[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: 2017-02-27 02:54 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thanks for looking out for all of us and reporting on this foolishness.

Date: 2017-02-27 04:48 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
someone holding opinions you don't like is not "abuse"

Date: 2017-02-27 05:49 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Saying "I volunteer to mentor anybody from a non-minority background" is by definition discrimination,
Saying "I volunteer to mentor anybody from a minority background" is somehow magically is not? WTF?

What is wrong with you?

Date: 2017-02-27 07:58 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Since I won't be read, I guess I can write anything.

Though that code is clearly not well-formatted in its entirety, please keep in mind that these guys lost all their sponsorship because they dared inviting and letting talk someone who is professionaly relevant.

But because that invited person thinks something weird, in an unrelated subject, you and other judge them as thinking the same thing. This is already preposterous as is it, you also blame them for it even though THEY did not hurt anyone.

I am fed up with the black and white world that you depict, I am fed up with all this hatred that YOU are the the very first to convey. Please relax and stop blaming people for merely thinking differently. You are against racism, I am against racism, fine. If the guy in question thinks differently, fine. As long as nobody ACTUALLY suffer, then fine... And I don't mean by that "if someone reads a code of conduct and feel offended"...

And the saddest fact about such a post is that you have no clue that the less tolerant here, the one who is more likely to hurt people, are actually people just like you who just cannot stand the idea that other people could think differently.

I find it just as "racist" not to hire someone because they are black even though they seem the best candidate as not supporting a conference cycle just because they dared invite the person deemed the more competent but thinking (in some unrelated subject and occasions) something else.

Date: 2017-02-27 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
conferences that think inviting racists is more important than the comfort of non-racists, which is weird in all sorts of ways
Ignoring for the moment how much of a misrepresentation that appears to be..., if you think that's "weird in all sorts of ways", consider this question: "How many robes and hoods have you collected?" (http://www.npr.org/2014/11/14/363896136/the-silver-dollar-lounge).


Date: 2017-02-27 10:49 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This article is a piece of fucking shit. It stabs wildly at conclusions which are 100% incorrect or misinterpreted. Deliberately trying to malign a conference trying to do the right thing. His little bullet points are shit, there's nothing in the coc that prevents people who've been victims of racism from reporting it to the police or anyone. In fact, if I read it right, they're welcome to report it and they'll be banned from the conference. Stop projecting your own biased feelings onto other people.

Worst argument in the world

Date: 2017-02-28 05:30 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

Calling someone a racist because of some views they hold is the worst argument in the world. I'd suggest tabooing the word "racist" and instead focus on how exactly they are a threat. By calling someone racist, you associate them with all the negative attributes and atrocities ever associated with racism. And because the term is so loosely applied it has very little predictive power. It's a cheap argument which is likely to polarize people and might even turn away potential allies who feel you are being intellectually dishonest and just trying to score some points in the outrage Olympics.

Thank you

Date: 2017-02-28 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I see a lot of hate in your comments, so I want to tell you thanks. I had no idea that any of this stuff happened and I'm fairly grossed out by all of it.

Nepotism and more

Date: 2017-02-28 04:50 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I checked lambdaconf's page. One big cult-like family operation.

Their "Chief Prophet of Functional Programming" John De Goes, seems to have a philosophical bent displayed at his twitter account that quite a few studies show to cause psychological and physical problems later in one's life... Specifically "The ability to delay gratification is one of the best predictors for success in achieving one's goals in life. It's the heart of discipline." Delaying gratification makes you sick but does allow one to achieve material success you will never really enjoy, later. It also allows a cult to redirect YOUR gratification to the fulfilling of theirs.

These people are a cult.

Date: 2017-02-28 09:32 pm (UTC)
vatine: Generated with some CL code and a hand-designed blackletter font (Default)
From: [personal profile] vatine
For the sake of argument, let's compare this with the Code of Conduct for the British Computing Society, a professional organisation for IT.

Public Interest

You shall:

a) have due regard for public health, privacy, security and wellbeing of others and the environment.
b) have due regard for the legitimate rights of Third Parties*.
c) conduct your professional activities without discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, marital status, nationality, colour, race, ethnic origin, religion, age or disability, or of any other condition or requirement
d) promote equal access to the benefits of IT and seek to promote the inclusion of all sectors in society wherever opportunities arise.

Clearly incompatible with being a racist. If an institution for chartered professionals can clearly state "don't be a racist", I think a conference could do the same.

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?


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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