13 Oct 2009 dwmw2   » (Master)

mjg59 writes:
"If the offence was unintended, an apology should be cheap."

An apology is cheap, it's true — but it's also counterproductive, because it reinforces the false belief that such an apology was necessary or appropriate.

Pandering to these people just contributes to the utterly idiotic culture of political correctness which blights our society.

Let's take a look at what he actually said, for crying out loud...

“A release is an amazing thing; I’m not talking about the happy ending..”: 3:02
It's crude, but I don't see it as being sexist. The terms 'release' and 'happy ending' could just as well be used to describe the female experience as the male experience, although ladies are less inclined to make such reference to it in public. It's not excluding women; it's excluding prudes.
“Your printer, and your mom’s printer, and your grandma’s printer”: 35:30
Oh, for crying out loud. Would it really have made that much difference if he'd said 'dad and grandma', or 'mom and grandpa'? No, it wouldn't. Some people must have been trying really hard to find something to take offence at.

Of course your mum is likely to be less technical than your dad. That's just the way the world is. Does your mum complain when she gets cheaper car insurance? Men and women are different, and we shouldn't be burned at the stake if that fundamental fact of life affects the minor details of how we phrase what we say.

My own mother died a few years ago; did I cry myself to sleep after Mark's keynote because I felt excluded by his choice of words? No. I didn't. Some people really do need to grow up.

“we’ll have less trouble explaining to girls what we actually do" at 35:55

There's another one which excludes me. I'm not single, so I don't spend my time trying to impress girls. Should I have been offended? Of course not.

In this context, I'd usually have said "normal people", meaning non-geeks, rather than "girls"; I tend to be quite self-deprecating about my geek nature.

But when I say "normal people" I often have to then explain what I meant by it. It makes more far sense to say "girls", because then people instantly recognise what I'm trying to say.

So I think it's entirely reasonable that Mark said "girls" in that context. When trying to communicate to a room full of people, of course you communicate in a way which will be understood by all of them without having to go back and explain yourself.

He certainly didn't mean to say "Hey, I think the Linux community is entirely comprised of single (or philandering) males, and lesbians."

If you draw that inference, then you are being bloody stupid!

(I should probably point out that the 'single or philandering' qualification in my above sentence applies to both males and lesbians. I didn't mean to suggest that lesbians aren't capable of a monogamous relationship. Please put the torch down and back away from my front door. But thank you for demonstrating just how stupid some people can be when they're looking for a way to take offence.)

There are problems in the geek community which make it hard for females to join in, and there are real problems with some of the things that people say sometimes. The geek feminist lobby certainly has a point, in the general case.

But Mark's keynote was not an example of this. By throwing their toys out of the pram over Mark's keynote, they cheapen the whole debate and perform a stunning ad hominem on themselves.

If you want to be treated with respect and integrate into the society, you don't achieve that by behaving like a Jemima and kicking up a fuss over nothing. You could try contributing to the real debate, like talking about some of the other crap Mark was spouting in his keynote.

So no, I don't think an apology is a good idea. Unless it's offered by the people who have been making all this stupid fuss — and it's offered both to Mark, and also to the people who really want to promote the integration of women in the community.

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