Debugging conference anti-harassment policies
Posted Feb 3, 2011 10:44 UTC (Thu) by dunlapg
In reply to: Debugging conference anti-harassment policies
Parent article: Debugging conference anti-harassment policies
It seems to me that the problem with the policy was that it didn't actually describe accurately what "problem behavior" was. It just said flatly that any image with sexual content was inappropriate, regardless of the way in which it was used.
Well, the talk clearly had images with sexual content; so, it violated the letter of the policy. However, most people seem to agree that although it violated the letter of the policy, it didn't violate the intent -- i.e., the intent was to stop harassment, and nobody was harassed. (I haven't seen the talk yet, but I've browed the slides, and I can certainly imagine a talk with those slides not being harassment.)
I think David's talk is the first comment I've seen which attempt to define more clearly exactly in what way a sexual image might be "harassment":
Mark's presentation was not demeaning to any set of people, did not portray any set of people as sexual objects, did not marginalise or reinforce negative stereotypes of any set of people. As such it did not fall under the major raison d'être of the Anti-Harassment Policy.
One of the main activites of "debugging" is sorting out what you actually want (proper program behavior) from what you said you want (the buggy code). So it seems to me that a more thorough discussion of the intent which constitutes harassment, rather than a list of general activites which contain harassment, is key to debugging policies in the future.
That said, the policy was pretty clear on "no sexual images", full stop. Mark should have read the policy, and abided by it, whatever he thought of it.
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