But let's turn our attention to Mr Torvalds. The man rationalizes his behavior with a silly declaration:
“I like offending people, because I think people who get offended should be offended.”Yeah, well. As rationalizations go, it's pretty inane. I'd use the word "petty", too. Another saying comes to mind:
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.Mr Torvalds clearly hasn't thought through his proclamation. I can't say I'm surprised; people who are likely to use such banal platitudes often cannot think through the implications of those aged chestnuts. Would Mr Torvalds agree, for instance, that an African-American deserves to be offended if someone calls him "boy"? Or says someone is "uppity"? Or that a Jew is being silly if someone calls him or her a "kike"? There's a laundry list of phrases that can be used to offend different groups and individuals; does he believe that they all "should be offended", simply because they are offended by insults?
Through that chat, it occurred to me that the misogyny I was seeing wasn't the usual misogyny so many people in IT know. Sure, some of it was the anger of inadequate boys, pretending to be macho men, but a lot of it had a source. It isn't, of course, particularly difficult or challenging to figure out the source.
Mr Torvalds says he likes yell at people because it's "cathartic". For him, sure. He gets to vent his frustration and appear to be an hyperactive bully as well. I don't think he actually cares about the affect his tightly controlled bullying has on others. He probably doesn't give it a moment's thought - there's a dearth of evidence for his having ever apologized for being rude or insulting. The scarcity of such evidence is, of course, because he never has. He never feels a need to be polite, or decent.
Recently Alan Cox, the number two man in Linux left the project; the timing of his resignation was just after being yelled at by Mr Torvalds. (In the pertinent email, Mr Torvalds is short, lecturing and dismissive. Noticeably, the man wasn't sexually insulting - I guess he keeps that little pleasure for those less important than he?) Mr Cox said his resignation wasn't because of the email, but the timing is too coincident. Perhaps Mr Cox simply had enough of Mr Torvalds? After all, there's only a certain amount of hectoring a person can voluntarily put up with!
Anyway, Mr Torvalds short temper is well known. So is his insulting manner. It's emulated and applauded by many, who use his disdainful proclamation as an excuse just as he does. What was quite interesting was how the excusing of the man's behavior changed from "oh, that's what he does" to "it's a metaphor". The justifications for the bullying had an eerie similarity to the arguments that Right wing Christians advance to defend their advocation of, and for, bullying. If it wasn't for that patronizing decree, they would be identical. The other difference is that the righteously pious get their advocation written into law, while it seems to be merely an accepted standard within the Linux community.
All in all, I can't say it was an impressive discussion. Watching people be crude buffoons has never been pleasurable; neither is trying to parse through strained arguments defending prejudice and (in some cases) bigotry. I don't imagine, for a minute, that Mr Torvalds is bothered by his worthless vitriol. I don't believe he cares that it is tawdry and demeaning to him and his victim; that his bullying is counter-productive. I think, to be honest, I think he revels in the attention it brings him.
C'est la vie and all that jazz.