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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 Thu, Apr 08, 2021 at 05:44:59AM +0100, Martina Ferrari wrote:
> It is so repetitive is boring at this point. One side wants to see a whole
> group of people dead, the other side is saying that is really bad with very
> strong words; the centrist chastises the latter for being rude.

The paradox of tolerance states that tolerating intolerance undermines
society's ability to remain tolerant. I find it disappointing that Debian's
code of conduct and diversity statement do not explicitly reflect this idea.

Michael Shigorin is a textbook example of how this works. He pretends to be
offended by Steve's harsh but accurate[0] words, and yet he is the one who has
successfully prevented[1] the Linux Vacation Eastern Europe conference from
endorsing a code of conduct in 2020 (warning: this and some other emails on
that list are filled with racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, and transphobic
slurs and dogwhistles).

[0] In 2012, I blocked Shigorin on Google+ after he tried to spread the
anti-Semitic "Protocols of Elders of Zion" conspiracy theory in comments on my

[1] https://lists.lvee.org/pipermail/talks/2020-July/012461.html

As a result of Shigorin's anti-tolerance crusade, references to the code of
conduct were pulled from the LVEE 2020 announcement, discriminatory behavior
continued to proliferate in the conference's mailing list and Telegram chat,
some people openly declared unwillingness to participate in a conference
without a code of conduct[2], some (including myself, the founder of the
conference) quietly backed away.

[2] https://lists.lvee.org/pipermail/talks/2020-August/012599.html

In full accordance with the predictions of the paradox of tolerance, LVEE
community has become less tolerant, less inclusive, more openly dominated
by bigots, and, ironically but not suprisingly, less civil.

> > > 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.

"Civilized" is a loaded and ambiguous term, let's not use it in this context.
Other emails in this thread offer a fine example of how its use can take a
conversation about communication in an irrelevant and divisive direction.

> A big over a year ago I got "warned" by the CT, DAM, and listmasters (which
> in turn forced me to resign from the CT after I had successfully resisted a
> months-long campaign from the acting DPL to remove me from that post by
> sheer bullying force) because I told an outspoken transphobe to "fuck off to
> the sea" [sic].
> My harsh and very very naughty words certainly do not fit in a civilised
> community, but these bigots still roam free and continue to participate in
> the project every day: you just need to go see the web archives for
> debian-vote. The people that drove me out of Debian (did I mention I made a
> bingo card?) are all there very vocally defending a dude who spent all his
> social capital in defending the theoretical rights of a convicted paedophile
> and who routinely makes creepy advances on young women to the point that he
> usually has handlers to prevent him from embarrassing a prominent
> non-profit.
> And I am sure now to receive more private email from the very same people.
> People I consider kind and good, that I used to respect and hold in high
> regard, but that to this day still cannot see the difference between being
> rude and defending yourself from actual fucking fascists.
> PS: yes, I said fuck, repeatedly; fight me.

This is a very disturbing story, and I don't mean your choice of language.

The requirement to keep all conversations within the project "civil" to the
exclusion of all other considerations (representation and lack thereof, power
inequity, real-world consequences of political speech, etc.) is not going to
salvage the illusion that it is possible to have constructive collaboration
between marginalized people and, for the lack of more accurate yet less naughty
term, actual fucking fascists.

Maintaining this illusion is hurting the marginalized people, the privileged
people with enough empathy to recognize that hurt, and our entire community. I
don't see how that harm can be addressed without some carefully considered
amount of intolerance of prejudice.

Dmitry Borodaenko

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