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Inside the Free Software Foundation (FSF) - Part IV: Why Richard Stallman Stepped Down

Free Speech and Free software

Summary: The next part of our FSF series deals with the truth behind the awkward resignation of Richard Stallman (it seemed like ousting at the time, akin to what had happened days earlier at MIT)

IN PART ONE, part two and part three we mentioned the inner 'secrets' of the FSF -- mere facts that "coup" leaders want suppressed for fear that it might harm or even completely undo their "coup".

There's a story connected to how or why Stallman resigned. He's still head of the GNU Project and he insists on keeping it that way (despite massive and relentless opposition from a vocal minority). Stallman did not really want to leave the FSF. "But the executive director and one board member with a lot of entitlement and charm," someone told us, "seem to have convinced the rest of the board, Stallman, staff (and even themselves?) that the world is against Stallman, and that the FSF needs to distance itself from him in order to keep Free Software alive."

"There's a story connected to how or why Stallman resigned."Readers can guess who that was (which board member).

Over the next few days, in future parts of this series, we'll detail more pertinent facts. In the meantime, however, there are similar attacks on free speech brewing at the OSI (silencing their co-founder, ESR). Familiar tactics?

Live and learn.

We're not defending ESR, but from what we're able to find (it's censored) no threats were made, except a threat to one's feelings or "comfort zone".

"To be honest," one person told us, "I doubt that ESR threatened anybody. If he did, that's certainly his own problem. Libertarians don't typically defend threats as free speech, neither does the constitution."

We've found only one message; there may be more that we're just not seeing. For those who are interested in digging this further, here's what one member told us 2 days ago:

Go to OSI lists page.

Go to archives -> license-review, gzip'd text.

Download Feb 2020. You'll find one email from ESR. You'll also find C Lemmer Webber is active -- he's on both the Guix anti-RMS petition and the older LibrePlanet safe RMS petition -- the latter hosted on Eric Shultz website, who I believed signed the LibrePlanet safe petition also.

Eric Shultz is also active on the OSI list.

Now go back and click on the license-discuss archive.

Get the gzip'd text. You'll find phrases "5 and 6" as well as "horse you rode in on."

I think this is what you're looking for.

You'll find an exchange between none other than Shultz, the Stallman LibrePlanet petition signer and host, and ESR.

This could be off the right trail, but gosh, it sure doesn't appear to be.

What's noteworthy here is the parallel or the overlap between ESR and the anti-Stallman (RMS) petitioners.

"Over the next few days, in future parts of this series, we'll detail more pertinent facts.""However," a person noted, "there is another side to this. When people protested the "lynching" of Stallman, none other than Sullivan openly and publicly equated that with threats of murder, in an email still available to everyone."

If someone wants to send this E-mail to us, we'll gladly publish it.

"I can understand that if he speaks English as a second language," the person continued, "but he doesn't. The tactic of painting legitimate protests as less peaceful and more violent than they actually are is universal FUD. You don't want someone to have a voice, so you twist their words into a threat. If Sullivan did that when someone used the word "lynching" then who knows what someone told Oliva leading to his most recent article? Anything is "bullying" these days. You can't critique anything anymore, no matter how wrong it is. I still don't know what ESR said, I'll look at that link. But whatever was said to Oliva to make him take a step back? I bet you it was more social engineering. Personally I don't think ESR is that stupid either, but anything is possible."

This person refers to the latest, apparently unexpected, posts from Oliva.

"What's noteworthy here is the parallel or the overlap between ESR and the anti-Stallman (RMS) petitioners.""They did the same to Assange," the person continued, and "it's a psychological trick. After strip-searching him and keeping him in the British equivalent of G-mo, they put him in Glass in the courtroom. To show how dangerous he is. What is he, a mutant from the X-men films? He can make bullets come out of his fingers or something?"

This is why we need to analyse pertinent messages/E-mails.

"Without substantiated quotes," the person continued, "this could easily be just another equating use of the word "lynching" as some kind of "threat of murder", like the FSF's biggest idiot decided to do, to shut down a completely peaceful and legal public discussion. That was less than 6 months ago. Has anybody ever heard of the boy who cried wolf?"

We generally try not to say negative things about FSF at the moment (or ever), as it might not be too late to rectify matters. In an atmosphere of secrecy it would not be possible. People still have many questions about what some dubbed "Free software 9/11" (we keep hearing that phrase).

"I would not give up on FSF yet," an associate told us, "but Kuhn and Sandler and their helpers need to admit to their game and resign. However, if there are outside influence like with the attack on ESR then they might not be entirely voluntarily in the their positions."

"People still have many questions about what some dubbed "Free software 9/11" (we keep hearing that phrase)."There's a bit of a hint between the lines there.

"I realise young people don't / can't read," the associate continued, "but this one is relevant and I highly recommend working through it: "Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History" by George Crile III (2003). It would help for more people to be familiar with the methods described in the book and quite possible seen used against FOSS. Another would be to look up how Microsoft (and its backers) use the Soviet era Taistolaiset tactics."

Remember BSD vs. GPL wars?

“A couple of years ago this guy called Ken Brown wrote a book saying that Linus stole Linux from me... It later came out that Microsoft had paid him to do this...”

--Andrew S Tanenbaum, father on MINIX

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