[Linux-aus] Victim Impact Statement

Donna Benjamin donna at kattekrab.net
Sun Nov 3 18:28:30 EST 2013

Dear David,

Thankyou for your heartfelt and sincere statement explaining you did not intend to cause offence.

I unreservedly apologise for causing you to feel as you do.  And I very much hope you are able to get the  treatment you need for depression.  

I accept you did not intend to offend. I also note you've not apologised for having done so. You say no-one explained why they chose to take offense. 

I will do so. Privately to you and to council. I aim to do so with sensitivity and compassion and hope that might help you understand my perspective. As I feel I am now beginning to understand yours.

But not on my phone. Not whilst on a tram.

I also applaud your bravery. Speaking up about depression isn't easy. It affects too many of us.

Take care David.

- Donna.

David Newall <davidn at davidnewall.com> wrote:
>I cannot continue being associated with Linux Australia.  It's bad for 
>my health, very, very bad.  Apparently telling people how their actions
>have impacted upon me can help mitigate the injury, so I'm resigning as
>a member and composing this message as my exit note. This is a
>in which I tell you how the treatment handed out to me has made me 
>feel.  That's an unusual style of posting for this list, but, 
>apparently, will help me recover from the injuries inflicted by others 
>on this list.
>I'm resigning because the treatment met out to me in retaliation to my 
>Support for Women post has emotionally battered me.  The post was about
>a serious issue and I had hoped that talking about it might be a good 
>thing.  I hope I was polite and cogent, and can see nothing offensive
>what I wrote.  The concern that affirmative action programs can 
>undermine the very people they are intended to benefit was not new nor 
>my own idea.  I was inspired to write it after that meme resurfaced in 
>quality media a number of times over the last few weeks.  My comment 
>about Thatcher was drawn from a recent edition of Q&A.
>Some people were obviously incensed by what I wrote, but it seemed to
>the idea of the discussion that incensed them.  Typical of their
>was to call me a troll, which was a hurtful and offensive thing to do. 
>What a pity they put in effort to imply that I was being offensive, but
>to omit any explanation of how I offended.  They chose to take offense.
>Calling me a troll was the tactic of a bully.  It's a practice of 
>intimidation; kill the messenger; stifle the message.  It hurt.  It
>me feel anxious and unable to cope with life.
>I was hurt by the replies which ascribed nefarious motives to me.  I
>hurt by having my words twisted and misrepresented, and by having 
>different words thrust in my mouth.
>Donna Benjamin said, "You seem to assume women are inferior and are 
>getting special treatment."  No, I don't think women are inferior and 
>nothing I wrote should give that impression.  I did say that women are 
>getting special treatment, which they are.  Linking part of my message 
>with something that I did not say made me feel frustrated and 
>alienated.  It made me feel that I was being demonised.
>Donna called me a troll and said I should be removed from this mailing 
>list.  It's easy to call me a troll, but the accusation without any 
>substantiation hurt very much.  It left me bewildered. What part of
>I wrote was trolling?  Linux Australia is the preeminent association of
>my peers, and to agitate for my removal was to agitate for my 
>professional isolation.  It made me fear for the future.
>Pomke Nohkan repeated Donna, accused me of obviously intending to 
>troll.  Wrong.  I wasn't, and I don't see what gave the idea that I 
>was.  Pomke called for me to be banned.  I felt like the whole world
>turning against me; and for what?  Only for saying something which is a
>concern that has been widely raised, and which seems so self-evident.  
>When you mandate that a women is chosen, you leave that women open to 
>being undermined as not being the best candidate.  That must be 
>particulaly upsetting for women who happen to be the best candidate.
>Daniel Bryan said, that there are other forums to air "Mens' Rights 
>Activism."  My post had nothing to do with men's rights, and he made me
>feel that I being pilloried by people who hadn't even read what I
>Rob Kearey said, "I'm done with entitled-neckbeards. I'm out."  This 
>made me feel that I did something wrong, that I drove him out, that I 
>was not capable of successfully delivering a simple line of reasoning.
>Paul Gear wrote that "David is sitting back right now laughing that we 
>were all silly enough to take the bait."  I felt deeply hurt by this
>every other accusation of being a troll.  I tried hard to craft my 
>message politely and cogently, and even though Paul expressed some 
>sympathy with the views I expressed, being called a troll made me feel 
>like a failure.
>Kim Hawtin said that, "David is well versed in trolling on our local 
>lists," and that made me feel physically queasy.  Kim has previously 
>accused me of trolling, which is a tactic designed to intimidate me and
>to alienate others against me, and I did feel intimidated.
>Andrew Pam said I "intentionally posted contentious opinions with the 
>intent to cause offense."  Calling the opinions that I expressed 
>contentious implies that the counter-opinion is widely accepted, but
>thread, as well as common life experience, shows otherwise.  It wasn't 
>the opinion that was contentious but the subject matter.  I had tried
>broach the subject without offense, so being accused of intending to 
>offend made me feel unwanted in this list.
>Russell Coker said it is "reasonably common for undiagnosed Autistic 
>people to be labelled as trolls."  I  have struggled with depression
>over a decade.  His veilled accusation of autism made me feel angry.  I
>have a hard time coping; just getting up each day is hard, let alone 
>going out and doing things.  Being called autistic exacerbated that.
>Glen Turner twisted my words by taking them out of context.  He put it 
>that I said, "women gain opportunities at the expense of more capable 
>(or more needy) men."  I did say that, and the risk of that outcome is 
>intrinsic to a policy that requires appointing a woman. But by omitting
>my subsequent sentence, "this undermines their credibility," Glen made 
>me feel the victim of "negative spin."  Glen once played a hugely 
>important role in connecting Australia to the internet, and I felt 
>belittled by his use of my words to present a meaning that was not 
>originally there.  His subsequent refusal to correct himself added to a
>feeling of paranoia.
>Hugh Blemings, on behalf of the council, announced that the subject was
>not to be dropped because it "doesn't meet a reasonableness test of 
>being relevant to linux-aus aims or Free and Open Source Software."  I 
>cannot, for the life of me, understand how that got said without 
>challenge from us all.  How can the council say that a discussion on 
>association policies is unreasonable?  The attempt at censorship, and 
>the lack of outrage expressed over it, made me feel paranoid.  Joel
>agreed with the censorship!  I especially felt that the council was out
>to get me.
>When I refused to meekly accept that the council could prohibit 
>discussions relating to association policy, Rusell Cocker repeated his 
>Asperger claim in these terms:  "you're really doubling-down on the 
>behavior that gives Aspies a bad reputation."  I doubt he really does 
>think that policies may not be questioned.  Linking his implied slur 
>with the council's ham-fisted attempt to wrongly stifle discussion was 
>doubly hurtful, as well as bewildering.  Does he think that policies
>not be questioned, or is it just this one?
>Apparently a complaint was made against me, and the council have chosen
>to follow process.  They do not have to do that.  They are entitled to 
>find the complaint without merit, and had they done so I wouldn't have 
>known it was made.  They chose otherwise.  They threatened me.  This 
>made me feel confused: was my message really offended?  Is the topic 
>taboo?  It made me feel anxious: that the council intends kicking me 
>out, denying me association with my peers.  I was unable to work.  I
>to go to bed, and wasn't able to eat, or to get up again, until three 
>days later.
>My posting was not imflamatory, although a few people chose to react as
>if it was.  It was not unreasonable, although the council took two 
>different approaches to stop ensuing discussion.  When I asked people
>this list how they felt about the council's action, not a single person
>cared enough to reply, other than Craige McWhirter, and one other 
>private message of abuse.  Neither of those two messages addressed the 
>question of how they felt about the council's action against me. 
>spoke to that issue.  That made me feel more unwelcome than did all of 
>the hate mail sent in response to my original post.
>I feel very hurt by the many people who chose to belittle me, or to 
>attack me instead of what I said.  I considered suicide.  I feel 
>unwelcome because of the lack of any sort of support over what I tell 
>you is an abuse of process by the council, in fact two abuses,
>the censorship as well as the complaints process.  I have become
>and feel agitated, cannot work at all, indeed it has been a great 
>struggle to compose this impact statement.  I am now able to get up,
>avoid seeing people.  I cannot talk to clients and so have switched my 
>phones off.  Even though I will have no professional peers with whom to
>engage, the impact has been so great that I resign membership.  I have 
>no real choice in the matter; to do otherwise will prevent me from 
>recoverring from the harm done to me.  I see no future where I contine 
>being a member, which would not include deliberately personal attacks
>me.  I cannot stand idly by while the council engages in underhanded 
>attacks against me to protect bad policy, or even good policy, if is is
>good; but apparently not so good; apparently it needs censorship from 
>discussion; apparently it needs bullying and intimidation for its
>I am very sorry to lose contact with those others of you who have me 
>politely, as people should be treated.  I am greatful to the majority, 
>who engaged in the discussion that I started, rather than engaged in 
>personal attack against me.  Some people supported what I said; some 
>people opposed it.  Most were constructive and pollte. Some people 
>chastised those who attacked me, instead of the message, and I was 
>encouraged by that fair-mindedness.  But it was not enough.  Nobody 
>objected to council censorship.  Nobody objected to egregious abuse of 
>complaints process.  I cannot be part of a group that makes me a 
>pariah.  I cannot be part of a group that drives me to actual tears, 
>leaves me so low that I cannot get up, cannot work, cannot see friends 
>or family.
>I cannot stand to imagine how this statement will be treated.  I expect
>it will be largely negative.  I shall unsubscribe as soon as I see it 
>has been received.  I resign membership and revile you collectively as 
>nasty bullies who lie and intimidate to achieve a purely political goal
>using what should be a technical group.  I hope some of you feel shame 
>over how you treated me, but predict only joy at an outcome sought
>and achieved.
>I thought writing this was supposed to be cathartic, supposed to help
>move past how I have been treated, but I feel even worse. Maybe it
>time.  I thought that I would feel terrible resigning membership, but 
>no, that is giving me a sense of peace.
>linux-aus mailing list
>linux-aus at lists.linux.org.au

Donna Benjamin
Sent from phone.
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