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Atheists should have good rules for behavior

It has come to my attention that certain people — certain thuggish, stupid people — are objecting to the Code of Conduct for the American Atheists 2014 convention. In addition to complaining that it shouldn’t bother to address the needs of trans people (WTF?), they object to this section.

American Atheists does not tolerate harassment of or by conference participants in any form. Prohibited conduct may include but is not limited to harassment related to gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, sexual images in public spaces (not related to convention sessions or materials), deliberate intimidation, stalking, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. Racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic conduct will not be tolerated.

That all sounds good and reasonable to me. But some people are complaining that at an atheist convention, it is far too PC to say you may not harass people for their religion, and then they point to David Silverman, who is known for his confrontational style and his willingness to openly disagree with religious convention.

These objectors are obtuse and wrong. This does not say you may not disagree with someone; it does not say you may not publicly express a different opinion; it does not say you have to be kind and gentle to bad ideas.

It says you may not harass someone.

Harassment is persistent, aggressive behavior with the purpose of intimidating or silencing someone. The code of conduct even goes into detail: “deliberate intimidation, stalking, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.” To say that you may not do that to a religious person is not a violation of the purpose of American Atheists; I’d say it’s actually a damn good idea if atheists don’t harass religious people and make respectful behavior towards other human beings a part of their policy…while still continuing aggressive campaigns against bad ideas.

So if Thomas Monson, president of the LDS church, shows up at AACON2014, you can argue with him, you can tell him how much you dislike his church, but if he asks you to step aside and leave him alone, you will do so. David Silverman can give a talk in which he castigates the Mormons for their hypocrisy and the absurdity of their religion, and if Thomas Monson raises his hand to ask a question afterwards, the audience will not heckle him and shout him down. And when he starts walking up the aisle to leave afterwards, you will not grab him, block him, spit on him, shout obscenities at him, or interfere with him in any way, because that would be harassment, and that would put you in violation of the code of conduct. Well, and also put you in violation of many norms of civilized behavior.

I have no objection at all to the American Atheists code of conduct, and think it is a fine document fully in accord with the aims of the movement. If you disagree, you shouldn’t go anywhere where you might find yourself in groups of people. Perhaps you’d be better off living in a small cave in the middle of nowhere? Or perhaps confining yourself to the company of trolls on youtube?


I was pointed to the commitments and code of conduct for an anarchist book fair. They’re rather progressive. It doesn’t matter who you are, when people gather, there will be rules to regulate your behavior.

Comments

  1. otrame says

    So they want members and attendants acting like decent human beings. Wow. How……controversial.

  2. congenital cynic says

    Nothing in that code looks unreasonable to me. Sounds like civility. Too bad it wasn’t more contagious.

  3. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Literally just woke up and read this. Everything in this Code of Conduct is reasonable to me. Which means that of course some of the horrible online atheists will take issue with it.

    (Place yer bets…I think one of them will show up within the first 25 comments)

  4. Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority) says

    That code is fucking atrocious. How dare they not use a semicolon between “religion” and “sexual images” to distinguish the comma-separated sublist on “harassment related to…” from the remainder of the prohibited conduct?

  5. says

    I guess this is one of those “social justice” issues that proper dictionary-atheists shouldn’t get involved with. The more time we spend enforcing manners and making our gatherings all civilized and safe and stuff, the less time we have to do really important ground-breaking stuff like debunking Bigfoot or drawing Mohammed. ‘Cause ATHEISM MAKES NO MORAL CLAIMS!!1!!!

  6. sbuh says

    Meh, nuance is hard. I don’t mean that condescendingly either. I can see how someone might misinterpret this as accomodationist, even though I agree with you that it isn’t.

  7. Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority) says

    Yes, damn you for forcing Shermer to read your blog posts!

  8. Jacob Schmidt says

    You mean, exactly what you did to Michael Shermer?

    Seeing as PZ has neither been persistent nor agressive, and seeing as Shermer has hardly been silenced or intimidated, WTF are you talking about?

  9. imthegenieicandoanything says

    Sounds like some people want to “get some of their own” back, or some such petty, irrational, sick thing.

    Tolerance doesn’t even vaguely mean agreement, any more than non-violent opposition mean acquiescence, much less surrender.

    Ask these people to think about what they are requesting and why. If they’re sensible people, they’ll realize they were over-reacting and even apologize. If they do not they can be, while they suffer from this obsession (or worse), written off as anything more than occasional, very untrustworthy, allies.

    The rules seem entirely, ENTIRELY, appropriate and reasonable. Kudos to whoever wrote they and put them in place.

  10. shouldbeworking says

    That code of conduct is a great way to interact with other people, atheist convention or not.

  11. René says

    It never ceases to amaze me that PZ is incessantly able to put up blog OPs about stuff that is so absolutely evident to me. I guess I will never have a popular blog, erhm, skip that ‘popular,’ myself.

  12. says

    By the way, the thug in question has a name that ends in “00t” and recently put out a video with all these stupidities and more, and the trolls are forwarding it to me en masse.

    I didn’t watch it all. When it got to the point where he starts tallying up and down votes on various videos as proof of his authoritah, I had to excuse myself to throw up.

  13. says

    You know those people who say that atheists do believe in God, but we want an excuse to sin? Why do I feel that they’re right about a sizable portion of us?

  14. David Wilford says

    It’s really about the right to be left alone when it come to harassment. Sometimes the mere presence of someone (say a former spouse who has previously harassed their partner) constitutes harassment. Sometimes it’s picketers at a private home who are harassing someone (like abortion providers). The problem usually comes when someone claims they are being harassed and it’s not a clear-cut case that they are (like the infamous “dongle” conversation that was overheard at a tech conference). That’s what can give conference organizers headaches.

  15. Jacob Schmidt says

    Dammit PZ. Now I look like I’m talking to myself. Then again, it’d be far better conversation than most of these fools can provide.

    By the way, the thug in question has a name that ends in “00t” and recently put out a video with all these stupidities and more, and the trolls are forwarding it to me en masse.

    Quelle surprise.

    KevenKat

    Argumentum ad Populum? Seriously?

    It ain’t the first time.

    sbuh

    I can see how someone might misinterpret this as accomodationist, even though I agree with you that it isn’t.

    Maybe. If so, then we have a serious problem; people should not be equating disagreement to harassment.

  16. says

    It seems to be an issue: figuring out what “harassment” means. It is almost certainly a systemic problem rather than something specific to the skeptical and atheist communities.

  17. Doug Hudson says

    @Rene,

    Well, aren’t you a special snowflake.

    In case you somehow missed the thousands of posts on misogyny and rape here on Pharyngula, it’s pretty damned clear that this stuff isn’t obvious to a lot of people.

  18. says

    For someone who’s initial objection to discussion of harassment was that it was an unneeded distraction, Thu a certain video-blogger seems to be spending one helluva lot of his time and energy addressing issues of harassment.

  19. borax says

    @15 KevinKat. If he can’t win by a well reasoned argument, then popular vote is the way to go. Lot’s of wrong ideas have been popular.

  20. gussnarp says

    I think American Atheists is better off without anyone who doesn’t like that statement. Especially after you’ve so clearly and kindly explained it.

    I suppose it could just say: “Don’t harass people” and be just as reasonable and have the same meaning, but if people are complaining about it then it’s clear that they’re so obtuse that it really does have to be spelled out.

    But seriously, I expect that people who identify with any of the listed groups can feel much more welcome and safe when the policy expressly protects them. Good for American Atheists.

  21. says

    I would agree that there are grey areas in defining what is harassment — if I go to a local church every time they bring in a creationist speaker, and sit quietly taking notes, am I harassing them? I don’t think so. But if they asked me to stop going because I was making the congregation uncomfortable, do you know what I would do? I would stop going there. If I persisted against their wishes, then it stops being grey and starts being clearly harassing behavior, because it is not my church or my property, and I have no particular right to be heard by them.

    And that’s the problem. Some people who identify as atheists have zero understanding of what harassment is, and show no appreciation of any boundaries. Those people really need to stay home.

  22. madphd says

    I completely agree with a policy of non-harassment. I just wonder if it is time to simply say “It is inappropriate to harass anyone for any reason.”

  23. René says

    Doug (@21): No I didn’t miss that. I simply wanted to make clear that I, me, myself, yours truly, could never come up with such a MUCH NEEDED blog OP like that. Blame my imagination, or lack thereof. I may be a simpleton for not wanting to write to the intellectually less endowed.

    Does that sound elitist? Then I’m sorry.

  24. unbound says

    I think most people deep down understand harassment and how it is different from discussing or disagreeing with something. However, there are a significant number of people that try to excuse their own behavior by trying to make the distinction more iffy than it really is. They know they are harassing, but they want to claim innocence so they don’t deal with the responsibility associated with the harassing.

  25. Ingdigo Jump says

    . It is almost certainly a systemic problem rather than something specific to the skeptical and atheist communities.

    You know I keep hearing this and I think it’s time we called bullshit.

    It *IS* a problem specific to the skeptical and atheist communities.

    It just fucking is

    They’re not alone in having this problem, but it’s not just the fucking background garbage. There are objections, whines and memes specific to skeptics and atheists about this issue. It is a specific issue.

  26. gussnarp says

    I make a point of never going anywhere near the thug’s YouTube channel. I don’t know if he has ads on his videos, but if he does those view counts lead directly to dollars and especially if he’s going to use those numbers as an Argumentum ad Populum, then I’m certainly not going to boost them. I’ve also seen his arguments before and know I don’t need to see any more of his filth.

    But if YouTube views and thumbs up are an indicator of what’s right, then he ought to go find some videos by the VlogBrothers, producers of the recent VidCon conference who made a strong statement about harassment after events at their conference, improved their policy, and took no guff about it. He’ll find that, even on videos expressly discussing how to treat fellow human beings, their view counts and likes far exceed anything he’s ever done.

    But we all know that isn’t what makes something right or wrong, otherwise we’d all be convinced that rainbows around sprinklers are proof of a government chemtrail conspiracy and cats would be worshiped as gods. And we know that’s wrong.

  27. Sassafras says

    In addition to complaining that it shouldn’t bother to address the needs of trans people (WTF?)

    Let me guess, did he say we’re too small a minority to care if people harass us?

  28. gussnarp says

    @Ingdingo – I think you’re right. The problem exists just about everywhere, but certain cultures concentrate it. Gaming, computers, science, comics – these all have particular problems with harassment. But skepticism/atheism’s problem is perhaps quite a bit worse. The hyperskeptic stereotype whose every idea must be right because it came from him and he’s the logical, skeptical ideal and who believes emotions ought to be entirely discounted exists. He’s got a YouTube account and a lot of like minded friends. And through years of too few women in the movement, with no effort to include them, he’s been able to rise to too much prominence (a generic ‘he’ this time, the YouTuber isn’t that prominent).

    I also think I love your ‘nym.

  29. says

    @Ingdigo Jump – I disagree. The skeptical and atheist communities do not have a special market on sexual assault, bullying, intimidation and other forms of harassment. It happens at tech conferences. It happens at science fiction conventions. It happens at church socials. It happens in bars and dance clubs. And always — ALWAYS — the perpetrators justify their actions by saying, “That’s not harassment, how can you say it was?”

    It seems like a bigger problem in our communities than in the world at large because, I believe, we have more people willing to see it and take action against it. It is at least as prevalent outside of atheist and skeptical circles, and more likely to be ignored or justified.

  30. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I get the feeling that if PZ or organizers of these Conventions said to not kick puppies or push grandmothers in wheelchairs into traffic that “the group” we all know would condemn it.

  31. says

    It’s both. It’s a problem that afflicts society at large, and it’s a problem that affects atheist communities…MY communities. And that makes it a problem I cannot ignore.

  32. gussnarp says

    @Raging Bee – Well no, they can’t be any worse than what people currently worship. But I don’t want to further derail on this topic by trying to fix the joke.

  33. borax says

    KevinCat, Yep. Many skeptics are only interested in being skeptical when it fits their beliefs. Some of these same skeptics will scream bloody murder about a Christian skeptic, but can’t see they have the same fault with their misogyny.

  34. Jonathan, der Ewige Noobe says

    What you seem to be forgetting is that any disagreement with the religious is by definition Unjust and Terrible Persecution that Proves We’re Living in the End Times(tm). My heart aches for the poor, oppressed cross-humpers that might have to experience a world where their stupefying privilege is even momentarily stripped away.

    Everything else about that? Lovely stuff. Just don’t give the enemy a foothold, or we’ll never see the end of all this–they’ll take this as a queue to move in and harass US.

  35. Ingdigo Jump says

    I disagree. The skeptical and atheist communities do not have a special market on sexual assault, bullying, intimidation and other forms of harassment.

    I like that I said that they’re not alone in facing issues like this but you still read it like that. Cool story bro.

    There are SPECIFIC problems and manifestations of sexism SPECIFIC to skepticism and atheism and the solution isn’t to focus on the broad culture.

    There’s a reason you don’t have Fake Skeptic Girls in skeptic/atheism and Geek Girl Bullies in Nerdism.

  36. BeyondUnderstanding says

    The problem exists just about everywhere, but certain cultures concentrate it. Gaming, computers, science, comics – these all have particular problems with harassment.

    Huh. It almost seems like any community where the majority of it’s members are privileged white dudes have more issues with harassment. Color me surprised.

  37. Ingdigo Jump says

    @Beyondunderstanding

    Yeah but you can’t say those things aren’t SPECIFIC to those places. The memes and moors of a subculture will affect how issues like those are addressed. In skeptic/Atheism we see a lot of extreme arrogance, privilege, and elitism (and ‘take down’/debunking culture) collide with sexism

  38. says

    The problem is privileged dudes completely oblivious of their privilege. They really think that having someone disagree with you is harassment. Because they were never actually harassed. These are the guys who think that getting blocked by someone in twitter is the worst thing that could ever happen to them.

  39. daniellavine says

    Jonathan@41:

    Everything else about that? Lovely stuff. Just don’t give the enemy a foothold, or we’ll never see the end of all this–they’ll take this as a queue to move in and harass US.

    I have religious friends and family and more generally support people with unorthodox beliefs — whether or not those beliefs are theistic.

    Whereas I’m guessing by your use of the term “enemy” you are a rather orthodox atheist.

    What makes you think you get to declare who it is that is the “enemy”? I’m more inclined to view authoritarians like yourself as enemies than people with a few minor philosophical differences with myself.

  40. Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority) says

    Not only that, but their privilege means they are less likely to feel harassed since they will generally be at least equal on the power gradient to those with whom they interact.

  41. gussnarp says

    @Jonathan – I don’t think anyone’s forgetting it, I think it’s utterly irrelevant. It is entirely reasonable to oppose harassment based on religious beliefs. That religious people have a tendency to paint any disagreement as harassment does not mean that a policy of non-harassment on religious, among other, grounds is a bad policy. We can argue with religious people claiming that being disagreed with is harassment when it becomes a problem without abandoning the basic principle of treating people decently. And let’s not forget that Dave Silverman is the head of the group whose policy this is. I don’t really think we have to worry about them responding to bullshit claims of religious harassment based entirely on disagreement. This isn’t a court of law and it isn’t some interfaith group’s rules. This is American Atheists. They can set the right policy and enforce it the right way and handle attempts by religious people to abuse a good policy when they come up.

    To argue that this means the policy is no good is like arguing that food stamps should be abolished because you saw somebody with an iPhone using them to buy Twinkies.

  42. Pierce R. Butler says

    PZ Myers @ # 26: Those people really need to stay home.

    Doesn’t this constitute incitement to harassment of all the other people at the __00t domicile? Think how much they must appreciate hearing the slam of the outside door and the h00t-pants of their housemate challenging the neighborhood…

  43. BeyondUnderstanding says

    @Ingdigo Jump

    Absolutely. Unfortunately it seems like a double-edged sword for the skeptic/atheist community. Of course atheism attracts a more arrogant/privileged/elitist type of person. It’s not completely random that there’s a correlation between socioeconomic status/education & godlessness. The ability to “let go of god” definitely has some roots in being a (at least somewhat) privileged person. Not for everybody, of course.

  44. says

    It never ceases to amaze me, that -f00t still has so many fans. After his total and embarassign debacle at FtB I could not watch his videos anymore, even those I find good from before.

    He has new series up “Why feminism poisons atheism” or something like that. I haven´t got the courage to watch if they are indeed as stupid as the title implies. I guess his “critique” of these (quite reasonable) rules is contained in his last escapade on the “bad feminism” theme. If someone volunteers to endure the pain of watching those videos and make detailed dissection of fallacies therein, I would like to see that. Just for fun, in these unfun times.

  45. John Horstman says

    And that’s the problem. Some people who identify as atheists have zero understanding of what harassment is, and show no appreciation of any boundaries. Those people really need to stay home.

    They do not care at all about the impacts of their behaviors on other people (though they of course care quite a lot about the impacts of others’ behaviors on them). Staying home isn’t enough – they have internet connections. They need to change their thinking, preferably, or their behaviors, minimally.

  46. mjmiller says

    On the subject of deleted comments. PZ, is it a pain to put a placeholder of some sort where the comment used to be? I wouldn’t mind seeing something like “comment deleted due to offensive or vacuous content which lends nothing to the discussion”. Just so we keep the threadline intact. (Or, does this comment lend nothing to the discussion?)

  47. Lagerbaer says

    When people complain against anti-harassment rules, I challenge them to be specific: What is it that they would have liked to do at the conference/event that they cannot do any more? That usually shuts them up unless they are clearly sociopathic.

  48. smhll says

    I suspect this is a terrible idea, but what if a (large) conference with a No Harassment policy also had a room set aside for obnoxious speech? I’m picturing a room at the far end of a lightly traveled corridor. A sign on the closed door says: “This is the Say Anything room. Rude people welcome.”

    I figure lots most people will avoid this room. The ones that don’t might be the types of people who enjoy pissing each other off.

    The “Say Anything” room should not be the bar. IMO alcohol exacerbates offensiveness. (Let them drink peach-flavored slushies.)

  49. says

    Anarchists with organized meetings and rules of conduct reminds me of the ‘philosopher’ who wrote to Bertrand Russel, commenting: “I am a solipsist. I am surprised there or not more solipsists.”

  50. rinn says

    I must say that I have some mixed feelings about the phrase “harassment related to religion”. Of course, atheists should be courteous and respectful, but to quote beloved Hitchens: “there are people who are determined to be offended.” What do you do about those? Those loud and confrontational crackpots who would claim to be offended/harassed/threatened by the very presence of atheists?

    I suppose the line between offending and harassing is usually easy to draw, but still, I am worried that this might become a loophole for creationists and others to exploit.

  51. jodyp says

    #50: Bingo.

    The whole debacle reminded me that some people are atheists because they yearn for a more rational world, while others are because it feeds their egos.

    And to the latter group, telling them “don’t do that” is TEH WORST THING EVAH, because it gets in the way of their privilege.

  52. says

    Maybe I am misremembering this, but wasn’t there another conference last year here people made the same complaint about harassment due to religious beliefs? Was there a code of conduct like this at the 2013 convention?

  53. says

    I suppose the line between offending and harassing is usually easy to draw, but still, I am worried that this might become a loophole for creationists and others to exploit.

    Let them try. It’s a code of conduct, not an oath sworn in blood that must be upheld to the letter or the oath-bearer’s life is forfeit.

  54. llbguy says

    I personally don’t see what a code of conduct actually accomplishes. These things are typically reserved for professions who find a need to be outside governmental regulation as a safeguard for ethical practice. There is not really a functional parallel for atheism. It’s just pure highmindedness.

    Don’t get me wrong, you can have statements of values and expected behaviour. But I’m not convinced anything declared diverges from basic civic duties and the golden rule. At its worst, you get divisive interests trying to have their stamp on things. I read Animal Farm. It’s what happens.

    Anyways, I declare that I shall have an enquiring mind and that I won’t be a dick in so doing. That’s fine enough for me. But these busybodies fretting over written statements of conduct are not my cup of tea.

  55. says

    I personally don’t see what a code of conduct actually accomplishes. These things are typically reserved for professions who find a need to be outside governmental regulation as a safeguard for ethical practice. There is not really a functional parallel for atheism.

    Mostly, it tamps down on some of the worst abuses to have people guarding against this shit. By no means, does it prevent all of them, but it can help, especially when applied fairly and properly.

    Also, I’m not sure how you figure ‘there’s no functional parallel in atheism’. There’s a lot of inethical things that are legal that a convention can do something about: that’s why these things have been in place in other conventions for decades; heck, the major trek cons had policies before I was born

    I read Animal Farm. It’s what happens.

    Do you have any example of this actually happening because of a code of conduct? I don’t accept fiction as reference, but if I did, I still wouldn’t take hack work.

    Anyways, I declare that I shall have an enquiring mind and that I won’t be a dick in so doing. That’s fine enough for me. But these busybodies fretting over written statements of conduct are not my cup of tea.

    Well, seeing as it doesn’t affect you, I’m not surprised. And frankly, I only care because of an expectation that the code will be followed up on – if it’s just paper, it’s useless.

  56. llbguy says

    #66

    It makes sense that Star Trek has these at their conventions because it adds to the whole fantasy-land feel of everything – enlightened people guided by enlightened morals. There is a tacit acknowledgement that it is a detached universe they are inhabiting.

    But if Atheists don’t themselves want to deal with the charge of creating their own self-imposed “bubble”, then I think they should consider why these types of things are actually necessary. A statement to the effect of the following should be sufficient: “This Atheist Conference encourages the free discussion of ideas from people of all backgrounds and perspectives. However, any abuse, discrimination or harassment will not be tolerated, and any victims of such behaviour should report to security, who will then take an appropriate response.”

    The rest is just pomposity or highmindedness. And while there is nothing wrong with having a set of inspirational ideals, it doesn’t really have any force, except in artificial ways of making distinctions between which atheists are more equal than others. I’m of the view, instead, that all people should be presumed to be morally responsible, and that rules should be as least intrusive as possible (yet strictly enforced). At least as for the brand of Atheism is concerned. If people had a “highminded Atheists” convention, I’d be more understanding.

    (Btw, methinks you haven’t actually read Animal Farm. Or, at least, for some time).

  57. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    then I think they should consider why these types of things are actually necessary.

    Jackasses like you that think they aren’t needed, despite conclusive evidence to the contrary.

  58. says

    It makes sense that Star Trek has these at their conventions because it adds to the whole fantasy-land feel of everything – enlightened people guided by enlightened morals. There is a tacit acknowledgement that it is a detached universe they are inhabiting.

    Do you have any idea what the fuck you’re talking about? This would lead to the opposite – ‘trekkies are enlightened people, so they don’t need these rules printed out’. That’s the EXACT ARGUMENT the atheist and skeptic quarters raised. Trekkies had con rules precisely because they knew they were not much better than average.

    But if Atheists don’t themselves want to deal with the charge of creating their own self-imposed “bubble”, then I think they should consider why these types of things are actually necessary.

    Wait, atheists are creating a self-imposed ‘bubble’ by doing the same thing pretty much every convention does? WTF are you talking about? It’s not just trekkies – every professional convention and conference I’ve ever heard of has these, as do most recreational conventions I’ve heard of.

    The rest is just pomposity or highmindedness.

    Uh, they’re rules. On what not to do. It can’t ‘just’ be pomposity or highmindedness.

    nd while there is nothing wrong with having a set of inspirational ideals, it doesn’t really have any force,

    Uh, rules to a con have the force of ‘follow or be ejected’.

    except in artificial ways of making distinctions between which atheists are more equal than others.

    What part of ‘I don’t accept hack work as evidence’ was lost on you?

    I’m of the view, instead, that all people should be presumed to be morally responsible, and that rules should be as least intrusive as possible

    You’re doing that very thing I just said! And what the hell does this have to do with not having a harrassment policy? It only acts at high levels of jackassery, when you’ve already established yourself as not capable of being decent to the other convention goers!

    (Btw, methinks you haven’t actually read Animal Farm. Or, at least, for some time).

    8 or 9 times. Hack work it remains – it was written so Orwell could pick up a check from British Intelligence. Pretty much hack work by definition. Well executed writing doesn’t change that.

  59. llbguy says

    Rutee:
    I don’t care for your preferences. Not my cup of tea.

    Nerd:
    Please back up your assertions with evidence.

  60. Jackie Papercuts says

    Ilbguy,
    Are you fucking serious? You aren’t already aware of the evidence that has been discussed to death over the past few years?
    I call bullshit.

  61. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Please back up your assertions with evidence.

    Who the fuck cares what an evidenceless liberturd wanker thinks. Either you show one can run a conference without harassment policies, and still deal effectively with harassment, or shut the fuck up. You make the claim, you back up YOUR claims.

  62. says

    I don’t care for your preferences. Not my cup of tea.

    That has exactly nothing to do with your assertions about what and how a code of conduct is, what it is for, and how it works. It has even less to do with your insistence that these don’t have a purpose.

  63. says

    I’m of the view, instead, that all people should be presumed to be morally responsible, and that rules should be as least intrusive as possible

    Would you use this method to argue against drink-driving laws?
    Would you use this method to argue against rules requiring people to be relatively quiet in libraries?
    [Assuming you answer no to the above]
    Why, then, do you use this method to argue against anti-harassment rules at cons?

    Fact is, these rules are extremely non-intrusive, unless you drink-drive, use a ghetto-blaster in a library, or harass people at cons.

  64. llbguy says

    Nerd:
    I’m not interested in reports on untoward incidents. I’m interested in evidence showing robust codes of conduct prevent these incidents.

    The second point that would be interesting to see clarificaion is whether any breaches of a code of conduct that have resulted in reprimand or ouster would not have similarly received similar treatment just through the normal use of security keeping the peace.

  65. says

    The second point that would be interesting to see clarificaion is whether any breaches of a code of conduct that have resulted in reprimand or ouster would not have similarly received similar treatment just through the normal use of security keeping the peace.

    Security doesn’t eject you for what you do unless what you do is against the rules. Do you not realize how this works?

  66. Al Dente says

    There need to be rules in place so Security can throw your ass out for breaking the rules.

  67. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m interested in evidence showing robust codes of conduct prevent these incidents.

    Where is your evidence to back your libertudian claims. I provided evidence, your turn.
    This isn’t an opinion debate, it is a factual debate, and you have presented no facts. Until you do, your unevidence OPINION is dismissed without evidence.

  68. Al Dente says

    I think Nerd is right. llbguy is showing classic signs of libertarianism. “Why does there have to be rules when I don’t need rules because my behavior is perfect, just ask me if you don’t believe it?” Maybe llbguy’s behavior is acceptable but that doesn’t mean everyone uses this paragon of virtue as a role model for their dealings with others. In other words, there are some serious jerks in atheism and skepticism.

  69. says

    The second point that would be interesting to see clarificaion is whether any breaches of a code of conduct that have resulted in reprimand or ouster would not have similarly received similar treatment just through the normal use of security keeping the peace.

    You do realise that having rules and enforcing them is “normal use of security,” right? Or are you under the impression that security personal are left to act on personal whim?

  70. tbrucegodfrey says

    Based on my perusal of reports from atheist and skeptic conferences, the level of assholish and childish behavior from attorneys as Bar Association events is perhaps 1/1000th the problem that it is with atheists and skeptics at their conferences. I’d trust the safety of women attorneys far above the safety of women skeptics of atheists at their events. This is particularly damning as we lawyers are a) sometimes real assholes, b) sometimes really sexist and c) are an arrogant bunch used to getting what we wan’t. It’s even worse when you consider the amount of booze at Bar Association events – itself a problem.

    Why are lawyers better? I don’t know, but the taking of an oath or affirmation to “demean ourselves honorably” and a tradition of self-policing and Bar ethics enforcement may be part of it.

  71. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    Pomposity, thy name is libguy. (Seriously, do you listen to yourself?) Now also vacuous and fact-free. With high-minded libertarian (of some flavor) ideals which also have no basis in reality.

    I understand the partially-libertarian thinking that the regulations and laws of governments can be (and are) corrupted, co-opted, and selectively enforced if at all, and frequently become instruments of those whose behaviors the laws were meant to regulate. And that the laws can also be rotten from the get-go, with no original good intent.

    This does not apply here, if that is what you are thinking. These are evidence-based and ethical rules of conduct.

  72. tbrucegodfrey says

    I think this is sort of a mixed question of parliamentary procedure and geometry. If it’s one loser “rules lawyer” pedant, can we still call it a circle jerk?

  73. llbguy says

    okay, thanks for telling me what I am. Nope, not a libertarian (“LLB” is the abbreviation for the commonwealth law degree). And if I was a libertarian, I frankly don’t know how it would be relevant here. One’s conception of political freedom surely can be different from societal or “convention freedom”. Maybe you think I just have an overall allergic reaction to “rules limiting action.” Not true. Lots of rules are justified, or can be agreed upon. I have nothing against that. Just be a little less pompous and call things as they really are: “rules of being here” not “code of conduct”. The further question is what the rules really vouchsafe that normal expectations and laws do not. I mean, you don’t need a rule that says “no harassing” in order to eject someone for harassing another. Your event organizers, in fact, would probably be held to be negligent if they did not.

    On the topic of professions again, a breach of a code of conduct impacts your designation. If you are disbarred/defrocked etc, you can’t call yourself a lawyer/priest/whatnot anymore. However, if you breach the atheist code of conduct, you can still hold yourself out as an atheist. So the code of conduct is either toothless or an improper descriptor.

    Anyways, I’ve said my bit. We all have our views. May the force be with you all.