Richard Stallman on Jeffrey Epstein: time to switch from Emacs to vi?

“Renowned MIT Scientist Defends Epstein: Victims Were ‘Entirely Willing’” (Daily Beast):

An MIT engineering alumna, Selam Jie Gano, published a blog post calling for Stallman’s removal from the university in light of his comments, along with excerpts from the email in which Stallman appeared to defend both Epstein and Marvin Minsky, a lauded cognitive scientist and founder of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab who was accused of assaulting Virginia Giuffre. Giuffre has alleged that sex offender and financier Epstein trafficked her to powerful men for sex, including Minsky, who died in 2016. She’s alleged that Epstein and his alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell recruited her at Mar-a-Lago when she was 16 years old.

Stallman wrote that “the most plausible scenario” for Giuffre’s accusations was that she was, in actuality, “entirely willing.” Vice’s Motherboard later reprinted the emails in full. Gano did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Stallman also wrote in the email exchange that “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.”

[MIT President] Reif is facing calls to step down after acknowledging that the Media Lab accepted funds from Epstein long after his 2008 conviction for soliciting a minor for prostitution, with Reif’s own signature found on a 2012 note thanking Epstein for his generosity to the university.

Will there be a mass exodus from Emacs to vi (also known as “the Devil’s crummy text editor”)?


  • “Please Do Not Buy Richard Stallman a Parrot And Other Rules” (Gizmodo): “If you can find a host for me that has a friendly parrot, I will be very very glad. If you can find someone who has a friendly parrot I can visit with, that will be nice too. DON’T buy a parrot figuring that it will be a fun surprise for me. To acquire a parrot is a major decision: it is likely to outlive you. If you don’t know how to treat the parrot, it could be emotionally scarred and spend many decades feeling frightened and unhappy. If you buy a captured wild parrot, you will promote a cruel and devastating practice, and the parrot will be emotionally scarred before you get it. Meeting that sad animal is not an agreeable surprise.”

28 thoughts on “Richard Stallman on Jeffrey Epstein: time to switch from Emacs to vi?

  1. A female colleague who graduated from MIT mentioned (a long time ago) that she though RMS was jus a creep hitting on female students, especially with the spiel he did not want to use swipe cards and be tracked, could they please be so nice and open the door for him… And I though he was just a religious (of a religion he made for himself) fanatic!

    I use VIM btw, I would not touch emacs with a barge pole.

      He’s sick.

      My best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s
      brother’s girlfriend heard from this
      guy who knows this kid who’s going
      with a girl who saw Ferris pass-out
      at 31 Flavors last night. I guess
      it’s pretty serious.
      Thank you, Simone.
      No problem whatsoever.

  2. Lions still live in an obsolete world where you can say whatever you want as long as it doesn’t turn into action. His pedophilia comments are at the end of a long line of outrageous internet comments.

    He missed the point of a certain age below which humans aren’t considered smart enough to make their own decisions, but in these days of declining intelligence & rising enslavement, the minimum age of consent probably needs to be more like 40. Everyone who ever banged a millennial probably needs to be imprisoned.

  3. @Anonymous

    Good find. I can’t believe how brazen the Daily Beast/Vice reporters were in their slander. I guess they (correctly) expect very few people to read the actual email.

    Daily Beast:
    Stallman wrote that “the most plausible scenario” for Giuffre’s accusations was that she was, in actuality, “entirely willing.” Vice’s Motherboard later reprinted the emails in full. Gano did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Actual Quote From Stallman’s Email:
    We can imagine many scenarios, but the most plausible scenario is that she presented herself to him as entirely willing. Assuming she was being coerced by Epstein, he would have had every reason to tell her to conceal that from most of his associates.

    You just need to snip the “presented herself to him as” part of the sentence away, and *presto* Stallman’s a Monster.

    I’m sticking to emacs

  4. What Stallman wrote, which can be accurately paraphrased as:

    Maybe Minsky did illegally have sex with a (vulnerable) underage girl, the REALLY IMPORTANT injustice here is that someone described it as “assault”

    was stupid, offensive, and impolitic.

    It was stupid because muddying the waters with less important details (even technically correct details) is a well understood logical fallacy.

    It was offensive because of the implication that a very minor slight (hinging on possibly incorrect but not uncommon use of language) to someone he identifies with is more important than the substantial suffering of someone he doesn’t.

    I won’t bother explaining why it was impolitic.

    • Many a convict-to-be has uttered the words. “But your honor, she came on to me! And she looked eighteen!”. Stallman furthermore seems old enough to know the term ‘jail bait’.

    • “There is no evidence for something of this nature having happened” does not square with my understanding of the facts. I understand there is a statement from the alleged victim. However, I haven’t heard or read that statement; is my understanding incorrect?

    • @Believe Women

      If you think your comment is responsive to my statement and you want me to understand how you’ll have to explain more explicitly.

    • Neal: The person who claims to have had sex with Marvin Minsky is seeking cash in a lawsuit against one of Epstein’s former employees. A plaintiff’s “allegations” are not ordinarily considered “evidence.” For her to get the cash that she seeks (in addition to whatever she was paid for her sex work at the time) it certainly is convenient that one of the people she says that she was paid to have sex with is deceased and cannot contradict her account. says “Giuffre says her account is ’99 per cent true’ but her own lawyers have described it as “’fictionalised’.”

      I wonder if there were enough hours in the day for Epstein to have had sex with all of the people who say that they were paid to have sex with him.

      for example quotes a different woman who says that she had sex with Epstein three times per day.

      From the article: “In six months I never saw him do a day’s work. I never saw him work. He was literally sexually abusing us all day long,” she insisted.

      Let’s accept this as true, i.e., that the middle-aged Gulfstream owner did not have to work. Nonetheless, isn’t there some limit on the number of times he could have had have sex per day? Even the richest person is not granted more than 24 hours in a day. (Adding up all of the bones of saints in cathedrals around the world, it turns out that they had way more bones than a typical human. Maybe an analogous thing will be true of Epstein by the time all of the lawsuits are placed on the same table. He was available 93 hours per day to associate with each of 17 plaintiffs.)

    • “A plaintiff’s “allegations” are not ordinarily considered ‘evidence.’”

      Within the context of a court proceeding an alleged victim’s testimony is definitely considered ‘evidence’. Outside the context of a court proceeding a victim’s statement is ‘evidence’ in the same way that what “her own lawyers have described” is evidence. Since you choose to admit her “own lawyers” statement into our conversation as ‘evidence’, the victim’s statement is also ‘evidence’. “There is no evidence for something of this nature having happened” is simply not a synonym for “The allegations have not yet been adjudicated in court.” Using the former in place of the latter is misleading.

      Yes it is interesting that it is “convenient that one of the people she says that she was paid to have sex with is deceased and cannot contradict her account”. It is also interesting that she was able to come up with the relatively obscure name of someone who wasn’t widely known to be be associated with Epstein but was, apparently, associated with him. Neither of those facts, by themselves, are particularly salient for determining what actually happened.

      Epstein pleaded guilty and was convicted of serious crimes related to sexual misconduct, and he went to prison for it. I know the criminal justice system is not perfect, but between your I don’t believe it because I couldn’t get it up that much defense of Epstein and the court’s findings, I’ll go with the court.

    • Certainly I did not say that her lawyer’s lack of faith in her veracity was “evidence.” I merely quoted a newspaper.

      How surprising is it that someone who was seeking cash from Epstein would come up with what you say is the “obscure” name of Marvin Minsky? The Wikipedia page for Epstein’s foundation, circa 2015, lists Marvin as the second funding recipient. Why wouldn’t a plaintiff select the first listed scientist as her sex partner? That’s Stephen Hawking, who was wheelchair-bound and alive to deny any accusations. Was Marvin “obscure”? See his 2016 obituary:
      I’m not sure that young folks, whether or not working in the sex industry, are loyal New Yorker magazine readers, but practically an entire issue was devoted to Marvin:

      If you mean to suggest that a court found that any woman was paid to have sex with Marvin Minsky, I believe that you are mistaken. Nor, to my knowledge, was there was ever any finding that Jeffrey Epstein paid women to have sex with him. To avoid further prosecution, Epstein entered into a plea bargain. explains the plea deal and the prosecutor’s opinion that “going to trial would have been ‘a roll of the dice.'”

      That someone who is accused of a crime enters into a plea deal does not mean that the person is guilty of the crime. See for an explanation of the process.

    • “If you mean to suggest that a court found that any woman was paid to have sex with Marvin Minsky, I believe that you are mistaken.”

      I did not mean to suggest this (and don’t think I said anything which did suggest this).

      “That someone who is accused of a crime enters into a plea deal does not mean that the person is guilty of the crime.”

      It doesn’t necessarily mean they actually committed the crime, but once a judge accepts the plea deal and convicts them they are then guilty of the crime and can be punished for it.

      In this case, I think it is very unlikely that someone with Epstein’s money and power, and access to his kind of lawyers, would have pleaded guilty and gone to prison for something he flat out didn’t do. The prosecutor has their own motivations for spinning their handling of the case. However, I don’t have strong opinions on this and am certainly not trying to convince you. I was just letting you know that I found your defense of Epstein completely unconvincing.

    • I’m not surprised that you found my “defense of Epstein unconvincing” since I was not offering one. Unlike with Marvin Minsky, I never met Jeffrey Epstein and don’t know anything about him other than what is reported in our media (which also notes that Britain won’t have any food after Brexit and they’ll starve just like folks in non-EU countries such as Norway and Switzerland; see ) and most of that I haven’t read (an “old person pays young person to have sex” story is not interesting to me). Other than the question of how Epstein was able to have sex more than 24 hours per day, I don’t have any reason to be skeptical of plaintiffs seeking to obtain additional payments for their sex work with Epstein.

    • You know Philip, a simple statement would have been enough to defend your friend. Something along the lines of “The allegations are not credible. I knew Marvin Minksy and he would not have done this.” As a data point from someone with first hand knowledge, that would have shifted my priors. After this thread, the most charitable thing I can do for the memory of Dr. Minsky is not assign credibility to anything you say on the matter.

  5. And now he’s been Watsoned. He broke the modern commandment, thou shalt not question the sanctity of Victimhood. Are there any quasi-public figures left who still think that rational discussion is acceptable? If so, who’s next?

  6. He’s gone from FSF and MIT. No man’s achievements are so great that he can’t be taken down at any time by pussy.

    • Please. He is a public figure who was working for an institution in the middle of dealing with an embarrassing scandal. He forgot (or was too stupid or too pigheaded to know) that part of his job was not saying anything which makes things worse for the institution.

  7. Its fake news. Artificial scandal, just read original article. Also no switch from Emacs to Vim. Even if RMS is rapist, Emacs has nothing to do with that.

  8. Intel, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple, all promoters of the “un-freedom” that Stallman routinely lectured against and pointed out, must be quietly happy. Now they can get on with it…

  9. vim and vi are incredibly fast to operate and early versions of emacs were incredibly buggy. So it has been vim and notepad+ for me. It seems that RMS was sure of Marvin Minsky’s infidelity and possible crime of statuary rape. Did RMS know Marvin Minsky well to voice such opinion? In my experiences RMS’s work was not up to professional standards and he shares point of view of early communists on abolishing private and intellectual property and family, while being paid mostly by taxpayers and parent that have no choice to say where their money are going. Really disappointed about Minsky allegations. His book on AI was one of first that I read to learn CS and wrote AI programs based on it. But articles report that Minsky took Epstein’s plane with underage escorts to his private island. Was it the only way to get to a conference on said island? Are flight records confirm date and time of the trip(s)?

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