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Robert Scoble and Me (medium.com)
733 points by strangeloops85 on Oct 19, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 337 comments



She was propped up between two of my friends, walked away from the scene, and looked after for the evening. Both of those guys will have my undying respect for what they did that night.

Yes, this. The antidote to bad men is good men. It doesn't help to tar all men with the same brush for simply being male.

Once she was outed as a victim, the hate mail, the barrage of nasty questions, the endless accusations took, such a toll on her. Eventually, she took her own life. She’d just never been able to put it all back together after that.

This is one reason a lot of women stay silent: to protect themselves or other innocent bystanders, not the perpetrator.

The demonization of either rapists or victims is what makes the subject unapproachable, and doesn’t let anyone intercede to get abusive people the help they need, much less the victims.

This is an excellent piece and I am so glad she wrote it. My utmost respect for this incredible lady.


> Yes, this. The antidote to bad men is good men. It doesn't help to tar all men with the same brush for simply being male.

I'll add that there are plenty of otherwise good men who might do bad things when shitfaced or on drugs, and I can't help but worry that separating men into bad and good doesn't acknowledge the very real risk of good men forgetting that they can do bad things too.

(of course this applies to people in general, not just men)


Personally I don't put that much weight on the drunkenness excuse. I've done many stupid things while drunk but, even while black-out drunk, I've never raped, sexually harassed or even physically assaulted anyone besides a couple self defense instances when I was younger. In my experience asshole drunks are asshole sober people too.


As far as drunkenness as an excuse I completely agree with you! I did not mean to bring it up so that we can excuse such behavior.

But honestly I'm a bit baffled that you'd disagree that 1) good people do bad things, and 2) alcohol has a whole bunch of properties that increase the likelihood of an otherwise 'good' person doing a bad thing. It seems blindingly obvious to me.

Or am I misunderstanding you and is it more about the 'excuse' thing (on which we're definitely in agreement!).


I think the parent would agree that alcohol increases the likelihood of "good people doing bad things"; but alcohol won't make a good person do a terrible thing, like rape.


Not everyone reacts to drugs and alcohol the same way. Alcoholics often completely abstain from alcohol because once they have one drink, they can't stop. That kind of massive inhibition of control can extend into other things.

It's not an excuse, but it can explain uncharacteristic behavior.


I'm still not quite convinced about this. Sure, you might lose all inhibition and just do whatever you want. But that would mean that a drunken rapist wants to rape, even while sober, but usually has the power to control himself. A good person, in my book, has no urge to rape at all, no matter the level of self-control he can muster up at any given moment. Does alcohol really change someone's personality on such a level as to make someone suddenly want to rape?


The fundamental concept of good vs bad people is based on a presumption of a person under the fixed (as opposed to growth) mindset. The human brain is plastic, and it's urges are constantly retrained by experiences. Plasticity means that good and bad people do not exist. Only good and bad actions (and habits) do.

Regarding the urge to rape, it seems more useful to examine the underlying foundational desires. The primary desire that ends in rape is usually one for power or control. Often in a person who feels that they lack these things elsewhere in their life, to such a degree that they make the terrible decision of extracting this feeling from another person via a heinous act.

The secondary driver is sexual / procreation. Often, we have the desire to have sexual contact with an individual who doesn't currently have reciprocal feelings. Our pure biological drive is to procreate with every attractive mate (just look at other primates.) Our social contract enforces a set of parameters that prevent the strong from forcing themselves upon the weaker at will.

Within this framing, we can look at this from a more nuanced perspective. Every person will at various times in their life desire both control (even if just as a proxy for security) as well as sexual contact.

I think this gives some weight to the inhibition argument. If all people have these desires within them, those who are more powerful than others have a responsibility to keep those desires in check to the degree that the social contract dictates, or risk being punished by the society.

If alcohol or other substances dampen their inhibition to a degree that the desires above outweigh the threat of consequences from the society, then they do present a danger to other participants. I don't think it's about good vs bad people, but the decisions people make and the (dis)incentives enforced by the social contract. There is a subtler case where the inhibited presence may allow a perpetrator to more easily convince themself that a nonconsenting encounter is consenting, because human communication is imperfect, and even more so when we impair our faculties.

(I am not in any way condoning this as an excuse, but this argument seems to be made in the defense of most rapists who are high enough up the social ladder to be entitled enough to make it seem remotely plausible, and is particularly damaging to the survivor as it tries to paint them as complicit, at fault, or even fully in the wrong.)

As an aside, it seems that women in the society are finally having a moment in which to gain additional power as a group and hopefully create greater consequences for rape within the social contract. They have been treated as second class citizens in this for most of recorded humanity. It's an encouraging development for sure.


I suppose this all boils down to what the definition of a "good person" is, which varies from person to person.

I am of the personal belief that a person's actions determine who is good more than their desires. If a person walking through a gas station has a fleeting urge to steal a candy bar, that wouldn't make them bad in my eyes unless they actually steal it. If a person in the middle of an argument gets an urge to shove the other person but they suppress it, that shows discipline and maturity.

I agree that it would be ideal if nobody had bad urges, but I think it's definitely good that many with those urges are able to control them.


Yes, I suppose it would be wrong, or at least unfair, to only call people without any negative urges good. It certainly would mean that I myself would be far from good. On the other hand, given the choice, I would rather be around people without those urges in circumstances where they might lose their self-control, e.g. when they are really drunk. I believe such people do exist, at least those without the urge to rape (I would count myself among the latter, but how can anyone ever tell? At the very least I never felt the urge, even when black-out drunk or extremely high on psychedelics)


It's a bad excuse, but a good thing to watch yourself for. The GP seems to mean it in the second sense, i.e. if you're the kind of man who gropes women when he gets drunk at code camp, you either shouldn't get drunk or shouldn't go to code camp.

If you know you're going to fuck up, there's no point in saying "it's just willpower, I won't do it this time", because that doesn't work for alcoholics or heroin addicts or paedophiles and it won't work for molesters either.


We should hold people accountable for their actions. If they do evil things while drunk, they should not get drunk. Being drunk is no excuse.


I've known a few people who had complete personality changes after a small number of drinks (2 or 3) - mostly for the worse.


I have a close family member who is a total asshole drunk and a perfect gentlemen sober. He might not be a rapist but I would say the entire family has been mentally abused over decades dealing with his bullshit.


Education is key. Having observed the recent conversation around campus rape I realized that some of my behavior when I was younger was very gray area. Alcohol and lust dominated my thought processes in those situations, and it never occurred to me that my partner might feel differently about it later. Fortunately, as far as I know none of my partners ever felt taken advantage of, but if someone had sat me down and explicitly told me that a very drunk woman might not be able to give consent, I think I would have acted differently. We should be teaching young men and women where to draw the line, since it isn't always obvious in the heat of the moment.


Thank you. I agree.

Pithiness and nuance are not friends. My preference overall is to focus on good vs bad behaviors, plus best practices, without drawing larger conclusions about individual moral worth.


Being drunk doesn’t make you rape someone. Being drunk drops the defenses of a person who is already more likely to rape. It shows more of their real personality.


I agree. You don't just randomly get an urge to do something you otherwise weren't already thinking about in some way. You just are not as good at caring/thinking about the consequences.


Not sure I would describe such people as good. Obviously not bad either since they can keep themselves in check otherwise, but goodness shouldn't be a description of you only under normal/advantageous circumstances.


A good man, if he does bad things when he's drunk, makes sure he's never drunk again. That's how you can tell he's a good man. Being drunk is an excuse for bad behavior exactly once.


> otherwise good men who might do bad things when shitfaced or on drugs

What is an "otherwise good man"? Someone who generally most of the time doesn't do horrific things? What a meaningless construct - you are the sum of all of your actions, all of your choices.

That includes the choice to get into a state where you behaved badly even if you would not, whilst sober, behave in that way


Sometimes, life is a bit more complicated than your remark suggests.


It really isn't. Sometimes people like to pretend that they're not responsible for their choices. That 10 years of helping old ladies put out their bins makes up for that one night of unacceptable behaviour.

Oh, they say, but it's so out of character for him to have done that. What rot.



Agreed. It took a lot of guts to write this - and undoubtedly was not easy to make public given the reservations stated about protecting the victims involved. I applaud the author for her courage.

I would address one point in the piece around self-defence:

I looked at him, keeping a blank expression, and said “I am.” I had learned this attitude after many years working in tech, that knowing how to deliver pain and putting everyone on notice that you would, was a way to avoid harassment... I realized if he reached for me again I could pull him forward, bounce his face off my knee, then drive it into the ground.

While I'm relieved that the author of this piece was in a position to stop anything further happening, this is unlikely to work in most circumstances when confronted by someone who is substantially larger and stronger than you. It doesn't serve anyone to ignore that men are (on the whole) stronger than women -- and ignoring that (especially in the case of attempted assault) only risks being in a threatening position with the odds in the attacker's favour. The first piece of advice any self-defence student will hear is (and I'm sure this is obvious), try to keep a safe distance from harm when it is possible to do so.

The other thing I would add, and I expect to take quite a bit of rage for saying this, is that Robert Scoble should have the same opportunity that was afforded to Weinstein and McClure to come forward and either own up to or refute these claims. This is NOT me casting doubt on this story (for the record, I believe this happened as described, and is utterly abhorrent), it's simply that these accusations are so damning both personally and professionally, and of such significance, that I think the accused should be given the opportunity to address them.

Ideally these matters would be settled by the judicial system and not the court of public opinion, but there are a multitude of genuine reasons (some stated in the piece) as to why this cannot really happen with a scenario like this (for the record, I believe the author was right to speak up) and no matter what may or may not happen in the judicial system, some mud will stick regardless. Again, I'm not defending Scoble or this behaviour, I just think the accused should be given a chance to address the allegations before being marched to the gallows - and I'm scared of what it says about the rest of us if we don't allow for that.

On a side note, I had no idea this problem was as widespread as it clearly is, and it's disgusting. I can't imagine what it must be like to be assaulted like this once in a lifetime let alone more than that, and clearly there's a lot of work that needs to be done to stop this happening in future, and harsher visible punishment of attackers when it happens as a deterrent.


It's a sad state of affairs if someone making a reasonable point which is something like this: "Accusations have such a chance of doing irreversible damage to a person's reputation and/or life that they (accused) should have a fair chance to explain their side of the story. And we have systems for this - the Judiciary"

has to pepper it with such a generous dose of disclaimers about not taking sides with the accused.

I do hope that over time people are able to have a rational discussion on such subjects without needing these disclaimers for fear of damage to their own reputations.


Ouch, if only because I agree with all you've said.

My thoughts: "let's not rush to judgement with incomplete information, that's why we have a system for handling this".

My fears: "I don't want to go down in a fiery nosedive into oblivion with the accused because people wrongly thought I was taking their side."

My inner-monologue: "I'm a coward for using so many disclaimers, but I can also see the need given how sensitive this is for the victims. I guess I see both sides, but 'I see both sides' is a loaded term now thanks to the other guy."

Rationality is hard in 2017.


> Robert Scoble should have the [...] opportunity [...] to come forward

I can't speak for Robert, but he went to alcohol rehab a year back or so and when he did, confessed to doing a lot of bad things and not remembering most of them. I would be surprised if he didn’t own up to it.


If there's one thing to learn I think it's that men can do far far more (like the intervening guys in the article) to step in and be far less tolerant of such grotesque behavior. Most men here (of which I'm one) have all probably witnessed some creepy comments and acts from our guy friends or colleagues and let it go. I think that has to come to an end. I know personally I can do better and would hope that if anything, we all demand more from each other.


I agree but I'll take it a step further. My nephew was telling a story about how he and his friend made fun of a classmate, calling him Pinocchio. My nephew expected me to laugh but I didn't and told him that it wasn't cool and that he should protect those being bullied.

It's really easy to laugh when kids are laughing but we must take notice and act on these things because they learn bad habits early.


> that he should protect those being bullied

Do you think he should do that even if at personal harm to himself (physical or otherwise but mainly physical)?


Probably. Particularly if the harm to himself is smaller than the harm already inflicted to the other person (which is likely), or if the good his actions will cause exceeds either.


Yes esp. since many times there's little to no risk since it's standing up to friends.


I 100% agree.

I also felt compelled to mention that I've witnessed men making what I have felt are creepy comments / moves on women and they've actually worked (in that they received positive responses from the woman).

Life is complex.


Abusive men often target women who have been previously abused. A woman who has been previously treated badly may not readily recognize a nicer expression of sexual interest. They still have sexual and emotional needs. So, they hook up with the men that they are able to comprehend as actively interested.

Yes, it is complicated. But, the receptivity of some women mostly goes to show how deep the problem goes and how pervasive it is.


You see a guy making a creepy move, you call him out. Simple as that.

You don't know if it's "working" because she's trying to keep him at ease til she can dash for the door, or why.

See shitty, harassing, abusive behavior, call it out. For too long, we all let this stand. No more.

Risk your job, risk short-term awkwardness, risk whatever because the women in the world deserve better than being targets while we stand around like cowards.


I agree, because if it is "working", then if you approach it reasonably, your concerns will just be addressed calmly, and often with a smile.

Some peoples creepy can be another persons turn-on, but if the guy involved takes too much offense at you interceding, it's probably something she should know about before she takes things further.

I've interceded before, e.g. an instance where two girls at a club seemed to be "surrounded" by four guys bringing one them drinks (the other one was refusing). It could have been family or friends, in which case they'd have told me, I'd have felt like an idiot and apologized. But it looked odd and looked like they were being cornered while the guys tried to get them drunk without drinking much themselves.

When approaching them it quickly became clear one of the girls were dead drunk and her friend was scared of both the four other guys, and now me (for what she knew I might have come to join in), and tried getting her friend away from both. So I placed myself between the four guys and the girls and blocked the guys until the more sober friend was able to drag her drunk friend out of there. I don't know the story - it could have ended well without me, but it also couldn't, and the fact the guys were getting agitated made it clear I did the right thing (they didn't dare do more than try to push me out of the way, given that there were big bouncers near enough to see, though not near enough that I wanted to leave the girls alone long enough to bring one over).

But I've also asked girls if they were ok, and gotten told, that yes, the guy is her boy friend, and to kindly leave them alone (sometimes with distinctly ruder wording), while the guy stood by and let her deal with it.

No harm done by asking, and seeing the guys not have a problem with me checking if the woman in question is safe is in itself a good sign.

I know that if anyone came up to my girlfriend to make sure she is safe when out, I'd be happy to see someone looking out for people, not feel threatened, because I have nothing to feel threatened about, and because I'd hope there are people like that around if she's out with girlfriends without me and someone tries anything.


Great post, thank you.

I have to admit that I've never had the guts to directly intercede in a situation like that, although fortunately I've not seen many where I'd have considered it (more down to my lack of social life than these things being rare). It can be very difficult, especially if you are a young man without much relationship experience. It feels presumptuous and rude to intervene in other people's lives when you aren't sure how bad the situation is and what their relationship is. As I mentioned in another comment society is so so bad at giving people any kind of framework about how to begin relationships. If there are other people around who are also not intervening then that tends to reinforce the idea that it must be normal, acceptable behaviour. Even when it isn't. Older men have an important role in setting an example here.

As you say, there are ways to try and help without direct confrontation. Get between the man and the woman to give her a chance to walk away. If you think something really bad is possible then stay in the room and don't leave them alone.

I read an article by a woman a while ago talking about how older men in her life had subtly intervened in these kinds of situations to help her out, and how she hadn't realised at first. I wish I could find it now.


Would love to, except the person is likely to be the biggest gorilla in the room, and with bad enough impulse control that i would get a rearranged nose for my efforts.


I'd be very surprised if you only ever saw giant violent men being creepy.


Depending on the situation, you might find living with a broken nose a lot easier than letting something go that you should not have. YMMV.


I know that's not malicious, but I'm kind of sick of being paternalized like this tbh. I can speak for myself, I don't need some nice guys to protect me. How is that doing any good to the female image, seriously ? "Help ladies out, call people on their mistakes". We just look like poor helpless victims who rely on others to be guarded from sexual predators.


If you speak out for yourself, awesome. Just as it's awesome that Quinn Norton felt able to take on Scoble herself, including threatening violence if he didn't back off.

But not everyone feels able to, or not everyone are strong enough to be able to fight off an attacker.

And sorry, but it's not always going to be possible for bystanders to tell if you're able speak for yourself and choosing not to, or if you're terrified of someone.

In this case, note that the article involves lengthy attempts at escalating concern and attempts at defusing the situation during which it is clear that the first woman is too drunk to know what's going on. After which Quinn takes direct action. In the former, the person in question clearly was not able to look out for herself (that's different from whether she the following morning, after having sobered up, would have liked things to continue), while nobody else had to stand up for Quinn.

Nobody is saying we should step in instead of you if you're able to take care of yourself. But we also shouldn't stand by and let you get assaulted if your for whatever reason isn't in a position where you can. And that's not about gender - women shouldn't stand by quietly either.

I do agree with you in the limited extent that it could have been worded in a gender-neutral way: Guys can be victims too. It's not specifically about helping women, but about stepping in if someone might be in distress or are unable to meaningfully consent to something.


> How is that doing any good to the female image, seriously ?

It's not actually about “the female image” at all. The ”say something” thing is, to the extent it's about gender image at all, about the male image, particularly what is normalized by and for men.

It's about the fact that a culture wherein for many male gender image involves disregard for female agency, consent, and concern is unlikely to be changed as effectively if the only condemnation of the manifestations of that attitude come from the people whom it disregards.


It's great when you can help yourself in such situations but we know not everyone can. The point of someone briefly interceding a gathering to ask whether you're ok (based on what they've observed as worrying speech, body language, etc) is an offer of help that can be accepted or discarded. I see nothing paternalizing in this. In the same way I wouldn't be offended by someone holding a door open for me despite my obvious capability of doing so myself, I'd appreciate their exhibiting concern for others to ask if I was OK, even I was capable of dealing with the situation or if there actually was nothing wrong. See something, say something - I'd do likewise if I perceived other women in what seemed to be a worrying situation.


You know, it's not even about you.

If there were an epidemic of men in public spaces bullying other, smaller men, I'd be saying the same thing in a different context.

People who look like you, if there's a lot of them being assholes to some outgroup, call them out. That's the general rule. Make the world nicer by reinforcing niceness where others can't.

Right now it's women and the #metoo stuff.

Tomorrow we can go back to talk about race.

And on and on and on.


[flagged]


Some, probably, but the way to avoid that when stepping into grey areas is to be predictable and upfront and give her plenty of opportunity to feel safe and secure in rebuffing your advances before you make that step.

When I used to go clubbing years ago, if I was in doubt about whether my advances would be welcome, I'd slow down, lean back, smile, and then tell her exactly what my intent was. If her response was not very unambiguously positive, I'd add "but I don't think you're ready yet; let me get us some drinks", and I'd take my time. Sometimes they'd turn me down. Sometimes they'd have walked off by the time I was back, sometimes they'd smile and say "maybe later" or something of the sort, and sometime it was clear I was free to do what I wanted.

Maybe some of those who turned me down would have liked it if I just went for it. But it's not worth the risk of traumatizing someone.

The point being that while it may seem hot to just dive in and grab someone and start making out without warning, for example, misjudge and it's assault or worse, but you get 90% of the sexiness of it by doing the above and giving her every way out. So there's very little reason to risk stepping over those lines, and accordingly very little reason why it should be seen as acceptable even if some would welcome it in the right circumstances.

(you still need to be careful - e.g. I'm a big guy, and can look intimidating; I'm very aware that means I need to take extra care that she feels like she has a genuine choice of leaving the situation or telling me to fuck off without putting herself at risk - if I tower over her, what is meant in a friendly way can easily seem like a threat)


It is certainly possible to meet women in a way that is unambiguously not creepy, and you could always aim for that if you have trouble with where the line is.


  > in a way that is unambiguously not creepy
Alas, no. When even simply looking (and I mean it, looking, not staring) can be classified as creepy you cannot be sure any more.


It's not, and that's a bullshit response.

No woman is saying "a man glanced at me and I felt harassed".

They're asking not to be groped, not to have kisses forced on them, not to be raped.

This "simply looking" comment is fucking garbage, and you need to readjust your perspective and attitudes.


Would you please stop breaking the HN guidelines like this? Someone else being wrong doesn't mean the rules don't apply to you.

Your comment would be much better, more powerful and convincing with just the second and third sentences.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


You got it, Dan. Thanks for the heads-up.


Much appreciated!



Yup: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7494093.

Those are great comics. People should lament Snyder's retirement too, not just Watterson's.


The one I googled and googled and googled for but couldn't find, which was taped to my mom's refrigerator, was the disappointed bird standing in front of the open refrigerator, lamenting: "Dang, somebody ate the middle out of the daddy longlegs!"

You're the guy to call when something goes wrong. ;)


The difference there isn't "the guy being attractive", it's consent. Yes that means sometimes actions that cross the line of aggressiveness turn out ok in the end because the woman was already receptive. That's not an excuse for engaging in this type of behaviour though, because without consent you don't know if you are just slightly expediting the start of a relationship, or if you are doing huge damage to a human being that, presumably, you are attracted to and care about.

As the man, without knowing how she feels, why would you take the chance of destroying any chance of a relationship by gambling on what her reaction to your aggressive advances will be?

I know there are grey areas here. Women know that too. In the vast majority of cases they aren't out to get you. A lot of women could tell you stories about guys who perhaps unknowingly crossed the line and how they still know and get on with those men and don't hate them. Women want to feel safe going about their day to day lives. Give them the opportunity to back out of situations. Make it clear that it's ok for them to say no. Apologise straight away when you fuck up.


The most tricky grey area is what someone consider "action". Physical contact is pretty obvious. And I think that's what you are talking about.

But how about verbal (once agin, just simple "hello", not cat-calling)? Or just a look? If that's an attractive person looking at you you may find it pleasant. If that's an ugly/rude/whatever-reason-to-dislike person you will find it creepy, aggressive, whatnot.

Another aspect I do not see mentioned in these discussions is "it's the guys who must be proactive" attitude which is common even among women. So some guys may feel like they must do something, alas, not always sure what and how to do it properly. And if we get to the point where saying "hello" to the person which does not like you (and you have no idea at that point) can be considered sexual harassment we are in the tough place.

The best way to go would probably be make sure that guys understand once and for all that "no" means "no" and women to be encouraged to show their displeasure at once without being afraid that they will be judged for that.


>But how about verbal (once agin, just simple "hello", not cat-calling)?

Firstly I've not seen any #metoo stories that were about guys just coming up and saying hello. If that was the extent of the problem we'd be in a much better place.

But you're right in the sense that constantly having strange guys come up to you and introduce themselves, even politely, is something some do women complain about, because it can be incredibly annoying and emotionally draining to have to deal with that all the time whenever you are in public. Being forced to constantly reject people isn't nice. Also, even if the guy is polite and respectful, the woman won't know that until he has left, so the sight of a man approaching you just to say hello is probably going to come with some kind of defensive emotional reaction, because he might be one of the real assholes.

To be honest personally it's something I find a bit creepy. I'd never do it myself. There are times when it can feel natural to strike up a conversation with a stranger (some kind of shared event or experience or whatever), but very rarely does it seem natural to me to just go up to complete strangers and introduce yourself, outside of the context of events very specifically designed for that. I'd find it pretty strange if a woman did it to me, no matter how attractive she was.

>Another aspect I do not see mentioned in these discussions is "it's the guys who must be proactive" attitude which is common even among women. So some guys may feel like they must do something, alas, not always sure what and how to do it properly.

This is part of what feminists mean when they talk about patriarchy; the expectation on men and women to conform to certain roles in sexual relationships is part of that. Patriarchy is bad for men as well! It is a problem that some guys feel obliged to be the proactive one, and a problem that a lot of dating "advice" for men is pretty much summarised as 'be more aggressive' rather than 'be more thoughtful'. There's a lot to be said on this topic about how we as society educate young men about what the beginnings of relationships look like and how we need to do so much better.

>The best way to go would probably be make sure that guys understand once and for all that "no" means "no" and women to be encouraged to show their displeasure at once without being afraid that they will be judged for that.

It shouldn't be the responsibility of women to have to say no to stop already in progress actions by men. Some situations obviously would be prevented/de-escalated by men knowing no means no. But that still leaves a lot of other situations. Events where women feel social or career pressure towards not saying no. Events where women were too drunk to say no (as in the article we're talking about). There's a whole lot of emotional complexity to a lot of these situations that can make it difficult to explicitly say no. Especially for young women/teens who are less experienced. One of the notable things about the stories posted by women this week is how young so many women were when they were first assaulted or raped, and how confused and guilty they felt about it. The emotional complexity of relationships is challenging for most adults, never mind children. That emotional burden can't be allowed to fall entirely on one party in specific instances or one gender in general.


Pretty sad that you've been voted down for this...


The Weinstein thing really opened the floodgates.

There's a guy in my hometown, whom I've worked with in the past, he's a pretty talented and prolific playwright, actor and director who's been at the centre of the local theatre and filmmaking scene for about 20 years now, and he's also a sexual predator, as anyone who's worked with him can attest to.

The day before yesterday he made a long Facebook post under the #metoo hashtag basically confessing to his sins apologizing profusely, and promising to never do it again. Today he got fired from everything that he's involved with. The apology was career suicide.

The fucked up thing is that, just like Harvey Weinstein, everybody knew what he was up to, it had going on for years and while it made everyone uncomfortable people just looked the other way. Opening up about it is what ruined him. Honesty is the best policy something something.


> Today he got fired from everything that he's involved with. The apology was career suicide.

I'm obviously not familiar with the exact situation, but I'd be willing to bet money that he had received word that it was going to become public and the apology was an attempt to appear proactively remorseful and to circumvent the consequences resulting from the forthcoming publication. (In other words, the "apology" was not the precipitating action.)


He was artistic director of a local theatre, and he came under fire from them, which is what prompted the public confession/apology, but then he was fired from his role as head writer and part time performer in a locally produced sitcom, booted out of an improv troupe he was in, and he had a couple plays lined up with different theatres that were cancelled.

This all happened in less than 24 hours. If he hadn't made the confession I'm not sure he would've lost all of that.


No, the behavior was career suicide. The apology was just the coda on a very sad, pathetic story.


How was it career suicide if it had been going on for so long and no one did anything?

To be clear, I can't blame the people who fired him. They probably felt relief that they could finally stop working with him.

As the article said, we shouldn't demonise these men. But that is hard. It's not in our nature as humans. It's hard for us to look with compassion at an aggressor.


Correlation of confession vs. firing != causation.

He very likely was going to be fired either way; the public apology was likely his attempt to avoid being fired.

From the OP: He was artistic director of a local theatre, and he came under fire from them, which is what prompted the public confession/apology[...]


The apology was career suicide.

No, being a creep was career suicide. Making an apology is not the suicidal act, that's just a last-ditch effort to get ahead of the shit storm that the rumor mill says is coming (oh, did you think he apologized out of a sudden sense of remorse?)

EDIT: ya know, after some thought, I find the statement I quoted to be ridiculous. Because the implication is "see? He tried to do the right thing and it got him fired!". That, of course, is bullshit. The person fired hadn't tried to do the right thing for a long time, and that is what got them fired. Apologizing wasn't "the right thing", apologizing was an attempt to get away with it again.


> last-ditch effort to get ahead of the shit storm

This raises an interesting question. If you know a shit storm is coming is it more advantageous to do:

a) Get ahead of the storm (as you say) or

b) Wait until it hits and then apologize profusely and say and do all the right things?

Seat of the pants I say 'b' is better. First under the 'better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt' (there is a chance the storm won't hit) and second because most people will think you came out upfront because of the obvious reason of 'get head of the storm' and so it won't mean anything anyway.


For scenario "a", here's how a person such as myself might react as one who doesn't pay much attention to rumor mills (er, sorry, "entertainment news"): "huh? Boy, that came out of left field." Two days later: "oh, that's why they were apologizing seemingly unprompted. I do believe my cynicism increased about 0.4%." It is highly unlikely that I will be convinced that the apology was sincere.

Option "b": do it right, and I might believe you. Don't hide behind "I apologize if anyone was offended", at least try to sound sincere. "In these recent days it has come to light that I'm a scum bag. I'm sorry. Now, some will say that I'm only sorry that I got caught. Those people would have been absolutely correct two days ago. But as I spent the last 48 hours reflecting on the the charges brought against me, for the first time I realize the genuine pain that I have caused...yada, yada, yada."

Shed a tear, say it in the right tone of voice, you might pull it off. And, as you mention, you might not ever need deploy option b if you're lucky.


> Now, some will say that I'm only sorry that I got caught.

One thing though as someone who gets paid a great deal to negotiate for others I think that would be a mistake. Reason is you don't negotiate for the other person. Hard to explain but that is how that strikes me. Very possible there are people that won't think that. And now you are putting the idea into their head when they hadn't thought of it. [1] And those that thought of it won't care (is my guess).

[1] I am reminded of when I was younger and was looking at a house on a main street. The real estate agent said to me (and my fiance at the time) 'and you know street is no big deal there is a big yard in the back so you don't have to worry about your kids playing in the front and the traffic!!'. Well you know we hadn't even thought about that at all at that point!


I wonder why Weinstein getting outed as a sexual predator after it being an open secret in that community for years had this effect and Bill Cosby getting outed as a sexual predator after it being an open secret in that community for years didn't.


Weinstein was far more powerful and thus dangerous to his potential denouncers.

His fall is a signal that abuse isn't tolerated anymore from people with his stature.


> Weinstein was far more powerful and thus dangerous to his potential denouncers.

Really. Interesting. So you claim that e.g. The New York Times was weaker than a studio head?

Sexual deprevity in Hollywood has never been a "secret", but it doesn't help if your "stars" -- which are then promoted to soft politics propaganda work -- are shown to be individuals that tolerate anything for fame and riches. And equally, it doesn't help advancing various social engineering projects if the heads of studios that push JUNK to your children are shown to be sexual predators.

The actual question of interest here is what is being covered up that throwing Weinstein under the bus got the green light.


This is what I was thinking. The octopus sacrifices an arm to conceal the full extent of its reach.


Now that's an interesting take...


NO. His fall is a signal that abusers that get caught won’t be tolerated. Everyone knew about this. They even joked about it on the Oscar stage a few years back. Had that news story not come out, nothing would be happening to Harvey right now. We ought to ask why The NY Times let Matt Damon, Russel Crowe and George Clooney influence their decision to spike the story ten years ago. And we ought to ask why those actors are not being demonized for contributing to Harvey’s continued predatory behavior.


> we ought to ask why those actors are not being demonized

There's as yet no suggestion that those actors were aware of the context of their endorsements.


Because unlike Cosby, Weinstein is not just a story about a depraved individual, but about the wider US cultural (and politcally liberal) elite. He was a major donor and fundraiser, he was covered for by major media outlets, Hollywood bigwigs etc. This forces an attempt to make it more about men in general, thereby implicitly making it less about the cultural elite specifically.


There's the possibility that he apologized and confessed to get ahead of a scandal because one or more of the people he harrassed/assaulted were about to come forward with their stories. The Weinstein saga has and is still emboldening many of his and other predators' victims to go public.


The act of "confession" is meaningless if it cannot result in consequences.

Yes, it's better than remaining silent (and continuing). But it's still far worse than never having done these things in the first place.

For an employer who didn't already know, the net result of such a confession is obviously to see the person in a worse light than before, and firing them makes sense.


Holy shit, I was sitting around that campfire. I remember the whole making-out incident. Buried that in a dunken haze 7 years ago. Yikes.

Foo Camp was fantastic both years I went, and the O’Reilly crew has worked hard to make things better. We still have a lot of work to do.



Created a Code of Conduct? What the heck is wrong with these people? Full stop, you call the police immediately. You do not cover it up. Was he raised by a PR firm?


Reading this just made realize how bonkers it is that we aren't actually calling the police.

If some guy was smashing people's laptops, this would be an obvious option on the spectrum of ways to handle it. But here....

Granted, this also means attention to the victim, and given how society treats people making these claims it can be an extremely scary step forward to make for them, on top of the experience itself.


The victim got enough attention without involving the police to commit suicide. Silence netted nothing and I would lay even odds that this wasn’t the last incident.


That was a different victim and the way the story was related it seems that her identity was leaked to that particular community. Scoble's victim at the campfire has remained anonymous.


>Full stop, you call the police immediately.

In an ideal world where calling the police does not invite greater danger, yes.


What is your solution? This course of action got the victim killed. If you don’t call the cops it will happen again. Sexual predators don’t stop at one. Life is devastated when you are the victim of a crime, but you need to save the next person too.


This is a monstrous position. It should not be on the victim to be held responsible for the perpetrator's subsequent victims.


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Please stop this. Throwing the victims to the wolves and not caring if they end up dead over your concept of justice is heinous. You are talking about additional ways to victimize them.


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You are putting words in my mouth. I said nothing about wanting silence.

My position is that we need to focus on prevention, not retribution. But when it has happened, the victim's first duty is self care, not falling on their sword to theoretically help others who may not benefit at all.

Their right to choose must be honored. If you cannot abide by the imperative to "first do no harm," then please stay out of such things entirely.


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I was raped once, 40 years ago. I was 12. As an adult, I have never been assaulted.

Your lack of knowledge about how to do this is not evidence it cannot be done. If you are genuinely interested, there are links in this very discussion to some of my blog posts that talk some about prevention. It isn't a topic easily summed up in a paragraph or three.


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Predators were, themselves, victims first. Your approach is broken on the face of it. It entirely disregards one set of victims, those so damaged they spread the issue.

Prevention is the only answer that is compassionate to all the victims, including those who have gone on to become predators.

I don't need your pity. My soul is richer for having lived the life I have lived. You might try respecting my hard won wisdom instead of finding new ways to put down and dismiss someone who disagrees with your draconian approach.


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People are also a product of their social environment. Current social norms create low hanging fruit for predation, thereby creating a slippery slope that helps make people into monsters.

I don't really expect you to understand. You clearly aren't receptive.

I don't see any point in continuing this exchange.


A victim's main responsibility is to their self; trying to survive, heal and move forward in whatever way they can, not to relive their trauma. To prioritize future prevention above their self preservation by placing the burden of justice on an already suffering person's shoulders (as if there could possibly be better, nuanced ways to seek solutions) is just asinine.


Due to severe consequences to victims (such as the harassment and suicide mentioned in TFA), calling the police may be against the victim's wishes and harmful to them.


That’s the problem. Not calling the cops doesn’t solve the problem. It turns it into a civil matter rather than the criminal act it is. By not calling the authorities and pressing charges, they just gave tacit approval to the behavior. It wasn’t like this assault was some he-said, she-said — it was indisputable with witnesses.

Call the cops. Get these guys sent to prison. That does a lot more than blogging vigorously about one’s displeasure.


The victim should not be blamed for giving 'tacit approval' for an assailant's behaviour. There is no necessary connection between a victim wishing to avoid the ordeal of a rape/assault prosecution and believing that rape/assault is 'okay'. Rape prosecutions in the US tend to be long, extremely adversarial, and unlikely to result in a conviction. Unfortunately, rape/assault are crimes that still carry bi-directional social stigma on those involved.


There was already a national debate about this at US colleges. See: Title IX as it pertains to sexual assault on campus.

Victims largely don't want their school to call the cops when all they want is their attacker to be kept away from them.

Again, there can be severe and lethal consequences for the victim when their identity is made public.


If Scoble had been arrested, charged, and gone to trial, it would send a clear message. Hiding doesn’t help the next person and allows for more victims. The suicide might have happened anyway, but the not raising a fuss sure didn’t prevent self harm.


> The suicide might have happened anyway, but

There has to be a better way for you to argue your position than hand-waving away the gravity of a suicide. If there isn’t, maybe that should tell you something.


I don’t hand wave the suicide. It is a horrible thing and all too common in some forgotten areas of the country. The lifetime scarring of a significant number of people is brutal. I dearly wish more attention were paid particularly when someone thinks it’s ok to send a bunch of partially trained individuals to stop a suicide cluster in a high school. I take suicide and the threat of suicide seriously.

If the result is the worst possible one way (suicide and perpetrator walking free) then the other way at least might have resulted in a better outcome. Reading anything beyond that into what I wrote is just plain wrong.


You seem to be under the impression that there are only two “ways” to deal with situations having to do with sexual assault. I’m suggesting that perhaps it’s a bit more sophisticated of a discussion than that.


For anyone who isn't totally triggered and incapable of thinking by these debates please read Camille Paglia. Bottom line - if you are raising a daughter, do you want her to believe some white knight is going to come to her rescue every time she walks into a dark alley? This mentality is the first thing that breaks down self when dealing with a Harvey Weinstein. Camille Paglia explains this in a much more constructive way that I ever could.


There are multiple ways, but either the perpetrator had the cops called on them or they didn’t. That’s a binary choice.

I don’t see how the above comment relates to your comment I responded to. You seem to be moving on from the ‘hand wave’ comment.


To be fair, a Code of Conduct is meant to cover a lot of things that the police won't be able to do much with. Rape is one (horrible) thing, but sexual harassment that doesn't lead to rape is still very bad and unacceptable, but usually not something you can call the police to deal with.


I admire the author's willingness to see possibilities for positive change here, including through restorative justice. It is especially admirable in the context of the fundamental violations and loss of trust that such harassment and assault continues to impose on so many women in their professional careers. I can also completely understand different reactions to this, including a deep sense of anger and betrayal.

We must all do better, and continuously seek to do so.

In the short term, there is clearly value to outing commonly-known 'secrets' such as this one, in this and many other industries.


I too admire it. Denouncing someone hopefully willing to change to start that conversation is a good idea.

More importantly, it is necessary. Going on a creep witchhunt has too many risks of blowbacks.


She's also calling out either Frankston or Bricklin, kind of weird to leave it unspoken who it was but to accuse both of them at the same time. Either name the person or leave it unspecified at least so no shadow hangs over someone who you know didn't do anything.


That's exactly right. The old newspaperman in me is terrified by folks coming out and posting really controversial stuff, the sort that destroys reputations, and probably without the protection of legal oversight.

In days of yore such stuff would appear in the media only after having been looked at by lawyers and multiple points checked and necessary evidence and statements were gathered. Now, I know the old media is not very popular any more, and that precisely this gatekeeping behaviour has also led to some of the problems we now have (it's clear that many in the media had a good idea what was happening in Hollywood) but all it takes is an otherwise credible person to have a bit of an 'episode' and somebody's life could be ruined forever -- either the accusee or the accuser, and possibly both.

The particular trap referred to in the parent is an easy one to fall into, and it may seem like a good way of avoiding a defamation suit ("I didn't name anyone so how could I have defamed them!) but in UK law it certainly is defamation if there are only a small number of obvious possibilities. If only one person is accused, but there are two identifiable possible offenders, you have defamed one of them for sure.

Its not a good look to rush in and presume guilt or innocence either. That's what the courts are for.


Are the references oblique? I don't see them mentioned. Perhaps they have been removed from the article.


"At one of my first talks on body hacking, one of the creators of VisiCalc sat in the front row and yelled out sexually explicit questions at me while everyone, not just me, grew increasingly uncomfortable."


Thanks.


It was a public event, I'm sure plenty of people who were present remember who it was.


I'm sure there are orders of magnitude more people reading the blogpost who have no idea who it was and who will now have no choice but to suspect both.


There is at least one more name that could fit that description, depending on the breadth of your definition of creator. Regardless, oblique references serve the purpose of allowing victims to triangulate over space and time and connect with lower risk of having to go out on a limb alone, or to send a message in a bottle to other victims who might have been suffering thinking they were the only one, or thinking that they were going crazy.


I knew Robert Scoble online 2004 - 2007 during his time as a blogger and an (unpaid/unofficial, if I'm not mistaken) Microsoft evangelist during the Longhorn beta days. I remember him as a bully who was not afraid to use his pedestal to call people out on personal whim and took great pleasure in his sense of power and fame.

He often blogged out of ignorance on trending topics (TechMeme, anyone?) yet always got that traffic and those backlinks - one of those people that believed that if you spoke loudly enough what you said would magically both become important and true. It worked for him though, that I remember.

He was a bully then and I'm not surprised to hear he still is one now, but presuming that this article is true I'm very sorry to learn that he didn't contain his behavior to online only.

What I remember hating the most was just how successful people like him - and there are plenty - are at being popular. It just felt so unfair how this unintelligent bloke managed to con everyone into thinking his opinion mattered, got himself invited to all these exclusive events, and was somewhat of a mini-celebrity for no discernible reason at all. He wasn't someone you wanted to call out or cross because he never hesitated to fire back with all guns at anyone who gave him any flack and you didn't want to be the person everyone woke up to find shredded to pieces in their RSS inboxes the next morning.

I wisened up at some point and tuned him out. I stopped trying to blog about how his latest piece was inaccurate and unsubscribed from his feeds, realizing he simply wasn't worth it, and, to be honest, that it wasn't a game I could win. The thing about people like him is that they largely live in an echo chamber. They don't really matter. If you can tune them out and cut them out of your life, you won't be missing a thing. And if enough people do that, then they lost at their game. I imagine there are a lot of people that saw this headline and hadn't a clue who Robert Scoble even was - that wasn't the case 12 years ago. Bullies fade.


I always found his type of talk to be pretty...vapid. He basically takes a trend in technology, turns it up to 11 with crazy ideas that his "sources" have "seen", and blasts it EVERYWHERE.

Today it's AR this, AR that, secret company X has AR that will REVOLUTIONIZE EVERYTHING in 6 months then when it passes 6 months it's "oh well they're still working on it. I mean he said FOR SURE a clear or see through iPhone would be announced in 2017. How does that even make any sense? He later claimed they were still working on something like that.

It's essentially a way to be famous for being famous and offering nothing of value to anyone.


Since he appeared on the scene I have always wondered, how in an environment where engineers take pride for what they have actually done (US tech world), a guy that only talks and has no engineering accomplishment to show is given that much cognitive space. Back when he was a Microsoft evangelist (!) I have watched a few videos of him to get the sense of a talking human being. And I could't believe how shallow he was. His whole demeanor was one of an airhead.


His hyping of the greatest iphone EVAR was obsurd. Then after the announcement his quiet backing down a-la "they weren't able to get the supply chain figured out" or "they're still working on it"

k.


I'll always remember him as the guy who wore his Google Glass in the shower, posted a picture of it, and then got mad when it broke.


What I remember hating the most was just how successful people like him - and there are plenty - are at being popular.

This is really what boggles my mind. There are so so many people who are "independent consultants or innovators or specialists" but don't code, don't do product management or sales or any other of the core things that businesses do. Yet people somehow listen to them as though they are experts - despite having no expertise or hands on.

I'd love for someone to explain why and how these people get to be well known.


The scariest thought to me is a corollary to that idea of looking at the scary incompetence of journalism regarding a subject you understand, and realizing that most topic-specific writing is in the same boat -- right now, we are all looking up to and aggrandizing people who similarly don't produce/work, and not realizing it. A good reminder to think about the people you follow and what they've really done.


This is called the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect (or rather, you're describing breaking free from it).

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/65213-briefly-stated-the-ge...


Thanks, I learned something new today.


By the way, the curious origin of the name:

"I call it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have."

The full speech in which it appears is interesting: https://web.archive.org/web/20060827111102/http://www.michae...


Expertise eats up a lot of time. Not much time left for indulgent self promotion.


Confidence mainly, if you're an extrovert who exudes confidence, people will listen.


Three things - in a world like startups where the people in the lead haven't got much experience and might have many doubts, anyone with an explicit opinion and even a vague air of knowledge might be clung to. - Even the people that see through all the BS might still want tot tap into his network of contacts - Exposing him and getting into a fight with a loud bully potentially takes a lot of energy, so most people just shut up and get on with their own things rather than risk being diverted into a non-productive, public and probably drown-out game of mud wrestling.


Famous for being famous.


They promote themselves.


So how do they find audiences that don't see right through their BS?


I believe the adage goes, “there’s a sucker born every minute.”


Mssrs. Barnum, Menken, and Gresham would like a word.


P.T. Barnum, I guess? Who are the other two? A quick googling doesn't provide much info...


The sources of three quite famous quotes:

"There's a sucker born every minute." – P.T. Barnum

"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." – H.L. Mencken

"Bad money drives out good money." – Thomas Gresham


Gresham's Law strikes me as far more than just about money. Mencken gives a pretty good expansion of it in his 1926 essay "Bayard vs. Lionheart", which is famous for its closing paragraph about an idiot being elected president, but in its development of why that dynamic comes into being reveals a critical truth about the interaction of complexity at population levels.

I'm still working on a fully generalised expression of Gresham's Law, but the basic form is that it operates as a complexity constraint based on the realised returns on complexity within a given market, or the differential across multiple markets.

"Bad money drives out good" is the mechanism that if, in a single market, coin of high specie content and low specie content circulate together and at the same face value, then the high-grade coin will be preferentially withheld from circulation due to its greater intrinsic value. If there's not sufficient coin for all commerce, this need not be all the high-grade coin, but it tends that way.

In multiple markets, if there is a foreign demand for the specie itself, the good coin will seek that (higher) foreign compensation and actually depart the country of issue.

In politics, as Mencken expands the idea, the problem is that within a majority system, the winner of a popular contest will be the candidate who appeals to a majority of voters. A sophisticated candidate who cannot be understood by the common voter is at a marked disadvantage.

In manufacturing and entertainment, assuming a mass market and either winner-take-all or economies-of-scale dynamics, again, you'll find that the offering which is simple enough to be accepted and understood by more (perhaps with a boost from advertising) will do so. There are other dynamics, including the "Market for Lemons" (Ackerlof) which can enter into that -- Mencken pressages that with his mention of David Harum in his essay -- Harum is the title character and horse-trader of a novel and film of the same name, from which the concept "horse trading" entered the vocabulary. (In a pre-industrial time, "horse trader" occupied very nearly the same occupational niche as "used-car salesman", for much the same reasons.)

And, again to government, given multiple jurisdictions, and a potential range of laws graded by strictness, so long as the individual is free to choose the relevant jurisdiction, then a race-to-the-bottom dynamic results where the least-strict regulatory environment dominates, absent any corrective influence. This noted in divorce laws (Nevada, later Alabama, ultimately no-fault in most states), environmental and labour regulations, company incorporation, and international ship registries ("flags of convenience") being typical examples.

(Also thanks for the spelling fix on Mencken. I always forget the 'c'.)

http://amomai.blogspot.com/2008/10/hl-mencken-bayard-vs-lion...


I think they are called "Journalists".


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He invented markup and has a CS degree.


That's kind of the point. Those are relatively rudimentary things that don't make them an Apple expert. Yet tech communities like HN sponge up every one of their posts.

They were just great at self-promotion. Though, this isn't a fair time to be lumping them in with Scoble.

In fact, I think this top thread of "lol why is Scoble popular anyways?" is pretty lame and counter-productive. It's like "lol he has a stupid haircut anyways": a cheap feel-good bullying opportunity that's only socially acceptable right now because he's on the hook.


Some people have a career in building new things or inventing things.

Other people have a career in connecting people together, or writing criticism of things other people have built, or writing documentation or other kinds of exposition, or interviewing, or doing investigative reporting, or editing, or building communities, or ...

John Gruber does not sell himself as a programmer or computer scientist or technical wunderkind. He was able to cobble together a little ad-hoc specification and perl script (markdown) that works for him, and many other people like it (because it’s great at what it does!), but I have never heard him introduce himself as “hi, I’m the brilliant inventor of markdown, that technical masterwork”, or whatever.

He has made his career in writing, which in his case is some mix of criticism, journalism, and surfacing interesting stuff from around the web. He’s quite good at his job, which is why many people read his blog.


I have no problem with evangelism of tech products like Scoble or Guy Kawasaki or Paul Thurrott.

Hate when people diss ones educational or working background to make a point.

Scoble did a horrific thing at the Foo Camp and who knows at other times and that should be the focus.


He invented markdown, which isn't much of an "invention." Similar simplified markup existed at the time, like bbcode and wikitext. His CS degree is fairly rudimentary.

He is famous entirely for writing fawningly about Apple products, which appeals to people who need others' validation to justify their purchases.


gruber didn't "invent" markdown.

he took the idea from dean allen, who had created "textile" (which was featured in the movabletype blogging-system gruber used).

gruber reworked that idea slightly, then released it with a catchy name, and somehow received all the credit.

as for gruber's blog, i would say it is evenhanded and informative, albeit focused on apple and its products. the blog is certainly not "fawning", and i think most apple-buyers feel no need to "justify" their purchases.


Markdown is as different from Textile as it is from Wikitext, which is another precursor I mentioned.

Evenhanded and informative? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9345962

Any time Apple has a product in a space where there are other competitors, Apple's products are magically always the best in Gruber's blog.


i'm sure very few people care that you and i disagree.


He was a Microsoft MVP award winner for a couple of years. I win the award a number of times, back when I was still using Windows, and he was around back then.

I'll avoid offering my own impressions except to say he reminded me of the Lockergnome guy.


There are certainly many other powerful men in the tech world who have done similar things, gotten away with it, and believe that they can continue without repercussions.

I hope the response to this story is lasting and harsh enough to send a message to other sexual abusers. If Scoble's career is ended by this story, I think a clear example of 'sexual abuse ends careers of the powerful' would do a lot to reduce this kind of behavior in the future.

If this blows over after a few news cycles, women will be worse off.


> It just felt so unfair how this unintelligent bloke managed to con everyone into thinking his opinion mattered

What is your definition of intelligence? Some would define it as the ability to effectively take advantage of the way things actually are in the world to achieve your goals.

By that measure, people like Scoble are highly intelligent: they see the way the world is and do the things that grant them status and wealth in that world. The same is true of politicians, successful executives, and others that know how to "play the game".

One can have a genius-level IQ and achieve nothing at all because of an unwillingness or inability to play that game. Intelligence isn't worth much if it isn't pragmatic.

Complaining that you'd like people and the world to be different, to allocate status more "fairly", usually won't get you far. Although hopefully exposing the abuses of these people will change things for the better.


I don’t know him personally but I do know of him and have read his articles and watched some YouTube videos. I’d never heard of Weinstein before this happened but I know of Scoble so this feels somewhat surreal. I wonder if he’s woken up to read this yet and what his response will be.

Your general comments about how some people are experts at making themselves appear important ring true in the games industry too, we have a bunch of “journalists” talking about things they don’t understand at all and it is extremely depressing for the development teams that our customers listen to them so keenly.


I've never met Robert Scoble in real life, and have only ever had one interaction with him.

In 2003, I was unemployed and trying to each myself VB.net. I emailed him a question, and he replied to me. I was kind of surprised to get a response.

This obviously doesn't excuse what he has done, but I was grateful to him at the time.


It's like the K* family, famous because they are famous. If not for that they'd be nobodies without any achievements at all.


I’m a little bemused when people say this is a problem in the “tech industry”. It appears to be a problem in every industry. Tech people with blogs haven’t worked in other industries, apparently.


Especially when the news is full of sex abuse stories from Sports, Academia, Newsrooms, Movie Production, Presidential Elections ...


It is a problem in the tech industry. It's a problem in pretty much every other industry as well. It is worse in tech than most other industries because there are more men in positions of power? Maybe, but I don't think it matters to how we respond to it. We here on HN are nearly all members of the tech industry, not other industries. Any amount of harassment is intolerable and it doesn't matter if it's worse in Hollywood or some other industry. That's no excuse.

As members of a community/industry we have a collective responsibility for what goes on; for our own behaviour, for the behaviour we let men get away with, and for supporting victims.


There are more men in power in tech than in other industries? Real estate? Accounting? Hollywood? Construction? No. They just don’t have blogs.


What are you arguing here? That the tech industry has fewer people than those others?


I don't understand your second question. I'm not arguing that other industries have different numbers of people. I'm saying I'm not convinced that tech is more misogynistic and less meritocratic than other industries, especially entrenched industries with much fewer blogs and conferences where people get drunk around campfires.


I’m not arguing against any responsibility to improve the situation. I’m not convinced it is somehow specific to tech.


It seems on the less useful side of pedantic to bring this up though, much as I'm a huge pedant myself and understand the urge. Is there a particular reason why you feel this is an important point to make (honest question)?


It’s a more general problem in need of a solution. It is in no way specific to tech. I’m involved in a lot of industries. I see a lot of claims that tech is particularly mysoginistic. I don’t think that is true, compared to other industries.


Yeah, in hindsight I don't take issue with your statement. It's true, and worth pointing out. I guess I just reflexively started assuming that such comments are in the 'whataboutism' category, but I have no reason assume that you meant it as such. My apologies for that.


> I’m not convinced it is somehow specific to tech.

I don't think I've commonly seen that claim, aside from an "all lives matter"-style dodge used to try and derail conversation in tech e.g. "tech has this problem" "not just tech", the original claim was never that the issue is exclusive to tech, only that it exists in tech.


I've read plenty of tweets and posts that claim that the tech industry is particularly misogynistic. I'm not convinced the tech industry is more misogynistic than other industries with which I have experience. I think there is some cognitive bias caused by the fact that the tech industry has more bloggers and more free time for drinking around campfires and calling it a conference.


Are you making an accusation of derailment, or just throwing it out there?


> I’m a little bemused when people say this is a problem in the “tech industry”. It appears to be a problem in every industry.

How does that make it any less than "a problem in the tech industry"? There's no "only" implied in "it's a problem in the tech industry".


I did not say that made it less of a problem.


Again, there is no charitable reason to interpret "X is a problem in Y" as stating that it's only a problem there.

Give you profess to be "bemused" that people call it "a problem in the tech industry", it seems you either believe it's not a problem at all, or it's specifically not a problem in the tech industry.


I believe neither of the things you have concluded I believe. I'm just not convinced that it is a problem particular to tech. I think there is a bias caused by the fact that victims in tech are more likely to have blogs and conferences that involve drinking around campfires.


> I believe neither of the things you have concluded I believe.

Good on you, but that does not change that this is very much the way your original statement comes across as.

> I'm just not convinced that it is a problem particular to tech.

Cool cool cool, I happen to agree with that, and even think that — assuming it's even possible to objectively quantify the problem — there are probably other industries much worse off than tech (as oft-repeated, the "casting couch" has been a long-standing "joke" in movie and TV).

However expressing that statement in a discussion following from witness testimony about the problem being observed in the tech industry helps fighting the problem… how?

At no point does the article state that the issue is exclusive to the tech industry, and your comment is the highest-rated one which infers one such claim, the next one (by user Spooky23) merely asking about it.


> There's no "only" implied in "it's a problem in the tech industry".

In my opinion lots of folks tend to infer the "only" because it helps them avoid uncomfortable thoughts.

A similar example is responding to "Black Lives Matter" with "All Lives Matter". Nobody was claiming that all lives shouldn't matter. The claim in the case of BLM is that black lives seem to presently matter less. That claim makes people feel uncomfortable so they subconsciously reframe it into being something unreasonable.

In this case, it may be that men in tech can feel better about themselves if this is a universal problem. If men in tech are just "typical guys" that eases the insecurities plenty of us have about being outsiders or social misfits (speaking for myself, obvs). On the other hand if it's a bigger problem in tech than other industries then suddenly those anxieties around other-ness are amplified.


Yes, my point is that I am not convinced it is a bigger problem than in other industries. That does not mean that I do not think it is a genuine problem.


Yes, I get that.

If you re-read my comment you'll see that I didn't suggest you don't think there's a genuine problem.

My point was that people in general seem to frame situations in a way that causes them the least cognitive dissonance. That's natural human behaviour.

In this case (and this is semi-educated guesswork on part) I suspect men in tech will much prefer to frame this as a problem with men in general than a problem with men in tech specifically. A problem with men in general is less uncomfortable than a problem with men in tech.

This will manifest as a gut feeling that's then rationalised, rather than a conscious thought process so please don't take it as an accusation of low intelligence, morals, or character. It's absolutely not.

I brought this up because you were being vocally skeptical but not bringing evidence to the table. Maybe you have evidence to base your opinion on and this isn't an instance of the thing I described, in which case apologies.

Actually, apologies either way, it's tough to have your motives examined like that regardless of whether your behaviour fits this description.


I never liked Scoble, I always got a really weird vibe when I saw him live or in videos.

I'm really sorry to hear that this happened to Quinn, and many others apparently. I believe sanctions should be very strong. I really hope they are, it seems to me like this man should go to jail.


Wow, I'm sorry this happened to you. That's really messed up. The recent, "Me too" movement has made me realize even more how pervasive this type of behavior is. Hoping I can be part of the solution and not the problem. Thanks for writing this.


I never understood why the banality that Scoble produced was so popular? It's been a long time, but I seem to remember most of his articles had the vibe of "I tried 25 methods to format my USB stick and <this one> is two seconds faster".

Anyway, I hope Quinn Norton gets all the support, kindness and apologies, she deserves. And that Scoble finds the catharsis he needs.


Seems like he had a major drinking problem. Groping someone you just met at a professional meeting isn't normal behavior, seems like he couldn't control himself - alcohol being the issue. It's possible he's a decent guy but the demons come out with drink, like a Mel Gibson.

He's apparently stopped drinking so hopefully he stays sober.


Being drunk doesn't absolve you of your crimes, it means you should stay sober if you don't live alone on the moon. Especially if you know you will act a certain way.

I hadn't heard of Scoble for years so I googled "scoble abuse", and the first result is something he supposedly wrote about being groomed and abused by his coach while he was a kid (http://archive.is/AN19H). Can't find the Facebook post this suggests was written by Robert and I don't know anything about the website it was posted on. But if it's true, then it gives you a way to trace back how Robert Scoble became an abuser. It also reflects on his substance abuse issues and if true shows that society fails to help victims and puts them on a path to become future perpetrators.


Abuse is no excuse.

> abusers of all varieties tend to realize the mileage they can get out of saying, “I’m abusive because the same thing was done to me.” — Lundy Bancroft, "Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men"


The gist is that googling those two words revealed how Robert might have acquired his personal demons. I find that important to paint a more complete picture instead of only looking at what he did under the influence. It's an explanation for the defect he carries around, but ultimately he has control over the triggers that activate the behavior, so I fully agree with you that he cannot be excused and am sorry if you thought I was trying to excuse the behavior.


I have been drunk before; probably more often than my fair share (I went to college). While alcohol has disinhibited me, it has never prevented me from distinguishing between right and wrong.

While alcohol has caused me to overestimate my dancing abilities or to tell a friend things that I regretted later, it has never made me say things that I did not believe or made me do things I knew were wrong.

Sorry, but alcohol is not sufficient to explain groping or Mel Gibson's rants.


Nobody's saying being drunk is an excuse to do things or gives you permission.

Some people have repressed thoughts, feelings, etc. that they might act on when dis-inhibited. I recall one coworker being drunk and going from happy to angry repeatedly and another one pouring out his heart to me about his unhappy marriage. I discarded those events and never asked them about it, but I imagine that if this is what happens in a purely vocal way, then someone drunk acting in ways they only didn't before because they were sober means there are deeper issues only hidden and controlled by the rational mind prevailing during sober times. This is why those that went through something like the 12 steps become fearful of getting drunk/high again, since they recall their destructive side. Some people have "demons" they only release if dis-inhibited by being drunk or irrational due to a primal instinct in control.

This means some people should never drink at all.


People react to alcohol differently. I personally stopped heavy drinking because it causes me to enter a semi-conscious state where I honestly believe I act as if I am in a dream state, with basically non-existent rationality. The result was personal injury and property damage in college and that was enough to know to stop. (Thankfully when in this state of mind I never hurt or abused other people, I generally was either super friendly or verbally hostile, but in any case had minimal recollection or explanation for my behavior.)


> While alcohol has disinhibited me, it has never prevented me from distinguishing between right and wrong.

The whole reason that Quinn got involved was that there was a drunk woman making out with a drunk man and the sober people standing around thought that the woman had so much to drink that she could not distinguish between right and wrong.


We need more courageous people like Quinn and the two guys and I like to think I might have the guts too, but it's hard to predict. I applaud them for doing the right thing and hope I never get in a situation like that where I have to stand up be a barrier between a harasser and its victim.

I didn't learn about the UploadVR (where Robert works) drama from May before today, but I'm genuinely curious and want to ask if someone who has witnessed harassment at work like that can shed some light.

http://nymag.com/selectall/2017/05/uploadvr-sued-for-sexual-...

I know pop culture sexualises everything and fails to educate on matters of sex at the same time, but commenting on your female coworker's body in a meeting with others and saying you have to excuse yourself to go masturbate is something I never heard of happening in even the most dominantly male places.

How prevalent is this in the workplace? I mean, sexual attraction is a natural and sometimes useful thing to have, but humans are defined by not acting on each and every primal instinct.

Where do people acquire those behavioral patterns? Bad influence in the family or fraternity? Or is it porn consumption and subsequent belief that everybody is submissive when you're the boss (UploadVR executive)? I guess what I'm asking is what kinds of all-male activities to avoid if I don't want the bad influence.


I think Robert left UploadVR before the scandal broke in the news (his linkedin says he left in March) - https://www.linkedin.com/in/scobleizer/


That's... a different kind of right and wrong?

To use the parent comment's example: almost everyone will be more willing to dance or sing really badly, or maybe kiss the wrong guy. Only a tiny fraction of people commit crimes under the influence.[0]

But you aren't completely wrong: Criminality just has a very low prevalence, so even if alcohol were to double it, it'd be rare to see. But from my experience it seems to be a very specific effect, making some people rather aggressive, for example, while having absolutely no such effect on others.

The difference just seems to be that some people have traits of aggressiveness, and alcohol stops them from controlling it.

Is that an excuse? Legally, it sometimes is: If you get blot-out drunk and shoot your wife in the head trying to reenact Wilhelm Tell, it's not murder, because no intent.

At that point it all depends on what you could reasonably expect yourself to do when drunk: If this is your third wife and the third Apple you missed, it starts looking quite different.

In this case, it appears Scoble had a history of such behaviour. Not only was he possibly behaving similarly even when sober (see the anecdote from her talk at the beginning), he had the chance of protecting people by avoiding such situations altogether.

[0]...although my singing may qualify [1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Vollmer#Death


I think you’re mistaken, simply by observing the incredibly high amount of drunk driving that goes on in my city. It’s indicative that alcohol can have very strong effects on inhibition and judgement.


> To use the parent comment's example: almost everyone will be more willing to dance or sing really badly, or maybe kiss the wrong guy. Only a tiny fraction of people commit crimes under the influence.[0]

I'm not sure I agree that 'the influence' does not correlate with criminal behavior, but perhaps you're right.

But even if you're right, I'm convinced that inebriation does correlate strongly with crossing lines. And it's still the case that in many cultures and environments, a lot of sexual misconduct is not considered a crime, but merely 'blurred lines'.

I hope that changing this 'culture' will go a long way towards curbing even the very drunk from some of this (apparently) systemic kind of misconduct.


> it has never prevented me from distinguishing between right and wrong.

You saying that is meaningless.


In this subthread: a lot of people conflating "explanation" with "excuse".


It's an understandable mistake though.


Not sure it's a mistake, rather an emotively-charged accusation.


When I read these accounts they read to me like they’re from another planet. I’ve been in the industry for 20+ years, and not once have I been in a situation with my coworkers where such a thing would even be _feasible_, let alone acceptable. Maybe I don’t get invited to the “right” events? I don’t know. But all of this seems completely alien to all environments that I’ve ever worked in.


I've spoken to a few of the women I've worked with about this before, and honestly you'd be shocked how much absolutely does go on, right under your nose, and you don't notice it.

How did everyone get home from the last happy hour the team had? Who shared taxis? Do you remember who shared with who? I certainly didn't. I was pretty drunk and what does it matter anyway? Well, turns out that after one night one of the managers shared with a subordinate and made a totally inappropriate move on her. Turns out he has a habit of doing it. I had absolutely no idea.


I’m not saying it’s not true. I’m just genuinely wondering if I simply don’t get invited to the kinds of gatherings where such things could possibly transpire, and why that is. I don’t think I’m quite _that_ boring or unattractive.


I don’t get it - are you saying sexual harassment happens to exciting, attractive people only?

The point is that it happens to women everywhere, also (and perhaps even mostly) in ordinary settings where other oblivious men think it couldn’t possibly transpire.


You’re feigning outrage. You get it perfectly well. All I’m saying is I apparently don’t get invited to social gatherings where such things happen. Anything else is a fruit of your imagination.


The point is, even people who get invited to social gatherings where such things happen don't realize they're happening, so they also think they don't get invited to social gatherings where such things happen. So maybe you're DO go to such events but you just don't realize it.

I mean, women get sexually harassed on trains. You've never ridden a train?


The point they're trying to make is that, unless it very specifically happens to you or happens in the really flagrant way described in the post... it probably happens but you're not aware of it.

That's the take-away from this discussion.

Watching on Twitter, the #metoo hashtag scroll by with probably 80% of the women I know and respect joining in...yeah, I know it's prevalent but it's still shocking to see, not just prevalent, but nearly ubiquitous.

Back to your parties, odds are it's happening and you're simply not aware of it.


Most of the description that I have heard so far seem to involve power more than anything else. Usually, power gained faster or early. And it’s not everybody, so you’d need to have groups of people who became more influential than they were ready for, to have consistent issues.

If you go to conferences about ‘boring’ things, there might not invite people like this.

What worries me


Maybe it depends on the company you keep. Perhaps all the parties you go to are populated by educated men with high morals. Maybe you don't have any sleazebag friends or co-workers, which is a good thing.


I used to think the same thing but have had to remind myself the common “socially awkward nerd” excuse is just that: one of the things all of these guys have in common is high social awareness, which they use to strategically engineer situations where they have witnesses or some [they hope] plausible excuse. If you're not on the wrong side of a power dynamic or known to share their misogyny, they're going to be working to make sure you don't know.

It's like what we're seeing in Hollywood where actresses have been talking about how most of the harassment immediately stopped once they had the career stature to fight back and were thus no longer safe targets.


Assuming you are right (how can you be so sure?), you’re very lucky


In the wake of "me too", I (a 36 year old guy) have been struggling to find a polite way to point this out on social media to women that are looking to men to fix this systemic horror. Creepy/rapey stories often seems to take place in plain sight, but the perpetrators are remarkably stealthy. I could tell you dozens of stories where another Caucasian let slip some subtle racism to me, but never has anyone even subtly hinted or joked that they'd ever touch a woman inappropriately or even proposition a stranger.

As an overly-protective older brother to two sisters, I've been practically ready to raise fists at anyone who's treating women in a slimy way since I was a teenager. Unfortunately, this instinct has been an almost complete waste of energy - it never comes in handy.

I've concluded that the predators/creeps are very, very careful about how they go about it. They can sniff out guys who have a sense of propriety and they can play the part of a good guy unless they know they're absolutely in the clear.


Another Woman Has Accused Robert Scoble of Sexual Harassment

https://www.buzzfeed.com/doree/woman-accuses-robert-scoble-o...

I wonder how many more will come forward in the tech Industry. The Weinstein saga did open the gates.


A few years ago a read a good article about how sexism, homophobia, and racism is everywhere, is happening every day all around you. It pointed out that simply being aware and then saying something when you observe bad behaviour is helping but also will make you more aware of how often it happens.

This was life-changing. I now simply say "That was inappropriate" when somebody says something discriminatory or "This is inappropriate" when there is something on going. I'm not an SJW, I don't make a big deal of it and I don't give speeches, I say the phrase and move on. But it's simple and powerful and, frankly a little depressing, because at some point you're saying it pretty often and realizing that, as a white guy, I don't have to deal with this crap.

I was also kind of depressing to realize how much I had been marginalizing both the amount and impact of this behaviour that hasn't directed at me.


In case you are interested, he is going to make a statement about it : [1]

[1] https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/posts/1015578291863465...


> I will make a statement about this at midnight tonight on live video here on Facebook

Huh, scheduling your crisis management for maximum views (as opposed to getting out a statement ASAP to control the narrative) is a new one.


If you’ve been exposed to him at all over the years you should expect nothing less.


That link appears to point to a deleted comment.


Yeah, he's since deleted all the comments about the post on that thread. Wish I'd taken a screen shot now.


Is this type of behavior more pronounced in tech than other areas?

I have heard above incidents like this from women that I’m close to either by relation, personal friendship or professional relationship. But not from my accountant or teacher friends.

Anywhere I’ve worked has had zero tolerance for bullshit like this, as in you will be put on leave and terminated or banished from the premises. Maybe that’s unique?


I have worked as contractor at an insurance and and advertising company for a few months each. In both cases things were much worse than anything I have ever seen in tech. Bosses getting one of their workers pregnant, a clear vendetta after being rejected, sexual comments left and right, sending dirty jokes to mailing lists. It seems most of the known incidents in tech involve some very rich or famous people on a power trip, not lowly workers.


My understanding is this happens everywhere. It happens when they walk down the street.

You just hear about it more in some places than others.


Did you not see what happened at USA gymnastics? Plenty of harrsssment has happened in the medical field, financial industry, etc. it’s quite pervasive in many areas even today sadly.


It being stated that it's zero tolerance and "well, give him one more chance b/c he's a top performer" [especially in small orgs with young employees </bias>] aren't quite the same thing. People are willing to make exceptions for their implicit biases.


Stating zero tolerance and giving someone 'one more chance' is called being complicit.


I was hoping this article is not "me too", but it is. And it is more serious then I could imagine. It pains me to read this about him, but don't doubt it.

However unpleasant (to put it mildly) we need to go through this process and clean our act. I always saw tech as a forefront of human thought, so clearly we need to be better people.

That is all.


I am so to hear this happened to you. I used to follow Robert Scoble's blog on Google Reader, Rackspace videos, Google Plus. There was one incident that made me very proud of him at that time. I think he did not blog for one entire week to support Kathy Sierra who was harassed online. From your article, I now know that he himself harassed you and other women. I feel so sad that I held this man in such high regard.

What I am trying hard to understand is human nature. How can a person protest online harassment and turn around and harass another person at a party? I think fame, alcohol and drugs change a person for the worse. Lot of things to ponder about in your article.


I feel it’s a lot easier to identify when someone other than you is harassing someone. If you are harassing someone you can justify those actions to yourself that you’re just trying to get what you want, they’re not that bad, the other person is overreacting, etc.


Not sure I get this part:

I realized I was part of the problem that night — a woman’s safety in her career environment shouldn’t require credible threats of violence.

I could understand saying she wasn't part of the solution, but to me "part of the problem" makes a non-zero contribution to the problem. What she did was at worst neutral, no?


What she's saying is that there's really no reasonable way that a threat of violence should be part of a professional interaction in the tech field. (or any, outside of boxing and perhaps hockey)

It's similar to what I teach the kids: He started it doesn't make it right, you know it's not ok to hit your brother.

What she did was what she felt like she needed to do at the time. What she's doing now is second guessing it, and trying to turn it to a generally more positive approach on all sides in the future.


The threat of violence is an appropriate response in any situation to someone drunkenly groping you and refusing to back off.


Which also shouldn't be a part of a career environment.


I don't think anybody is disagreeing with that.


Among others!


I understand where she is coming from, but I don't know that I can explain it effectively. Even trying to do so tends to get me accused of blaming the victim.

To attempt to explain it: One of my criticisms of Cheryl Yeoh is that her BATNA wrt to sexual harassment was that she has a black belt. So, I think she did not feel compelled to try all that hard to make sure to avoid trouble and misunderstandings. She felt safe, even if the worst came to pass. I think that was a contributing factor to the incident in which Dave McClure sexually assaulted her. *

That does not make Dave's behavior okay. It in no way excuses it. But if you take the position that women are simply victims who have no power at all to influence the social environment in which they participate, I think you do more harm than good.

Most discussions of "rape culture" assume that only men can do something about it. It assumes that only men create "rape culture" and only men can work to stop it. This is an incredibly disempowering way to view women. I think it actively reinforces the problem in insidious ways.

That said, I am totally okay with Quinn Norton successfully enforcing her boundaries with Scoble by stating clearly and unequivocally that if he touched her again, she would break his nose. He was drunk. She had just met him. He was in the midst of trying to rape another woman, then sexually assaulted Quinn at first introduction in spite of witnesses. This was not a situation where more polite, respectful measures were going to work.

But I also understand her mixed feelings about expressly seeking permission from the organizers to break his nose, should push come to shove.

(Edit: In case you did not know, I am female and very open about being a rape survivor.)

* https://cherylyeoh.com/2017/07/03/shedding-light-on-the-blac...


Having a black belt in some random martial art won't mean much if you are a small woman having a non-sport-type self defense situation with a much larger man.


I don't think whether or not that is true is relevant to the point of her own statements about her own mindset about the matter. My point speaks to mindset and how that influences choices leading up to the incident.

I blogged about it. I can point you to that series of posts if you are interested. I don't intend to rehash it at length here.


Yes please point to the series of posts.



I understood it to mean that she was setting a bad precedent, making things just a bit more dangerous for the next woman who comes along and doesn't have her self-defense ability.


> What she did was at worst neutral, no?

At worst. I'd argue it was strongly positive.

http://www.catb.org/esr/guns/gun-ethics.html


The fantasyland that ESR lives in is such a wildly inaccurate representation of reality that it borders on offensive.


It is far, far past the border of "offensive". If offensiveness was Canada, ESR's worldview would be somewhere up near Yellowknife.


Also, he's not a good programmer.


Thank you. Links to catb have no place in a rational discussion. Gun nuts, racists and men's rights activist should troll somewhere else.


> Thank you. Links to catb have no place in a rational discussion.

Categorizing people who disagree with you as irrational is in itself a behaviour that has no place in rational discussion.


Let's just say that in the 33 or so years that I have known "Eric the Flute" personally, he has always acted creepy and irrational, but he really went off the deep end after 9/11.


> racists and men's rights activist should troll somewhere else.

There are definitely many of those in the comment threads on Eric's blog. But are you saying that ESR is himself one of those? Because I've seen no evidence of it myself.

[Edited to remove the 'gun nuts' bit, because ESR proudly self-identifies as same; it was the racist / MRA thing I was questioning.]


Eric Raymond doesn't believe he's a racist. Eric Raymond also doesn't believe that there are more than about 30 active white supremacists in the country†. One wonders what one would have to do to reach the level of "racist towards black people". Here's something I'm confident doesn't reach that level for Raymond: the belief that the average African American has an IQ so low --- borderline mentally disabled --- that they can't be properly instructed in the handling of a firearm.

(he knows this because his Kung Fu instructor, who consults with "the Feds" on "counter-terrorism", informed him of this --- this is presumably a different source than the one that reliably informed him that Iran had dispatched a death squad to kill him)


Citation needed, please.

If you're right about that position - about firearms instruction - I'll gladly apologise, and withdraw my support for ESR as a non-racist.


Will a screenshot suffice? I don't know whether he scrubbed his blog or just managed to get it deindexed (it's apparently been hacked at least twice in the past few weeks and he's not sure how, only that it's getting re-hacked after he installs new strong passwords) and there's a limit to how much work I'll put into securing an apology, but if you'll take my word for the authenticity of a screenshot I captured and posted myself --- and you should --- then here you go:

https://twitter.com/tqbf/status/816449724127608833

Also, and with the maximum sincerity it is possible to imbue an HN comment with, from the bottom of my heart? Fuck that guy.


I never saw that before, but it's consistent with his past words and behavior.

Since duncan asked for citations:

Here's ESR having a tantrum and throwing down the gauntlet during Russ Nelson's "Blacks are lazy" scandal that embarassed OSI and rocked the open source community: he insisted OSI get into a mud-fight against political correctness, and he called people in the open source community who disagreed with Russ's "Blacks are lazy" blog posting "fools and thugs":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Russ_Nelson#Blacks_are_la...

Note that although Russell withdrew the article, and admitted it was badly written, Eric S. Raymond is on the record as having defended it by accusing people asking Russell to step down as being "fools and thugs". Note that "thug" has been called a "dog whistle" term for "n*gger".

https://aattp.org/thug-just-a-dog-whistle-for-n-word-says-nf...

http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Linux-and-Open-Source/New-OSI-Presi...

Eric S. Raymond wrote: “The people who knew Russ as a Quaker, a pacifist and a gentleman, and no racist, but nevertheless pressured OSI to do the responsible thing and fire him in order to avoid political damage should be equally ashamed,” Raymond said. “Abetting somebody elses witch hunt is no less disgusting than starting your own.”

“Personally, I wanted to fight this on principle,” Raymond said. “Russ resigned the presidency rather than get OSI into that fight, and the board quite properly respected his wishes in the matter. That sacrifice makes me angrier at the fools and thugs who pulled him down.”

http://slashdot.org/~tomhudson/journal/98015


I mean, that clip is kind of the tip of the iceberg with ESR's published record here. And it's not just anti-black and anti-Latino racism; here's another choice example:

https://twitter.com/tqbf/status/769730601872044032

We could go on for quite some time about women if we really wanted. Or we could just look to the front page of his blog, where he's posted a long, arduous defense of "casting couch" sexual harassment.


https://twitter.com/tqbf/status/780839196231630848

Jesus fuck. You read that stuff regularly??! I would throw out my blue highlighter after marking that up. I haven't read any of his filth in years -- he's gotten much worse than I remember. It looks like he's metastasized.


Please, you have google, use it! Don't pollute this discussion with links to his site, or quotes of his words.

Maybe Iran dispatched a death squad to kill him, as revenge for the time that he threatened Bruce Peren's life. Wooooooooo!!! Be careful: you can laugh yourself to death reading his blog.

http://geekz.co.uk/lovesraymond/archive/bruce-perens-dead

https://lists.debian.org/debian-user/1999/04/msg00623.html


I think you might be surprised by how many people are surprised about this aspect of ESR.


Considering the replies to this comment, could you either point out how they're inaccurate, or alternatively apologize and withdraw your support for ESR as a non-racist?


On many of the points he raises, no - they're not racist, they're factually correct, and point (IMO) to socio-economic and cultural problems. For example, the known issue about measured IQ in the black population being > 1 std dev less than the mean for the rest of the USA.

Having read through the material posted, though, it's clear he supports the idea of racial profiling and similar; literally judging individuals in part by their membership of a racial group, which is the very definition of racism.

I'm in the process of penning a blog post which will go into this in more detail, and which I'll invite him to comment on. I like to think (Don Hopkins' fearful warnings to the contrary) that he is a mostly reasonable person who could be convinced to change his opinion.

It will also contain a strong rebuttal of his points around agency and consent in the casting couch article, which are dangerously wrong.

So yes. With the caveat that it applies to only a subset of his stated opinions on race - I apologise and withdraw.


So have you cured ESR of his sexism yet? Let's see your promised strong rebuttal of his latest sexist post, please. Did he respond by admitting he's wrong, apologizing and turning over a new leaf?

Have you also written a strong rebuttal of his racism too, or are you going to let that slide? Is it your opinion that ESR and Trump and Hitler are not racist and shouldn't be taken to task for it, because only a subset of their stated opinions on race are racist and incorrect?

Precisely where do you draw the line where that subset of someone's stated opinions being racist becomes intolerable -- 10%, 50%, 99%?

Is it perfectly OK with you if Scoble and Weinstein and Trump only sexually assault a subset of the women in their respective industries?


There's an essay by him defending Timothy McVeigh, and another one where he makes that rotten old "affirmative action is racism!!!1!" argument. Plus, I seem to remember, gives pretty much the impression that all black people are gang members on welfare to him.

Then, there's the really-not-as-smart-as-he-thinks biologism trying to explain "why women are different than men". It's actually funny how there's this never-ending supply of people posting those arguments, promoting them as some sort of intellectual revolution, completely unchanged from ESR's heyday (early 80s?) to today's google-memo-writers.


Affirmative action _is_ racism, by definition, assuming you mean by that: basing your decision to hire in part on race.

Re. McVeigh, do you mean http://www.catb.org/esr/writings/reflections-on-mcveigh.html? Because that doesn't seem like a defense of McVeigh to me.

From the article:

> This seems to me like a way to avoid facing the really hard questions. Questions which begin with this one: where and when and how did Timothy McVeigh learn to think of taking the lives of innocent women and children as acceptable "collateral damage"?


If you think that the definition of racism is "basing your decision to hire in part on race", then you don't understand what racism is.

http://www.agjohnson.us/glad/is-affirmative-action-racist/

"But the most important reason to reject the argument that affirmative action is racist is that it ignores what racism actually is. The whole point of any racist practice is to preserve and enforce the privilege – the dominance and unearned advantage – of the dominant group by systematically excluding and oppressing members of the subordinate group. This has never been the purpose of affirmative action, either in theory or in practice. It has been just the opposite – a modest attempt to shift the odds away from being so heavily loaded in favor of whites in an environment that is still overwhelmingly white dominated, identified, and centered."


While I agree with your position on affirmative action and not your interlocutor's, there's more than enough direct evidence of white supremacy on Raymond's part to let us skirt this particular unproductive debate and focus on the more obviously objective stuff.

Actually, I'm not totally confident that ESR is really a racist. I think it's possible that he might just be profoundly, narcissistically insecure. The more you read him (I've read every ESR G+ post, every ESR blog post, and every ESR-authored comment on every ESR blog post for the past 2 years), the more you come to realize the truth that every kind of person that is not ESR is somehow intrinsically flawed, while ESR himself is one of the most important people on the planet, almost singlehandedly (if you don't count Dave Taht) responsible for the security of the Internet and of revolutionary movements in Iran, plugged directly into the most sensitive sources in law enforcement (wait 'till you read what he's learned about the Las Vegas shooter; it'll change forever what you thought you knew about ANTIFA, BLM, and Islam).

I think it might be tough to reckon with that kind of overwhelmingly disordered view of the world, and that white nationalism and mens-rights-ism and similar ideologies offer him a mental framework in which his weird belief of himself at the center of the world might just make sense.

I'd be sad, except, seriously? Fuck that guy. In the eye socket, forever.


I've had his schtick figured out for decades, and it's very tired and never changes. The whole "Blacks are lazy" fiasco was Russ unsuccessfully attempting to emulate ESR, the highest complement he could pay to his bro. Which is why ESR defended him so exuberantly. It was an orgy of narcissistic supply.

ESR's schtick: He's always trying to show off how intelligent he is by making a totally outrageous asinine statement he knows isn't true and is totally offensive, and then trying to prove he's so clever that he CAN justify it through mental tricks, verbal gymnastics and gerrymandered taxonomies. He does it again and again. Every one of his posts is just like that.

And his minions eat it up, because he appeals directly and systematically to their prejudices and hatred.

So technically, in a certain sense, no, he's not racist, because he doesn't believe a fucking thing he says. He's something much worse than racist: Eric the Flute is a Pied Piper of racism, someone who feeds and thrives from other people's racism, sexism and hatred.

Hmm, can you think of anyone else who's mastered this technique?


> He's always trying to show off how intelligent he is by making a totally outrageous asinine statement he knows isn't true and is totally offensive, and then trying to prove he's so clever that he CAN justify it through mental tricks, verbal gymnastics and gerrymandered taxonomies.

I'm reminded of this post: http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=6839. Here he declares himself the most famous programmer ever. Even by his own criteria, notch of minecraft fame is significantly more famous.


Here's instructive to consider, after reading "Are you the most famous programmer in the world? It's a reasonable question to ask", exactly what it is that Eric Raymond has programmed...


His software work is unremarkable (fetchmail is trivial and buggy, and CML2 was rejected by the Linux kernel developers), and he's made his career not by writing software but by attacking real hackers like Richard Stallman and trying to bring down their work, not by actually constructively developing any useful software himself. Attacking real hackers and trying to discourage people from using "free software" isn't "hacking".

When I knew him during the 80's, he would go on and on ad nauseum about his beloved "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle NetNews Reader" and how so much better than every other netnews reader. But he never collaborated with anyone, and he never released it under any license. Much more Bizarre than Cathedral.


> (I've read every ESR G+ post, every ESR blog post, and every ESR-authored comment on every ESR blog post for the past 2 years)

For your next act, will you clean up a breached nuclear reactor core by hand?


I'm not totally confident that ESR is really a racist.

I think the thing about the hindbrain and the fecal people probably settles that although it is older than 2 years.


I guess I'm coming from a sort of Jamelle Bouie place about how racism describes mostly actions and not people, so I mean, his actions are paint-peelingly racist, but the constellation of fucked up things he believes paints a different picture about the fundamental problem in his psyche, which might not be that simple.


Heh, yeah 'way too generous, man!' is a lousy position to try to defend in an internet argument, especially if you mostly agree.


Affirmative action is to racism as compensation is to theft.


If you take the money for compensation from random strangers based on the colour of their skin, I'd buy that analogy.


There are many racists and men's rights activists at Trump rallies, but (gasp!) are you saying that Trump is himself one of those? Maybe he's actually an upright ethical human being with extraordinary leadership abilities, who simply panders to racists and men's rights activists, but doesn't actually believe any of the words he says to wind up the crowds at rallies?

The best evidence is all over his blog and Google+ account, but I refuse to link to it. Google for "esr", "Is the casting couch a fair trade?", "low IQ" and "Blacks are lazy" yourself. You're probably going to want to take a shower afterwards. ...Unless that kind of stuff appeals to you.


I've read a fair number of ESRs posts about race, and don't think any of them constitute racism on his part.

I _do_ disagree with his 'casting couch' position, though, and will post there to that effect.


"The average IQ of the Haitian population is 67... Haiti is, quite literally, a country full of violent idiots."

Or, from a different post:

"... The minimum level of training required to make someone effective as a self defense shooter is not very high... unfortunately, this doesn't cover the BLM crowd, which would have an average IQ of 85 if it's statistically representative of American blacks as a whole. I've never tried to train anyone that dim and wouldn't want to."

Here, or we can just do this in bulk:

https://twitter.com/tqbf/status/780839196231630848

Fun fact: these quotes come from just one ESR comment thread.


Seriously: Don't go there. Don't post to that effect. It will make no difference, and he will thrive from your attention. Don't read there. Don't link there. Don't quote his words. Don't be his flying monkey. The world will be a better place for it. Thank you.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disengaging_from_an_abuser_usi...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_monkeys_(psychology)


You're acting as though ESR is some sort of abusing monster.

I'm subscribed to his blog, I've chatted with him on email ... perhaps I'm missing something here?

I mean, it's possible I was mistaken, and he is in fact racist. Certainly the casting couch post is wrong, and I plan to call him on that.

But I don't get your position here at all.


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