Random Blackmail Is Not Advocacy

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

According to open source software guru Eric Raymond, major male figures in open source software, such as Linus Torvalds, are having to walk on eggshells at tech conferences:

[I]f you are any kind of open-source leader or senior figure who is male, do not be alone with any female, ever, at a technical conference. Try to avoid even being alone, ever, because there is a chance that a "women in tech" advocacy group is going to try to collect your scalp.
Raymond quotes a conversation he had with someone he regards as trustworthy on this score. That conversation included both how these "advocacy" groups intend to collect scalps an implication that should be immediate and obvious to anyone sincerely interested in helping women (or, really, anyone) succeed in a technological field: "[T]he upshot is, I no longer can afford to mentor women who are already in tech."

This is all sad and quite foreseeable, given the premises, common in today's culture, that one needn't offer a rational justification for one's beliefs or actions, and that abusing government for personal gain (such as by frivolous lawsuits) is somehow justified if one is a member of any number of groups currently in fashion among the left.

There is no reason that the targets of such bullying need remain on the defensive, however, and the way to begin fighting back is to not concede even an inch of moral ground. In this case, a good start that would be to stop referring to such gangs as being "advocates" or "activists": Those are honorable labels that apply to those who make honest attempts at rational persuasion. The presumption that an individual -- simply due to membership in a group -- is predisposed to an illegal act, coupled with an attempt to provoke him into it, and followed up with an accusation, baseless or not, is nothing of the kind. We should call it what it is: bullying and attempted extortion.

There is no place in the public debate for force, or the threat of force. Those of us who favor what the abolitionists called "moral suasion" should stop granting what Ayn Rand called the "sanction of the victim" to immoral brutes.

-- CAV


Steve D said...

'This is all sad and quite foreseeable...'

One might almost say intended.

Gus Van Horn said...

This is plainly self-destructive, at least for any woman who supports such gangs and really wishes to succeed in a tech field. For many of them, I can see attributing their support to ignorance, rather than malice.

Steve D said...

Actually, I was referring to the architects of modern culture rather than the women. However the effects are quite predictable and it is difficult to imagine how anyone can miss them.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks for clarifying that here. Hours after I replied, it occurred to me that this is probably what you meant.

Anonymous said...

Which is why I don't refer to the 'Social Justice' types as anything but 'Whiners'. It keeps their own Initialism and has the added benefits of being both true and descriptive and doesn't grant them the unearned. I refuse to associate them with an ethical standard where they fall sadly short. Indeed, where they aren't even in sight of that ethical horizon.

c. andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


They're actually against both parts of their portmanteau. "Justice" does not consist of taking or receiving the unearned. And, perhaps less obvious to most, "social" can't consist of obliterating personal boundaries (physical or psychological) for human beings. (There's even an Ayn Rand quote from the Fountainhead on the subject.)