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Re: Asking DPL to shorten Discussion Period for rms-open-letter

Hi Wouter,

Quoting Wouter Verhelst (2021-03-27 18:19:57)
> On Sat, Mar 27, 2021 at 10:41:57AM +0100, Jonas Smedegaard wrote:
> > Thanks for your judgements(!), Luke and Enrico.
> > 
> > For the record, I do not defend actions of RMS.  I defend his right 
> > to a fair trial.
> Nobody is claiming Richard doesn't have the right for a fair trial. He 
> is still a human being, and every human being has such a right.
> However, there is no trial here.

We agree that there is no trial here.

My point is however tied to that of cancel culture a.k.a. group shaming 
- specifically that the initial text on the ballot use judgemental 
language that I can only read as intended to condemn the person that we 
want to distance outselves from.  Maybe I use the words wrongly or 
sloppily - what I mean is the difference between saying "that person 
allegedly made a crime" and "that person has made a crime", where the 
former is an accusation.

Seems my concern is what in english is called "libel": 

> There is just the statement that RMS 
> has been a very annoying person for the past several decades, and that 
> having him in a position of leadership, in the opinion of those people 
> that signed the letter, causes more harm than good.
> *That is not a trial*. That is an opinion on the effects another 
> person's behavior has to a community.

You talk about the part of Debian distancing itself from RMS.

I talk about the part of Debian making accusations against RMS.

Imagine someone in Debian blogged about skin colors, super annoyingly 
and persistently for many years but always "just talking about stuff" 
maybe walking close to but never crossing the line of racism, and Debian 
at some point had enough and decided to issue a public statement saying 
that this person had shown himself to be a racist.  My worry is that 
Debian had then comitted a crime of libel, whereas you seem to describe 
that as Debian simply sharing its opinion about this person in a 

Apparently (from skimming above Wikipedia article) the US treats 
celebrities special regarding libel, unlike e.g. Denmark. Perhaps that 
explains why I worry more than others in this conversation.

> Debian stating to the FSF that we would prefer not to have to deal 
> with RMS is not a punishment for RMS.

Yes, I agree. But again that is not the group shaming part which I was 
talking about.

Stating that RMS "has shown himself to be misogynist, ableist, and 
transphobic" is not simply expressing "that we would prefer not to have 
to deal with RMS" - it is a strong accusation.  Not a wild 
out-of-the-blue accusation, but still an accusation.  Unless or until a 
fair trial has ruled that he is guilty of those horrible crimes, in 
which case in becomes facts.

> XKCD 1357 applies here, with s/free speech rights/rights to a fair 
> trial/.

Fun.  But besides my point.

 - Jonas

 * Jonas Smedegaard - idealist & Internet-arkitekt
 * Tlf.: +45 40843136  Website: http://dr.jones.dk/

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