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Crime GNU is Not Unix

RMS Robbed of Passport and Other Belongings In Argentina 386

New submitter Progman3K writes "Richard Stallman, father of the FSF, had his bag containing his laptop, medicine, money and passport stolen after his talk at the University of Buenos Aires on Friday, June 8." Adds reader jones_supa, excerpting from the same linked story: "As a result of this occurrence, he was forced to cancel his talk in Cordoba, and it's still unknown how this will impact the rest of his speaking engagements throughout the world."
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RMS Robbed of Passport and Other Belongings In Argentina

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  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:30AM (#40274001)

    Perhaps he would had been better off if he made a living producing software and selling it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:35AM (#40274031)

    Can anyone explain why the parent comment is at -1? Is it a "-1, Painful Truth" mod?

    Everything said in it is truthful and correct:

    1) Argentina was quite prosperous at one time, but the past decade or so has been really hard on them. Their economic problems have caused a significant drop in the standard of living for many of its citizens, and crime has become much more of an issue. Today, it is much more akin to an African nation than it is to a Western nation.

    2) There are many places, even in nations like the USA, that have extremely low standards of living, and that are very dangerous to venture to these parts. Theft is a very real possibility, even during short stays.

    3) When traveling in foreign nations, it is a good practice to keep at least your passport on your body. Many travelers wear passport holders that are worn under clothing, making theft much more difficult. Likewise, devices and bags should be physically held onto at all times.

    4) Indeed, a good way of avoiding incidents like this is to not travel to countries where incidents like this are more probable. This is just common sense.

  • by buanzo ( 542591 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:39AM (#40274075) Homepage
    I'm Argentine. I avoid problematic areas. But this happened during a conference. In ALL conferences in EVERY country stuff is robbed cause people are idiots. And security guards are idiots. THAT's common sense. Avoiding an entire country is plan idiocy.
  • by saibot834 ( 1061528 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:44AM (#40274119)

    This is really not newsworthy. It happens in Buenos Aires all the time. I was there 2009 at Wikimania (where RMS also attended) and I in the few days I was there multiple of my friends had their bags/laptops stolen, while I was in the same room.

    The thiefs are really skilled and they make it almost impossible for you to notice the theft. The only way to defend yourself is to have all your stuff at your body all the time, thus being a harder target than everyone else.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:03AM (#40274237)

    > Perhaps he would had been better off if he made a living producing software and selling it.

    Maybe he would; but we're surely better off since he chose to benefit mankind over himself.

    Don't get me wrong, this is not a religious thing... but IMHO overall tech progress got a powerful impulse with the GPL and things like Linux (or GNU/Linux in his lingo). It's easy to underestimate the role of Free Software in mankind's advancement.

    Now it would be nice if someone explained that to the thief. Argentinians have an advanced culture and possibly even a thief might grok why it is important not to take this man's passport.

  • One Bag? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:13AM (#40274305)
    I'm sorry, but what kind of moron keeps all this stuff together in *one* bag? Your passport should always be on your person when possible. You should have backup credit and ATM cards separate from your regular cards, along with some emergency cash. This stuff is 'Travelling 101' for god's sake.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:17AM (#40274327)

    Blindly spawning mindless stereotypes like "third world countries are best shunned" is also first-class idiocy.

  • by loufoque ( 1400831 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:20AM (#40274351)

    [quote]In ALL conferences in EVERY country stuff is robbed[/quote]
    Not in any of the countries I've done conferences in. And they didn't even have security guards.

  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:30AM (#40274435)

    Absolutely nothing.

    The only people who care about him are people who think no one should pay for anything ever. He'd be pretty much fucked.

    Personally, I'd pay them to keep him so we don't have to listen to his political hippie ignorance anymore.

  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:52AM (#40274583)

    While I am sorry for his loss (and that is only a story because of who was robbed - a zillion other tech people get robbed in foreign countries and they don't make /.) RMS has traveled the world for years, and I would have thought he knew better about he risks of theft. His passport and money should not have been left unsecured, and he should have ascribed to a layered packing regime that I learnt about years ago that includes three general zones:

    1. Checked luggage - Contains stuff you that you don't care if you never see it again
    2. Hand luggage - Contains stuff you can drop and leave behind in an emergency in order to protect your personal well being
    3. On your person - Contains stuff that is critical to your well being and ability to travel

    Passport and money belongs squarely in that last category. They are replaceable, but their loss has a much greater impact on a trip than losing stuff from the other two categories.
    Leaving his passport and money in an unsecured location was a stupid and idiotic move on *his* part (although I bet that that is probably somewhat offset by him being distracted for a moment). And yes I know that this sounds like blaming the victim, but there is a point where you have to take responsibility for your own actions.

  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:55AM (#40274605) no one checks your student ID at the entrance, anyone can go in including thieves, which often mix up with other students to steal stuff.

    You're making the assumption that students are not thieves. I doubt that the entrance requirements for this university include the question:
    "Are you a thief? yes/no".

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @11:10AM (#40274707) Homepage

    The USA has it's third world areas..... Detroit, New Jersey, South Central LA, Mississippi......

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2012 @11:26AM (#40274815)

    Maybe he would; but we're surely better off since he chose to benefit mankind over himself.


    Bill Gates went the other way and is now leading the fight against malaria. Richard Stallman goes around eating toejam and giving idealistic speeches that don't comport with reality. The former benefits mankind, the latter just tickles the fancy of computer science students who haven't had to earn a paycheck for a living yet.

  • by ThorGod ( 456163 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @11:30AM (#40274851) Journal

    Every comment I've read is either abrasively sarcastic or downright mean. What gives? This used to be the land of OSS/free speech.

    To be sure, /. has never been exactly "nice". But, come on guys! This kind of negativity needs to stop.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2012 @11:30AM (#40274853)
    I was born in Argentina too. The post author above was talking the best he could on his second language (as I am doing here), while I bet most of you can only talk English. Still, you made fun of him, and yes, it was funny, but that does not encourage participation. Now, on the topic: Buenos Aires has become a dangerous place in the last 10 or so years, and if you travel there you need to watch over your belongings and know when/where you can go and when/where you cannot. You can get robbed, scammed, or attacked if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. I agree with the comment that said that Argentina is more and more resembling an African nation. And the people living there has no reference to compare, and passionately will defend their country's image against all logic. All that said, there is no excuse for this. Like him or not, RMS has been and is a very important influence in the world of software, and without crazies like him we will probably not have free Linux and all the free software that is available around and most of us use. He deserves better. The person who stole from him did not care or did not knew about him. Now, avoiding an entire country because you are afraid it is not as civilised as your own country, or your experience would be unfamiliar, seems extreme.
  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @11:56AM (#40275025) Homepage

    I earn my paychecks by writing Free Software. Sucks to be you, I guess.

  • by Stiletto ( 12066 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @12:39PM (#40275335)

    And I earn my paychecks because of the various free platforms that are available thanks to GNU. Although we sell our end product, it runs on OS's that are free, written using free compilers and tools, connects to backends running free software, stores customer data in free software databases, etc. The business side does use a lot of non-free software though.

    I'd be curious to find an accounting of what percentage of business value out there can be traced down to being "enabled" by free software vs. non-free software.

  • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @01:21PM (#40275703)

    And in today's world, avoiding third-world nations "just because" is ridiculous. You're saying that executives from Apple should never have gone to China. You're saying that Venezuela, a member of OPEC, should never have members from other OPEC nations visiting there. And where do you draw the line...I'm not sure I'd consider Argentina a third-world country just because they had an economic breakdown...and there is no way they are more akin to an African country than a Western one. If a financial meltdown with long-term effects qualifies a country for third world status, then why not Japan? They still haven't recovered from the financial collapse that happened in the 90s.

    And let's keep something in mind...this was Richard Stallman speaking at a conference in a major city. This was not him going off into a remote area in the countryside to dig a well. There are places in most American states where he'd be statistically more likely to come to harm than he was in that hotel. Petty crime is what happens in such places, and little else.

    The reason why the post had been modded down...and why it should still be, even if it is because the whole point of it is ridiculous. For a soccer mom to avoid nations with shaky economies? Fine, if a bit wimpy. But for large-impact they people or simply influential people at large shun safe areas in third-world countries because of petty crime is entirely infeasible, self-defeating, and frankly smacks of the armchair thinking of someone who has never ventured outside middle America. The world is global; that's how it is now.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll