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Re: Code of Conduct complaint about Linus's comments at DC14

On Wed, Sep 03, 2014 at 12:29:32PM +0100, Ian Jackson wrote:
> I sent the mail below on Saturday evening (Portland time).  I'm told
> that others also sent complaints, perhaps to different address(es).

I can confirm the complaint was received Saturday. As I told Ian in person,
the general restitution requested as part of the complaint, and the
complaint itself, made it very complicated to be handled by just the
3-member team of antiharassment.

> I think there is room for disagreement about: the extent to which his
> comments were a CoC violation; the nature and severity of the
> violation; and the appropriate response.

> However, I think a basic requirement is that CoC complaints are:
>   - dealt with promptly;

Ian and I had a couple of conversations in person, which indicated how
complicated his complaint was. The length of this thread highlights the
difficulty and complication of the matter. We have a team that has been
working on a general statement about the *DebConf Organizers* reaction to
the session. Which is the best we can do quickly. And even this isn't a
statement on behalf of Debian.

>   - without fear of favour;

Considering I was one of the <many> people who spoke out against inviting
Linus to speak at DebConf in general (and certainly wasn't happy when I
found out about the invitation from an attendee), I'm confused how there was
fear of favor in this case.

>   - and that the outcome is communicated to the complainants.

The outcome hasn't been decided at this point. As discussed in person at
DebConf, the complaint was forwarded on to leader@xxxxxxxxxx because it is
not in antiharassment's purview to issue statements on behalf of Debian.
(Among other political fallout considerations that nobody on the
antiharassment team was comfortable with being able to handle, and even the
DPL felt had to be handled with care.)

> It seems to me that, unfortunately, we have failed in those respects.

I deeply regret the impression of failure in these three respects.

> During my informal conversations with various people it was evident
> that this issue was seen as a political hot potato, and that it wasn't
> clear to everyone who had ultimate responsibility for making a
> decision.

... or if public action was called for. Again, this issue has been escalated
to leader@xxxxxxxxxx due to the nature of the situation.

> It seems to me that we have failed to act (or to do so promptly, at
> least) essentially because of the identity and status of the alleged
> violator.  This is not acceptable.

... and because of the method (and confusion) in which he was invited, and
the timing, and the disagreement over whether there was a direct violation
(beyond expletive language, which ceased after a gentle reminder from the
organizers) of the Code of Conduct, and so forth. This is still a discussion
in progress.

> I can see that it's a difficult situation for the teams responsible,
> and I'm sorry for putting those people on the spot.  And I regret the


> need to follow this up.  But a Code of Conduct is only any use if it
> is enforced, and it is only fair if it is enforced equally on
> everyone.

That's true. Which means we have to consider if other speakers that
expressed unfavorable opinions of some of our sponsors during their talks
should be censured as well to ensure everything is fair.  In my opinion, no. 
The purpose of the Code of Conduct was to help moderate interactions to
ensure a safe environment for everyone attending, not to stifle

Linus' opinions do not coincide with Debian on respect, on community, on
*the FSF*. None of this should be a surprise to anyone.

He made disparaging comments about the FSF. He indicated he felt people
should earn respect, not just be automatically treated with respect. He
defended his mistreatment of others.

He also *respectfully* answered very pointed questions that were
inflammatory, and comments (not questions) that were meant to chide him.  He
did this without being insulting to Debian, or to the questioners (or
chiders), or to the conference in general.

No, he shouldn't have been invited to give a free form public address to
confirm he is not in line with our core values. Unfortunately, we were
unable to stop this session (or delay it) in time to communicate and address
concerns ahead of time.

I'm genuinely sorry that people feel that my invitation for those who are
sensitive to course language to leave the session made the impression that
he was not being held to our Code of Conduct standards.  I don't think
anyone can fully appreciate how nerve-wracking it was while I was standing
at the front of the room hoping beyond all hope that people would treat each
other respectfully so I *wouldn't* have to request sound and video be cut
and everyone excused from the impromtu session.  Well, I know at least 2
DebConf chairs appreciated how nerve-wracking it was, because they were
concerned I was going to do just that at any second.

I stand by my statement that antiharassment is not charged with issuing
general, broad and political statements on behalf of Debian, and I don't
think anyone should *want* us to, and I stand by my decision to forward
Ian's complaint to the DPL to decide the best course of action on behalf of

There has been indication that people haven't seen the DebConf Code of
Conduct. It can be found at: http://debconf.org/codeofconduct.shtml


Patty Langasek
harmoney@xxxxxxxxx | harmoney@xxxxxxxxxx


At times, you may end up far away from home; 
you may not be sure of where you belong anymore.  
But home is always there...  because home is not a place.  
It's wherever your passion takes you.
                                --- J. Michael Straczynski

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