Miskatonic University Press

RMS back at the FSF

code4lib emacs

I became an associate member of the Free Software Foundation about six years ago and gave it a monthly donation to support its work. It was founded by Richard Stallman (known as RMS), who among other achievements created Emacs in the 1970s. I use it every day.

In September 2019 RMS made offensive comments connected to Jeffrey Epstein and donations to MIT (see MIT scientist resigns over emails discussing academic linked to Epstein in the Guardian for some details). Like many others, I told the FSF I would stop my donations if RMS didn’t leave. I got a quick response—the same day the whole thing happened, I think—saying he was gone. Good. I continued my donations. I understood people were working to improve the environment at the FSF, but didn’t know any details.

On Sunday at the Libre Planet 2021 conference there was a surprise announcement from RMS that he was back on the FSF board. (“No LibrePlanet organizers (staff or volunteer), speakers, award winners, exhibitors, or sponsors were made aware of Richard Stallman’s announcement until it was public,” tweeted @fsf.) I was amazed and appalled. It’s unbelievable the board did this and, once it was done, that the FSF handled it so badly.

I emailed the FSF to cancel my monthly donation immediately. I haven’t heard back yet. I imagine the poor staff are overwhelmed. Even if RMS is kicked off yet again, the only way I might possibly one day support the FSF is if its governance is completely overhauled.

Today I signed the open letter demanding the entire FSF board resign. I see some people I know on the list, and I hope others will join.

Tomorrow I’ll start donating to the Software Freedom Conservancy.