I have stated that opinions about the Code of Conduct should be discussed in a public forum. I’ve had, at their request, ex parte emails with Jesse Noller and Steve Holden over the subsequent reaction to my post on Hacker News. The substance of the objections to my post and my responses have been addressed in these emails. In his last email, Steve suggested that if I wanted to discuss it in a public forum, which I have always advocated, I should try his blog http://holdenweb.blogspot.com/. So this is being posted there and at my blog bobhancock.org.
This all started with my post https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4894937
I’ve not had any desire to be anonymous and signed the Hacker New post as bob_hancock. I would suggest reading the original post before proceeding so that there is no misunderstanding of what was said.
Steve says, referring to the event, that “first the quote is inaccurate”. This is where we can agree to disagree. I remember it clearly and I am sure that I’ve accurately recounted the conversation. I’ve been told that “you didn't express your opinion, except in the most oblique way” . I think I’ve been clear. I don’t see how I have been oblique.
My post was to take issue with the code. “The Code has a very broad definition of harassment that makes no distinction between a one time comment and a pattern of repetitive behaviour intended to intimidate or cause harm.” I recounted the one-eyed snake event not to imply that the organizers should have taken some action, since the woman in question took no more umbrage than, "No, it is just creepy, but I'm an adult.", but to illustrate that one of the people who approved the wording was engaged in behavior that under the current wording could have been grounds for a complaint.
Specifically, the Code of Conduct states “Be careful in the words that you choose. Remember that sexist, racist, and other exclusionary jokes can be offensive to those around you. Excessive swearing and offensive jokes are not appropriate for PyCon.” and I believe this is the type of conduct to which they are referring which is why I referenced it. I thought the joke was in bad taste, and mentioned that to Steve later, but it did not rise to the level of something that required action by the organizers--which was the point.
I’ve been told that Hacker News was not an appropriate forum to discuss this. My post was in response to a thread in which Jesse had already responded, so I added my opinion.
I recieved emails stating that the purpose of my post was of “malicious intent”, that I am “sadly misinformed about gender diversity issues”, my behavior is “inept”, that as a result “staff is being bullied and harassed due to this”, and that I have “pulled the rug out from under” Jesse.
Some people have taken the fallout from this situation as an opportunity to dump on Jesse and engage in cyber-bullying. The amount of work that Jesse puts into Pycon is unbelievable and has immeasurably improved Pycon. The conference in its current form would have been impossible without him. To personally criticize Jesse or to question his commitment to the Python community is to willfully ignore the substance of the issue.
Jesse clarified the difference between the Board’s ratification and Pycon. The difference which was not clear to me and why I asked “From what I understand, the code was approved by the Board of Directors of the PSF, and not the PSF as a whole. Please, correct me if I am wrong.” The board resolution says “RESOLVED, that the PSF will only sponsor conferences that have or agree to create and publish a Code of Conduct/Anti Harassment guide for their conference. A basic template to work from has been generated by the Ada Initiative at http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Conference_anti-harassment/Policy” So, we should make a clear distinction between the Board’s resolution and Pycon’s choice of a Code.
They could have chosen the Pycon UK version http://pyconuk.net/CodeOfConduct or the O’Reilly Conference version http://oreilly.com/conferences/code-of-conduct.html, and be in full compliance with the PSF resolution.
I’ve not read, except for a couple of vituperative Tweets by Zed Shaw to Diana Clarke, the broadsides that have been aimed at Jesse and Steve. I would be interested to know if the content is primarily personal attacks or people taking issue with the wording of the Code of Conduct. Hate mail is inevitable when you take a stand for something you believe in. The only way to avoid this is to take no stand at all, and I applaud the Pycon organizers for making their intentions clear.
To link the hate mail and cyber-bullying with my post is specious. It may have acted as a catalyst for some disgruntled people predisposed to invective, but the demeaning outbursts of the peevish cannot be a deterrent to rational and civil discourse.
pythonchelle has made the most pertinent comment so far “Let's not derail the conversation that needs to be had about CoCs. It's a little ridiculous to discount the attempts that are being made to make the community better because one of the directors that helped write it told an off-color joke at a conference that one time.”