[Linux-aus] Linux Australia Code of Conduct - revised draft

Russell Stuart russell-linuxaus at stuart.id.au
Wed Nov 30 13:05:10 EST 2011

On Mon, 2011-11-28 at 14:26 +1100, Russell Coker wrote: 
> However some church groups just can't be accommodated.  For example the WBC 
> and all groups associated with it would be unlikely to ever adopt a policy 
> that would be acceptable to the Linux community and our reputation would be 
> permanently damaged if we were to do business with them.
> I think that your example of a church group was a bad one given the recent 
> public role that churches have in trying to prevent gay marriage.

That a pretty good example Russell, because it highlights why I think
this is the wrong thing to do.

It is one thing for LA to set standards for events it runs.  But that is
not what is happening here.  What is happening here is LA is imposing
its standards on a different organisation - the one that is running the
conference.  That organisation is taking advantage of LA's offer to be
banker for open source conferences.  In return, LA gets furthers it's
objective of promoting open source, and usually gets to make a small
profit as well.  It one of those remarkable win-win situation's we come
across so rarely in life.

Some "insisting on standards" is unavoidable.  The conference has to
promote open source, money wise it has to be run prudently, and it has
to have a very good change of being a success.  (I guess you could
define success as there being a good chance of the conference attracting
at least the same number of attendees next year.)  Asking organisers to
intervene as soon as possible when harassment occurs it happens is part
of that.  Conferences that allow attendees to harass one another are not
likely to be very successful in the long run, and conferences where
people actively work against each other aren't likely to be successful
in open source either.

However, beyond that, it is not in LA's interest to push the morals of
it's white Anglo-Saxon majority onto anyone.   If you look at how
successful advocates work (eg politicians), they go to extraordinary
lengths to avoid taking positions on anything that is outside of their
core concerns.  We make fun of them for this but there is an obvious
reason for it, and it is the same reason for the very short T&C's
commercial companies impose on their customers.  I don't see this as the
extreme view in this discussion.  In fact it is the reverse, it is the
common sense position most people and organisations eventually adopt.

So to go back to your example.  If someone approaches LA to ask with
help in promoting open source in their organisation, and they happen to
be an organisation that takes a stance on gay marriage marriage that
disagrees with yours, or even the bulk of LA's current membership, I
would say if LA didn't show a bit of tolerance and respect for the
morals of others it wasn't doing it's job as a promoter of open source.

To push the analogy further, if some hardline Muslim sect came along and
asked for LA's help to run a conference for their all male teachers on
using open source within their all male schools - then I would be _very_
disappointed if LA turned the request down on the basis of their
attitude to a women’s role in society, even though those attitudes were
almost certainly leak through into some aspects of the conference.
Equally of course if the Ada initiative wanted to run all female
conference because they felt girls would be more comfortable in attended
without the unwanted attentions of some males, then they should be
allowed to go for it.

And finally, if some other nationality that has different views to us on
where the boundaries for nudity or sexuality lie, such as a German
society or a Japanese group, us writing into our procedures and policies
that they _must_ adopt our view on what constitutes acceptable imagery
and speech is a mistake.  Asking that they be nice to each other, and
that they discuss and share in the open source way isn't a mistake
because that is what (I hope) we can all agree we are about.  But going
much beyond that is.

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