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Feb 26 2013

Linus Torvalds rages against Microsoft, with a side-order of splash damage

It’s no secret that I’m a Linux guy. I love open source software. I’m not the greatest coder in the world, but I get by. I’m not the greatest scripter in the world, but I get by. Computers are my bread and butter, and considering my livelihood and my freedom to choose what software to use is threatened by this, I’ll be damned if I stand idly by while Microsoft engages in their latest and possibly greatest power-play ever — controlling what operating systems are digitally signed and allowed to run on your computer in the UEFI boot standard they’ve created and are demanding hardware manufacturers support.

The move is ostensibly intended to prevent rootkits that aren’t signed by a signing authority from running on your computer, but its real effect is that every operating system that isn’t Microsoft-made will have to come grovelling before Microsoft to have their operating systems signed just so that your computer will run them. It is, in effect, leveraging a virtual monopoly into a true one — while their marketshare was slipping, suddenly if your computer will only run a Microsoft-approved OS, you’re at MS’ whims.

I’ve already butted up against this issue once, after buying my current laptop and failing miserably to install Ubuntu until I discovered that UEFI was the new spanner thrown into the works. I had to disable that — being told by my computer how vulnerable I was leaving myself to hackers, and being informed by various websites how fortunate I was that ASUS, my laptop’s manufacturer, deigned fit to ALLOW me to disable UEFI booting — before I could install the operating system of my choice.

Others may not be so lucky, it seems. So Red Hat has decided to try to have Microsoft sign their distribution of Linux. And Linus Torvalds, Linux’s creator and godfather, was hopping mad. On the Linux Kernel Mailing List, he scolded Michael Garrett of Red Hat:

On Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 8:42 AM, Matthew Garrett wrote:
>
> There’s only one signing authority, and they only sign PE binaries.

Guys, this is not a dick-sucking contest.

If you want to parse PE binaries, go right ahead.

If Red Hat wants to deep-throat Microsoft, that’s *your* issue. That
has nothing what-so-ever to do with the kernel I maintain. It’s
trivial for you guys to have a signing machine that parses the PE
binary, verifies the signatures, and signs the resulting keys with
your own key. You already wrote the code, for chissake, it’s in that
f*cking pull request.

Why should *I* care? Why should the kernel care about some idiotic “we
only sign PE binaries” stupidity? We support X.509, which is the
standard for signing.

Do this in user land on a trusted machine. There is zero excuse for
doing it in the kernel.

Linus

Emphasis mine.

I agree with everything in this comment except the specific wording of the bolded parts. Not because I don’t think Red Hat is acceding to Microsoft’s hegemonic desires — they definitely are, willingly turning themselves into a thrall of the software giant and at their mercy if (and likely when) they decide to put their thumbs on Linux once and for all. They are not good stewards of the software industry. They have demonstrated bad faith in market dealings time and time again.

But there’s absolutely zero reason for Linus to use such misogynistic and homophobic language.

The thread at Muktware is very telling about the mentality of the anti-Microsoft crowd. Even the original article itself, trumpeting that Linus “said what most free software user feel and wanted to say from the very beginning but neither had the strength or conviction,[sic] that Linus has”, entirely elides that there are women, gay folks, people who generally don’t think sucking cock is a nasty dirty action, who might be irritated by the prevalence of the anti-fellatio bias of such “common parlance”.

A feminist appears in the comments to chide this nonsense and is immediately strawmanned as someone “working for Microsoft”, when in fact they’re a 30-year veteran of the open source movement. Nobody cares that they repeatedly agreed with the fact that control over UEFI boot executable signing should not be in Microsoft’s (or really ANY ONE COMPANY’S) hands. Nobody seems to care when they point out repeatedly that there is no reason to use the specific language Linus did, and that the only reason anyone else might fight being told the language is damaging is because they ENJOY using the language in exactly that damaging manner.

When in our society it’s every bit as easy (easier, even!) to tell someone their opinion is valueless to you, as it is to tell them to suck your cock (whether you have one or not), there’s no excuse to associate any sex act with such negative connotations. When it’s as easy to say “you’re paying deference to people who don’t deserve it” as it is to say “you’re deep-throating them”, it’s simply contributing to the background prejudice experienced by people who like to suck cock. (Not to mention the people who enjoy having their cocks sucked, but whose partners might have internalized the meme that cock-sucking is bad!)

It’s not like there isn’t already an idiom for such unnecessary shows of fealty to parties undeserving of such, which even comes complete with its own set of body-shaming connotations: “kiss their ass”.

Linus Torvalds, you’re right about everything else in that comment. But if you do any more splash damage to people who like to perform fellatio, if you do any more splash damage to women in general and gay men in general, now, after having been informed how shitty of behaviour that is and how it unnecessarily hurts people who have nothing to do with the target of your rage, then you can kiss my ass.

50 comments

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  1. 1
    earl of lemongrab

    is there a word yet for this kind of thing

  2. 2
    abbeycadabra

    Point of order: it’s presented as “to prevent rootkits that aren’t signed”; it’s intended to do exactly what you said.

  3. 3
    Jason Thibeault

    abbeycadabra: yeah, I didn’t make that clear enough. Entirely what I intended by that passage, though.

  4. 4
    abbeycadabra

    @ #1

    I see what you did there. :D

  5. 5
    logicpriest

    I actually like EFI in a general sense. It is nice to use larger than 2 TB drives, for one thing, and BIOS is ancient and outdated.

    But there is some hope – there are vendors selling Linux computers. Dell is in and out, while specialist vendors like System76 and a few others are actually shipping Ubuntu laptops and servers and workstations, some with UEFI. Also by buying these you skip the “Windows tax.”

    On the other hand, this may end up with just Ubuntu and RHL scraping by until Microsoft uses their market power to shut these small time operations down.

    As for Linus, he always seems to skirt annoying. Sometimes he is great, other times he gets pissed at something and becomes blinded by the splash damage. No heroes.

  6. 6
    Great American Satan

    Witness the progressive minds using linux:

    http://terriblelinuxwallpapers.tumblr.com/

    I’m sure all operating systems are used by equal proportions of knuckle draggers, but I thought that funny.

  7. 7
    Great American Satan

    wait, bad link, take two:
    http://terriblelinuxwallpaper.tumblr.com/

  8. 8
    dannicoy

    A side note: As I understand it UEFI isn’t a problem in and of it self in fact for the most part it’s a good thing, it’s the specific extensions that microsoft require that will only boot signed code. From what I understand it should be possible to disable the extension and still use UEFI.

    On the other issue. You could paraphrase the second statement as “if Redhat wants get really close to Microsoft” – you can bring a positive or a negative connotation to the particular sex act and it still works.

    You maybe have a point but on balance I really like the fact that Linus will speak his mind even if sometimes he is wrong. It’s really refreshing not to have to deal with political speak.

  9. 9
    sc_d829d618342c0d31b59a5f1caa6aacee

    well, it pisses me off mightily that every time I buy a new PC I am forced to pay for windows, whether I want it or not. Maybe I want to use Linux. Or maybe I want to use the Windows I already bought and paid for, that is now no good since the previous computer ate it’s own lunch. High time Microsoft was prevented from this extortionate tactic.

  10. 10
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    If they deem cock-sucking to be such an abomiable and denigrating thing, they should refrain from having theirs sucked for the rest of their lives.
    The rest of us is over here in the adult corner having fun.

  11. 11
    Mattmon

    The way I read the bolded text, I don’t see it as being mysogynistic and homophobic language. Linus is not saying that there is anything wrong about dick-sucking contests and deep-throating, he is saying that Red Hat dick-sucking of Microsoft is what is bad. The general concept is okay, the specific instance of it is what is bad. I think the language used was completely reasonable.

  12. 12
    Stephanie Zvan

    Cheers to Giliell! I’ve really never understood how people who certainly seem to enjoy the sensation can possibly think that providing the pleasure is something to sneer at. I mean, is their goal to have all cock-sucking end?

  13. 13
    B-Lar

    There is nothing wrong with cock sucking as long as there is some kind of reciprocation. If it is all one way, then the scene smacks of subservience in which case, the metaphor is pretty apt. Of course, nothing happens in a vacuum and these meanings are all bundled together as far as the beholder can tell, but I did need to read on to your explanation before I saw the problem.

    Another possible reading of that sentence could be that redbox is tripping over itself to have its throat ravaged by a +3 Turgid Pole of Rending, and makes no implied statements about the ickiness of fellatio.

  14. 14
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    B-Lar

    There is nothing wrong with cock sucking as long as there is some kind of reciprocation.

    You mean like I’m getting to suck cock?
    See, that’s part of the problem: Oral sex (of any kind) is depicted as something that only one side enjoys and the other side at best doesn’t mind doing.
    That’s bullshit.

    If it is all one way, then the scene smacks of subservience in which case, the metaphor is pretty apt

    That’s the other part of the problem: Sucking cock is something that usually gay men and heterosexual women do. It is seen as inherently submissive and a service to the dominant and powerful. That’s why the perpetuation of the metaphor is harmful and hurtful: it puts those who suck cock down, as servants, as inferior and those who have cock sucked as powerful and dominant. And as you might notice, not only is that an attitude that poisons sexuality, it’s also an attitude that manifests that power is always, always male. Because, let’s face it, you just can’t suck Hillary Clinton’s cock.

  15. 15
    John Horstman

    Jason, using ass-kissing as a disparaging descriptor is problematic in almost exactly the same way as using fellatio. It (arguably) marginalizes people who enjoy performing anallingus instead of (arguably) marginalizing people who enjoy performing fellatio. Granted, I’ve never interpreted such phrases to imply the the sex act is bad so much as to imply that one is willing to do something primarily for the pleasure of the other party without any real gain oneself (though this does discount that many people derive enjoyment from pleasing their sex partners and some enjoy the direct oral stimulation that fellatio affords the ‘active’ party). Even people who enjoy performing fellatio aren’t likely to view some random stranger – or someone from whom they need something – demanding fellatio as a positive experience (we usually call that sexual harassment or assault), which is the narrative implied to me by the phrase.

    That said, I suspect you’re right about the heterosexist origins of the phrase, and if people frequently see it as contributing to the marginalization of people who have sex with men, then we should probably try to avoid using it. But “kissing ass” isn’t an acceptable replacement for similar reasons (nor is “sucking up” – I’m not sure what the actual origin of the phrase is, but in contemporary language, I definitely read it as a reference to oral sex, similar to the phrase “this sucks”, which we may also have to stop using). English has a problem in that most of our strong invective functions by equating a person or action or whatever to people or actions or objects deemed ‘bad’ – often unfairly and as part of racist or sexist or or heterosexist or classist or other problematic social hierarchies. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to avoid this kind of language, but it is unfortunate that it sometimes makes it difficult to insult people in a widely-accessible manner, as shaming is one of the most effective non-violent tools of social coercion and extremely important to social justice movements (briefly, for those who are surprised at coercion and shaming being portrayed positively, shaming bigots, for example by telling them that hate speech is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in spaces where we are – is absolutely an attempt to coerce their behavior away from acts of hateful bigotry, and this is a very good thing).

    @13: “Because, let’s face it, you just can’t suck Hillary Clinton’s cock.” I know some lesbians who are really into their detachable cocks and would likely disagree, strongly. Otherwise, I very much agree. :-)

  16. 16
    B-Lar

    Giliell, I get it.

    What I mean by reciprocation is that you get your whatever sucked too. In this example, the pleasure is all Microsoft’s. They are face fucking redbox, and redbox are opening their throats to I. I wouldnt call it misogynistic… more like sex-negative. I totally get why this is being called out, but I wouldnt have done so. It feels too much like a reach to me.

    With coital language metaphor, it is one thing to fuck. It is quite another to be fucked with the emphasis on no reacharound.

    I would totally suck Hilary Clinton’s cock, but I would be thinking about Natalie Portman.

  17. 17
    Jason Thibeault

    Mattmon: Then you are wrong, because as Giliell points out, fellatio is not an act of subservience.

  18. 18
    Jason Thibeault

    Jebus, B-Lar. You still don’t get it.

    Some people enjoy giving. Why should the enjoyment of giving be stigmatized or even ignored in favour of making it all about receiving?

  19. 19
    Jason Thibeault

    John Horstman: I did mention the body-shaming connotations, though I wouldn’t go so far as to say that “kiss my ass” is a reference to anilingus when the common representations of the action generally has people literally kissing one cheek.

  20. 20
    Robert B.

    @ 9:

    Not that you should have to, but for a workaround, try building your own. Not only do you not have to buy Windows if you don’t want to, it’s cheaper all around, and it’s not that hard – especially if you do your research first and/or have an experienced friend or family member help you out. (Though I’ve never tried building a notebook computer – that might be trickier.)

  21. 21
    Robert B.

    PS: My first draft of the above comment was apparently infected by the topic at hand, because at first I typed “reacharound” rather than “workaround.”

  22. 22
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    B-Lar

    Giliell, I get it.

    I don’t think so.

    What I mean by reciprocation is that you get your whatever sucked too.
    In this example, the pleasure is all Microsoft’s. They are face fucking redbox, and redbox are opening their throats to I.

    See, that shows both your problem with the act itself and the metaphor as such.
    The understanding of the metaphor is that the pleasure is all on the sucked side and none on the sucker-side. It turns an act that for many people is an act of mutual pleasure into one of giving and taking. This is especially complicated in the sense that there is this very wrong believe out there that sex is something that women give (but actually don’t enjoy that much) and men take. That sex is an act of dominance. The picture that is painted is one of power and dominance of MS over redbox.

    I wouldnt call it misogynistic… more like sex-negative.

    Yeah, if you somehow manage to erase the history of having cock sucked as a symbol of male power and dominance and being a Man™ and that sucking cock is used as the ultimate sign of being subservient and inferior and a woman (which can also be a man. Remember, nothing worse for a man than being called a woman). If you don’t believe it, look at PZ’s I get mail posts and see how many angry misogynists say something like “he can suck my dick”, or when EmeryEmery told Stephanie that she can suck his dick. That’s not about sex, it’s about power.

    I totally get why this is being called out, but I wouldnt have done so. It feels too much like a reach to me

    Let me guess, you’re not one of us habitual cock-suckers, are you?

  23. 23
    Jason Thibeault

    Point of order, all — it’s Red Hat, not Redbox.

  24. 24
    Jason Thibeault

    Robert B @21: *snrk*

  25. 25
    smhll

    @10
    I concur. It’s almost an inversion of the problematic “hate the sin, but love the sinner”. Somehow, in the programming bro community, when the topic is cocksucking, some of them are expressing “love that sin very much, but despise the sinner”. It’s a pretty shitty attitude.

    A feminist appears in the comments to chide this nonsense and is immediately strawmanned as someone “working for Microsoft”, when in fact they’re a 30-year veteran of the open source movement.

    This tendency to assume that a person who disagrees with you in public on the internet, even a little bit, must disagree with you about everything (and for diabolical reasons), is a popular pitfall. I wish people could learn not to do this. More.

  26. 26
    Ben Zvan

    @9: PC manufacturers will frequently give you a refund on a new computer for the value of the Windows license they sell with it if you install a different OS. I recall Dell being particularly good about it, though at one point Dell sold machines with Linux or FreeDos pre-installed at a slightly lower price.

  27. 27
    Ben Zvan

    how fortunate I was that ASUS, my laptop’s manufacturer, deigned fit to ALLOW me to disable UEFI booting — before I could install the operating system of my choice

    This is why checking the hardware compatibility lists and thoroughly researching your hardware, particularly for laptops, is so important when you intend to uninstall Windows.

  28. 28
    Counter Apologist

    I’m rather shocked you read his comment that way. I didn’t take that at all from what he said.

    Using the phrase in that way is more about chiding Red Hat for giving Microsoft exactly what they want because they said so, when the best solution for Linux users is to get a solution that doesn’t involve MS digitally signing their binaries.

    I seriously don’t think that Linus, or the phrase’s use in general is meant to chide or degrade people who actually do the act – particularly for the reasons Stephanie mentioned.

  29. 29
    B-Lar

    I thought about it, and I concede.

    Initially, I thought that the metaphor was crude but accurate. I understood the message’s meaning (because I know that oral sex holds subtextual connotations relating to power dynamics) but I didnt see misogyny because I was looking at the message in isolation.

    However, if you instead start by looking at this as an example of how false/harmful ideas are perpetuated subconciously then its not too much of reach to call misogyny.

    Something still bothers me though… Subtext is everywhere, and not everyone cares if that subtext is correct or harmful because the purpose of subtext is the meaning it carries within the context of the message. If I start to read these additional things into subtext (the aspects of the metaphor which were probably unintended by the messager), then my ability to read charitably will surely suffer. Maybe it is neccesary to simultaneously see two messages; The intended one (in context), and the holistic one which tells me about the mentality of the speaker.

  30. 30
    scorinth

    As I read this story and thought about it, something never quite sat right with me. On one hand, oral sex is amazing, and I’m not ashamed to engage in it. On the other hand, Torvalds certainly didn’t have the intensely intimate and loving act of passion in mind, and that honestly annoys me.
    Yet still, I felt like something wasn’t being addressed. And then, while I was eating lunch today, I suddenly remembered all those times during the gun control argument that gun enthusiasts were referred to by myriad permutations of ‘gun-fellating’. So now I can rest assured that my educated and worldly peers in the liberal community never meant anything negative by the comparison. Right?

  31. 31
    scorinth

    Speaking to the technical issues of this post, I’ve been impressed and disappointed by the apparent dearth of development for UEFI within the Linux community. The only choices I could see for well-supported Linux distributions that could boot *at all* on my UEFI-only motherboard were Ubuntu and Red Hat, neither of which are great choices IMO.
    It’s clear that, whether or not Microsoft succeeds in their bid to lock us out of our hardware, even just the threat has damaged Linux. It’s FUD, all the way down.

  32. 32
    Jason Thibeault

    scorinth: no, just because people are “educated and worldly” and liberal doesn’t mean they aren’t contributing to damaging memes like that fellatio is somehow a bad thing. Liberals talking about “gun-fellating” are wrong in the same way that Linus is wrong to talk about blowjob contests.

  33. 33
    Jason Thibeault

    B-Lar — right. It’s not that these people are INTENDING to do that kind of damage, they just ARE, and when it’s pointed out to them, they have to watch for that in the future or else they ARE intentionally hurting people they consider unworthy of their consideration. That’s why it’s called *splash* damage. Damage done to targets other than the intended.

  34. 34
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    It doesn’t really say much about the mentality of the speaker when they say things like that. I’m sure Linus doesn’t understand the subtext of the language he used. He’s simply honed and primed by society to use that sort of language. What will tell you about a person’s mentality toward harmful speech is whether they continue to use that speech when you say it harms a certain group which they are not a member of. Granted, they might simply disagree that the subtext isn’t there… In which case, I have no fucking clue what to do. If anyone knew the answer to that, there would be no more assholes in the world.

    So now I can rest assured that my educated and worldly peers in the liberal community never meant anything negative by the comparison. Right?

    Yes. They didn’t mean anything negative. But it was.

    Also, UEFI can eat a rotten egg and dutch oven itself to death.

  35. 35
    Counter Apologist

    Jason, I see the point you’re making. I think that if Linus was intending to demean people who perform fellatio as “inferior”, then you’d be spot on.

    The issue I have is that is it takes a certain reading to derive that meaning from the statement, and I’m not sure that’s the most charitable reading.

    The reading I took from it was the kind of “Well why don’t you just fellatiate MS while you’re at it?”, so the “kiss their ass” phrase you used at the end would have been a drop-in replacement. Would there have still been a problem is Linus used the “while you’re at it” style phrase instead?

    Going back and re-reading it again, I can certainly see reading it in the way that prompted the article. I also get that whether or not he intended offense has anything to do with whether people found it to be offensive.

    But if the majority of people reading it take it in the charitable way, then is it still doing damage?

    I don’t want to minimize people who did take offense, but I think you’d agree that’s not what he intended and this becomes an issue of reading charitably. If you go down this road then we’re arguing over the subjective line where a reading of something crosses the line to being seen as definitively offensive. At some point someone is going to take offense at something said, even your “kiss my ass” line.

    That leads to the other reason I don’t just agree with what you’ve written is that I’m having trouble drawing a distinction between trying to change the language he used here and the difference we get thrown at us when criticizing religion by calling it stupid, baseless, superstitious, irrational, etc.

    I hate to pull that out, since that kind of justification has been used to try and excuse other behavior that I feel should be called out/shunned/etc. But in this case since we’re dealing with a “how you read it” kind of issue, pretty much why you make it “splash damage”.

  36. 36
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    But if the majority of people reading it take it in the charitable way, then is it still doing damage?

    If a majority of people take the use of racial epithets against a minority in the charitable way, then is it still doing damage? Damn right it is.

  37. 37
    Jämbö

    As along time reader but hitherto non-contibutor to FTB and it’s blogs, I read Jason’s post yesterday and I am afraid to say it annoyed me. They say before one acts, one should always “sleep on it”. I did just that and, sure enough, the ridiculous accusations made in the post still piss me off enough to elicit me responce and by so doing, lose my FTB virginity.

    Even though this may disrupt the flow of my response, I feel obligated to point out here, given the reasons I detail below to point out that it is not my intention to cause offence to virgins by using the term in a sense which could (at a push) be interpreted as mildly pejorative.

    You see, Jason has chosen to jump on a couple of terms utilised my Mr Torvalds and try to spin them into something they are not. Let me nail my colours to the mast here, I am by no means a Torvalds crony (indeed until reading this post, his name was unknown to me) nor am I a die hard Linux supporter (having used it and frankly not liking it), but our misguided Canadian has, deliberately it seems, decided to build a homophobic and misogynistic straw man from Torvalds choice of insults.

    Jasaon, you do realise that terms develop don’t you? In this case, the term “cocksucker” has other usages than to refer to a performer of fellatio . The phrase “deep throat[ing]” in this case does not imply that all cases of oral sex are done so for the sole enjoyment of the receiver. They are both used in the context of insult rather than insinuation.

    Take for example if I called someone a “motherfucker”. Do I mean to insinuate that that person is a participant in an inappropriate matriarchal sexual relationship? What do you think? On the other hand, if I called that person simply a “fucker” or a “wanker”, would I automatically be “sexophobic” or “masturphobic” towards those who participate in such activities? Of course not, the expressions are used by Mr Torvlad (whose understanding of the nuances of the English language are made to seem superior you yours if we take your accusations at face value, despite him not having it as his native language) in their metaphoric and not their literal sense.

    I however find it hard to believe that you were not aware of this before writing your post. My feeling (an I admit that it is only that) is that you have deliberately tried to “Watson-esquely” morph certain admittedly crude and perhaps even unprofessional but otherwise innocent comments into something they are not. You seem to have fallen into a kind of McCarthy “Reds under the beds” like trap of seeing misogyny and homophobia in comments where in fact they do not exist.

    This type of unwarranted accusation does nothing to help our cause (lest you start with another round of accusation, I am as anti misogyny and homophobia as you claim to be…. although admittedly I nearly wrote “… as the next man”), but instead damages it. Taking the McCarthy analogy further, yes, there were undoubtedly Soviet operatives at work in American society, there were nowhere near as many as McCarthy made it appear, and many innocent people were unfairly labelled so as a result. Here, you claim misogyny and homophobia where even a cursory glance at Torvalds’ comments show that this is not the case, or at the very least, are not the only possible interpretation of them.

    Do I have to spell it out to you why this is wrong? I think you owe Mr Torvalds an apology. It seems to me, that you have been desperately looking for controversy where in fact none is to be found (something that FTB as a whole has been suffering from lately).

    Of course, perhaps the red herrings of homophobia and misogyny have more to do with looking for a way to crowbar a discussion about computer software onto a blog supposedly about free thought…..

  38. 38
    Jason Thibeault

    Jambo: wow. Just wow. So complaining about someone using homophobic and misogynist language — regardless of their intent — is exactly like Joseph McCarthy. And my disagreeing with that language and saying so is an abrogation of Freethought. This is a special specimen of a comment.

    Before I answer any other charges in this comment, do you know what the availability heuristic is? It’s an important concept in the forensics involved in where your thought process went so desperately off the rails on this.

  39. 39
    Nick Gotts

    you have deliberately tried to “Watson-esquely” morph certain admittedly crude and perhaps even unprofessional but otherwise innocent comments into something they are not

    The above, makes it abundantly obvious that this:

    I am as anti misogyny and homophobia as you claim to be

    is a bare-faced lie.

  40. 40
    Jämbö

    Oh dear. Is that really the best you could do? Frankly I am rather disappointed as I had hoped that you could do better than build another straw man argument. But I guess we play the cards we are dealt even if they are poor and so I will de-construct your “argument” by addressing your points individually:

    “So complaining about someone using homophobic and misogynist language-”

    You have not established that the terms “cocksucker” and “deep throat” are either homophobic or misogynistic. I’m sorry, but you are starting with your conclusion, then working backwards. Please re-read my point regarding the use of the insult “fucker”, this is not anti-intercourse bigotry instead the use of a word in a differing context and with differing intent.

    “— regardless of their intent —”

    No, intent is everything. Intent is the key here and is denoted by the context. Torvalds used the term “cocksucker” which, in the modern vernacular, can mean one of at least two things. A quick look at an on-line dictionary gives these two meanings as “1. a person who performs fellatio.” and “2. a mean or contemptible person.” It is clear from the context of Torvalds’ comment which one he was using (I’ll help you out here, it was the non-sexual one) and it is also clear that this usage has nothing to do with prejudice against females or homosexuals. It is you who has decided for reasons as yet unknown to make this into a unfounded and erroneous accusation of homophobia and misogyny.

    “is exactly like Joseph McCarthy.”

    No, I clearly said that seeing things which in reality are not there is analogous (meaning similar enough to allow a comparison to be drawn and not, as you falsely allege, exactly the same as) to the “reds under the beds” paranoia associated with McCarthyism. This is a contemptible attempt to deliberately twist my words into something the were not by constructing a straw man of things I never said. I would have thought that someone promoting scepticism and free thinking would be well enough aware of the fallacy of straw man arguments to avoid using them himself.

    “And my disagreeing with that language and saying so is an abrogation of Freethought.”

    Once again, this is not what I said. You could do yourself a lot of favours by actually reading what people write before responding to them. In this case I speculated that the motivation for your willingness to jump to unjustified conclusions may be due to your keenness to shoehorn a post about computers into a blog (ostensibly at least) about free thought and doing it by making unjustified defamatory comments about another person. Where you get the abrogation bit from is anyone’s guess!

    “Before I answer any other charges in this comment, do you know what the availability heuristic is? It’s an important concept in the forensics involved in where your thought process went so desperately off the rails on this.”

    Yes I am perfectly aware of the term you refer to in your rather pompous not to mention patronising question. However if anybody’s thought process is in question, it should be the one who makes unwarranted accusations based on their inability to resolve separate meanings from words with identical spellings.

  41. 41
    Jämbö

    Nick, you do realise that not agreeing with the methods utilised by a certain well known (within the sceptical community at least) feminist does not automatically mean that one is not a feminist themselves don’t you?

  42. 42
    Jason Thibeault

    Jambo: *Gish gallop for five hundred words*
    Me: Before we begin, do you know the meaning of this concept?
    Jambo: IS THAT THE BEST YOU GOT!? *second Gish gallop*

    Yeah, I can tell already this is going to go well. As soon as I have some more time, I might deign fit to give you some of it, but you’re already terribly abusive of dialog here — poisoning wells, intentionally strawmanning me, and claiming strawmans when I ask you if I have your position straight — for someone coming in championing dialog. Here’s a hint: drop the McCarthy rhetoric. Red-baiting is a step removed from Godwinning.

  43. 43
    Nick Gotts

    Nick, you do realise that not agreeing with the methods utilised by a certain well known (within the sceptical community at least) feminist does not automatically mean that one is not a feminist themselves don’t you?

    Jämbö,
    What I realise is that you’re a misogynist liar. No-one who is not a misogynist would aim a wholly unnecessary and unjustifiable sideswipe at the feminist victim of two years of abuse, harassment and threats by a misogynist clique.

  44. 44
    Counter Apologist

    If a majority of people take the use of racial epithets against a minority in the charitable way, then is it still doing damage? Damn right it is.

    Except this isn’t a case of a racial epithet, it’s very different. Racial epithet’s are a different beast altogether.

    The problem is that to get the analysis Jason did, you have to read a lot of subtext into what was said, and I don’t think that subtext is there, at least not in the context of what was said.

  45. 45
    Jason Thibeault

    No — you only need subtext if trying to determine Linus’ intent.

    As an example, let’s say someone is upset that a company is short-changing people and says “this isn’t a jewing contest”.

    Sure, that’s antisemitic, and any Jews (cultural or otherwise) would be right to demand an apology, even if the person in question had zero intention of slurring Jews, even if “to jew” was a culturally accepted euphemism for short-changing people.

    His intent does not matter in determining whether or not he should be *told* that his words are damaging to others. If you’re being told by someone that you accidentally stepped on their foot, the correct response is to get off their foot, not to stand there arguing that your intent is more important.

    His intent only comes into play if, after being told, he persists. At that point, he probably intends to tweak OUR noses for being “PC”, or “McCarthyesque”, or for attacking his free speech, or something something jack-booted thugs. And all the while, the people being hurt by the words go on being hurt by those words.

    Yes, even if you can find examples of members of that group who did not take offense. Even if you find a Jew who’s like, “yeah, ‘to jew’ just means to short-change someone, it’s a cultural thing, I don’t give a damn that he said it, and stop calling him an anti-semite because he’s a really nice guy”.

  46. 46
    Jason Thibeault

    And really, how many times must I say “Linus’ intent doesn’t matter” and pointing out the availability heuristic (calling something someone said homophobic, does not mean the person who said it is a homophobe, necessarily), before people stop assuming I’m calling him an intentional misogynist and homophobe?

  47. 47
    Jämbö

    Jason, whilst I was somewhat surprised and disappointed at your first response to my post, with your second I admit that I kind of expected it. Little did I know when first responding to your comments, that the “lousy” part of your on-line moniker was an apt description of how you deal with criticism.

    A brief recap shows that you have made allegations of homophobia and misogyny against comments made by Mr Torvalds, specifically in his use of the tern “cocksucker” and “deep throat”. I have pointed out that these terms can have multiple meanings and that the context that they were written in, and which defines which of the meanings is intended shows them to be used non-sexual sense.

    I also put forward the possibility that you are mistakenly seeing homophobia and misogyny in these comments because you want to see homophobia and misogyny in these comments; that you are starting with the assumption and then reinterpreting the meaning of the terms to fit your preconceived idea.

    How do you respond to this? Do you address these issues, provide a counter argument or a well thought out rebuttal? Do you expose my lack of understanding of the subject, or the gaps in my logic?

    No, in your first response you attempted to use a host of fallacious straw arguments against me; deliberately misrepresenting what I had written (for example, substituting “exactly like” where I had used analogy) and accusing me of thing I never even said (the asinine “abrogation of freethought bit).

    Quite correctly I called you out on these and you respond with unfounded counter accusations of straw manning (which I now call you show a single instance of me doing) and “gish galloping” (again responding specifically to the disingenuous tactics you are using against me is emphatically not Gish Gallopping) to mention just two. Really Jason, this is laughable; we are not in a school playground you know and you are doing yourself no favours by using the dishonest methods more often associated with Creationists and other apologists.

    I suggest that you do the following. Go back and thoroughly read what I have written (which you appear not to have done thus far) as well as you reaction to it (which you appear not to have really thought about thus far). Note that you have not really argued any of the points; indeed the best you could muster is an assertion, and no more, that intent is irrelevant where it is clear from the context that the intent is what separates the two meanings of identically spelled terms. Note also the fallacious accusation and dishonest rhetoric you have used to attack the messenger and not the message. Note these and think about how you would react if such underhand techniques had been used against you and you opinion of the person who had done so. Perhaps even ask another member of FTB to review your comments to offer constructive comment upon them; they are after all there for anyone to read and see what you have done. People may well not agree with me, but they cannot possibly fail to notice your erroneous and unethical claims and actions. If you care about your integrity, if you really care about the causes you claim to be championing, you should really avoid shooting yourself in the foot like this.

    Your point about “Jewing” is one I cannot really comment on, because it is not a term that I am particularly familiar with but at first glace it is a slightly different (and therefore largely irrelevant) as it is is a pejorative term based upon a specific racial stereotype and not upon a sexual act participated in by a varied demographic.

    I will refrain from “tweak[ing]@ you noses with allegations of political correctness as I don’t think that it is particularly relevant. To you credit (and with this exchange, the only thing to your credit) you have so far, not censored or moderated my responses. My reference to McCarthy was only as far as the baseless paranoia prevalent in society at the time and no more (something you have chosen to deliberately misrepresent twice now).

    I am also perfectly aware that accusing someone of making homophobic and misogynistic comments is not the same as calling the person themselves homophobic or misogynistic (just like the fact that you have made idiotic and disingenuous accusation in this exchange does not make you an idiot or disingenuous….. no, sorry wait, it does make you disingenuous I’m afraid). The point is that no homophobic or misogynistic comments were ever even made as the terms were not used in that context.

    Oh there I go again, making a long post which addresses specifically and methodically points raised and counters false accusations made…….

    ….or as Jason calls it “Gish galloping”!

  48. 48
    Jämbö

    Nick.

    So in your world, disagreeing with your authority figure means that I am a “misogynist liar” does it? Lets get this straight shall we; despite the fact that I agree with and support 99.9% of what the afore mentioned person does, the fact that I disagree with her on a single, specific issue means that I am in fact the antithesis of what she stands for?

    You have to realise that Free Thinking is not unthinkingly accepting somebody elses opinion as infallible, unquestionable truth. Your assertion that someone should be somehow totally immune from reasoned criticism simply because they have been unfairly targeted by somebody else is ridiculous. Whilst the abuse, harassment and threats are totally despicable, this does not infer that the original stance of the subject of it is correct. This is basic logic 101 stuff I’m afraid.

    Well done. It is good to see that the Argument from Authority is alive and well!

  49. 49
    Sheesh

    Come on bros, this is easy to get: It’s more likely that if Linus was less sexist* when he was searching around in his brain for the worst possible forms of subservience and submission he might have talked of groveling contests or boot licking, but he didn’t. Hyperbole lead him to deep throat dick sucking because that’s the worst, most subservient metaphor he could come up with to express his (justified) outrage.

    So, now that everyone that’s been exposed to this story knows how to act less sexist, or at least less shitty to people that like dicks, we can make this little bit of culture less bad. We can at least stop equating sex to service out loud, and dick sucking to the subservience out loud, etc. It’ll be harder to act decently if we don’t change our thinking, too, but baby-steps, right?

    * His/our societies are sexist (and racist, and classist, etc.). We are all affected by society. We are all sexist to some degree. Overcoming this in word and deed is kinda what matters, not so much what’s in our brains. It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that that opponents of this kind of reasoning have never taken a sociology class or been exposed to said field of science.

  50. 50
    kaleberg

    I think Torvalds was being a bit crude. He could have been less crude and said “If Red Hat wants to get into bed with Microsoft, that’s *your* issue.” or, going for a complete G rating, “If Red Hat wants to trade friendship rings with Microsoft, that’s *your* issue.” The implication is that Torvalds doesn’t like anyone to get too close to or do anything nice for Microsoft. The assumption seems to be that receiving oral sex is something that Microsoft might like, and he doesn’t want any part in pleasing them.

    I’m not sure how his remarks denigrate fellatio.

    (This is, of course, assuming Microsoft isn’t full of masochists, though this is arguable.)

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