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Jun 24 2014

Get used to it

My daughter is off to ACL 2014 (if you see her, say hello), and has discovered that some people are complaining that the main web site for the meeting features an anti-harassment policy. Why this disturbs some people is a mystery to me: if you aren’t harassing anyone, it won’t come into play; if you’re the victim of harassment it provides a clear guide to an appropriate response; only dedicated harassers will be perturbed by a discreet explanation for how to cope with a common problem.

If you’re one of those people still whining about common sense anti-harassment policies and meetings that expect you to treat other attendees fairly and equally and with respect, get over it. That battle is over, and the people who are expecting equitable treatment for all have won. Every worthwhile conference now sets up these policies. If you find them objectionable, I’m afraid you’re just going to have to switch to attending fundamentalist Christian meetings, or perhaps clandestine KKK events, or maybe you can find a Cigar Smoking Whisky Guzzling Sexist Boor club to attend. But professional meetings…I’m sorry, you’re now expected to make room for women as equals.

66 comments

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  1. 1
    Louis

    It’s political correctness gone mad I tells ya! Why I can’t even parade about naked, covered in yoghurt (strawberry, always) banging my penis on objects and people, same thing really, I desire and shouting “MINE!” whilst masturbating furiously. In the old days this would have got me at least three Weekend Wives per conference. And I used to be allowed to shoot poor people and foreigners. Why do things have to change?

    I also got told off for baking my pubes into the breakfast muffins and flying a plane pulling a banner reading “I AM IN YOU CONFERENCE GOERS” around the building. Frankly I blame Rebecca Watson.

    Louis

  2. 2
    qwints

    “only dedicated harassers will be perturbed by a discreet explanation for how to cope with a common problem.”

    I really hate this argument. It’s slimy, and it’s fundamentally similar to very evil arguments like people with nothing to hide have nothing to fear.

    This policy is a good idea for the other reasons you mentioned, conferences need a clear guide to how to respond to inappropriate behavior to ensure access to everyone. I also agree that the people opposing these policies aren’t adequately caring about women or anyone else subject to harassment, and that the arguments against them are often very poor. But please don’t repeat the old canard that only bad people should care how accused bad people are treated.

  3. 3
    John Kruger

    It is kind of like complaining about rules mandating use of the restroom. Sure, decent people should not need any reminders to do that, but complaining that such rules are spelled out makes people think you want to micturate on the rug.

  4. 4
    Steve P

    Everything’s Rebecca Watson’s fault

  5. 5
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Quints
    That’s bullshit
    Harassment policies are not intrusive and do not monitor you unlike the situations against which this argument is usually made like massive cctv monitoring

    Back to the topic:
    In my hometown they recently installed stationery speed controls. They also put up signs. Many people are whining. Because it’s so unfair that they are no longer allowed to endanger people with their reckless driving

  6. 6
    playonwords

    @ quints – pulled that one out of your cloaca didn’t you? Anti-harassment policies are designed to stop people being accused in the first place.

  7. 7
    Clemens Adolphs

    I agree with #5. It only superficially looks like the “if you got nothing to hide you won’t object to total surveillance”.

    Here’s what I’d ask of the complainants: Instead of going on vague rants about policing and oppression and what not, please describe in full detail an act you’d like to commit or a behavior you’d like to display that you feel the anti-harassment policy prevents you from.

  8. 8
    sadunlap

    Looks like a well thought-out and well written policy to me (non-lawyer). I would only wonder if some hair-splitter will take exception to the phrase “creates discomfort,” as this is the one part that I find most “open to interpretation.” On the plus side, the specific definition of what constitutes harassment covers the bases with enough specificity to get past the quibblers. I can’t find any rational basis for complaints here.

  9. 9
    gmacs

    Giliell and playonwords:

    I don’t think that was what Qwints was getting at. Yes, anti-harassment policies are specific and do not usually involve constant monitoring, so they typically are not cumbersome to adhere to nor do they violate privacy. This is in contrast to the practices normally justified by “if you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide”.

    However, I think that when you start off with the phrase:

    if you aren’t harassing anyone, it won’t come into play

    you will notice that it is structured in a way that sounds a lot like those arguments.

    This doesn’t make it wrong, and I completely agree with what PZ says. On the other hand, when you have heard a similar phrase to justify the invasion of personal freedoms for many years, it does kind of elicit a visceral discomfort.

    I apologize if I appear to be concern trolling.

  10. 10
    dWhisper

    Wait… is there a convention for cigar smoking and whiskey swilling without the sexism, because that sounds like fun?

  11. 11
    Ishikiri

    Anti-harassment policies are bad because thunderf00t needs to be able to act like a sleazy fratboy and not get called out for it.

  12. 12
    roggg

    No source for complaints?

  13. 13
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Anti-harassment policies get rid of plausible deniability, and eliminate that whole “I should get to take my shot, and it isn’t harassment until after I’m told to stop(in a way I determine is meaningful)”. It means that someone can’t come stomping into social interactions without considering the other people involved, and that in itself is something that enrages certain people. That’s above and beyond the sort of foolishly libertarian idea that rules themselves are somehow dangerous and an infringement on rights.

  14. 14
    hcdfanatic83

    #NotAllWhiskyDrinkers

  15. 15
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    qwints @ 2

    But please don’t repeat the old canard that only bad people should care how accused bad people are treated.

    Harassment policies aren’t exactly threatening accused harassers with waterboarding. The policy in this case threatens to *le gasp* have a conversation with the accused if the complaint is deemed serious enough.

  16. 16
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    Let me guess, their major concern is ‘false’ accusations by vindictive bitches, right? That and ‘mixed signals’, perhaps?

    Here’s the thing: if you don’t want mixed signals, lower your antennae! If your concern is false accusations, then don’t go anywhere alone with a person even if they ask you, beg you, to do so. Never approach a solitary person when there are no witnesses within earshot. Don’t go there to meet someone that you might have sexual interest in. It really isn’t hard to be a model professional conference-goer when you’re going for the right reasons: the topics being presented, related mutual interests to the conference or the industry, and professional networking.

  17. 17
    qwints

    I like the policy, and I agree with the arguments people are making for why this harassment policy is both helpful and not intrusive. My objection is to a specific line of reasoning that PZ used in his post that I really intensely dislike.

  18. 18
    Marcus Ranum

    I went to one of those cigar smoking and whiskey drinking conferences and some asshole bit me on the leg. But it was OK because, reasons!

  19. 19
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    Let me guess, their major concern is ‘false’ accusations by vindictive b*tches, right? That and ‘mixed signals’, perhaps?

    Here’s the thing: if you don’t want mixed signals, lower your antennae! If your concern is false accusations, then don’t go anywhere alone with a person even if they ask you, beg you, to do so. Never approach a solitary person when there are no witnesses within earshot. Don’t go there to meet someone that you might have sexual interest in. It really isn’t hard to be a model professional conference-goer when you’re going for the right reasons: the topics being presented, related mutual interests to the conference or the industry, and professional networking.

  20. 20
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    qwints @ 2

    But please don’t repeat the old canard that only bad people should care how accused bad people are treated.

    Lets envision two conventions. One has a public anti-harrassment policy, the other either doesn’t have one, or they have one and don’t tell anyone.

    At the con with the public anti-harassment policy, a policy sent to every participant, a person starts to harass another person. Five different people, who have all read the policy, step up and say, “You know, what you are doing is not allowed at this con. Please stop.” Or one of the con organizors pulls the person aside and says the same thing. The person stops and enjoys the rest of the convention. Or, the person continues and is asked, by the con hierarchy, to leave — and the person will not be able to sue the con since the harasser received the information packet with the policy.

    At the con with no public anti-harrasment policy, a person starts to harass another person. With no guidance from a policy, no one knows where the line is, where they should step in. As the harasser’s behaviour gets more and more out line, the con hierarchy steps in and ejects the person. After making at least one, and possibly many more, uncomfortable at the least. Of course, the ejected person has no idea what, exactly, got him or her kicked out. It seems arbitrary. It opens the con to charges of favouritism.

    So how, exactly, is having no harasment policy ‘treating bad people good’ and having a harasmment policy treating them badly? Having a cogent, well-written, clear, unambiguous harassment statement which specifies a layered response which means that the harasser is warned off before engaging is behaviour that will get him or her kicked out. No policy means that the only time a harasser finds out there is a problem is when they are already so far past what the con organizers are willing to put up with that they are out on their arse. The harassment policy exists so that bad people (by which I assume to mean people willing to engage in harassing behaviour) are treated well and fairly, that they are warned about their behaviour before the axe falls, that they are not allowed to go beyond that point.

    Keep in mind, also, that conventions are private venues open to those who have paid and signed the paperwork. This is not oppressive government gathering of information, this is a private group trying to keep as many people satisfied as possible without getting their asses sued off.

    Other than that, yeah. Right on.

  21. 21
    Marcus Ranum

    I’d like to second what throwaway said at #18.

    I’m pretty much a professional conference-goer and, like everyone else there, I’m there to work not practice my mating-dances. If there’s someone at a conference who seems interesting/interested, there are these things called “phone numbers” and “email addresses” that you can exchange that let you get in touch after the conference. They’re pretty amazing.

  22. 22
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    qwints @ 16

    My objection is to a specific line of reasoning that PZ used in his post that I really intensely dislike.

    Your intense dislike doesn’t render it invalid in this case. It’s not being used to excuse poor treatment of accused harassers.

  23. 23
    kaboobie

    I went to the mall the other day (something I don’t do often if I can help it) and noticed a Code of Conduct sign as soon as I walked in. This mall is run by a chain with locations all across the US. If people are still freaking out about harassment policies, soon they may not be able to leave the house without encountering one.

  24. 24
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    qwints

    On the other hand, when you have heard a similar phrase to justify the invasion of personal freedoms for many years, it does kind of elicit a visceral discomfort.

    I understand the discomfort, but I expect reasonable adults to think it through and get over it

  25. 25
    anteprepro

    It’s slimy, and it’s fundamentally similar to very evil arguments like people with nothing to hide have nothing to fear.

    The problem with the typical “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” argument is that it excuses invasion of privacy. Wanting privacy does not mean you are hiding bad things.

    How are anti-harassment policies analogous to that? Please, show your work.

  26. 26
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    I do see that there are adequate opportunities for socializing outside of the constraints of the professional setting at this conference. There’s even going to be dancing and music in the conference-organized social events! Use that time to get personally acquainted.

  27. 27
    Louis

    I had sex with someone at a conference once.

    The fact that she was my wife and attending the conference was purest coincidence. I suppose that makes me a rapist, eh Feminazis? We even bit each other on the leg just for the hell of it. And I was drunk. So was she. So there.

    I bet that this means I should be banned for life from everything…

    …okay actually you might have a point there.

    Louis

  28. 28
    Louis

    Throwaway, #25,

    There’s even going to be dancing and music in the conference-organized social events!

    STEADY! We all know where dancing can lead. Fornication. And that can lead to MOAR DANCING!

    Louis

  29. 29
    Akira MacKenzie

    But but… If I can’t creepily pester women, make inappropriate propositions, and make rape threasts to them when they spurn my advances how am I ever going to have sex?! RAD FEMS!!! FEMINAZIS!!!! ANTI-SEX LEAGUE MISANDRISTS!!! FREEEEEEEZE PEACH!!!!

  30. 30
    qwints

    @anteprepo, anti-harassment policies aren’t analogous to surveillance policies. However, saying that people who are “perturbed” by anti-harassment policies are “dedicated harassers” is analogous to saying people who complain about policies designed to catch criminals (e.g. surveillance policies) must be criminals themselves. It’s a bad argument in support of a good policy.

  31. 31
    consciousness razor

    But please don’t repeat the old canard that only bad people should care how accused bad people are treated.

    Uh… what? I want even genuinely “bad” people, who really did do this bad thing, to be treated fairly too. They should not be mistreated. It is not “mistreating” a criminal to give them a prison sentence, for example (depending on what the “crime” is, of course). So it just doesn’t imply anything like that.

    However, saying that people who are “perturbed” by anti-harassment policies are “dedicated harassers” is analogous to saying people who complain about policies designed to catch criminals (e.g. surveillance policies) must be criminals themselves. It’s a bad argument in support of a good policy.

    What kind of complaints are we talking about, and which kinds of policies? If you just had some general, vague issue with the whole concept of “catching criminals” or conducting “surveillance,” then I wouldn’t think we were working with a good argument in the first place. If the policies aren’t burdensome and they are at least effective in some way (as is the case with anti-harassment policies), then this ought to be sufficient for rendering it a valid argument, since there is nothing on which to base a reasonable counter-argument. It doesn’t just stay a “bad argument” always and forever, in all circumstances, because you don’t like it sometimes. It’s valid because in this circumstance those other factors that you might otherwise worry about are already taken into account. People will not be tortured, or even suffer from it at all. They will not lose their rights or freedoms. There is no legitimate reason to be opposed to it, which means the only reasons left are those having to do with wanting to behave badly. If you think there is some legitimate reason for opposition, you have to actually say what you think that is. We don’t get to just assume that.

  32. 32
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    qwints @ 29

    However, saying that people who are “perturbed” by anti-harassment policies are “dedicated harassers” is analogous to saying people who complain about policies designed to catch criminals (e.g. surveillance policies) must be criminals themselves.

    No, it’s not because the policies themselves are not the same. Anti-harassment policies don’t involve conference organizers invading anyone’s privacy or in some other way misusing their authority. The people objecting to anti-harassment policies are objecting to policies which won’t impact them unless they’re actually doing something they shouldn’t.

  33. 33
    tashaturner

    Great policy. Hope your daughter has a good time.

    As to those upset over policies. I don’t know what to say. Well maybe I do: read the policy. Think about the fact that they aren’t asking for anything that isn’t expected from you in the workplace, out shopping, at your mom’s house. Note they have procedures for the accused and are not witch hunts. Wonder if your upset because you act like a jerk & if so figure out how to fix this flaw. Welcome to 2014 where your expected to treat everyone like a human being. The sooner you move into this century the happier you’ll be.

  34. 34
    gmacs

    Giliell @23

    That’s actually me, not qwints, you’re quoting. But yes, I agree with you. I was simply stating that there was something to qwints’ minor quibble about the argument being used (although I don’t think I feel as strongly about it as qwints does). I mostly have a problem with the fact that it recalls such an argument, since, as you pointed out, harassment policies do not invade privacy (unless they are really shittily formulated).

    I actually do agree that the only people who have anything to lose from harassment policy are shitheads and bullies.

    PS. Turns out I missed this part of qwints’ statement (emphasis mine):

    But please don’t repeat the old canard that only bad people should care how accused bad people are treated.

    I will say that I don’t see the emphasized part implied in PZ’s arguments. That last phrase is a stretch I can’t follow.

  35. 35
    SallyStrange

    Ahh, Qwints. You’re very tiresome.

    anti-harassment policies aren’t analogous to surveillance policies.

    You SURE? There could be some tendentious connection there that you’re not seeing yet. Harassment has to be observed to be reported, after all.

    However, saying that people who are “perturbed” by anti-harassment policies are “dedicated harassers” is analogous to saying people who complain about policies designed to catch criminals (e.g. surveillance policies) must be criminals themselves. It’s a bad argument in support of a good policy.

    No, it’s not, because anti-harassment policies aren’t analogous to surveillance policies.

    “I don’t want the police listening to my phone calls unless they have a very good reason” is a legitimate response to surveillance policies.

    What is the analogous legitimate response to anti-harassment policies? “I don’t want harassers to understand what the rules are and the consequences for breaking them”? “I don’t want to feel a moment’s trepidation before biting someone’s leg”? “I don’t want women to feel like they’re my equals”? What?

    That’s right, there are none. Anti-harassment policies help everyone and require no compromise of anyone’s rights.

    That’s why there’s no fucking analogy there.

    Now stop concern trolling.

  36. 36
    gog

    For anybody that has yet to read it, Almost Diamonds has a relevant article on implementing anti-harassment policies. If ACL is doing it this way it seems very unlikely that people will be falsely accused or needlessly reprimanded/expelled.

  37. 37
    PaulBC

    The last time I went to an academic conference (for CS theory) was over 15 years ago, and I would have thought all the boilerplate in that policy goes without saying. Naively, I would also been pretty shocked to hear about it occurring. The attendees (junior ones at least) are either nervous about presenting their paper or studiously preparing to watch the other talks. (Like actually reading the extended abstract ahead of time–no, not me but that might explain why I’m not in academia now). Such socializing as occurs in evening wine-and-cheese things is mostly about schmoozing and trying to get noticed by well known researchers. It seems like about the stupidest place you’d ever want to go and screw up your career by making yourself into a pariah.

    Anyway, the policy seems totally reasonable, and actually making it explicit is probably doing a big favor to anyone who came to the conference thinking any of that behavior was acceptable.

  38. 38
    qwints

    consciousness razor @ 30

    It doesn’t just stay a “bad argument” always and forever, in all circumstances, because you don’t like it sometimes.
    ….
    There is no legitimate reason to be opposed to it, which means the only reasons left are those having to do with wanting to behave badly. If you think there is some legitimate reason for opposition, you have to actually say what you think that is. We don’t get to just assume that.

    It’s a bad argument because it’s logically flawed. People can and should care about how other people are treated, and it doesn’t make any sense to say that they shouldn’t. For example, people should advocate for conferences to have anti-harassment policies even if they have no personal experience or fear of being harassed. The reason I’m bringing up this bad argument is because it’s so pervasive and has such bad consequences in other contexts.

    I think the people objecting to the policy are wrong. The people I’ve witnessed opposing such policies most often either don’t care about the people being harassed or don’t listen to their stories. I’ve also seen people who are baselessly afraid of false accusations. They were wrong because of a lack of empathy, misogyny and ignorance of the actual facts.

    Seven of Mine @ 31
    The people objecting to anti-harassment policies are objecting to policies which won’t impact them unless they’re actually doing something they shouldn’t.

    But that’s not why they’re wrong. They’re wrong because the anti-harassment policies are a good idea. And that matters, because this argument that people shouldn’t object to policies designed to prevent or address wrongdoing unless they actually want to engage in wrongdoing is a pervasive and harmful argument that’s been used in lots of different areas to do serious harm.

  39. 39
    SallyStrange

    If the argument isn’t logically flaws, Qwints, then you should be able to offer an example of opposition to anti-harassment policies that doesn’t boil down to people wanting to behave badly without consequences.

    Go ahead, we’re waiting.

  40. 40
    PaulBC

    Repeating my point from #36, but I would recast PZ’s statement”if you aren’t harassing anyone, it won’t come into play” as:

    If you were planning on harassing anyone, be grateful that someone went to the effort of pointing out the obvious before you destroyed your own career prospects.

  41. 41
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    I get what qwints is saying and I appreciate why they are saying it. I think a simple Venn diagram would show what they meant with less room for interpretation. The issue with PZed’s statement is the miscategorization of anyone in opposition to these rules. Saying that all people who are opposed to stated harassment policies are dedicated harassers is just a way of shutting debate down about why they may be opposed to them. It would be easy to just dismiss every argument against having stated harassment policies by attacking the character of the person bringing up the opposing viewpoint. But that’s an ad hominem and is not the best way to establish policies which stand on their own without the mislabeling.

  42. 42
    SallyStrange

    Flawed, rather. Sorry, typing in a hurry.

  43. 43
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    Qwints, the argument is not a fallacy in the same way that an appeal to authority is also not a fallacy in some circumstances. You do know that informal fallacies are dependent on the context in which they’re presented right? If you know this, why do you keep digging in on analogising this argument in this non-fallacious context with this argument in a fallacious context?

    There are at least two steps that you should take at this point. The first step is to acknowledge that you’re digging. The second step is to stop digging.

  44. 44
    PaulBC

    #40
    “Saying that all people who are opposed to stated harassment policies are dedicated harassers is just a way of shutting debate down about why they may be opposed to them.”

    I’ll go out on a limb here and say that some debates ought to be shut down. E.g., should we also have a debate on whether restaurant restrooms need to have signs saying “Employees must wash hands before returning to work”?

    Some people just naturally like to nitpick everything, and I’m sympathetic to this habit, but it doesn’t need to be encouraged. Other people really do have a hidden agenda when they say that they just want an open debate. There are some good reasons for shutting down this one.

    If we had infinite lifespans, maybe we could debate everything (though it would get boring). Given that we do not, I’m having serious trouble understanding what is controversial about making explicit some points about behavior that would be unacceptable in any social context, let alone an academic conference.

  45. 45
    consciousness razor

    It’s a bad argument because it’s logically flawed.

    Great idea. Now just show that this is the case.

    People can and should care about how other people are treated, and it doesn’t make any sense to say that they shouldn’t.

    Who says they can’t or shouldn’t? Logical flaw number one, in your own argument.

    For example, people should advocate for conferences to have anti-harassment policies even if they have no personal experience or fear of being harassed.

    Yes, they should. Again, no one is claiming otherwise. I won’t count it as a second flaw, although I probably should.

    The reason I’m bringing up this bad argument is because it’s so pervasive and has such bad consequences in other contexts.

    Like which contexts? And how are those contexts like the one we’re actually talking about? Is it like them in the sense that it has (or could have) such bad consequences?

    Look, I could draw an analogy between any two things whatsoever. They’ll be different, sure — they’re two different, non-identical things — but what you need to do is make sure that those are similar in some way which is relevant. Is your analogy relevant? No, it fucking isn’t. That’s the fucking point. You haven’t shown that it’s relevant, and you will not show that it’s relevant. Why? Well, let’s just see what else you have to say:

    I think the people objecting to the policy are wrong. The people I’ve witnessed opposing such policies most often either don’t care about the people being harassed or don’t listen to their stories. I’ve also seen people who are baselessly afraid of false accusations. They were wrong because of a lack of empathy, misogyny and ignorance of the actual facts.

    So, it isn’t logically flawed. You think it is accurately representing the facts, and its logical structure and moral implications are the same. Fan-fucking-tastic that we’ve finally worked this out. Or I have, at least.

  46. 46
    Crimson Clupeidae

    Louis@1: First, you should post moar. I need moar chuckles.

    Second: strawberry yoghurt? I do believe that’s blasphemy!! Lemme just check the holy book of Ghurt here…..Yerp…blueberry is the ONLY flavor allowed for covering one’s naked body whilst parading. Strawberry is only to be used as a last resort, and only for normal consumption.

    Sheesh, must I think of everything?!?!

  47. 47
    SallyStrange

    Saying that all people who are opposed to stated harassment policies are dedicated harassers is just a way of shutting debate down about why they may be opposed to them.

    If I thought there were legitimate reasons to oppose anti-harassment policies, I wouldn’t want to shut down debate about A.) whether harassment policies are a good idea and the logical corollary of A, B.) there are no legitimate reasons to oppose anti-harassment policies.

    I suppose you might find some bad reasons to oppose them that aren’t intrinsically linked to the opposer’s desire to preserve their own or someone else’s ability to behave badly without consequences, but I haven’t seen one yet. All the ones that Qwints listed boil down to that basic desire.

  48. 48
    Louis

    Crimson Clupeidae, #45,

    I would adhere to canon, but I’m allergic to blueberry and it brings me out in unattractive hives and boils. Which, naturally, means all the hot conference chicks attracted by my nudity and penis banging would be repelled by my suppurating epidermis.

    Clearly your insistence on blueberry yoghurt is misandrist bigotry you phallophobic homoppressor. Good day to you, sir.* I SAID GOOD DAY!

    Louis

    *For whatever value of “sir” is actually the case. Up to and including zero values of sirosity and positive values of any other position on the sex or gender spectra.

  49. 49
    Rich Woods

    @John Kruger #3:

    complaining that such rules are spelled out makes people think you want to micturate on the rug.

    And, man, that rug really held the room together!

    Which, joking aside, leads me onto my real point. Anti-harassment policies shouldn’t be necessary. That they are suggests that past experience has shown that some people don’t recognise boundaries and don’t understand how their words and actions might cause another person distress, and that even if told they are causing distress they don’t necessarily stop. Publishing a policy helps make this clear. If publishing the policy helps more people to enjoy the event free of distress, then that’s a rug which really holds the room together. If a person who sees the policy beforehand thinks, “Pah! I’m not going to any event which wants to impose those rules!”, well, it’s no loss to the rest of us. Goodbye, qwints.

  50. 50
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    gmacs
    Sorry. That’s what you get for typing while parenting….

  51. 51
    gmacs

    Giliell,

    No worries. I would imagine it’s better to make a mistake on the former than the latter.

  52. 52
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Qwints, don’t be so literal.

    It is, technically, true, that a person who objects to harassment policies may not necessarily be a harasser themself in the most literal sense. However, they are clearly more sympathetic to harassers than to victims of harassment, whether due to wrongheaded ideas about how harassment happens and what motivates it, or simple callousness.

    Or they may be indifferent to the issue of harassment per se but have a knee-jerk reaction to attempts to limit their behavior. Or be simply trolling.

    All of which support harassers in fact if not in name.

    What was your point again?

  53. 53
    Great American Satan

    Sorry if someone made this joke already:

    The Cigar Smoking Whisky Guzzling Sexist Boor Con? Isn’t that called TAM?

  54. 54
    Great American Satan

    Second comment – Are people not clear that Qwints is actually in favor of anti-harassment policies? I may be confused by not reading every comment very deeply, but it seems like some people are responding to them as if they are one of the pro-harassment weirdos, which doesn’t seem accurate. They’re just hectoring on the wording of PZ’s post, not even saying anything negative about the policy itself at all.

  55. 55
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Great American Satan:

    Take out the sexist boor part and you have my front porch.

    Though last night it was whiskey, not whisky.

  56. 56
    qwints

    Great American Satan: I think most people who’ve responded to me get that, but are making the point that there isn’t a meaningful difference (in terms of how they oppose anti harassment policies) between people actively harassing others and people who support them by labeling their behavior acceptable or attacking their victims.

  57. 57
    screechymonkey

    The concern trolling about “how the accused will be treated” if harassment policies are implemented misses a vital point: that such a policy doesn’t take away any “rights” of an “accused.”

    Conventions are generally held on private property, by private organizations. Even absent a harassment policy, you can be kicked out for pretty much any reason they choose. (Subject to applicable anti-discrimination laws, of course.) Just like how the people hosting a wedding can throw you out for covering yourself in yogurt (ahem, Louis) without needing to point to a “no-yogurt-bathing” policy. Just like how a nightclub can ask you to leave for being too drunk, being rude to staff or customers, not being dressed properly, not being good-looking enough, or because they need to make room for a table full of VIPs. Just like a company that produces crappy creationist documentaries can kick you out of their private event for being P.Z. Myers.

    Some of those reason may be crappy reasons, but they’re within their rights. (Why, the stupid movie producers can even arbitrarily exclude P.Z. Myers but not Richard Dawkins!)

    The point of a written harassment policy isn’t to enhance the hosting organization’s rights at the expense of its attendees’ rights. It’s to provide some guidance to attendees and staff as to what is acceptable and what isn’t, and indicate the procedure for making and resolving complaints. A well-written harassment policy probably won’t limit the host’s rights, either — they want to retain broad discretion to handle their event — but it’s a lot better from an attendee’s viewpoint than “we’ll kick you out if we decide that’s best,” which is — expressly or implicitly — the default situation when there is no policy.

  58. 58
    neverjaunty

    PaulBC @43: I’ll go with “pretending to want open debate” camouflaged as nitpicking. That’s why you’ll see people who don’t like harassment policies whine that such policies should spell out EVERYTHING and draw absolutely clear lines so there is no room for misunderstanding or abuse of the policy, which is always their concern: some poor dude will nicely ask a lady out for coffee and she’ll have him taken out behind a chemical shed and shot. They’ll also, despicably, hide behind people with autism-spectrum disorders and pretend that men with ASDs can’t possibly follow such a policy because reasons.

  59. 59
    Charly

    throwaway

    …Saying that all people who are opposed to stated harassment policies are dedicated harassers is just a way of shutting debate down about why they may be opposed to them. It would be easy to just dismiss every argument against having stated harassment policies by attacking the character of the person bringing up the opposing viewpoint…

    PaulBC

    …I’ll go out on a limb here and say that some debates ought to be shut down…

    I do not think that any debates should be shut down (in principle) for following reasons:
    1) People die and are born every day. Most of our knowledge we get from other people via communication. For each and every problem and each and every person there is some “first time meet” accompanied with groping in the dark and asking about whatever.
    2) Even well intenioned anti harrasment policiese can be, for example, poorly worded and therefore leaving door open for harrasers or lawsuits. Debating about exact wording of said policies helps to prevent both.
    3) Even well intentioned and well worded anti-harrasment polcies can be genuinely misunderstood by someone unless they are explained and/or interpreted in their “spirit” rather than in their “wording” (IANAL, but AFAIK this applies even to ISO standards and laws).

    That said, I agree that if someone opposes the existence of anti-harrasment policies in priciple, rather than some policies/intrpretations in particular, they wery probably are harrasers.

    I am also aware, that above mentioned 1-3 are misused by trolls, assholes et. similar en masse in last years for endless JAQing off and I admitt that I do not have a solution.

  60. 60
    Nick Gotts

    Most of our knowledge we get from other people via communication. For each and every problem and each and every person there is some “first time meet” accompanied with groping in the dark and asking about whatever. – Charly

    Why do you equate “communication” and “debate”? To “debate” whether harrassment is wrong, whether women should have the right to vote, whether black people were better off as slaves, whether the holocaust happened… is an insult to the victims of harrassment, to women, to black people, to Jews, Roma, gays and others who died at the hands of the Nazis.

  61. 61
    Dunc

    maybe you can find a Cigar Smoking Whisky Guzzling Sexist Boor club to attend

    You’re likely to be disappointed – the worlds of both whisky and cigar appreciation have been making strenuous efforts to shed their “boy’s club” images over the last few years (largely for the obvious commercial reasons), with a great deal of success. Sexist boors are no longer welcome. My local specialist whisky and cigar merchant is a woman, and I have a great deal of respect for her knowledge of both subjects. I’m also a member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, a regular in their Member’s Rooms in Edinburgh, and I attend a lot of their functions, and I can attest that the gender balance is now approaching 50/50, that good manners are expected from all as a matter of course, and sexist jokes would be about as welcome as a loud, noxious fart in a crowded elevator stuck between floors.

    They’ve still got Reddit, 4Chan, and YouTube comments, but that’s about it.

  62. 62
    Hershele Ostropoler

    Clemens Adolphs @ 7:

    Here’s what I’d ask of the complainants: Instead of going on vague rants about policing and oppression and what not, please describe in full detail an act you’d like to commit or a behavior you’d like to display that you feel the anti-harassment policy prevents you from.

    That actually a good way of capturing the difference between this discussion and “the innocent have nothing to fear.” Whenever that phrase is used, the arguments against it are examples of innocent people who have something to fear. If someone has an example of how a non-harasser will be harmed by a harassment policy, that is an important part of the discussion.

    I can think of an example, but it’s an implementation issue, not a reason to jettison the policy. Nonetheless, I somewhat share qwints’s bristlement at the argument being used, as one does when one sees a bad argument offered in support of something one approves of.

    Charly @ 58:

    That said, I agree that if someone opposes the existence of anti-harrasment policies in priciple, rather than some policies/intrpretations in particular, they wery probably are harrasers.

    Or sympathetic to harassers, or want to harass. At the very least, I’d say they are unwilling to learn how not to harass — these are people who fear any attempt to approach someone will be taken as harassment, which, fine, but the solution they propose is, rather than them to learn what sorts of approaches are acceptable, for all approaches to be declared acceptable.

  63. 63
    Chaos Engineer

    I remember that when the topic of sexual harassment policies first came up, the counter-arguments were “What if I’m falsely accused? I can’t imagine anything worse that could happen to anyone!” and “We didn’t need sexual harassment policies back in the old days!” and “The policy will be enforced by humorless Taliban-style Thought Police and no one will be allowed to have even consensual fun!”

    Now I see that the big counter-argument is “Some arguments in favor of sexual harassment policies could be twisted to make them appear to support civil rights violations, like warrantless wiretapping or stop-and-frisk programs! So no one should ever make those arguments, because the risk is just too high!”

    I guess it just goes to show that you can’t stop progress…

  64. 64
    Charly

    Nick Gotts

    Why do you equate “communication” and “debate”?

    I interpreted and understood the use of word “debate” as being synonymous with “discuss”, “deliberate”, “talk about” or “communicate”. I do not see the problem here.

    With your reaction I think, that my understanding was wrong..

  65. 65
    Jeff

    Remember when harassment policies broke thunderfoot? That dude is favoriting right wing think tank videos because they have anti-feminist views, now. I almost wrote him a message to let him know he’s gone a little off, but then I thought about how successful that would be and just unsubscribed from him. I really liked his videos on atheism.

    I cannot see how anyone could have a problem with harassment policies. This one protects everyone. Who would want people to harass or intimidate them? I suppose they know its pushed by feminists, and thats the issue. People need to stop being so emotional and start thinking rationally about stuff. This is infuriating.

  66. 66
    Nicholas

    #20 “I’m pretty much a professional conference-goer and, like everyone else there, I’m there to work not practice my mating-dances.”

    I don’t know what conferences you go to, but I go to several AAPA, AAA, APA, SAA, etc… and there is plenty of mating dance activity going on most of the time. I’ve even heard, more than once, that the AAPA would never switch from an annual schedule to every other year (even with dropping attendance) because of the opportunities for extra-curricular mating dances by attendees are so valued. Conferences = Hookups. I’m happily married now so I am no longer part of that scene, but I recall it with some fondness.

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