Since it seems unclear to the Internet…

One, I hate writer’s block. So this post may be slightly confusing. Two, I could, you know, blah blah “140″  but you know what? That’s a cop out sometimes, and this is one of those times. And the Internet at large seems to be rather… confused and/or not understanding my stance on discrimination. Not “discrimination” in the sense of “oh well X isn’t actually qualified for Y”, but discrimination in the sense of “X can’t have Y because Z” where Z is pretty much everything one Paul “I’m Not A Bigot” Graham uses an excuse.

So let me be absolutely crystal clear about my stance:


Please feel free to place this same message on your blog, website, whatever. Just as long as it’s not your useless lying “equal opportunity” page. And stop claiming you aren’t lying about it, Silly-con Valley “bros.” You’re so full of it, there are farmers in Oklahoma who want to spread you on their fields. And stop pretending that Paul Graham isn’t a racist and bigot and doesn’t actively encourage discrimination, bias and bigotry.

No. Seriously. Stop. Because I have honestly reached the point where I’m going to go for the Educational Cinder Blocks and a trebuchet the next time I hear it.

Enough of the outright lying where privileged idle rich twits like PG conflate “qualification” with “discrimination.” It’s a complete and utter lie, the same as the claims that it’s a “meritocracy.” If it was an actual meritocracy, there wouldn’t be hundreds of failed startups. If it was an actual meritocracy, more than <1% – yes, less than 1% – of founders would be African American. Want to know how many non-white kids Paul Graham has given money to? Two. And HN tries to justify it because they “live in poverty” and “few tech founders come out of poverty”. And if that entire thread doesn’t make you sick, seriously, what the hell is wrong with you?

You want evidence that Paul Graham is blatantly discriminatory and biased as all hell? OKAY!
ITEM THE FIRST: “I would be reluctant to start a startup with a woman who had small children”
ITEM THE SECOND: “Whereas when you’re starting a company, you can discriminate on any basis you want about you start it with.”
ITEM THE THIRD: “The cutoff in investors’ heads is 32,”
ITEM THE FOURTH: “I can be tricked by anyone who looks like Mark Zuckerberg. There was a guy once who we funded who was terrible. I said: ‘How could he be bad? He looks like Zuckerberg!’ ”
ITEM THE FIFTH: “You have to go far down the list to find a C.E.O. with a strong foreign accent,”
ITEM THE SIXTH: “You can sound like you’re from Russia,” he said, in the voice of an evil Soviet henchman. “It’s just fine, as long as everyone can understand you.”
ITEM THE SEVENTH: “labels used to suppress ideas” AKA the whole post. On the list? Yep. “discriminatory” and “racist.” Also “holocaust-denying” – that’s cute. Yes, Paul Graham apparently considers accusing people of holocaust denial to be the suppressing of ideas.
ITEM THE EIGHTH: “If you have a connection to one of the more powerful sororities at your school, approach the queen bees thereof and offer to be their personal IT consultants,” - REALLY?!
ITEM THE NINTH: “uncool office” – seriously? You people actually think this guy has an IQ over 50? If you need $200K of brightly colored cloth on the walls to “innovate” and “crush it”, go back to kindergarten where that crap belongs.

And you’re going to tell me that any one of these, any single one of them, is the least bit acceptable?

I’m going to give you a cheat sheet. If you’re unsure if discriminating is okay:


“Oh but I’m-” NO. “But this is speci-” NO. “Well I’m looking fo-” NO. I don’t give a damn what your excuse is, and frankly, no decent person on earth does either. There is no excuse for it, there is no justification for it, and you are in fact a horrible, no good, waste of a human being if you attempt to justify it. Full stop.

But it’s okay if I discriminate because reasons!noitsnot

I don’t give the least bit of damn who you think you are, how much you think you’re worth, or how big your precious entitled ego is. I don’t care if you’re black, white, purple, aquamarine, a mermaid, or a porn star.

And don’t give us this crap about how it’s “okay” to “discriminate” when picking a co-founder. One, no it’s not, even if you’ve already secured investment from the white supremacists at Stormfront. Two through two-hundred fifty-six, see One. Picking a co-founder is absolutely not discriminating. You don’t go have sex with random people on the street, and we’re expected to believe people go and risk their livelihood on some random person they picked up off AngelList? I don’t even know where to begin with how absolutely wrong and invalid that whole argument is. I’m sure as hell not going to just go pick up a random drifter and say “hey, let’s start a business.” I’m going to talk to people I know well, who I know I can count on. That’s not “being discriminatory” or “being biased.” That’s using more than two brain cells.

Oh, and what started this particular storm? A tweet that I will stand behind, will not delete, and illustrates oh so perfectly exactly why the Cult of PG should be crushed and every last one of them either forced to become decent human beings or out of society for good.

“rootwyrm: @shanley @jason_pontin Or any of those weird skin colors or anybody with a weird accent because those are bad too.

Now the first, and I do mean absolutely first reaction anyone who actually knows me has to that Tweet? “.. oh crap. He’s mad. And snarky. Get the popcorn.” Because they – and anyone who’s EVER met me in person – will tell you that my tolerance for discrimination and racism is zero. The ONLY time I would write something like that is sarcastically (which is fairly obvious) or to provide absolute proof that someone is full of it. Well hey, guess what? Proof – provided.

“jason_pontin: @rootwyrm @shanley I assure you that SV startups have plenty of weird skin colors, for what that matters.”

Yes, the Editor In Chief of the MIT Technology Review, I kid you not, did not even bat an eye. And then attempted to DEFEND his obviously offensive and inappropriate use of it claiming I had said it first. Yes, he got out the “well he said it first” defense.

You don’t get to use the “he said it first” defense when it comes to racism! NEVER! Just because a friend of mine who is black uses the N-word to describe someone he dislikes does not mean it is okay for me to use the same filthy slur! Holy crap do you have to be an entitled, ignorant twit to think that. Not only that but a complete idiot to not take the ten seconds to come up with a better word for it. And then to use the “well he said it first” defense – my GODS. Look. I worked across the street from MIT from ’00 to ’01. Know how many people I saw who weren’t white? Zero. Poor kids? Zero. Stop pretending you know a thing about diversity – people will respect you a hell of a lot more for admitting you don’t.

And seriously – way to exactly, and I do mean exactly – prove my point. I used phrasing which was deliberately offensive to indicate how offensive the statements in the article were. “Weird accents.” Well hey, guess what? You don’t get to claim it’s a “communications shortfall” because it’s not. It’s a Paul Graham is being racist shortfall. Holy hell, I can understand people with English as a Third Language explaining highly, highly complicated and technical things to me just fine. And you’re claiming the guy with a Portugese accent can’t communicate effectively? Bullshit! I have a good friend with an accent straight out of Lagos, which is entirely foreign to my ears, and I can understand him just fine.

And the EIC of the MIT Technology Review used the exact same phrasing without even batting an eyelash. THAT is offensive. If you really were dedicated to fighting racism, discrimination the first words out of your mouth should have been calling me out on my phrasing. And I would have cheered you on in total and absolute agreement. Because oh gods yes, “weird skin colors” is incredibly, incredibly offensive. Instead, he used the exact same, just as offensive words. Despite supposedly being smart enough to be EIC. What, do they not even let you use thesauruses at the MIT Technology Review?!

Not that any synonym wouldn’t be just as offensive, but come on. I’m not even comfortable describing someone as “African American” even when it’s factually correct. I get visibly uncomfortable with it and find other ways to describe the person – like “the tall bald one” or “the guy in the red shirt” or “she’s the one to the left of the pop machine.” There’s a hundred thousand better ways to describe it and the first you go to is parroting the most offensive one? Unintentionally racist is still racist, and your failure to realize the point I was making then crying “he said it first” just makes it intentionally offensive on your part.

But I know that some of you are visual learners. So I’ve provided the following infographic (woo) to show you what dealing with racists and bigots (by which I mean: white folks who are racists, bigots or worse) all my life has taught me about discrimination and racism:



cooltext1167780522(eyebleed provided courtesy CoolText)

2 Responses to “Since it seems unclear to the Internet…”

  1. Cuba Pete

    “racists and bigots (by which I mean: white folks who are racists, bigots or worse)”

    You never met black, brown, red, yellow, or otherwise folks who were racist? Do you seriously only define racists and bigots as white folks?

    In your time across the street from MIT, or at any time since, did you stop to wonder where all of those white folks were from…where they spent their first 18 years of life?

    Otherwise, a good blog post.

  2. Phillip Jaenke

    Actually, I did. Quite a lot, in fact. And you know what? The students aren’t the gatekeepers – never have been. I still live in a college town, and know the reality is that the admissions folks are the gatekeepers. (BTW, enrollment at said college? 70% acceptance, 45% male/55% female, and >83% white. With a ~50% graduation rate.)

    And I’ve met plenty of folks who could check “Other/Non-White” in the EOE form who were extremely racist or bigoted. But very few. For some reason, being the victim of racism or bigotry tends to reduce, you know, racism and bigotry in the victim. Sometimes.