Bonum Certa Men Certa

Malaysian Policy De-mystifies Tone Policing

Reprinted with permission from the Free Software Fellowship

When the leaders of free software organizations want to avoid answering questions about money and conflicts of interest, one of their most popular fudges is to have some sidekick come in and complain about the tone of the question. These are the tone police. Beware.



What, then, is the correct tone for women and volunteers to use when asking husbands and leaders about money?



The Malaysian Government has provided an insight: try to sound like the cartoon character Doraemon. Doraemon is a robotic cat without ears.



The Malaysians have gone a lot further, creating a complete Code of Conduct for women to observe during the Coronavirus lockdown:





What happens if you have a Code of Conduct issue? Well, most Codes of Conduct have a reporting procedure. In many free software organizations, it involves sending a report to the leader or the event organizer. If you look around the real world, you'll notice that in many cases the most serious Code of Conduct abuses are committed by people in positions of authority. Therefore, if free software organizations designate their leaders and close allies to handle CoC complaints, they make it impossible for the most serious complaints to be investigated.



The marital home provides an opportunity for us to understand this: if a Malaysian woman has a Code of Conduct problem, what is she going to do, put on her best Doraemon voice and ask permission to complain? Sadly, that is exactly what the brochure instructs.



In her infamous talk about enforcement at FOSDEM 2019, OSI president Molly de Blanc insists that it is necessary to follow through on community guidelines. She even gives a horrendous picture of a cat behind bars, how would Doraemon feel looking at that?



This is no laughing matter unfortunately. A recent survey found one in five women still believe husbands deserve to beat ‘disobedient’ wives as they enforce Codes of Conduct in the home.



As we read that, we couldn't help wondering if the rate of domestic homicides will increase in 2020 and if so, is the Code of Conduct to blame for that?



While the wording of this Code of Conduct varies significantly from those used in free software organizations, the principle is the same: trying to justify a situation where some people are more equal than others.



Cat slides

Malaysia_CoC_1

Malaysia_CoC_2

Malaysia_CoC_3

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