An open letter to Mark Shuttleworth – Be a man and say SORRY!

Hi Mark. I won’t bother asking how you are doing. In case you have not been told or heard of it, there is a needless flame war going on in your community. This was started by you when you said something is  “hard to explain to girls.” I wonder what that is.
You know, I have not seen the transcript of your keynote address at LinuxCon fest 2009, neither has anyone explained the context in which you made that statement. However, that is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. The long and short of it all is that your comment did not go down well with people, and some are really fuming about that particular statement. I for one, did not have any problem with your comment, but now that it seems it had not settled down well with people, I had thought you would just issue a simple statement of sincere apology.
However, I was very much disappointed this afternoon when I read here that you had flatly refused to do such a thing. You see Mark, apologizing does not mean accepting or acknowledging defeat. Neither does it mean you were wrong and the other party was right. Far from that. On the contrary, it means you are a man who is capable of being sensitive to the feelings of others around you and you are willing to do all you can not to hurt those feelings. If I am right, you are the founder of a whole community that prides itself on being humane to others, and have won for yourself millions of admirers from all over the world. You have succeeded where most others failed.
Your massive community of Ubuntu users look so much up to you. You are charismatic and I like that about you. You are steadily building an empire around that magnificent OS called Ubuntu. That is not a bad thing. However, I fear that your apparent persona of standing your grounds no matter what will trickle down to your followers in the community, who will in turn begin to be just like you- unyielding. That I fear is going to be the beginning of the end of your empire.
If I read right, one of the the cardinal codes of the Ubuntu community that you are involved with reads

“Be respectful. The Ubuntu community and its members treat one another with respect. Everyone can make a valuable contribution to Ubuntu. We may not always agree, but disagreement is no excuse for poor behavior and poor manners. We might all experience some frustration now and then, but we cannot allow that frustration to turn into a personal attack. It’s important to remember that a community where people feel uncomfortable or threatened is not a productive one. We expect members of the Ubuntu community to be respectful when dealing with other contributors as well as with people outside the Ubuntu project, and with users of Ubuntu.”

How then can you of all people in this community allow yourself to be the center of so much controversy when a simple, sincere statement of apology could have prevented everything. Mark, I won’t take much of your time because I know how busy you are. All I humbly ask you to do is to be the nice, warm, charismatic and charming leader you are by saying a simple sorry to those who felt offended by your finding it “hard to explain things to girls.” Remember, chief among the reasons why you have reached where you are today is because you succeeded in winning the hearts of people. Now do not let this erode your gains over the past several years.
It’s not too late Mark, and forget whether you were misquoted or not, taken out of context or not, you need to be the man I know you to be and just make a sincere apology to all those wonderful people out there who felt offended. Go Mark, be a man and say SORRY!
Your friend and unofficial Ubuntu analyst


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