Richard Stallman has resigned as president of and from the board of directors of the Free Software Foundation. The move comes after several reports on deeply inappropriate behaviour towards women, as well as a spirited defense of convicted child trafficker and child rapist Jeffrey Epstein. Stallman defended Marvin Minsky, an AI pioneer accused of raping one of Epstein’s trafficked children, by basically saying that since the underage child was forced by Epstein, Minsky wasn’t at fault for raping an underage child.
Early in the thread, Stallman insists that the “most plausible scenario” is that Epstein’s underage victims were “entirely willing” while being trafficked. Stallman goes on to argue about the definition of “sexual assault,” “rape,” and whether they apply to Minsky and Giuffre’s deposition statement that she was forced to have sex with him.
In response to a student pointing out that Giuffre was 17 when she was forced to have sex with Minsky in the Virgin Islands, Stallman said “it is morally absurd to define ‘rape’ in a way that depends on minor details such as which country it was in or whether the victim was 18 years old or 17.”
Stallman has a history of defending child rape, so perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise. On top of all this, there’s a long list of problematic behaviour towards women.
Today, a notice on the Free Software Foundation website announced his resignation, after he left MIT yesterday, too.
On September 16, 2019, Richard M. Stallman, founder and president of the Free Software Foundation, resigned as president and from its board of directors.
The board will be conducting a search for a new president, beginning immediately. Further details of the search will be published on fsf.org.
Good riddance to bad people. We’ve always known Stallman had some seriously disturbing ideas, but I had no idea they went this far and this deep. This is for the better of the Free software community as a whole.
People in the community have known about Stallman for years. I remember having a conversation at a party several years ago where people were swapping stories about him. While he was recognized as an incredible programmer, the stories shifted to his behavior, particularly his freeloading and general obnoxious nature to everyone.
MIT has a 500-year-flood level of crisis right now because of their acceptance of funding from Epstein and the tolerance of not only Stallman’s bad behavior, but numerous others. The brand, especially in light of the increasing number of women on tech company boards, has seriously suffered over the past few weeks and will take years to recover. Numerous efforts that others have made to promote MIT as an institution for women have lost credibility.
This is not about political correctness. This is about tolerating bad behavior and violating numerous policies and rules to accept money from convicted sex offenders.
Again, Richard Stallman has contributed significantly to the community and technology. That is not in doubt. However, his words and actions, especially in light of the Epstein situation, cannot be hidden and talked about out of the public eye anymore.