Debian, Chris Lamb and a Campaign of Harassment-by-Proxy


One of the law suits to define the age of social media is Herrick v. Grindr LLC. Herrick's ex-boyfriend has created fake profiles impersonating Herrick, inviting arbitrary strangers to visit Herrick at his workplace. The case has been escalated all the way to the US Supreme Court. It is an example of harassment-by-proxy.

In a recent email, the Debian Project Leader made a rather confused report about a campaign of harassment. It is confusing because officials in the Debian aristocracy have used the project's resources to pretend they are victims. It is otherwise known as victim-offender reversal.

The simple fact of the matter is that a volunteer resigned from a post in August 2018 and cited extraordinary personal circumstances in a private email to the former leader, Chris Lamb.

Nobody from the project made any attempt to communicate with this volunteer for a month. Then, just as the volunteer was departing on vacation, Enrico Zini, one of the Debian Account Managers, sent an insulting email alleging the volunteer wasn't a real developer. This intrusion on a developer's vacation is a pretty grave example of harassment. People have complained about trolls on Debian's mailing list but none of them have stooped so low as sabotaging a volunteer's vacation.

At the same moment, the former DPL, Lamb, was sending out messages to denounce the volunteer. He conscripted an Albanian to relay those messages into other parts of the free software community.

As a consequence of those messages, initiated by Lamb, the volunteer is constantly being confronted with questions about his family and personal life. People asking the questions don't know enough about the case to know they are intruding on somebody's private life. They have been used by Lamb, Zini et al. to cause extreme discomfort to another volunteer. This is a campaign of harassment-by-proxy, orchestrated by Lamb, much like the harassment described in Herrick v. Grindr LLC.

Rogue elements of the Debian aristocracy, using proxies, have stalked him at free software events. Over a period of 15 months, they have sought to burn and desecrate every area where the volunteer contributes to free software.

Some people are asking who is harassing who. Yet the facts are clear: the volunteer resigned from his role in August 2018, the first abusive messages were unilaterally sent by project officials towards the volunteer some weeks after that. Lamb and Zini lit this fire.

This persistent campaign of harassment, the leader and office holders using Debian's otherwise good reputation to suck other people into insulting a volunteer, is about as bad as it can get. It is scary to contemplate where it will end.