Gran Canaria wrap-up 1July 15, 2009 7:04 pm community, gnome, guadec
First in a long series that will probably get finished next June, just in time for the next edition
Of course I was aware of the reaction to RMS’s keynote during the conference, and spoke about it with Lefty on a number of occasions.
I have been bothered by the creation of a “meme” which has, apparently, been perpetuated by people who weren’t even at the conference. The meme seems to be speaking more to Richard’s Mono comments (my opinion here) rather than the Emacs virgins segment, but it’s sufficiently ambiguous that I can’t tell.
If people are primarily concerned about the Mono comments, then say so – it’s not useful to conflate two issues. If you’re primarily concerned with the emacs virgin jokes, then for all those who weren’t at the keynote, or who don’t remember exactly what Richard said, go look at it now:
Aside: anyone know how to embed a youtube video on GNOME Blogs?
Richard is sufficiently predictable that he has been giving the same segment, word for word, for many years – last week was my third time to hear it – and to my knowledge this is the first time there has been such outcry.
Personally, I didn’t think it was offensive. As a born & bred (unbelieving) catholic, we’re big into the Virgin Mary ourselves, and while the “relieving them of their emacs virginity” line felt a bit awkward, I didn’t think that the segment was particularly offensive or inappropriate. I could see how others might feel uncomfortable, and so I have no problem with someone who did feel that way taking the point up with Richard directly. Go look at the video, and make up your own mind.
This is to underline a point: Offensiveness is in the eye of the beholder. It is dangerous to jump on a band-wagon about something as significant as whether someone was inappropriate or not if you were not there. I spoke to a number of people who were bothered by the speech, and many more who hadn’t noticed anything in particular, and who laughed along. It’s very easy to jump on a morally outraged bandwagon, without knowing what we’re talking about exactly.
I don’t mind people being morally outraged, I occasionally am myself, but at least make sure you are before you get in a huff. I have a lot more respect for Lefty, Chani and others who were at the conference than the sheep jumping on the issue as an easy way to take a pot-shot at the FSF and Richard Stallman. Oh – and for all the Boycott Novell crowd that are jumping on this as a way to get at people who support Mono, the same thing I said earlier goes for you too – conflating the issues isn’t helpful, in fact it’s inflammatory, stop harming our community with your bad behaviour.
By the way, the “Stop sexism” sign referred to a presentation in a rails conference, where a guy was using scantily clad glamour model shots to illustrate his talk about how “hot” rails was, IIRC. A bunch of rails heavyweights including DHH jumped in to defend him against the “thin-skinned” crowd. Is a parody of the christian church comparing an editor to a god really on the same scale? I dunno, maybe. Like I said, I can see how some people might not like it, but it didn’t bother me.
Can we move on now?
Update: Before moving on, one thing needs clarification. Let me emphasise one thing I said above: while I personally didn’t find RMS’s Emacs virgins segment offensive, I can see how others might. Taking someone to task because they were made uncomfortable by something is never acceptable. Accept that they were made uncomfortable, explain that it wasn’t intentional, apologise, move on. As I said, being offended is in the eye of the beholder. Other people are just as entitled to feel uncomfortable as you are to be unoffended. So to all those posting comments in Chani, Lefty and others’ blogs telling them to grow a thicker skin, get a life, or whatever other bile you’ve been spewing, think about that. And then don’t post the comment.