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Jaw on the floor. Just wow. I've seen geeks in positions of respect and influence taken out using exactly the accusation inflation that Stallman was rightly criticizing, and which has now forced him to fall on his sword. This is fucked. I don't know whether to feel angry, or scared about the implications if literally nobody is safe from the narcissistic clowns that cluster around voluntary movements seeking attention and drama, and using diversity issues as a cover.
news.slashdot.org/story/19/09/

I just want to emphasize that I accept the importance of social movements being inclusive, including taking special actions and running special projects to address and reverse past exclusions of anyone, because of something about them that's different (and not harmful). All I'm saying is that I've been seen people get away with some terribly destructive behaviour in social movements where any action can be placed above criticism just by claiming it's somehow promoting diversity.

Stallman's actual error 

@strypey

But in the particular case that Stallman was defending, the participant was under age. So even if victim presented herself as willing to Minsky, he's still a pedophile.

And Minsky was 73 at the time. Even if he thought the victim was 20, what 20 year old person of *any* sexual identity or orientation wants to have sex with a 73 year old?

1/2

Stallman's actual error 

@strypey

And this isn't an isolated case. Stallman has argued that pedophilia is not harmful to children (it's on his own website).

And there are credible accusations that he blocked conferences from enforcing their own codes of conduct when friends of his sexually harassed attendees.

I understand and agree with your general point. But I don't think it applies here.

Stallman's actual error 

@mike 1) Unlike most of the other discussions flying around about this, let's base ours on what was actually said. Here's the actual comments:
assets.documentcloud.org/docum

Stallman's actual error 

@strypey

I am open to the possibility that Minsky is innocent.

But Stallman's defense of the scenario as presented is unconscionable. "I don't think it happened" is completely separate from "If it did happen, Minsky didn't do anything wrong" and Stallman made both arguments.

Stallman's actual error 

@mike 2) the "pedophile" smear

Let's define our terms here. A pedophile is someone who likes to have sex with children. Therefore, a man who wants to have sex with someone be believes in 20 is not a pedophile.

Stallman's actual error 

@mike 3) the age questions

> what 20 year old person of *any* sexual identity or orientation wants to have sex with a 73 year old?

I find this to be an absurd and ageist question. It's certainly not one a 73 year old man is going to ask. If the person he has sex with is actually 17, and the age of consent in the territory he is in is 18, then yes, in a *legal* sense, this is statutory rape.

Stallman's actual error 

@mike 4) the other pedophilia smear

> Stallman has argued that pedophilia is not harmful to children

Stallman put forward a logical ethical argument based on flaw premises. He later realized his mistake, and recanted this claim. I note that this has been little mentioned among the scuttlebutt flying around about this.

Stallman's actual error 

@mike 5) "credible accusations"

> there are credible accusations that he ...

Your choice of words here is telling. Let me translate for you, "someone I trust told me, but really it's hearsay and there's no way to know whether it's true or not, but where there's smoke there's fire". That about right?

Stallman's actual error 

@mike
> I understand and agree with your general point. But I don't think it applies here.

It's likely we'll have to agree to disagree about this. But I'm happy to continue a discussion about the facts of the matter, and the ethical issues involved, as long as its stays civil.

Stallman's actual error 

@strypey

I've lost the order of the discussion a bit. Thanks for providing a link to Stallman's recant of his earlier position on pedophilia.

With respect to 'credible accusations', the overwhelming majority of cases involving sexual misconduct are hearsay only. We have to preserve 'innocent until proven guilty' but testimony alone without other forms of proof must still be accepted as valuable evidence.

This provides more context: medium.com/@selamjie/remove-ri

Stallman's actual error 

@mike here's a link to Stallman recanting his defence, as an ethical thought experiment, of consensual sex between adults and children. Yes, it took him a long time to make a public statement on the matter, but there it is:
stallman.org/archives/2019-jul

Stallman's actual error 

@strypey

I'm not attempting to move the goal posts here - and call me on it if I do.

I don't think my question about a fifty year age gap is absurd or ageist. It's exactly on point - they were at the Virgin Islands, a young adult would have thousands of potential sexual partners. Unless the woman did a convincing job pretending to have an incredible fascination for Minsky's AI research and other academic work, he *had* to know there was prostitution involved.

Stallman's actual error 

@strypey

And I'm not opposed to sex work, but if you're paying a sex worker you have a base responsibility to attempt to understand the circumstances.

"Are you of age and here of your own free will?" and so forth. And if she lied, then Minsky is in the clear - but as far as I know that was not part of the testimony. If he had, Minsky could have sworn to that while he was still alive.

Stallman's actual error 

@mike when you're 70, and a beautiful young woman hits on you, I'm sure you'll go through a proper bureaucratic process before having sex with her. The rest of us are human and will most likely be too flattered and flustered by the unexpected attention to think of that. The girl was definitely violated, and it's *possible* Minsky knew that when it happened, but Stallman wouldn't let him be accused of that without evidence, and neither would I.

@strypey @bob @mike It's really a question of margin. Look at who is being given enormous bending-over-backwards-with-excruciating-wordplay benefit of the doubt and who is being pretty much disregarded entirely.

@bob All I've seen is a single email from a much longer conversation. perhaps you've read something I haven't. Because deriving that conclusion from a single decontextualized email is drawing a long bow, to put it politely.
@mike

@strypey @bob

All you have to do is read other comments and actions by Stallman over the years. Pedophile apologist until last year. Sexist.

Most of the condemnation of Stallman's most recent statements were not, "This lone despicable assertion must not stand!", they were "This is the last straw, and we should have acted years ago."

This is from women and men in the GNU project and MIT.

@mike *sigh* we've covered the pedophile thing. Making a mistake about ethics while trying to be principled - even when that means going against common sense - is not a hanging offence. "Sexist" is a matter of opinion, but even granting that's it's obviously true because he's a man in a patriarchal society, and one born in the 1950s to boot, that's not a hanging offence either. If those claims have the same substance as this one, I'm not impressed. Smoke doesn't always mean fire.
@bob

@mike but what is interesting is that you are implicitly admitting that there are people who have been gunning for him for years, waiting for the ideal opportunity to assassinate his character and marginalize him. I don't see the success of people who work like that as a cause for celebration.
@bob

Stallman 

@strypey @bob
What kind of argument is that? So a slave owner born in the 1750s is guiltless?

I wrote that there are multiple people testifying of unacceptable behavior by Stallman for decades, and the information is freely available with a web search. You twist that to mean they've been gunning for him for years.

Stallman's actual error 

@strypey

Well again, as we've agreed it's innocent until proven guilty.

I think there are only two plausible possibilities: Minsky did not have sexual contact with the girl, or he guessed the circumstances were unethical and proceeded anyway.

I really don't see room for innocent mistakes.

I understand the temptation to just let things happen if someone implausible approaches me for sex - but that doesn't mean it's an acceptable option.

Stallman's actual error 

@mike
> Unless the woman did a convincing job pretending to have an incredible fascination for Minsky's AI research and other academic work, he *had* to know there was prostitution involved.

Perhaps she did exactly that, on Epstein's instructions? Now we are having exactly the discussion Stallman was having. My claim is that Stallman speculating about this was an entirely reasonable thing to say, given the available evidence. Especially in a *private* discussion.

re: Stallman's actual error 

@mike @strypey

Nope. The only important thing is whether Minsky believed the woman was of the age of consent, in both the jurisdiction she traveled from, and on the island. If she was, no crime was committed according to those courts. Of course the real moral issue is whether she actually WAS able to consent, and only she really knows that. But Minksy is morally innocent if he believed she was. No matter the age discrepancy.
@strypey

Hopefully, Stallman bowed out because he was happy to pursue his own projects without the weight of MIT and the FSF on his shoulders. But he hasn't said that publicly, that I know of.
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