In recent days there has been a lot of news covering pedophiles and rape. This topic and line of conversation is to be taken with a level of seriousness based on the readers own thoughts and opinions on the topic. However in my opinion in the case of Stallman, this is a gross demonetization of a man who in his own life drives controversy and basks in pedantic. Before starting I would recommend reading the email chain here https://pastebin.com/658yfLj5. Before I start I would like to place some quotes from the email chain because this will be used heavily in my defense of Stallman and the arguments placed on his persona. These quotes are from Stallman in the email chain.
"The injustice is in the word "assaulting". 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."
"> Giuffre was 17 at the time; this makes it __rape__ in the Virgin Islands. Does it really? I think 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. I think the existence of a dispute about that supports my point that the term "sexual assault" is slippery, so we ought to use more concrete terms when accusing anyone."
#With all respect to Stallman, I would like to place my own thoughts on this issue. His argument is not and has not ever been in the defense of pedophiles or rapists. But in the language used when describing acts of pedophilia and rape. These two quotes are the quotes of damnation the media used to make wild accusations of his person. Which anyone can read and see that his issues are strictly focused on the language used. The public discussion against Stallman started on September 12 with a post on Medium.com by MIT graduate Selam G about Stallmans thoughts and opinions in a private mailing list of MITs CSAIL. Selams writing was followed by another article on Vice.com by Edward Ongweso Jr which sequentially was followed by other articles and statements made by various news outlets. The issues I have with the articles written is as follows.
They have written in majority that Stallman defended Jeffrey Epstein.
#While in actuality Stallman was defending Marvin Minsky. An MIT AI engineer and the primary topic of the email chain used against Stallman. This opinions Stallman expressed were strictly in the verbage and language used in the email chain by other MIT staff to be more specific in language to prevent the same confusion that caused Stallman to be put in the situation he is in currently.
Stallman described Epsteins victims as entirely willing.
#While in actuality Stallman was arguing that one specific victim of Epstein, Virginia Giuffre. And how she was presented to Minsky by Epstein as an entirely willing participant in sexual relations. Later to be found that she was in fact coerced by Epstein, not that she was entirely willing. Stallman was shown to be vocal not about the action but about the language used by other MIT staffers in the case against Minsky. His argument again was entirely semantics.
Stallman defended pedophilia.
#While in actuality Stallman was arguing that age does not matter in a case of rape because rape is always a horrid illegal act no matter the age of the victim. Stallman wanted again to make a semantic point about the language used to differentiate between the rape of an underage girl through coercion with prior knowledge of all of the above and the unknowing rape of an underage girl whom was coerced by the third party.
Stallman defended pedophilia in the past.
#While in actuality Stallman already countered his claim from 2006 in which he expressed skepticism in case of consensual sex with a comment in 2013, where he said that children can not really be consensual. The arguments he placed again was in empirical evidence and the difference in consent and making the claim that the act is harmful. And not to conflate the two. There is a difference in the harm done and the argument of consent. Though used in conjunction often they should not be conflated.
Stallman condoned sexual assault.
#While in actuality Stallman was arguing that the term "sexual assault" does not properly fit the description of Minsky's act towards Virginia Giuffre since, as far as everyone involved was aware or as far as the public knows, was not assaulted by Minsky but again directly coerced by Epstein without the knowledge of Minksky. Stallman also added the semantic argument that the term used is often too vague as it refers to acts that can range from harmful to very harmful, and that the term usually makes readers think of the worst case. And he desired again more specific language to be used to prevent the same confusion that he is victim to now.
Stallman implied that the victim was not harmed.
#While in reality Stallman explicitly claimed that she was harmed and uses no confusing language in doing so, again strictly placing the argument on the language used in the case but not the case itself.
Stallman made comments that are excuses about rape, assault and child sex trafficking.
#While in actuality Stallman condemned all three as previously stated in the email chain. He condemned the act but also desired more precise language to be used.
Stallman kept a mattress in his MIT office, and proceeded to implying sexual activity and macho behavior at work.
#While in actuality Stallman is known to have lived in his office for a certain period of his life and is documented regularly as a part of his bohemian tech-hippie persona.
#As a consequence of this depiction of him and the article written, Stallman was, through pressure from media and MIT itself, resigned from his position at MIT and also from his position at the Free Software Foundation. I highly recommend reading Stallmans own website and the language used. Stallman himself is an odd man, a precise man. He demands clear language, Stallman is passionate about semantics, and Stallman is socially obtuse enough to make an argument about language in an email chian about the image of MIT and rape. Stallman is not an evil man, just a man willing to yell fire in a theater. I advocate that to form your own opinion on the matter and feel free to start a conversation on the topic. The more we talk about sensitive subjects and allow ourselves to be placed in uncomfortable situations, allows us to grow and be better people as a result.