Juan Delgado

A new industry

19 Apr 2017

Today I learnt that Eric S. Raymond is a straight up racist:

American blacks average a standard deviation lower in IQ than American whites at about 85. And it gets worse: the average IQ of African blacks is lower still, not far above what is considered the threshold of mental retardation in the U.S. And yes, it’s genetic [… ] At the same time, [IQ] group differences have a significance too great to ignore. In the U.S., blacks are 12% of the population but commit 50% of violent crimes; can anyone honestly think this is unconnected to the fact that they average 15 points of IQ lower than the general population? That stupid people are more violent is a fact independent of skin color.

Also a self-declared gun-nut, turns out grandma was kind of a racist all along.

I mean, wow. You can go read the 2003 sexist and racist post, the kind of well-written, articulated racist eugenics speech that forms the base of the not so kind and rational aggression minorities suffer on a daily basis.

So thank you Anjuan Simmons for pointing it out in a thread about the conflict between giving visibility to a racist vs using said racist’s work on your own behalf. It is a complex matter, the thread is well worth reading, but here is the gist of it:

The powerful principles of open source software exist apart from his flawed personal views […] Despite his racism and sexism, Raymond distilled the power of inclusion in OSS in a way that I think many audiences can understand […] He’s not a perfect vehicle for the idea, but he suits my goal.

Sadly our industry is full of these conflicts.

Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript and cofounder of Mozilla, is a homophobe that supported with actual money legislation that would have prevented same-sex marriage in California. When he was appointed CEO of Mozilla there was the expected uproar. For a while he tried to defend that it wouldn’t be a problem:

Eich stood by his decision to fund the campaign, but wrote on his blog that he was sorry for “causing pain” and pledged to promote equality at Mozilla.

Sorry dude, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t deny fundamental rights to some of your workers on Sunday and then pretend to promote equality while inside the Mozilla building on Monday. It just doesn’t work like that. Eventually he resigned.

This is not disagreement over “minor” political stuff like how we spend the taxes. This is denying the rights and very existence of a lot of people. This is not debatable.

See also Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds. Both have a track record for creating the kind of harsh, “no PC bullshit” environment that’s supposedly necessary for success. Well, I wouldn’t know, because I’m not the creator of a 25 years long open source project that powers billions of devices big and small, BUT I know one thing: I don’t enjoy working with arseholes.

So when I read and find out about these things I honestly wish we could start over with the industry. Yes, Linux is an incredible feat, but what would’ve happened if instead of the type of environment that Linus creates there would have been a diverse, inclusive and kind environment where people don’t fear the wrath of the almighty creator when sending a patch?

This is why we all need to keep up making this place more diverse, inclusive and welcoming. One thing we can do is “lending our privilege”, which is using our privilege to support and raise others that have less. Listen to Anjuan’s Lending Privilege talk at The Lead Dev and let’s all get on with it.

We have an industry to transform.


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