A conversation at a tech conference has resulted in two people being fired from their jobs. Adria Richards, a developer evangelist at SendGrid, overheard some sexist jokes at PyCon and tweeted about it, attaching a picture of the two parties and asking that PyCon staff speak with them. They did, and that should have been the end of it.
I tend to believe women when they say they have been subject to sexism, sexual harassment, racism, rape and violence. There’s simply no advantage to lying. False accusations happen incredibly rarely; 99 times out of 100, she’s telling the truth.
But even if Richards misunderstood the conversation, it’s barbaric and hateful to threaten her with rape and death. I’m of the opinion it’s never cool to threaten to rape or kill anyone, even convicted rapists and murderers. It should go without saying that the physical safety of someone whose Internet protocol you disagree with should never be in danger.
I also think that in most cases, and certainly this one, firing someone for making a joke — or for reporting it — is an overreaction. SendGrid’s CEO has responded to Richards’ dismissal, saying
To be clear, SendGrid supports the right to report inappropriate behavior, whenever and wherever it occurs.What we do not support was how [Richards] reported the conduct. Her decision to tweet the comments and photographs of the people who made the comments crossed the line. … A SendGrid developer evangelist’s responsibility is to build and strengthen our Developer Community across the globe. In light of the events over the last 48+ hours, it has become obvious that her actions have strongly divided the same community she was supposed to unite. As a result, she can no longer be effective in her role at SendGrid.
That’s a pretty pathetic excuse, if you ask me. An industry that already has a dearth of women proved that if you encounter sexism and want to keep your job, you’d better shut up.