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:
GitHub calling for the removal of the entire FSF Board, as well as RMS himself.
managed by the FSF, to new management. The management fees are small, but this is an important symbolic protest.
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 influences.
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 him.
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) Mark Sapiro Stephen J. Turnbull Aurélien Bompard Terri Oda Barry Warsaw John Viega (founder)