What happened to Eric Raymond & OSI?
As is often the case, I got wind of this through an article that does not document what really happened, citing as proof what are other articles commenting on the incident, followed by tons of emotional comments.
No first hand information at all.
People started lumping this incident together with Stallman's still recent resignation from the FSF (plus many unsavory articles enjoying a scandal) and now see a giant conspiracy to first bad-mouth, then push out the "Founders of FOSS", allegedly powered by what they call "The Political Correctness Movement" or "Social Justice Warriors".
Not happy with this, I started reading said mailing list to find out what really happened.
The following is an account of my findings. I have since been criticised for only linking instead of directly quoting the messages in question, which somehow makes me guilty of writing an "opinion piece" that has only one goal: to broadcast where I stand on certain issues. This is not true - subjectivity and opinion crept into this article for sure, but my purpose was simply to shed light on what really happened and refute people's wild and angry conspiration theories. I don't really much care one way or the other about any other larger issues at hand, and real or imagined fronts/divisions.
This article is a reaction - maybe not the best impulse to write an article in the first place, I must admit.
What follows is largely unchanged from how I originally wrote it in March 2020, which again is very similar to this forum post.
BTW, all four OSI mailing list messages linked & quoted here are also available on the WaybackMachine.
The story starts with ESR actually joining the mailing list after 20 years!
A discussion about a topic develops.
Right from the start I notice that the people on the list have an established way of discussing things. It all sounds a little bureaucratic and anemic, but peaceful and paced, carefully phrased. ESR is not so careful. I find particularly jarring how he immediately assumes a would-be authoritative tone and - while not being insulting per se - a propensity for strong language, ignoring the established mode of discussion.
It then starts getting a little hairy around here (last paragraph):
With whatever moral authority I still have here, I say to all advocates of soi-disant "ethical" licensing not just "No" but "To hell with you and the horse you rode in on."
(I do not comment on what is being discussed, only on the how)
Always feel free to click through to others' reactions - so far I have found nothing but polite replies and ESR starts to look more and more like the proverbial elephant in a china shop, especially after dropping this first bomb:
somebody else wrote:
We need a set of options, licensing or otherwise, that uphold the OSD and FSD and allow them to make some different on the other issues in the world. I'm trying to explore the licensing topic here.
No, we don't.
I am not fooled. You are mounting an ideological attack on our core principles of liberty and nondiscrimination. You will not succeed while I retain any ability to oppose this.
Mark how ESR not only claims power over others but also a right to define "our core principles" that he needs to defend - ploughing through a discussion that he stayed out of for 20 years.
No wonder people are starting to get miffed now!
But even so, the reactions I'm reading are very restrained, even those that agree with him.
There's a general request for people to restrain their language - not their opinions! - and keep their discussions civil.
Unfortunately, ESR does not stop there. It gets worse - this next message was not accepted to (or later removed from) the list, but another member quoted it:
toxic loonytoon ... political ratfucking ... vulgar Marxism
I just picked out the tasty bits, but in its entirety this is an all-too-familiar rave-rant about political correctness in the FOSS community gone wrong.
And that’s it, I cannot find anymore posts by ESR, apparently that’s when some people decided to kick him out - out of one of many OSI mailing lists, not out of the OSI itself, as some rushed to claim.
Make of it what you will.
Again: I do not comment on what was being discussed, only on the how, which, as far as I understand, was the reason for the ban.
Of course people start lumping this together with the recent Stallman affair (and see a giant conspiracy to push out the "founders" of FOSS), but this is very different from that.