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

Hi Jonas,

On Sat, Mar 27, 2021 at 11:46:03PM +0100, Jonas Smedegaard wrote:
> 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.

The word "allegedly" is used by the press when reporting on a case, as a
shorthand for "we don't want to take a position either way, but this is
what the one party in the case is saying".

Since we *do* want to take a position here, using "allegedly" is not

Having said that, the language of the letter does not say that RMS *is*
mysoginistic, transphobic, or ableist; it states that "he has shown
himself to be" all these things. The difference here is subtle, but it
is a difference of exactly the type you are arguing for.

> Seems my concern is what in english is called "libel": 
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation#Libel

According to that very page, for a statement to be considered libel, it
has to be false. Quote:

   Defamation (also known as calumny, vilification, libel, slander or
   traducement) is the oral or written communication of a *false*
   statement about another that *unjustly* harms their reputation and
   usually constitutes a tort or crime

(emphasis mine)

Do you have reason to believe these statements are false, and/or that
they "unjustly" harm RMS' reputation? There is no question that they
will harm his reputation; however, given the harm he has done to others,
I do not believe it is "unjust", in that it is a result that could have
been expected.

> > 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,

Do you believe that to be the case here? Do you think RMs has "walked
close but never crossed the line" of the things he's being accused of?

If not, then I fail to see what the problem is.

If you do, then... well, we'll have to discuss that.

For the record, I don't believe so. I do believe he is all the things he
is being accused of in that letter.

> > 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.

We agree that it is an accusation.

I don't see what the problem is with that? Unless you believe the
accusations to be false, it is fair to accuse someone of doing something
if you believe the said something is wrong.

If the accusations are strong, then that is only because the said things
are *very* wrong. That's not the fault of the accuser; it is the fault
of the accused.

> Unless or until a fair trial has ruled that he is guilty of those
> horrible crimes, in which case in becomes facts.

What he is being accused of is not a crime in any jurisdiction that I am
aware of. He is not a nice person towards fellow human beings, but most
laws don't require you to be.

You don't need a trial for everything. I don't think what RMS has done
requires jail time, or any other punishment a trial could give him.
Failing that, there is no reason for a trial.

Without a trial, it is indeed not possible for the accusations to be
proven true or false. However, if someone cared enough, all the
evindence is out there and they can try to show why the accusations are

I don't think they'll be successful though.

> > XKCD 1357 applies here, with s/free speech rights/rights to a fair 
> > trial/.
> Fun.  But besides my point.

Perhaps, but it nicely supports mine ;-)

To the thief who stole my anti-depressants: I hope you're happy

  -- seen somewhere on the Internet on a photo of a billboard

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