Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce LCA 2011: Keynote speaker censured over sexual images

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One of the keynote speakers at the 12th Australian national Linux conference has been censured over the use of some sexual images in his presentation.


Mark Pesce used some images in his keynote this morning which do not appear to have gone down too well with some members of the audience.

There was one image of a pig indulging in sexual activity with a goose; a second (NSFW) was of two women who were indulging in bondage. A third image (corrected) showed a man being spanked by a woman, both in gear that is used for BDSM activity. The latter two images did not show any nudity.

Update, Jan 29, 1.45pm: Chief conference organiser Shaun Nykvist was asked for his take on the issue; he deferred to Linux Australia president John Ferlito, saying he had been told not to comment.

Ferlito told iTWire that some people, of both sexes, had complained both to him and the conference organisers.  "There were some complaints on Twitter and one or two came to Shaun and me and said this infringed on our policy," he said.

"I don't want to go into detail about any of the images. Mark's talk was amazing but those images violated our policy and we had to enforce it.  He has apologised to the community."

Asked if he would have reacted if there had been no complaint, Ferlito said he did not want to go into hypotheticals. But he said that the complaints did not make him think that people had become hyper-sensitive.

"There is no formal process for dealing with such a complaint. Shaun, I and some other Linux Australia council members discussed it and came to a decision. The responsibility lis with Linux Australia as we are the sponsors of the conference."

Ferlito said the anti-harassment policy was not set in stone. "We may refine it if needed - things like this are not black and white, there are many shades of grey."

Pesce made it abundantly clear before he began his keynote that he would use both profane language and also imagery that would not be suitable for children.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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