How a "big dongle" joke brought out the worst of the Internet

Before a joke about a “big dongle” cost an attendee his job and spurred a misogynist online backlash, last weekend’s PyCon event looked like a success.

2,500 attendees had flocked to Santa Clara, Calif., to discuss the Python programming language; the event sold out more than a month in advance.

But once it began, very little went smoothly. First, an attendee was removed from the event following reports that he used an illicit substance. PyCon called his behavior “inappropriate and unacceptable” and banned him from attending PyCon U.S. for two years.

That incident paled in comparison to the firestorm that erupted over a lewd joke.

When Adria Richards, a developer evangelist for email delivery company SendGrid overheard a man sitting behind her laughing with his friends about the word “dongle,” she planned to brush it off as just another dumb dick joke.

But then the speaker onstage showed a photo of a young girl who’d taken part in a coding workshop, and “I realized I had to do something or she would never have the chance to learn and love programming because the ass clowns behind me would make it impossible for her to do so,” Richards wrote on her blog.

So she tweeted a photo of the guys.

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