David Silverman understands how codes of conduct work

And DJ Grothe does not. The Reason Rally has a published Code of Conduct, and apparently a few bad apples are protesting that they won’t attend because they don’t want their freedom to harass limited. Dave does a very good job of explaining what they do and don’t do, and why they are reasonable. Don’t read the comments, though. So many people are getting their asses in a wringer because they hate being told that they don’t get to do whatever they want at a public event.

In vaguely related news, Ammon Bundy is planning to sue Multnomah County for violating his right to bear arms in prison.

Stupid people who don’t understand that living among other people compromises your right to have tantrums over your privileges are everywhere.


  1. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Stupid Bundy, you lost your rights when you declared and acted upon treason against the Federal Government. Having a jury being required to consider you innocent, is not the same as what is required to those holding your prior to your trial. Your peers are citizens of the US, not your supporters. You will be toast due to your stupid actions. Live with it….

  2. wzrd1 says

    I don’t get it. I do whatever I want to do at a public event and nobody complains.
    Perhaps, I just know how to behave in a civilized manner? Especially so if I’m imbibing of ethanol.

    Bundy forgets, felons lose the right to possess firearms, those under charge also lose their right to possess firearms unless cleared by a court of law of all felony charges.
    Prisoners most certainly don’t have the right to keep any arms beyond the ones that they were born with.
    As he’s currently held without bail, he’s a prisoner wanting to retain firearms. Perhaps, gearing up for an insanity defense?

  3. screechymonkey says

    Laughing at DJ Grothe’s response to Dave Silverman:

    But in reality, such illiberal policies treat adults like children, and create all sorts of liability issues for organization that adopt them if they actually try to enforce them seriously.

    Bear in mind that this is coming from the guy whose idea of “try[ing] to enforce them seriously” when he was in charge of the JREF was having security follow and intimidate Amy Roth.

  4. says

    Ammon Bundy is planning to sue Multnomah County for violating his right to bear arms in prison.

    Jesus Fucke. I am so grateful I wasn’t drinking tea when I read that.

  5. Holms says

    There are actually people boycotting an event because they can’t harass people? They’ve basically outed themselves as shitheads then, for the small number of people that didn’t already know that.

  6. robro says

    I don’t see anything about their right to bear arms in that article on the Bundy gang. Perhaps the article was modified after the post.

    They do have some pretty outrageous demands, like the ability to meet together to discuss their case.

  7. anthrosciguy says

    It’s a bit of teasing, really, teasing Bundy. He’s saying “all my rights” have been violated and since second amendment rights are always said to be the most important to Bundy types, he’s logically saying he wants his gun.

    Bet he doesn’t want that black guy down the hall to have one though.

  8. says

    Here’s the Reason Rally code of conduct, which some people are intentionally misconstruing to claim that it prohibits ridicule or criticism of religion.

    The Reason Rally Coalition does not tolerate harassment of or by 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.

    The Reason Rally Coalition recognizes that mockery of religion occurred at Reason Rally 2012, and we welcome such discussion. However, the harassment of individuals for their religious beliefs will not be tolerated. Racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic conduct will not be tolerated.

    The people who object to that clearly have no idea what “harassment” means, and are the very last people you want putting together public events.

  9. kellym says

    D. J. Grothe is currently a board member of the Institute for Science and Human Values, the org founded by Paul Kurtz after he was ousted from CFI, which Kurtz also founded.

    Grothe is now on the record as stating: “These policies are just for show, and are meant to quell some of the more unhinged parts of the atheist movement.” So, The Institute for Science and Human Values features a board member who states that anti-harassment policies are theater for the gullible and “unhinged.”

    By way of history, Grothe was president of the now defunct James Randi Educational Foundation from January 2010 until September 2014. Grothe was terminated from the JREF on bad terms. What Grothe did to get fired can only be inferred, but the JREF made a point to omit any “thanks for your service” or “good luck with future endeavors” that is customary in firing even the worst employees.

    For its 2012 annual conference, The Amazing Meeting (TAM), JREF promoted its anti-harassment policy. In 2013 TAM had no *published* anti-harassment policy, and at least one sexual assault occurred that was witnessed by several at a party during the conference. In 2014 TAM went back to publishing its anti-harassment policy.

    Good luck to anyone who attends a conference put on by The Institute for Science and Human Values.

  10. says

    @ Robro, #6:

    Third to last paragraph: “Ryan Bundy wrote in a supporting statement. “My Second Amendment rights are being violated. I never waived that right.””

  11. says

    @ Holms, #5 – Well, I personally know (at least one) someone who boycotted Skepticon because of their anti-harassment policy. And talked at least one person for certain in to doing so as well, for at least one year.

  12. =8)-DX says

    @John-Henry Beck #12
    Well aren’t you a silly person (you should contemplate why you feel the urge to harass people or override other people’s consent with any given interaction with you).

  13. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    And talked at least one person for certain in to doing so as well, for at least one year.

    Well, that certainly reads like *you* talked someone into skipping the conference.

  14. rietpluim says

    Divergence of Lewis’s law. The comments on any code of conduct justify codes of conduct.

  15. John Morales says

    The “Reason Rally code of conduct” quoted by PZ @8 reads as subjective to me.

    The Reason Rally Coalition recognizes that mockery of religion occurred at Reason Rally 2012, and we welcome such discussion. However, the harassment of individuals for their religious beliefs will not be tolerated.

    Explicitly, mockery of religion is welcomed but harassment of individuals is not.

    I think those intersect, and that their intersection is problematic.

  16. Snarki, child of Loki says

    “Ammon Bundy is planning to sue Multnomah County for violating his right to bear arms in prison.”

    Okay, okay! Sheesh. We’ll schedule him for surgery to replace his arms with “bear arms” just as soon as a donor bear shows up.

    Since the bears don’t seem to check the “organ donor” box very often, it might be a looooong wait.

  17. Vivec says

    I don’t really see how they necessarily intersect. You can mock an idea without personally harassing its adherents.

  18. Holms says

    #13 and #15
    It is perfectly clear to me that John-Henry Beck is referring to another person on both of those sentences. Specifically, the first sentence indicates that the person being spoken of is someone known to John, and the second sentence does not indicate that the referent has changed. Imagine that the first full stop was instead a semi-colon and you will see.

  19. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    Holms, cheers. Yeah, I see that now. I’m going to blame my head cold, take some drugs and lay my weary viruses down for the night. Sorry John/Henry.

  20. woozy says

    @17″I think those intersect, and that their intersection is problematic.”

    At this event people will show up who believe ideas that we find ludicrous, stupid, and mock worthy. Do not harass these individuals; they are people.

    I don’t see anything problematic about that.


    I don’t think these people “don’t know what harrassment means” but that the instinctively react negatively to any statement about conduct negatively without bothering to read it or think about it.

  21. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I’m sorry for the following foolish question: But what do you mean by harassment? Can an isolated, one-off statement of mockery ever be harassment? Or does speech need to be sustained in order to be harassment?

    I did want to respond to this bit:

    I don’t really see how they necessarily intersect. You can mock an idea without personally harassing its adherents.

    Depending on the definition of “harass”, sure. However, I think that the following claim is false, with a certain reasonable interpretation:
    > You can attack someone’s beliefs without attacking the person.

    For example, I strongly identify with the value of the right of self determination for all informed consenting adults. This particular value is so tightly integrated to who I am, that it is no longer possible to attack this value without also attacking me as a person – again because my identity of who I am is so closely tied up to this value.

    Similarly, when dealing with many Christians, it is not possible to attack Christianity without attacking the Christian.

    There is a different meaning that one can take from that phrase, and I do think that it’s vitally important. When I attack Christianity with a Christian, I am generally also attacking the Christian. However, I don’t say that the Christian is worthless nor irredeemably evil. I think that is a lesson which we should follow. When I attack Christianity, I often do mean to attack some Christians. In particular, I mean to impugn personal responsibility. However, I never want to say that the Christian cannot be saved (har har).

    Going back to my earlier question, of course we shouldn’t follow someone and hound them. That’s clearly harassment. However, for any isolated, one-off incident of speech, when should that be classified as harassment? I genuinely don’t know, and it seems that there are real and severe problems in distinguishing here, with real slippery slope problems, lack of objective criterion, etc etc. Maybe have a special rule for racial slurs, misogynistic slurs, LGBT et al slurs, and slurs against other protected classes? Would religion then be a protected class? What is a slur against a particular religion? Towel-head I guess? Jew-killer? I suppose I’m pretty ok with conference organizers taking some action against that.

    I don’t know.

  22. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I don’t know.

    Ever had sexual harassment training? If so, remember it, as it is a good start. It isn’t hard, but you sound like you are looking for the solid line that mustn’t be crossed, but that line will vary with the situation.

  23. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I’m just looking for what sort of line in this particular case, namely convention goers, and the difference between attacking religious beliefs, and harassment.

  24. Vivec says

    When I attack Christianity with a Christian, I am generally also attacking the Christian.

    Well, I don’t really know much about you as a person, but going from that alone, chances are I would really rather not spend much time around someone like you, even as an atheist.

  25. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Vivec.

    Pretty sure you don’t understand. Rather than suggesting you reread, let me try to rephrase.

    I was trying to make a “deep” philosophical point. Again, my point simply is: It’s impossible to attach Christianity without attacking the Christian, just like it’s impossible to attack humanism without attacking me as a person. I am not saying I do personal attacks like “you’re stupid” or “you’re evil”. I am saying that “Christianity is evil” is tantamount to “you are evil” for many Christians, just like saying “feminism is evil” is tantamount to “I am evil” because I strongly identify as feminist.

    I am saying that it’s untrue that we can divorce attacks on beliefs from attacks on the person. I am saying that it’s untrue that we can talk about “a person” as something that can be divorced from their beliefs.

  26. Vivec says

    Ah, alright. I mean, I disagree that saying someone’s beliefs are evil/stupid/whatever implies that they are evil/stupid/whatever, but I think that’s a big philosophical morass I don’t really care to get it into. That being said, consider my earlier statement rescinded.

  27. screechymonkey says

    What the critics of harassment policies don’t seem to get — or, I suspect in many cases, are pretending not to get — is that there is almost always some fuzziness in any set of rules, with catch-all provisions or know-it-when-I-see-it terms like “reasonable” and “excessive,” and that this is a feature and not a bug. Otherwise, you get rules lawyers who want to play games as if they were still a 10-year-old saying “I’m not touching you!” while holding his or her hand a millimeter from a sibling’s face.

    Of course, you can go too far in that direction and end up not giving fair notice to people of what conduct is proscribed. But the Reason Rally’s Code of Conduct seems to me to strike a pretty reasonable balance.

  28. vaiyt says

    “The institute of Science and Human (given some Humans are more Human than others) Values”

  29. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To screechymonkey
    I’m sorry. You’re right. It’s just in my nature to be contrarian, especially about speech issues.

  30. says

    But in reality, such illiberal policies treat adults like children

    I guess DJ Grothe is also against laws forbidding murder because having such rules means you’re treating people like they didn’t know that murder is wrong.

  31. says

    DJ Grothe, who compared allegations of rape and sexual assault to “distasteful locker room banter” knows all about treating adults like children.

    As I said oh so many years ago now, presumably he feels the same way about fire escape plans, and has the same misunderstanding about how they affect conference/event liability. He may have been able to lie and say there had been no harassment at TAM even without a code of conduct, but I doubt that would change their liability in court.

  32. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I think it’s hilarious people are boycotting the Reason Rally because they think it’ll be SJW-ville, when I’m not going since I’m sure it’s gonna be Little Assholetown.