Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 9th Jul 2009 12:09 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y During the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit, Richard M. Stallman of the Free Software Foundation (and the Superfluous Introduction Award goes to...) gave a keynote speech. Said keynote speech raised a few eyebrows in the Free software community because of a number of questionable remarks regarding women in technology. David "Lefty" Schlesinger, member of the GNOME Advisory Board and active in the mobile open source community, took issue with RMS' remarks and decided to call him out on it. The response he got was... Less than satisfying.
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Don't be an ass, Thom
by da_Chicken on Fri 10th Jul 2009 13:12 UTC
da_Chicken
Member since:
2006-01-01

Thom Holwerda wrote:


"I find this a rather interesting discussion, mostly because RMS is kind of the primary figurehead of the Free software movement. I think most of us can agree that we'd like Free software to improve and proliferate, but if your main advocate is a figure like RMS, aren't you just limiting yourself? How can you take someone like that seriously? His contributions to the Free software movement are huge, but does that excuse him for being an asshole? (excuse my choice of words)."


Stop being an ass, Thom. David "Lefty" Schlesinger (intentionally?) fails to mention the fact that RMS only talks about "Emacs virgins" in the humorous sketch part at the end of his speeches. This sketch about the "Church of Emacs" is obviously a light-hearted spoof of the Catholic Church, where virgins are worshipped, women are patronized, and pre-marital sex is strongly discouraged. (RMS is an atheist.) It should be obvious to the meanest intelligence that this sketch was never meant to be taken seriously in the first place.

Thom Holwerda wrote:

"RMS actually gets invited to talks like this at conferences - and he gets paid for it too. But do you really want to invite someone who then just goes around acting like a weirdo, offending your community? And then, when he gets called out for it, starts playing the victim instead of just apologising? People do not come to a technology conference to be insulted and offended - it's not a comedy club.


RMS doesn't change his repertoire that often, and people who invite him to give speeches should damn well know what they're about to hear. If the audience feels frightened or offended because RMS is a bit of an eccentric, they are always free to walk away and come back only after Stallman has finished his speech. But it seems that quite a lot of people are actually interested to hear what this eccentric Free Software guru has to say.

Thom Holwerda wrote:

"Some argue that by standing up for women, people like Lefty are actually affirming the idea that women need help and protection. I find this a nonsensical train of thought; how are women going to stand up for themselves in this case when there are no women to begin with? But even if there were women - I see no problem with standing up for minorities you're not part of. I call that common decency."


Yeah, David "Lefty" Schlesinger sounds quite patronizing towards women, and Thom Holwerda seems eager to join the chorus. Typical sexist males. ;)

Thom Holwerda wrote:

"This discussion is not about whether or not it's wrong to offend with jokes and humour - trust me, I am all for that. It keeps people sharp. I dislike the political correctness nonsense that's been travelling around the world these past few yeas. Still, there are times and places for such humour, and a serious technological conference is not one of them."


Let me reiterate: The major part of Stallman's speeches always consists of very serious bla bla bla about software freedom and licenses, and the dangers of software patents and DRM, and so on. So there is always a "serious technological" part in his speeches. But RMS usually likes to end his speech on a lighter note, and he has prepared a little sketch about the imaginary "Church of Emacs" for that very purpose.

This sketch is also self-ironic because a lot of people seem to regard Stallman's moralistic attitude as some kind of holier-than-thou posing. So his audiences usually appreciate this open display of self-irony. Except perhaps people like David "Lefty" Schlesinger, who seem to have a "politically correct" monkey on their back.

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