Not logged in
Log in now
Create an account
Subscribe to LWN
An "enum" for Python 3
An unexpected perf feature
LWN.net Weekly Edition for May 16, 2013
A look at the PyPy 2.0 release
PostgreSQL 9.3 beta: Federated databases and more
Note, however that the parent message I was replying to specifically referred to non-gender issues (the example given was ethnic minorities).
But you mention that "sex is different from a lot of other potentially offending things in our society". So I guess you have no issue with ethnic jokes.
I'm just trying to understand where you draw the line.
Debugging conference anti-harassment policies
Posted Feb 1, 2011 18:12 UTC (Tue) by dneary (subscriber, #55185)
> Note, however that the parent message I was replying to specifically
> referred to non-gender issues (the example given was ethnic minorities).
The message I was replying to referred to making jokes about Canonical developers. Are Canonical developers considered an ethnic minority now? I know, being Irish I have trouble understanding the nuance.
> But you mention that "sex is different from a lot of other potentially
> offending things in our society". So I guess you have no issue with ethnic
What I'm OK with is not the point. (PS. I'm almost always OK with self-deprecation). Racial discrimination would fall under "illegal" where I come from, and incitement to racial hatred would come under hate speech laws. That said, ethnic jokes aren't necessarily incitements to hatred or discriminatory. Honestly, I guess it would depend on the joke. To some extent, it would depend on how persecuted the minority has been, and how serious the person telling the joke was.
An example: Someone telling a Paddy Irishman joke wouldn't bother me in the slightest. Someone telling a Jewish joke does bother me, and I ask people not to tell them. Similarly, Corsican/Belgian/Swiss jokes don't bother me in France, Arab jokes do.
These things are funny (odd)... context changes everything. When a joke is the expression of someone's prejudice, it bothers me. But if it's a caricature of a culture, it doesn't. And there's a grey area between the two.
> I'm just trying to understand where you draw the line.
Personally, I draw the line at "what behaviour would be OK in the workplace?" I don't mind people telling jokes in the workplace, I do mind racism. I don't mind lads chatting about a cute girl working in the local bakery, but I do mind someone hanging a centerfold from a lad mag.
I know these things aren't the same thing... like I said, there are some grey areas, always.
Posted Feb 1, 2011 18:48 UTC (Tue) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
I don't drink, but I think this would be a MAJOR change to any conference (opensource or not, tech related or not)
Posted Feb 1, 2011 19:22 UTC (Tue) by donwaugaman (subscriber, #4214)
I'd think the analogous setting at a conference, not part of the technical presentation but rather at a time and place designated for socializing either at the conference venue or elsewhere, would be more than acceptable.
Posted Feb 1, 2011 22:40 UTC (Tue) by dtlin (✭ supporter ✭, #36537)
Posted Feb 4, 2011 23:06 UTC (Fri) by Tet (subscriber, #5433)
From your workplace, perhaps. Not from mine. Note that many countries outside the US have a much more relaxed attitude to drinking at work. It's reasonably common here to drink at lunchtime. Less so while actually in the office, but not unheard of even then. All of which just points to the difficulty of drafting an acceptable behaviour policy when standards of "acceptable" differ so much among attendees.
Posted Feb 5, 2011 1:18 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
Posted Feb 5, 2011 5:55 UTC (Sat) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
yes, it very much depends on the company, but if you are saying that you must meet 'workplace standards' to avoid offending people, don't you have to err towards the stricter workplace standards?
If you don't, then I'm sure you can find workplaces where the types of images that were being complained about here are accepted.
for that matter, what do you think the 'workplace standards' of a porn company are?
Posted Feb 5, 2011 5:57 UTC (Sat) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
Posted Feb 5, 2011 6:19 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
Posted Feb 2, 2011 7:16 UTC (Wed) by paulj (subscriber, #341)
So no, Paddy Irishman jokes should not be acceptable, no more than jokes about the stupidity of any other group of people.
Also rather disgusting is the modern resurgence in rather cruel and nasty jokes about having ginger hair.
Posted Feb 3, 2011 2:44 UTC (Thu) by ofeeley (guest, #36105)
I'm not arguing against your own assessment of the annoyance. I have, personally, been both annoyed and also amused by Paddy jokes. It all depends on context: my friends can make them, others can't. I can imagine that it's much worse for someone with a more immediate source of unease.
I personally enjoyed Pesce's talk and wasn't in the least offended by it and was a bit surprised at the furore after I'd read the notes and viewed the slides, so probably it's useful for me that an explicit policy exists to let me be aware that some other people feel very differently.
That said, I do wonder where is the logical endpoint of avoiding offense once it's spelt out as a quasi-legal policy instead of being a set of cultural norms? The subjective nature of determining whether offense has been given (or was intended to be given) makes this very grey territory and the language of the generic anti-harrasment policy enters boldly into this at several points, e.g. "Booth staff (including volunteers) should not use sexualized clothing/uniforms/costumes, or otherwise create a sexualized environment." Who exactly determines what is "sexualized clothing"? Is this according to Western norms? Do we accomodate the viewpoints of members of various Judaeo-Christian religions of a more conservative type?
A glib answer that it's the conference organizers who make the determination does nothing to answer the core question. On the whole this seems like a poor candidate to choose in order to exercise a policy which was initially debated in the context of stopping the problem of women being "stalked, leered at, and physically assaulted at conferences".
Posted Feb 10, 2011 0:52 UTC (Thu) by rgmoore (✭ supporter ✭, #75)
I think this is a key point. Different people have different standards of offensiveness, and we need to keep that in mind when deciding what we want to say and do. And, perhaps more important, it is the role of the listener, not the speaker, to decide if speech is offensive. If a substantial group of people* thinks that something is offensive, then it is offensive even if the speaker meant it innocently, though I would hope that innocent intent- and a good apology- would be enough to mollify an offended minority.
That said, it's possible to get carried away with trying to avoid offense. It's important to be a welcoming community, but it's also important to have room for open debate and honest differences of opinion. You don't want to become so sensitive that you let people use pretend outrage as an excuse to shut down opinions they don't like. That doesn't seem to be the case in this instance- it doesn't sound as though anyone objects to Mr. Pesce's opinions, just his way of getting them across- but it is something to guard against.
*Exactly what "substantial" means is obviously open to debate. I think it depends on the nature of the offensive content, and on the group that's being offended. If the offensive behavior has a target (e.g. sexually suggestive pictures of women or ethnic jokes), a large minority of the target group is substantial even if- maybe even especially if- they're a tiny fraction of the whole population.
Posted Feb 10, 2011 10:08 UTC (Thu) by yeti-dn (guest, #46560)
Well, I find talk like this offensive. This is no joke. Political correctness offends me more than even many direct personal attacks. I would be contradicting myself asking for banning of correctness on the basis that it offends me - but well, perhaps I will start doing so anyway because hypocrites might not be able to comprehend the absurdity.
Posted Feb 10, 2011 14:06 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
Posted Feb 12, 2011 8:04 UTC (Sat) by shmget (subscriber, #58347)
Are you really trying to hit all the logical fallacies in the book ?
Copyright © 2013, Eklektix, Inc.
Comments and public postings are copyrighted by their creators.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds