[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.

Date: 2017-03-01 05:54 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Ok. Let's suppose some group of researchers decided to scientifically prove that "some races are more suited to slavery than others" is false. So they do the research, check their results and ... come to unexpected conclusion that it is actually true.
Does that automatically make them racists?
Does that make them slavery supporters despite that they think it is bad?
If someone informs you about results of that research, that makes her racist?

Your link on wikipedia states that Yarvin thinks that while he doubts that "all races are equally smart," the notion "that people who score higher on IQ tests are in some sense superior human beings" is "creepy".
So he says that racist views are creepy, and based on that you say he is a racist?

Anyway calling a Jew "reanimated zombie Hitler" is interesting. I wonder if that makes you anti-Semite the same way he is a racist?

Date: 2017-03-01 10:30 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is a farcical argument, because those scientists would have a basic understanding of biology, and therefore would understand that the notion of human "races" is an obsolete, antiquated and indeed, often racist, historical notion. Starting point for catching up: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(human_categorization)

Our host didn't call Yarvin a reanimated zombie Hitler; it was used as a generalisation (to absurdity) of the argument.

This long discussion of human "races" is awkward.

Date: 2017-03-01 10:55 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"Our host didn't call Yarvin a reanimated zombie Hitler"

Yeah. Sure.

Date: 2017-03-01 11:18 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"because those scientists would have a basic understanding of biology"

Does it prevent them from using notion of """race""" for the sake of argument against racists in this research?

Date: 2017-03-01 04:28 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
If reanimated zombie Hitler wants to talk about interesting Haskell code, I will listen to him as long as he keeps his (unrelated to conference theme) beliefs to himself.

This also applies to anyone else anywhere. I don't want to open, let's say comp.lang.c++ and see unrelated shit stuff like this: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/comp.lang.c++/0nntFdG6xjo .

If Yarvin can't keep his unrelated beliefs to himself on a technical conference, then yes, he should not be there. If he can — welcome.

Is that so hard for you?

But what I see everyday is people, who suffered the most from intolerance in the past, are often the most intolerant in the present. This is just wow. These people have fallen to the level of "reanimated zombie Hitler" they are so afraid of.

Date: 2017-03-01 11:53 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
> If reanimated zombie Hitler wants to talk about interesting Haskell code, I will listen to him as long as he keeps his (unrelated to conference theme) beliefs to himself.

Well said.

Had we thrown away all the research done in Nazi Germany because it was tainted by association with (or -in some cases- produced directly from) Nazi Atrocities, we'd have been worse off. Had we locked up and refused to speak with people like Von Braun because Nazi Atrocities, we'd have been much worse off.

Very Useful People who are Working On Useful Things and have Important Things To Say sometimes also have other parts of themself that are deeply offensive, or even actively harmful. I see absolutely no problem with inviting someone to speak about these Useful Things, while both promising to throw them out on their ass if they speak a word about their offensive/harmful positions, and publicly condemning their offensive/harmful positions.

I'm not asserting that people should be forced to be in the same room with others who hold offensive/harmful positions. I do claim that well-adjusted adults are capable of speaking and interacting with Domain Experts about their areas of expertise without talking about or addressing their offensive/harmful positions.


Matthew Garrett

About Matthew

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

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