It is ironic that the first person to depart the Biden administration was sanctioned for threatening somebody else's career.
This week Marko Rodriguez went public with news that rogue members of the Apache Software Foundation had decided to persecute him for his commentary on social issues. The board had voted to reclassify satire as a form of prose that "borders" on hate speech. Either it is hate speech or it isn't. To suggest it "borders" on hate speech is a fudge. The sly comparison of these very different types of writing is simply a smear to hurt his career.
To put this in perspective, board members who disagreed with this defamation did not only vote against it but also choose to resign.
Around Valentine's Day, Brittany Higgins, a former employee of Australia's Minister for Defence went public with news about being raped on the ministerial sofa. The questions this woman raises are extraordinary, for example, if the Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds, can not defend those who work in her presence, how can we rely on her to defend our country?
Higgins chose not to name the accused publicly. It appears she wishes to focus attention on the culture and the cover-up. Two independent news organizations, True Crimes News Weekly and independent journalist Shane Olsen have identified a suspect. There is now a Twitter hashtag too. A Youtube video shows the former Attorney General, George Brandis, praising Bruce Lehrmann and other former staff in the presence of high court justices.
George Brandis (former Attorney General): All of us know how important staff are to us. We spend so much time together, mostly away from home. We share so many experiences that they become like a second family.
As the man departed days after the incident in 2019, it appears that the Government have had plenty of time to remove his name from virtually all official web sites although there is no super-injunction (yet) to prevent discussion of his identity.
Against this backdrop, Google admitted two female researchers subject to high-profile sackings may have been doing legitimate research. Like Rodriguez and Higgins, both of Google's female victims had been threatened to self-censor, they refused, they were shamed, they bravely chose to put their persecution in the public domain.
All these cases inevitably remind me of other cases, the growing body count in the free and open source software world.
Higgins' decision to go public helps us all see how a cover-up was built from day one. Her boss, Linda Reynolds, had suggested that pursuing a criminal justice complaint would destroy Miss Higgins' career. In effect, the victim was blackmailed to stay silent. This is the thread that draws all these cases of oppression together. In December 2018, two long standing volunteers in the free, open source software world, Dr Norbert Preining and I, revealed how we were subject to blackmail and coercion in our respective roles. In our cases, we both received the veiled threats in writing:
We are sending this email privately, leaving its disclosure as your decision (although traces in public databases are unavoidable)
In other words, they are saying that if we call out the coercive nature of their communications, they will seek to destroy us.
When you receive a threat like this from somebody with a history of publicly shaming people on a hideous scale, it really feels like they are holding a knife to your throat.
In my case, the community of volunteers and donors had clearly elected me as the fellowship representative so this blackmail was an attack on all those who voted. It was my duty to inform people and call it out.
The crimes were very different but the message seems to be the same: the organization must be protected at any cost. When those in authority do something wrong, the victims have to stay silent, grin and bear it or some gang will impose a bigger pain on the victim.
One volunteer sent me the following comments about Chris Lamb. Many people receiving copies of defamation have showed it to the survivors:
Volunteer: But I am scared that Lamb actually also hosed an application for a company in NY, a job related to Debian. If that has happened, and I can reasonably document it, I would consider a defamation law suit
When the leader of any organization, whether it is Apache, Debian or Google, uses the authority of their position to push defamation, it is like using the height of a bridge to stand above a freeway and drop bricks onto the cars underneath. Lamb may not fear consequences for his actions, his father is a barrister, Robert Lamb, who appears well qualified to stifle any volunteers seeking redress.