See, now, this is how you jettison the officious little creatures from your project:
I’ve done my best to create a more welcoming environment: I serve on the Scholarship Committee for UseR 2016 Stanford and the R Foundation Task Force on Women, have written a load of things in blog or twitter form about the need for a stronger community and a more representative Foundation, and helped Kara Woo and Gavin Simpson draft the open letter to the R Foundation that mandated a code of conduct for real-world events. With all of that I think it’s fair to say that while I’m not a Hadley, I’m at least a moderately-useful member of the community.
Rewind a week, to last Monday: I’m wandering around Twitter seeing what everyone is up to, reading through, and spot a tweet that immediately makes me headdesk. It points to a line in the R source code containing a variable called, with all seriousness…
I don’t think that this is an intentional sexual reference – far from it, I’m certain it’s just due to an absence of familiarity with one particularly crass English idiom, and I have only ever known the developer who wrote the code (whose first language is not English) to be entirely proper, entirely reasonable, and the model of what a productive Core member should be.
But it needs to go anyway: it’s exclusionary as all hell to have language like this in the core implementation and we can’t expect people to instantly understand intentions.
So I grabbed the latest development version of R, generated a patch that changed the name, and submitted a bug report with the patch that made clear I didn’t think this was anyone’s fault and I was sure it was unintentional and there were no accusations of sexism or bad intent in play here….
Pretty quickly, two email threads kicked off. One involved a lot of members of core individually asking me to stop tapping people in (apparently every Bugzilla email bothers all of core) and explaining that my suspicion that it was unintentional was in fact correct.
The second – oh, the second.
The second was a set of emails from Duncan Murdoch, President of the R Foundation and an R Core member, in which he dismissed my “bug report” (note the skeptical scare quotes he put on it) “about some variable name that you find offensive is clearly an example of nothing more than shit-disturbing” and stated that myself, and those who had commented in favour of changing it, were no longer welcome to participate in R’s bug-tracker.
I independently confirmed that our accounts had been banned and locked – as had the bug, and replied to Duncan explaining my thinking and motivation and asking in what capacity the ban had been made.
The variable name is still there. I never got any reply to my email.
So: unintentionally offensive variable name leads to a patch and the indication that it is much more than one person finding it offensive, leads to the President of the R Foundation dismissing the concerns as “shit-disturbing” and punishing the people who surfaced said concern.
That’s not an environment I want to be a part of. That’s not an environment I want to contribute to. That’s not an environment in which I can have any faith that there is a strong interest in creating a safe and inclusive space for computing.
Don’t cut them any slack. Don’t give them any second chances. Identify, eject, and ignore.
That’s how you treat an SJW. Every single time. Duncan not only handled the situation Like. A. Boss. but he prevented the useless little SJW from wasting dozens of man-hours on pointless SJW-created drama. And he even used the situation to smoke out other would-be thought police.
I don’t know if Duncan read SJWAL, but he’s definitely going to be featured in SJWADD. The best part is the fact that Duncan not only ejected the initial SJW, but everyone who went along with the SJW’s attempt at destructive virtue-signaling. And then refused to explain his action or engage with them. He knows damned well there is no benefit to doing so.
Don’t hesitate. Do likewise.