given in a technical conference - that shows the man suffers from a lack of judgement.

2) I'm sick of people defending women right, left and center. Wether women were present or not does not make a difference, they should be well capable of defending themselves, and if they can't then that just proves the point. I see people jumping up and down because of Stallman's "demeaning" comments about women, but the same people are and many women themselves feel excited to be viewing smut and porn where women are truelly being demeaned. If Stallman suffers from lack of judgement, which he does, then so do you and your supporters (women included).

- Gus Al Soori

Anonymous said...

@anonymous: you failed to accept the very fact that RMS doesn't really care about anything outside his dirt layer. He doesn't care about poor people being crushed under their own houses after an earthquake, why would he care about a bunch o'people wrongly shocked by his constant mockery ? he's become the very thing he despised: a guru of braindead, willing to die, offer their lives for his or his sake.
Someone who can't pass beyond paranoia to the point of resorting to wget his way on the internet when forced to is a retard, period.

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to care what Stallman says. His opinions are generally extreme and based upon his prejudices, be they religious, sexist or technical.

I think he is a prat who should be thoroughly ignored.

Anonymous said...

It saddens me to see that you did not even have the courtesy to ask RMS before posting a private conversation.

To me that speaks volumes more about you than the emails spoke of RMS.

Anonymous said...

Lefty, stop embarrasing yourself. This is not even an issue in other countries. Why do people in your country bother so much? Can't you just sit down, relax, and have some beer? Too much noise for this crap.

Lefty said...

It's a Criminal offense to intentionally infringe for purposes of commercial advantage or personal financial gain.

I don't know whether this could be proven in your case, but your statement in the general context given is not accurate.


Given the content of the message in question, and the fact that there's no possible way I can financially gain from them, either at Stallman's expense or otherwise, it's a bit odd that you "don't know whether this could be proven".

If he sent you an email asking you to take it down and you did, sure. If you didn't and forced him to go to court, then again, inaccurate - there is a possibility you could have court costs awarded against you.

A vanishingly small possibility, in my estimation. First off, as far as I know, Stallman (unlike the rest of us mere mortals) gets his legal representation gratis, courtesy of the SFLC. Secondly, given the situation, I'd put my money on the proposition that the court would view such a suit as a frivolous and egregious waste of its time.

.. so attending a "legal workshop" makes you an expert on the law? .. have a read of www.copyright.gov and see how that ties in with your statements.

Er, no. The European Legal and Licensing Network is a by-invitation-only group of about 100 attorneys involved in open source and free software legal affairs.

At the most recent (again, invitation-only) workshop it held in April, there were three non-lawyers present: Harald Welte and Armijn van Hemel, who were there to present on behalf of gpl-violations.org, and myself. My inclusion in this group is a clear recognition that I know what I'm talking about when it comes to free and open source software licensing in particular, and intellectual property law in general.

§ 504. Remedies for infringement: Damages and profits (c) (2)

Oooh, someone's mastered Google and the art of copying sub-section titles. Impressive. But irrelevant. And a complete failure in terms of showing any actual understanding.

§ 506. Criminal offenses

See? That's what I mean. You haven't a clue what you're posting about. Please detail for me how section 506 applies in this specific case.

That's strange, there does seem to be a pretty rigid legal definition of works covered by copyright, and there's no escaping the fact that by default emails clearly fall within this definition.

Oh, email is indeed copyrighted, as I've cheerfully admitted. Most people object, however, on grounds of "privacy" and "politeness", and that's just netiquette. Do try to keep up.

Lefty said...

[Response, part 2]

I take it these were the 100 people you talked to afterwards .. strange you didn't mention this earlier [?] - so what was RMS's reaction to having 100 people get up and walk out?

Er, no, and I've no idea on what basis you make a leap like that. That's not the level of reasoning I usually see in a legal mind. Odd, that.

A visible number, perhaps a dozen or three total, walked out at various points throughout the talk. There was no reaction that I saw from Stallman. I'm sure he's quite used to people walking out on him, and based on his emails, I'd bet that he views it as some sort of weird validation.

Mmm, trying to interpret your language, maybe it wasn't a cat, maybe it's just envy.

Mmm, I wouldn't quit my day job if I were you (assuming you actually have one--you seem to have an awful lot of time to produce irrelevancies of this sort). You're clearly neither qualified as an interpreter or as a psychic.

So they won't be inviting him back?

I'd be astounded if they did, based on my conversations here.

odd that you are critical of RMS for taking exactly the same stance.

Again, what individuals do on their personal blogs is one thing; what a "leader of the Free Software movement" does in the context of a keynote (for which he's been flown, fed, housed and funded) is very much another. It's surprising you can't distinguish betwen the two.

Yes, unlike you I do actually recognise the term without having to look it up.

That's your story. Your "contributions" here lend no support to it, I'm afraid.

>I don't really understand the question.

I'm pretty sure you do.


There you go with those delusions of psychic abilities again.

>If you're asking whether the GNOME Foundation Board is going to pass a motion to censure Stallman or something, then I doubt that will happen, nor should it

No. clearly I wasn't asking this.


I'd like to inform you that you greatly overestimate your level of clarity, as well as your supposed legal expertise.

>However, I've spoken to every member of the Board and the Executive Director of the Foundation, and they agree with me, not with you or Stallman.

That was what I was asking. You are saying the entire Board agree that (a) it's ok to publish other people's emails without their consent and (b) someone (you?) should be allowed to control what other people say.


I don't ask the Board permission to publish things in my own blog. No one wants to "control what other people say", either, and no one's suggested anything of the sort. I have suggested that based on his performance, Stallman should never, ever, be asked to speak at another Desktop Summit, and the folks with whom I've spoken feel similarly.

This is a pretty astounding statement from the Gnome board!

Perhaps less astounding given that it's purely a product of your imagination.

Maybe you exaggerate just a little ??

Maybe you should learn to read for comprehension, rather than pretending, ineptly, to be an internet lawyer, O Nameless One. You're liable to continue making an even bigger fool of yourself, I fear.

In any case, I've wasted too much time on you already. When the comments have gotten so lengthy that the responses will no longer fit into a single comment, enough is more than enough.

If you want to post with an actual identity, perhaps I'll taking your further comments under consideration, but failing that, you're done; someone should stick a fork in you.

Lefty said...

Lefty, stop embarrasing yourself.

I'm not embarrassed. And feel free to make me stop, Bluto.

This is not even an issue in other countries. Why do people in your country bother so much?

Um, this is an international conference, and it certainly wasn't only Americans who were offended.

Can't you just sit down, relax, and have some beer?

I've been sitting down, relaxing, and drinking some beers all week long. Thanks for your completely misplaced concern.

Too much noise for this crap.

You ought to tell whoever's holding the gun to your head and forcing you to read it to knock it off.

Anonymous said...

hey, have you tried drugs? i recommend you some, nerdo.

Lefty said...

hey, have you tried drugs? i recommend you some, nerdo.

Seeing how much good they've done for your thought processes and grasp of basic grammar, I'll pass, thanks, you illiterate ignoramus.

Lefty said...

Its extremely relevant, Lefty.

No, it's not: it's a completely transparent effort to "kill the messenger" because the message is making you excruciatingly uncomfortable.

And that you would delete it is troubling. You must really fear these troubling echoes of hypocrisy from your past?

Since there's no hypocrisy, and since I'm not "troubled" by any of this, I don't "fear" it at all.

Please do not stoop that low, as I respect you and all you do for Gnome; and I would not want to lose that respect.

Calling me a hypocrite is a pretty odd way of showing respect. And who the hell are you supposed to be, anyway, Anonymous-san? I'm not sure I'd even want your "respect".

Tell you what: if anyone wants to continue in this vein, go ahead and dig up what you can on my supposed "hypocrisy" and "nasty history" with women, ideally something a little more current than (one side of) a ten-year-old flame war.

Then, I'll go and see what I can dig up to support my contention that Stallman shows consistent insensitivity to women and others. Some examples might include his chortling over a church full or worshippers killed in a Peruvian earthquake, referring to a woman with a child as a "breeder", berating a questioner for whom English was not a native language, etc.

Wanna play? Let's play.

Anonymous said...

And who the hell are you supposed to be, anyway, Anonymous-san?

Is the above a joke or attack at Japanese people?

Lefty said...

Is the above a joke or attack at Japanese people?

Neither nor. And, given that I'm employed by a Japanese company, that's a pretty dimwitted conclusion to jump to.

The honorific "san" has the nice advantage of being non-gender-specific, and thus not nearly as ungainly as "Mr.-or-Ms."

Y' know, there are plenty of decaffeinated coffees that taste just as good as the real thing.

Al said...

I doubt if it is a comment on Japanese people since Lefty is partially Japanese and speaks the language. I suggest it is a turn of phrase.

Lefty, Stallman is an odious troll and has been since I was a kid (and you were much younger). As the official wingnut of the open source movement, he should be viewed at a distance for historic value and unintentional comic relief as a species of troglodyte. I quit listening to him somewhere around the time of his infatuation with "Doctress" Neutopia, another example of the same species. His historonics around Linux years ago and how it owed him everything (and hence was "GNU/Linux") and his shrill attacks only cemented my thoughts on him.

As long as the trolls here think it is fine to make sexist or religious jokes during speeches at technical conferences, women (and others being the butt of jokes) will continue to find somewhere else to be. I suspect that if Stallman was making Jewish jokes, some here would think that was fine too and ask why the Jews weren't speaking up about it (along with throwing in a few Jewish jokes in the comments here). Trolls are trolls.

Carlos Zayas Guggiari said...

I don't think RMS's "Saint IGNUcius" comedy routine is more rude than, as another poster pointed out, South Park for example.

RMS's act is world wide well known. Didn't they knew what they were going to get? It's the same act that RMS presented back in October 2008 here in my country (Paraguay, South America), complete with the "EMACS virgins" stuff, and received a stand-up applause.

Paraguay is a 98% catholic country (I was raised in a catholic home, went to a catholic school). There were around 600 people present, many women (my wife was present, a great feminist) and none of them have felt offended.

The cassock, the hard disk platter as halo, the laptop as a table of the Ten Commandments, aren't clues that this is a comedy act that seeks to ironize prejudices?

Since you run Ubuntu, I recommend running the following command:

sudo apt-get install sense-of-humor

;-)

Lefty said...

Y' know, I'd managed to completely forget "Doctress" Neutopia for a good few years until you brought her up!

I don't know whether to laugh or cry; maybe I'll do both!

Thanks for the comment, that's a real "blast from the past"! I wonder whatever became of the good Doctress, anyway?

Lefty said...

The cassock, the hard disk platter as halo, the laptop as a table of the Ten Commandments, aren't clues that this is a comedy act that seeks to ironize prejudices?

A comedy act which has no place at all at a technical conference. As people have said, it's this sort of (excuse for) humor which keeps the ratio of women to men in free software at 1 to 20.

If not not helping to make things better, Carlos, then you're helping to maintain that status quo, I'm afraid. As the comments here clearly show, there are plenty of people who find Stallman's comedy act offensive and divisive.

If he wants to be a comedian, there are plenty of bars in Boston with an "open mike night". Maybe getting hooted off the stage a few times would prove educational for him.

Anonymous said...

Wow, not only can you not get a joke but you have no respect for the people behind the movement you so obviously support. Get bent.

Anonymous said...

Lefty, one cannot blame you having an opinion on RMS speech, but WHY?

Why attacking RMS in this degree? This cowardly and stubbornly ?

Your humour sucks and your comments.. your comments speak tons of you and they've left me with a strong desire to leave you a very unpleasant comment. No, vulgar, a very, very vulgar comment.

- happy gnome user

Lefty said...

...you have no respect for the people behind the movement you so obviously support...

You're exactly right: I have no respect whatsoever for someone who thinks that his past contributions give him a free lifetime pass to treat women (and others) dismissively, derogatorily and with great insensitivity.

Lefty said...

...they've left me with a strong desire to leave you a very unpleasant comment. No, vulgar, a very, very vulgar comment.

Too bad you couldn't summon up the wit to actually think one up, we could've had a laugh.

Anonymous said...

I have not read all of the comments here, but have read enough of them that I feel that I have to point this out.

People: email is not a means of private communication. It's no more private than sending a post card. I'll guarantee that, as a crackpot with more than a little paranoia, RMS knows this, so get off your high horses.

Defending the man is one thing. Getting huffy at the writer here because he finds a bit of tarnish on the brass god of foss and decides to talk about it is juvenile.

After all, RMS is capable of looking after himself :P

Anonymous said...

Dear David,

every discussion that is based on religion and gender is a waste of time. You are immensely wasting your as well as RMS' time.
Please go back to do something productive for you, your family, your friends and for GNOME.

Sincerely
Anonymous Coward

Al said...

every discussion that is based on religion and gender is a waste of time

Says the white, male atheist?

I bet you tell non-whites to not bring up race since it is a waste of time too, right?

gadget00 said...

YOU DID THE RIGHT THING LEFTY. This 'private email concern' is just a joke...he DID use AWFUL comments for a public presentation, with WOMEN in the audience.
It's not about 'not having humor/see the irony', it's about respect. If a good percentage of the people that cares about FSF/FOSS doesn't mind this kind of 'jokes', it doesn't make it fun anyway. I believe in FOSS, 4 liberties, etc. but RMS just couldn't accept he messed up. When you give a talk should not be to show how great/funny you are, but to communicate something and get people to think about it.

Lefty, you did the right thing.

Lefty said...

Dear Anonymous Coward:

I don't take orders from people who have names, so why would I take directives from you? I'll do what I damned well please with my own time, and if I waste some of Stallman's, that his lookout, not yours.

As far as arguments about gender or religion being a waste of time goes, that's an opinion that could only be held by someone who's never suffered discrimination on account of their gender or religion. Must be nice to be so privileged. Too bad you're so unwilling to help others enjoy the same sort of advantages you clearly (and unthinkingly) do.

Love,

Lefty

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a technically-proficient woman who was interested from a young age in building a career in the free software industry. My interest is still there, but I've since abandoned the idea of it as a career move and switched to network security (where I work with both free and non-free software). I grew up wanting to design and write operating systems that did cool stuff and that everyone could use and share.

Then I got involved in the local "scene" and was driven off by the rampant dismissal of female programmers and blatant, unapologetic sexism shown to me by BOTH the men and women in the industry and hobby. Being constantly objectified and treated as second-rate simply because I had breasts instead of a beard wore me down and I eventually abandoned all of the projects I was involved in to focus on security. Going to an RMS talk in the early 90s and meeting with him in person was among the worst of my experienced - I was fifteen, still obviously underage, and skipping gym class to hear him speak at a professional conference (that I'd snuck into). He actually pointed to me in the back and proclaimed, into the mic, "A GIRL!" causing the audience to turn and look. Mortifying. Then he proceeded to gesture toward me every time he referred to "EMACS Virgins." (I cannot believe that he is still doing the same talk 10+ years later.) I was young and terrified of calling out someone that I'd previously idolized.

The sexism on display in his talks and in these comments are the precise reason as to why there aren't many women in free software to speak up, and the awkward gender ratio and propensity for male nerds to shout down any opposition makes it even more difficult to do so.

You folks telling Lefty that women can fend for themselves or whatever have clearly never heard the phrase "ally."

Thanks for doing this, Lefty. Posting anonymously to protect my job and friendships, unfortunately.

nw said...

To RMS's supporters: guys, grow up. Just... grow up. Stop making excuses, and just show a little basic consideration for others.

Lefty, thank you for posting this.

Lefty said...

You folks telling Lefty that women can fend for themselves or whatever have clearly never heard the phrase "ally."

I appreciated your comment very much, thanks. That someone would feel so unwelcomed that they would make up their mind to avoid working as part of the community that I value so highly literally pains me.

It's hearing stories like this that make it clear to me, "O NOES U POSTED A EMAIL!!!1!!" ninnies notwithstanding, that I've done the correct thing here.

David Glasser said...

I am long past being surprised that Richard M "I wrote emacs, can I touch your boobies" Stallman is alienating women and anyone else who thinks that a technical forum should be a welcoming place for people of all backgrounds.

It's more depressing that it took 23 comments on this post for anyone to acknowledge that RMS, not Lefty, is the problem here. Presumably this post showed up as a link on linuxboysclub.net or something.

(And the excuse of "no, I wasn't being sexist in my keynote speech at a technical conference: I was just attacking people's religions" is the funniest thing I've heard all day.)

Anonymous said...

David, some people here are defending RMS, but I think the majority are simply critical of Lefty's behavior.

It's obvious that Lefty has a problem with RMS on a personal level and using a blog to run a public attack on another individual is, IMHO, is just "wrong".

Lefty's comment about the negative vibe he's getting quite ironic .. implying the article was picked up by RMS fans .. I saw it on "Planet Gnome" (!)

Anonymous said...

>but failing that, you're done;

Yeah, I think you're right.

You're going to find some reason why you're right and everyone else is wrong and/or incompetent regardless of what's posted.

Anyway, probably better as a verbal conversation. I do get around a bit, maybe we'll meet one day at a conference or convention and you can tell me who you'd like to see replace RMS as your leader .. :)

Anonymous said...

You're a shrill dork who doesn't even understand catholicism.

Cat said...

As a woman, a 'hardcore' programmer, and a geek, the kindest words I can think of for the -dear- Dr. boil down to "Go. Away.".

The -dear- Dr. is a net.kook of high order, with the overall value and tone of an interminably shrilling car alarm -- and IMNSHO there are two things that should be done.

(1) Stop inviting the -dear- Dr. to speak. Stop referring to his opinions on any topic. Stop referring to his name. Take away the attention.

Stop feeding the troll.

(2) Have the discussions about women in computing with respect all around, and focus on constructive and useful things, not beating dead horses into particulate matter.

Michael said...

publishing private emails - btw I don't get why you don't get that it's the same level of rudeness as to discriminiate women - is a no go.
And every women supporting such behaviour has no credibility left for me.
Hypocrites!

Al said...

Let me see, discriminating against women is harm against more than half of the human race.

Publishing e-mails with RMS is simply bad netiquette.

If you can't see the difference in the stakes between these two things, you've got a severe problem (and have probably never interacted with any women).

Michael said...

Yeah, right. Compare it by masses you refer to.

What a bunch of BS.

No, it's not just about netiquette it's about respect.
It's the same as not having respect for women.
The only difference is that you show no respect to an individual.
Ignorant *beep*

Rat Sumo said...

I have to thank the person that linked me to this post - the level of concentrated stupid in these comments is a wondrous and amazing thing to behold. I am both awed and horrified, and so very, very, very glad I only use open source tools and do not circulate in open source crowds.

Lefty - I am with you 100%, but shame on you. You should know better than to even try to begin to imagine RMS even acknowledging the faintest possibility that he might be even slightly less than 100% right about...well, anything. You'll have an easier time shouting at the tides to stop.

Side note - my verification word for this comment is "anger." Amusing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for clarifying that you're the last clearly thinking human being on earth left.

Your arguments are deeply profound and mature.
Everyone's wrong and you're right, yes?

Pls, cut the crap
and stop commenting on topics you've no experience in.

Pecunium said...

a. Emails .. my amateur understanding of the Law (in this country) is that any publication (in this case, email) is by default the copyright of the author. Intentional re-production and publication of copyright material is an offense and I understand a mother of 4 just for fined a couple of million $'s for doing just that with 24 music tracks. I suspect RMS wouldn't stoop to engaging lawyers, but if he did my guess is that he'd nail you to the wall.

Your amateur understanding of the law is incorrect. While the copyright retains to the author, corespondence falls into a different aspect of the law. They are not commcercial, they are freely given to another, and become the recipient's property. The law which covers the publication of corespondence (be it e-mail, handwritten/typewritten letters, etc.) is not copyright, but libel/defamation. The only way RMS would be able to, "nail [him] to the wall" would be to show the e-mails were falsified, mis-represented, or in some other way showing him to infamy; which was in some way not a reasonable response to what was said.

The case law (notwithstanding all the moralising posturing being displayed here) is all on Lefty's side. There is no comparison to the judgement against someone for theft (which is what piracy is, not copyright infringement), and the publishing of e-mail.

Futher, Times v Sullivan holds that a public figure (even short lived figures, which I presume RMS is not), lose some of their claims to protection from libels. RMS would have to show he wasn't a public figure (hard to do, as he was paid to appear at the event in question), and that the publication was done with a knowledge of falsity, and intentional malice.

It's a slam dunk for dismissal.

The rest of this thread..."It's a joke, cantcha' take a joke" is a common defensive move by bigots, racists and sexists. It's a way to take the offended person, and make them seem to be petty and thin skinned. It doesn't fly. That RMS (to say nothing of the folks hiding behind their anonymity) chose to resort to that as his first, and only, line of defense for his behavior, tells me more about him than the jokes themselves.

This isn't an issue of "can he say that,", he most certainly can (and no one has said he can't), the question is whether people should pay to have him keep saying it.

The observation that, "women aren't in computing" might have more to do with the "hostile workplace environment" the attitudes expressed in the humor RMS seems to regularly use, and the active support the community seems to give him for it.

The idea that the offense ought to be let go in some way, not carried around, is foolish. This conference is over. I get the impression (I am not a software guy. I happened to see a link saying there was a lot of stereotypical sexist behavior going on... it seems to have been correct), that RMS is going to speak at other conferences. There are likely to be people present who aren't expecting to hear that women need to have their cherry popped. I'd be offended to hear that. I'm a Catholic. The religion aspects of it... no big deal.

It might even be educationally useful. Might be offensive. I'd have to hear it. I'd have to have context. But the virgin cracks (again, I've not heard them, but it was an open-source guy who was talking about this, and he has heard the jokes, more than once), offensive. No way to make them at all relevant. Because there is no need to make it seem a woman needs to have a man come and do something to//for her to make her a complete person. Which seems to be the consistent take on it.

So yeah, he can say it. No one, however, is obliged to like it, and you have no right to tell them that being offended somehow impinges your freedom.

Anonymous said...

Hey morons! There is no such thing as "private email" unless it's encrypted.

I'm one of two mail admins for a group of servers that handle hundreds of thousands of messages every day. Aside from the staggering amount of time it would take--I *could* read each and every message if I wanted to.

Nearly every single email passes from one mail system to another, which means at *least* two people (sending mail system admin, and receiving mail system admin) could be reading your mail.

I believe it would be bad form to post messages that had been encrypted without the consent of all parties...

Anonymous said...

(Hi Katie + Anonymouse!)

Unlike the majority of this ill-informed, semi-literate peanut gallery, I actually have a vagina, uterus, and ovaries, so I am commenting from my perspective as a woman.

(Tangentially, I also have spiritual/metaphysical beliefs and a legal education with a specialty in Intellectual Property, but let's not get distracted again.)

Right on, Lefty! Thanks, soul brother! I do not feel denigrated or belittled by this exchange or publication in any way.

Reflexively, one of the first things I glanced for when I began reading this post was, "What gender is the author?" I was conditioned in patriarchal, sexist society to assume that "David" was not a woman, intersex, or transperson. The assumed masculinity made me suspicious, but upon reading the post in its entirety, I find nothing in David's writing that even suggests an implication of a connotation of sexism on his/her part.

On the contrary, the very point of this dialogue and its digital publication is the diametric opposite of what the majority of this thread's complaints claim. They just can't read and are in denial of the fact that their Holy Saint RMS (no offense to my canonized homies) could be such a dickhead.

Open source is kewl. Technical conferences are not comedy clubs. RMS should hire a speechwriter to contexualize his content since he seems to be suffering from Silicon Valley Ausberger's Syndrome. It's a fake medical condition I invented to describe a breed of geek that seems to have evolved somewhere in the San Jose area. Telltale symptoms are an acuity for mechanical and abstract technical concepts and a complete lack of mirror neurons to be able to empathize with others; thusly an inability to maintain social propriety.

Really, what I'm saying is RMS is mentally/emotionally disabled and shame on you, Lefty, for bringing attention to his shortcomings and publicly humiliating him.

GIRLS RULE!!! bois droool!!! Up with shirts! Down with pants! ^_^

/rant

~The Supervillainess

Anonymous said...

Awww, shiiit...I forgot to answer your original question, Lefty.

"I[f] anyone can find the point in his first message where he responded, 'albeit more briefly', to the issue I raised, can you point it out to me? I sure don't see it."

YES, I BELIEVE HE WAS REFERRING TO HIS USE OF GENDER-NEUTRAL PRONOUNS:

>"I did respond to the other points, just more briefly.

>>"'The remarks came across as thoughtless, inconsiderate and sexist--again, this is not simply my own opinion, but one which I've heard echoed...'

>"I do not believe I owe ANYONE an apology. I did not insult or attack THEM, but it is clear some PEOPLE are attacking me...."

(Plz excuse my yelling. This page is noisy with drivel. I can hardly hear myself think aloud.)

(Also, also: Dude! It's called "word wrap" and "line breaks" and it's not expensive. I got a scrolly cramp just trying to make it to the bottom. My carpal tunnel officially hates you.)

~Tha SV

Anonymous said...

I know that this discussion has really devolved at this point, but I want to thank you, Lefty, for bringing this issue up and for sticking to your guns so vehemently. It's important that somebody does.

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