Enlarge /. Richard Stallman, then President of the Free Software Foundation, spoke about GNU and the free software movement in Turin, Italy in September 2015.
Getty Images | Pacific Press
Richard Stallman has returned to the Free Software Foundation Board of Directors 18 months after his resignation over controversial comments about Jeffrey Epstein's underage sex trafficking and the Age of Consent Act.
"I have to make an announcement," Stallman said at the FSF's LibrePlanet conference. "I'm back on the board of the Free Software Foundation now … Some of you will be happy about this and some of you may be disappointed, but who knows. In any case, it is. And I am not planning on resigning a second time . "
Stallman founded the FSF in 1985 and served as its President until September 16, 2019, when the Foundation announced that Stallman had "resigned as President and from its Board of Directors". While Stallman is now rejoining the board, he is not president. Geoffrey Knauth holds this position.
Stallman's controversial emails
Stallman resigned from the FSF and his role as a visiting scholar at MIT after emails leaked about the late computer scientist Marvin Minsky, who was on the MIT faculty from 1958 until his death in January 2016.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an Epstein victim aged 17, testified in a May 2016 filing that "she was instructed to have sex with Minsky while visiting Epstein's property in the US Virgin Islands," The wrote Verge in 2019 when the deposit was unsealed. (Minsky's widow, Gloria Rudisch, denied this claim, telling the New York Post that she and her husband were "always together" when visiting Epstein.)
The leaked comments leading to Stallman's resignation were made in an MIT CSAIL (Laboratory of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence) email thread about a proposed protest against MIT's involvement in Epstein. Stallman rejected the text of the event announcement, saying he was "wronging Marvin Minsky" by saying Minsky was "accused of attacking one of Epstein's victims".
"The word 'attack' implies that he had used violence or violence in some unspecified manner, but the article (published by The Verge) itself said nothing of the kind. Just that they had sex," wrote Stallman.
Stallman added that "the most plausible scenario is that she (Minsky) presents herself as completely willing. Assuming she were coerced by Epstein, he would have had every reason to hide it from most of his staff."
After one person wrote that "Giuffre was 17 at the time; that does it rape In the Virgin Islands, "Stallman replied," I find it morally absurd to define "rape" in a way that depends on minor details; B. in which country it was or whether the victim was 18 or 17 years old. "
"We know Giuffre was forced to have sex by Epstein," Stallman also wrote. "She was injured. But the details affect whether and to what extent Minsky was responsible."
Stallman Changed His Mind on "Voluntary Pedophilia"
Shortly before his resignation from MIT and the FSF, Stallman posted on his own website that he had never defended Epstein.
“Headlines say I defended Epstein,” Stallman wrote. "Nothing could be further from the truth. I called him a 'serial rapist' and said he deserved imprisonment. But many people now believe I defended him – and other inaccurate claims – and feel really hurt about something. " They think I said it. I am sorry for this pain. I wish I could have prevented the misunderstanding. "
Stallman, who wrote in 2006, "I am skeptical of claims that voluntary (sic) pedophilia harms children," also wrote in September 2019 that he had changed his mind about sex between adults and children.
"I wrote many years ago that I cannot see anything wrong with sex between an adult and a child if the child accepts it," wrote Stallman. "Through personal conversations over the past few years I have learned to understand how sex with a child can be psychologically harmful. This has changed my mind on the matter: I think adults shouldn't do this. I'm grateful for the conversations that leading enabled me to understand why. "
Two days later, Stallman wrote, "I am resigning from my position at CSAIL at MIT with immediate effect. I am doing so because of pressure on MIT and myself because of a number of misunderstandings and misrepresentations." Stallman's resignation from the FSF was announced on the same day. He continued to lead the GNU operating system project supported by the FSF, although he was also asked to step down from that position.