Rats in a Barrel

So the rats got a whiff of some social justice cheese and proceeded to dive headfirst into a barrel of their own creation.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/22/adria-richards-did-everything-exactly-right/

Naturally, PZ thinks that following the conference code of conduct in reporting sexual humor was appropriate.  Leaving aside the question of what planet we live on in which sexual humor “harms” someone, more to the point how “big dongles” is somehow demeaning to women, the facts on the ground suggest that simply reporting the incident in accordance with the procedures being aired so vehemently by the conference organizers was the right thing to do.

Fine.

That, however, is not what put Adria under the reticle, so to speak.  This is the same equivalency that was employed during Elevatorgate, applied to Dawkin’s dismissive response to the subsequent flavor of discussion and reaction in which he replied, and now being applied to the reddit/4chan responses to her behavior.

Adria was unsatisfied with the overall result of plying the official channels to redress her “grievance”, for the simple fact that her victimization, and courage, had no audience.  If she followed the rules, utilized the in-place policies to address the “problem”, the “perpetrators” would be dealt with, a measure of justice would have been rendered, and that would be that.  This, I can imagine, is a rather hollow victory for any social justice activist with a public image to foster.  Lets not mince words, either, she is by any stretch a political animal with a public face, and moreover is actively employed in the commission of improving the public and employment image of developers.  She is a developer evangelist, she knows full well (indeed makes her living off of) the importance of a positive public image, and the detrimental nature of a negative one.

Any apology from her that does not reference these selfish motivations is disingenuous at best.

Following redress through the proper channels, she publicly humiliates two men, plastering her well-read blog with their faces and details of the entire sordid affair, and then briefly basks in the supportive comments and tweets that inevitably follow the “victory” over “patriarchy”, punctuated tactfully with demure condemnations of the inevitable brow-beating of men who made an off-color remark amongst themselves.

She knew what would happen, she knew the disastrous blow those men’s reputations would absorb, but she didn’t care.  The important thing, to her, was recognition.  A positive public image, especially in this realm of “fighting sexism” and other such tripe, would directly improve her financial prospects; both her blog and her professional credibility depend on her standing out (and above) her competition.

Then, things began spiraling out of control.  You see, publicly humiliating people, especially for mild-to-absent offensive behavior, is hardly a settled issue.  There are at least two very vocal, very emotional, very enthusiastic sides to the debate over speech and it’s content/appropriateness.  The backlash was vociferous, and, coming as it did from a highly technically competent faction of the internet, highly effective and heavily onerous.

There has been a general confusion about the causal chain in this whole affair, and this has led ideologues like PZ and his baboons to conclude that Adria is being dealt a raw deal by the “forces” of misogyny.

Nonsense.

Adria was let go because her vindictive and irresponsible, not to mention self-aggrandizing twitter/blog circus, did not reflect positively on the company she was working for.  The conference organizers didn’t agree with her behavior either, as it arguably violated the very code of conduct she was apparently trying to underline.  The reactions from the internethatemachine were wholly predictable at this point.  No one is in any way confused about how this works; it’s so obvious that cynical marketers like Sarkeezian (among many others) have begun utilizing it for financial gain.

By any stretch of social justice, that a man was publicly humiliated and subsequently fired for making a harmless remark to his friend is grounds for a stinging response.  We all react negatively when someone is punished more harshly than they deserve, extremely so when someone is punished when we don’t think they did anything wrong to begin with.

In short, Adria didn’t “do everything right” as PZ claims.  She did some right and some wrong, and the wrong is what she’s being taken to task for.  She’s not a Joan of Ark, she’s not a moral crusader on a white horse, she’s just a selfish asshole who took a risk and paid for it.  She deserved to be fired, deserved to be publicly shamed herself, and everyone needs to learn a lesson from this:

Grow up.  No one gives a shit about your fee-fees.

PZ’s troupe is so unaccustomed to interacting with. . . well, the rest of society that the backlash appears to be nothing more than hatred of women (or blacks).   It would be pure comedy, if such reactionary language weren’t so damaging to the discussion.  Adria behaved badly in the same way as (for example) Watson behaved badly in publicly shaming Stef McGraw.  The blowback to both sets of behaviors was, ironically, not hatred, but empathy.  Empathy for the man humiliated, given that many people don’t think they did anything wrong or, if wrong, not harmful.  Empathy likewise for Stef, who many considered to be a victim of bullying.

The reason PZ et al don’t recognize this, and categorize it as hatred, is because they are blinkered by a double standard.  They don’t apply principles to situations, thereby retaining both consistency and credibility, rather they arbitrarily derive principles based on the conclusions they wish to draw from individual situations.  This is why, in the case of Watson and Adria, their acts of public shaming were acceptable because they’re women, and the problem is a hostile environment.  In the case of the backlash and public shaming of Watson and Adria, these actions are unacceptable because it’s not acceptable to publicly shame women or something.  The demonstrable fact that both women had access to a far wider audience for which they could draw support from, and a conference structure through which to air grievances appropriately, is irrelevant in the context of a wider society that allegedly oppresses women (except for Stef, apparently).

The man who was fired found out first-hand how “privileged” he is.  The conference organizers reprimanded him, his company fired and disowned him, and he’s unlikely to find work in his field.  The “toxic culture” happily threw him under the bus.

None of this will count as evidence that such a “toxic culture” is a fantasy created by professional victims, because RAPE.

—–

There are a thousand and one other reasons to be incensed over this.  Adria is simply the most recent in a new crop of drama queen feminist activists who leave misery and trouble in their wake, on a quest to fix a largely fabricated problem, for instances of “harm” that are no such thing.  This is analogous to the recent shenanigans at Oberlin, almost certainly a hoax like the many perpetrated before it, created to drum up ire over a manufactured problem.  The target, invariably white men, are consistently marginalized and dehumanized in a very familiar pattern.  It has gotten to the point that to advocate for whites, or men, is akin to hate speech.  This is a dangerous path.

It’s claimed that the joke was “sexist”, but no explanation is proffered for this.  The phrase “I would fork his repo” is absolutely a double entendre , but it’s got zip to do with women. It has sexual connotations underlying it, clearly, but only in form.  It’s the “I would tap that” joke.  How, precisely, does forking his repo imply the inferiority of women?  How would even forking her repo imply it?  It doesn’t, it’s not sexism, it’s sexual.  

So the problem, apparently, is that sexual humor that denigrates no one is a problem that ephemerally harms future female coders.  The logic just doesn’t add up.

What’s done is called conflation.  You take something like a sex-themed double entendre, amplify it to culture-wide significance, subtly imply that such humor is sexist (because reasons), and vilify it.  This doesn’t help women, doesn’t help men, doesn’t foster community; all it does is create tension in the workplace and ice camaraderie.  Given the disastrous and random inflation of an isolated, harmless joke, every man and woman is going to be terrified of saying anything that could maybe, possibly, squinty-eyed ex rectum be conflated as a joke about sex or sexuality.  Your job, and livelihood, hangs in the balance.

Fuck you, Adrias of the world.

What should have happened is that everyone read the content of the joke, thought for a moment, and told Adria to go pound sand.  They didn’t need to fire the man, nor did they need to fire Adria.  A commitment to diversity, to not marginalizing any demographic, is just that.  It’s not making sure no one gets offended, ever, by anything anyone else might say.

Go, watch, and understand.

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