BREAKING: iTWire’s Varghese is terrible journalist, person

Remember a few weeks back, when we USians were still in the throes of election-induced political madness? Remember how Republican politicians kept saying just awful things about how some rape was “legitimate” and how pregnancies from rape were “a gift from God”? Yikes.

The Ada Initiative (a non-profit dedicated to supporting women in open technology and culture) published this article, which rightly points out that, y’know the Linux community is not completely immune to this kind of thinking, and when it occurs we really ought to say something.

And so Matthew Garrett wrote a blog post, entitled “Ted Ts’o is a rape apologist and why this matters“, which does exactly that. He says:

I realised that my effective silence was not only helping to alienate 50% of the population from involving themselves with Linux, it was also implicitly supporting my community leadership. I was giving the impression that I was basically fine with our community leaders telling people that it wasn’t really rape if you were both drunk enough. I was increasing the chances of members of our community being sexually assaulted. Silence is endorsement. Saying nothing is not ok.

So. A bitter truth, but an important discussion of a serious problem, motivated by conscience.

Sam Varghese sees this discussion and completely ignores the actual problems of, y’know, sexual harassment and the treatment of women because oh boy, an opportunity to try to make Matthew Garrett look bad!

Some excerpts from his resulting articles, which I refuse to link to, because like hell am I gonna send them more traffic:

Garrett slams Ts’o as ‘rape apologist’

Linux kernel developer Matthew Garrett has kicked off what could be a damaging episode in the free and open source software community by describing a fellow developer, senior Linux guru Ted Ts’o, as a “rape apologist” over comments the latter made in 2011.

[...]

Garrett, who styles himself as a defender of women’s rights, used Aurora’s piece as a fuse. After mentioning the incident at LCA 2011 and Ts’o’s comments, he wrote: “Ted Ts’o argues that only a small percentage of rape really counts as what people think of as rape. Ted Ts’o is a rape apologist.”

I love “styles himself as a defender of women’s rights”. Yes, because “making sure nobody gets harassed/raped” is just some silly little “women’s rights” problem. Who cares about that – MATTHEW GARRETT SAID SOMETHING MEAN!

Red Hat evades query about Garrett’s ‘rape’ post

WOOO BUDDY! Now THAT is a headline that will generate some pageviews! Who cares if the article is completely fucking worthless?

The company was asked about the case of its employee Matthew Garrett (who has now left, his last day at the company being November 9), who recently posted an entry on his blog accusing senior Linux kernel developer Ted Ts’o of being an apologist for rape.

[...]

Her response was: “These posts are from Matthew’s personal blog. As a standard practice, we do not comment on our employees’ personal blogs.” 

“So um, that’s his personal blog, and he’s not actually a Red Hat employee..”
“YOU’RE EVADING THE QUESTION!”

Valerie Aurora, the co-founder of The Ada Initiative, resurrected the Ts’o affair; he had made certain comments on a mailing list back in February 2011.

[...]

When she was contacted to ask why she had dug up these comments after nearly two years,

Sure, nobody said anything publicly about it before, but c’mon, it’s been two years. Everyone knows we solved sexism in May of 2011! Why are you bothering poor Ted with your mean “hey guys rape is bad” mumbo-jumbo feminist talk? You might hurt his feelings!

the reply was: “Thanks for your email! I will be on semi-vacation till November 8th and only reading urgent email once a day. If you need a response before November 8th, you can do one of: *Resend your email with “URGENT” in the subject, and I will check it within 24 hours; * Contact my assistant Kathy at <email_address> and ask for my phone number.”

When the message was resent with the word “URGENT” as part of the subject line, the same reply was received.

Then, after resending the message with the just the one word “URGENT” in the subject line, Aurora sent a two-word response: “No comment.”

Absolutely top-notch journalism here. Riveting.

Garrett said his post had been prompted by Aurora’s digging up of this hoary chestnut. “As I explained in my post, the timing was prompted by the post on the Ada Initiative blog causing me to rethink the effect on the community of nobody saying anything,” he said, when asked about his motivation for calling Ts’o an apologist for rape so long after the actual incident.

Seriously, “hoary chestnut”. Yes, I remember..  back in the ancient, foggy mists of early 2011.. hard, bitter times those were.. why, the iPhone 4 had only been released 6 months earlier! Can people really be expected to be held accountable for anything they said or did so very long ago??

None of the media outlets that normally report on matters concerning the FOSS community have even mentioned this issue.

Nobody else seems to think this is a Big Story? SHOCKING!

Senior Debian developer Russell Coker appears to be the only member of the FOSS community who has commented on the matter but this was on his personal blog.

But wait, why does Matthew Garrett’s personal blog count, but Russell Coker’s blog doesn’t deserve mention? What does Coker say, anyway?

Sam Varghese has written about the issue for ITWire. He has taken the wrong approach to this, he specifically claims that “Matthew Garrett has kicked off what could be a damaging episode“. I think that Matthew’s approach is necessary and the situation demands it.

Heh! Maybe I should write an article: “Debian evades query about Varghese’s ‘wrong approach’ to journalism“, perhaps? Anyway, Varghese’s last paragraph:

(When iTWire contacted Ts’o for his reaction to Garrett’s post, he apologised for the comments that had caused offence and denied ever saying that rape was not a problem.)

So Ted Ts’o has already apologized and the only other person who’s interested in the story thinks Varghese is completely wrong and that Garrett did the right thing. WOW. COOL STORY, SAM.

In summary: Sam Varghese is an awful journalist and from all evidence an all-around terrible person. iTWire should be ashamed of themselves for publishing this garbage, but they won’t, so instead let’s all just agree to ignore them completely – except perhaps laugh at them and anyone who takes them seriously.

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