Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Archive for December, 2022

The semantics of discourse

Posted by Trixter on December 30, 2022

(Update: This post was last edited at 20230103 @ 9pm CST to clarify some responses; edits are at the end of this post.)

There is an individual who claimed today that I kicked him out of a demogroup. They published, publically, a very long, private, internal conversation we had, where we argued about very inflammatory topics including BLM, racism, socialism, and white supremacy. This conversation escalated and became very accusatory, cultivating in me accusing him of being a white surpremacist.

This is a serious accusation as it stands, but what I didn’t know at the time is that it is especially disrespectful and heinous to people who live in Europe, where this individual is from. In the USA, the term carries slightly less impact due to our history of dealing with racism (it is usually used when someone is quite obviously a racist, as in when they’ve stated so themselves publically), but evidently it is a very, very big deal to accuse someone in Europe of this. I wasn’t aware of that until after our argument was over, and for this, I regret using that phrase in our conversation.

That said, I would like to respond to the core assertion made today by this individual, who claims that leaving the demogroup wasn’t his choice, and that it was I who kicked him out of the group. While that is the perogative of any group leader (I have varying levels of code in our productions, but I’ve acted as a manager/wrangler since inception), his claim is false. At no point in our (now public) conversation did I ever say he was no longer welcome in the group. In fact, I asserted the opposite: In the last part of the conversation, I acknowledged that we will never agree on some of the issues discussed, and that I was willing to put it all behind us so that we could continue making demos together, writing: “I’m going to pretend that all of our political discussions never occurred and we can go back to making demos or some other such stuff.” This quote can be seen at the end of the private material he published.

His response, after our conversation ended, was to post the following message to our internal discussion group:

From xxxxx at xxxxx.xx.xxx  Sat Aug 29 18:10:06 2020
From: xxxxx at xxxxx.xx.xxx (xxxxx xxxxxxx)
Date: Sun, 30 Aug 2020 01:10:06 +0200
Subject: [PC Demo Dev] I'm a white supremacist
Message-ID: <CAP3xA-E4pgMtVf9EPyWe3+=pBZmH723oO8dC6=-nVTD+0P=A4w@mail.gmail.com>

A white supremacist. That is what Jim has repeatedly called me.
Clearly I am not, and I refuse to be called that by anyone.
I'm out.

He wasn’t kicked out of the group; he left voluntarily. Nobody else in the group was aware of our private argument, and I made it clear to this individual we could continue making demos together as long as we never discuss politics again, but it was his choice to leave. Once he declared his choice, we removed his access from our various shared resources.

The demoscene is a culturally relevant art subculture, so much so that it has been internationally recognized in several countries as such. While it is no longer a part of today’s demoscene, the culture has historical beginnings in male teenage behavior in the 1980s. Most of us who have kept active in the demoscene since those days — 3 decades and counting! — have moved on from that kind of melodrama. I hope someday we all can.


20230103 Update: I’ve been made aware that the individual in question is confused about the exact sequence of events, claiming that I took malicious action before they left the group. They are mistaken; actions were taken only after they declared they were leaving the group. The sequence of events — which are supported by timestamps that the claimant not only has access to, but have mostly made public by them — were:

  1. We had a private argument over email
  2. I wrote that I was willing to forget the argument and move past it to continue working together
  3. They wrote back, refusing, with obscenities
  4. They post a message to our internal group saying they’re leaving
  5. I remove their access from our design/planning board
  6. Another group member removes their access from our code repo
  7. I block this individual on twitter
  8. 28 months laters later, this private conversation is made public by them without my consent

To reiterate, steps 5 onward were taken after this individual publically declared they were leaving the group, with the response reproduced earlier in this post. No action was taken until after they declared their intention.

This individual also seems to think that there was no reason to block them if they had just chosen to no longer contribute. This individual must never have been part of group projects where a disgruntled participant has maliciously damaged assets. For example: I participate in the curation of a software archival project, and we had an instance where someone decided that, not only did they not want to participate any more, they were angry with certain members of the project. Without warning, they proceeded to deface our discussion board, delete useful organizational information they had contributed, and maliciously overwrote archived material. So, when someone declares they are leaving, it’s standard operating procedure to protect the group’s assets, so that’s what we did. (And I stress we, not just me; it was a group decision.) Despite these actions, we never blocked their email; they could have gotten in contact with any member of the group (even me) via each member’s individual email address if they wanted to discuss the matter further.

I’ve removed any political comments from this post, because this post is not here to invite political arguments or facilitate political discussion. It is here only to explain the facts of what happened, and my regret for using a certain phrase. I still invite any non-political comments.

Perhaps the most regrettable thing about this entire exchange is that I originally reached out over email not to start an argument, but to provide a USA-centric perspective to events that I felt were deeply troubling said individual based in another country, based on his posts on twitter. Meaning, I started the conversation initially trying to help them, as we were friends at the time, and friends help each other. But because of what happened, I’ve completely stopped talking politics to anyone, even family, since September 2020. I’ve also stopped reading and responding to anything on twitter and facebook, using twitter only to make new broadcast announcements about projects I’ve worked on. I’m not sure if one of their goals was to shut down any desire in me to help people understand what Americans think about certain topics, but if it was, they succeeded.

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