How do we proceed?

MBR mbr at arlsoft.com
Tue Oct 8 17:19:54 BST 2019


The following started out as a brief note, but got quite long. Your 
bogus accusation that I'm someone "paid by Google" to "sneak into our 
community and attack the real fighters" left me feeling the need to 
disprove it by providing a lot of details about my connection, both to 
Stallman and to Free Software.

I know that Richard considers himself an atheist, but I know from having 
read "Free as in Freedom", back when it first came out, that both of 
RMS' parents were Jewish.  So, he's a Jewish atheist in exactly the same 
way that I'm a Jewish agnostic.  Being Jewish is not just a religion.  
Stallman and I are both Americans of Jewish ancestry in the exact same 
way that Alexander Graham Bell was an American of Scottish ancestry.

I've known Stallman since the 1970s when both of us were regular folk 
dancers around Cambridge, Mass., especially Sunday nights at MIT 
(International), Tuesday nights at MIT (Balkan), and another night (I 
forget which) at "The Taylors" (Connie and Marianne Taylor) at the YWCA 
in Central Sq.  In the late 1970s, we were both in a performing group 
that spent so much time arguing about a name that we never came up with 
one and ended up being called the MITFDCPG (MIT Folk Dance Club 
Performing Group).  We all recognized Richard as simultaneously 
brilliant and weirdly clueless about interacting with other people, but 
he was part of our community, and we felt protective of him.  BTW, when 
Newsweek did an article on him in the early 1980s, he was wearing 
MITFDCPG costume in the photo:

In the late 1970s, he started talking to anybody and everybody about how 
"they're taking away our freedom to program".  As a programmer myself, I 
didn't see it then, and thought, "Well, that's just Stallman being 
Stallman.  He's a little nuts, but he's just another quirky member of 
our community."  It took me another 5 or 6 years to see what he'd been 
seeing, at which point I realized that Stallman's not nuts, he's a 
visionary!  I've never made that mistake again.  If he has something to 
say, I take it very seriously because I know he thinks things through in 
great detail.  I may not always agree with him, but I always know that 
whatever he says is the product of a formidable intellect.

Also, as a software engineer, I've been using the GNU toolset since the 
late 1980s.  Ever since Linux was first available in the early 1990s, 
I've understood that Linux (or as Richard prefers, GNU/Linux) is a 
combination of the GNU tools, the XFree86 port of the X Window System to 
the Intel architecture, the Berkeley implementation of networking, and 
Linus' kernel.  And I felt that the name ought to reflect the major 
contributors.  Somebody had suggested spelling it LiGnuX to give credit 
to the kernel (Linux), the command line tools (GNU), and the windowing 
system (XFree86). I liked the idea of crediting the major contributors, 
so when Torvalds was a guest in a live chat session sometime in the 
mid-1990s, I made that suggestion, and by his response, Torvalds clearly 
indicated that he wasn't about to give others credit for their 
contributions.  That's something I can't imagine Stallman ever doing 
because unlike most people, for him truth and accuracy are of paramount 
importance.  It's been noted that when he put out a revised version 
(2.0) of "Free as in Freedom", he didn't remove descriptions of himself 
that might be considered disparaging.  He only changed things that Sam 
Williams got wrong.

I'd been out of touch with him for quite some time, but we reconnected a 
few years ago.  He's still as difficult to get along with as he always 
was, but I now understand, both from "Free as in Freedom" and from 
talking with other friends of his, that he's on the autism spectrum, and 
that explains both his brilliance and his difficulty relating to other 
people.  And I've noticed that he now seems to put effort into trying to 
relate better to people, and regardless of whether he succeeds or not, I 
find it quite touching and that I truly appreciate his making the effort.

So, whatever fantasy you may have about me being "paid by Google" to 
"sneak into our community and attack the real fighters", there's no 
reality to that fantasy.  The only reason I'm on this list at all is 
because, a few weeks ago, out of the blue, I received an email from 
Daniel Pocock, not to me but to a list that someone added me to without 
my knowledge.  Usually I object to that, but in this case I decided to 
stay on the list, specifically because it seemed like it was a group of 
Free Software contributors who'd be likely to be discussing the recent 
attack on RMS.

When I initially read your comments about him, I thought you were on his 
side.  But then I read your comment that he "may be liquidated soon" and 
couldn't figure out what you were talking about.  Immediately after 
that, I noticed your UID, and misread "ahilter" as "ahitler".  An easy 
mistake to make.  Or maybe I'm a little bit dylsexic ("That's a joke, 
son!" -- Foghorn Leghorn).

This should give you some idea of who I am, how I know Richard, and 
where my sympathies lie.  I hadn't even remembered the sense of 
protectiveness regarding RMS from the 1970s, nor had I realized that it 
was still there, but when Selam G's bullshit rant forced his ouster from 
both MIT and FSF, I was outraged!

So, with you suddenly talking about him possibly being "liquidated" and 
my misreading your UID as a reference to Adolf Hitler, I over-reacted.  
Sorry about that.


On 10/8/19 2:54 AM, ahilter at keemail.me wrote:
> Oct 7, 2019, 18:21 by mbr at arlsoft.com:
>
>> When someone whose UID        portion of his email address is "ahitler" says of someone of        Jewish ancestry that he "may be liquidated soon", that's beyond        the pale!  What exactly are you implying is going to happen to        Richard?
>>
>>
> I am horrified. Now I am attacked because I fight for free software and RMS. You're trying to pull my good name into the mud and allude to Jews.  That's not acceptable. RMS is not a Jew. He is an atheist. Are you a Jew? I don't know what you want. It's really horrible how some people, probably paid by Google, sneak into our community and attack the real fighters. I won't let you insult me here! I didn't say anything about Jews! Leave us alone MBR. We are here for freedom and exchange of opinions, not for smear campaigns.
>
> It can't be a coincidence that exactly 80 years ago today Germany ordered the complete reorganization of Poland. Exactly this rearrangement is tried by some dreadful elements with our community. We must be vigilant and always ready to defend ourselves. We are not going down without a fight! Not against such people as Florian Snow and MBR who take money to destroy our community.  Since Daniel took the floor, people have been shooting back. For a good future for free software!

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