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Jun 29 2012

Now CFI has a harassment policy

And you can read it online, as well as at all of their conferences.

I guess we’re winning, aren’t we? Progress is being made on every front.

45 comments

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  1. 1
    Tabby Lavalamp

    Oh no! CFI has outlawed fun! Now consenting adults can no longer flirt or consume each other in bars. :(

    Or not. I haven’t read it. But it’s so much more satisfying to complain about harassment policies than it is to read them and see what they actually do.

  2. 2
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    Yay!

    Not nearly as good as not needing one, but that is far off.

    AA’s one is the better of the two methinks, but each to their own. And it seems like they mean business with this one too.

    (The lacking parts: I think non-repeat, non-physical pestering needs to be better addressed. If a creep asks everyone in the room if they want to have sex with said creep – is this a breach or not? I’m not sure from this policy text. I also find AA the more accessible one of the two (plus the whole perfume issue etc))

  3. 3
    michaeld

    And same issue we managed to fix in the AA one is sort of here as well.

    “Prohibited conduct includes, but is not limited to, harassment based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or any other protected group status, as provided by local, state, or federal law.”

    They don’t directly mention gender identity and those rights are fairly patchy in law (from what I’ve been able to see anyway if someone closer to the issue wants to correct me that’s fine). I’ve sent a little email to them yesterday haven’t heard anything back yet.

  4. 4
    pentatomid

    The AA one is definitely better, I think. But it’s pretty good. We’re moving forward, people!!!

  5. 5
    anotheratheist

    When I read the AA policy I had the impression it was compiled by an intern during his or her lunch break by copy-pasting random texts from the internet. Pretty hilarious piece of literature. In contrast this policy seems to be written by somebody who knows what he or she is doing.

  6. 6
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    When I read the AA policy I had the impression it was compiled by an intern during his or her lunch break by copy-pasting random texts from the internet. Pretty hilarious piece of literature. In contrast this policy seems to be written by somebody who knows what he or she is doing.

    Can I have “easily impressed by legalese” for 200 Alex?

    It’s not better in any way, shape or form except if your goal is to obscure what’s covered or not.

    Or that is – there is one bit that’s actually better. It is the fact-finding part – but I hope AA’s got that covered in their staff training.

  7. 7
    lilandra

    I wish AA would add this to their policy…

    Critical examination of beliefs, including critical commentary on another person’s views, does not, by itself, constitute hostile conduct or harassment. One of the underlying rationales of this policy is to promote the free exchange of ideas, not to inhibit it.

    Their offensive behavior policy could be interpreted as making criticisms about religion is harassment. Freethinkers criticize religion. It’s what we do!

  8. 8
    Pierce R. Butler

    Progress is being made on every front.

    Haven’t heard of any at JREF lately.

    And what is SSA up to under the new regime?

  9. 9
    Icaarus

    Hope this applies to CFI Canada too.

  10. 10
    michaeld

    Offense vs harassment is really a trade off as to what you want to risk happening. With offense you risk people saying your discussion of their cherished beliefs offended them and trying to get people in trouble that way. On the flip side harassment risks people saying no you weren’t really harassed. For example when that guy asked you up to his room on that elevator or gave you that swinger card.

    I don’t know that either is necessarily a problem provided the staff gets proper training. In the end that’s really what’s going to make or break any of these policies more then the wording itself.

  11. 11
    melody

    Hope this applies to CFI Canada too.

    As confusing as this may sound, CFI Canada is a different organization. They will have to adopt their own policy.

  12. 12
    melody

    Offense vs harassment is really a trade off as to what you want to risk happening. With offense you risk people saying your discussion of their cherished beliefs offended them and trying to get people in trouble that way.

    I think the policy adequately covers that here: “Critical examination of beliefs, including critical commentary on another person’s views, does not, by itself, constitute hostile conduct or harassment. One of the underlying rationales of this policy is to promote the free exchange of ideas, not to inhibit it.”

  13. 13
    michaeld

    @Melody

    Yup that was sort of my point. The CFI policy evades the potential for offense based issues but leaves open the possibility of peoples differing views of harassment (where as I think policy based around offense is less prone to this). Which again may or may not be an issue based on the training that the staff get.

  14. 14
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    I don’t know that either is necessarily a problem provided the staff gets proper training. In the end that’s really what’s going to make or break any of these policies more then the wording itself.

    This really. But don’t underestimate the value of clarity. At these kinds of events there’s always one or more rules-lawyering jerks who thinks “this bad is not clearly pointed out, it’s a free pass!”

    The splatter these people make is amusing, but for their victims it is better with clear, readable guidelines.

  15. 15
    melody

    The CFI policy evades the potential for offense based issues but leaves open the possibility of peoples differing views of harassment (where as I think policy based around offense is less prone to this). Which again may or may not be an issue based on the training that the staff get.

    I think this is the important bit: “One of the underlying rationales of this policy is to promote the free exchange of ideas, not to inhibit it.” I have full confidence that this will not be a problem. I will be one of those trained, by the way.

  16. 16
    Matt Penfold

    Yup that was sort of my point. The CFI policy evades the potential for offense based issues but leaves open the possibility of peoples differing views of harassment (where as I think policy based around offense is less prone to this). Which again may or may not be an issue based on the training that the staff get.

    Which is why you needed reasonable applying a test of reasonableness. It happens all the time, and it is not that hard to get right.

  17. 17
    Matt Penfold

    err. that should be “reasonable people…..”

  18. 18
    Ophelia Benson

    I on the other hand particularly like this one because of the way it puts hostile conduct and intimidation out front.

  19. 19
    michaeld

    Indeed I’m not really complaining on either policy just discussing mostly what I consider the quibble between the terms harass and offense in the policy. I actually like both policies. At this point I think it comes down to putting them into action and seeing what shakes out. Is offense going to bring up rules lawyers and how well people enforce the policy etc. Just going to have to test them at a convention or two and see how well they work as the organisations work out any obvious or hidden kinks in the policies.

  20. 20
    melody

    At these kinds of events there’s always one or more rules-lawyering jerks who thinks “this bad is not clearly pointed out, it’s a free pass!”

    Rule-lawyering jerks don’t win with us. CFI is a private organization. We can remove anyone from our events for any reason, with or without a policy. Of course, we don’t take that right lightly. This policy not only includes national conferences, but local events. I have had to remove a couple of people in five years of organizing events and I did not have a policy. It’s left to the discretion of CFI staff.

  21. 21
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    CFI is clearly against having fun, and people disagreeing, and the continuation of the human race.

  22. 22
    melody

    To have a better understanding of the policy, I think it’s important to read CFI’s CEO and President’s blog on the policy. It’s very informative. http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/cfis_new_policy_on_hostile_conduct_harassment_at_conferences/

  23. 23
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    Rule-lawyering jerks don’t win with us

    I’m sorry – I accidentally snipped out a bit. I did not imply that they’ll win, only that it’s better that they don’t perceive a loophole and goes for it at the expense of someone else.

    But they never win (except apparently on the JREF forums).

  24. 24
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    Bah! Twice the fool!

    I did not mean to imply..

    My intent does not conjure fuzzies, heal the dying, prove homoeopathy or conjure fireballs at dragons. (In short – it’s not magic.)

    All hail Tpyos!

  25. 25
    screechymonkey

    [wrings hands]
    But what about all of the More Important Issues that have been neglected while organizations have been attending to petty things like ensuring the safety and well-being of their guests?

  26. 26
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    You know, this is the best kind of fallout from the TAM nonsense.

  27. 27
    Inaji

    Excellent news!

  28. 28
    Momo Elektra

    Nice.

  29. 29
    michaeld

    Ok I’ve thought about this and I want to start the call for an F1 hybrd generation of the two policies that we can engage in further trials and selection on ;p.

  30. 30
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    Ok I’ve thought about this and I want to start the call for an F1 hybrd generation of the two policies that we can engage in further trials and selection on ;p.

    Or we could let them evolve in their separate miljeu for some generations, then arrange a battle royale…

  31. 31
    sarahmoglia

    “And what is SSA up to under the new regime?”

    The SSA’s conference harassment policy is available here: http://www.secularstudents.org/2012con/policies

    Although I’m not sure what you mean by ‘new regime’…were you referring to SCA? They probably don’t have one, because they don’t hold conferences.

  32. 32
    melody

    They probably don’t have one, because they don’t hold conferences.

    They actually had a conference last year.

  33. 33
    McC2lhu doesn't want to know what you did there.

    The Pharyngula squeaky wheel seems to be getting well greased. As it should be. I never thought I would see the necessity of patriarchy and sexism having to be dislodged so noisily from organizations supposedly representing rationality and equality.

    Once the progress ball starts rolling, though, it will be hard to stop. Other conferences not having policies in place will notice their attendance figures down from those that do and begin to adapt sensible regulation themselves. The rules that are in place will evolve as unique situations arise, and adapt accordingly.

    It’s a shame that there couldn’t be a mandatory attendance ‘attendee instruction’ panel at the beginning of the next few cons that deals specifically with the subjects of sexism and harassment. Watching a few cretins twist in the wind on ropes of their own ill-chosen words would be incredibly educational and eye-opening for a lot of people. It would be pretty satisfying and entertaining to watch, as well.

  34. 34
    Marcus Ranum

    Oh, no! So much for traditional marriage!

    Wait – I got that wrong: I MOURN the death of FUN.

  35. 35
    michaeld

    Poor fun we knew ye well :(

  36. 36
    Rey Fox

    But may I still kiss my cat Woogums full on the lips?

  37. 37
    michaeld

    @Rey

    I guess but if that cat files a complaint don’t look to me for help ;p

  38. 38
    stuartvo

    Yeah, right, like a cat’s gonna file a complaint. More likely you’ll just wake up to find a “gift” in your shoes.

    Your own liver.

    Cats are not exactly known for reasonable or measured responses to having their dignity assaulted. ;-)

  39. 39
    madscientist

    Nooo! Teh Atheiz is being suppressed! This is worse than circumcision! Mitt Romney will become president and the Russians will win the war!

    OK. I just had to channel a troll. I’m still disappointed that there are so many st00pid people out there who object to a few decent rules.

  40. 40
    Pierce R. Butler

    saramoglia @ # 31 – Yes, I meant SCA, but my fingers were thinking about the Social Security Administration or suchlike org.

    Edwina Rogers is probably sacrificing whole zoos full of livestock on every full moon in gratitude for Grothe & JREF having screwed the pooch at the exact right time to take the heat lamp off of her and her new employers.

  41. 41
    Pierce R. Butler

    Oops, and my fingers apologize to sarahmoglia for misspelling her name @ # 40!

  42. 42
    Stephanie Zvan

    SCA will visit the issue before they have another convention. It’s not a priority at the moment, however, since they don’t have one in the works.

  43. 43
    StopS

    Thank you for continuing as is without engaging in this childish banter with TF00t.

  44. 44
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Michaeld @29:

    Ok I’ve thought about this and I want to start the call for an F1 hybrd generation of the two policies that we can engage in further trials and selection on ;p.

    What a wonderful idea! Cultural evolution.

  45. 45
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    Thank you for continuing as is without engaging in this childish banter with TF00t.

    stops, you use use your nym and as a plan and stop this shit now.

    Fucking tone troll. “childish banter” my ass, are we suppose to let his sexist shit fly and not call it out?

    Silence is seen as agreement, speaking out is the only way to show you’re not.

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