Editor’s Note: Sometimes We Grow Up

by Carla Schroder
Managing Editor

Jono Bacon’s announcement of the OpenRespect.org project was
met with the usual mix of reactions, from approval to charges it is
really “The Quit Picking on Ubuntu” project.

Jono is the Community Manager of Ubuntu. He is a musician who
releases recordings under a free-in-full Creative Commons
Attribution Share-Alike license. He wrote
The Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation.
co-hosted LugRadio. He’s
probably done a lot of other things.

In short, like most of us, he is a multi-faceted person with a
lot of interests. Unlike most folks, he puts himself out there in
public view. Anyone with the tiniest public presence, in this brave
new Internet era, is a target for every complainer and angry
psychopath on the planet. Being a public figure these days means
being a target for more criticism and crazy talk than you ever
thought possible. It takes courage and focus to keep on going in
the face of the noise. You’re out there in wide open, while the
little trollies and whingers are taking their shots from their safe
hideouts where you can’t reach them.

It was no surprise when Jono’s announcement of the OpenRespect
was met with the usual mix of positive and negative
responses. My own initial feeling was a snitty “Welcome to the Quit
Picking on Ubuntu Tour.” Fortunately, aside from a comment on
Jono’s Facebook page I kept that to myself. But as my mommy tried
to teach me, it is quite acceptable to have unexpressed thoughts.
It’s really not necessary for anyone to express every opinion they
have on everything. Especially first impressions, before you have
the facts.

Past Sins

comment on Linux Today
caught my attention:

“Remember his LugRadio personna?
Bombastic, opionated, condescending, passive-aggressive and willing
to call out people and projects.
I use to love the podcast for that irreverence.
That show would not pass his newfound zen attitude.
I dont blame him. We all grow up, put on a suit and get a real job.
We get older. Some get wiser.
Its just ironic that the very persona which made him famous in
FLOSS is the one he wants to tone down.
I dont have problems with having civility but dictating it is a
tricky thing and the great LugRadio segment Hype or Shite would
fall afoul of his newfound tolerance if it was around.
We all eventually become our own fathers, I get that but Bacon
wants other young people to not do the things they did for
There is a word for that.”

That seems a fair criticism in some ways, and even the implied
accusation of hypocrisy. I asked Jono what he thought:

“I understand where the poster is coming from, but I
think there is a difference between satire and respect. LugRadio
was all about satire, and while we certainly accidentally took it a
little too far at times as we were all were (and still are) idiots,
I believe that there is a difference between satirical commentary
and disrespectful conflict-orientated discourse. Satire pokes fun,
and OpenRespect never wants to stop people poking fun, but
OpenRespect is encourage people to have civil debate that doesn’t
descend into bickering and name calling.

“Not sure I have grown up yet, in fact I am getting ready to go
and play a thrash metal show tonight in Livermore, but I do think
we live and learn, and while I am intensely proud of our
achievements in LugRadio, I consider LugRadio a satirical show that
in itself helped me learn more about respect, particularly from the
times we overstepped our bounds. Wow, that statement makes me think
maybe I am growing up. I am going to go and put some comfortable
slacks on and make a nice cup of tea…”

In other words, different behaviors for different circumstances.
Figuring out how to work constructively with other people is hard.
That’s life; good things take work.

Maybe Jono is a hypocrite who wants it all ways. I don’t think
so, but so what if he is? We’re all imperfect, we all have pasts
full of mistakes, and if all we do is focus a critical, judgmental
lens on everything we’ll never accomplish anything. I think a
reasonable baseline is to expect everyone to try, even a little, to
get along with their fellow humans.