Richard M. Stallman, frequently known as RMS, has been a driving force in the free software movement for decades, with contributions including the GNU operating system and Emacs.
Recently, there have been vile online attacks looking to remove him from the FSF board of directors for expressing his personal opinions. We have watched this happen before in an organized fashion with other prominent free software activists and programmers. We will not stand idly this time, when an icon of this community is attacked.
FSF is an autonomous body that is capable of treating its members in a fair, unbiased fashion, and should not give in to external social pressures. We urge the FSF to consider the arguments against RMS objectively and to truly understand the meaning of his words and actions.
Historically, RMS has been expressing his views in ways that upset many people. He is usually more focused on the philosophical underpinnings, and pursuing the objective truth and linguistic purism, while underemphasising people’s feelings on matters he’s commenting on. This makes his arguments vulnerable to misunderstanding and misrepresentation, something which we feel is happening in the open letter calling for his removal. His words need to be interpreted in this context and taking into account that more often than not, he is not looking to put things diplomatically.
Regardless, Stallman’s opinions on the matters he is being persecuted over are not relevant to his ability to lead a community such as the FSF. Furthermore, he is entitled to his opinions just as much as anyone else. Members and supporters do not have to agree with his opinions, but should respect his right to freedom of thought and speech.
To the FSF:
Removing RMS will hurt FSF’s image and will deal a significant blow to the momentum of the free software movement. We urge you to consider your actions carefully, as what you will decide will have a serious impact on the future of the software industry.
To the ambush mob who is ganging up on Richard Stallman over reasonable arguments in debate and various opinions and beliefs voiced over decades as a public figure:
You have no part in choosing the leadership of any communities. Especially not via another mob attack which does not remotely resemble a fairly conducted debate as exemplified by better people such as Richard Stallman.
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