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Re: Tone policing by a member of the community team [Was, Re: Statement regarding Richard Stallman's readmission to the FSF board]

On Tue, Apr 06, 2021 at 12:47:23PM +0200, Pierre-Elliott Bécue wrote:
> Le lundi 05 avril 2021 à 15:58:37-0700, Steve Langasek a écrit :
> > Hi all,

> > After some long thought, I believe this message warrants a public response
> > (and discussion).

> > The facts are these:

> >  - an individual who is not part of the Debian community sent me (and other
> >    people) a private, unsolicited email sharing his views on the current
> >    topic of the day.
> >  - I responded, privately, telling him exactly what I thought of him and his
> >    views.
> >  - He in turn forwarded my private responses to a public mailing list
> >    without my consent.

> > The response by Jean-Philippe, a member of the Debian Community Team, was a
> > call for de-escalation and civility "by both sides"; i.e., tone policing.

> > While I am no oppressed minority who is going to be turned away from Debian
> > as a result of such tone policing, a member of the Community Team tone
> > policing an ally who is categorically rejecting transphobia sends a very bad
> > message to trans members of our community.  It shows that responding to
> > transphobes by communicating using strong language that the Debian community
> > rejects their views leaves one potentially subject to censure from the
> > Community Team.

> > I think the Community Team should do better.

> Asking for de-escalation is not tone-policing.

> Tone-policing is using the way some people tend to express their
> opinion (generally violently, out of reaction to an attack they suffered
> from) as a way to invalidate their opinion or criticize them.

We disagree here about the definition.  But the definition is not the point;
the effect is the same: asking "both sides" to "de-escalate" when one party
has been subjected to an existential attack by the other, prioritizes
"civility" over equity.

> Asking everyone to try remaining civilized when they interact is not an
> attempt to invalidate what you could say or think, or to criticize you
> as a person especially since you're not specifically targeted.

Transphobia by definition is not civilized and the rules of civilized
discourse do not apply when dealing with individuals who are external to
your civilization.  An individual whose very existence is being rejected by
an interlocutor has no moral obligation to respond in a "civilized" way to
the attacker, and any Code of Conduct which insists on civilized discourse
under these circumstances does harm to the oppressed.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                   https://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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