http://afreshcup.com/2009/04/28/a-painful-decision is making me
So as to not complain without offering solutions, here is my list of
what I think should happen (for discussion):
1) Matt should resign from the Rails activist group
2) If Matt does not understand why what he did and subsequent
non-apology was wrong, then we should be kind enough to explain it to
3) With all due respect to DHH and notwithstanding his desire for
Rails to remain "edgy" I think he should apologize for implicitly
endorsing Matt's behavior
Please do flame me, whatever... this needs to be discussed and acted
on before it continues to spiral out of control.
320 N 1st Street
Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
Hashrocket and nGen Works present...
BizConf is the premier conference for principals of custom web
August 20-21, 2009 at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Resort Amelia Island
in North Florida
It's just a handful of slides, they are not even explicit or anything.
I personally find the presentation just original, no offense, and no
offense for woman (meaning, of the woman I personally know I don't
think any of them would be offended).
So I really think there has to be some cross-cultural thing going on.
I really regret your apparent lack of regret.
> I've been working on organizing my thoughts in to a blog entry with
> the help of few friends and it should be public later on today (on my
I hope it contains a sincere apology, and is light on ideology. Pick
Thank you (though I don't really feel like much of a rockstar - heh).
I can see where it might appear that I was driving Mike's decisions if
you had only Twitter to go by. The truth of the matter is, he knew
about the GoGaRuCo presentation and fallout long before I did (a side-
effect of his tendency to wake up at ungodly hours). He was offended
all on his own. And I didn't know anything about him leaving Activists
until the die had already been cast - I woke up to the news.
I objected to the images in the slide show not because they are sexist
(though I believe they are), but because they are sexUAL. Some
parallel comparisons just aren't going to sit well with every audience
member out there. And while, granted, you can't please all the people,
all the time, it seems incredibly naive to think there wouldn't be
some fallout from a "developer as porn star" analogous presentation.
Imagine a presentation about recruiting developers for your firm with
the analogous presentation: "Big Game Hunting", replete with pictures
of dead animals smilingly displayed by the hunters who killed them.
Hunting is a perfectly legal sport and one which I personally have no
objections to (just as I have no objections to porn), but do graphic
images that will likely disturb at least *some* audience members
really have a place?
What about a presentation about writing code on deadline: "Delivering
Like a Birth Mom." Or how about graphic images of up-close
breastfeeding in a talk titled "Nursing Your Projects Along."
I have four kids. I breastfed. I've hunted. I even like porn! But two
great tastes don't always taste great together, and that is the point
that so many seem to have failed to make, or to get.
Speaking only for myself, I've been toying with the idea of mentoring
a local girl (maybe junior high or high school age) into development.
I know that I came to the game (dev) much later than most, largely
because computers seemed scary and foreign and impossibly complicated.
Do girls nowadays still feel that way? Maybe not as many, but the
girls I come into contact with (through other pursuits like martial
arts) still seem to have some kind of techno-fear.
That's only one piece of the puzzle, though, and as you point out the
community needs to be more accepting across the board. I don't have
any answers for that one but am keen to hear others'.
Members of this group including myself don't find it ridiculous, so
maybe we should find some way of submitting it to a vote or something.
Maybe it's enough for him to issue a real apology, or for the group to
apologize on his behalf. I don't know, nor do I pretend to have all
the answers -- which is why I submitted the topic for group
discussion. Somebody needed to do it, so if you or anyone else think
that I'm out to crucify Matt then just STOP FOR A SECOND and realize
that I like Matt on a personal basis and I'm just trying to find a way
to start putting out this fire.
>> 2) If Matt does not understand why what he did and subsequent
>> non-apology was wrong, then we should be kind enough to explain it to
> Or maybe, just maybe, he didn't think that the tone of the
> presentation was "wrong". You take that as a foregone conclusion that
> because there's disagreement as to whether this was appropriate -- I
> totally support a DISCUSSION about whether it's appropriate or not, I
> don't support the witch hunt that has ensued -- that it's "as a matter
> of fact" wrong. I don't buy into that either.
I think this group SHOULD have a discussion about whether it was
appropriate, but you should acknowledge that your opinions carry
disproportionate weight in this group and the overall community, and
that as a result you're going to tend to dominate the discussion
regardless of whether it's your intention or not.
>> 3) With all due respect to DHH and notwithstanding his desire for
>> Rails to remain "edgy" I think he should apologize for implicitly
>> endorsing Matt's behavior
> I'm not implicitly saying that I didn't think it was a big deal, I'm
> EXPLICITLY saying it. I'm presenting my personal opinion that I think
> the images used in that presentation were incredibly tame (calling it
> porn is really an insult to porn) and that the pop culture frame of
> "perform as a porn star" felt well within the realm of no big deal.
> Again, this is my personal opinion. I'm completely open to having a
> discussion about whether that's appropriate or not. What has ensued
> has not been a discussion, though, it's been a witch hunt and a pile-
Yes, everyone understands your EXPLICIT point. Remember I'm neither
conservative nor particularly professional in how I portray myself
online or in real life. I say FUCK and SHIT a lot, regardless of how
anyone feels about it. I work barefoot and in shorts and a tshirt,
regardless of whether clients are around the office. I endorse heavy
drinking by myself and my friends, hell, if you've seen "The
Hashrocket Way" then you know that I CELEBRATE drinking, not just
endorse it, and I'm sure that is potentially offensive to some people.
I am one of those people that gets called a "rock star" in a
derogative fashion by our critics. In other words, I understand and
SHARE your concern for keeping Rails "edgy" and exciting. This is not
the way to go about it.
I think you're missing the point about what's going on. The PR
situation that concerns me is not about PORN. It's about the lack of
understanding and/or remorse for people's feelings that was displayed
by Matt and subsequently by you. Yes you, who I consider a friend, I'm
calling you out personally. Myself and others think this has
unnecessarily tarnished the image of the activist group and is
damaging the overall reputation of the Ruby community for no good
> In the comments I've read, I've seen Matt, myself, and anyone else who
> dared opine that they didn't think it was out of line to be accused of
> supporting human trafficking (wtf?!), implied that someone should
> "kick our ass" and that violence would be a good way of teaching us a
> lesson, to the regular stable of personal insults like douchebags,
> assholes, and more.
Sucks to be on the receiving end of that.
> This is not proportional. If you were offended by a porn theme or the
> tame pictures used in the presentation, it's absolutely your right to
> voice your discontent, but this is so far beyond that. What's going on
> right now is returning fire from a slingshot with an atom bomb.
I could be wrong about everything, but not this: Matt could have
defused the whole thing (and probably still can) by just saying he's
sincerely sorry for hurting people's feelings and leave it at that.
You know, like a real apology.
>> Please do flame me, whatever... this needs to be discussed and acted
>> on before it continues to spiral out of control.
> It's already out of control. Indignation and outrage are powerful
> drugs and they're working their magic right now. There will not be any
> civil discussions possible before the high subsides and people get
> some distance. When that day comes, I'll be happy to partake any a
> reasonable discussion about rating conference talks or their place.
Do you detect a lot of indignation in this group? Anger, yes.
Pragmatism, yes. Anything else I can't speak to...
> Our biggest problem right now is not Matt's talk per se, not evenI agree with that. Here's one proposal: Start rating your conference
> porn, sexism etc. though these are serious issues too. The problem is
> that we can't treat the problem in a satisfactory way, or at least
> suggest a plan how might that happen.
or track according to the material. The movie standards of PG, M, and
R would do just fine. Then people can self-select on the type of
content that they're willing to hear.
I, for example, can just make sure that I only attend or speak at M
and R rated conferences and tracks. If you're offended by profanity,
for example, you'd be forewarned that sitting in on an M or R track
would be a bad idea.
This didn't make it to the slides posted on the web, but at the
conference, Josh did make a point of warning the audience about the
content before Matt gave his presentation. Maybe that has something to
do with why there wasn't a whole lot of (obvious) negative response in
the room at the time.
We've already addressed the problem of "who was offended by the
presentation?", but perhaps a more interesting question is this: why
was the presentation so offensive? Was it the content? The audience?
The lack of a disclaimer? The whole thing being taken out of context
when the slides hit the web by themselves?
> You know what I find offensive to women? The attitude that pornography is
> somehow especially offensive to women and we need to tip toe around that
> lightly. I think DHH summed it up nicely when he said that calling this
> porn was offensive to porn.
I think there are many edges in this discussion.
* Whether the slides themselves were appropriate or offensive
* Whether Matt's presentation and/or reaction to this stuff is
appropriate *being an activist*
* Whether this is just a snow ball that has gotten too far and out of proportion
* Whether this kind of stuff has anything to do about woman being
computer scientists, and other kinds of generalisations like this
about the community as a whole
* Whether the reaction of Rails core member is this or that, whether
they should behave this or that way, whether the core are seen as
representatives of the community even in non-technical stuff
* ... surely there are people with emphasis on some other aspect of this issue
In my opinion that results in a big mess, and a mess fragmented in
tweets, blogs, private emails, etc. You can't have an ordered and
rational discussion this way. It's a delicate topic, and there are
many viewpoints involved.
The Rails community is big, I'd love to see that this calms down and
everyone goes back to the *work* we are doing together to build Rails.
I'd love to have Mike back as well, I felt sad when I read his post,
his work is so awesome, but of course I respect his decission.
"All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy."
- Scott Alexander