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Carlos Fenollosa

Carlos Fenollosa

Engineer, developer, entrepreneur

Carlos Fenollosa — Blog

Thoughts on science and tips for researchers who use computers

Famous public figure in tech suffers the consequences for asshole-ish behavior

September 29, 2019 — Carlos Fenollosa

This last month, a very famous computer guy who regularly appears in public and has amassed a cultish-like following has been forced to step down due to pressure from journalists.

Let's make a list of all the unacceptable behaviours of Computer Guy:

Living in his office and disgusting smell

He is not really homeless, but Computer Guy used to sleep in his office.

Coworkers and friends reported that he reeked and would avoid contact with him.

Sexually harassing employees

It has been reported, even in video, that Computer Guy made inappropriate sexual utterances to their colleagues.

Of course, Computer Guy denied it.

Drug intake

Computer Guy is a known hippie, I mean, just look at his appearance.

He is not ashamed to admit that he has taken illegal drugs and that they are an important part of his life.

Psychological abuse to women

Not many people know this, but Computer Guy has a daughter which he denied for a long time.

Computer Guy basically abandoned his former partner who was pregnant with their daughter, denied her alimony, and even abused the child psychologically when she was 9.

Keeping payments from group projects for himself

In one of his projects, Computer Guy profited more that he had earned by lying to colleagues. Instead of fairly distributing the money from a project, he decided to take most of it for himself.

In a similar case, he denied fair compensation to an old friend of his.

Bad temper

All these examples can be summarized as: Computer Guy is an asshole who must be taken down.

Even though Computer Guy did nothing technically illegal, being such a big asshole must not be acceptable in our society and the right thing to do is to pressure him to resign from his public positions.

Since mobs don't read the news, only the headlines, and I don't want any association with any of the parties in this drama, I think I must write the non-snarky interpretation of the events.

Of course, the headlines above are about Steve Jobs, not Richard Stallman.

I only had one goal with this piece: to reflect on the double standards in society.

Being an asshole is acceptable if you are a respected powerful businessman. You are portrayed as a quirky millionaire. However, it is not acceptable if you're a contrarian weird hippie. You are portrayed as a disgusting creep.

I obviously have no interest or authority to defend or justify their actions. They're adults and their behavior is their own. Screw their asshole-ism. They should have been better people. Stallman is a stubborn asshole, Jobs was an even bigger stubborn asshole.

The truth is, there is a strong correlation between being a powerful public figure and being a stubborn asshole. This is because after some point, non-assholes quit the race because they are not willing to pay the toll it takes to be at the top. That is unfortunate, and we should definitely push for respecful leaders.

Why did two independent journalists take Stallman down, and not Jobs, or any of the other assholes in the world?

Probably, because they could.

It's their right to free speech, and ultimately it was a consequence of Stallman's actions. And I can't reflect on whether it's fair or good that Stallman is forced to step down, because I'm not smart enough to foresee the positive or negative consequences. So maybe after a few months we all realize it was the right thing to do, and end this discussion once and for all.

However, one thing is still true, again, the only point that should be taken from this article: to hell with double standards when representing public figures.

Not that it matters for this article, and it's outside the scope of my point, but I want to share my personal vision on Stallman and Jobs. The thing is, this was a difficult article to write. They are both people who I strongly admire and have had a great influence in my life.

Reading Stallman's essays are what got me into Free Software. I have attended his conferences twice and his brave stance on freedom and privacy is flawless and admirable. I have a small laptop that Stallman signed and many of his books. He has constantly fought for the rights of the people against corporations. I hope he keeps doing it.

The world is a better place thanks to Stallman.

Jobs was an inspiration. I own most books about him, an Apple "Think Different" poster is hanging at my office, and I treasure the issue Time released after his death. He was a genius, a visionary, he basically invented consumer computers and smartphones. I do not doubt that the contributions of Woz and other people at Apple were instrumental, but he was the mastermind behind the strategy. What Jobs achieved with his work is beyond belief and 100% worth of praise.

The world is a better place thanks to Jobs.

If you want more context about the actual facts, I wrote about the news a week ago.

Tags: news

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