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Re: gag rule joke

[[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider    ]]]
[[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies,     ]]]
[[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example. ]]]

[After spending an hour to write this, I saw a proposal for
an 11-week cooling off period.  That might be a good idea.
However, I think this message is important and shouldn't wait 11 weeks.]

  >   This is the most aggressive (by far!) I have seen most of 
  > the maintainers become in an email discussion and most of it has been 
  > reactions to doubts on our good faith or to your assertion of ultimate 
  > authority regardless of our near-unanimous opinion.

I think you are saying that all of you were taken aback that I did not
recognize your complete authority, which you considered indisputable.
Some of you were incensed that I didn't accept that.

I think I can understand what that felt like, because I felt something
along the same lines.  I was taken aback that you claimed total
authority over GNU libc, since I never agreed to that.  I was not
incensed, but I was shocked and alarmed.

The specific joke was the immediate practical disagreement that made
us aware of the deeper disagreement.  But that joke was not terribly
important in itself.  At least, not to me.  Arguments might convince
me it is better to delete one particular joke, if I think they are

However, some went far beyond criticizing one joke.  Some advocated a
radical opposition to any and all jokes, citing a principle they call
"professionalism" (which seems to mean, "be humorless and
businesslike, certainly not a hacker").  One person even expressed
disgust for my humorous title, the Chief GNUisance.  I think he would
prefer that I called myself something with no playfulness in it, such
as "Boss of the GNU Project".  Would that be better?

Humor pervades the GNU Project, because I am in favor of humor.  The
name "GNU" is itself a joke -- a recursive acronym.  If you want to
work on the GNU Project, you'll have to tolerate various kinds of

That we have a serious purpose is not a reason to aim for
humorlessness: "Ha Ha Only Serious" is a hacker tradition.  See

To advocate a ban on jokes is to oppose a principle I hold dear.  I
hesitate to delete any joke, if that would be appear to be an advance
for a campaign to delete all jokes.

However, if is clear that the matter at hand is only one specific
joke, arguments based on the specifics of the joke could convince me.

Dr Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation (,
Internet Hall-of-Famer (
Skype: No way! See

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