Yesterday, we reported on the untimely death of open source software pioneer Ian Murdock, who died in sensational circumstances after a string of emotionally charged posts on social media in which he threatened suicide and claimed to have been the victim of a vicious incident of police brutality.
Today, author, digital rights activist, and Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow claimed in a blog post that Murdock had indeed been arrested and injured by the police:
I’ve heard a lot of gossip about what Murdock did immediately before his death, but don’t have any confirmation, so I’ll confine myself to saying that Murdock had been arrested, possibly more than once, and had been injured by the police during those encounters.
Doctorow did not confirm any of Murdock’s other claims, which included allegations that the police had followed him back to his house to beat him repeatedly, that he had initially been attacked and “sent to the hospital” by police merely for “knocking on his neighbour’s door,” and that he had been sexually assaulted in police custody.
San Francisco police are still silent on Murdock’s claims. A comment request sent out by Breitbart Tech yesterday remains unanswered.
Prior to his death, Murdock was a well-known figure in the world of open source software. His first name is the “ian” in “Debian,” the open source project he founded.
In the wake of his death, at least one person on the Debian mailing list is calling for the project to be renamed, due to the fact that the founder used the N-word during his Twitter meltdown. (Most of his posts empathized with black Americans’ complaints about police brutality. His use of the word appears to have been an attempt to shock rather than be racist.)
It’s unfortunate that Debian is named after Debra and Ian, because having the project named after a white supremacist, who used his ex-wifes name as an trophy. Being that the current year is almost 2016 and is 20 years after Debian started, we should look to the future and not the past. We shouldn’t tolerate the project being named after a person who uses the N word, or marginalizes women who’ve been sexually assaulted. Instead I think we ought to rename the project “Euphemia”, which means “good speech” and represents our code of conduct, as well as being the name of Euphemia Lofton Haynes the first African American woman who earned a math PHD.
It’s unclear if the poster is a troll, or whether their demand is genuine. Use of the phrase “current year,” a meme used to mock progressives on the internet, would suggest a troll. However, other contributors to the Debian mailing list took it seriously, with most replies railing against the post’s insensitivity and poor timing. One said:
It is not white supremacy to use a taboo word for its shock value when discussing violations of civil rights that should be shocking to all, regardless of the color of the victim. One can certainly disagree with his methods, but there is no cause for accusing Ian of “white supremacy” when all the evidence suggests he desired to see civil rights abuses corrected for the good of all. His memory deserves better than this.