For such a notoriously self-proclaimed rational guy, Richard Stallman doesn’t know how to write a proper resignation letter. His makes no sense.
A renowned MIT computer scientist resigned Monday amid outrage over his remarks describing a victim of financier and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein as seeming “entirely willing” and posts to his personal blog advocating for the legalization of pedophilia and child pornography.
In a post on his personal site, Richard Stallman, a visiting scientist at MIT and well known open source software developer, was unapologetic: “To the MIT community, I am resigning effective immediately from my position in CSAIL at MIT. I am doing this due to pressure on MIT and me over a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations.”
Every critic of Stallman misunderstood and mischaracterized him. He’s the victim here, according to rms.
OK, let’s grant him that. Let’s assume everyone got everything all wrong, and is falsely abusing the poor man. Then why resign? Does he think the stories and quotes (errm, “misquotes”, I guess) will end? Does his resignation resolve anything? If he were being harassed to the point that he could no longer do his work, that would be one thing; but he doesn’t say that. He’s getting some vague “pressure” due to “misunderstandings and mischaracterizations”.
Here’s what I think is going on. He’s dug himself into a deep hole with his record of saying stupid things, and he doesn’t see a way out, because ultimately he still thinks he was totally right about everything, and trying to defend himself would involve making more stupid statements. There aren’t any misunderstandings, we all understand perfectly well what he was saying, we just think he’s wrong. And he’s sort of aware that trying to change our mind about that would require reaffirming many of his previous stances, yet he’s a smart guy who knows the wind is blowing in a new direction, so he’s just going to get more dissent.
He’s dug this hole, so now he’s going to just sit in it and tell everyone they’re poopyheads who don’t understand him. That’s fine. Go right ahead. I think rms has found the right position for himself at last.
In case you’re wondering what repulsive things he said that warranted the scorn levied at him, here’s a recap.
Last week, Motherboard published the full email thread in which Stallman wrote that the “most plausible scenario” is that Epstein’s underage victims in his campaign of trafficking were “entirely willing.” Stallman also argued about the definition of “rape” and whether the term applies to the victims.
When someone else in the email thread pointed out that victim Virginia Giuffre, who was 17 when she was forced to have sex with AI pioneer Marvin Minsky, Stallman said “it is morally absurd to define ‘rape’ in a way that depends on minor details such as which country it was in or whether the victim was 18 years old or 17.”
Never, ever be that guy who nitpicks about whether rape might be acceptable depending on how many birthdays a woman has had.