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Sep 10 2013

Pax Dickinson’s finger

There’s this guy Pax Dickinson, who likes to be provocative on Twitter. For “provocative” you could substitute various other words, but let’s go with the more neutral word for now. Nitasha Tiku wrote about him yesterday.

What has two thumbs and a homophobic, racist, misogynistic, classist worldview? Pax Dickinson. We just noticed this vile Twitter account from Business Insider’s chief technology officer today. But he’s been at it for awhile.

She includes a lot of screen-capped tweets.

In The Passion Of The Christ 2, Jesus gets raped by a pack of niggers.  It’s his own fault for dressing like a whore though.

feminism in tech remains the champion topic for my block list. my finger is getting tired.

That second one – that’s not a great thing for a tech honcho at Business Insider to say. It doesn’t make Business Insider look good. It makes Business Insider look as if it might be actively opposed to recruiting women, or possibly even to hiring women.

“Unprofessional opinions are not endorsed by anyone respectable” reads the Twitter bio of Pax Dickinson, chief technology officer of Business Insider.

They’re sure not endorsed by his bosses, CEO Henry Blodget and chairman Kevin Ryan, the site’s co-founders. A day after Valleywag raised a stink over Dickinson’s habit of using Twitter to share his views on feminism, poverty and race relations, he is out of the company. “Forced to resign” is how Daily Intel characterizes it; I’m told he was simply “fired.”

There’s probably never a good time to get called out for using racial slurs and making rape jokes, but Dickinson’s contretemps came at a particularly unfortunate moment, with allegations that the tech industry is a hostile environment for women once again front and center thanks to a boorish presentation at TechCrunch’s massive Disrupt conference in San Francisco. TechCrunch quickly apologized for the presentation, for an app called Titstare that purported to capture images of men ogling breasts.

Blodget, who didn’t immediately have a comment when I contacted him, has weathered his share of controversy, coming in for a heavy dose after he wrote a post headlined “Why Do People Hate Jews?” But Blodget quickly quieted critics with his conciliatory manner, whereas Dickinson’s response was to threaten a physical confrontation.

A credit to the company, right? No.

I saw this because the Irish journalist Jason Walsh was expressing concern about the firing on Twitter, so I looked to see what he was talking about. Should we be concerned? I don’t think so. I think people high up in organizations do need to avoid displays of contempt for outsiders and underlings. I think organizations need to seek out people who do that well.

15 comments

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  1. 1
    sigurd jorsalfar

    He may have lost his job but he gained 850 twitter followers and is now ready to offer media consulting advice. I doubt, however, that there are many businesses out there who will pay the big bucks for advice on how to be homophobic, racist, misogynistic, classist asshats on twitter.

  2. 2
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    This horrible person’s first name is “Pax”?? As someone else whose moniker means “peace” in a classical language, I feel slightly dirty. :(

  3. 3
    jenBPhillips

    Wow, someone’s online activity led to real world consequences? I thought it wasn’t supposed to work that way. #themoreyouknow

  4. 4
    Ophelia Benson

    Well my name means “lover of snakes” in an ancient language, so count yourself lucky, Irène.

  5. 5
    screechymonkey

    Ken White at Popehat has what I thought was a good analysis of the situation, including a rejection of the “witch hunt” cries of Pax’s defenders.

  6. 6
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ Ophelia:

    Oh, “lover of snakes” is way cooler, in my book.

  7. 7
    Stacy

    “Lover of snakes” is WAY cool.

  8. 8
    oolon

    Well my name means “lover of snakes” in an ancient language, so count yourself lucky, Irène.

    Or to be “a helper” in ancient Greek…

  9. 9
    Ophelia Benson

    Yes but that one’s so boring.

  10. 10
    Al Dente

    I saw this because the Irish journalist Jason Walsh was expressing concern about the firing on Twitter, so I looked to see what he was talking about. Should we be concerned?

    Business Insider has to retain subscribers. If too many people think a senior executive of BI (a Forbes publication) is a racist, sexist douchebag, then subscriptions may fall off. So BI had no choice but to let Pax go. I doubt he’ll get a good reference either.

  11. 11
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Oh, my non-existent Lord, he calls himself a ‘brogrammer:’ “Chief Architect at @businessinsider & tattooed reactionary carnivorous tech entrepreneur & brogrammer. If you think I speak for anyone but me seek treatment.”

  12. 12
    sawells

    Lover of snakes AND ruiner of things! This gets better and better!

  13. 13
    C. Mason Taylor

    I’m not sure there’s such a thing as unrelated political views if you’re in a prominent or authoritative position. If he were a fry cook I’d agree that he shouldn’t be fired. In his position it would have been insane to keep him on.

  14. 14
    RainbowSlushie^.^

    Oh, my non-existent Lord, he calls himself a ‘brogrammer:’ “Chief Architect at @businessinsider & tattooed reactionary carnivorous tech entrepreneur & brogrammer. If you think I speak for anyone but me seek treatment.”

    It’s always the mysog douchebros spitting this sort of vile everywhere they go, in the name of Brodom (Bro Kingdom), BroRegard (the comradery they share with each other), BroGuile (their ability to fool the Eeebul Feminists they claim to hate), and other such assorted nonsense. When I see “Bro” anything nowadays on the net, I learn to hide, under a new name or alias, and fast, or try to force them out if that fails. These quotes above in this story are as common as they are scary on the net, I’m glad this particular douche is getting his comeuppance.

  15. 15
    screechymonkey

    I’m sure you’ll all be shocked to hear that Pax thinks there’s no sexism problem in the tech industry, the lack of women is just because it’s more of a guy thing:

    I think the tech world is just kind of — it doesn’t have a woman problem. Women in tech are great. There’s just not that many of them because tech is just a kind of thing that a lot of women aren’t that interested in, I think.

    Link

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