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

Paul Hedderly <paul@xxxxxxx> writes:

> It is clear that you can't tollerate LT because he has a different
> opinion of what is appropriate in regards to how others should be
> treated.

I'm not fond of that characterization of my opinion.  I think it misses a
key distinction.

I do not care what Linus's personal opinion about what is appropriate is.
He's free to hold whatever opinion he wishes; that does not affect me, and
it only has a secondary effect on the community.  What I cannot tolerate
is his *behavior*, which is aggressively nasty, hostile, and destructive
to the community, and which can cause real damage by demoralizing and
driving away people who otherwise could be part of our community.  And
which is, beyond that, just unacceptable treatment of other human beings.

By this, I do *not* mean his behavior at DebConf, which I thought was
blunt but which didn't cross where I would put that line.  I mean his
behavior within the Linux kernel community, as has been well-documented
and discussed elsewhere, and which he chose to actively defend at DebConf.

This has nothing to do with a difference of opinions.  It has to do with
specific public behavior that hurts other people.

> Two phrases in that startled me:

>   "Linus does not treat people with respect by _my_ definition of the word."
> 	"he is not meeting that standard, and that's unacceptable."

> I'll tread carefully here - I really do not want to offend.
> I feel the above statements could be argued to fit this definition:

> 	http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/bigot
> 	NOUN : A person who is intolerant towards those holding different
> 	   opinions

> And I think bigotry is sometimes a good thing. I am intollerant towards
> people who think its ok to murder or rape, or perform FGM etc etc. So I
> am a bigot, and I would hope most people are bigotted towards such
> things.

This is an old argument in this space.  There's lots and lots of
discussion of the problems with this argument on-line.  The summary is
that, while you can technically define intolerance of bigotry as bigotry
using a fine parsing of the dictionary, this is not a useful definition
and it's not what people intend by the term.  It only leads to digressing
into pointless meta-arguments, which interferes with addressing the actual

> The problem I have with the quotes above in this case is that - "not
> meeting that standard, and that's unacceptable." depends on an absolute
> - that some standard or other is an absolute that all people must abide
> by.

> Where do absolutes come from? Well, not from concensus. This thread has
> demonstrated that.

They come from ethics, wherever one might want to derive ethics from,
which is a much larger conversation.  However, communities can agree on
what ethics that they insist upon, and part of that discussion is to argue
for ethical limits that may not yet be common in the community, but which
one believes should be adopted by the community.

That's what's happening here.  When I first started in Debian, I don't
think the position that people should be treated with a basic level of
respect was widely supported.  I'm seeing this change; now it is widely
supported but there's still significant resistence.  I hope that process
continues, and in time it becomes widely supported without significant
resistence.  I am advocating for and supporting that change.

When I say this behavior is unacceptable, I mean it is unacceptable to me
personally, which in turn means that I will limit my support for and work
with a person who violates that standard of ethics.  I also believe that
Debian as a project should take a similar stance, declare such behavior
unacceptable, and at least act against it in the spaces that we control.

> Meh.  I'm probably going to get banned for life now for having
> opinions. I'd better just go crawl under my rock again.

People don't get banned from Debian for having opinions.  Nor does anyone
want that to happen, so far as I can see.  I certainly don't.

People might get banned from Debian for their *behavior* towards other
people.  I haven't seen anything in your behavior that I find the
slightest bit objectionable.  Certainly disagreeing with me is fine!  I
hope to convince you, and I also support the project deciding to enforce
certain standards of behavior even if some members of the project
disagree.  But that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with them stating
their disagreement.

And you'll note that we're not exactly fast to ban people anyway.

Even with Linus, I'm sure that the call for deciding not to invite him to
further Debian events is based on the long-term pattern of behavior, not
this one incident.  And even among people who find his position generally
unacceptable, you'll notice that there isn't widespread support for that
action here.  (I don't agree with it in this case, for instance.)

Russ Allbery (rra@xxxxxxxxxx)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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