Inside the mind of a gangster

The Open letter about unsafe Codes of Conduct has kicked up some questions from people who are still not sure if there is a problem or not.

Gangster is not a word to use lightly. It implies doing something very wrong, like creating or using false accusations to blackmail people. It usually implies there is more than one person involved, a gang.

The email below from the debian-private gossip network gives us the opportunity to have a closer look inside the mind of an enforcer. One of the reasons these people are so sensitive about the leaks from debian-private is because they have often let their guard down and revealed the way they really think is entirely inconsistent with their public statements about being open and welcome to diversity.

The first key point in the email is that Enrico Zini is actively thinking about how he has the power to destroy people's lives simply by using his title to rubber stamp the vendetta of the day. We can see evidence of him following through on this conspiracy in the falsification of a rape charge. If you look at the message he sent to ITWire, barely three days later, begging them to make their article more aggressive towards Appelbaum, what he does in practice is inconsistent with the words below where he pretends he doesn't want to do any harm. His email is basically a veiled threat to all of us, sprinkled with some crocodile tears.

The second key point is that Zini believes everybody else has to be "healed" to be like him. If people can't be like him they must be defective or sick in some way and they have to be completely ostracised. After a bit of this emotional blackmail some people will come back and swear total obedience to the gang. Debian outsiders can spot this stubborness from a mile away, many people turn their noses up at Debian when they come across somebody so intolerant and condescending.

The third key point is that Zini has been wound up by Russell Coker, an Australian. Australia has notoriously strict defamation laws and it would be very easy to prosecute Coker if he made a defamatory statement himself. Coker is basically encouraging somebody else to publish the rumors because he doesn't want to do it himself within the Australian jurisdiction.

It is a basic principle of leadership that if you want to create change in the world, it is far better to start by changing yourself. Zini is simply demonstrating the attitude that with a bit of emotional blackmail, people can be "healed" to be more like other Debianites. This is the culture war equivalent of terrorism.

Subject: Re: Expulsion of Jacob Appelbaum <error>
Date: Sun, 19 Jun 2016 14:26:31 +0200
From: Enrico Zini <>
To: Russell Coker <>
CC:, Debian Account Managers <>

On Sun, Jun 19, 2016 at 09:43:46PM +1000, Russell Coker wrote:

> Are we going to publish this fact as the Tor project did?


So far we have never announced expulsions publicly.

Personally, I've always tried to keep in mind that an expulsion belongs to the here and now, and a public announcement will potentially be googlable forever into the future, and although I feel like I can make a choice about someone's membership at this point in their and the project's life, I don't feel like I can make the choice of publishing something that could, in some faraway future, be a mark of shame haunting a healed person from their sick long gone past, showing up forever in recruiter searches.

I think that has made sense for most of the other people who have been expelled from Debian so far, although it's less of a case for Jacob, given that an announcement from Debian would be but one of the gazillion related things that would show up on an internet search about him for quite a long time indeed. There is the point of warning people about potential risks currently involved in dealing with Jacob, and for that I think that the personal testimonies that are out in the internet now do a far better job.


GPG key: 4096R/634F4BD1E7AD5568 2009-05-08 Enrico Zini <>

For contrast, compare to the highly biased stance Zini takes in this email sent three days later begging ITWire to make their article more averse towards Appelbaum.

Based on his own words in the first email, Zini clearly knows that sending these emails to the press will destroy Appelbaum's future but Zini does it anyway.

Subject: On coverage of Abbelbaum being "banned" from Debian
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2016 09:34:50 +0200
From: Enrico Zini <>

Dear Editor in Chief of iTWire,

you may want to do something about this article by Sam Varghese on Debian revoking membership of Jacop Appelbaum:

While the first part is factually correct in its DPL quote, the article ends with baseless hints of Debian and Tor having fallen victims to manipulations by GCHQ psyops.

I consider that to be psycological violence[1] against the various well known people who came out to report abuse, and I wish that news coverage about this situation could rather contribute to creating a community that encourages victims of abuse to speak up.

Quoting the DPL again, "In reaching their decision, the Debian Account Managers took into account the public disclosures from members of the Tor project and others, and first-hand accounts from members of the Debian community."

We are not talking about vague rumors spread by a couple of infiltrators, we are talking about first-person accounts provided by well known and respected members of both communities, with a track record of contributions of many years.

These people who had the guts to speak up deserve credit and respect, and the article published on your site gives them none.




The first person accounts were proven to be nothing but hearsay.

How are people Healed in Debian?

Enrico Zini, Debian, enforcing code of conduct