On assholes, ideas, and actions

Almost 2 weeks ago Rusty Russell wrote about assholes in the Open Source community.

Some people intepreted Rusty’s post as a tacit toleration of assholes, with Matt Zimmerman commenting on the greader post I shared:

If we didn't tolerate assholes in our community, we would still be producing great software.

I don’t believe Rusty’s point is that “tolerance of assholes is a necessary evil”. His point is that people of all walks of life are flawed, and the tech community is far from being a utopian exception.

The distinction is between ideas and actions.

I have no problem with people holding ideas or beliefs I find offensive or plain wrong. It’s that lack of homogeny that makes life interesting and keeps me thinking. It becomes an issue if said person takes action on those ideas and that action hurts other people.

Hence, if you’re being an asshole to me or someone else I won’t tolerate that and will call you out on it. If you believe that the world is flat or that fasting cures cancer I’ll vigorous argue against your position but I won’t wield the ban hammer on the work you do.