DrunkenBatman Is Not A Racist

August 14th, 2007

OK – I had a great time at C4, and I would like to write an extensive blog post about all the great, and some of the slightly awkward things that happened at the conference. I would like to, but I’m incredibly busy. Almost too busy to write anything at all. Except I want to help stand up against a growing tide of inaccurate commentary about the deeds of DrunkenBatman at the conference.

Here’s what happened:

DrunkenBatman used his role as moderator of a group panel to explore some theories that did not meet with universal agreement from the audience. The topics were explored longer than they should have been, and some of the ideas were presented in a provocative fashion. The audience and panel were both generally pretty dissatisfied with the resulting lack of meaningful discussion that transpired.

One of the ideas DrunkenBatman tried to convey was that the Mac market might not be as diverse as other platforms, particularly Linux. His theory was that by improving the diversity of the platform, it would lead to a greater atmosphere for future product development, and be a particular boon to the open source movement on the Mac.

In the course of presenting these ideas he filled the screen with one particularly provocative slide, which read “Black People Don’t Use Macs.” He then employed some statistically inappropriate anecdotes, and took an informal poll in our room of 150 Mac developers, where only person raised his hand, self-identifying as black. While he didn’t particularly convince the audience or panel that his theory was accurate, at least we understood where he was coming from in his speculation.

DrunkenBatman did not do a great job making his points on Saturday evening, or of managing the panel he was supposed to be moderating, but that does not make him a racist. Conference attendee Ian Baird snapped a photo of the aforementioned slide, and posted it to his Flickr account, where it received a fair amount of misguided and inappropriate venom. I trust that Ian was not trying to encourage accusations of racism – he was just posting an interesting snapshot from the conference.

But today some idiot on Digg (is that redundant?) took it upon himself to post a link to the Flickr photo, with the extremely inappropriate caption “DrunkenBatman goes on racist tirade at C4 Mac dev conference.” This gets my blood boiling, because although there were aspects of DrunkenBatman’s overall presentation that bordered on tirade status, his comments regarding diversity among Mac users were by no means racist. It’s offensive and slanderous of Digg user AmazingSyco to imply that they were, let alone that it was “a racist tirade.”

If you were at C4, or even if you weren’t but trust my description of how things went down, I would urge you to help bury the story on Digg. The way this works is you log in as a registered Digg user and “Bury” the story with a rationale. If enough people do it, the story disappears from searches and from the popular stories pages.

It won’t undo the damage of the slanderous statement, but at least it will help prevent it spreading wider or faster than it should. I rarely believe that stories should be buried, but in this case the caption and associated commentary are so hurtful and inaccurate, I believe it’s the right thing to do.

Thanks for listening, and I hope to have a less adrenaline-inspired post about C4 at some point in the near future.

58 Responses to “DrunkenBatman Is Not A Racist”

  1. Christian Says:

    some idiot on Digg

    I think the most appropriate word is “redundant.” ;-)

  2. Brent Simmons Says:

    Agreed. I clicked the bury button.

  3. Christopher Humphries Says:

    He may not be a racist, yet the slide is racist. Comments he made were racist.

    While it is possible to do actions that don’t truly represent one’s self… it is still reasonable to understand that people will judge something for what it is.

    He deserves the feedback and should have reserved better judgement for a conference. Seems it may have been better suited for his living room. The world shouldn’t just ease off because you know the guy and feel for him.

    Sorry, the world has little tolerance for racist comments and presentations, as should be expected and desired.

  4. Bill Coderre Says:

    This guy is learning an important lesson usually reserved for politicians: You WILL be quoted out of context. So don’t say inflammatory things that require context to understand.

    And whatever you do, don’t say inflammatory things in giant letters on a slide and then get your picture taken next to the slide.

    In addition, don’t do this if you are a Mac developer talking about Macs at a Mac conference. Some Mac-hater is going to turn this into a “MAC USERS ARE ALL RACIST PIGS” trolling thing on every web discussion board possible.

  5. Rich Pollock Says:

    some idiot on Digg (is that an oxymoron?)

    I’d say it’s more of a tautology.

  6. Jonathan Wight Says:

    Let’s not forget DB threatened (actually more like promised) to punch a fellow conference speaker in the face: http://www.drunkenblog.com/drunkenblog-archives/000767.html

    Looking at all of it in context I’d be very glad if DB is not invited back to C4.

  7. Scott Says:

    I don’t think you meant “oxymoron”. I think you meant “redundant”.

  8. Joe Cheng [MSFT] Says:

    I don’t know/care about what happened at C4, but Bill’s comment brings to mind this classic moment:


  9. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    OK OK People, I get it. I got the word wrong. But please stop telling me about it, OK :)

    Joe: Haha! I hadn’t seen that. You’re right, it’s an incredibly good example of what standing in front of a slide can convey in a photo. I’ll have to keep that in mind as I design my own slides in the future.

  10. charles Says:

    funny, I just clicked “Bury”, and suddenly it shows as “Buried”. That was fast.

  11. Clint Ecker Says:

    It still showing as not-buried here. Also, AmazingSyco, is, as far as I can tell, Steve Streza: http://twitter.com/AmazingSyco

    I think I saw him hanging out at the Delicious Generation party @ WWDC.

  12. Chris Ryland Says:

    I found his whole approach to be pretty counter-productive. You don’t have to write racist-sounding slides and threaten (swearing and cursing like a drunken, well, batman the whole time) to bring down some silly New Age folks because they’re taking advantage of gullible people.

    I thought his Evening at Adler was really well done, but it’s been downhill since then.

    Time to find a new moderator at C4-like events.

  13. Jacqui Says:

    Anybody who knows DB knows that he doesn’t give a shit about being “quoted out of context” or quoted for saying ridiculous things. That’s his schtick. It’s just that up until now, he still had street cred among the developer and Mac communities for “telling it like it is” and otherwise being a badass, and now that seems to have shifted a little bit.

    I assure you that he, personally, doesn’t care about this. In fact, he probably loves that his “name” is all over the place again right now.

  14. Jonathan Wight Says:

    Jacqui, yeah to me Drunken Batman has gone from being somewhat relevant to being a non-entity. I just don’t care what he has to say any more.

    While the session wasn’t a “racist tirade” (as digg has it) I’m really rather surprised anyone is defending him, what with his comment about beggars at Moscone (quote was something like “the only black people I saw at WWDC were outside begging for change”). That just isn’t acceptable. The C4 twitter back channel (http://twitter.com/C4?page=13) pretty much had to nailed down. We were all embarrassed and just wanted it to be over.

    If DB wanted to be reactionary he succeeded. But I really hope he doesn’t get the chance to do so again.

  15. B Says:

    Perhaps some of you are unfamiliar with the definition of racist? His comments did not indicate that black folks are genetically inferior to white folks.

    Nor can inanimate objects ( slides, in this case ) exhibit racism, you see, as that is anthropomorphism.

    Is DB an idiot? No. Uncouth and willing to irritate? Certainly.

  16. Dominik Wagner Says:

    Agreed. I clicked the bury button.

  17. Dan Moren Says:

    Agree totally with Daniel’s post. I was sitting in the front row at the presentation, and while I think DB had some interesting points to make, the fashion in which he went about it was, shall we say “counter-productive.” I’d suspect, given the reception, that he won’t be invited back next year.

    But I don’t think he’s a racist. And overall, I think this is kind of a non-story that I’m hoping doesn’t get blown out of proportion. Though I do have a picture of Cabel Sasser’s hilarious rebuttal slide, which maybe I’ll put up somewhere. :)

  18. Steve Streza Says:

    As the Digg user in question, I’ll take this opportunity to defend what I said and why I said it.

    First, there’s the Twitter feed from the C4 conference. There were a ton of comments in there regarding what DB said, and I couldn’t find one thing said about that part of the panel that was positive except for “it’s not that bad”. Here’s the link: http://twitter.com/c4?page=14 (and the quotes below come from that and the next few pages)

    ‘The “black people” topic is painful. Really glad I’m not on the panel.’
    ‘is this where the cane comes out and takes DB off the stage?’
    ‘this warrants a walkout here shortly’
    ‘All of a sudden my complaint about his use of Arial for the slides is my least substantial criticism of this panel.’
    ‘dangerous to talk about race and class. Unfortunately db used race as substitute for class.’

    Next, here are two quotes from the Flickr page, from people who (said they) attended C4:

    ‘What that picture can’t show is that after the slide went up, Drunkenbatman went on to say that “the only black people he’s seen at MacWorld were outside begging for change.” He says this with a black developer in the room and this was apparently not enough to stop this part of the conference. It’s a shame the Mac community is not really addressing this. If it was an attack on their platform, they’d be all over you. Yet you don’t see too much about it, let alone DB’s racist comment.’

    ‘It didn’t stop the conference, he was boo-ed by the audience for that comment. And talk at the table and on the twitter back channel mainly revolved around “WTF”… I don’t think it should have been stopped, people did try and rebut DB – esp (shoot name failing me) the Nu guy.’

    Finally, there was some C4 wrapup blog post that I saw while at work, which used the words “inappropriate” and “offensive”. I can’t find the link right now, but I’ll post it tomorrow.

    So I took what was said about DB’s comments during the panel and considered it racist when I posted. I hardly consider that offensive or slanderous. The topic of racism is highly subjective, what offends one won’t offend another, etc. He walked a very fine line.

    I’ve had a lot of people talk to me about this since it happened, many of whom say that what DB said was mangled and came off as racist, but he didn’t intend them to be that way. So, I apologize for my use of the word “tirade” in the Digg submission, as it was definitely way too strong of a word to use in this case – and if the powers that be, namely DB, wish that I repeat that on my blog, I’ll be more than happy to oblige.

  19. Tedious Says:

    Apparently no one here is familiar with the old cliche “The only blacks at the country club are serving drinks”.

    Clue from a non-Caucasian: Pointing out inequality doesn’t make one racist. There is a “technology gap”, whether we like to admit it or not.

    The headline should be changed to read: Silly white people let liberal guilt strike again.

  20. Sober Robin Says:

    It’s about class, not race. Anyway: http://blackpeopledontusemacs.com/

  21. Greg Walker Says:

    The premise was totally incorrect I am black and I know hundreds of black people who use macintosh systems, for small business., photography, music production etc. The problem is our society is so segregated and most people are really ignorant of black life. I think this was another example of an ignorant white man making ignorant statements some things never change.

  22. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    In general the vibe of the talk is impossible to understand unless you were there, or hear a recording. It’s not worth going to to many pains to interpret the intention through some snapshot of a slide, or comments from Twitter, etc.

    Steve Streza: thanks for chiming in. Of course, it’s always a little awkward when somebody I called an idiot a few hours ago is now engaged in the dialogue on my blog :) But I appreciate your clarification. It’s extremely important to realize that the Twitter comments in particular were written by attendees for attendees. They were not intended as documentation for people outside the talk. Imagine if you had a tape recording of some group of people watching a movie, all the little comments they made as the various plot elements unfolded. It would be impossible to put together the content of the movie from that. See what I mean?

    Greg Walker: I think that was roughly the sense of people in the audience and on the panel. Although none of us came prepared with statistics, we weren’t prepared to just accept the premise. And in fact some people from the audience did question it verbally at the time.

    I suspect this thread might become a magnet for long-term bluster if I’m not careful, so I’d like to announce now that sometime after midnight tomorrow (roughly 24 hours from now) I will probably turn off comments. If you have something important to say, please be sure to say it before then.

  23. dj Says:

    Mac developers are right to be pissed at him. From what I was told his whole session mocked them. Pzizz was unjustly singled out and people behind it ridiculed for what? And then the whole Mac community. Mac sites mentioned by name to only embarrass them. If you give the finger to everyone you can’t be surprised. AND he insinuated Mac developers are not doing enough to influence the platform. HELLO everyone follows us. And please tell me why should I care if someone can’t afford a Mac? Do I care if they can’t afford a BMW? Who cares if Linux is more diverse than the Mac if they have no money to sell them software? Waste of time.

  24. Buzz Andersen Says:

    I was there, and my take is this: he may have had a point worth discussing (do we worry that it’s hard for low income people to use Macs?), but totally screwed it up by framing it in a way that asserted “black == poor.” So, personally, I think “racist tirade” is a bit strong, but I think the whole thing showed some very questionable thinking and judgement on his part. It was just a needlessly provocative thing to do–even as a so-called “hand grenade” for the discussion.

  25. Colin Barrett Says:

    My main issues with DB are two things:

    One, he freely admitted in his presentation: that he has been out of touch with the Mac community for two years. It irks me that he has the gall to walk out of LInuxland and proceed to hand us all stone tablets from on high about how to improve our little corner of the computing world. Berating the panel members with hostile questions certainly didn’t win him any points either.

    The second was the way he horribly misrepresented Open Source on the mac — and using two projects that I’m directly involved in, Mozilla and Adium, as “examples.” He claimed that Adium’s starved for developers. Newsflash: Everyone’s starved for developers. I could write a blog length entry on how he’s wrong and how open source on the Mac is a bit different from other communities like Linux — if I have time from my busy work schedule of singlehandedly keeping Mac Open Source afloat zomg!1

  26. Dean Shavit Says:

    I have to agree with Daniel that there absolutely nothing racist in what DrunkenBatman said. However, as an attendee who paid $512 to be there I am rather dissatisfied with his inclusion as a presenter at the otherwise fabulous C4[1] conference where everyone obviously spent a great deal of time preparing their entertaining and technically brilliant presentations.

    His presentation was:

    -under prepared
    -in somewhat bad taste
    -went over like a lead balloon

    His tirade about VLC breaking on G5 hardware and Adium being on shaky ground seemed like the latest Mac Dev news from late 2005.

    I for one wish DB would re-engage the Mac Developer community, he was great asset, but he should be trotted out like that to an audience of paid attendees without doing his homework.

  27. Spokesman for the Black People Says:

    I will speak for all the Black people.
    Apple does NOT show alot of diversity in the advertising and pictures on their website in America. Also, name a Black person that is not an entertainer that shared the stage with Steve.
    I know Black Mac users, including myself that feel this way.
    Alot of us made our bones in the music industry and when we had to choose a computer to create music on we chose a Mac to the ridicule of our peers.
    Years later, we have the last laugh regarding virus penetration and crashing.
    If Apple penetrated deeper into the Black marketing campaign than using pictures of icons like Ali and MLK they could get that big leap in sales they want.

    Hey Apple marketing, make next year the year of the minorities.
    Black, Brown, Yellow, Red, Jew, Muslim, Women, Handicapped, GLTB community. And not the standard stuff like Blacks as athletes and entertainers. Show us as brainy, sophisticated people.
    There are all sorts of minorities using Macs in business and science. SHOW US!!!
    We all have months dedicated to us. Sell bitches, sell.

    One other thing, GODDAMNIT, show the Mac is about business. I am tired of trying to convince potential clients that the Mac is about business and being shot down as the “creative’s” machine. Put some serious stuff on Apple.com about using the Mac to RUN not just do but RUN your business.

    BTW, FSJ, please comment on this. You are a funny MoFo

  28. Danny Says:


  29. Wil Shipley Says:

    More to the point, why don’t time-traveling 13th-century Mongolian warlords use Macintoshes?

  30. Wil Shipley Says:

    Apple does NOT show alot of diversity in the advertising

    Have you even seen an iPod ad?

  31. Chucky Says:

    “DrunkenBatman Is Not A Racist”

    He may or may not be a racist, but he certainly is an ignorant asshole.

  32. Jonathan Wight Says:

    “It”™s extremely important to realize that the Twitter comments in particular were written by attendees for attendees. They were not intended as documentation for people outside the talk.”

    Dan, that’s completely presumptuous to say that. There was no declaration of intent concerning the backchannel. And if private communication was the intent then twitter was completely the wrong medium to choose. C4 has 280 followers and there were what, 130/140 attendees according to popular wisdom? So an equal amount of people were outside looking in (assuming all C4 attendees are C4 followers, which I know is not true).

    During the “tirade” friends from #macsb were seeing the twitter explosion and were asking what the hell was going on.

    I really dislike attempts to brush this under the carpet. It should be discussed (even on Digg) so that something positive can come of it.

  33. Jonathan Wight Says:

    As an addendum to that, I’m *really* glad to see some good blog posts coming out about what happened. Gruber did a good one where he summed up the audience’s reactions pretty well: http://daringfireball.net/2007/08/c4_1_in_a_nut

  34. darnell Says:

    well i am a black guy and i have loved the mac platform since 1998 when i got my first beige G3.

    i have put done teardown rebuilds of mac G3’s G4’s G5 towers, PowerAnalogVideo card teardown rebuilds on iMac’s, Mac CUBE’s [my favorite] and pc’s as well ..

    having 3 years experience with Verizon Wireless Customer Support, self taught bluetooth config expert, and working with a major mac hardware repair vendor in the Chicago area, and complete with non-commissioned sales experience + highly commended customer service [judged by customers writing back into VZW to say “i liked working with THAT GUY (me)]

    not only am i a mac fan, macsurfer daily reader and unfortunatly BLACK , i get my friends to go to the local apple store too.

    everybody says the same thing to me “how come you dont just work for APPLE?”

    and i have to tell them after 2 interviews and 7 years of applying all i got was an email that said “they were pursuing more qualified applicants.”

    tuff noodles for me.

    i have often wondered if i had multi facial peircings and blue dredlocks + burkinstocks and couldnt tell the difference between an 8core mac pro and an ipod shuffle if maybe i would have a better chance at getting hired.

    maybe i need to loose this pudgy tummy? image is everything?

    because at this rate its going to take me a long time to save up for a 24″ iMAC

    i posted this sad history on “fix your thinking” so if you see it elsewhere you know i am the same person.

    dont worry apple. i am tired of applying. you guys win. you dont have to hire me and i will still buy your products and recommend everybody i talk to about comptuer gear to head to the local apple store.

  35. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Jonathan: You criticized me before for overgeneralizing here, or adopting a “we” mentality when it would be better to use “I”. I’m afraid that might just be my style. I’m not consciously trying to deceive anybody or claim any ground by generalizing.

    But I admit, I sometimes generalize on a point in order to save words and be more expressive. I only do this when I feel that the generalization captures the correct spirit of a point. It’s common in langugae. For instance, somebody tweeting from Cabel Sasser’s talk at C4 could well have said “Everybody is really digging Cabel’s talk!” No, not necessarily. But yes, it does capture the moment.

    Regarding my presumption that Twitter was more of an inside conversation than a documentation tool, yes it *could* have been used to accurately document every nuance of the talk, and furthermore every detail of the conference. But it didn’t. Because that would have been an epic long waste of space, and hard to do real-time at 140 characters a pop. Thank God nobody tried to do that!

    While it’s true that from time to time, a Twitter message was sent with a particular intent to document the event for onlookers, it was rare compared to the messages that seemed clearly intended for other onlookers in the room.

  36. Casey Says:

    some C4 wrapup blog post that I saw while at work, which used the words “inappropriate” and “offensive”. I can”™t find the link right now, but I”™ll post it tomorrow.

    Perhaps that was mine? Look, I don’t know DB, but when a guy says the only black people you’ll find at MacWorld are the ones begging for change outside, you can see how someone might get the wrong impression.

    Regardless, what I think is more interesting is that he has a platform in his own blog where he could offer an apology or clarification if he doesn’t feel an apology is warranted. I can’t see how one wouldn’t be. If not for the remarks themselves, then at the very least for the controversy that has overshadowed so many positive aspects of the conference.

  37. Darryl Says:

    I hate getting involved in a race debate, particularly one concerning my platform of choice.
    I have no issue with the topic being brought up, examined and thoroughly scrutinized. It would seem prudent for any business to examine the diversity of the market place.
    The depth of penetration of the Mac in the Black community may very well be limited but, as a Black man that has been using Apple products loyally since 1983, such a broad sweeping statement as “Black Don’t Use Macs”, gets my attention and begs questioning.
    I worked at an Apple manufacturing plant from 1983 to 1985 assembling Apple IIc’s. Was with the company when the Mac was introduced. My own evangelism has converted so many computer user that my efforts alone may have filled that conference center with black people.
    The point of that statement is that Blacks are no less likely than the average White, Asian, Middle Eastern or Hispanic computer user. Yes, you have PC bigots in the Black community. This stems from the same ignorance of the platform the the rest of the populous has.
    DrunkenBatman may not be a racist. I’m incline to believe he’s not. However, his conclusions that “Blacks Don’t Use Macs”, based on his observations of attendance at Macworld and the C4 conference shows an ignorance that definitely shatters any credibility he may have earned over the years.
    Further, his statement about “the only blacks he saw at the Mascone center were begging for change” was responsible and puts him in the same stupid category as Imus.
    Not only were both statements irresponsible, they were inappropriate for the setting.

    And, Spokesman For The People, I don’t share your views about Apple lack of marketing to minorities. They don’t marketing any less to minorities than do HP, Dell or any other PC manufacturer. Suggesting such is just looking for a race card to play.
    Professing yourself my Spokesman is just as bad as Farakhan doing so.

  38. Jonathan Wight Says:

    I never said “to accurately document every nuance of the talk” or claimed it was a “documentation tool”. Those seem to be your inventions. All I pointed out was that it was never meant to be for attendees only and that any attempt to consider it as such is ludicrous. The Digg poster had as much right to form an opinion on DB’s session from the twitter posts as he did from the flickr page.

  39. Sprezzatura Says:

    The lack of black people who work in high-tech is not news to those of us who pay attention to these things. To be fair, it’s not Apple-specific, either — the whole industry is sadly lacking in that regard.

  40. Xenonson Says:

    Christopher Humphries says: “Sorry, the world has little tolerance for racist comments and presentations, as should be expected and desired.”

    That’s only your opinion and not the fact unless your definitions of “the world”, “tolerance” and “racist” are selective. The world has plenty tolerance for racism. See Darfur, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, etc.. The funny thing is, people get outraged over some perceived racism over the real racism. The slide was done in a bad taste, but its impact is no more significant than the movie title “White Man Can’t Jump” (wonder why nobody cried racism over that movie). If we develop a thicker skin over some stupid comments and see them as stupid rather than exaggerating them as racist for an excuse to rant, and focus on doing a better job eradicating the real racism that destroys people’s live, the world will be a better place.

  41. Rus Says:

    I think it was a great topic and I praise DrunkenBatman for getting the dialog going.

    Why is that I CAN PROVE less blacks buy Macs as a percentage of Whites. 13% of the population is black. This means basically 1 in 10. 1 in 20 people buys a Mac. If my math is correct 1 in 40 people buying a Mac should be black. In my 10 years of sales I have sold ONE used Mac to a single black person. I would estimate my customers at around 500 a year.

    I would say it’s an economic reason … but I think there is also a perception that Macs may be a “whitie” computer. Most economically disadvantaged people (black and white) in my experience think Apple doesn’t work with Windows files – even as basic as not reading jpegs.

    Why can’t we as a Mac community appeal more to the black population?

  42. asdf Says:

    Have you even seen an iPod ad?

    The silhouettes are only painted black.

  43. Erik J. Barzeski Says:

    Daniel, with all due respect, I’m not sure why you’re standing up for DB. It probably would have been better simply to ignore the topic altogether. By trying to say he’s not a racist you’ve led more people to believe he is.

    I still don’t know why he was invited to speak, particularly after he – without much proof – called a guy I’ve known for nearly 10 years a thief and promised to punch him in the face. That and the obvious fact that he’s not really been a Mac user for two years make me wonder why he was invited at all.

    It’s this kind of thing which might prevent people from going to C4[2], and that’s a shame.

  44. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Erik: You might be right it would have been better to just ignore it. But I don’t like to see anybody get wrongly accused of something, and the messages that were disseminating through the web were very inaccurate, I thought.

    In the end I think the dialogue in the comments here is pretty useful and productive. I don’t consider my post here to have been so much defending DB as drawing a point of distinction between what he did and what people were accusing him of doing.

  45. Mike Cohen Says:

    I’m sure DB is getting more hits with all of the links to his blog, proving that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

    Re: “If Apple penetrated deeper into the Black marketing campaign than using pictures of icons like Ali and MLK they could get that big leap in sales they want.”

    Remember the Think Different campaign? I have a Think Different poster featuring Miles Davis (who I worship) hanging on my wall.

  46. Red Tuttle Says:

    Race is like animals’ buttholes… everyone knows it’s there, but they’d just rather not notice it.

  47. Neil Anderson Says:

    Was Kramer up there with him?

  48. Anon Says:

    I dont know what was others expected but I had fun. Laughed the whole panel. Some laughs were nervous and some at dee-bees expense. I didnt take it to be racist. Poor taste for a conference for sure and not only that slide. It was BLUE. The video will be NSF without headphones. Maybe not safe for anywhere. The Digg article shocked me. Its libelous and actionable. For “the slide” it was not about race but about “diverse backgrounds” so there are more “frames of reference”. I EVENTUALLY took this to mean monoculture but with people instead of platforms, but it was not explained well. Confusing until the very end when he realized and tried to backtrack but far too late. Funny he seemed surprised people would misunderstand [lol]. The topic was[is] interesting but as presented lost in the noise and now is worse. For such an explosive issue if he could not explain clearly then he should have left race left out. It feels like a lost opportunity but this holier-than-thou attitude reeks and is as bad or worse. Also dee-bee lost control of the panel and one topic took too much time. WHAT WAS ON THE OTHER SLIDES. Were there more slides? Also, the panel started at least 30 minutes late. Surreal but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. My 0.02

  49. Houman Says:

    I’ve read DB’s blog for quite some time, and he always came through in a positive way. People some times have difficulty getting their points across, and that seems to be what happened here. Unfortunately, the backlash cannot be avoided at this point. It seems that the only people who are over-reacting are people who are not familiar with DB in the first place.

    Tomorrow they will forget, and everything will be fine. Tell DB to keep his head up. This topic got way more attention than it deserved.
    The statement wasn’t a racist statement, it contains sweeping generalizations – that are totally wrong and ignorant. But since you can’t prove that it is better to be a wintel owner or a mac owner, and the slide has no context unto itself – inferiority isn’t being directly or indirectly implied based on race in regard to computer ownership. It is simply a stupid fucking slide.

    Can you say run-on sentence.

    DB – go and update your blog, we are waiting to read some new stuff buddy
    I know it’s your blog Daniel – I just figured DB will probably read this at some point.

  50. icedtrip Says:

    OK, so I was a long-time reader of DB’s blog. I loved his insight, his “badassedness”(??), and everything about it. If he would ever write again on the blog scene, I still would be a devote reader.

    However, this issue shouldn’t be an issue. The slide IMHO was not racist. Had he written “White people use Macs” on a slide, it wouldn’t be getting the slant it is getting now. Also, the comment about beggars at MacWorld was not racist, it was an observation he made about MacWorld.

    I buried the Digg story, but some of the comments I am seeing here are suggestive that he was certainly in the wrong.

    Now, I wasn’t there, but I would say that it was the wrong venue to start a debate/discussion on the topic, but to say he made racist comments and the slide itself was racist is simply not true from what I have seen and read.

    Now, DB, get back to writing in the blog. Evening at Adler was great. You have accomplished a lot in the Mac community, why disappear for so long? Although, these comments probably don’t bother you, get back into becoming a Mac type of an icon that calls people/communities out in the proper venues.

  51. Harvard Irving Says:

    “One of the ideas DrunkenBatman tried to convey was that the Mac market might not be as diverse as other platforms, particularly Linux.”

    If he’s going to make ridiculous statements, then he should back them up with facts. What on earth is his evidence that there’s more diversity among Linux users than among Mac users? I’d love to see his sources.

    I also don’t understand how you can so definitively state that he is not a racist. Surely the jury is out on that. He made a comment that sounds rather racist, and didn’t back his comments up. That’s looking pretty fishy right there.

    And even if this statement is not racist in itself, how do you know that he doesn’t secretly lynch black people at night? It’s almost impossible to prove a negative. The most can say is that you think that his comment was not racist. You don’t know everything about him, and you are not the arbiter of what constitutes racism.

    Anyway, racist or not, his comments were disgusting, and I’m not sure why anybody is bothering to defend him, when he won’t even bother to clarify his meaning on his own blog. I think his lack of subsequent comment on this is pretty damning. Why isn’t he offering an olive branch of clarification or apology?

  52. Harvard Irving Says:

    Xenonson writes:

    but its impact is no more significant than the movie title “White Man Can”™t Jump” (wonder why nobody cried racism over that movie)

    Huh? People did cry racism over that movie title. Perhaps you’re being selective in your recollections?

  53. andrew Says:

    Wow, liberal white guilt FTW.

    I don’t have all the statistics to back this up. Neither does DB. Neither do you.

    I wasn’t at C4. Neither were many of you.

    But my read of this whole nonevent is: DB, who has spent a lot of time in both the Mac and Linux communities, shared an observation that he believes to be true, but many of the listeners don’t want to believe.

    Again, I don’t have the statistics, but. …how can it not be true, that statistically, black people don’t use Macs in a quantity that reflects their representation in the population as a whole?

    OK. That’s not what he said? Yes, it is. Try this:

    “Cats hate water”. OK, not all of them, but a large enough portion of the cat population compared to other living things, definitely do. It’s a generalization, but for the purposes of most discussions, it’s completely true.

    DB was talking about a human race and subculture, not cats, and it invoked all sorts of social baggage that doesn’t really change the content of his message. He thought we were intelligent and adult enough to put his statement in the context that it was intended, after we got over the initial “wow, i can’t believe someone is saying that, and it makes me kind of uncomfortable” moment.

    So, is his statement likely to be more-true or more-false? Another sticky but incontrovertable fact: economic position in the US shows clear divisions along race lines. A guess: the portion of the population in lower economic strata use Macs in lower percentages than those in higher economic strata, even after all possible adjustments are made for computer-owning vs not-computer-owning populations, and use-computer-in-public-library, vs use-computer-at-home, etc. (another guess, supported by observation: most public computer terminals are not Macs).

    Don’t like it? Me either! I think it is an unfortunate side effect of Apple’s value-brand positioning, which is so successful and valuable for it (and us) in so many ways. Maybe they also don’t market well to minorities.. I have no idea. Maybe it’s Apple’s fault. Maybe it’s Louis Farakkhan’s fault.

    But it isn’t Drunken Batman’s fault. From everything I’ve read, he thinks it sucks, and wishes it would change, for the betterment of Mac software and users everywhere. How can that possibly be a racist comment?!?

    I’m astounded at the collective discomfort that this has caused, and the tendency to place the blame for uncomfortable-but-probably-mostly-true observations on the speaker (or his style) instead of giving them consideration. I’d take a long-odds bet that DB is absolutely correct. And also that if we could find a way to change it, the Mac ecosystem would be a better place.

    News flash: if DB’s assertions are true, it isn’t your fault either. You don’t have to take responsibility for it as an individual. There is no reason for you to hide from the possibility by attacking DB instead.

  54. Averie Says:

    hi i enjoyed the read

  55. Angelo Says:

    hi i enjoyed the read

  56. Larissa Says:

    hi nice post, i enjoyed it

  57. John Muir Says:

    Would this have caused the same uproar if it had happened here in Britain I wonder?

    I’m not going to claim any deeper insight than a regular Mac using non-ethnic minority Scot can have while reading of this distant furore online. But then again race does seem to have to be handled differently on the American media compared to the BBC for instance, despite both countries being in similar phases of increasing diversity with economic migration.

    Commenters are right about this particular debate really being about class more than race. The poorer people are, the greater every cost becomes and looking at a Mac Mini compared to the sloughs of Dell pretty much answers the question. Apple don’t compete in the low end; ergo Apple appears exclusive when you really have to count every penny.

    What’s more striking though is indeed this charge of DB (who I’d never heard of before, for my ignorance) being “racist” for addressing race. He was certainly mistaken in choosing this particular angle with such little preparation; but surely a racist would gloat at the supposed disparity instead of bring it up for discussion at a panel? Racism is a position, not a shying from debate. He made a fool of himself but the racist themed reaction is another mistake in itself. Understandable when a sore nerve is touched, but not it seems a positive sign of a multicultural society at ease with itself.

    (Britain is far from perfect either. *Tries not to change an argument over addressing race into one about countries!* We just seem to have differently placed lines in the sand for when, where and how we address these universal concerns.)

  58. Harvard Irving Says:


    A guess: the portion of the population in lower economic strata use Macs in lower percentages than those in higher economic strata, even after all possible adjustments are made for computer-owning vs not-computer-owning populations, and use-computer-in-public-library, vs use-computer-at-home, etc.

    and John:

    Commenters are right about this particular debate really being about class more than race. The poorer people are, the greater every cost becomes and looking at a Mac Mini compared to the sloughs of Dell pretty much answers the question.

    The problem with these arguments is that not all black people are poor. In fact, there are some very wealthy black people. And it’s demonstrably untrue that black people don’t use Macs.

    So, what was Drunkenbatman trying to say? Why did he make an untrue statement on an inflammatory topic? And then you guys come along, claiming there’s no racism in this, and just go and further racist stereotypes.

    How does this help anybody? It would be do much more for the situation if we recognized that “black people” aren’t a uniform mass – but they are individuals who are all different. That’s the real problem with his comments. They don’t treat black people as people.

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