{July 14, 2009}   RMS’ emacs “virgins”

so… I didn’t comment on this little incident, even though I knew I should. I mean, it’s RMS, I don’t really expect him to change. and it’s easier to just ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen.

thankfully, lefty tackled the issue for us. ok, publishing private mail is rude, but I’m glad he did. the comments section makes me sad…

btw, I have never heard of this “cult of the virgin of mary”. I interpreted RMS’ speech the same way lefty did, I was just too shy to speak up about it. if knowing about this cult makes the whole thing have a different meaning, then maybe RMS should explain that first because it’s not common knowledge. or just skip the “women” part. actually, I probably would find it uncomfortable even if I *did* know all about how it was intended to be taken, because it still reminds all the women that they’re different and haven’t had equal rights for all that long.

oh, and one question: *were* christians offended by the religious part? I’m used to people making fun of christianity (hey, you’re not a minority by any measure, and there’s been a *lot* of cruelty in the name of Jesus over the centuries), so I’m not particularly sensitive to that.

[ok, I’m tired of this backlash, the arguments have been done to death many times before, so I’m turning off comments. if someone still wants to discuss the religion thing, find me elsewhere.]

Dan says:

I’m really disappointed by the response from the community, actually. I’ve not seen one response that included a transcript of his speech, save for those portions which lefty quoted.

As far as whether this is an issue or not: it was made an issue by those responding, not by RMS. His terrible sense of humor and abrasive nature is well known as is his erudite approach to metaphor. The first mistake was made in asking him to speak _at all_, the second was made by him in making the joke, and it finally became an issue solely because of bloggers wielding the torch of righteous indignation.

You know what? He’s done far more good than bad in supporting women in computing solely by pushing GNU. Does he really deserve the knives-out approach? Likely not, but here’s a great chance for every nameless nobody in the open-source community to stand on a pulpit and pronounce judgement on the man.

Someone mentioned that this may have been the catalyst needed to bring about Gnome Rage that’s been brewing over RMS’ vocal attacks against the use of Mono. I’m beginning to think this makes sense.

Maybe in a few years XFCE will be good enough to move away from Gnome…

Dan: Here’s a link to a speech where he gives the same jokes, more or less word for word:


Med says:

The Virgin Mary thing is mainly Catholic (perhaps Orthodox too but i know too little about that denomination to know for sure).

Other than that, that is neither, not the last, sexist comment from someone in the community (i mean, except obvious lousy jokes). Look at that for instance . Why the hell should the husband play with linux, the wife be angry about it and be sent to the kitchen to cook? A mean … sigh.

Chuck says:

Correct me if my reading of this is wrong, but if the group is a majority you’re allowed to disparage it at will? Even for the ‘sins of the past’? If the group is a minority you must not criticize or disparage it in any way even when something is not right?

Shouldn’t all groups hold to equal standards?

What about the organizers of this event? From my reading of the back and forth this is not the first time RMS has given this speech, thus the organizers knew what they were getting. The audience can look at his history and see it repeated. If they were so offended where was the mass exodous from the talk?

Chani says:

“Correct me if my reading of this is wrong, but if the group is a majority you’re allowed to disparage it at will? Even for the ’sins of the past’? If the group is a minority you must not criticize or disparage it in any way even when something is not right?”

this is what I’m unclear on.

first of all, we’re not talking about criticism here, so I’ll ignore the “even when something is not right” bit. there’s nothing “not right” about being female.

this is about making fun of or insulting people, or other inappropriate comments. in modern society it’s generaly held that derogatory comments based on someone’s race, gender, etc. are not cool. in canada the more extreme stuff (say, claiming that all black people deserve to die) can be considered “hate speech” and is explicitly excluded from our free speech laws. I can’t remember what our laws on religion are, except that people are free to *practice* whatever religion they wish (within reason – no sacrificial virgins of course ;)

but I can’t help feeling that ridiculing an international organization like the catholic church just doesn’t fall into the same category.

if it was a smaller religion, I’m not sure how I’d feel about it.

we have laws about parody, too… maybe that has something to do with it. parodies are generally accepted and protected.

I guess christians have been persecuted in the past, and that was bad, but then they went and did lots of persecution too.
and nobody would think you’re no good at computers just because you’re christian. nobody’s offering you lower salaries because you’re christian.

I probably wouldn’t make fun of them in a technical presenation, though.

another thing… in my mind there’s a difference between making fun of christians and making fun of the church. making fun of people means hurting those people, but the church is just this.. big.. *thing*. like a corporation.

and I’d probably care a lot less about jokes about women if there was no discrimination against women.

I think that’s the thing here… when it’s a group that still hasn’t gained equality, we should be careful what we say and try to work towards equality. when there’s not so much worry about driving people away then everyone’s less sensitive and the bar’s a bit lower. and there’s also the parody thing.

if someone tried to make a joke about getting someone to change their faith it’d probably be inappropriate too (a joke, not a serious discussion about religion). but poking fun at a church… well, monty python does it all the time. hte former trivializes someone’s beliefs, the latter mocks a large organization.

Luis says:

Hi! As above I haven’t seen the transcript of the talk but from the emails you link to, it is an imitation of the joke in the book/movie “DaVinci code”. It may be as controversial as you want but absolutely harmless from my point of view.

bluescarni says:

Dan, I agree with you. RMS did a mistake by making that joke, but the witch hunt that started afterward is outrageous. Those who are saying that RMS is sexist either need a reality check or have a hidden agenda and are trying to build momentum against RMS in order to deliver a blow against his ideals.

It’s no coincidence that the silly “I’m not afraid of people writing code” pro-Mono banners started appearing right after Lefty’s post.

Chani says:

I don’t know if RMS is sexist or not, but his speech made women feel uncomfortable at the very least.
this isn’t a witch hunt, this is just people calling him on the inappropriate joke.

all lefty was asking for was an apology. me, I don’t care as much about RMS as about making it clear to others that this is one of those “what not to do if you want more women in foss” things.

Anon says:

This is a witch hunt.

RMS has repeatedly said that he meant no offense at all to women, yet people keep persuing the issue.

I mean, seriously, as a male geek I see jokes about me being a virgin almost daily. And yet when someone tries to crack a joke about a female emacs virgin, then suddenly this is a huge deal.

Think about this Chani. If RMS had said exactly the same thing, except he said “male” instead of “female”, then would you still hear the same kind of response? Would you have still blogged about it? If not, then _that_ is sexism. It is _your_ reaction that is “reminds all the women that they’re different”.

Chani says:

you’re twising the definition of sexist. of course it’s sexist to single out a single gender. he would never have said virgin *men* because hardly anyone’s interested in taking a man’s virginity. men don’t have to worry about their sexual habits getting more attention than their coding skills. unless they’re gay, then they end up in the same boat as us :(

if he’d just said virgins, or said “virgin men or women”, then it wouldn’t have been sexist.

and how does posting one blog post about how this made me uncomfortable amount to a witch hunt? :P

Martin says:

For me it was the first talk by RMS I attended. I did not expect him to do the Church of Emacs part and I have never heard of the virgin of emacs before.

I thought that part of his speech was very ridiculous and I could not understand why people laughed about it. I thought it was a shame.

When he talked about the virgin of emacs I couldn’t beleive what I heard. I was literally sitting with my mouth open. To me it’s now that I don’t want to be brought into relationship with people like RMS. So I won’t call myself a free software hacker any more – it’s now open source hacker for me.

Yes it might have been a good sign to stand up and leave the room instead of just sitting there and being ashamed.

I’m thankful that people pick it up in their blogs.

Andreas says:

Martin: That makes no sense. Working on Free Software does not mean that you think everything Stallman says or does is right. Forget about the cult of personality and don’t equate Stallman with the FSF or Free Software in general.

Martin says:

@Andreas: personally I can forget about the cult and the personality. But I cannot expect others to do the same. And I don’t want other to think that I am like RMS in some respects which I dislike, so I can’t call myself a free software developer any more. For most people RMS is the FSF – so bad luck on that.

Annew says:

I, too, was hearing RMS for the first time. I found the first part of his speech interesting, and the second part simply in sheer bad taste. As for the mono bit, he has every right to feel that it is a mistake, but did he have to be so personal in the way he attacked it? I think not.

I shan’t bother to listen to him again.

Diederik van der Boor says:

I agree with Martin: the speech went pretty much downwards for me after the C# analysis. IMO he should have stopped right there. I’ve been hiding in shame as well about what RMS said and did afterwards.

Whether the joke can be rationally analyzed doesn’t really matter for me. It hurted people, and that alone is enough not to do the joke at a big conference like GCDS.

Jos says:

I had a great time at Richards talk. It was more quirky than I expected, which is good. A lot of blogging has been happening on some minor inconveniences in the speech. This is typical American media style righteousness. Lefty was only complaining about Stallman because Stallman has a different opinion from him: that C# should be avoided.

It is an ad hominim attack on Stallman to avoid talking about the problems with C#.

Dan says:


Chani says:

“This is typical American media style righteousness.”

no, this is calling someone on an inappropriate comment.

see here:

“It is an ad hominim attack on Stallman to avoid talking about the problems with C#.”

uhm… I was going to tell you to go look up the definition of “ad hominem”, but then I did, and in the context of the c# issue you’d be correct. however, *I* have no interest in hte C# issue. only the stupid joke. so for me it’s the core issue and not ad hominem at all.

Yevgen Muntyan says:

Exactly. RMS was a jerk, and the joke was bad/sexist/Hitler. He just gave the mono lovers what they needed. Nevertheless, the issue didn’t go away. Is anyone talking about it? Of course not, Congressman Jeckman committed an adultery, that’s the important thing!

You, personally, helping shut the possible discussion up, even though you think it’s just about you having been offended.

Diego says:

Mary is the mother of Jesus, didn’t you know?

patcito says:

He wasn’t making fun of women, he was making fun of people who believe in the cult of virgin maria. In every Spanish and South Smerican city, people believe in their own “virgen maria” which appeared near their city at least once in the past. The funny part is that “virgen maria” never appeared to people before the Spanish conquered the continent and forced people into conversion. Every year now, people goes to the place where the virgin supposedly appeared near their village, some go crawling literally and then they they all get drunk over there.

Now what you have to know is that RMS gives tons of speeches each year, so wherever he goes he has to adapt his jokes to the local cultures. Many people such as myself in South America and Spain know about the “virgen maria” cults and think it’s ridiculous. So to us it was actually funny and not at all related to making fun of women but rather, religious cults. The problem was that most of the audience wasn’t from Spain this time so they didn’t get the joke.

__HRB__ says:

One occasionally meets people one doesn’t like. You don’t like RMS? Totally reasonable position, especially if he said something that pisses you off.

One the other hand, because it’s a reasonable position for you, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a reasonable for everybody else.

Instead of focusing on technical solutions to technical problems, you’re broadcasting signals of “damsel in emotional distress”, and every male activates the 99% monkey genes, to

A: display his dominance by showing that he’s capable of fixing problems you can’t deal with on your own


B: display his dominance by proving that he doesn’t have your problems

Either way, you lose. (Unless you are specifically looking for a mate to breed with, and you can improve the survival of your offspring by choosing guys from pool A.)

I therefore suggest, that you from now on refer to RMS as Mr. Reeksof Monkey Stoolman and stop bitchin’ about the jerk, unless you want guys to think you need to get laid more often.

Annew says:

I do not share the religion he mocked, nor do I necessarily bristle at sexist jokes – some are quite funny – but his were not. His “jokes” are as pathetic as the views expressed by __HRB__. I was left with the impression that a bath would be something of a shock to him, and that he was quite incapable of speaking on-subject for the required length of time. In my eyes he is beneath contempt.

__HRB__ says:

Madam, there is a considerable amount of selection-bias, precisely because dealing with the petty problems of being human is tiresome and most uninteresting.

I know you believe that personal hygiene and getting along with the other apes are paramount for survival, but unfortunately you don’t realize that diseases and parasites as well as getting lynched by a mob of upset fellow primates do not exert a strong selective pressure anymore, so you either have to learn to live people who really don’t care about your feelings and opinions, or you have to acquire some weapons and go on a killing spree.

Maki says:

So Stallman tells a joke, wich in his uber geekishness seems cool, and everybody understand it like a sexist joke, except RMS himself. Now instead of clearly saying that he didn’t mean the joke to be understod like that and saying sorry, he goes his way of fighting windmils, wich in this situation doesn’t work so well.

Anon says:

Um, he did say that he didn’t mean the joke to be understood like that.

hacker says:

Not even close to everybody. Most think this is another attack by the mono-crew.

OK, I haven’t heard the sepach, or read the transcript, but I think everyone is just huffing and puffing over not very much at all.

First and foremost: It makes no difference what so ever that a novice computer user is a man or a women and I think that varying from time to time is good.

The cult of the virgin Mary is an ancient christian cult that traces its orrigines to the second or third century AD, when christianity was gaining ground in the Romain Empire. That addition of another divinity helped the Roamins adapt from their poly-theistc religion. It is most explicitly referred to in the Gospel of Mathieu which was tailored to this demographic.

What I understand from RMS’s speach is that he was making religous allusions arround Emacs (with his trademark lack of tact) and a lot of people who didn’t have the foggiest idea what he was talking about chose that moment to let of fireworks.

Please let’s just get this in perspective.


PS: Virgin doesn’t necesserally refer to a women, Men are virgins at birth too ;)

Chani says:

yes, you clearly haven’t heard the speech. he specifically refers to virgin *women*.

Jack says:

I rather prefer that gender is left out of the picture when it comes to work and jobrelated events. Basicly, a public speaker makes a fool of himself by adding gender to the equation. The most efficient way of handling it is not to laugh or in any other way indicate acceptance of discriminating remarks.

More or less anyone will seek to avoid the silence following discriminating jokes. Next time they will try to come up with something that’s actually funny.

The problematic side of discrimination is not the public side of it though. That’s merely the symptom of the disease.

That’s why the fight against discrimination works better if we start in our own sphere – make it unacceptable at work, at home, at school and in the streets. Reduce the number of people who laughs and the jokes will crumble and eventually dissappear.

Tom says:

I’m rather surprised at the general attitude of the replies here and at on Leftys blog. If a hudred people that were there state that its insulting then any reasoning on a blog of it being Ok is just not helpful. You just don’t insult 25% of your audience like that, thats just stupid.

Naturally, the gnome/kde people should never have invited him in the first place, but you live you learn ;) I doubt they will make that mistake ever again.

Note to readers; the point was that RMS explicitly talked about women virgins. I think its ok to talk about emacs-virgins. As in everyone that never used that software before. But as soon as you talk about gender the whole joke completely changes and just becomes tasteless as best.

He talks about women virgins because of the Virgin Mary (which, if you don’t know, happens to be a woman).

Also, virginity in the context of emacs has nothing to do with sexuality. Wikipedia says: “virgin can even be used with non-human referents. Unalloyed metal is sometimes described as virgin.[1] Some cocktails can be described as virgin, when lacking the alcoholic admixture.[1] Similarly, olive oil may be called virgin if it contains no refined oil and has an acidity below 2%, or extra-virgin if it comes from a cold pressing with an acidity below .08%.[1]
The last instance also incorporates yet another association of virginity—the notability of its loss. More properly, the association is with the significance of the addition of a new status, rather than a loss. Hence this association is typically found in references to the first instance of a potentially extended series of like events. Just as extra-virgin olive oil is from the first pressing, so a maiden or virgin speech is an incumbent’s first address. The same metaphor, using the synonym maiden, is applied to the first or maiden voyage of a ship.”

So, there’s nothing sexist there. People are reading more into it than there ever was. It’s a silly joke and you may find it funny or not, but there’s definitely nothing wrong with it, at all.

The fact that this ad hominem attacks happen at the same time of the statements on mono by rms is also more than suspicious.

Chani says:

you’re thinking about this too literally, and missing the context. talking about relieving women of their virginity casts women in a submissive role, with men in a dominant role, and brings up thoughts of oppression and (indirectly) rape. (yes, thinking about a roomful of guys thinking about taking womens’ virginity does eventually lead me to wondering how many of them would take it by force.) it becomes less about the non-sexual meaning of “virgin” and more about all the crazy ideas societies have had about virgin women. and thinking about that stuff would make any woman uncomfortable.

The Badger says:

Judge for yourselves, everyone who has said “I haven’t seen it or read the transcript, but…” – here’s a link to a video where RMS does this bit (albeit not at GCDS):

It’s at around 1:46 for about 20 seconds. A big file, but at least it’s an open format.

Dan says:


After seeing it I’m even more bewildered by the negative responses. This is clearly old-school RMS on stage, and the comment about women is a single sentence in a much, much longer bit which clearly lacks sexism.

Jo Øiongen says:

Thanks for the link!

I’m laughing big time :-D

anon says:

Church of emacs, the virgins of emacs etc. are a long running running gag by RMS pocking fun at the Catholic church(‘s cult around the virgin Mary who was able to give birth to Jesus without losing her virginity).

I pretty sure the speech was a classical disconnect between the speaker and the audience, the speaker didn’t know the audience, and the audience didn’t know the speaker. The outrage still is out of proportion, there are many more important things to worry about than an old man’s distasteful jokes.

Chani says:

important things like encouraging more women to participate in open source. oh wait, for that to happen we need to call people on these dumb jokes.

Anon says:

Except that you’re doing more than call him on it. You’re persecuting him for it.

Chani says:

how, exactly, am I persecuting him for it?

[odd, wordpress replies only go down two levels?]

Andreas says:

The actual issue nonwithstanding, it is pretty clear where the inital attacks were coming from…
I also had a good laugh about the person foolishly playing the discrimination card at the Q&A session (“I am a C# coder, you’re discriminating against me”). Similar appeal to political correctness, much worse execution.

Chani says:

the discriminating-against-c# thing was funny indeed. :)

load "brain" ,8,1 says:

“he sayed Jehova. burn him!” where Jehova is anything non Mono-friendly.

wuaaa says:

It was just a witty/bad joke for frak sake! C’mon he’s an old school geek what do you expect? Humor with good taste? Get over yourselves seriously.
Are you honestly stupid enough to think that he purposely wanted to insult?


Chani says:

ugh, this brand of comment gets *really* boring.

Anon says:

Yet you insist on taking it personally, bringing up rape etc in your previous comments.

jospoortvliet says:

I agree that it was silly to say the least to refer to emacs-virgins as woman specifically. I’m a (male) emacs virgin and will defend that with my life – seen it once, won’t ever use it.

But I do think the whole thing is a bit over the top. From the moment Richard put a dress on and a harddrive on his head I didn’t really expect any serious stuff anymore – it was all clearly a mockery. He should probably say sorry for the trouble and he should stop specifically referring to females as emacs-virgins, but besides that – I don’t see the problem.

But that’s probably because the whole feminism thing for me feels like a 1970s thing. The equality of man/woman (just like gay/hetero) is well established, at least among the people I tend to talk to. I guess in areas a bit more backwards you still find the occasional idiot who is scared of gay ppl and thinks woman are less than man – but shouldn’t we pity ppl like him/her instead of getting upset?

Then again, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”. So maybe it is good to continue fighting every kind of negativism towards woman, gay etc etc. I’m just not sure if Stallman could be considered someone like that…

Chani says:

stallman’s probably a lost cause ;) but I don’t want other people thinking it’s ok to make jokes about virgin women. I used to think that feminism had served its purpose and we all get along just fine now, but we’re not quite there yet.. so…

whilo says:

This is false for big parts of western society where originally honest feminism actually was redirected to integrate women in the capitalistic workflow. RMS is about more than writing code and he expects at least some interest in his general freedom thoughts in his audience.

If you drop this, FOSS loses the free (as defined by the FSF and RMS). RMS is about more freedom than of software, but about free information exchange and that applies to speeches/opinions/jokes as well.

And btw he has a MIT Dr’s degree which is amazing since he dropped a lot of money, prestige and a career back in 1984 for his beliefs. Beliefs we all (even women :-)) (as the FOSS comunity) profit from today.


P.S.: I am not really a RMS follower, but I have a certain respect for what he does and I try to avoid applying common sense opinions on people who try to do things different. They help you open your mind.

patcito says:

You check this link about why sexism is not what’s keeping women out of programing

Mike says:

> but I don’t want other people thinking it’s ok to make jokes about virgin women.

Why are you being sexist? Why do you think it’s not okay to make jokes about virgin *women* ? So what, making jokes about virgin *men* is okay?

whilo says:

You have seen that conservative discussions/explicit agenda about reverting the left-wing influenced 70s are all over the media/political discussions for years now, haven’t you? It is better to explicitly push human rights forward (like RMS does in a non-easy to judge way [the non-easy is important]) then you’ll see how many people have conservative and discrimating beliefs.

“btw, I have never heard of this “cult of the virgin of mary”. I interpreted RMS’ speech the same way lefty did, I was just too shy to speak up about it. if knowing about this cult makes the whole thing have a different meaning, then maybe RMS should explain that first because it’s not common knowledge. or just skip the “women” part.”

It is common knowledge in South America and Spain, where the Desktop Summit (and this talk) took place.

The fact that you don’t know about it but still decide that rms is sexist would be like deciding that Schrödinger believed in killing cats, without knowing anything about quantum mechanics.

Chani says:

I never called rms sexist. I don’t know him well enough. I do believe his comment about virgin women is inappropriate, and lowers our chances of getting more women involved in open source.

Chani says:

actually, after hearing some more stories in the comments of lefty’s blog, I now believe he *is* sexist. either that or he’s so severely lacking in social skills that he can’t understand that he behaves in a sexist manner.

Socceroos says:

“oh, and one question: *were* christians offended by the religious part? I’m used to people making fun of christianity (hey, you’re not a minority by any measure, and there’s been a *lot* of cruelty in the name of Jesus over the centuries), so I’m not particularly sensitive to that.”

Catholics aren’t ‘Christianity’. They have a different set of beliefs to many other Christians. Even so, to mock someone or something is still wrong.

On that point, for people to say, “Damn RMS for mocking women, but hey, you have to respect my right to mock you by mocking your religion.” is hypocritical. If you ever find that when someone mocks you that it hurts, then you don’t mock anyone else. Logical – if you’re in the mood for being fair.

“there’s been a *lot* of cruelty in the name of Jesus over the centuries”

Very true, but does that mean that Jesus condoned it? Its a bit like me saying that ‘in the name of Chani’ I’m going to invade Bolivia. That doesn’t make you, or what you believe a bad thing. But it makes me a bad person. See where I’m going with this? I guess what I’m getting at is that you can’t use the actions of bad people as an excuse to mock a whole category of humans.

“so I’m not particularly sensitive to that.”

As I was saying, what is sensitive to you is not to another. What this means is that we should all respect each other – we don’t pick and choose which categories of humans we can judge/mock/ridicule based on our own personal views.

If RMS’s ‘joke’ upset you, then the best way to deal with it is to kindly approach him personally about it and voice your concern in an agreeable manner. If he chooses to ignore you then so be it. Let the man be a douche, things will catch up with him.

All of us have fatal flaws. I would perceive that one of RMS’s is his lack of regard for the feelings of people who do not agree with him.

Jeffro says:

Socceroos ++

Arguments to the effect of “well, this group is really large and has been associated with douchebaggery in the past, so they’re fair game” are bullshit. Everything’s fair game or nothing is.

Also, as a virgin male, I’m offended to see so many people writing about how it’s only ok to be offended by jokes made about virgin women.

Chani says:

socceroos: thanks for your views on the religion part.

I suppose I should clarify that when I said “so I’m not particularly sensitive to that.” I meant that I’m basically clueless as to how christians feel about such things and was asking for input.

I still haven’t really formed an opinion yet.

“If RMS’s ‘joke’ upset you, then the best way to deal with it is to kindly approach him personally about it and voice your concern in an agreeable manner. If he chooses to ignore you then so be it. Let the man be a douche, things will catch up with him.”

well, it seems he’s been a douche for a long time, and nobody had the guts to say anything about it until now. :/ speaking up about these things is *hard*. really hard.
I wish I’d had a chance to talk to him about it in person, but he kinda disappeared after his talk.

if we let people continue to make such comments, and quietly accept things, nothing will ever change.

whilo says:

There is no prove that Jesus ever existed. In fact all information about Christianity has occured about decades to centuries after Christ’s birth (take the date for example, it has been set to 24.12 because of the Midhras cult). For a person believing in science and enlightenment (RMS is a highly educated person, even if does not always look like it), it is only funny to believe in this.

Stallman making jokes about Christianity and sexist local religious cults is a clear political statement by him. I have not been there, but I truely discourage a policital correctness debate unless his statements are related to current women/female groups. Otherwise RMS does good by expecting people to actually learn about history and stupid local beliefs when he refers to them in his jokes.

Otherwise you cannot claim that he apologies unless you want to take his freedom of speech and criticism. That is why RMS has not apologized. If you apologize for your opinion you have to change your speech in the future, too. Sth. that RMS is completely against, because religions and strong ideologies always try to do so.
And in this issue I guess it is well thought to not start to apologize, since the intended criticism of RMS is right.


Giri says:

So Chani, I take it that you never watch south park? And neither do any of you anti-rms guys? If you do, you are the biggest hypocrites.

Tom says:

Watching southpark is the same as watching a keynote for an free desktop conference?

You think that farting jokes are also Ok if Bush made it in front of congress?

Point is; different audience, different expectations, different jokes can be made.

Socceroos says:

There is written proof that Jesus existed – whether or not it is authentic is another matter.

You speak of freedom of speech, criticism and opinion but neglect to see the difference between this and mocking. Therein lies the flaw in your logic.

I never said that RMS should apologise for his views, but whether he should apologise for his lack of regard for the feelings of others when publicly voicing those ‘views’ and the manner in which he did it is another matter. This is not about political correctness, freedom of speech or any of that ‘flavour of the day’ crap. This is about one human relating to other humans, its about responsibility. Not something that is emphasised much these days.

Freedom of speech is the ‘hip’ subject of the century, but, many people are heading all the way to the end of the spectrum and are completely forgetting about the feelings of anyone but themselves; neglecting their responsibility to others and being, in a nutshell, completely self-centred and materialistic.

whilo says:

It is very unlikely a wonderful person like Jesus would have existed and still be unrecognized by the most important historicans of that time. The bible reads like a fairy-tale. You truely don’t know many philosphical texts if you believe that you need the bible to get any wisdom or Christianity is of value today. It has influenced the history of ideas, but taken it for truth is really stupid. That is why I think RMS’ fun is really good.

The point about apologizing I have made was that RMS does not need to apologize, because it includes admitting a mistake. He has not made a mistake and he only stated (in the answering mails) that his statement was related to criticsm of religion.

You have to hurt other peoples feelings if you want freedom of speech. There is no way around it, so it would be hypocritical to regard other persons feelings first. And sorry, if you take freedom of speech for flavour of the day crap and the achievements of modern liberal society as “a flavour” you definetly had never to fight for your rights or opposed a society which tried to abuse you.

Samantha says:

This blogpost is completely ridiculous! I am woman and I don’t see anything bad in Stallmans comment. It was just a joke, for Christ’s sake. And I can’t see anything sexist in it. But what is really bad is this crazy denouncement of RMS, this wave of pseudo-feminism and political correctness. I really hate these would-be feminists with wacky world-view, their disgusting political correctness and false moralism. They are disgrace for all women.

True feminism had sense in the past, when there were really disproportions between men and women rights. But I can’t see any signs of women discrimination in my surroundings anymore (for a long long time). Of course we must take care to not let that happen again, but not like this! This “new” pseudo-feminism is completely bogus and it hurts us.

It started with Debian developer expelled for joke in mailing-list beacause of some stupid pseudo-feminists (again, I didn’t see anything sexist in it, it was just parody of spam, a testeful and funny parody IMHO). And now this unjustified bashing of RMS. I am ashamed that women in FOSS are like that :-(

whilo says:

Most devs imo have no clue about feminism so this is really hypocritical in this issue.

Why do you think Mdm Beauvois supported Marquis de Sade although taken this niveau of criticism here, all feminists should have burned all his texts immediatly and wiped him from history. Feminism is a critical theory which involves much more than not joking “badly” in relation to women, it is whole different level. Read it if you don’t believe it.

This issue is truely a rant against RMS, for reasons the future will most likely show. Imo many FLOSS devs don’t like the strong liberal views of RMS since they rather want to get into big business personally than to defend the rights of the FLOSS comunity.

Annew says:

> True feminism had sense in the past, when there were really disproportions between men and women rights. But I can’t see any signs of women discrimination in my surroundings anymore (for a long long time). Of course we must take care to not let that happen again, but not like this! This “new” pseudo-feminism is completely bogus and it hurts us.
It started with Debian developer expelled for joke in mailing-list beacause of some stupid pseudo-feminists (again, I didn’t see anything sexist in it, it was just parody of spam, a testeful and funny parody IMHO). And now this unjustified bashing of RMS. I am ashamed that women in FOSS are like that :-(

It appears that opinions are only acceptable if they agree with yours. It is always totally unacceptable to make gratuitous remarks that you know will be offensive to your hosts. Much has been said about feminism, but that was only part of the offense. You don’t have to share a religion to object to it being mocked.

Many of the comments here have followed lines such as “so it’s OK to mock male virgins but not female virgins”. I don’t think anyone suggested that at all. Much of the comment has been from people who did not attend the talk, and much has been from people who have no care for how other members of society may feel.

Chani says:

“True feminism had sense in the past, when there were really disproportions between men and women rights. But I can’t see any signs of women discrimination in my surroundings anymore (for a long long time).”

well, you’re lucky to be still living in that nice little bubble of paradise. I didn’t see any discrimination for a long time either, but it was still there, and it is still there. we still have hardly any women in open source, while a large proportion of the chinese comp sci students that came to my uni are female. women’s salaries still aren’t on par with men’s. and there are still a bunch of nasty trolls who make it very painful to ever speak out about things that are perpetuating this problem.

maninalift says:

It’s not a witch hunt, it’s simply about standing up and challenging an attitude of casual sexism that can easily perpetuate in a male-dominated environment.

RMS is a figurehead because of his place in history and his hacking not because of his diplomatic skills. Nevertheless, when acting as a figurehead it would be good for free software if he were a little more able to see things from other people’s points of view.

He may try to go back and justify the points he made or claim that they don’t need to be justified. He has a “right” to say what he wants but as a public speaker and an ambassador for GNU and free software in general he is not doing a great job if he insults his audience or makes them feel uncomfortable without a very good reason.

What was he trying to achieve? Such lazy parodies of religion don’t assist debate, they are no more than exercises in self-congratulatory cleverness.

Mike says:

Casual sexism works both ways. Look at Chani’s replies saying that specifically that it’s not reasonable to make jokes about virgin *women*. That’s is casual sexism as well.

Chani says:

no, it isn’t.
I never said anything about virgin *men*. you made that up entirely on your own.

maninalift says:

Yes it might be argued one way or another whether it is sexist, whether it is acceptable or whatever but I think is is simply untrue to say it is harmless. Carelessly and pointlessly making uncomfortable the community whom you are trying to build is counter-productive.

whilo says:

Yes but this rises this issue to sth. completely not being the fault of RMS. The issue of the community not talking very much about their inner social conflicts, but to be quiet to not unnecessarily show fissures which might harm productivity. In fact the problem for many seems to be that in comparison to other professions there are too few women in FLOSS for some people, sth. which might need well thought criticism and a seperate platform for discussing social phenomenons and the interfaces of FLOSS to society. Rants won’t help.

Btw in fact RMS has set a very solid ground for the interface to society which still caries FLOSS today.

nobody says:

Is there anything in the name of which cruelty hasn’t occurred throughout history?

Chani says:

fluffy bunnies? ;)

the thing about history is that, while I’m sure there are plenty of christians that try to follow Jesus’ teachings and be nice and help others, there’s also this old, powerful institution called the church, which has done some really nasty things, and still does mean things (like not respecting gay people as people).

that’s where my mental conflict is coming from… we shouldn’t ridicule people for their choice of religion, but I’m not so sure about ridiculing institutions built around that religion that seem to be using it for bad things.

John2k says:

I find that attacking publicly a person on the basis of a something he has said, without even quoting *what* he said, is plain defamation.
It’s certainly not less rude than stupid jokes (or publishing private emails without the sender’s consent).

[…] but at least make sure you are before you get in a huff. I have a lot more respect for Lefty, Chani and others who were at the conference than the sheep jumping on the issue as an easy way to take a […]

hacker says:

This is not the first time he made exactly that joke. I remember at least 5 other time over the years. So, what is wrong now what was okay before?

Chani says:

it was never okay.

Ohyeah says:

At least this isn’t another blog post about your food habits … on planetkde. Lets try to keep your random crap posts off a site dedicated to KDE.

Chani says:

KDE is the community, food and all. and I don’t believe you’re part of it. you’re just a troll. so go away.

[…] of the comments here and here are disheartening, but part of the problem is that many people didn’t see the […]

[…] who was present, so let’s get that out of the way, too) posted an extremely eloquent comment on her blog: talking about relieving women of their virginity casts women in a submissive role, with men in a […]

[…] Pinski, Fernanda Weiden, Chani Armitage, Christel Breedt and all the rest of you – you are our women heroes, our […]

[…] Leftys Blog (Part 1) , Leftys Blog (Part 2) , Matt Zimmermans Blog , Chani Armitages Blog , Matthew Garretts […]

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