Computer scientist Richard Stallman resigned from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Monday following his comments on the late accused sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein and rape of teenage girls.
In emails, Stallman wrote that one of Epstein’s victims, in the “most plausible scenario,” “presented herself” as “entirely willing.” Just so we are clear this is not what happened! Please feel free to pause here to take a shower and then return to keep reading.
Stallman was referring to a case in which a 17-year-old girl was allegedly forced by Epstein, an MIT donor, into a sexual encounter with late MIT professor Marvin Minsky.
When someone tried to explain that the person was 17, Stallman emailed: “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.”
In 2003, Stallman wrote on his personal blog in a post that’s still visible: “I think that everyone age 14 or above ought to take part in sex, though not indiscriminately. (Some people are ready earlier.)”
How old were you when you started college? Imagine being a smart kid, maybe you study hard, skip a grade or graduate early, and you make it to MIT before you’re 18, only to have to be face-to-face with a person like this who cannot accept the fact that people are entitled to autonomy over their own bodies... and he has power over students’ futures?
Stallman wrote on his blog Monday that his resignation was “due to pressure on MIT and me over a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations,” so I looked at his other recent posts to see if I could clarify some matters.
On September 14, Stallman addressed his earlier post: “Through personal conversations in recent years, I’ve learned to understand how sex with a child can harm per [sic.] psychologically. This changed my mind about the matter: I think adults should not do that. I am grateful for the conversations that enabled me to understand why.”
What were these personal conversations like? Were these with friends? Was he required by MIT to have these conversations? Did someone stage an intervention?
He clearly still doesn’t get it. On September 5, he wrote: “I think that ‘affirmative consent for each step’ is a little too strict for sex.”
What are the steps? Is it exactly like a home run in baseball?
What is this phenomenon where men think that making sure their sexual partner is having a fun time is too... what, nice? I suspect that anyone worried about discussing consent too often doesn’t want to respect the word “no.” Consent can be revoked at any time! That means any time, Richard!
In August, Stallman seemed very concerned about men having to take consequences for their actions, writing: “In ‘me-too’ frenzy, crossed signals about sex can easily be inflated into ‘rape’. If people rush to judgment, in an informal way, that can destroy a man’s career without any trial in which to clear his name.”
First of all, way more victims of sexual harassment have their careers destroyed than the perpetrators. If you’ve read this far hopefully you already know this, but nobody goes through the exhausting process of accusing someone of sexual assault or rape because of “crossed signals.” Men like this spend way too much time thinking about the thought process of the accused and not the victim. If you rape someone because you misunderstood them, guess what? Still rape.