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Re: opinion on Choice 1

>>>>> On 2021-03-28 20:23:38 +0200, Pierre-Elliott Bécue wrote:
>>>>> Le dimanche 28 mars 2021 à 15:35:42+0000, Ivan Shmakov a écrit :

	In my previous letter, I’ve presented my general concerns about
	the ‘open letter’ that Choice 1 seeks to ratify; irrespective
	(more or less) of any specific organization or individual.
	Below I hope to clarify my position, as well as attempt to
	address some (but by no means all) concerns regarding Richard
	Stallman personally.

	I understand that for some of us, the mere suggestion that
	Richard Stallman may not be that wrong in certain respects
	can be offensive.  For that, as well as for any factual mistakes
	(corrections welcome) on my part below, I apologize in advance.

 >> “We do not condone his actions *and opinions.*”

 >> “There has been enough tolerance of RMS’s *repugnant ideas* and
 >> behavior.”

 >> “[…] we will not continue suffering his behavior […] or
 >> otherwise holding him *and his hurtful and dangerous ideology*
 >> as acceptable.”

 >> Where’s diversity in that?

 > Diversity is not tolerating dangerous ideas and the persons defending
 > these.

	I’m somewhat curious as to how you define ‘dangerous ideas’?

	In all honesty, I’m not sure such a notion has much value;
	in part because for every few persons agreeing, there probably
	will be a few more /millions/ to disagree.  And in part because
	a lot of things we now take for granted (such as equality) were
	once considered ‘dangerous ideas,’ and conversely, some of the
	things that were commonplace in the past (such as slavery) are
	now considered ‘dangerous ideas.’

	Is the idea of a violent overthrow of a government a dangerous
	one?  Yet this is how a number of extant goverments came to be.
	(To paraphrase Harry Harrison’s protagonist Jason dinAlt.)

	Add to that that such notions tend to vary across cultures and

	Don’t get me wrong: I do /not/ consider all ideas to be ‘equal.’
	But I find it a slippery slope when we start talking about which
	views can be held and expressed (or ‘defended’), and which cannot.

	Other than that, I believe that if you witness actual criminal
	behavior (which is to say, a dangerous person /acting/ on his or
	her dangerous views), you should report it to the relevant
	authorities.  Certainly, on occasion the law violated will be
	unjust in itself, but I think it’s generally better for the
	society at large to have a public trial, and perhaps conviction
	(and a posthumous public apology from the government half a
	century later, as in [1]); than to have laws that are applied
	inconsistently (which is to say, selectively.)

[1] http://theguardian.com/world/2009/sep/11/pm-apology-to-alan-turing

 > For the sake of clarity, I’m talking about his comments on the
 > Epstein thing,

	Like, for example, condemning coercion and sexual trafficking?
	(Very much in line with his general views on coercion and
	other violations of personal freedom.)

 > like pretending having sex with 14 yo childs is okay

	This indeed was his view which he expressed back in 2006.
	He has since changed his mind [2].

[2] http://stallman.org/archives/2019-jul-oct.html#14_September_2019_(Sex_between_an_adult_and_a_child_is_wrong)

 > because they were “entirely willing”,

	An acquaintance of mine, a Russian Orthodox priest, used to say
	(in good humor) that Paul the Apostle advocated for a carefree
	lifestyle, and in support of his position quoted him thus:
	“let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.”

	And indeed, if you open First Epistle to the Corinthians, you
	will find these exact words right down there.  Though in context,
	their meaning is effectively the opposite.

	RMS’ letter indeed contained the phrase above which, without
	context, can be understood as implying that there was no coercion.

	Within context, the phrase can suggest that Minsky was a fool,
	that Stallman thought Minsky was a fool, that Stallman himself
	was a fool, or some combination or variation thereof.

	As far as I know, there’s not a shred of evidence in the
	correspondence that Stallman somehow thought that there was
	no coercion, or that said coercion is somehow ‘right.’
	(Consider, e. g., [3].)

[3] http://jorgemorais.gitlab.io/justice-for-rms/#mischaracterizations

 > and the possession of pedopornographic images.

	I don’t know what /his/ specific concerns about the relevant
	legislation are (someone will have to ask him), but I can
	suggest the following two.

	The first, and it’s applicable to /any/ law that criminalizes
	possession of /any/ material in digital form, is that such law
	makes it easy to plant evidence.  It’s one thing to plant guns
	or narcotics; they’re both bulkier /and/ the authorities may
	need to explain as to how you come to be in possession of them.

	Planting a microSD card is both easier physically, and then
	‘Internet’ can be claimed as the source.  Especially if they
	find something like Tor installed on the computer.

	The other is that the legal definition of ‘child pornography’
	may in some jurisdictions be way too broad.

	As I understand it, the US courts follow a strict definition,
	according to which such laws only apply to material whose
	production involved actual minors.

	In Australia, however, the respective law applies to images that
	depict either actual minors /or/ people /looking like/ minors,
	regardless of their actual age.

	As such, for example, an adult woman making and keeping a photo
	of herself in a suggestive pose may end up being charged with
	both possession /and/ production of child pornography.

	In Russia, I won’t be surprised to learn that one can be
	prosecuted for a stick-figure drawing labelled ‘minors having sex.’

	Of course, the concerns above can be alleviated by having
	appropriate legal safeguards in place.  But are they there?

 > His attitude towards women, too.

	I’ve heard accounts (though dated) of those who’ve witnessed
	his bad behavior towards women firsthand, or were told of such
	behavior by the women involved.

	I think that someone who he trusts should’ve long called him out,
	privately, on such behavior.

	Unfortunately, I see nothing I can personally do to help him to
	resolve this problem (assuming it still stands.)

	If the organizers deem him to be too much trouble to have
	at a public event, I believe they have options on how to
	effectively ban him from attending said event.  I’m going to guess
	that the lack of appropriate response on the part of organizers
	might have contributed to the present state of affairs.

	‘Attitude,’ however, can mean not only behavior but also views.
	I’m not aware about any bad views he may have about women.

 > Although I’m ill-at-ease with other things he said, like “one should
 > abort if their to-be-born child is likely to have Down’s syndrome”, I
 > still consider that such personal views are his right and I would not
 > sign a letter asking him out if his words and opinions were limited
 > to these.  Because I indeed think that diversity also means accepting
 > that some people think things that I am ill-at-ease with.

	Regardless of whether we find his suggestion good or bad, and
	regardless of if we agree with it, there’s still a problem that,
	to put it bluntly, children are ought to outlive their parents.
	I have no qualms with parents caring about children who have
	Down syndrome, or any other affliction for that matter.  But I
	understand that sooner or later, parents will no longer be able
	to.  Can the society provide them with the necessary care,
	whatever it may be?  Are there enough non-profits around the
	world that help them with their daily needs?  How many of us
	have ever contributed materially to any such non-profit?

	With all these questions still unresolved in my mind, I cannot
	in good conscience judge RMS for this view.

 >> Don’t you see, it takes either definite meanness or considerable
 >> ignorance to call a person on his or her /past views/; the views
 >> /can/ change, and they often do.

 > I still am waiting for any proof that RMS did actually change.
 > For now, I’m sorry to say that I have no element indicating that.

	In some respects, he already did change; see above.  In others,
	he didn’t.  In yet other respects, he didn’t change /and I hope/
	he never will.

	There, for example, can be an all around good person who in good
	faith states that non-free Javascript, or GPU software, or
	bootloaders are okay.  It’s their view and I can /and will/
	respect their right to have one.  But I’m afraid, however great
	their contributions to free software, or society at large, may be,
	they /do not/ speak for me when they express said view.  And
	when RMS criticizes said view, for all his flaws, he does.

	I just hope we aren’t expecting an entirely flawless leader.
	Because I know of no such one to ever be among mere humans.

	And I can understand people calling him good or bad, whether as
	a leader or as a person or otherwise – that’s your call, all right.
	But for goodness sake, call him bad for what he actually did!

 > And the way he comes back does not help any bit.

	That I can understand.

	It was something that I myself felt surprised by, and not
	pleasently so, even though I long understood that FSF was
	established with a somewhat authoritarian governance in mind;
	if only because back in the day, there was /no/ community
	identifying themselves with software freedom to allow for
	anything more democratic.

FSF associate member #7257  http://am-1.org/~ivan/

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