This week, VICE News published a hit-piece on Richard Stallman. The author, Edward Ongweso Jr, claims Stallman made comments defending convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. One article linked is one from an MIT alumni, Selam Jie Gano, who leaked an email exchange where Stallman is discussing an instance of Epstein’s crime.
Selam Jie Gano was outraged that “they [MIT] are, not only elevating but funding and endorsing a person like Richard Stallman as a visiting scientist.” In the entire exchange, Stallman never appeared to defend Epstein, instead he detailed two points – the first, that he felt Marvin Minsky should not be referred to as someone who “sexually assaulted” one of Epstein’s victims because Minsky may have thought she was “entirely willing.”
Stallman’s second argument, points out the inconsistencies regarding the age of consent, as the victim was 17, many countries and states within the U.S. have an age of consent ranging from 16 to 18. Stallman is merely pointing out how the same act can be legal or illegal in a span of a few miles.
Back to the article, VICE News took Stallman’s quote out of context and reported that “Stallman insists that the ‘most plausible scenario’ is that Epsteins underage victims were ‘entirely willing’ while being trafficked.”
However Stallman never stated that Epstein’s victims were “entirely willing.” He simply argued that Marvin Minsky might have thought that the victim, Virginia Giuffre, was willing to engage in sexual relations with him.
Since then, Richard Stallman has resigned under pressure, from his positions at MIT and as president of the Free Software Foundation which he founded.
The absurdity of all this, is that VICE News linked evidence which directly contradicts their claims. The only part I cannot work out, is if VICE are incompetent with their fact-checking, or were malicious in their intentions.