[personal profile] mjg59
The Fantasyland Institute of Learning is the organisation behind Lambdaconf, a functional programming conference perhaps best known for standing behind a racist they had invited as a speaker. The fallout of that has resulted in them trying to band together events in order to reduce disruption caused by sponsors or speakers declining to be associated with conferences that think inviting racists is more important than the comfort of non-racists, which is weird in all sorts of ways but not what I'm talking about here because they've also written a "Code of Professionalism" which is like a Code of Conduct except it protects abusers rather than minorities and no really it is genuinely as bad as it sounds.

The first thing you need to know is that the document uses its own jargon. Important here are the concepts of active and inactive participation - active participation is anything that you do within the community covered by a specific instance of the Code, inactive participation is anything that happens anywhere ever (ie, active participation is a subset of inactive participation). The restrictions based around active participation are broadly those that you'd expect in a very weak code of conduct - it's basically "Don't be mean", but with some quirks. The most significant is that there's a "Don't moralise" provision, which as written means saying "I think people who support slavery are bad" in a community setting is a violation of the code, but the description of discrimination means saying "I volunteer to mentor anybody from a minority background" could also result in any community member not from a minority background complaining that you've discriminated against them. It's just not very good.

Inactive participation is where things go badly wrong. If you engage in community or professional sabotage, or if you shame a member based on their behaviour inside the community, that's a violation. Community sabotage isn't defined and so basically allows a community to throw out whoever they want to. Professional sabotage means doing anything that can hurt a member's professional career. Shaming is saying anything negative about a member to a non-member if that information was obtained from within the community.

So, what does that mean? Here are some things that you are forbidden from doing:
  • If a member says something racist at a conference, you are not permitted to tell anyone who is not a community member that this happened (shaming)
  • If a member tries to assault you, you are not allowed to tell the police (shaming)
  • If a member gives a horribly racist speech at another conference, you are not allowed to suggest that they shouldn't be allowed to speak at your event (professional sabotage)
  • If a member of your community reports a violation and no action is taken, you are not allowed to warn other people outside the community that this is considered acceptable behaviour (community sabotage)

Now, clearly, some of these are unintentional - I don't think the authors of this policy would want to defend the idea that you can't report something to the police, and I'm sure they'd be willing to modify the document to permit this. But it's indicative of the mindset behind it. This policy has been written to protect people who are accused of doing something bad, not to protect people who have something bad done to them.

There are other examples of this. For instance, violations are not publicised unless the verdict is that they deserve banishment. If a member harasses another member but is merely given a warning, the victim is still not permitted to tell anyone else that this happened. The perpetrator is then free to repeat their behaviour in other communities, and the victim has to choose between either staying silent or warning them and risk being banished from the community for shaming.

If you're an abuser then this is perfect. You're in a position where your victims have to choose between their career (which will be harmed if they're unable to function in the community) and preventing the same thing from happening to others. Many will choose the former, which gives you far more freedom to continue abusing others. Which means that communities adopting the Fantasyland code will be more attractive to abusers, and become disproportionately populated by them.

I don't believe this is the intent, but it's an inevitable consequence of the priorities inherent in this code. No matter how many corner cases are cleaned up, if a code prevents you from saying bad things about people or communities it prevents people from being able to make informed choices about whether that community and its members are people they wish to associate with. When there are greater consequences to saying someone's racist than them being racist, you're fucking up badly.

Re: What is wrong with you?

Date: 2017-02-27 10:44 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
> "You mean because that person is racist"

"…is alleged to be…"

I think the problem here is that you state something as fact which is clearly a matter of perception.

I personally do not know that person, and I will not form an opinion about someone on the basis of someone else shaming them for being X or Y.

> "The difference here is that being black doesn't hurt other people, but being racist does."

*Having thoughts* and prejudice of people for whatever reason does not hurt anyone. Publicly shaming someone for whatever reason does.

The problem is that people are trying to project their own thoughts and perceptions as the only valid truth. Not even allowing others to form their own independent thoughts and opinions.

Re: What is wrong with you?

Date: 2017-02-27 12:29 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
> "Voicing them does. Attempting to convince others of them does."

My point exactly. Not only are you voicing your opinion against that certain someone, you are also trying to convince a conference to ban him, and after that even to boycott that conference altogether.

(disclaimer: I base my opinion on a summary I have read about the incident, so it may not be well-informed)

There is also a difference between simply voicing your opinion (as in Person B saying that person A is bad) and starting a public hate campaign against person A that tries to destroy their whole reputation and livelihood.

There is also a difference between compartmentalization (and taking everything personally) and directly offending people personally.

Re: What is wrong with you?

Date: 2017-02-27 01:03 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Not worse, but equally bad.

Inciting hate against some person is wrong/bad no matter *why* you are doing it.

So you are inciting hate against someone because he incited hate on someone else.
Now I am kind of hating you for doing that, which I honestly don’t want to.

Can we maybe stop hating each other? Lets hug and instead of focus on solving *real* problems? :-)

Re: What is wrong with you?

Date: 2017-02-27 02:01 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Well there is a difference between "strong criticism" and "inciting hate", "public shaming" and "demand exclusion".

I really love your presentations because of your humor and I especially enjoy your profanity :-)

How would you like if people suddenly claim they feel offended by that and demand you be banned from giving presentations?

I think I remember a talk you gave at fosdem (?) about UEFI some time ago where it started with a comment about not swearing that much. :-D

Re: What is wrong with you?

Date: 2017-02-27 10:25 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

tl;dr: Free speech has consequences. You cannot come up with a consistent view of free speech that lets people be racist but doesn't let the rest of them call them a jerk for saying those things.

Re: What is wrong with you?

Date: 2017-02-28 12:24 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Wait... you offer a link that says people think hes kinda racist, but he comes back with how you judging that metric for racial superiority is racist and he doesn't claim anyone is superior. Then, despite your source, you claim something it specifically did not confirm, and don't provide evidence to back it up and just say "no." I know people arguing on the internet aren't obligated to give each other anything, but you need to do a little better than that if you have any hopes of accomplishing anything by responding here. You cant turn people to your cause like that.

Re: What is wrong with you?

Date: 2017-02-28 11:40 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Okay, tell me if I'm wrong here: you never actually looked at who that speaker was and what he said. You just believe you can't form an opinion based on “someone else shaming them”, but you won't look by yourself at what he said. Am I right?
That would be very telling about your priorities, if you had so much time to spend defending him, no time to check what he did, and wouldn't believe other that took the time to check…


Matthew Garrett

About Matthew

Power management, mobile and firmware developer on Linux. Security developer at Google. Member of the Free Software Foundation board of directors. Ex-biologist. @mjg59 on Twitter. Content here should not be interpreted as the opinion of my employer.

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