Reply to post: Re: Should his freedoms be stifled just because he's famous?

GNU means GNU's Not U: Stallman insists he's still Chief GNUisance while 18 maintainers want him out as leader

sbt Silver badge

Re: Should his freedoms be stifled just because he's famous?

I appreciate the detailed reply. I can't be as detailed but I'll try to pick up the points not covered previously or elsewhere, where a specific rebuttal can be made.

It is up to them to speak up for themselves if they disagree with what someone else is saying from within their project.

Well 24 of them did sign the open letter, and others like Andy made their own statements. The system seems to be working.

It's famous people who've spoken "out of turn", added their name to the fight, that has helped.

The amount of help provided can be hard to define. We may remember the famous people who stood up after victory is won, but I think that's a disservice to the people taking the larger personal risk. Sure, they can spend some of their cachet to advance a personal cause or espouse a view to a ready audience. But there's a cost/benefit analysis each person has to make: Do the benefits to this particular cause (such as trying to defend my friend's reputation) outweigh the harms to my life's work, where people will stop working with me or working on it?.

Maybe celebrities are only messing with there own careers and marketability, but founders and leaders

need to consider the costs to their own projects/organisations/companies, members/employees, and users/customers. What they're spending is not necessarily all theirs to spend.

That's why it's important to encourage people to speak up for what we believe regardless of whatever "brand damage" may be done.

Well, see above. It's not just about brand damage.

But, if he were not in some sense 'famous' he'd just be another voice in the wind that could easily be ignored...

Sure there's a difference between using your "fame" to get a hearing and using your "authority" as a shortcut to trust. But I don't take healthcare advice from Hollywood A-listers, any more than I do my plumber. Even if I trust my plumber more in general (because I've met him), I'd still only consider seriously his views on drainage and not flu remedies.

It's worth remembering that the objections I raised (as have others) to RMS's ongoing tenure of GNU go far beyond the particular remarks made in the mailing list, even if those specific remarks were misquoted.

For what it's worth, I read the leaked thread PDF rather than replying on the outraged third party reports, because of the apprehension of bias in the complaints. What follows does not rely on misquoted reports but on RMS's own mailing list replies.

I think there's legitimate questions around whether RMS made a useful contribution by weighing in on the subject, whether he lacked credibility due to his friendship with the accused, his own reputation in respect to women and the blunt and hair-splitting approach he took to making his points about a sensitive subject, particularly given the profile of the recepients of the list.

I wasn't going to go there, but famous or not, you want your cause to be advanced by competent and persuasive orators. From what I read there, RMS is not one, on these issues at least. The Dunning-Kruger effect may be in play here. But it doesn't matter if I was convinced or not. The harm lies elsewhere. I'm not going to venture any further into the substance of RMS's views on matters outside of Free Software. You are welcome to the last word on this point, if you want it.

Your subsequent points on honesty and trust show there are differences in the ways in which people evaluate each other and build relationships, in which trust and honesty play a part. I don't particularly like that courtesy, respect and social norms "work" on people, or that we all can't be totally frank and honest all the time. In some ways, life would be simpler. But again, the psychological factors I mentioned a few posts back mean we're not all the rational actors we'd need to be for that to be as consequence free as you or I might wish.

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