Attention conservation notice: Angry rant about sexism and sexism-motivated abuse in the computer industry.
I was going to write a crunchy, cerebral, if perhaps controversial, post today about how I don’t think Bitcoin is going to change the world, but then I got up and read my usual newsfeeds and discovered that, once again, the Internet’s collection of “gibbering follow monkeys” have decided to hurl abuse up to and including death threats at someone. Someone whom, I am not surprised to find, is female and not white. So now you don’t get crunchy, or cerebral. You get an angry rant, because I have had enough of this shit.
For context, the sequence of events appears to have gone something like this. More details available at GF Wiki.
- Some dudes were making sophomoric, not actually funny sex jokes at PyCon.
- Adria Richards complained to the PyCon organizers and also kvetched about the dudes on Twitter.
- The PyCon organizers told the dudes to knock it off and/or leave the room, which they did.
- The gibbering follow monkeys flipped the fuck out, like they do, and started throwing abuse, DDOS and death threats around.
- One of the dudes was fired subsequent to a “thorough investigation” by his employer.
- Ms. Richards has also been fired, apparently after the abuse widened to include her employer as an organization.
Okay, here comes the rant.
What. The. Fuck. Is. Wrong. With. You. Monkeys?!
Why is it that this type of incident always seems to provoke a nuclear-grade shitstorm?
Why is it so important to you to be able to make sophomoric, unfunny jokes no matter where you may find yourself?
Where on God’s green earth did you get the idea that death threats are an appropriate response to ANYTHING?!
Why are you not ashamed of yourselves?
So tell us how you really feel, Weinberg.
I rather think I just did, but now I’m done shouting, perhaps I will elaborate a bit.
The “sophomoric, not actually funny sex jokes” may seem like a minor thing and not worth complaining about, but there is a fucking track record here. Much more serious things can and have happened to women at professional conventions (both in the software industry and out). By calling out minor bad behavior and publicly telling the perpetrators to knock it off, communities signal that more serious misbehavior will not be tolerated, and then hopefully it doesn’t happen at all. (Note: I am aware that this has been partially discredited as regards violent crime, but if you think it doesn’t work at all, provide evidence to back up your claims, and be aware that you are arguing with Philip Zimbardo.) The initial “hey, this is not cool” report and the “knock it off” response by PyCon seem precisely on the nose to me. Should anyone have gotten fired? Not just because of this incident, certainly, but the “thorough investigation” by the dude’s employer may have turned up something more serious; they, quite properly, do not elaborate. (Commenting in public about why you fired someone is a nonstop ticket to lawsuit land in the USA.) As of this writing, Ms. Richards’ employer appears to be in panic mode and not behaving rationally; I would not be surprised if they calm down tomorrow and pretend it never happened.
Now, as to the shitstorm. There is also a track record here, and for that I’m going to refer you to John Scalzi: “The Sort of Crap I Don’t Get.” He explains how he gets hate mail because of things he does, but he does not get a continuous stream of abuse, nor is it because of who and what he is (unless you count “opinionated and widely read”). Anyone who isn’t a straight white male, however, can expect that continuous stream of abuse, especially if they have a prominent online persona. This is not okay, and this is what I am especially angry about this afternoon. I have seen it happen over and over again to friends and acquaintances and strangers whose writing I read, and what the hell can I do about it?
I can say “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU MONKEYS” out loud instead of just thinking it, maybe. Maybe if enough people do that, the monkeys will start to feel some shred of shame.
I can hope.
Thanks for listening. Have a flower.