A happy ending

It’s always nice to see a happy ending where the SJW ends up unemployed, bitter, and alone. Perhaps more SJWs should consider looking into that diversity they cherish and reading up on the concept of “karma” and “minding your own business”. You may recall how Adria Richards got a programmer fired at a tech conference, but what you may not know is that the story had a just and happy ending. From The Guardian:

On 17 March 2013, Hank was in the audience at a conference for tech developers in Santa Clara, California, when a stupid joke popped into his head, which he murmured to his friend, Alex.

“What was the joke?” I asked.

“It was so bad I don’t remember the exact words,” he said. “It was about a fictitious piece of hardware that has a really big dongle – a ridiculous dongle. We were giggling about that. It wasn’t even conversation-level volume.”

A few moments earlier, Hank and Alex had been giggling over some other tech in-joke about “forking someone’s repo”. “We’d decided it was a new form of flattery,” Hank explained. “A guy had been on stage presenting his new project, and Alex said, ‘I would fork that guy’s repo.’” (In tech jargon, to “fork” means to take a copy of another person’s software so you can work on it independently. Another word for software is “repository”. Just in case you wanted to know.)

Moments after making the dongle joke, Hank half-noticed the woman sitting in front of them stand up, turn around and take a photograph. Ten minutes later, a conference organiser came down the aisle and said to Hank and Alex, “Can you come with me?” They were taken into an office and told there’d been a complaint about sexual comments.

“I immediately apologised,” Hank said. “I knew exactly what they were talking about. I told them what we’d said, and that we didn’t mean for it to come across as a sexual comment, and that we were sorry if someone overheard and was offended. They were like, ‘OK. I see what happened.’”

And that was that. The incident passed. Hank and Alex were shaken up – “We’re nerdy guys, and confrontation isn’t something we handle well” – so they decided to leave the conference early. They were on their way to the airport when they started to wonder exactly how someone had conveyed the complaint to the conference organisers. The nightmarish possibility was that it had been communicated in the form of a public tweet. And so, with apprehension, they had a look.

They found a tweet from a woman, called Adria Richards, with a photo of them: “Not cool. Jokes about forking repo’s in a sexual way and ‘big’ dongles. Right behind me #pycon”.

Anxious, Hank quickly scanned her replies, but there was nothing much – just the odd congratulation from a few of her 9,209 followers for the way she’d “educated” the men behind her. He noticed ruefully that a few days earlier Adria Richards had herself tweeted a stupid penis joke. She’d suggested to a friend that he should put socks down his pants to bewilder security agents at the airport. Hank relaxed a little.

A day later, Hank was called into his boss’s office and fired.

“I packed up all my stuff in a box,” Hank said, “then I went outside to call my wife. I’m not one to shed tears but…” Hank paused. “When I got in the car with my wife, I just… I’ve got three kids. Getting fired was terrifying.”

That night, Hank made his only public statement. He posted a short message on the discussion board Hacker News: “Hi, I’m the guy who made a comment about big dongles. First of all I’d like to say I’m sorry. I really did not mean to offend anyone and I really do regret the comment and how it made Adria feel. She had every right to report me to staff, and I defend her position. [But] as a result of the picture she took I was let go from my job today. Which sucks because I have three kids and I really liked that job. She gave me no warning, she smiled while she snapped the pic and sealed my fate.”

Ten months later, I was sitting opposite Adria Richards in a cafe at San Francisco airport. She seemed introverted and delicate, just the way Hank had come across over Google Hangout. She told me about the moment she overheard the comment about the big dongle. “Have you ever had an altercation at school and you could feel the hairs rise up on your back?” she asked me.

“You felt fear?” I asked.

“Danger,” she said. “Clearly my body was telling me, ‘You are unsafe.’”

Which was why, she said, even though she’d never before complained about sexual harassment, she “slowly stood up, rotated from my hips, and took three photos”. She tweeted one, “with a very brief summary of what they said. Then I sent another tweet describing my location. Right? And then the third tweet was the [conference’s] code of conduct.”

“You talked about danger,” I said. “What were you imagining might…?”

“Have you ever heard that thing, men are afraid that women will laugh at them and women are afraid that men will kill them?” she replied. “So. Yeah.”

    ‘He’s a white male,’ Adria said. ‘I’m a black Jewish female. He said things that could be inferred as offensive to me’

I told Adria that people might consider that an overblown thing to say. She had, after all, been at a tech conference with 2,000 bystanders.

“Sure,” she replied. “And those people would probably be white and they would probably be male.”

“Somebody getting fired is pretty bad,” I said. “I know you didn’t call for him to be fired, but you must have felt pretty bad.”

“Not too bad,” she said. She thought more and shook her head decisively. “He’s a white male. I’m a black Jewish female. He was saying things that could be inferred as offensive to me, sitting in front of him. I do have empathy for him, but it only goes so far. If he had Down’s syndrome and he accidently pushed someone off a subway, that would be different… I’ve seen things where people are like, ‘Adria didn’t know what she was doing by tweeting it.’ Yes, I did.”

On the evening Hank posted his statement on Hacker News, outsiders began to involve themselves in his and Adria’s story. Hank started to receive messages of support, and then insults, from men’s rights bloggers. He didn’t respond to any of them. At the same time, Adria discovered she was getting discussed on a famous meeting place for trolls: 4chan/b/. “A father of three is out of a job because a silly joke he was telling a friend was overheard by someone with more power than sense. Let’s crucify this cunt.” “Kill her.” “Cut out her uterus with an xacto knife.”

Someone sent Adria a photograph of a beheaded woman with tape over her mouth. Adria’s face was superimposed on to the bodies of porn actors. Next, her employer’s website went down. Someone launched a DDoS attack, which overwhelms a site’s servers with repeated requests. SendGrid, her employer, was told the attacks would stop if she was fired. Within hours, she was fired.

‘‘SendGrid threw me under the bus,” she later emailed me. “I felt betrayed. I felt abandoned. I felt ashamed. I felt rejected. I felt alone.’’

The death threats and rape threats and racist insults continued even after she was fired.

“Things got very bad for her,” Hank told me. “She had to disappear for six months. Her entire life was being evaluated by the internet. It was not a good situation for her at all.”

“Have you met her since?” I asked him.

“No,” he replied.

Ten months had passed since the day Adria took that photograph, so I asked what he thought of her now. “I think that nobody deserves what she went through,” he replied.

“Maybe it was [Hank] who started all of this,” Adria told me in the cafe at San Francisco airport. “No one would have known he got fired until he complained… Maybe he’s to blame for complaining that he got fired. Maybe he secretly seeded the hate groups. Right?”

I was so taken aback by this suggestion that at the time I didn’t say anything in defence of Hank. But later I felt bad that I hadn’t stuck up for him. So I emailed Adria. I told her what he had told me – how he’d refused to engage with any of the bloggers or trolls who sent him messages of support. I added that I felt Hank was within his rights to post the message on Hacker News, revealing he’d been fired.

Adria replied that she was happy to hear that Hank “wasn’t active in driving their interests to mount the raid attack”, but that she held him responsible for it anyway. It was “his own actions that resulted in his own firing, yet he framed it in a way to blame me… If I had a spouse and two kids to support, I certainly would not be telling ‘jokes’ like he was doing at a conference. Oh, but wait, I have compassion, empathy, morals and ethics to guide my daily life choices. I often wonder how people like Hank make it through life seemingly unaware of how ‘the other’ lives in the same world he does, but with countless fewer opportunities.”

I asked Hank if he found himself behaving differently since the incident. Had it altered how he lived his life? “I distance myself from female developers a little bit now,” he replied. “I’m not as friendly. There’s humour, but it’s very mundane. You just don’t know. I can’t afford another Donglegate.”

“Give me an example,” I said. “So you’re in your new workplace [Hank was offered another job right away] and you’re talking to a female developer. In what way do you act differently towards her?’

“Well,” Hank said, “we don’t have any female developers at the place I’m working at now. So.”

“You’ve got a new job now, right?” I said to Adria.

“No,” she said.