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Amendment to RMS/FSF GR: Option 4, assert the need to learn and grow from recent events

This is a late amendment proposal which I hope seconders will feel able to
support in time for it to make the ballot paper. It is late because I feel
strongly that events in the past few days [1] [2] [3] [4] risk overtaking
this GR; Debian already has enough criticism for being slow to respond, and
I want to head off anything which might reinforce that view.

1: https://www.fsf.org/news/preliminary-board-statement-on-fsf-governance
2: https://www.fsf.org/news/update-on-work-to-improve-governance-at-the-fsf
3: https://www.fsf.org/news/welcoming-ian-kelling-to-staff-seat-on-fsfs-board-of-directors
4: https://www.fsf.org/news/statement-from-the-fsf-board-of-directors-meeting-on-march-29-2021

I acknowledge that this text is not worded so strongly as many people would
like it to be. However, I don't believe in fueling fires and I would like
to see Debian calling for overhaul of FSF governance without joining any
lynch mobs. There are competing extreme opinions at the moment, and I'm
hoping this is a text on which we can have broader agreement.


This is a position statement of the Debian Developers in accordance with
our constitution, section 4.1.5.

The Developers firmly believe that leaders in any prominent organisation
are, and should be, held to the highest standards of accountability.

We are disappointed that issues of transparency and accountability in the
governance of the Free Software Foundation have led to unresolved and
serious complaints of impropriety by its founder Richard Stallman over a
number of years whilst in the position of president and as a member of the
board. In particular, we are deeply concerned that the board saw fit to
reinstate him without properly considering the effect of its actions on
those complainants.

The Developers acknowledge that people make mistakes but believe that where
those people are in leadership positions, they must be held accountable for
their mistakes. We believe that the most important part of making mistakes
is learning from them and changing behaviour. We are most concerned that
Richard and the board have not sufficiently acknowledged or learned from
issues which have affected a large number of people and that Richard
remains a significant influence on both the FSF board and the GNU project.

We call upon the Free Software Foundation to further steps it has taken in
March 2021 to overhaul governance of the organisation, and to work
tirelessly to ensure its aim is fulfilled. We believe that only through
properly accountable governance can members of an organisation ensure their
voice is heard. The Free Software Foundation must do everything in its
power to protect its staff and members, and the wider community, including
a robust and transparent process for dealing with complaints.

We urge Richard Stallman and the remaining members of the board which
reinstated him, to consider their positions.

The Developers are proud that contributors to free software come from all
walks of life and that our diverse experience and opinions are a strength
of software freedom. But we must never cease in our efforts to ensure that
all contributors are treated with respect, and that they feel safe and
secure in our communities - including when we meet in person.


Jonathan Wiltshire                                      jmw@debian.org
Debian Developer                         http://people.debian.org/~jmw

4096R: 0xD3524C51 / 0A55 B7C5 1223 3942 86EC  74C3 5394 479D D352 4C51

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