09.20.20

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Daniel Pocock on Codes of Conduct and Their Potential Dangers in Practice

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 11:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Source: Distributing VoIP applications and packages (around 11:40 – 15:40)

Summary: In Debian we’ve already witnessed several examples where Codes of Conduct, if put in the wrong hands (in the Linux Foundation it’s corporate hands), can achieve the very opposite of their intended goal and its a true shame as well as a travesty for legitimate victims of real abuse

“BE EXCELLENT to each other!”

We totally and wholeheartedly agree.

In fact, as pointed out earlier this year, those who like using this phrase often disregard it themselves. Whether it’s Mr. Lunduke or Mr. ‘OpenRespect’ (Jono Bacon), there’s endless hypocrisy or an overt case of double standards. And therein lies the grudge…

“Being “excellent to each other” also means respecting other people’s rights, including free speech rights.”We’re generally a respectful site and we don’t use bad words (“bribery” isn’t a bad word; it’s definitely not a curse word; IRC logs occasionally contain vulgarities, but we don’t heavy-handedly police the speech of guests).

Being “excellent to each other” also means respecting other people’s rights, including free speech rights. Censoring people and attempting to ‘cancel’ them is arguably anti-social and detrimental to open debates/discourse. We’re not talking about slander or threats here. Yesterday we added a video of Rowan Atkinson and we wish to do so again, albeit it’s a YouTube link (Google does not respect free speech):

Hours ago we noticed that Daniel Pocock is back to Planet Fedora. Well done, Fedora. It’s gratifying to see them making the right call. Free software communities and Free software-centric companies like Red Hat (as per its site’s preaching; ‘Open Org’ and all that) need to listen also to dissent and truth-telling. It’s not always easy/convenient and sometimes it seems undesirable from a PR standpoint. But inclusive debates that deal with difficult subjects are our strength, not our weakness. No monoculture should be fostered as though it’s instantaneously desirable (with no questions or concerns raised about it).

Brute hulk vs intellectual hulk: Ban him!!! I was just a tad offendedPocock isn’t a bad person. His ‘problem’ is that he’s ‘too’ ethical; like Richard Stallman, if or when he sees something wrong/unjust (like Fellows losing their voice inside the FSFE), he speaks about it. Politely. Equipped with facts. If his speech is suppressed (censorship/self-censorship), he lets the Canary out. We should commend that, not condemn that. But those standing to lose from the Canary’s singing change targets and focus on the messenger, not the message. Then, things like a Code of Conduct become handy to them. It is a slippery slope — as slippery as the burning of so-called ‘witches’.

See the video at the top again; we share his position that in principle and in theory Codes of Conduct aren’t a bad thing (abuses do exist and they need to be tackled seriously and promptly, subject to due process of course!), but there’s opportunity for mischief and misuse/abuse by those given power and authority to enforce rules with little consideration for the rights of the accused (burden of proof is disproportionately light on the accusers’ end). Should we allow witch-hunts to overrule reason? Should we let anti-harassment teams themselves become a source of harassment (against potentially innocent volunteers)?

Polite Captain America: Before a witch-hunt commences, does anyone want to attempt mediation?

What’s lovely about the Free software world is that one way or another, sooner or later (eventually), people see what’s going on and can properly assess the situation, including social affairs within a community. An informed community is a powerful community. This means that justice can be reached and injustice be seen then undone/overcome. Let’s hope Debian is next to admit its mistakes. The facts are available for everybody to see. If we’re courageous enough to embrace the full freedom of software, then we’re capable of tolerating a broader spectrum of views, facilitating more free speech and more accountability for those who strive to take it away (usually a form of cover-up, distracting from one’s own misdeeds).

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