DongleGate: A Legal Perspective and some social commentary

Those of you that know me, know that I’m both a software developer and a lawyer. I’ve not commented on the #DongleGate issue – except to say that this issue has privacy, first amendment and civil litigation ramifications. Those of us witnessing this escapade have seen at least 1 guy lose his job and this just in, the complainant Adria Richards (http://butyoureagirl.com/) has lost her job as a developer evangelist for SendGrid. Here’s the blog post from her former employer: http://blog.sendgrid.com/a-difficult-situation/.

One thing we can agree on, there is a massive lack of maturity in this business. At one time or another, including yours truly, has been guilty of an off-color joke. Most of the times, at community gatherings like conferences; we are typically amongst friends and feel comfortable that we can be ourselves, letting our guard down. At the end of the day, we must rely on the fact that in this business, we have to have a thick skin and that we are adults. That in no way is meant to justify offensive comments and that somebody like Adria didn’t have a right to be offended. She did have a right to be offended. And to that, it’s not for anybody else to question it. It’s enough for anybody to say they were offended – and others should respect that. That said, does it mean the offended have an open ended license to exact whatever retribution they want on the offenders? No…. In these community gatherings, there is a level of privacy, within the community cocoon; we have a reasonable expectation to.

We see the t-shirt shirt = “Fork you”. We see on open source projects: “Fork me on GitHub”. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the double entendre here. If one is to where that shirt in public, does that give anybody who is offended license to snap a picture, tweet it, and then hope that some misfortune befalls that person? I don’t think such license is granted.

Consider this YouTube video from Ms. Richard’s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMpJSKbsmgQ. There’s a saying in the law that in matters of equity, you have to have “Clean Hands.” Is it permissible for her to be offended as she was when she makes a video that could be taken as offensive by others? At about 3:03 into the video, she talks about an incident that was done to her – that could very well be taken as offensive, and she let it pass. In this case, she decided to not let something pass…something that WAS NOT said directly to her. If I was prosecuting this case, and I was going to depose Ms. Richards, this is a line of questioning I would surly explore to great details. What was her real motivation here?

This gets to my first question:

Was there a reasonable expectation of privacy by these two gentlemen?

I believe there was. They were having a private conversation, which Ms. Richards overheard. Yes, this was a public place. Did she have the right to express her indignation at those comments to these two gentlemen? Absolutely yes. In fact, that would have been the more impactful thing to do. That would be a proportional response. Reporting the incident to the PyCon staff is not appropriate. They are not there to police what people say. Note, these two guys didn’t say the comment to her. She thrust herself into their conversation. By the same token, the two guys allowed her to confront them. She didn’t. Instead, she took their picture and posted a tweet. And from there, SHE took what was a private thing and made it public. She made the situation worse. In that regard, she violated the privacy rights of these two men, notwithstanding their comments. Speaking of those comments, only her, the two guys and maybe one or two others know what the precise words were. The first result, at least one of the guys lost his job.

Next question..
Does the guy who got fired have a cause of action against Ms. Richards?

This is the part you want to pay attention to as you should think very carefully about the consequences of tweeting something that is private and further, identifying specific people where harm could come to them. First, did these two guys have a right to say what they said, no matter how stupid it was? Yes, they had a right. There is such a thing as a First Amendment last I checked. It’s also not illegal to be stupid. Did the guy who got fired, his employer, have a right to fire him? If he works in an employment at-will state, the answer is yes. Is he totally out of luck? No.. He can sue Ms. Richards for Tortious Interference with an Employment Relationship. She knew and intended a certain level of a negative outcome to these two gentlemen. That’s malice. While his employer may be on good ground to fire him, he can nevertheless sue Ms. Richards to recover damages. There may also be a cause of action on defamation grounds. These two guys are being labeled as sexists when all that may have happened was a joke, off color as it may have been, that offended this one person. That too may be the basis of a cause of action.

Next question..
Is there any other entity that could be liable?

As SendGrid has already admitted, Ms. Richard’s was there in her capacity as a representative as a SendGrid Employee. Ms. Richard’s did not do SendGrid any favors when she tweeted that she had SendGrid’s full support – a claim that SendGrid didn’t dispute. In the law, there is the legal doctrine of “Respondeat Superior.” It effectively means that the master is liable for the actions of his agent. Ms. Richards has a large Twitter following and that is due in least in part to her former job as a developer evangelist for SendGrid. There’s a strong argument to be made that SendGrid is liable, at least in part, for Ms. Richard’s actions – regardless of the fact that they terminated her services.

This whole episode illustrates again the importance of how we react emotionally and the legal consequences therein. If I’m the gentlemen who lost his job, I’m exploring my legal options – and there are legal options. Above all, this is a teachable moment. If you are offended at something somebody does, consider the context. 99.99% of the time, these matters are best handled privately. Takes more courage and is more impactful when you communicate your disdain to the offending party directly. If your goal is to change behavior that will more likely have the desired effect. Sure, you may be told to eff-off. That’s a risk…a risk worth taking.

How about conference organizers?

I understand that PyCon has modified their code of condut… Didn’t know that such a thing existed. I would always suggest to any conference organizer to NOT get into the business of policing their attendees. Rather, I’d rely on the venue staff for that. Obviously, if somebody is disruptive, boot their tails out. These guys didn’t appear to be disruptive at all for the record – not that it really matters in this case.

A word about the “Brogrammer” culture..

You probably know about it. If not, look it up on our favorite search engine. The fact is, guys are often not the sharpest knives in the drawer socially and are often in need of an increase in maturity level. Women have a tough enough time in this business. I know several women that do a lot of work in getting more girls interested in software development. Sad as it is, Adria Richards did more to set that effort back than the two guys she was offended by. That’s a perfect example of irony!! It’s really a shame. Ms. Richards looks to be a pretty sharp individual – one who appears to have better common sense than she displayed here. Learn from it folks.

About johnvpetersen

I've been developing software for 20 years, starting with dBase, Clipper and FoxBase + thereafter, migrating to FoxPro and Visual FoxPro and Visual Basic. Other areas of concentration include Oracle and SQL Server - versions 6-2008. From 1995 to 2001, I was a Microsoft Visual FoxPro MVP. Today, my emphasis is on ASP MVC .NET applications. I am a current Microsoft ASP .NET MVP. Publishing In 1999, I wrote the definitive whitepaper on ADO for VFP Developers. In 2002, I wrote the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Databases for Que Publishing. I was a co-author of Visual FoxPro Enterprise Development from Prima Publishing with Rod Paddock, Ron Talmadge and Eric Ranft. I was also a co-author of Visual Basic Web Development from Prima Publishing with Rod Paddock and Richard Campbell. Education - B.S Business Administration – Mansfield University - M.B.A. – Information Systems – Saint Joseph’s University - J.D. – Rutgers University School of Law (Camden) In 2004, I graduated from the Rutgers University School of Law with a Juris Doctor Degree. I passed the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar exams and was in private practice for several years – concentrating transactional and general business law (contracts, copyrights, trademarks, independent contractor agreements, NDA’s, intellectual property and mergers and acquisitions.).
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  • johnvpetersen

    Roger..

    We could probably go back and forth on this ad infinitum. As a whole, the place is private. The conference floor is more public within that context. You are getting yourself wrapped around the axel too much on details. You say you are confused, don’t understand, etc. You say you are not a lawyer, but make legal pronouncements. Clearly, you don’t wish to listen. For example, as to malice, you seem to want to hold onto that. While I can infer malice from her actions, I wouldn’t need to prove malice in this case – because the two guys are private people – not public figures. This is where I get off this merry go round with you.. :-)

  • Roger Harris

    I once managed to anger a credit card company representative so much that they hung up on me. If I were to have made a complaint would that have been wrong as well?

    If I am having a meeting with a person from another company, and they said that “Skirt” joke. I would find it offensive. I cannot call up their company and point out that the person told me such a joke?

    At what point can you complain to somebody about a persons behaviour? These are cases where, just like the dongle jokers, they are representing their company.

  • Roger Harris

    I am most defiantly not a lawyer, and am, of course, deferring to your expertise. I’ll happily play arm chair lawyer so you can clear up misconceptions though :-) Hopefully you don’t mind. You can add the suffix “but I am not a lawyer” to everything I say, it’ll save time.

    I am confused. In your article you wrote “They were having a private conversation, which Ms. Richards overheard. Yes, this was a public place”.

    In your reply you wrote “First, the conference was not entirely public.”, and later on it became “non-public”. So where exactly were they? Public place, not entirely public, or non-public? Pick one! Hard to have this conversation when you present three different things each with, presumably, a different set of rules.

    While I am sure there is a difference, legally speaking, it seems to make the argument shakier. So we have rules now about public, private and semi-public and non-public (probably a synonym for private) places.

    You also need a ticket to get on the bus, just as you need a pass to get into the conference. Would that not put them in the same semi-public status? If not why not?

    Again, from your article, “She knew and intended a certain level of a negative outcome to these two gentlemen. That’s malice.”

    Then you answer “Seriouisly, by now you shouldrealize that malice – or mal-intent as you call it – has nothing to do with this.” and “That’s because her motives don’t matter.”.

    My analysis of bias stands fine, and is indeed strengthened since you claim in your answer malice doesn’t matter, but you felt you needed to bring it up, without proof”we can infer some some malice her”, which ironically is what she did when she supposed inferred a sexual joke out of forking (which, as you should hopefully know, is a long standing type of joke in Unix with the fork and DOS/Windows with spawn system calls). So, again, ok for you to infer her motives, but bad for her to infer a (possibly) incorrect meaning to the joke. Either it is relevant to the discussion, or it isn’t. Would the proper legal term be prejudicial I am sure I am using that in too strong a way though, but what sort of arm chair lawyer would I be if I didn’t try? :-)

    As it happens I used to be a developer evangelist (yes, for real). But that was in the time of Usenet, not Twitter. And I’ve never had to deal with anything like that in the workplace. Would I have publicly done something if someone had warranted it IMO? I will say that I did publicly chastise people when I was an evangelist, but only in response, and only when I was right (and, yes, for some things you can be right, it was for factually incorrect things). Was I as diplomatic as I could have been? No. Was it a public place to air the issue, yes. Was it appropriate? I honestly don’t know.

    The racist things was not because she is African American at all, I wasn’t even thinking about that when I asked it. I picked it because it is another emotionally charged issue but it is much clearer to being “wrong” than telling dirty jokes. I was thinking simply of them saying a non-sexual type of thing that would be, for lack of a better term, more clearly “wrong” in the eyes of most people. You could substitute that for a fat person joke, she seems skinny… but I am going to go with a not of people that would not be OK with racial jokes would be ok with fat jokes.

    Thanks for the reply!

  • johnvpetersen

    I read the article here: http://www.mercurynews.com/jobs/ci_22852550/adria-richards-firing-tech-developer-twitter-pycon. California is an at-will state. She’s wasn’t fired for harrassment. There’s not plenty of lawyers weighing in. And those that say she has a case, are looking for some press, and deep-pockets. She doesn’t have a case. She is no longer able to fulfill the essential elements of her job. There are no Title VII issues here. Unless she has a contract that specifies what “for cause” is, she doesn’t have a case.

  • johnvpetersen

    Again, you can’t just decide to take pictures of people or things on private property without getting consent from the owner in case of things and for the person in case of people. The relevant facts to change for your hypothetical is the location of where the picture is taken. That is the important act. However, taking it a step further, there is the matter of defamation. She would have to be able to conclusively prove what was actually said, that it was directed to her. The fact is, they guys can make a joke. The CoC covers matters as to the conference. The only group that is technically empowered to enforce anything is the conference organizer. As a general matter, you are not entitled to self help. Even if they said something that she may have found offensive, she would not have been justified in sending the email. There’s also tortious interference with employment and contract. I think she could be liable for that. AND – if she does that in connection with her job, her employer could be on the hook too. Her string of YouTube videos shows a pattern that could be argued to have put them on notice where they [SendGrid] could be shown to have been negligent in retaining her as an employee – giving her a platform for her actions.

  • johnvpetersen

    Roger..

    First, the conference was not entirely public. You had to have a pass to get
    in. So with that in mind, your bus comparison is a bit like comparing apples to
    oranges.

    **

    I’ve looked into the photography issue somewhat, the venue did not say no
    photography (as I pointed out PyCon added that after the fact). I have been on
    film in a hallway conversation at a conference, my picture has been taken many
    times at conferences. I am pretty sure it is OK to take pictures at
    conferences.

    **

    You’re “Pretty sure?” Typically, when you go to a conference, you
    waive such rights as to the conference orgranizer. Makes sense for promotional
    purposes. Take famous folks and the papparazzi. Where are they? Almost always,
    outside, on a sidewalk. That is a typical prima facie public place. As a
    general rule, people are not allowed to snap pictures of private people,
    without permission. If you have been filmed, chances are, it is by the
    conference folks. Or, you just let it go. She snapped that picture for a
    purpose – to publically tweet about it. She took something that was at the very
    least, semi-private, and made it public. She didn’t have a right to do that.
    Take a supermarket for example. It’s a business open to the public. But it is
    private property, like a hotel. In those cases, you are a business invitee and
    to take pictures there, you must seek the permission of the owner/manager. In
    short Roger, so far, you legal analysis is off.

    **

    I think she did have the right to snap the picture. Now comes the question of
    can she have posted it publicly? Again, the video was displayed publicly, as
    were pictures. Now that could be something that I agreed to as part of the
    conferences, I honestly do not remember. However it is also likely that you can
    post pictures publicly.

    **

    Your assumption starts from the premise that she had the right to take the
    picture. She didn’t. That settles that.

    **

    So now would it not come down to intent?

    **

    No…for many reasons. Besides, she intended to take the picture and she
    intended to post on twitter. There’s no negligence here. In tort cases like
    defamation, in some cases, a plaintiff does have to prove malice. That’s in
    cases when the plaintiff is a public/semi-public person.

    **

    Had she made a blog with the same picture about some cool people she met at
    PyCon would there be a case to sue her? Again, I don’t know, I am asking. I am
    assuming that the crux of your argument is her mal-intent.

    **

    You know what they say about assuming… :-) Seriouisly, by now you should
    realize that malice – or mal-intent as you call it – has nothing to do with
    this. It has nothing to do with this because these were private people, in a
    non-public place. Had she waited until they were on the street, in a fully
    public place, she’d be on better ground. As you say, YOU don’t know, but you do
    appear to be making conclusions as if you did know. Don’t mean to be snarky
    about it, just calling it out. Maybe you didn’t realize that. Lot’s of lay
    folks like to play arm chair lawyer. It’s a dangerous game. There’s a reason
    why there is such a thing as law school..
    :-).

    **

    Hoever, as you correctly point out, none of us know the full text of the jokes,
    yet you seem to be divining her motives for posting the picture to twitter out
    of thin air.

    **

    That’s because her motives don’t matter. All we know is what she did. That’s
    all that really counts here. That said, we can infer some some malice her. She
    knows more than the average person about social media. She was reported to be
    smiling when she took the picture. Those are circumstances that go to proving
    more likely than not, she harbored some malice here. That’s the difference
    between lay conclusions and legal conclusions. Lawyers don’t assume anyting.
    What we do often do is lay the foundation for an argument to reasonably
    conclude one way or the other. It’s what we are trained to do. One thing you
    can be sure of, I’m not pulling my conclusions out of thin air.

    **

    Seems to be that you are willing to make assumptions on one hand, but not on
    the other. Clearly I would expect a lawyer defending their client to be biased
    towards the side that made their client look good, but in an article offering
    up a legal opinion (or at least a legal spin on the opinion, shall we say)
    shouldn’t it be less biased?

    **

    How strongly do you feel about your conclusion now? I wasn’t biased at all. I
    focused on specific facts that mattered from a legal sense and ignored the
    other ones that didn’t. The issue with the CoC and when the photography clause
    was added, that has zero bearing on the matter.

    **

    As they rebuked
    the joke makers actions. If you are saying that it is proof that she was in the
    wrong because she was rebuked than he also was in the wrong because he was
    rebuked. I was not aware the rebuking was the legal standard for being guilty
    of an action.

    **

    No..what she did was legally out of bounds for reasons I
    stated and I gather you probably get that now.

    **

    one that cannot
    confront two people for making remarks that offended her.” If you read the
    whole blog she posted you will find a reference to a “Skirt” joke -
    see how she handled that at the same conference. Clearly she can choose other
    options, you can ask yourself why she chose the one she did for the dongle
    joke. I am not excusing her actions, just providing some context for her
    actions.

    **

    That still doesn’t
    shed light on the specifics. It is interesting that she has not said exactly
    what the jokes were. Personally, I don’t think even she knows what exactly what
    was said. If she were to be subjected to cross, I don’t think she would hold up
    all that well. Her statements, as scant as they are, are really self serving at
    this point. The fact that she has not stated what the jokes were tells me she
    doesn’t know – and that indicts her position and her credibility.

    **

    It seems to me
    that they didn’t fire her until the DDoS was made, thus she was fired for the
    DDoS not her actual actions – the key part being “In the end, the
    consequences that resulted from how she reported the conduct put our business
    in danger.” So, no DDoS, no firing based on what they said there. I twas
    the “consequences”, read DDOS, that got her fired, not her action to
    begin with. If she were fired for her actions then there would be no need to
    bring that up. However, as you said, don’t put too much into what they say, but
    in this case it looks pretty bad for them.

    **

    Roger, they were
    completely justified in their actions to fire her. As a dev evangelist, you
    cannot do what she did. I know a few female dev evangelists. The ones I’ve spoken
    with about this topic, while sympathetic to the issues, are not in Ms. Richard’s
    camp. Here’s the deal, but for the original act, there would be no
    consequences.

    **
    I do have one
    question though. Had the men in question been making racial remarks and the
    exact same thing happened (twitter, DDoS, etc…) should she still be fired in
    your legal opinion?
    **

    It is an interesting question. I do think you are asking the wrong question. First – let me say categorically that racial slurs, intolerance, etc – just like gender, LGBT status, religion, etc. – any negative animus in
    those areas is unacceptable in my book whether they are comments directed at a
    specific person or persons or just made in general. Again – we don’t know what
    exactly these guys said, but we do know the comments were not directed to or
    about her. So your question is if this would be different if there was an allegation
    of racial animus. I assume you are making this comment based on the fact that
    she is an African American, right? I have to tell you, race for me never
    entered the equation from that perspective. But since you brought it up, tell
    me your thoughts on her YouTube Video were she said “The best girls are black.”
    She also has a video about “Mansplaining.” You brought up motives earlier in
    your response. Is it fair for me to perhaps conclude that she may have a at
    least some negative animus towards men? Is it fair for me to perhaps also
    conclude that there may be some racial animus as well? What if these two men
    behind her were of color? Would she still have posted her tweet? Would she
    still have reported the issue? In 2009, she tweeted this gem: https://twitter.com/adriarichards/status/6039856858
    . It’s an absurd statement on many
    levels. I only bring it up in light of your racial comment.

    Look forward to
    your reply Roger.

  • Roger Harris

    What if instead of tweeting the picture she had instead sent the picture and her complaint to the CEO of PlayHaven via email and the developer had been fired for it?

  • Roger Harris

    “Expectations of privacy is a fluid thing. Context matters.”

    If I am on a bus having a conversation, should I expect that conversation to be private?

    I’ve looked into the photography issue somewhat, the venue did not say no photography (as I pointed out PyCon added that after the fact). I have been on film in a hallway conversation at a conference, my picture has been taken many times at conferences. I am pretty sure it is OK to take pictures at conferences. I think she did have the right to snap the picture. Now comes the question of can she have posted it publicly? Again, the video was displayed publicly, as were pictures. Now that could be something that I agreed to as part of the conferences, I honestly do not remember. However it is also likely that you can post pictures publicly. So now would it not come down to intent? Had she made a blog with the same picture about some cool people she met at PyCon would there be a case to sue her? Again, I don’t know, I am asking. I am assuming that the crux of your argument is her mal-intent. Hoever, as you correctly point out, none of us know the full text of the jokes, yet you seem to be divining her motives for posting the picture to twitter out of thin air. Seems to be that you are willing to make assumptions on one hand, but not on the other. Clearly I would expect a lawyer defending their client to be biased towards the side that made their client look good, but in an article offering up a legal opinion (or at least a legal spin on the opinion, shall we say) shouldn’t it be less biased?

    “Once she decided to avail herself of a self-remedy (posting the pic on Twitter) – she really had no cause to then go to the PyCon staff.”

    She went to the PyCon staff by posting the picture – that was how she directed the PyCon staff to the situation. It seems artificial to try and separate a single action into two. The real issue that you are pointing out, I assume (please correct me if I am wrong), is that her method of pointing it out was improper. Reading the original CoC you are correct, she had other specified ways to report the incident and she chose to report it in a way not listed, which would be wrong, IMO.

    “By the way, don’t get too tripped up on the language the respective employers used in their public statements”

    I take everything anyone says with a grain of salt, especially when the topic is something that could be used in court :-)

    “As to the timing of the photography clause, it really doesn’t matter. PyCon rebuked her actions.”

    As they rebuked the joke makers actions. If you are saying that it is proof that she was in the wrong because she was rebuked than he also was in the wrong because he was rebuked. I was not aware the rebuking was the legal standard for being guilty of an action.

    “one that cannot confront two people for making remarks that offended her.” If you read the whole blog she posted you will find a reference to a “Skirt” joke – see how she handled that at the same conference. Clearly she can choose other options, you can ask yourself why she chose the one she did for the dongle joke. I am not excusing her actions, just providing some context for her actions.

    I’m not going to comment on the adult/child/DDoS/etc… that is all sorts of silliness that never should have happened.

    It seems to me that they didn’t fire her until the DDoS was made, thus she was fired for the DDoS not her actual actions – the key part being “In the end, the consequences that resulted from how she reported the conduct put our business in danger.” So, no DDoS, no firing based on what they said there. I twas the “consequences”, read DDOS, that got her fired, not her action to begin with. If she were fired for her actions then there would be no need to bring that up. However, as you said, don’t put too much into what they say, but in this case it looks pretty bad for them.

    I do have one question though. Had the men in question been making racial remarks and the exact same thing happened (twitter, DDoS, etc…) should she still be fired in your legal opinion?

  • Harry S

    John,

    Thanks for the very reasonable analysis.

    Yours is the first detailed look at a very important point that most people haven’t caught on to – from both the aspects of liability and management, you’ve got to be very, very careful about the actions you take and how you represent your employer in public, be it via Twitter or in person. I’ve said this elsewhere, but to me the deathblow to Ms. Richards came when she sent out a tweet about Sendgrid supporting her. If I was the CEO and I had an employee contribute to creating this mess send that out, I’d have gone through the roof

    Based on Sendgrid’s comments made when she was terminated she was clearly misrepresenting the company’s position. While it’s only a guess, prior to that I’d imagine that her managers tried to work with her to find a mutually satisfactory solution here that was in both her best interest and the company’s best interest, and getting into a flame war on Twitter and elsewhere was probably not part of that counseling.

    I don’t think it’s any coincidence that her termination followed the next day. To me, Ms. Richards’ biggest problem in getting hired elsewhere will be that she’s now got the reputation of not being a team player or easy to manage, and that’s got very little to do with her talents and opinions. You can be opinionated but how you express that opinion is just as important as its content.

    My bet will be that this will be litigated. While I think you’re right, there are plenty of attorneys who disagree and who have already gone to the media on this, and that tells me at least someone will be out there filing shortly if one or more of the parties wants to try. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’d be in anyone’s best interests to do so, but that’s what people find out the hard way.

  • johnvpetersen

    Roger..

    I appreciate your candor. I can clear some things up for you. First, let’s separate the pure legal issues from the CoC. Ms. Richard’s did not have the right to snap and post the picture on Twitter. You are right, they were not in a hallway, alone, engaged in a private conversation. Expectations of privacy is a fluid thing. Context matters. She had a right to appropriately confront them verbally. She had no right to take it beyond the perimeter of where the issues was confined. There were actually two perimeters. 1 is the specific location. 2 is the conference itself. Once she decided to avail herself of a self-remedy (posting the pic on Twitter) – she really had no cause to then go to the PyCon staff. The CoC existed to aid attendees. She elected to not avail herself of that procedure. Of course, the other legal issue is the harms way she put her employer in. By the way, don’t get too tripped up on the language the respective employers used in their public statements. They have to be very careful about what they say and how they say it – both legally and perhaps more importantly, from a business standpoint.
    As to the timing of the photography clause, it really doesn’t matter. PyCon rebuked her actions. Also note that the CoC leaves a little wiggle room for discretion on the part of PyCon. The document needs to be drafted in a more effective manner. I’m going to volunteer and draft them something that at the very least, takes the CoC out of controversy. These magic words are important: “Including, but not limited to….” That’s what you say when you don’t want to be boxed into a corner.
    Clearly for many, this is a very emotional issue. To reiterate, nobody had to lose their job – had everybody acted like adults. The two guys didn’t need to say what they said. Ms. Richards didn’t need to act as she did. Unfortunately for her, whatever victim status she had, she lost. For sure, in technology, women are often victimized by sexist and insensitive remarks. Let’s remember too that men can as well. Perhaps somebody says/writes something that offends another’s religious beliefs. That, IMO, is no less offensive. This is why it is difficult to try and legislate behavior, whether it is through a CoC or laws for that matter.
    By the way, do you know what the real purpose of the CoC is? It’s not to police people. Rather, it’s to give the conference organizer a little more ammo to kick somebody out for behavior the organizer deems is not in the best interest of the event.
    Being more candid, I have to tell you, I have a hard time thinking that a person who posts a YouTube video stating very affirmatively that “Black girls are better” is not a shrinking wall flower – one that cannot confront two people for making remarks that offended her. By the way, what were those remarks Mr. Harris? You say that I really have my facts wrong here. In fact, I have the relevant facts right as to my argument and point. And the one thing I’ve consistently said is that we don’t know for sure what they said. If that has been reported and verified, I’m not aware of that. Like it or not, those two guys had rights. And one right they had was to privately apologize for private comments (that BTW, were not made to her, but nevertheless, she heard them.) They didn’t need to be publically shammed. By the way, Ms. Richard’s had no right to hijack the forum. That is no better than what she is accusing these guys of. Also, there is no mention that these guys were disruptive to the entire room. They apparently were disruptive to her, and for that, it should have been handled quietly. That’s how adults handle things.
    Last word, given some of the comments I’ve received, I am reminded again how there is a stark lack of maturity in the software development world. Perhaps I don’t see it as much because I tend to congregate with adults, not children. A lot of this is directed at the extremes. Those who send DDOS attacks to SendGrid, make death threats, harass, etc. Nothing but a bunch of children. But so too are those that want to just chuck these two guys under the bus, giving her a free pass.
    Hope this clarifies things for you Mr. Harris. If not, then you are free to leave it.

  • Roger Harris

    As a lawyer I would expect you to be up on the facts.

    “I got news for you… the only party we are sure that violated this is Ms. Richards. The code specifically calls out photography.”

    They added that clause in AFTER this whole affair.

    You get a few other things “wrong” in your article as well:

    - They were having a private conversation – no, the conversation was being held while seated in a large conference room. What expectation of privacy should they have in such a situation? You make it sound like they were in a hall way somewhere.

    - Reporting the incident to the PyCon staff is not appropriate – given that they have their code of conduct, and the code of conduct was being violated, I’d disagree. However you are the lawyer, however you seem to be factually challenged, so I honestly don’t know what to believe (and despite the sarcastic tone I am serious). Also if the same thing happened in her work place who should she have gone to?

    - She did have a right to be offended – that is inconsistent with your earlier statement that it was a private conversation. If it were a private conversation she would not have heard it and thus would not have been in a position to be offended.

    - only her, the two guys and maybe one or two others know what the precise words were – again, inconsistent with a private conversation.

    - There is such a thing as a First Amendment last I checked – what does the law say about the First Amendment rights for a private corporation? Are a persons First Amendment rights absolutely protected in a prviate corporation? Serious question.

    - She knew and intended a certain level of a negative outcome to these two gentlemen. – You base that on what? She also could have posted their picture so that the P{yCon staf could find them and intended no negative outcome. You are making an a assumption.

    - I understand that PyCon has modified their code of condut (sic) – yet you could not be bothered to look up the change, the one where you assert that “the only party we are sure that violated this is Ms. Richards. The code specifically calls out photography.”, which was, wait for it, the change that they made!

  • mumble

    Donglegate Controversy Yields Only One Winner: GitHub

    It seems that Adria Richards was one of those behind introducing the PyCon CoC in the first placed, so it occurred to me to wonder if, to advance that cause, she were predisposed to be on the lookout for violations and thus to maybe see violations that weren’t really there.

    Back in the day, running the conference was subordinate to the topic of the conference, and no CoC needed. Nowadays, it seems that the running of the conference is itself the bigger deal, comparable to HR having become the biggest department, even if they don’t make any of the widgets you’re in business to make.

  • john

    How can any sane adult be honestly offended by the word dongle?

  • http://twitter.com/techlunatic Rohan Pawale

    >>She doesn’t have the same luxury.
    Well, she choose to give it up voluntarily by behaving irresponsibly, and this is not about the Pycon event either.

    He is a developer, he can continue being functional even if he didn’t have a social media account but Adria on the other hand, is a PR person whose employment depends on her iconic image in the social media, which she chose to tarnish. Although, that was not the only objectionable material found on her, she has been fired for repeated instances of promoting sexism and racism very vocally, and consistently, long before the Pycon event. Those slurs are actually very damaging, and invite legal liabilities. I have documented some of them here : http://b.qr.ae/WLkDiB

  • http://twitter.com/KevinSGoff Kevin S. Goff

    John, I agree with you. (And just to clarify, it was the specific comments from EE_Mom in that webpage that I thought were particuarly good).

    Personally, I don’t know if I’d ever take a picture and post it/make it available unless the picture was one of good will (pic of a child, friend, etc.) or I needed proof that some horrible/illegal act had taken place. Clearly that wasn’t the case here. The pic itself has ZERO context and the posting of it DOES NOT advance any constructive cause – the possible reasons for posting it go back to your original message about “unclean hands”. I won’t say she posted it to get the guy fired, but I do not accept that posting it would advance any positive cause.

    I’m not defending the bad manners/dirty comments by the 2 guys. I speak at plenty of community sessions and a few conferences and I sure would not want any attendee behaving in a way that cause disrupt or discomfort – be it someone making dirty jokes or anything else. But there were better ways to handle that, and she made a very improvident choice.

    One final comment – your right, the “brogrammer” culture is not acceptable. I sure wouldn’t want my daughter to have to endure double-entendre wisecracks about dongles. Having said that…

    There are other cultures as well – something I see too frequently in public speaking situations is someone either heckling another speaker or attending a session for purposes of trying to sabatoge the speaker and/or the topic. I’ve never been a perpetrator or a victim of this, but I’ve seen it. I’ve known otherwise very good/talented developers/speakers whose behavior at public sessions/conferences was terrible. So while we all wish this sitaution hadn’t occured – and I agree with comments that this is a very sad week for our profession – maybe our “take-away” is a reminder that everyone should behave like adults (which 99% of people do) and should handle the other 1% a bit more intelligently.

  • johnvpetersen

    There was no constitutional violation here. The First Amendment issues I brought up was a bit pre-emptive as to possible knee jerk ordinaces and laws. Besides..she’s paying a heavy price. The guy will likely slip back to obscurity. She doesn’t have the same luxury.

  • johnvpetersen

    Her company cited that her pre-emptive public tweet with the picture was the factor that required them to terminate her. Not surprising as it made the matter public. For conferences, the legal status of an attendee is that of a licensee. Conferences should always disclaim the acts of third parties, that they are not responsible for their acts. Like any license, it can be revoked for cause at the descretion of the licensor (the conference organizer). There’s a difference between being able to sue and whether you should sue. The bigger point is that under some lightly different circumstances, there could have been real liability here. Note this too – we don’t know precisely what the guys said. I find it interesting that both guys work at the same place, but only one of them got fired. Must of been on someting like corrective action already.

  • vinull

    I John, I’m glad to see you share some legal light on this issue. Like Joseph K Young I’ve been following this closely (partly because as the former CodeStock organizer I’m interested to know what the role is of the conference).

    I agree with Joseph though that your view Adria should not have contacted the event organizers is wrong. I paid attention in my HR classes to know it doesn’t have to be directed at someone to be harassment and it is not correct to put the burden of confrontation on the one being harassed. Contacting the PyCon staff first was completely an appropriate choice, and PyCon did have a Code of Conduct which I’ll assume getting a ticket meant accepting and agreeing to it. (I think this age of one click contracts is a little insane, but that’s another topic).

    I’ve yet to get a solid breakdown of events. It seems the more places that cover the story, the more facts get left off. From the posts made by the people there it seems they had a conversation before any sexual jokes were made, and that the “I’d fork his repro” comment was made in that conversation. After some unknown amount of time later the “big donggle” comment was made, then the photo taken and the tweets sent. The event organizers then spoke with Adria, then with the two men. I believe the men also said they apologized to the staff and I believe Adria has apologized as well for the firing.

    I think this is important because many are running on the assumption she was just sitting in front of them and eavesdropping. You may also want to keep this in mind when you cross examine Adria, these two guys were well aware of her at this point and that she could hear their conversation. (btw, in the movie version where I’m playing the other lawyer I will get dismissed that youtube video as irrelevant)

    I do agree with you that Adria was wrong to publicly tweet the photo and identity of the men involved. Tweeting to alert staff is a grey area, but I’d say that would be okay given it’s a comment and encouraged method to get in touch with staff at an event. The mess that surrounds this event comes from the tweet with the photo, with out that it would have been a very different story if reported at all. It sounds like the guy who was fired had multiple issues and this was the final one so he may not have much of a case if those other issues were also harassment complaints. Plus if you think his rep is bad now, just wait until he is the guy who sued a woman not over the harassment claim (which looks to be legit) but over the fast she went public with it. Sorry John, but he’s better off with calling up Herman Cain for lawyer recommendations here!

  • Pingback: Good blog about the Adria/PyCon/Dongle offense saga | Stephen Flanders on the web

  • http://twitter.com/techlunatic Rohan Pawale

    Great post. Although it makes me wonder why the guys in question apologized and rolled over when they could (should) have filed a lawsuit for the breach of their privacy. This was an exponential escalation of the matter and they should have taken legal recourse. What I fail to understand is how could a guy who was violated in such an unconstitutional manner manage to stay so complacent as to apologize instead of litigate. It’s like saying “Ok, you violated my privacy and took my job, but please accept my apology because we were sitting close enough for you to be able to eavesdrop, which is totally our mistake”

  • http://twitter.com/techlunatic Rohan Pawale

    Thank you for shedding light on the legal aspect of privacy laws John. I have linked your article from a fairly upvoted Quora discussion thread about the said issue where people have been pouring in their inputs. In case anybody might want to check it out : http://b.qr.ae/WLkDiB

  • johnvpetersen

    Kevin..

    One thing the world is full of – idiots. The DDOS attacks, the death threats, all inexcusable and all illegal. And yet here we are. At the end of the day, it’s up to people, to act like adults.

    As to this part of the blog post you cite:

    **
    In her blog post, Richards said she decided not to address the men directly because she “was a guest in the Python community and as such, I wanted to give PyCon the opportunity to address this.”

    **

    That’s BS.. If she really meant this, she never would have made her first Tweet. She really has no credibility in this regard. She preemptively made sure that PyCon could never exclusively address the issue.
    I agree.. EE_Mom made good points.

  • johnvpetersen

    Ginmar…

    One of us didn’t go to law school, and it wasn’t me. You are about to learn that lesson the hard way, due to your tone.

    As to the doctrine of clean hands:

    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/clean+hands+doctrine

    As to the First Amendment: My point had to do with possible legislation that some could conjure up. At no point did I ever imply that Ms. Richard’s could ever infringe on these guy’s 1st Amendment Rights.
    Now…what exactly was your point? Try again…

  • http://twitter.com/LenFirewood Len Firewood

    David you are obviously of the mind that women are to be treated with kid gloves and are a fan of microcontrolling behaviour etc. I am not, I think women are far more robust and probably better than most men when it comes to verbal put downs.
    If someone is being disruptive and wont desist fine throw them out etc. but Adria was not addressed by those guys and from her own words what they were talking about was some double etendre at best, utter trivia and it saddens me that they even had to apologise for it.
    Adria as a “brave” example was how to be a hypocritical prude and busybody and that is the last kind of lesson that girls need to learn unless you think a poisoned and tense atmosphere is “healthy” between men and women at conferences.

  • VinnyFromIndy

    I will offer that if Ms Richards truly sees herself as Joan of Arc, she really should read to the end of the story to find out how that all worked out for Joan. Cheers!

  • http://twitter.com/KevinSGoff Kevin S. Goff

    John, I generally agree with your comments. I’ve been catching up on all the details, and it’s sad and even pathetic how far this has gone. If I read the reports correctly, Adia’s former company got hit with DDOS attacks – unreal.

    I read some comments on a website that I thought were particularly intesting – a perspective you don’t hear enough of, and one worth sharing. Read the comments from “EE_Mom”. She raises some very good points.

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2416945,00.asp

    Kevin

  • Pingback: The Match that Lit Donglegate

  • http://www.facebook.com/ginmar.rienne Ginmar Rienne

    “She got herself fired”? Nice victim-blaming. Of course you have completely missed or ignored the fact that the dude’s own company stated this incident was the final straw. As for the rest, it’s such a stew of half-assed brogrammer bullshit, one scarcely knows where to begin. Here’s a tidbit: the First Amendment doesn’t apply here, because she didn’t infringe on their free speech. That’s not what that Amendment does. If you can’t get that, it certainly explains the rest.

    There’s no such doctrine as the ‘clean hands’ thing you pulled out of your ass, but there IS a long history of assholes attacking women who’ve been victimized in some sexual way, as you so ably demonstrated.

    It ought to be shockibg that you omitted all the racist death and rape threats that have been directed at her, not to mention the DDOS attack that led her job to buckle down before threats and fire her. It ought to be. I wish it were. But you guys sure have lowered the bar. Bros before hos never was a high standard, now it’s positively subterranean. Congrats.

  • johnvpetersen

    **
    She could have handled the situation a lot better and as a representative of her employer and based on her former companies mission statement she did not act accordingly.

    **

    One of my points precisely.

    **
    I have trouble with that initial tweeting of their pic… I just can’t get over that. Everything else including contacting PyCon to remedy the situation I understand. Not the initial tweet.

    **

    Again, we agree.

    **
    I understand her not wanting to confront them directly. Things can escalate rapidly depending on who you are confronting.
    **
    That was her prerogative…one she did not avail herself of.
    As to the community, idiots and morons will be idiots and morons. We can’t control that.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeKiddYoung Joseph K Young

    Did she get a raw deal… From the community yes, from her employer no. I would have fired her as well. She could have handled the situation a lot better and as a representative of her employer and based on her former companies mission statement she did not act accordingly.

    I have trouble with that initial tweeting of their pic… I just can’t get over that. Everything else including contacting PyCon to remedy the situation I understand. Not the initial tweet.

    I understand her not wanting to confront them directly. Things can escalate rapidly depending on who you are confronting.

  • johnvpetersen

    Great context Joseph. Much appreciated.
    Let me ask you this..did the guy deserve to lose his job? No. Should she have lost her job because she reported something? No.. So then, how did we get here? It’s because of how she did certain things. How she made it public. She was offended? I get that. Was what they said offensive? She was offended, and that is good enough for me. Can you really go through life calling the cops everytime something offends you? No, you can’t.
    Joseph, my basic point is this – where a scalpel would have sufficed, she used a chain saw. And legally, she created potential problems for herself and her former company. I guarantee you Joseph, this is not the first time she’s heard offensive comments. That doesn’t justify anything.
    The one thing we do control is how we react. We can’t control how others act. We can try to teach and inform. She could have played the role of teacher – to ask them to stop. If that didn’t work, she could have gone to staff – with clearly marked shirts. This didn’t need to blow up as a public spectacle. Had it been private, she’d still have her job, she’d could look in the mirror with a lot of pride for standing up.
    Sometimes Joseph, the most courageous things we do are things the general public doesn’t see. Often times, those victories are for us…and only us.
    BUT…
    When you take it public, in the arena – and are trying to make a political statement – then it gets a bit more dicey. It’s not for the faint of heart.
    I appreciate the dialog.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeKiddYoung Joseph K Young

    i would also like to say that your insight and this discussion is much appreciated John.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeKiddYoung Joseph K Young

    You made a good point John but maybe if you had more facts you would lean more towards the comments being inappropriate. Everyone is just stating the fact that she tweeted their picture. The series of events were a lot longer and more involved than that. The situation last well over 40 minutes. It is said that the comments were continuous and that Ms. Richards tweeted the PyCon staff for help. They removed the individuals and had a word with them. After the staff spoke with the two in question the PyCon staff then tweeted Ms. Richards and thank her for bringing the situation to their attention.

  • johnvpetersen

    I’ll remember that.

  • johnvpetersen

    The code of conduct had phone numbers. She didn’t need to tweet their picture. She could have pointed them out. It’s about the remedy. I would hope that when Ms. Richards went down this road, she was not seeking to get these guys fired. One is entitled to the least amount of remedy to effect justice. Which tweet came first. The one that sparked the controversy or the report to PyCon? Either way, it really doesn’t matter.
    Tell me Joseph, do you think she got a raw deal here?

  • johnvpetersen

    I’m not giving them a pass. That said. we don’t know what was said. Doesn’t that matter? The only thing we see from the outside is Ms. Richard’s response. There’s a Latin phrase: ergo hoc propter hoc – after this, therefore, because of this. Applied here, because she was offended, therefore, what they said was offensive or what she said they said.
    Joseph, we’re better than that.

  • K Chase

    great article. take out the overzealous double !! after irony at the end. makes you look a little too excitable, belying your expertise level in law (and coding).

  • http://twitter.com/JoeKiddYoung Joseph K Young

    I don’t understand why everyone is so willing to give these guys a pass. I guess you just have to experience harassment. How can you to blow off their comments as them being a pair of chuckle heads? They were not watching TV. They were at a professional conference.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeKiddYoung Joseph K Young

    Hi Mr. Petersen, thanks for your perspective. I have been following Ms. Richard’s tweets and reading other articles for the past couple of days. Your blog post has educated me on the legal ramifications on taking certain actions.

    I also feel that she would have been better served confronting those two gentlemen in person than tweeting about their comments. Yet I also understand why she would not confront them in person. With that being said I have to defend her right to feel offended by those comments. I have read a lot of comments on her tweet wall and comments in other blogs stating that she should not have been bothered by the comments and to “grow a pair”, mind her own business etc.

    I have attended several conferences and as a black male in the field I have had to endure race jokes etc. Some of the jokes were directed at me and some were not. The most offensive comment I have heard was not directed at me. It was really rough. The comment not being directed at me does not lesson the sting. I did not confront them… that would have created a hostile environment and I am often the only black in attendance at some of those conferences. So I just keep my mouth shut and press on. It sucks to have to hear these off color jokes. Especially since I served my country honorably in the armed forces. I often think to myself I made sacrifices so these assholes can have the freedom to act ignorant.

    I want to be judge based on my intellect but I cannot take off my skin. Just like woman cannot hide the fact that they are female. Are most of the comments directed at me, no. Do I consider it a form of harassment, most definitely yes. Why is it any different when Ms. Richards hears sex related jokes even though they were not directed at her? It is still a form of harassment.

  • johnvpetersen

    Well…if it’s baffling to you, I’ll do my level best to explain.

    Ms. Richard’s was the only party here who engaged in actionable behvior. In other words, of the two primary groups, the two guys and Ms. Richard’s, she’s the only one who did something that one could be sued for. And as a result, she also made her company liable. She over-reacted. As a result, she may have chilled others into not acting at all.

    Rather, she should have either handled it herself or avail herself of the Code of Conduct procedures. If she didn’t get relief from that, she then should have gone to her company as a sponsor to deal with the conference organizers. That would have been an effective and mature approach. Remember this as well – we don’t know exactly what the guy said. The only thing we know is what she did. You have to know the entire context – and we don’t know that. Given the facts, there must be a presumption that she overreacted. I’ll grant you that it’s a rebuttable presumption, but to do that, we would have to know what the guys said. What exactly was the joke?

    **
    she affected change toward the goals of a new standard of professionalism that is recognized by many, as the old standard.
    **
    No…she didn’t. If anything, she is the most unprofessional actor here because what she did was under the pre-text of professionalsim. Are these two guys likely a couple of chuckle-heads with a bad sense of humor? Perhaps. But for that, all you have to do is turn on the TV. We are surrounded by it. Look at Ms. Richard’s You-Tube videos. In those videos, she doesn’t appear to be thin skinned. It appears these guys WERE NOT talking to her. She thurst her ear into their conversation – and then took a picture of them and then tweeted it. She did that for a purpose – to see something bad happen to them. That’s vengance and from our chairs in the peanut gallery, we still don’t know what these guys actually said.
    So…still baffled???

  • johnvpetersen

    It is interesting that the topic had not come up before. She’s could have a difficult time finding work. Then again, she may have an easy time. That’s really beside the point. The guy didn’t deserve to lose his job. She completely over-reacted and the fact is, when it comes to actionable behvior, she’s the only one that engaged in that. And don’t forget, there’s liability for her company – who was also a conference sponsor. It’s a very real liability that exists.

  • johnvpetersen

    Hi David..

    I have to tell you, I’ve been going to tech conferences for over 20 years. I’m primarily in the .NET Space and I think that demographic is a bit older in age. I’m a Microsoft MVP and at the summit, there are a lot of women and I have to say that as a rule, they are treated with the utmost respect and consideration. Candidly, and using the Python community as an example, you have a bit of a maturity problem. Codes of Conduct are at best, a feel good mechanism – especially in the conference circuit. They don’t regulate much of anything. I’ve read the PyCon Code of Conduct. https://us.pycon.org/2013/about/code-of-conduct/. All sounds good, but it really has no teeth. It’s for the most part, marketing fodder. You have to ask that if the Code of Conduct was that much on the minds of people, then why didn’t Ms.Richard’s take refuge under that? At the end fo the day, it’s descretionary. Play it out. She heard something she didn’t like. Had she reported, they would have told her there was nothing they could do. I promise you, had PyCon tried to eject those two guys based on her words alone, they could have been sued for a full refund. That’s how the real world works.

    She certainly wasn’t being harrassed. Ironically, there is a strong argument that she harrassed them by posting their picture on Twitter.

    Here’s the defintion of harassment per the code:

    **
    Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.
    **
    I got news for you… the only party we are sure that violated this is Ms. Richards. The code specifically calls out photography. We know she did that. What we don’t know for sure is exactly what these guys said.
    I agree there are problems. I am in no way naive about them. I’m also an adult, a lawyer, a 20+ year software professional….

  • http://twitter.com/JoeKiddYoung Joseph K Young

    Well said.

  • http://twitter.com/DRMacIver David R. MacIver

    “They are not there to police what people say.”

    No, they actually are. There’s a code of conduct, which includes what people are allowed to say, and their job includes enforcing said code of conduct. They have updated their code of conduct around public disclosure, but the behaviour of the men in question was a violation of the code of conduct as it stood at the time.

    In general, tech conferences can be a very hostile environment for women, and this is one of the many problems women in tech face. The pycon code of conduct is at least partly designed to try to alleviate that, and I think it’s laudable that they’re doing it. Saying “I would always suggest to any conference organizer to NOT get into the
    business of policing their attendees. Rather, I’d rely on the venue
    staff for that.” is basically naively ignoring all the context that lead to the code of conduct and denying the existence of a very real problem.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=669490959 Greg Bulmash

    Didn’t even think of her personal liability, but then again, there will also be the question of what she’d have left to go after once she was done defending a suit, particularly if she can’t get a new job.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jack-Crow/1562184375 Jack Crow

    > Adria Richards did more to set that effort back than the two guys she was offended by

    Where you come to this conclusion, is really baffling. I challenge you to explain how this ensures anything but a reduction in the behavior she opposed in the settings she opposed it. This was a relatively arbitrary venue and time, but she affected change toward the goals of a new standard of professionalism that is recognized by many, as the old standard.

  • johnvpetersen

    Blame for what? Blame for the guy getting fired? Yes, I do put that on her, just as it was her fault that she got herself fired. She didn’t have to shut up and just take it. She could have confronted the two guys. That actually would have shone a decent amount of courage. But for her actions, Ms. Richards is no longer in a place where she can be an example to girls in tech. I can also tell you this, if the situation was reversed, I dare say the same thing would have happened. In the regard, there is complete gender equality here. What Adria did IS NOT going to change the brogrammer culture. She made herself the story – when that wasn’t the story. In the process, she made herself entirely irrelevant. It’s unfortunate to hear that she has received threats and has had to deal with other kinds of BS. Her overreaction however, brought that on herself.
    My big issue was the legal ramifications. She in fact has exposed herself and her former company to a lawsuit by both guys she photographed. The fact is, while what they said was offensive to her, the one guy didn’t deserve to lose his job or to have his picture plastered on twitter with her comments. She took what was private and made it public. She’s paying a heavy price for it. I dare say, the guy is going to have an easier time getting another job than she is – because she made herself the story when her intent was to make these guys and what they said the story. The vast majority of folks won’t care what they did. And ironically, women will be her harshest critics.

  • obviously

    Once you let other people determine how you feel about yourself, you have lost one of your most important freedoms.

    One of the most liberating feelings you’ll ever experience is when you finally quit letting others control how you feel about yourself.

    Adria Richards will hopefully learn the above lesson and earn the mental freedom she seems to so dearly need.

  • xelius

    Really – you put the blame on her?

    “Learn from it folks.”

    Like to shut up and just take it the next time? Exactly how would that forward the work of getting more girls into tech? Its the brogrammer-culture-crap that needs to change . And for that to happen people needs to call it out. Like Adria did.

  • http://karlaporter.com/ Karla Porter

    The HR community agrees with you – We have been discussing this topic in depth. I ran across your post and want to thank you for taking the time to spell it out………..