Wednesday, 18 September 2019 07:51

Stallman quits FSF, MIT over comments on sexual assault

By
FSF chief Richard Stallman. FSF chief Richard Stallman. Sam Varghese

The founder of the free software movement, Richard Stallman, has resigned both from his position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and as president of the Free Software Foundation after his remarks about the late Jeffrey Epstein's victims evoked outrage.

Stallman's remarks were made on an MIT mailing list, where he wrote that the term sexual assault "is so vague and slippery that it facilitates accusation inflation: taking claims that someone did X and leading people to think of it as Y, which is much worse than X".

He was referring to deceased AI pioneer Marvin Minsky who has been accused of assaulting one of Epstein's victims, Virginia Giuffre who was 17 at the time. Epstein committed suicide some weeks ago while in jail for alleged child trafficking offences.

The FSF said Stallman had quit on 16 September. "The board will be conducting a search for a new president, beginning immediately. Further details of the search will be published on fsf.org," it added.

In his MIT resignation, Stallman wrote: "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 mischaracterisations."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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