In defense of being blunt and to the point

This is partly in response to Josh's blog entry Calling Bullsh*t in Open Source communities and Sarah Sharp's plea for No more verbal abuse. I think Linus Torvalds is being treated unfairly and is being abused for his frank, no bullsh*t, flowery quiky style of stating it. Many have accepted the axiom that Linus is a jerk, childish and needs to conform to the professional standard simply because we are too lazy to analyze the facts for ourselves and like many public figures Linus likes to give people a good show.

Quotes from Linus

"Because if you want me to "act professional," I can tell you that I'm not interested. I'm sitting in my home office wearing a bathrobe. The same way I'm not going to start wearing ties, I'm *also* not going to buy into the fake politeness, the lying, the office politics and backstabbing, the passive aggressiveness, and the buzzwords. Because THAT is what "acting professionally" results in: people resort to all kinds of really nasty things because they are forced to act out their normal urges in unnatural ways."

So I read that as "Let's lynch Linus, cause he refuses to wear a noose of the oppressor around his neck like everyone else". Any one of you who've worked in an oppressive office environment know EXACTLY what he's talking about.

In his Defense of being accused of being a verbal abuser and

"I definitely am not willing to string people along, either. I've had that happen too—not telling people clearly enough that I don't like their approach, they go on to re-architect something, and get really upset when I am then not willing to take their work."

I curse when there isn't any argument. The cursing happens for the "you're so f*cking wrong that it's not even worth trying to make logical arguments about it, because you have no possible excuse" case.

.. and sometimes people surprise me and come back with a valid excuse after all. "My whole family died in a tragic freak accident and my pony got cancer, and I was distracted". And then I might even tell them I'm sorry. No. Not really. Linus

Victim of his wrath defending him.

She simply doesn't agree with Linus brand of Tough love which is a brand that I share -- perhaps because I'm in the same age group as Linus.

So my plea is, please let us not get into the business of training people on the ART OF NICENESS and SENSITIVITY and studying the loop holes so that we can use that as a weapon to stab each other behind closed doors and private emails where NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU CRYING FOR HELP.

I think I am more qualified than most to judge verbal abuse and oppression when I see it. I'm the daughter of a black Nigerian man and a white American mother. I was born in Nigeria and spent my youth there. I've been traumatized all my life both verbally and physically from all sides for being different in all kinds of ways. This trauma is most often inflicted by women who've told me to be quiet because I do not have the social skills to grasp what is happening. My lesson learned is your oppressor may be someone that looks just like you (or thinks he/she understands what you are feeling) and your ally just MAY BE a purple dragon living in a cave wearing a bathrobe.

Lets analyze the facts. I don't think it was Linus' cursing -- that's just comic relief and Sarah did some herself. In fact Linus, doesn't curse or scream at strangers or newbies. He curses at people that he knows well. True he does go over at times, but everyone does. It wasn't so much even him saying this: (which he apologized for)
or this:

It was this:

So Greg, if you want it all to change, create some _real_ threat: be frank with contributors and sometimes swear a bit. That will cut your mail queue in half, promise!

Greg, the reason you get a lot of stable patches seems to be that you make it easy to act as a door-mat. Clearly at least some people say "I know this patch isn't important enough to send to Linus, but I know Greg will silently accept it after the fact, so I'll just wait and mark it for stable.

You may need to learn to shout at people.

and Sarah's response:

Seriously, guys? Is this what we need in order to get improve -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.


Sometimes the truth hurts, but sugarcoating it in niceties and polite language clouds the meaning at best and masks an underlying viciousness at worst.