Free Software is a social, ethical and political movement for freedom, solidarity and autonomy in software users' digital lives.

Richard Stallman founded it, published and defended the ideas that drive it, and amassed quite a significant amount of support, and also of criticism. Opponents of the movement he started have long resorted to attacking him on unrelated issues, in attempts to undermine the movement and his leadership thereof.

He's so famously associated with leadership of the movement at large that he's even labeled father of open source, despite his disapproval for the dissident, business-oriented marketing campaign that takes that name, whose prominent members often criticize him. Ironically, people often think they are disparaging their own leader.

Even among them, he's a reference point when it comes to caring about software freedom for users, and he understands much of the power dynamics that constantly threaten freedoms, to the point that "Stallman was right" became a famous meme.

He's always been a very inclusive leader. Anyone willing to advance the ideals, goals, and strategies of our movement is welcome to do so, regardless of other unrelated views. Those who do a good job at it earn trust and support from other proponents, including from the founder himself. When people show success at promoting our values to a community, we're happy to support them at that. This is caring about the cause, and it's good leadership, too.

Not long ago, there were moves to exclude Stallman from the movement and from the organized efforts he started, and impose a political stand about issues unrelated to the software freedom issue. It's not that people can't or shouldn't hold or express unrelated views; he and they should be just as welcome and free to do so. People are multidimensional: we care about multiple issues.

However, in the Free Software Movement, the focus has always been on a single issue: freedom for all software users, justified on ethics and grounded on solidarity and on human rights, particularly on free speech. Stallman remains committed to the ideas that define the movement: though he supports several unrelated causes, he has not attempted to impose them on the free software movement.

The rationale to exclude him, on the other hand, implies a very significant departure from the single issue that has united us. It amounts to redefining the Free Software Movement by forcing other political views into it. The result would be one that couldn't count on such broad support, because alignment on multiple unrelated issues would be required. It would exclude present and future supporters who refuse to conflate their support for Free Software with unrelated issues. That would divide and damage the movement, and I believe nobody favorable to the movement should accept that, whether they support the unrelated views or not.

Again, it's not that people shouldn't hold or defend unrelated views, nor that we oppose those views, it's that making them additional core issues of a so-far single-issue movement is divisive. With respectful expression of ideas, thoughtful listening, and willingness to learn and to improve, we increase the odds of helping each other and finding common ground, even if it's just that tolerating differences on unrelated issues unites us and makes the movement stronger, whereas intolerance to such differences would tend to fragment it.

Anyway, some advocates may believe they can do a better job than the founder at promoting software freedom values to communities that share other unrelated values with them, or that dislike him, for whatever reasons--valid or not. Let's encourage them and wish them success! We and they are for the same cause, in the same movement, after all.

But let's also wish them to be conscientious about how to criticize the founding-father and leader of the movement that got us all together to support, promote and live by the software freedom values. Even if the criticism is valid, publicly disparaging him hurts the movement, dividing us and pushing potential supporters away. So let's go for adult conversations when fair and honest criticism is called for, and leave the public shaming based on false reports to our opponents, shall we?

So blong...