“Shamed” – Will Jon Ronson’s latest book inappropriately shame Adria Richards

TruthJust a friendly heads up, Penguin.  Might want to ask your attorneys to consult with your fact-checkers before releasing “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” when it comes to Jon Ronson’s account of what happened to Adria Richards.  Especially if Ronson elects to portray Richards in an unsympathetic or inaccurate light.  Fact checkers:  Good!  Ronson?  See for yourself.

While only a selected few beyond the author, publisher, and sales team, knows for sure whether Jon Ronson’s latest “non-fiction” effort will portray Adria Richards as unsympathetic – either by omission or biased language; for a couple of reasons past and present, my radar is twitching.  Thanks Twitter!

When people I believe to be thoughtful recommend a read – I check it out. Specifically, when two guys I would normally categorize as thoughtful; Texas Supreme Court Judge, Justice Don Willett who tweets @justicewillet and San Francisco Bay Area attorney Mark Ressa, who tweets via @BayAreaDivorce; both separately re-tweeted “Insightful read” regarding the New York Times excerpt from Jon Ronson’s upcoming “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” – I read it.

But my first insight was: Red flag!  Alarm bells! Radar twitching!

Reading Ronson’s selected excerpt, I braced myself for the Justine Sacco come-back tour.

Sacco’s still working in PR.  Readers may have noticed the recent sprinkling of sympathetic pieces beginning to dribble online….buzz that often happens just prior to a book release.

(Briefly, for those in a coma; although Justine had been tweeting for years as the Corporate head of Barry Diller’s big-time company, IAC; her friends claimed poor Justine just “didn’t understand the nuances of Twitter.”  Also, media, got it wrong.  Justine Sacco wasn’t fired for one tweet.  She was fired after one tweet came to her IAC bosses attention, who then investigated and discovered their corporate communications head was the original “mean girl” with a long history of tweeting nasty comments about people she didn’t know.)

Now for the Back story

This is Adria Richards  and her goals.

Adria Richards

Adria Richards

Adria was fired from SendGrid by CEO Jim Franklin, last year for tweeting:

“Not cool.  Jokes about forking repo’s in a sexual way and “big” dongles. Right behind me #pycon”

after yet another sexist joke at a tech conference in San Francisco, because: America!  Women who complain are fired after being demoted.  Franklin blamed Richards for putting his employees at risk because he didn’t like the picture she took.  (And no, I am not making this up.)

– – –


[Doubters or people who don’t read.  Yes!  Happens all the time.  Check the excellent coverage by the San Antonio Express after their seven month investigation revealed women in the military who are sex crime victims, are demoted (losing benefits) then fired in, “Twice Betrayed” Non-military women?

See footnotes at the bottom of the page.]

– – –

Then Adria Richards, well known in the tech industry, became famous  with the wrong crowd.

The guy who cracked the stupid joke was fired first.  He then wrote; anonymously, his side of the story.  Plus and boo-hoo, he had mouths to feed at home.  Adria?

You mean, Adria Richards, the black chick?  🙂

Well, who hasn’t guessed Adria was mercilessly attacked?  Let’s keep it real! It’s tough for all women.  Including married white women, as this sentencing demonstrates how it works.  But in Adria’s case, she lost her job and was called every vile racist name combination known to man.  Never mind the types of crimes people said they planned to commit on her body.

So lets go with the pretty blonde, because, book sales!

Thus on Sunday, I engaged Ronson about Justine Sacco.  He was a tad defensive.

Jon Ronson - Justine Sacco defense

Jon Ronson defending Justine Sacco – will Adria Richards be as  lucky?

Also and in a twinkling, Ronson opted for radio silence.   My radar?  Twitching right along.

Jon Ronson ignores questions

Jon Ronson live on Twitter – ignoring questions!

Now I can’t know for sure since the normally effusively chatty Ronson suddenly turned more quiet than a boat load of corporate American, off-shore accounts; but could it be Ronson, aiming for fast sales – decided to paint the lanky blonde woman whose Tweet history revealed her nature, because she was a more telegenic (Read: worthy) tragic figure, than the black, Adria Richards, whose life was threatened after her, “I’ve had enough moment.”

I mean ultimately, it is about book, sales.

Never-the-less, Ronson’s choices made my radar twitch as Adria didn’t deserve any of the nasty stuff that happened to her.

And then Adria Richards checked inJon Ronson - NY Times

Adria Richards – it seems was now having trouble from Ronson.

Jon Ronson's research?

Adria Richards on Jon Ronson’s continuing errors and characterizations

Currently, it seems Adria has had more luck with fact-checkers than with Ronson himself.  That certainly fit my very brief radar twitching exchanges with him.

So given Ronson wasn’t talking, did my own thing.  I’d questioned Justine’s financial history.  (I was wrong, Sacco’s father isn’t a billionaire.  But he is pretty comfortable.)

Still, Adria Richards has said she pointed out numerous factual errors she had tried very hard to get Jon Ronson to correct.  That is bothersome.  (Apparently they had met at the airport for an hour or so.  Not sure how often Ronson was in touch or met with Sacco.)

Then I discovered a review.  Or a pre-review which could suggest Adria might be painted in a bad light with the guy who made the crude joke who was fired, in a better one.

From S. McGee

“Imagine cracking a joke that you know that some folks might consider off color to a buddy sitting next to you at a conference presentation — then having the woman in front of you turn around, snap your picture, smile at you — and tweet about how offensive your comments were to women, already a minority and arguably struggling to find a way to feel comfortable in Silicon Valley’s “bro culture“. That’s “D***legate” and it’s one of the case studies that Ronson looks at to explore how the Internet has transformed public shaming from one form of potentially violent public pillorying and whipping to a non-violent but far longer lasting and even more damaging variant.”

match-juststruck(Separate from the reviewer being acutely unaware of men posting pictures of the women they kill on Facebook is happening; I began to get the sense Ronson might portray the guy Richards referenced in her “I had enough” moment tweet, as sympathetic, and Richards, not so much.)

Also found this “review.”

At first I was a little turned off by the author because he was getting people to talk to him and then using quotes from them that they asked him not to or encouraging them to do something that he thought might not be a good idea.”

Now for the scary part.  The reviewer added,

“After a while, I forgot about that and was just absorbed.”

So it might turn out that Justine, the pretty lanky blonde blonde fits Ronson’s narrative better than Adria Richards, the pretty, tech savvy black woman.  A self-made woman, who has been relentlessly inaccurately portrayed as the bad guy after her personal, “I’ve had enough” moment.

The take-away for me is, not good.  And one more, scary, thing.

The people featured in Ronson’s previous book weren’t too happy.  Oddly enough, that one I could understand.

Ronson’s previous book

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry” is Ronson’s fifth book, published in 2011. In it, he explores the nature of psychopathic behavior, learning how to apply the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, and investigating its reliability. He interviews people in facilities for the criminally insane as well as potential psychopaths in corporate boardrooms.The book has been rejected by The Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy and by Robert D. Hare, creator of the “Hare Psychopathy Checklist.” Hare described the book as “frivolous, shallow, and professionally disconcerting.”


Footnotes on misogyny in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Number of actual, police reports?  Not huge.  Small.  Very small.

About bonnie russell

It's not about me....it’s always about people.
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5 Responses to “Shamed” – Will Jon Ronson’s latest book inappropriately shame Adria Richards

  1. Moms Hugs says:

    My teenaged granddaughter would freak out reading your whole post. Her own father is the best example of a good man/husband/father. Otherwise, it’s a good story about Gonsalves, but why the divorce?

    Btw… any words of wisdom about the U. of Tennessee football players indicted for aggravated rape. A. J. Johnson & Michael Williams were pulled from the team last November & WERE invited to the NFL Draft until uninvited due to the indictment.


  2. Moms Hugs says:

    I weep for my granddaughters who, as grown women, will face a world of such mean people. Already the oldest bemoans the lack of “nice” kids in her high school. Something is very wrong when our social interactions consist of having to tolerate crude, rude behavior everywhere.
    Keep calling them out on it, Bonnie! ~ Moms Hugs


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