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Re: Nuance Regarding RMS

Quoting Barak A. Pearlmutter (2021-04-01 12:51:59)
> I can personally vouch for the fact that RMS can be very difficult. He
> takes social awkwardness to new heights. He’s remarkably stubborn in
> technical matters even when outside his domain of expertise and
> completely wrong. He is not a fun house guest. His manners as a dinner
> guest are atrocious. He was by far the most logistically problematic
> seminar speaker I have ever hosted. He takes umbrage at quite
> innocuous colloquial phrasing, and is obstinate about his own
> idiosyncratic interpretation of English semantics. He overshares, and
> has great difficulty reading others' emotions.
> But he's not transphobic. That accusation is basically scurrilous. At
> https://libreboot.org/news/rms.html is an impassioned but well
> reasoned (at least in this regard) defense of RMS from a trans woman
> he had a big public fight with. “If you actually tell Richard your
> preferred pronouns, he’ll use them with you without hesitation.
> Several of my friends are trans and also speak to Richard, mostly via
> email. He respects their pronouns also.”
> Calling him ablist is similarly unfair. He was defending women’s right
> to terminate pregnancies when the fetus has a condition like trisomy
> 21. Whatever your views are on the underlying political question, to
> twist that as ablist is quite a stretch.
> RMS is not violent.
> He's weird with everyone, which do I think has, in general, a
> disproportionate effect on women. As does his poor personal hygiene.
> He had a mattress in his office at MIT because he was basically living
> there. That might give lots of people squicky feelings, but would have
> a disproportionate effect on women. He makes unwelcome sexual
> overtures to women, but backs off when turned down (with perhaps
> isolated exceptions decades ago). That's totally inappropriate
> behaviour. He seems unable to sense when someone finds him repellent.
> Basically, he’s super creepy and unpleasant. He picks his feet and
> eats it while delivering seminars.
> Nina Paley hosted him in her apartment in New York on a number of
> occasions, and had a similar read.
> I'm not sure he'd be an ideal board member, but that’s a practical
> rather than ethical consideration, and surely best left to the
> judgement of the individual organization.
> What’s problematic to me about this whole “Cancel RMS” business is the
> lack of nuance. He’s clearly not neurotypical in a way that makes him
> very difficult to deal with. He doesn’t make appropriate eye contact.
> He’s strange in ways that I think, on average, affects women more than
> men. But should we bully or ostracise him for that? I think we should
> try to develop coping strategies for both him and people who want or
> need to deal with him. That’s actually supporting and accommodating
> diversity. And it’s hard! We should seek ways to leverage his
> strengths, which are considerable. Of course, that assumes lack of
> malice, which I think is the case with RMS. He’s not malicious. He
> really wants to connect, but he’s utterly unable to. He’s weird and
> clueless. And he’s obsessed with software freedom.

Thank you, Barak.  I agree with your observations, and find them an 
important contribution in this complex matter (and have tried several 
times but given up on trying to phrase something similar myself).

Question is, this being a process to compose a ballot for a vote: How to 
transform those observations into a text for the ballot?  Or if that is 
absurd, how else to proceed (other than shrug and let the boting process 
continue disregarding those observations?

 - Jonas

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

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