What Bryan Lunduke Doesn't Understand


I’ve been watching Lunduke for a while on and off and here and there. I used to watch him regularly until he decided to put up a paywall for the majority of the stuff he produced. It seems antithetical to the messages he was trying to put out. There were some other contradictions to some of the principles he proudly claimed to have, but I digress.

My point is that I may have a bias against him, so please take that into account when reading this.

I’m currently watching his video Linux Sucks 2020 and I was pretty much on board with him entirely with his points until he got to the topic of the ousting of folks from the open-source projects that we all know and love.

He specifically mentioned about how Richard Stallman was ousted from the FSF (though mentioning that he technically resigned) and talked about how Linus Torvalds took a hiatus to reflect on some things he’s said in the past and needed therapy “becuase he was mean to people” (Lunduke’s words).

The Kicker

Where I really fell off the wagon with him on this topic was when he said that the reactions that people are having that lead to the ousting of founders (his emphasis, not mine) “makes so many people feel so unsafe”. I’ll get back to this statement in a moment, but let’s dissect some of the actual happenings which will help illustrate why the point is kind of ridiculous to make.

The time he says this is 1:05:37. I encourage you to listen to the emphasis he puts on this.

Technology Communities

There’s absolutely no denying that tech communities are primarily made up of straight-white-cis-males(SWCM). That’s an absolute fact. Because the communities (at least in the past, it’s getting better) are so homogenous, it’s statistically likely that there’s going to be at least some form of tribalism.

That comes with certain types of liberties and freedoms, and even some types of protections. As SWCM’s, you can often get away with saying sexist shit and it likely won’t ruin your career. You can more likely be homophobic and nobody will oust you for it. You could probably defend pedophiles and up until recently, that wouldn’t ruin your reputation(it should). There’s almost no limit on the types of speech you can make as a SWCM and likely as long as you’re not just sitting around doing fuck all with your life in regards to the project, you won’t face enough backlash to significantly restrict your contribution to the project.

This, of course is including the open-source communities that we know and love.

Feeling Unsafe

Now imagine you’re someone who has a disability, imagine you’re someone who has children, or even imagine you’re someone who has a nonbinary sexual or gender identity and you want to join one of these communities. Imagine that you want to make meaningful contributions and want to be able to discuss various aspects of a given project, either through email, over video/audio calls, or even in person.

How safe do you feel when someone like that is in a position of power? Not very.

Lunduke doesn’t realize that the folks who assembled the efforts to get these people removed from projects are the folks who felt unsafe in the first place. These folks are the ones who felt targeted, harassed, or demeaned by the likes of Linus Torvalds with his constantly homophobic insults, and the likes of Richard Stallman claiming that negative reactions to his abortion jokes scare women away (and not the abortion joke itself).

When people in positions of power make those around them feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or unwilling to participate, you can’t honestly say that without removing them, people would be more willing to participate. You can’t honestly say that by removing them, people are less willing to participate.

In short, Bryan Lunduke just doesn’t understand that not everyone has the same type of resolve and can take the same amount of abuse as he has. He also doesn’t understand that by asking folks to be tolerant of this type of behaviour, he’s also asking folks to subject themselves to the same abuse he’s been subjected to in the past during his experience in these communities.