|FROM ||Abhilash Raj
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [Hangout - NYLXS] [Mailman-Users] GNU Mailman condemns
|To the Mailman community,
The GNU Mailman Steering Committee condemns the reinstatement of
Richard M. Stallman (RMS) to the Board of the Free Software Foundation
(FSF), and has taken the following actions:
1. On behalf of the GNU Mailman project, signed the letter on
GitHub calling for the removal of the entire FSF Board, as well
as RMS himself.
2. Started exploring ways to move our financial assets, for decades
managed by the FSF, to new management. The management fees are
small, but this is an important symbolic protest.
3. Started exploring how to leave the GNU Project. On the one hand,
if we leave but GNU wants to maintain a "GNU Mailman" project, we
cannot stop them, confusing users. On the other hand, RMS is
leader of the GNU Project, and has intervened in Mailman affairs
on many occasions. We should forestall this in the future.
We wish to explain our actions to the community.
Although free exchange of software among users is a practice that goes
back to days of the earliest general purpose computers, RMS was the
first to propose a complete free software distribution, and is the
acknowledged founder of the Free Software movement. Even leaders of
the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) acknowledge this. We all owe
him a debt for this.
Nevertheless, the movement has matured and thrived, spawning the
competitive open source movement, with whose philosophy Mailman is
more closely aligned. While we acknowledge our debt to RMS, we don't
need him any longer. And unfortunately, he has become both a symbol
and a source of the toxicity in tech communities. The FSF Board did
the right thing by accepting RMS's resignation. They did the wrong
thing by reinstating him.
RMS has a long history of abusive behavior and toxic political
positions. A small part of it is described in the open letter on
GitHub and its references, and several members of the Steering
Committee have observed it directly. All of us have heard stories
directly from those who were abused or observed it directly. His
political positions are public, for example his support of pedophiles.
He claims that he in no way supports abusive relationships with
children, yet refuses to acknowledge that children are generally in
no position to provide consent, an evasive and highly toxic position.
There is no question: RMS is toxic.
We came for mailing list management, but we stayed for the community.
We have a right to protect our community by dissociating it from toxic
We do not want our project associated with such a person, nor to
provide economic resources to organizations that promote him to
leadership positions. We are taking these actions to protect our
community, both the narrow community of Mailman developers and users,
and the broader open source community, from his toxic behavior and
from the reputational damage that will come from helping to enable
While we have no information suggesting that other members of the FSF
Board are similarly toxic as individuals, as a group they enabled RMS
for decades, and now have taken an explicit step in enabling him
again. If they want to regain their position of respect and
acceptance in our community, they must acknowledge their error, and we
don't see -- given their reinstatement of RMS himself -- how they can
do so convincingly while maintaining their positions on the Board.
They must resign, and a new Board composed, to demonstrate their
sincerity. What they do is up to them, of course, but if they do not
take radical steps, we will continue to consider association with the
FSF a threat to our community.
For the Mailman community,
Abhilash Raj (project leader)
Stephen J. Turnbull
John Viega (founder)
 Text and signatures: https://rms-open-letter.github.io
 Appendix to the letter: https://rms-open-letter.github.io/appendix
Related statements: https://rms-open-letter.github.io/statements
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