Linux: Is Sarah Sharp a Social Justice Warrior?

In today's open source roundup: Sarah Sharp's resignation from Linux kernel development sparks charges that she is a Social Justice Warrior. Plus: A review of Android 6.0 Marshmellow. And will Google let Android apps run on Windows 10 Mobile?

Is Sarah Sharp a Social Justice Warrior?

Linux kernel developer Sarah Sharp quit recently after leveling charges of sexism and homophobia against the Linux kernel community. She explained her reasoning in a long post on her blog, but some Slashdot readers later exposed her use of a blocklist on Twitter and SJW tactics in some of her interactions with other developers.

Sarah Sharp explains why she left Linux kernel development:

Given the choice, I would never send another patch, bug report, or suggestion to a Linux kernel mailing list again. My personal boxes have oopsed with recent kernels, and I ignore it. My current work on userspace graphics enabling may require me to send an occasional quirks kernel patch, but I know I will spend at least a day dreading the potential toxic background radiation of interacting with the kernel community before I send anything.

I am no longer a part of the Linux kernel community.

This came about after a very long period of thought, and a lot of succession planning. I didn’t take the decision to step down lightly. I felt guilty, for a long time, for stepping down. However, I finally realized that I could no longer contribute to a community where I was technically respected, but I could not ask for personal respect.

I could not work with people who helpfully encouraged newcomers to send patches, and then argued that maintainers should be allowed to spew whatever vile words they needed to in order to maintain radical emotional honesty. I did not want to work professionally with people who were allowed to get away with subtle sexist or homophobic jokes. I feel powerless in a community that had a “Code of Conflict” without a specific list of behaviors to avoid and a community with no teeth to enforce it.

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Sharp's blog post spawned a long thread on Slashdot, and some of the readers there noted her use of a blocklist on Twitter and SJW strategies in some of her emails with other developers:

IamTheRealMike: ”It took a hell of a lot of digging, but it seems to have started with this thread [], way back in 2013.

Now, I'm all for professional communication, and emails can be easy to misinterpret, but this looks like a bit of an over-reaction. Someone commented that they send patches to Greg KH because Linus scares him, but added a winkey smiley afterwards, i.e. not really all that scary. Then Linus made a joke about Greg being big and squishing people that may or may not be playful or insulting, without knowing much about the relationship between these guys it's hard to say. Squish is hardly a word you use when you're really angry though.

And then Linus and Ingo gently tick off Greg and says he should be tougher, Linus says Greg is acting like a "door mat" and says "You may need to learn to say no to people". Ingo says "be frank with contributors and sometimes swear a bit". Probably this discussion would be held off list in a more traditional corporate environment to avoid embarrassing Greg (though "you are too nice" is not that embarrassing), but he takes it in his stride and agrees to be tougher.

OK, so far, just another day in open source land? Well, then Sarah Sharp flies off the handle and says:

Seriously, guys? Is this what we need in order to get improved -stable? Linus Torvalds is advocating for physical intimidation and violence. Ingo Molnar and Linus are advocating for verbal abuse.

Not *fucking* cool. Violence, whether it be physical intimidation, verbal threats or verbal abuse is not acceptable. Keep it professional on the mailing lists.

What the heck? The only thing she could be referring to this thread so far has been Linus talking about Greg being a giant who might "squish you without even noticing". Nobody could seriously interpret that as advocating for violence unless you were so unbelievably literal you'd be unable to handle ordinary conversations.

And then there's the conflation of "verbal abuse" with "violence". These are two words that mean very different things. And finally the assertion that by trying to make jokes (perhaps not very well), Linus and Ingo were being unprofessional. Not surprisingly, Linus had a problem with this claim.

Now I don't know, probably this could have been avoided if the discussion with Greg had been private. But it seems Sharp would have let rip at some other point if someone else made an off-colour joke. I can believe LKML is a tough environment, but this isn't the best evidence possible. Perhaps there have been other incidents, but as Sharp doesn't list any, it's hard to say.”

CajunArson: ”First Interesting point in that thread: The first person to start dropping f-bombs on other people is none other than Sarah Sharp. Who is using the uncivil and threatening language exactly?

Second interesting point: She doesn't seem to have a problem with a posting a rant about communications that seem to have literally nothing to do with her whatsoever. Nothing in that thread was directed at her or was even being abusive towards some other woman either.”

Kita: ”So she's a social justice warrior troll doing this for attention? Called it earlier. Expect her to have a Patreon account up within a few days, as well as a campaign started explaining why Linus is problematic and needs to be removed from Linux development soon, or how Linux needs a safe space special interest group so feminist coders can submit their commits without being threatened by people pointing out their code sucks. Because remember kids, criticism is "Cyber Violence. []"”

As an aside, she's a blockbot user, so yes, she most definitely is a SJW or a SJW ally:

(If you're blocked and have never even spoken with her, congratulations, you're a member of Randy Harper's blacklist, [] an list of white men, gamers, nerds, conservatives, KFC, President Obama, and other people Randy Harper and her radical feminist friends consider too "problematic" to be allowed to communicate with people in the tech industry.)

In short: She might be a gifted programmer, but she's a weak willed human being, and her having a professional freakout about Linus making a joke about being intimidating isn't surprising -- it's a calculated maneuver. Expect something else to come up soon -- as mentioned, Linus will be deemed too problematic to be allowed to remain in Linux, or the Professional Victims will demand special treatment for Women in Linux Development.

Curunir: ”What struck me about what she was trying to do, and I've seen others try to do the same thing, is to equate some comment or comments on a mailing list, or other post, as "violence". When I grew up we learned that "Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me." That is, they're just words, they are not fists or knives or guns. It's not "violence" to berate someone or use colorful language or anything else. It may "offend" you, but taking offense at something someone says is entirely subjective, and impossible to enforce, because you end up with "speech codes", banning words, and other asinine restrictions until everything is a euphemism or metaphor until no one knows what anyone is talking about any more.

Bullying used to mean you're getting physically intimidated, punched, kicked, assaulted or robbed regularly. Now it seems it's enough that someone said something that hurt your feelings. And people can get their feelings hurt by things that are totally NOT intended that way by the speaker, just because of the listener's history or viewpoint.

Equating speech to physical violence is a very dangerous trend that will not end well.”

Anonymous Coward: ”Men are blunt to each and will call you out on your bullshit to your face. Women, on the other hand, will do it behind your back and will be far more vindictive about it. That is the real difference.”

EpyT: ”Feminism presents it as a battle between male space or a female space. It's a false dichotomy. The hypocrisy is that feminists expect men to take the 'chivalrous' route and modify their interaction styles for women, yet asking women to reciprocate with some toughness and objectivity is 'oppressive' or 'misogynistic.' The net result is that men are driven out of areas where women have gotten their PC 'safe spaces' for their interaction and thinking styles because men do not do well there. Just ask a male nurse. Fighting discrimination with discrimination is not a solution.

I'm a fan of what works for a given environment and given group of people. The individuals making up the bulk of the effort are the ones who decide the culture simply because they are the most productive. Anything else would drive these productive individuals out and weaken the result. Linus and his lieutenants are far more productive than sarah sharp is, and she is not happy with the interaction style they set, so she goes. No big loss. She's welcome to either adapt to that or work on a different project. If her viewpoint is truly superior and her politics in line with reality, it should be a no brainer to fork the kernel and demonstrate this. The best contributors would flock to her and, in time, her branch would be the technically superior one. She should be showing us 'misogynists' how it's done instead of whining and stirring up shitstorms.”


”1. Locate or Create a Violation of the Narrative.
2. Point and Shriek.
3. Isolate and Swarm.
4. Reject and Transform.
5. Press for Surrender.
6. Appeal to Amenable Authority.
7. Show Trial.
8. Victory Parade.

SJWs are cowards. Even the slightest resistance early on is usually enough to stop the process. In this case, step 3 didn't materialize, so she's stuck repeating step 2.

Fortunately, Linus seems to be a natural. He values results over pretty much all else, and his results are currently running just about all meaningful computation and communication on and in the vicinity of this planet, so threats to withdraw approval don't mean shit to him.”

Oxdeadbeef: ”This isn't empowering women. This is arguing that they are weaker than men far more profoundly than any MRA red piller gamer gater misogynist could ever hope to accomplish.”

MagicMerlin: ”I was curious and did some research on this. I know Linus and some of the other guys can be a lot to take. However, after reading a lot of the posts Sarah made complaining about people and things, I started to get the feeling she's attention seeking and disruptive. She constantly brings up gender in irrelevant ways and appears to be the self styled 'girl kernel developer'. She also punches below the belt.

For example:

"*Snort*. Perhaps we haven't interacted very often, but I have never seen you be nice in person at KS. Well, there was that one time you came to me and very quietly explained you had a problem with your USB 3.0 ports, but you came off as "scared to talk to a girl kernel developer" more than "I'm trying to be polite"."

Linus tends to be very direct, as are a lot of important open source communities. The critical people are very busy and get frustrated when people display various kinds of incompetence. In fact, it appears to me that they were treating Sarah very gently precisely *because* she was a girl. Or maybe it was the email adress -- who knows.”

Jon3K: ”I think given the growing size of the kernel, it's inevitable that there will be more opportunities for poor code to be submitted. There's more humans involved, more lines of code and more opportunity for "drama". I think it was inevitable at some point. I think he intentionally makes an example out of people occasionally. I think it keeps people on their toes. It certainly will make people double check that code before submitting it for fear of being embarrassed.”

Savuporo: ”She tried some attention grabbing drama, got all SJWy, was briefly shot down, butthurt feelings etc. Now she quit.”

Bsolar: ”That's exactly what Linus *doesn't* want. "How to Win Friends and Influence People" is all about manipulating people, stroking their ego and trying to act in a way so that they like you. The underlying assumption is that you should change yourself to better accomodate other people's expectations. Linus already explained why he is completely against all of this in the first discussion with Sarah Sharp...”

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