We Need To Have A Chat About Something Important

Yes, I really did print this the day before the story broke.
Yes, I really did print this the day before the story broke.

With hindsight, I picked the wrong day to 3D print a Cap’n Crunch whistle downloaded from Thingiverse. I was covering the hackspace textile evening, so I set the Ultimaker going and headed off to spend my evening making a laptop pouch. My whistle, a reasonable reproduction of the famous cereal packet novelty whose 2600 Hz tone allowed special access to American telephone networks, was ready for me to take away as I headed home.

The next day, there it was. The legendary phreaker [John Draper], also known as [Captain Crunch] after his use of that free whistle, was exposed as having a history of inappropriate conduct towards teenage boys and young men who he encountered in his tours of the hacker community as a celebrity speaker.

My whistle will no longer go on a lanyard as a piece of cool ephemera, it’s sitting forlornly on my bench. The constant procession of harassment allegations that have been in the news of late have arrived at our doorstep.

There is little point in writing a lecture about the harm a culture of harassment causes, we know that you are aware that it is a bad thing. Even the people who do the harassment know that what they are doing is wrong, so to pen such a lecture would be about as useful as the ineffectual South Park counselor character saying “Don’t do naughty stuff, m’kay”.

It’s easy to tell yourself this is something done by a tiny minority of so-called bad apples who most people will never encounter, that ours is a safe community in which this can happen only to other people, and that when it happens someone will always deal with the perpetrator. But this just hasn’t been true, and too many people’s lives have been affected as a result.

Harassment and abuse, when they come, are facilitated by an imbalance in the power dynamic: the abuser is in a position to wield their greater power. This imbalance can exist in many forms, but obvious examples might be across social, age, gender, disability, or racial lines. A celebrity like [Crunch] could wield immense power compared to his victims, to the extent that he could continue with impunity and any who might have spoken out would not have been believed. Put yourself in the place of an impressionable young hacker to whom someone like [Crunch] is a God-like figure, and you might see how easily it could happen.

Why did it take so long for these reports to surface? The power dynamic can have the effect of placing belief in the one with the power. When you hear of abuse it’s important to identify any power imbalance involved and begin your thinking on the side of the person at the bottom of it rather than the one at the top. This helps lead to action when reports are received. The organized events mentioned in the story have codes of conduct that are now being followed for action and have resulted in [Captain Crunch] being banned from the conferences..

Our community must be both welcoming and supportive, and propagate a culture in which it is safe to report bad behavior in the expectation that it will result in action. Nobody in our community should have to feel unsafe, therefore it behooves upon all of us to ensure that we make our environment as accepting and inclusive a space as possible. We should look upon ourselves as outsiders would, and ask whether our deeds match how we would like ourselves to be seen.

Hackaday has a code of conduct for the events we run, and we expect it to be taken seriously. We are of one mind that there is to be zero tolerance no matter whether a bad actor is a celebrity speaker, or just some random hacker. That’s not to say that we’re resting on our laurels though, a code of conduct should always be under review rather than a done deal. We’ve licensed our code of conduct under the CC BY 3.0 license. We encourage you to adopt a code of conduct for you own events and organizations, and help us by evolving it where necessary.

When the [Crunch] story broke, we had one of our behind-the-scenes discussions among the Hackaday crew in which there was agreement that our position should be unequivocal on the matter. It is with sadness that we see an icon become tarnished, but we think you will agree with us that safety and inclusion in our community are far more important.

That damn’ 3D printed whistle didn’t work properly anyway.

247 thoughts on “We Need To Have A Chat About Something Important

    1. OK. I can’t take the abuse of “sad” anymore! Things can not be sad. They can be saddening for those who contemplate them, or make a person feel sadness, expressed by “I am sad”. This is saddening on many levels.

        1. Ignore the fuzzy definitions on the interwebs! Strive for clarity.

          “He is referring to a sad state of affairs”, then avoid ambiguity and say that.

          Granted, HaD headlines regularly refer to things as programming themselves or even building themselves, or providing the power for for motors through the virtue of information processing – the science fiction mainstay of gaining control over reality by means of information processing – but you don’t have to follow. Like writing, “She is the one that closed the door” instead of “She is the one who closed the door. People are who’s, not that’s. I don’t think they have the kind of English teachers in the schools that I had. Or who versus that is now too human centric and exclusive.

    2. Extremely disappointing to see another hero of our community turn out to abuse their position of responsibility in our community. We often pride ourselves as being open to all, but being so means we all have a collective responsibility to protect young and vulnerable people from predatory individuals’ behavior and to protect the reputation of hacker-spaces and conferences as places that are perceived as safe places for young people to attend.

    1. lol, totally! “The next day, there it was.” haha! That line should have been written in the late 90’s.

      This is a weird time to live in. A lot of these ‘bombshells’ that are being dropped about these degenerates are old news, but they get pumped up to make it sound like it is something breaking. Hell, this was so known a team at DEFCON in 2013 called themselves “Too Old for Cap’n Crunch”! Family Guy and South Park were making Spacey and Weinstien jokes damn near a decade ago. What changed?

      1. I’m writing this from the UK. If only I’d been based somewhere from which I could have gone to all those DEFCONs. :)

        But it begs the question: if the world and dog knew about it, why didn’t they do anything about it?

      2. Communications got better. No longer does bad news travel Pony Express. We’ve also become a more voyeuristic species, harder to keeping secrets. And last more gossipy with things like social media and reality TV.

          1. Yup. One particular big harrasser makes the news, so the news media (hesitate to call them “journalists”) naturally dig for more, to keep the story going. People are interested in dirty old men harrassing people, so let’s give ’em what they want.

            Although of course you’re also right, it encourages other victims to come forward, which is a good thing. I doubt many of them were emailing Buzzfeed about it though.

            I heard of Draper’s special piggy-backs years ago just through being online. I’ve never been to the USA or any Defcons. That’s how well-known it is, and I worry about the legitimacy of Jenny’s Geek Card if she really didn’t know herself. Literally EVERYONE knows! I’m just some geek and I’ve heard of it.

            Of course that isn’t proof he actually did any of these hundreds of events. But lots of people have heard the accusations, at least. Tens of thousands, surely. Or at least anyone who’s looked up “Cap’n Crunch -cereal” in the last 10 years.

    2. Yup. I think anyone who knew who John Draper was, had heard about his special “energy massages”. And most people don’t have a clue who he is. He’s hardly a celebrity. Not even a geek celebrity. He hasn’t done much of anything since the 1980s.

      I dunno about a “power imbalance”. Sure he’s a sleazy old dude who misleads people into doing stuff he gets cheap sexual thrills from. But he’s hardly Elton John or somebody, “Do you know WHO I AM!?!?”. Just some old dude who blew his whistle down the phone one day and found an interesting glitch. If General Mills had used a different whistle, he wouldn’t be anybody. And even though they did, he’s still not much of anybody.

      Maybe he took advantage of the naivety and good nature of young people, asking for a “massage” for whatever aches and pains he claims his ancient body has. It’s a cheap trick. But he has no power, real or perceived. It’s not like Margaret Thatcher gave him the keys to Broadmoor.

      1. In an absolute or global sense, no of course not. But in the microcosm of the subculture where he did his hunting, it seems to have been established that he used that bit of celebrity he had in order to manipulate people and situations – to prey on people.
        It’s important to remember that the power imbalance in abuse scenarios need not even be real in order for people involved to make decisions based upon it. There only needs to be a perception of a power imbalance – an implication, true or not.

          1. I also met him in 1990 and went to his place in Alameda to talk about programming. Things never got overtly creepy, but they were creepy enough that I broke off all contact. If it’s any consolation, Woz and Jobs were in awe of him too and he was certainly a legend in the phreaking world.

    1. I imagine it’s a response to the common refrain “there are always a few bad apples.” instead of the phrase “a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch”. Kind of amusing that anyone says the former given the latter exists.

    2. If bad apples spoil the barrel, then remove them.
      Not all the apples will go bad or be tainted by the one, either, but the longer the situation is allowed to continue, the more the rot will spread. Sometimes, the apples near the bad ones sometimes get spots of rot, too. In the case of victims, it’s not their fault- help them get that out of their lives, and welcome them as one of the bunch, but please remove the worst and tell the ones with little patches to cut it out.

      It would be nice if all the other recent reports were less timed politically, too. If it suits someone to only remove the bad apples when you gain from it, they aren’t doing it sincerely, and ought to be considered negatively.

      1. Exactly! People who are doing this garbage need to be stopped, but at the same time, the environment of convenience makes it disturbingly easy to fling an accusation at any political target, and bam! Done. Accusations of sexual misbehavior can be one of the most devastating disruptors possible. Such accusations immediately root into public opinion, can lead to job termination, blacklisting, etc…

        In this current wave of justice… We need to stop and consider whether malicious minds could use this as a tool to destroy innocent people too. Just a thought to consider. I belive that the majority of what is being shown is the real deal. Cap’n Crunch was a long known creep that’s only being really called out now. Evidence and experience of people who’ve been around him confirm it. It’s disheartening to think about. Just remember though… Accusation =/= guilty. We need to practice common sense, and let the evidence roll in along with those accusations, or we just become an angry mob.

        Tying politics into the picture… and you have a REAL mess on your hands, where smear campaigns have the potential to transform into libel campaigns.

    1. Not hysteria. A very entertaining revealing of celebrities, politicians, and media (news) personalities who live in layers of lies and very public daily hypocrisy. The hysteria-like outcome may be that it is impossible in the future for professional men to speak to professional women like adults. How do you treat a group of people equally in the work place if you have to sensor yourself around them?

        1. Exactly. Men in a room versus men and women in a room means two different conversations. The degree of difference varies over time and we are entering a period of increasing difference, after 10+ decades of declining difference.

        2. I can’t agree. For some people, behaving professionally requires some self-sensorship. For others, not. Unless you mean that anything above basic animal instinct requires censorship, in which case professionalism is simply like everything else.

          1. “Professional” doesn’t mean what you think it does. It’s not really your fault though, most people use it wrong. But it is worth looking it up.

            Professionalism LITERALLY requires censorship. As a community. It is part of the autonomy and self regulation requirement of a profession existing.

      1. Hysteria may be the wrong word but being from Minnesota where the Al Franken revel is quite the controversy, and now we have just heard of the allegations about Garrison Keillor. Both are about old events, AFAIK neither are being brought to a court but instead were taken straight to the media for a public opinion trial. While I understand the need for victims to be able to speak about what they went through I don’t think public forums without real investigation into the claims is the way to do it. Didn’t we learn anything from the Rolling stone incident a few years back?

        1. Yeah. I agree. Sexual misconduct has become the latest political attack tool. It’s become all about media sensationalism over courts, evidence, and judgments. There’s been an incredible spread of opinion and demands from across the political spectrum. What genuinely bothers me the most, is the hypocrisy. When one side calls for the immediate resignation of some member of an opposing party over sexual allegations, but then when it happens on their own side, it’s all about apologies, or trying to discredit the potential victim’s claims.

          All I know, is that this stuff should be decided based on evidence, it should be determined by appropriate judgement, and the media should not be brought in first to destroy people before anyone has a chance to prove innocence, when it’s guilt that is supposed to be the thing that’s proven!

          I’m glad that victims of this garbage have been able to come forward and take actions against it. That’s something that’s been needed for a long time. I just hope that the media craze over this doesn’t take any innocent people down by way of malicious accusers. Given the vitriol in current politics, I worry this will increasingly become a tactic used to disable the opposing view.

          1. Socially retarded for sure. In the 1980’s he would call me at 2 or 3AM from Hawaii – for free I’m sure and how did he get my number? – with complaints or suggestions for the Forth meta-compiler he was using. I was the “Forth Doctor” at Mountain View Press and one of the packages we sold and supported was Tom Wempe’s meta-compiler system for Apple II and IBM PC. If he wanted to talk during regular ours, we got an “operator interrupt” if we were already on the phone. It got pretty irritating after a while.

          2. Discussed it with him face-to-face at a West Coast Computer Faire or when he was in the Bay Area. It had no effect, which was not surprising given the social retardation of so many in the home brew and embedded and compiler theory areas of interest.

      2. People who seek positions of power and abuse from a power imbalance, it’s not rocket science. It’s not every case of course but the statistics are there.

        Not to say that – where there is an imbalance of power there must be abuse – that simply isn’t true, there are many people (for example) who care or assist people with disabilities and that causes a power imbalance … the difference is that the carer didn’t seek to be in a position of power and in the vast majority of cases does not abuse.

        And also @[Jenny List], I politely question your statement that abuses know what there doing is wrong. I think the word “wrong” has a different meaning to you as compared to an abuser. For most people the word “wrong” relates to their internal moral compass. For an abuser the word “wrong” may mean that they shouldn’t get caught. Clearly for an abuser to abuse they must find such behavior “acceptable”.

        I also think it *would be* beneficial to discuss the effects of abuse on the abused person. An abuser can be a person that (for what ever reason) simply does care about the effects of abuse and that unfortunately that is common. However abuse can also be a learnt behavior that has come from formative years. They may simply not understand the effects or more importantly the magnitude of the effects that their behaviors is having on others. If they actually have empathy then there is hope that they may rehabilitate. This learnt behavior often occurs in relationships. Young men don’t understand masculinity let alone femininity and of course the same occurs in other companionship’s.

        Anyway I, for one, am glad you wrote about this issue.

  1. >”Harassment and abuse, when they come, are facilitated by an imbalance in the power dynamic: the abuser is in a position to wield their greater power. This imbalance can exist in many forms, but obvious examples might be across social, age, gender, disability, or racial lines. ”

    There’s slight bullshit in that statement, because it posits that a disparity in power is necessary for harassment, and that people who are judged to be in “privileged positions” cannot in fact be harassed by those judged “unprivileged”. Basically, if I make $1000 less than you, or if I’m black and you’re white, or I’m gay and you’re not, I’m allowed to thumb my nose at you, while you doing it back is harassment.

    But harassment and abuse are what they are. The power argument is just begging the question that two wrongs make a right, i.e. you hurt me in this way so I can hurt you in that way. It’s mistaking revenge for social justice.

    1. That is not stating that a power imbalance is the only source of harassment. It points out that power imbalance is an issue, especially in reporting harassment. Often times a victim feels they cannot report bad behavior, and power imbalance can often result in the report not being believed. Understanding this phenomenon is important in order to help avoid the same mistakes in the future.

      1. Power imbalance creates a responsibility, and a possibility to abuse power, but does not necessarily mean power is being abused, and therefore doesn’t justify an imbalanced treatment of the case. See my other comment below.

        1. Also please note: in some cases it is justified to err on the side of caution and assume guilt based on power imbalances.

          Such as teacher-student relationships. It may very well be that the relationship is on equal footing and has nothing to do with the power imbalance, but making sure that is indeed the case and continues to be so, is practically unfeasible.

          1. Most US states have laws that say in a conflict, testimony of a teacher must be given the utmost weight. From the knowledge that angry students can so easily make spurious accusations then be unable to retract. However, today the laws are ignored and the say of students can get a teacher fired quite easily.

          2. We’re talking of slightly different cases. You’re talking about students making spurious untested claims, while I’m talking about undisputable cases where the teacher is found to have had a relationship with their student, which is simply not allowed.

        2. Why a responsibility? Is a stronger person responsible for anyone less strong? Serious question. These kinds of claims are thrown around a lot in the comments on HaD without any statement of justification. I get the feeling there is a fuzzy ad-hoc ethic or philosophy in the hacker community, or larger tech community, that is imagined into being as needed for every new situation. It is certainly true in the larger Silicon Valley businesses.

          1. >”Why a responsibility? Is a stronger person responsible for anyone less strong?”

            Social power does not exist except relative to the society, which ultimately gives you that position of power, and can take it away from you if you betray the trust placed in you: that is the responsibility.

          2. It looks to me like your claim applies to any two people anywhere who do not have identical power over each other. Without a society, what does it mean?

          3. >”Without a society, what does it mean?”

            What do you mean without a society? It’s a society of two people. One may have material and physical power over the other, but whatever social power they hold is always dependent on whether the other party agrees to it.

            Social power is the roles we adopt and define for ourselves. Without a society, they go away.

      2. And, it kinda does.

        “Harassment and abuse, when they come, are facilitated by an imbalance in the power dynamic”

        That sentence reads to me, that when harassment and abuse arise they are helped along by an imbalance in power. That’s a direct positive claim. If you drop the “when they come”, it wouldn’t be making the same assertion.

    2. Carefully re-read the paragraph you quoted and you’ll see that it absolutely does not “[posit] that a disparity in power is necessary for harassment”. It says that power facilitates harassment and abuse. I have no idea where you got anything about it being necessary.

    3. point in case

      >”When you hear of abuse it’s important to identify any power imbalance involved and begin your thinking on the side of the person at the bottom of it rather than the one at the top.”

      That is one sided thinking. It puts you in the mood where the top dog is always wrong, and the underdog always right, when in reality it’s just as possible for the little guy to be a massive dick and get away with it by pretending to be the victim.

      1. Starting your thinking with the person at the lower power dynamic means: start your thinking there. This helps to avoid discounting their point of view because they have less power. The point of this is to find the most responsible way to consider a report of harassment and what actions are necessary based on the details of the report.

        1. No. It stacks the cards in their favor by starting with the assumption that the person who is subjectively defined as privileged is always guilty, and then demanding them to be proven innocent, whereas in a rational mode of thinking you search for evidence of guilt before announcing any sentences.

          Innocent until proven guilty is justice — guilty until proven innocent is lynch mob mentality.

          1. He’s not being criminally charged as far as I can tell. These are conferences in the private domain who have chosen to ban a guy based on multiple witnesses reports of harassment. Are you concerned that people are going to make fake accusations willy nilly and get innocent people banned from conferences? I suspect this is not a real problem.

          2. But I see the hair you’re splitting, taking exception with the statement that we should side with the person of lower power. The right phrasing is that you should *not* side with the person in power automatically, and review the facts impartially and base decisions on that.

          3. “The right phrasing is that you should *not* side with the person in power automatically, and review the facts impartially and base decisions on that.”


          4. >”Are you concerned that people are going to make fake accusations willy nilly and get innocent people banned from conferences? I ”

            This happens a lot in social media. People -are- making up bullshit about other people in order to hurt them, to harass them, to get them banned from forums, etc. It’s the age old village gossip mill where neighbors start petty rumors about neighbors in order to pick on them, because they didn’t like the way you trimmed your hedge.

          5. This is my only problem with this issue.The fact we lost all semblance of due process is very troubling, then only thing you need to lose you job is a “claim” you harassed someone. Apparently a good way to get rid of someone blocking your career path, or punishing someone you disagree with politically. The guy running for the Senate may of been a creep, but revealing it 30 days prior to the election itself was a clue something was amiss. If they had that knowledge earlier, why sit on it?

            Granted, we are in this spot because a number of men in positions of power have abused their power (Hollywood literally invented the term “the casting couch”). The fact a few serial predators have made all men look bad is infuriating, but at least people might think before acting in the future. The fact it is largely affecting the Hollywood, politicians and the media/news community is sort of poetic justice.

          6. “Innocent until proven guilty is justice — guilty until proven innocent is lynch mob mentality.”

            I understand that’s how we here in the USA are conditioned to believe, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. There are countries where the justice system is based on guilty until proven innocent is the basis of the justice system. How ever it’s the State that’s trying to prove the accused innocence, where the accused isn’t likely to try to prove their guilt, there’s a condition where no one trying to prove guilt. In the USA those accused with little resources have no chance to prove their innocence if faced with false accusation’s. In the end ether system depends on the integrity of the justice system.

          7. >”I understand that’s how we here in the USA are conditioned to believe, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. ”

            It’s not a matter of belief, but a matter of choice. That’s how we define justice for ourselves. See the constitution, and the right to a fair trial. If you announce guilt before the accused has had a chance to a fair trial, ie. you call somebody a criminal while they’re only a suspect, you run afoul of the basic principles of justice that the society has set for itself.

            You’re welcome to change those principles and institute a “shoot, then ask” form of justice, but I very much doubt you’d like that. The issue is that many (not all!) of the so called social justice types believe they can accurately point the gun at the guilty, so they can skip the asking questions part either way. If it turns out they lynched someone innocent, or under false premises where they unilaterally define something to be wrong (and the degree of it) without asking anyone else — well, can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, right?

            What’s more dangerous, some know full well that they’re being arbitrary, and know that by defining themselves or someone else the victim, they can extract money and power out of everybody else – it’s just a new form of ambulance chasing.

      2. Be careful where that train of thought leads you, for it’s exactly how perps have been able to get away with it in the past. Where I’m writing this we’ve had a load of child abuse rings busted recently that preyed on troubled kids, and one of the reasons they got away with it was exactly that: the “She’s just a troublemaker” argument.

        We’re talking about some pretty serious abuses that have happened over the years in our community here, not just [Crunch], and certainly not just some office-politics style dickishness.

        1. Alas, the (proved) abuse rings persisted _because_ the predators were part of a ‘lower power dynamic’ (ie minorities) in overall society, though obviously not in their microcosm. As such, social services (external to the microcosm) were excessively careful to not be seen to draw unpalatable conclusions, even though they would have been correct to draw them much earlier than the point at which they could eventually not avoid it.

          Social services in the UK have been responsible for some of worst “through inaction” travesties imaginable.

          1. Precisely the point. When you start with the assumption that the “little guy” is always the victim instead of the abuser, even though you’re often right, it pre-disposes you to stop looking for and to ignore evidence against them.

            So the argument that we should by rule start examining harassment and abuse cases by first observing the power dynamics and then assuming the underdog is the victim, is making a grave error. The power dynamics is irrelevant, as it only has to say about the probability of finding a victim in a particular group in many cases, and doesn’t say anything about any individual case.

          2. One of the worst cases of jumping to a conclusion while ignoring the massive amount of evidence to the contrary, was Jaycee Dugard. She was held captive for 18 years and had two children with her abductor. Police never put out an alert on the couple or their car+license plate that several witnesses said grabbed Jaycee. The police instantly suspected her parents and flat our refused to investigate anything else.

            For 18 years the people who took her had that car, with the same license plate. The man was on house arrest for most of that time as a sex offender yet in multiple inspection visits the inspectors never went beyond the front room of their house. Never thought anything might be suspicious about the ramshackle buildings in the back yard. They also ignored the neghbor’s report of a naked woman and two kids in the abductors’ back yard.

            Jaycee was only found when she managed to escape with her kids. Everyone involved who totally failed to do their job and should’ve had her found and safely returned to her family ought to be in jail.

        2. That’s stacking the cars in the other direction – also to be avoided – because it’s making an ad-hominem fallacy.

          If the thought leads you to taking any sides, you’ve taken one step too much in your logic.

    4. It’s not the power imbalance that is the issue. People that want to act badly look for situations that have power imbalances that will allow them to act that way. It’s the perversion that cause the action not the imbalance of power that causes the action. Pedophiles will look for areas where they can be pedophiles, sex offenders will look for areas where they can be sex offenders. Checks and balances need to be in place to prevent this from happening but the people in those positions can use their power to subvert those safeguards.
      It’s good to have this out in front for people to discuss and look for solutions. But the basic problem is human nature. Sexual misconduct is just one aspect of that.

      1. Your checks and balances comment made me think a little. Was there very little of this exposed publicly when I was a kid because of censorship and not exposing scandal? Or was the checks and balances part of the culture where philosophy and religion produced individuals who could control impulses? When I see Family Guy and similar fare on TV, I think about the tremendous cultural change, or at least acceptance by the media giants and then viewers.

        I will have to ask some cultural anthropologists.

    5. Dax, can I just take a moment and thank you for using the phrase “begging the question” correctly? It’s such a relief to hear coherent discussion using words correctly.

  2. Hey Jenny, I’m surprised you didn’t go a step further in your article. While these significant events are a bad thing and, as you suggest. the perpetrators knew what they did was wrong, there are a lot of things that are still discriminatory which people do, sometimes knowingly but typically not, because they have almost become socially accepted.
    I’m thinking of things such as “everyday sexism”, while not as serious as the incident in the article, I feel it holds a lot of similarities (and given it’s acceptance within social groups of both genders, is a harder issue to solve).

      1. Possibly. I mean that, yes, maybe an issue for another day, although people may feel like they’ve stopped problems like the above but they’re still letting through all the “lesser” things using exactly the same justifications that gave rise to the significant problems.
        But I wouldn’t say that it was outside of HaD’s remit (certainly given this article is ‘in-scope’), particularly given engineering has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, a lot of derogatory ideas and attitudes have become quite entrenched (for example, it can viewed as “not manly” if one wanted to wear some PPE or be cautious rather than having a somewhat more laissez-faire attitude to risk). Sure, attitudes are changing but there’s still a lot more that can be done and raising the topic is a good first step.
        While I’ve not made it to any of the HaD meet-ups and sometimes the linked authors/videos might wander across the line, I’ve always been quite impressed with the quality of the articles on HaD in this regard.

      1. > is all sexism categorically harmful or undesirable?

        Alright, so we’re probably going to ban you now. This line is what broke the camel’s back. Yes, all sexism is harmful. Discrimination based on sex or gender is considered harmful.

        Merely asking that question demonstrates that you are not a person we want as a member of this community. Discrimination based on how someone was born is something we actively shun here.

        Given your other comments in this thread, it is clear you’re just not getting the whole idea that harassment is bad, and abuse of power dynamics is bad. I will not allow you to walk back this statement as, ‘just asking questions.’. You have demonstrated that you are not someone we want as a member of this community.

        We thank you for your input, even though it is completely wrong, and wish you luck in the future. You’re going to need it.

        If you would like to discuss this further, please email editor @ the domain you’re at right now.

        EDIT: oh, man, can I call them. First reply from Dax is him walking it back as ‘just asking questions.’

      2. “it is clear you’re just not getting the whole idea that harassment is bad, and abuse of power dynamics is bad.”

        I object to that statement. It is resolutely not my position that harassment or abuse isn’t bad.

      3. Brian, you missed that Jenny was being sexist toward the commenter. The question before your ban threat was then asking if Jenny’s sexism was different. What Jenny said WAS sexist. She assumed he must be male, and a way to learn about sexism would be to ask his straight girlfriend. That’s assuming he is A: Male, B: Straight, and thus clueless.

        That is wrong to do.

      4. So Brian, the definition of sexism includes ‘stereotyping based on sex’.
        Now tell me, do you often see a fierce reaction if people ascribe all kinds of awful stuff to guys, things like ‘if you are a male in a male oriented field you are obviously being bad to women’ for instance? Stuff you might observe in all the comments by people who are so very much supported in discussions like these.

      5. >”EDIT: oh, man, can I call them. First reply from Dax is him walking it back as ‘just asking questions.’”

        Exploring the question does not mean that. It’s one meta-level up – asking questions about the questions.

        In any case, I would like you to demonstrate how my messages here show that I consider harassment and abuse to be okay – how do I not get the idea, as harassment and abuse are by definition “bad”?

      6. “That is wrong to do.”

        Though technically Jenny is not at fault here – she was merely giving a very fine example of everyday sexism. The follow-up question was about whether all sexism – or discrimination by sex – is necessarily abusive or harmful.

        If we assert it is so, we run into apparent contradictions, or at least double standards as there are plenty of examples where discrimination is done by sex and not considered sexism.

        Or, the fault may be in the narrow definition of sexims that I am giving, in which case the question is: define sexism.

      7. As provocative as some of Dax’s posts have been to this point, I find this question intriguing and offer the following scenarios that I observe for consideration on the point of “everyday sexism” whether it is necessarily bad:

        Instance 1: Man holds door open for female upon entering a building.
        Would it be nice if the man were to hold the door for anyone regardless of gender? Sure. Is it bad that he selectively holds the door for a female? — I leave this to your determination.

        Instance 2: Clerk at grocery store offers to help female customer out with her bags.
        Again, is it bad that the clerk only offers to help female customers?

        Instance 3: Person moving heavy furniture in public stops to ask a man to help them move it.
        Is it bad that they asked a man? — It is inherently sexist, but on average the male anatomy has nearly double the muscle mass of female(Journal of Applied Physiology, 1985). Is this bad?

    1. Though actually, the question I really wanted to make is: at what point does social heuristics based on sex become sexism?

      How much is one allowed to assume for the sake of convenience?

      1. To make the point absolutely clear, to avoid being convicted of thought-crime for asking the wrong questions (ref. Brian Benchoff threatening to ban be above: “Merely asking that question demonstrates that you are not a person we want as a member of this community.”)

        If we define sexism as discrimination by sex, and we say sexism is always undesirable, and I quote Brian:

        >”Yes, all sexism is harmful. Discrimination based on sex or gender is considered harmful. ”

        Consider the case where we discriminate based on sex, whether a man is allowed to enter a women’s bathroom. By that strict definition, this is sexism and therefore harmful, yet in the current society we seem to find discrimination like this necessary, therefore not harmful.

        So I am observing a contradiction. Either sexism isn’t all harmful, or all discrimination by sex is not sexism. Am I making a false dichotomy – how?

      2. Dax, this is getting quite far off topic.

        The topic of this article is:

        Harrassment and Abuse are both bad. They should be reported and reports should be taken seriously and appropriate actions taken.

        If you have constructive comments on this article they can be left as a comment. But at this point I am beginning to think you are more interested in starting arguments for the sake of arguing. That is a form of trolling which is not welcome here.

      3. The topic of my comment is:

        1) the article goes too far in suggesting we should take sides
        2) the article doesn’t go far enough in exploring what actually is harassment and abuse, but has a subtext of “we know it when we see it”

      4. >”That is a form of trolling which is not welcome here.”

        In the end I think you are right. Being “socratic” about the matter isn’t always well placed; I did not intend to troll, and so far as I have, I apologize.

  3. Do you have any other sources for this? Maybe something from a journalist of a bit higher caliber than Buzfeed? Don’t get me wrong, after reading this I wouldn’t leave my kids with him. Then again, I wouldn’t have done that before either, previous interviews I have read of his already lead me to believe he is a bit off. Still, relying on Buzfeed for information about sexual harassment is a bit like evaluating Obama’s presidency based solely on reports from Fox News. There just isn’t any journalistic integrity there. So long as that is the only place I have heard this I will always retain just a little bit of doubt regarding what actually occurred.

    Also, even if he did do it I don’t think you should throw away your whistle forever. That was a major contribution to phone phreaking culture which was an ancestor to our own hacker culture today. Clearly there was more to John Draper than Captain Crunch the hacker and it wasn’t all good. Captain Crunch the hacker was still real though and the history we previously knew did happen. Remember Captain Crunch and his whistle for the hacker spirit that goes with them. Remember John Draper the man as a warning to protect the young in our community.

    1. Read the comments for other tales of his notoriety, plus talk to your friends who attended DEFCON or similar events during that timeframe. We did.

      The “He’s famous/has done so much for the movement so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt” argument is a very dangerous road to go down.

      1. “He’s famous so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt”

        Pardon?!? I didn’t make that argument!

        If he did stuff he should it should be handled accordingly whether that be just banning him from situations where he might do it again in order to protect others or even legal actions if the situation calls for that. The closest I made to any “he’s famous” argument was basically meant to say that the rest of what he was known for shouldn’t be scrubbed from history. Captain Crunch shouldn’t be forgotten just because John Draper turned out to be sick.

        On the other hand, as for benefit of doubt, no it’s not for famous people. It’s for everybody! It’s called innocent until proven guilty. Yes, it’s dangerous. It’s a concept that means some people will get away with bad things and even be allowed to repeat them. The problem is the alternative is worse. History is full of jails filled with innocents, states conducting witch trials and towns folk lynching whoever they happened to feel was guilty.

        The main source of my doubt was the source of the information. Sorry but Buzfeed does not have a reputation that you should want to hitch your own to. Neither are anonymous internet commenters a good source for news. You have invited me to talk to “my friends who attended DEFCON”. I don’t have any. You say you did. Great! Where’s your interview? I have far more respect for you than for anyone at Buzfeed! I would love to read your report (with cited sources) about it! That would be much better than just your personal reaction to a piece of text from a mere click-bate site which is known for crappy biased reporting.

    2. The sources are the witnesses themselves, look at their statements in the article and on twitter. Not to mention draper himself has come out making excuses that he is partially autistic, not denying any of the claims.

      It is typical in situations like this for only one news outlet to break a story, they are going to keep their work secret until the story is published. Other outlets have reported on it, Ars and the BBC have picked it up, for example and I know the BBC did some fact checking before reposting it.


      1. I did. And, as I said, I wouldn’t leave MY kids with him. But… I stated that I was reserving a little doubt because the only source cited in THIS article was Buzfeed. No, I do not consider Buzfeed to be a news outlet. It is a click-bate site. That is all. It’s no different than the tabloids one has to pass in the checkout isle of the grocery store.

        Now you bring us additional sources. That is interesting. I will check those out, thanks. And yes, I could have probably just Googled it and found the same. That wasn’t my point though. The last I heard John Draper was a crazy guy living in a van 1/2 a continent away from me. If he is likely to victimize people then for their protection I hope he is prevented from doing so. Beyond that it isn’t really that important that I personally know the truth. My concern was more over seeing so many willing to assume the guilt based only on a link to an article in Buzfeed.

        If an article in a click-bate site and a few anonymous internet posts can convince the community to turn on one person it can convince it to turn on anybody.

        1. I hear you, skepticism is good. I think it would be questioned more if this story was in a vacuum where nobody had ever heard a bad word about this guy, all sources were anonymous, accounts could not be corroborated, other outlets chose not to pick it up.

        2. Buzzfeed did really good reportage on this one. As odd as that sounds…

          See Matt Blaze’s Twitter feed. He claims to have been stalked by Draper as a child for having turned him down, and said nothing because he was just some kid at the time. OTOH, now that he’s a very respected professor in the security/crypto field, his report carries more weight than a thousand Buzzfeed pieces. To me, anyway.

          1. I agree, the article is credible and Matt Blaze’s account was very credible. I mean Draper went as far as trying to pick Blaze up from his high school unannounced and luckily the school didn’t allow it! Eerily similar to what Roy Moore tried to do with a high school girl.

      2. His upcoming biography makes him newsworthy in a way he hasn’t been in forty years.

        His behavior has been an open secret in the hacker community for more that a decade, so any half-way competent journalist would hear about it pretty much as soon as they started looking into him. Since that’s an issue very much in the public consciousness, they pursued it and found some folks willing to talk about their experiences with Crunch on the record. Done and dusted.

        There’s no conspiracy here — just journalists doing their job in an utterly normal fashion. The idea that it’s happening because someone doesn’t want his book to come out is patent nonsense.

      1. Yeah investigative journalism is coming from unlikely places these days. John Oliver of all people is one of the best there is, and I forget the exact article but Teen Vogue has put out some impressive stuff if I recall.

    3. Draper’s conduct has been widely enough known in the US hacker scene to have been a stock joke for at least the last decade. I know (at least) half a dozen people who have been the object of his attentions, and I don’t know any of the people mentioned in the Buzzfeed story. There are, at minimum, dozens of people who can personally attest to his conduct.

      His contributions are also more than a little overblown. The 2600 Hz tone and the whistle weren’t discovered by him — that would be the late Joybubbles. His reputation is far more a product of his propensity to run his mouth in public than anything he ever accomplished.

  4. It doesn’t just have to be “heroes”, and it may be more complicated.

    In 1990, there was a local story about a teacher on trial for this sort of thing. But he was also a local ham, so I sort of knew him from various events. He’d lured students by giving them access to computers and such. From the articles, I think I had met one of the victims. The teacher served a couple of years in prison, and has been erased from the early history of amateur packet radio. Sadly, when I did a search a few years go, he seemed to be involved in the running of a child porn site, or something like that.

    He was a teacher, and the victims were his students. From the ham clubs, he didn’t seem to like me, or maybe I disliked him, so either he kept it at school, or I was lucky.

    Abuse is abuse, but traditionally technical hobbies have been very male, and when we were young, that was a large and significant part of our lives. So where’s the line between abuse and lack of social skills? It can certainly play in since beyond “heroes” and “authority” there’s uncomfortableness because it’s not part of your life. Even a proper advance may not be welcome, because it comes from out of nowhere, isn’t within one’s interests. It’s not an excuse, but this isn’t about “children” but “not quite adults” (I stopped reading comic books when I started reading hobby electronic magazines), so how much if this is about adults uncomfortable with their sexuality because it’s traditionally been taboo?

    The big part of abuse is that it lays a burden in the victim, so they aren’t telling anyone, which makes it all so much worse. If they could tell, it would take the power out of it.


    1. The fame is the hook for this article, to provide the connection to readers. “Hey, I know who [Crunch] is, but I can’t relate to some random guy in Iowa”.

      But yes. And with luck as more things come out, it will empower more victims to tell, and they will be believed.

      1. This seems pretty far off topic for a site about hardware and software hacking but since you are going there here we are.

        “it will empower more victims to tell, and they will be believed.”

        There is a very dangerous idea in there and unfortunately that idea is growing in popularity. Should a person be believed just because someone has made a claim of being a victim? In my country we tried that. Many women and some men were hung, burnt alive, drowned or otherwise tortured simply because someone made a claim that they were witches and had cursed them.

        Granted, there is a difference here. Witches are not real. Spells and curses do not actually harm people. Sexual harassment is real and does. However, if people could be convinced that someone needed to be punished based on outrageous claims like witchcraft think how much more damage could be done by shifting the burden of proof onto the defendant regarding more plausible cases such as sexual harassment.

        in an ideal world all victims, that is people who were victimized would be instantly believed and people who tell lies would not. Unfortunately this is not an ideal world and we do not have the ability to instantly know who is telling the truth and who is not. This is why we rely on evidence not hearsay and presume innocence until guilt is proven not guilt until innocence is proven.

        Another theme in the comments today is the abuse of an imbalance of power. Remember, a government has a lot of power. It has the power to take a person’s freedom and sometimes even their life. The concept of innocent until proven guilty is a check to prevent that power from being abused.

        A community also has a lot of power. A community can shun a person isolating them from contact with their peers. This is why community leaders should demand good evidence, not hearsay before condemning one of the communities members. The power held by the community should not be used for abuse either.

        1. You seem to have status quo bias.

          There might be something in your long comments that is actually thoughtfull, but I just see more of “lets sweep it under the rug if we can’t prove it”. I think we need to talk more about how to handle these sorts of things and less about how horrible either “naming and shaming” or predators are. That’s what I think of when we talk about empower witnesses or victims.

        2. I agree.

          The best way to destroy someone *instantly* today is just to accuse them of being, say, pedophile. No proof needed, social media will destroy that person in a jiffy. Employer fires them because “they don’t want bad publicity”.

          I lived in a country where it was enough that someone says you said something bad about the Party, or Comrade Leader, and bingo, next day police are at your door. I thought then the West was smarter, and that “innocent until proven guilty” is the real rule.

          1. I don’t think anyone sane is saying that the court of public opinion should be the judicial system we apply for alleged crimes of sexual violence, harassment and abuse.

            It is however very important, psychologically, for an actual victim of sexual abuse to feel that they are believed by the person who they are reporting the alleged crime to. That person should be a specialist officer of the law, who takes witness statements, uses a rape kit on the alleged victim if appropriate and passes the case to prosecutors for investigation. It may turn out later that the accuser was a lying liar, and in those cases it is very important that the accused is then rehabilitated in the public eye (if the details are public) and is given suitable redress for their suffering at the hands of the false accusation. Those two things are both necessary for a civil society based on the presumption of innocence.

            It is worth remembering the origins of the recent ‘floods’ of predators being named and shamed: For decades, countless real victims of abuse have not been believed by anyone. No police officer, specialist or otherwise, has taken their statements. No rape kit has been used to collect samples. These people have been told flat by the people whose job it is to believe them, that they are liars, attention seekers and manipulators. This is not what ‘presumption of innocence of the accused’ means. Since then, a number of victims have realized that the media; ever hungry for titillating media – will believe them and publish their stories and force the hand of the authorities to actually undertake the investigations that they were denied.

            Yes, This is damaging to society. Yes, It is creating a potential culture where false accusations can be used to derail someone’s life, or a political election, or create a selfish opportunity. YES, that should be stopped. But hopefully in future, we can at least gain a silver lining from the present dark cloud; in that allegations made by an actual victim to a person in authority will now be taken seriously, and appropriate action will be taken. It sucks for victims of libellous accusations that this current situation has arisen. It also sucks for the ignored victims of sexual abuse that this situation has arisen; and it wouldn’t have if the culture had existed where the police, social workers and other people of appropriate authority had taken their claims seriously to begin with.

            It is my hope, that that emerging and correct culture will persist, and that through either law or social change, the culture of public shaming will end. Both are possible, and both are necessary. We cannot have one without the other.

          2. That has to weighed against the massive amount of people who do not speak up about sexual predators because people like you are so afraid of the consequences of talking about it.

            It is VERY important to talk about what to do about the predators, and the first reaction can not be to fire them and cut them out of society not only because they might be innocent but because we do not gain anything by hurting more people.

          3. I think you’re discounting the amount of reporting that goes into the published allegations that we’re seeing.

            The fear is that people are just showing up at the news, spouting a bullshit story, and getting a guy fired.

            In fact, a news organization that publishes a piece will go through extensive verification, checking back story, interviewing people related to the incident, looking to ensure even the most basic facts like “were they at the same location at that timeetc” line up. The danger of publishing false allegations may be little to the accuser, but catastrophic for the news outlet, which may be hit with slander / libel charges, loss of reader confidence and subscribers, ad revenue, etc.

            Yes, it happens (e.g. “A Rape On Campus”), but it happens much less often than you imagine – and those responsible pay attention to false stories, and redouble their efforts to prevent something from slipping through the cracks in the future.

  5. My first mayor hacker event was Hal2001. I was quickly warned that if Capt’ Crunch asked to store his luggage in my hotel room or offer me an ‘energy massage’ I should say I smoke. I wasn’t given information about what happens if Crunch gets into a young mans hotel room, but there was sufficient knowledge that warnings were openly given about a named individual.

    I’ve been in the European hacker crowd for nearly two decade. In that time I have meet promenade, sometimes charismatic people that I really did not feel comfortable around. From what I see I think things are better now, though not perfect, though this may be due to me no longer being a teenage boy / young man.

    What I’m wondering is, was what was needed in this case was for someone in 1974 to tell John It’s OK to be gay? Could some of the unacceptable behavior be fixed with simple intervention before exile is needed? I’ve seen one hacker get their act together after a ‘women are people to’ talk. I’ve also seen someone go the other way after embracing an alternative ‘I’m special’ ideology.

    1. It’s not a simple question, as people come in both varieties and everything in between: ill-informed and insane.

      For example, pedophiles or the other kind that likes teenagers, can be pathologically so, and while you may explain their situation to them and generally giving them the lay of the land, they still fundamentally disagree with society because they -feel- it ought to be different. It’s like telling a left-hander to use their right hand – they can, but why?

      So, all sorts of cognitive distortions arise to settle the difference between society’s expectations and the person’s desires, and the special pleading starts. “I’m special” or “When I do it it’s different”.

  6. “But this just hasn’t been true, and too many people’s lives have been affected as a result.” Statistics 101, this has, in fact, been true, and continues to be true. It’s a problem, but it’s still a rare problem. Its annoying that so many people don’t understand basic statistics.

    1. It’s annoying that you assume that you know how many victims are out there who have not spoken up for whatever reason. And it’s annoying that you’re annoyed about your assumption of strangers’ comprehension of statistics when this article is about sexual harassment and assault, thereby downplaying the significance of such terrible behavior.

      1. I think he’s saying “societies have certain innate weaknesses, and by being aware of, and exploiting, these, an abuser can operate more successfully without detection”.

  7. Phil Lapsley’s book “Exploding the Phone” actually begins with Draper’s “exercises”, although they are made to seem innocent or only quirky. He made the author carry him around on his back and do various exercises before he would conduct interviews.

    1. What?
      First, some things cannot be mistakes. Convincing someone you have some sort of special knowledge of “energy excercizes” so that you can have an opportunity to grind your privates against them takes forethought and planning. That is an intentional act and so quite the opposite of a mistake.

      Also, people learn from mistakes so as not to repeat them. He is being accused of an ongoing habitual pattern of behavior.

      Assuming that a person who has been habitually predatory was only making a mistake, which he will not repeat and so letting him in to your event where he preys on someone else or even giving him a chance to prey upon you… that would be a mistake.

    1. My first thought exactly. The author is made uncomfortable due to “guilt by association”, which is understandanble given how the human mind makes associations. But that alone has never been a valid reason to shun anything. I mean “phreaking” was itself highly illegal, yet hackers delighted in committing a putative “crime” for the lulz. But the inventor of the 2600 whistle is outed, abd suddenly the whistle has cooties? I’ll buy that, but only for the moment it should take you to hack your own bias and instinctive revulsion, then get back to celebrating a truly righteous bit of hacker lore. Tech exists independent of its creator, and its creators bad acts. I recognize your sensitivity and applaud it, not wanting to honor or somehow “condone” heinous acts. I also recognize and expect your ability to set that aside and honor the acheivement, divorced from the tangential evil.

      Think of it this way: Would our species have reached the Moon if we had collectively turned up our noses at the engineering marvels created by former Nazi collaborators, who were in fact complicit in mass murder? Probably not as soon as we did. Did we condone the V2 bombing of Britain? Of course not!

      1. I think you missed the point. Which is: because of the abuse perpetrated by [Crunch], Jenny feels uncomfortable with celebrating or acknowledging that person by wearing the whistle. This isn’t denying the achievement, just refusing to celebrate the person.

        btw I do believe that we’d have achieved our space goals with or without the German engineers. It’s a different debate whether those who produce technology are directly responsible for its use or abuse. If the US had lost in WW II, the scientists at Los Alamos would all be war criminals.

  8. It does relate to hacking: A fair amount of the readers here are young, and if just one learns about predators here, and thereby doesn;’t become a victim, or reports what happened to them, it more than justifies the entire existence of Hackaday.

  9. So, hack a day is now social engineering a moral high ground with emotionally charged argumentum ad hominem.

    The “imbalance in the power dynamic” is actually known as the Power Distance Index, and does not dictate how someone’s cognitive process frames an abusive situation. In the US it is very unlikely you would let your boss get away with raping you without a fight because of their tax bracket. While I am sure you can imagine how horrible the victims must feel, you must ultimately accept there are some situations a legal due process cannot ethically prevent from occurring. Predators will always find positions of trust like doctors, teachers, police officers, therapists, TSA agents, and clergy — and by definition, this type of mental illness is not treatable with todays science.

    Perhaps some may feel responsible since their positions were assigned by their subculture itself, and thus drafted a new social contract for groups to follow — again, trying to prevent something they demonstrably cannot control. Sorry son, criminals don’t care about the law, your moral outrage, or the emotional scars these kids will carry for a lifetime.

    Perhaps some may feel betrayed, because a seemingly highly respected academic failed to meet some morally superior standard.

    Perhaps some may feel upset, because a rape victim is telling you why you don’t know what you are talking about — and hopefully never will.
    You can’t control everything that will happen in this life, but you can choose not to be a silent victim.

  10. Took so long to come out? In the mid-90s we young males knew to stay the F away from Draper. It was out there, it took this long for anyone to actually care. That’s what’s sad.

    1. I’ve never met him, but I get the impression people basically thought of his frottering antics as a bit sad and pathetic, some ridiculous horny old guy who can’t form human relationships coming up with a bizarrely childish method of rubbing his weiner against young men’s bodies.

      He isn’t strong or dominant enough to actually rape anyone. So he uses tricks on men who are likely young, naive, and not the most confident, so less likely to argue back against him. An older more confident guy could tell him to fuck right off, but nerds tend to be more passive, and to suffer rather than fighting back. He understood his prey, and exploited that.

  11. OOOkay, just a question I didn´t see asked or answered in the previous articles :
    If the man was known to have this kind of deviant behaviour, since a loong time, why wasn´t he accused, or it that not desirable, at least banned from the hacker events ?

    It was not a thing he kept hidden, as many people acknowledge. So, why wasn´t he made “persona non grata” and had his participation politely denied ?

    1. People with clout and power get to do all kinds of stuff that “anyone with a conscience” should step up to. Why? Because they have power and clout and people are willing to overlook it or downplay it for a chance to be with that person. You might not, but a lot of people would and that’s part of the problem.

    2. The answer to this is actually in the first few paragraphs of every article I’ve read: DEFCON claims that they had never received a formal complaint until now. Once they did, they banned him.

      Until someone complains, what you’ve got is rumors. And it’s inappropriate (maybe? it certainly feels wrong to me) to ban someone based on rumors. Especially if it’s well known that he’s a kooky, and maybe pervy, dude. This leaves the conference administration, if they’re telling the truth, with a situation where it looks like they should have known better, but they actually didn’t.

      Banning someone because of their sexual preference is unacceptable, just as failing to ban someone who has harassed people is. Waiting for evidence is probably the right thing to do.

      1. It’s a lot like the fact that British TV was full of jokes about Jimmy Savile, back when he was alive and still getting away with it. Everybody “knew”, but you can’t actually arrest someone based on bad-taste jokes. Of course, there still will have been police and social services whose jurisdiction he fell under. But police tend to start investigations based on individual complaints. Because none of the victims came forwards, I suppose none of them took the initiative. Though they should have.

        Then again there’s still the enormous scandal of large-scale child abuse by MPs and other high-ups in the 1970s and 80s. Which has been buried by Britain’s Conservative government. It only came to light at all after pretty much everyone on the accused list was dead. There’s your power imbalance.

        1. I wasn’t calling him a paedophile (please pay better attention). I was comparing the situation where “everybody knew” what he was like, but nobody did anything. The situation’s the same in both cases, only the type of abuse is different.

        2. No, it wasn’t a Goebbels-style trick, it was a valid comparison between aspects of 2 situations.

          John’s lawyer would surely want danger money and probably a flight to Brazil for plastic surgery to post all the shit you’ve been doing. John, it’s dishonest to pretend to be a disinterested bystander defending an accused person, when that person is actually you.

          How’s the whistle after all these years?

    3. I know of at least one hacker event that responded to his request for a speaking slot with what amounted to “LOL, fuck off perv” years ago. It was a sufficiently quick and uncontroversial response that I would be shocked if there weren’t many other examples of the same.

      1. It was Toorcamp, and I believe it was in 2014. My source is that I watched the conversation occur on the the FB event page. The page appears to have been deleted, but I double-checked my recollection with other witnesses and confirmed that my memory is sound.

        You’re an anonymous apologist for a sexual predator, so no, your comments don’t deserve much weight.

  12. Why is this article here? What are you trying to say?

    I haven’t really noticed any harassment going on around here and I think everyone knows that it’s bad, so who are you trying to inform?

  13. We need to stop making heroes out of people. They’re just people, and unless you know them personally you will never figure out what pile of motivations and weirdness make them just as messed up as the rest of us.

    There aren’t any heroes and there aren’t any villains. Just people who did a few good things or a few bad things, on top of the ordinary stuff all of us do. Putting people into the hero or villain category is lazy thinking that lets us feel like we are ordinary by birth, rather than capable of great good or great evil just as much as they are.

    I think you can say that something is a great achievement even if you find out the person also did terrible things. Just like you can condemn a horrible atrocity knowing that person also rescues shelter animals.

    The problem is that if you say “I think House of Cards is a great show” people will say “Oh so you’re a Kevin Spacey fan? Don’t you know what he did?” and think you’re a dirtbag. But they liked the show too before they found out. I think Kevin Spacey should never act again, especially since it provided the opportunities he needed to assault people. But does that make the show retroactively bad?

    1. “There aren’t any heroes and there aren’t any villains. Just people who did a few good things or a few bad things, on top of the ordinary stuff all of us do. Putting people into the hero or villain category is lazy thinking that lets us feel like we are ordinary by birth, rather than capable of great good or great evil just as much as they are.”

      OK. That is the end of adventure movies (all the comic book movies), The Iliad, The Odyssey, lots of opera, paintings. Well, a lot of stuff!

      1. I think you 100% missed my point, while helping to make it stronger.

        Heroes and villains are everywhere in fictional stories because they are a fictional creation. They’re a great story device. They’re fun. They aren’t able to live in our world because they’re words on paper.

        And the reason they work in fiction is because most of the time, a writer doesn’t bother to include the ordinary or inconvenient parts of the story. We aren’t going to see a comic book revealing that Superman groped a colleague in the copy room at the Daily Planet 15 years ago. So he gets to be a hero.

        In real life, we don’t get to edit out the parts of other people we find uncomfortable.

        1. Like Audi Murphy saying he just did what anybody would do. But his fellow soldiers disagreed. He behaved in a heroic way. In fact he did it often enough to see it was in his nature, and he was revealed as a heroic figure.

          Just because the word is grossly over used, and heroism is grossly fictionalized, does not mean it is unreal. There are specific requirements to being recognized for heroic efforts.

          1. I think, then, that we could agree to raising the bar for someone to earn that title? It has been thrown around a lot lately. I still think there is danger to saying “this person is a hero” and holding them up as an example, because they did heroic acts. Someone might rescue 8 people from a burning building and then beat their children…we don’t know.

  14. The following statement is not an attempt to defend anyone accused of sexual harassment, to date.

    My concern is that the current patterns of exposure will eventually (if it hasn’t already) end with lots of people’s lives being ruined based on mere false accusations. We’re quickly approaching the line where in a “he said, she said” situation where no proof can be shown either way, the accuser is winning. That’s a dangerous precedent. In the case of this particular person, the evidence appears to be very, very substantial, so the only real question is why it was allowed to fester this long.

    Bottom line, the problem with the French Revolution wasn’t that it necessarily devolved to lots of people’s heads getting chopped off, it was that once all the people who deserved to lose their head were dead, the mob still wasn’t sated.

    1. Exactly. Like you, not defending anyone here. But the trend you describe already exists. What we’re seeing is a fall in the reality distortion field around cultural icons of one form or another. The track record on accused of male teachers is already pretty bad. I know of one case, personally, that was lambasted on the front cover of the paper repeatedly; only to be exonerated beyond a shadow of a doubt. He ended up having to sue to get the same newspapers to run an article saying as much, which they buried on page 5. The police never retracted their highly inappropriate public statements. Poor bastard was out of work for six months before the DA decided there were no charges to press.

      Most bizarrely, this case never even had an alleged victim.

    2. >” once all the people who deserved to lose their head were dead, the mob still wasn’t sated.”

      Although technically, it wasn’t really the mob but “I am the people” Robespiere who started offing people who stood in his way.

      That’s what usually happens when you have a leftist revolution: a small group of demagogs at the forefront start to speak on everyone’s behalf and directing the lynch mob, and as they start to differ from what the people agreed with, when the real lynch mob goes home, the demagogs recruit an army of paid thugs and dress it up as the mob to keep the “people’s revolution” going.

  15. That is a good primer on journalism, but Jenny is not writing a news piece about what Draper did or didn’t do. She is merely making the point that the maker/hacker/hobbyist crowd should be vigilant about harassment, and is citing a recent prominent example of said harassment.

  16. I can tell that you tried to keep from getting political, which is great. Like your libertarian friend who uses any excuse to complain about the government, political flag waving can turn any topic into a flame war.

    A few things sneaked in, though: power imbalance, emotional safety, inclusiveness. Those concepts have really positive aspects, but they also signal “American-style social justice” just as clearly as “proletariat” and “means of production” signal Marxism. And sure enough, we ended up with a good old fashioned social justice flame war over what constitutes “everyday sexism” (which subthread thankfully seems to have been deleted).

    You have readers around the world. Many of them don’t really fall in the “American-style social justice” camp, but almost all of them would stand with you in exposing child predators. If you can keep your own political frame of reference from leaking into your writing, the trolls who want to turn everything into a generic culture flamewar will look really out of place, and people will be much less likely to sympathize with them.

    1. I don’t think “SJWs vs /pol autists” is a battle that’s going to get a lot of traction here. Mostly because we’re too smart to give a shit about what’s degenerated into a ridiculous sideshow.

      Not that there aren’t serious underlying political issues in the rubbish they all talk about. But their “discussions” don’t actually address them, or add to the total number of worthwhile things ever said by human beings.

      Rather than worry about “signals” and “sending messages” based on individual words taken out of context, I find it much more satisfying to comprehend articles a sentence at a time, with the sentences forming paragraphs and the whole thing carrying a theme. Instead of acting like a broken PERL script and throwing an exception every time certain words match my political regexps.

      1. Agreed that I want very much for hackaday not to turn into yet another culture war wasteland. Also agreed that political regexps are inferior to understanding the message as a whole. But keywords are easier to point out than themes. In this case, some dude’s a perv so they’re not going to invite him to conferences. Sounds good to me. The flame wars start if it gets served with a lecture about class struggle, toxic masculinity, the virtues of the free market, or any other political hobby horse. Jenny did a pretty good job of avoiding that overall, but a little sneaked in, and so we shouldn’t be surprised that we got some flames in the comments.

        1. The words you object to do have actual meanings in real life. BTW I looked it up, and “problematic” actually has a real meaning! Jenny used the words in an appropriate context I think.

          Even the phrases you mention have an actual sensible meaning. It’s only in the mouths of ignorant parrots, that they all blend into “I am right because you’re basically Hitler / Stalin”. Sensible people can still use them in sensible discussions. You might not want to, because they have connotations of idiocy, but if we can separate ourselves from people who act like that, we’re still fine.

          1. Of course words have real meanings. I never argued otherwise. The argument you seem to want to refute is that I flagged words like “inclusiveness” as bad regardless of their meaning or context, or assumed that she was rejecting all other views, and that would indeed be an easy argument to refute. But it’s not the one I made.

            Quoting loaded words is a shorthand way of saying “hey, your political bias is peeking through” without presenting an in-depth analysis of what they said. You’re saying that’s not enough, so sure, let’s go deeper.

            First, am I taking the words out of context (as you suggested in your other comment)? No, she gives us a paragraph lecture on power dynamics. She advocates maximizing inclusivity. She assumes we all agree about the hazards of a culture of harassment. So no, she wasn’t talking about electrical power or cell cultures.

            Second, are those just ordinary words that I’m somehow oversensitive to? Let’s consult Suffolk University’s Center for Student Diversity & Inclusion’s list of Social Justice Terminology:

            And indeed we see that Inclusivity gets a page of its own, psychological safety is mentioned in the very definition of Social Justice, and power is mentioned 9 times.

            And that’s great: Social Justice has its own jargon that lets you know when you’re seeing its influence. If you hear microhenries and millifarads, you know you’re talking electronics. If you hear inclusivity and psychological safety, you’re talking Social Justice.

            So I think my argument stands that in addition to the simple “this dude’s a perv so he’s out” message, Jenny also included a Social Justice perspective on things, and that invites people with other perspectives to object. It doesn’t make her a bigot, it just makes flame wars a bit more likely.

      2. > Rather than worry about “signals” and “sending messages” based on individual
        > words taken out of context, I find it much more satisfying to comprehend
        > articles a sentence at a time, with the sentences forming paragraphs and
        > the whole thing carrying a theme. Instead of acting like a broken PERL script
        > and throwing an exception every time certain words match my political regexps.

        I’m stealing this.

      1. Nope, had no idea. Fortunately there’s no citizenship requirement for adopting an ideology. I call it American-style social justice to remind people that despite the USA’s cultural imperialism, someone from Basque country or Hyderabad or Perth probably has a different way of looking at things like “inclusiveness” or “emotional safety”.

  17. I have been determined to be one of great conscience. I would put these thi gs to you; Apples are in bushels and not barrels nor bunches. Anf Kuro has it right when he points out that this article is not abkut hacking, unless one is apllauding Draper et al for hacking the menyal construct of a person to deviant advantage. As this is a Hacking Forum, this must be the HaD which you are promoting. If not, tbe article/yhread is non HaD and as it seems to flame Draper’s Social Hack, ought to be deleted on either count… whether awkwardly socially redeeming or not. This will be my first comment which I will not follow…!!!

  18. I’m frankly amazed this is “news”. John’s preferences have been known for a very long time. I don’t think there was a single person in the hacker space I frequented that was not aware to the point it was a bit of a joke. Like don’t end up in a room alone with the guy. The one time I got stuck splitting a hotel room with him and another guy was freggin weird. If I had slightly less to drink I would have risked the (dive and possible DUI) home but as it stood I was not willing to risk running someone over just to not deal with the guy. I can attest he does try to go for the piggyback ride / other weird stuff. Fortunantly for me he seemed far more interested in the other guy. However, if you nope out of that he isn’t pushy about it as far as I have experienced. Just make sure he is in another bed and sleep lightly.

    I’ve never been sure if his “a few nuts short of a fruit basket” act was an act or he is just off his rocker. I’d like to assume the second but it is likely the first.

  19. So finally someone publicly blew the whistle on john draper..

    I heard rumours >8 years ago when john came visiting our space.
    Some guys started calling a younger member “jail bait”, he was 16 back than.
    I only heard later that it was because he was a young boy and you know john and young ones..
    nope. ..i haven’t known a thing back than.

    I feel guilty because i didn’t speak to john and ask him straight what this was about in the first place.
    If we meet again i will ask questions, maybe you should too.

  20. ‘celebrity’ is part of the problem, stop putting people on pedestals and giving them special treatment. As far as I am concerned just because someone is a good singer, sports person or achieved some amazing engineering feat does not make them special. It just means they are good at that one thing not that they are somehow better than the rest of us.

    1. That’s right. It’s like I have a car it is very good at moving 4 people and their luggage around the country side in relative comfort – but all hell would brake loose if I tried to cook a cake with it.

      Here in Australia we have seen the mass falling from grace of many “celebrities” in recent times and the response to that has been intriguing. One prominent artist was accused and charged of some innapropriate behaviour towards children as a result people had some of his public artwork painted over. (My old high school had one of his murals installed in the main corridore, I wonder if it’s still their now?)

      I dont profess to have any more than a passing knowledge of “captain crunch” I find it interesting that he is alleged to have instigated 2 different illegal activities yet one is considered acceptable and one isn’t.

        1. Thousands of spent to alter your perception of a mostly-meaningless toy you threw out of your 3D printer.

          Or just toss the thing out and get an Ada Lovelace pendant instead.

          Context is king: If the item in question is your grandmother’s wedding ring, or the medal your great ancestor won in some achievement or other, or a handwritten book from 1438 then it may well be worth exploring psychotherapeutic solutions.

          If as in this case, the value of the item is solely derived from it’s link to the same connection that makes it unpleasant; then discarding it is almost certainly the more rational choice.

          Neither is invalid, it just depends on the context.

    1. Yeah, but I don’t know that carrying around a cap’n crunch whistle on a lanyard is especially rational, either. Only reason I could see to do that is if you were a big fan of the guy or something, and apparently based on all the comments, it’s been known/alleged for a long time, so I would think a big fan would have heard about it.
      Maybe it’s just intended as a signal to show that you’re an old-school phreak? I think to anyone in the know, that might seem a little poseur?

      1. Yup, the whistle is a phreaking icon. If you wanted to celebrate John’s other fame, you’d 3D print a dildo for your keyring. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. They didn’t demolish all the autobahns after WWII.

  21. Excuse me while I generalise but I’d like to give you the “big picture” view on this topic. In mammals the level of testosterone (in both sexes) is proportional to their levels of predatory and dominate sexual behaviour, the rest is cultural. There are physical changes in the mammal that are proportional to said hormone levels as they effect development profoundly. You should watch out for those, and beware of the cultural (and sub-cultural) background of the individual you are assessing in terms of their potential risk to yourself or those you care for. However this is not to be taken as any form of defence for offensive behaviour, in competent adult humans.

    1. In fact, because of that, you should be very careful about your own behavior (and possibly get someone to verify it) when you yourself are in a position of power. It’s very easy to rationalize away things you would never accept just a few months earlier. And once you start doing it, it’s a slippery slope.

    2. So you’re saying you should avoid men with very visible secondary sex characteristics? Isn’t John a skinny little weed?

      I’m not sure mammalian hormone levels are really the best terms to view this argument in.

  22. Draper, Jobs, Wozniak et al. I have always considered their hacking and abuse of telephone systems to have been criminal, worthy of prosecution and jail time that should have been applied years ago when they were doing all that stuff.

    Something that perpetuates a “culture” of many sorts of abuse is the continuing idiocy of public schools that protect bullies while punishing their victims for defending themselves in any way, even simply filing a complaint. Most recent one in the news is a parent being charged with a felony for putting a recorder in her child’s backpack to document the abuse the school refuses to do anything to stop. The *school* needs to be charged as an accessory to criminal actions for their refusal to protect students from harm.

    I saw lots of this first hand in the 70’s and 80’s. Bullies were allowed to run rampant. Anyone who complained was told not to be a tattle-tale. Mid 70’s was when the “self respect” and feeling good about yourself no matter what thing began. Wrong message! Respect others, respect their rights and you *earn* respect. They didn’t bother teaching that to feel good about yourself, you have to BE good. So we got bullies who respect only themselves and always feel good about their actions, no matter what crap they’re doing – and they never get yanked up short for any of it.

    But even before there was such an active movement with lousy results, schools were getting soft on bullies. Trying to figure out who or what *other than the bullies themselves* were to ‘blame’ or ’caused’ them to do such things. See the 1966 movie “Lord Love a Duck” for a satirical take on this.

    Reform school. Bring it back! Any students who are abusing others should be sent to one. No nonsense allowed. They’ll learn to respect one another. They’ll learn to be nice and courteous. They’ll learn how to learn. If they’re still not straightened out by age 18, give them a choice, the Army or jail. If they can make it 2 years in the Army and learn to behave in a civilized manner, off they go, free as a bird – but still check on them for a few more years.

    But even with the utmost care, there will still be a few psychopaths who can ape all the right actions while inside they’re just waiting for when they can do the evil things they want without getting caught.

  23. While I had not heard about Draper, we use “german” technology on a daily basis. People are people for good or bad. It sucks when they tarnish an otherwise good thing. That said, we all pick our battles and if ya think not wearing a repro crunch whistle will somehow fix things, then go ahead. I don’t personally use Uber which frustrates my friends.
    I agree it would be nice if folks all treated each other with respect.

    1. I wonder if she avoids the BBC, and the British police, and UK based Pakistanis To name just a tiny sample of people who have been in way way worse revelations.
      But as you say, it’s a feeling and people may do as they wish.

      1. My grandmother taught me a pretty cool/funny lesson about personal statement feuds late in her life. She was very old by that time and we were visiting and ordered a pizza from da Hut. Man, she went to town on that thing and even breadsticks! She all of a sudden stopped eating and said “that was foolish I was punishing myself over something stupid” and proceeded to launch into a story about how 15 years ago a local Pizza Hut had denied some (probably long expired) coupon and she vowed to never eat there again lol. She just started laughing at how silly it had been which stuck with me. I guess it is more of a csb since it isn’t super relevant to Jenny’s post, but it was a fun lesson about personal battles as being sort of silly when you set yourself short. It is hard to avoid some cause these days with all of the insane news every freakin second. I think I get what your view is and I generally agree. I try to just glance the headlines unless it is national level crime etc.
        It is kinda like the “wear this color this day to show solidarity” movements which only the people involved in that facebook group even know what it is about and are not even congregated so that someone can notice. Just a bunch of random people wearing red shirts lol. Maybe they could simply do a mass 3d printing and sales of crunch whistles to benefit and give support to victims of this problem. It would be “empowering” or some shit… Some of the hashtag clicktivism is pretty petty.

        I like Jenny and think she is a good addition to the HaD team with her posts being generally pretty interesting and having that excitement about things that I miss having sometimes. She is technically savvy but also cool and humble enough to have a chat in the comments if someone corrects something. She always seems excited to learn either way. I admire that energy. It makes me sad that she is sad and I am glad she brought this up because it raises some interesting points about the state of the world. I am not going to get rid of my crunch whistle (it is original) simply because of this. To me it still symbolizes several generations of hackers and most of us goons here on HaD that it inspired with a simple tone that led down a rabbit hole of multi-field learning. To each their own though. It is good when people care like Jenny does, otherwise things keep going unnoticed. Our kids should be safe and we should all try to help those that have been stricken unfairly when we are able, It takes all of us to keep the marble spinning. Even though this one in particular is not something I will participate in there are other things that I will. I do hope the folks involved the healing and or punishment they need. Sorry not particularly lecturing you I just couldn’t stop typing lol.

        1. Thank you.

          I haven’t binned my whistle.It’s just sitting on my bench in the flotsam. Not sure what to do with it really. I printed it on impulse merely because I noticed someone had uploaded the file to Thingiverse and it’s somewhat iconic. It’ll sit there as a reminder to be vigilant when I’m involved in the running of an event.

          I have had in the past to deal with the aftermath of more than one bad happening. This is one of the reasons why this is an important issue to me.

          1. Don’t ever stop caring, learning, and being you. I always enjoy your posts :) Your whistle your choice. I am not about to inject my white cis male opinion into the decision lol. Hope the trip goes well and you have a safe trip home.
            -damaged goods myself ;(

          2. Suggest you do keep it. It’s grown. No longer just cool ephemera. Much more of a thing now than it’s simple historic past. It brought the world to a boil twice! For vigilance sake a powerful reminder to glance at each event you work. Farther on, for the memories.

    1. The cartoonist R. Crumb of the “keep on trucking” drawing and “fritz the cat” cartoon was well known for doing the same to young women at one time. Doesn’t sound any less weird that way either.

    2. So you missed everything about the power imbalance, or preying on the young?

      The line between flirting and harrassment is I guess subject to interpretation, but someone trying to force any sort of unwanted physical contact on me… I would take as harrassment. YMMV, I guess.

    1. 1) I know because he tried to pull that shit on me when I was a teenager
      2) I noped out before it got criminal — luckily for me, it happened after I’d started to develop a useful level of spidey sense.
      3) SFPD doesn’t take reports for things that happened twenty years ago unless it’s a murder
      4) Not a single thing about my posting is anonymous — this is my real and rather unusual name. The anonymous one here is you. If you’d like to come peddle this line of horseshit to my face, I’m pretty easy to find.

      1. My encounter with Crunch was back in the late 90s. I’d heard the valorized version of his phreaking exploits back in the day, which is why I thought it was really cool when I met him at a rave and why I was interested in hanging out with him all night and into the morning. I had never heard any of the rumors his behavior at that point and didn’t hear them until nearly a decade later. But I was very creeped out and a bit confused by his conduct — I just knew he was making me feel really creeped out and uncomfortable, so I beat feet.

        IOW, there’s no confirmation bias here because I formed my impressions of his conduct entirely from the conduct itself, not from rumors i had not heard at the time and didn’t hear for a decade afterwards.

        Are you working from a checklist on gaslighting in defense of sexual predators?

  24. I do not like at all Hackaday mixes these things together! Did a person commit a nasty crime as of then valid laws and morals? If so, jail him/her till he’s black. One story.

    Completely another one is that some design, downloaded from Thingiverse and printed by someone else does not work properly. Another story, maybe worth technical teardown.

    And a third one, I think the worst one, is to drop something just because it was made by someone who is only now, after years, burn-branded as persona non grata (and so far only by street crowds, not a court). This should definitely not be seen here!

  25. There are so many issues with this post, most of which I suspect that you will only fully understand should something like this ever happen to you or someone close to you. Be very thankful that it has not.

    I think most of them have been done to death above though, so I’ll pull just one out of the hat. Please do not cite autism to excuse this kind of behaviour, or associate autistic people with it. [Crunch] happens to be autistic, you say, but he is not a harasser because of his autism and it’s not a magic get-out-of-jail-free card.

    If you walk into almost any hackerspace you will meet an above average percentage of people somewhere on the autistic spectrum, and I strongly suspect that the same would be true were you to poll the Hackaday readership. By associating harassment with autism you are tarring all those innocent people with the same brush, your friends, your peers. Don’t do it, they really don’t need that dropped on them.

    1. “If you walk into almost any hackerspace you will meet an above average percentage of people somewhere on the autistic spectrum, and I strongly suspect that the same would be true were you to poll the Hackaday readership.”

      WOW…what are you SERIOUSLY trying to say with this? People with an interest in technology are likely to be autistic? Is this a joke?

      How likely am I to be autistic now that I’ve read this article? Are my chances increased because I left a comment as well? How does that work exactly?

    2. “There are so many issues with this post, most of which I suspect that you will only fully understand should something like this ever happen to you or someone close to you. Be very thankful that it has not.”

      No true Scotsman; if you were a REAL victim you’d think / do the same. You just tried to place yourself on an emotional high horse whilst denying his credibility even if he DID go through something similar which you do not know!

      “I think most of them have been done to death above though, so I’ll pull just one out of the hat. Please do not cite autism to excuse this kind of behaviour, or associate autistic people with it. [Crunch] happens to be autistic, you say, but he is not a harasser because of his autism and it’s not a magic get-out-of-jail-free card.”

      Except that autistic people tend to have less than optimal capacity to read social cues and your ‘innate ability’ to distinguish good from bad behaviour is something you actually learned from your environment which requires reading social cues. If [Crunch] is autistic this might very well be the root of his behaviour.

      “If you walk into almost any hackerspace you will meet an above average percentage of people somewhere on the autistic spectrum, and I strongly suspect that the same would be true were you to poll the Hackaday readership. By associating harassment with autism you are tarring all those innocent people with the same brush, your friends, your peers. Don’t do it, they really don’t need that dropped on them.”

      If logical conclusions can harm your allies then don’t do it guys!

  26. Really? I’ve known a few people (both men and women) who flirt and even screw their way up the ladder. But it’s way more common for a woman who happens to be both qualified AND attractive to be accused of flirting their way in, even though they’re completely qualified.

    I doubt that oldfhart can actually back up [his?] assertion.

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