Thomas Bushnell (?):
But I’ll give you a personal take. By my reckoning, I worked for RMS longer than any other programmer.
There has been some bad reporting, and that’s a problem. While I have not waded through the entire email thread Selam G. has posted, my reaction was that RMS did not defend Epstein, and did not say that the victim in this case was acting voluntarily. But it’s not the most important problem. It’s not remotely close to being the most important problem.[…]
Add to all this RMS’s background of having defended the idea of adults having sex with minors under some circumstances, and people’s visceral and sharp reaction was entirely sensible.[…]
I was around for most of the 90s, and I can confirm the unfortunate reality that RMS’s behavior was a concern at the time, and that this protection was itself part of the problem. He was never held to account; he was himself coddled in his own lower-grade misbehavior and mistreatment of women. He made the place uncomfortable for a lot of people, and especially women.[…]
The end result here, while sad for him, is correct.
The thing most of the pro-Stallman comments I’ve seen in various places seem to be ignoring is that we exist in a context; our intentions simply do not matter as much as how our words and actions will be interpreted in the social and political context. RMS strayed out of his proper place, and said things that can be easily (arguably, mis-) construed as a defence of pedophilia and/or sexual assault. Whether that’s what he intended or not, I do not know, nor do I particularly care; as a person in a leadership position in his organization, his ability to perform his duty is contingent on his reputation being acceptable to the wider community; his comments and attitudes and actions over the years have so damaged his reputation that no amount of technical competence is sufficient to justify keeping him in a leadership position, or even associating with him at all. Firing him is just the sensible, appropriate thing to do. It’s the *meritocratic* thing to do, even: he’s no longer able to do his job, so he doesn’t deserve to keep his job.