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CODE4LIB  January 2013

CODE4LIB January 2013

Subject:

Re: Group Decision Making (was Zoia)

From:

Jonathan Rochkind <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 25 Jan 2013 18:24:33 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (131 lines)

>  The best way, in my mind, 
is to somehow create a culture where someone can say: "you know, I'm not 
ok with that kind of remark" and the person spoken to can respond "OK, 
I'll think about that." 

I think that's a really good to try to create, Karen says it just right.  Note that "OK, I'll think about it" is neither "No, you must be mistaken" nor "Okay, I will immediately do whatever you ask of me."  But it does need to be a legitimate actual "I'll think about it", seriously. 

The flip side is that the culture is also one where when someone says "you know, I'm not ok with that kind of remark", it often means "And I'd like you to think about that, in a real serious way" rather than "And I expect you to immediately change your behavior to acede to my demands."

Of course, what creates that, from both ends, is a culture of trust.  Which I think code4lib actually has pretty a pretty decent dose of already, let's try to keep it that way. (In my opinion, one way we keep it that way is by continuing to resist becoming a formal rules-based bueurocratic organization, rather than a community based on social ties and good faith). 

Now, at some times it might really be neccesary to say "And I expect you to immediately stop what you're doing and do it exactly like I say."  Other times it's not.  But in our society as a whole, we are so trained to think that everything must be rules-based rather than based on good faith trust between people who care about each other, that we're likely to asume that "you know, i'm not ok with that remark" ALWAYS implies "And therefore I think you are an awful person, and your only hope of no longer being an awful person is to immediately do exactly what I say."  Rather than "And I expect you to think about this seriously, and maybe get back to me on what you think."  So if you do mean the second one when saying "you know, i'm not ok with that remark", it can be helpful to say so, to elicit the self-reflection you want, rather than defensiveness.  And of course, on the flip-side, it is obviously helpful if you can always respond to "you know, i'm really not okay with that" with reflection, rather than defensiveness. 
________________________________________
From: Code for Libraries [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of Karen Coyle [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Friday, January 25, 2013 12:22 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Group Decision Making (was Zoia)

On 1/24/13 3:09 PM, Shaun Ellis wrote:
>
>
> To be clear, I am only uncomfortable with "uncomfortable" being used
> in the policy because I wouldn't support it being there. Differing
> opinions can make people uncomfortable.  Since I am not going to stop
> sharing what may be a dissenting opinion, should I be banned?

I can't come up with a word for it that is unambiguous, but I can
propose a scenario. Imagine a room at a conference full of people -- and
that there are only a few people of color. A speaker gets up and shows
or says something racist. It may be light-hearted in nature, but the
people of color in that almost-all-white audience feel....
uncomfortable/insulted/discriminated against.

I had a great example that I can no longer find -- I think it came
through on Twitter. It showed a fake ad with an image of border patrol
agents rounding up "illegal aliens" in the desert, and used the ad copy:
"We can take care of all of your papers" as the ad line for a business
computing company. It's a "joke" that you can almost imagine someone
actually doing. Any latinos in the audience would be within their rights
of jumping up and shouting at the speaker, but in fact sexism and racism
work precisely because people struggling for equal status are least
likely to gain that status if they speak up against the status quo. What
I think we want to change is the social acceptance of speaking up.

There's a difference between an intellectual disagreement (I think the
earth is round/I think the earth is flat) and insulting who a person is
as a person. The various "*isms* (sexism, racism, homophobia) have a
demeaning nature, and there is an inherent lowering of status of the
targeted group. Booth babes at professional conferences are demeaning to
women because they present women as non-professional sex objects, and
that view generally lowers the social and intellectual status of women
in the eyes of attendees, including the professional women who are
attending. Because of this, many conferences now ban booth babes. No
conference has banned discussion of alternate views of the universe.

It's hard to find a balance between being conscious of other peoples'
sensibilities and creating a chilling effect. The best way, in my mind,
is to somehow create a culture where someone can say: "you know, I'm not
ok with that kind of remark" and the person spoken to can respond "OK,
I'll think about that." If, however, every "I'm not ok" becomes a
battle, then we aren't doing it right. The reason why it shouldn't be a
battle is that there is no absolute right or wrong. If someone tells you
"You're standing too close" then you know you've violated a personal
space limit that is specific to that person. You don't know why. But
there's nothing to argue about -- it's how that person feels. All you
have to do is listen, and be considerate. Eventually we all learn about
each other. It's an interaction, not an interdiction.

kc


>
> It's an anti-harassment policy, not a comfort policy.  If you want to
> see something different, it seems that now is the time to step up and
> change it. :)
>
>
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
>> Of Shaun Ellis
>> Sent: Friday, 25 January 2013 10:38 AM
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Group Decision Making (was Zoia)
>>
>>> I am uneasy about coming up with a policy for banning people (from
>>> what?) and voting on it, before it's demonstrated that it's even
>>> needed. Can't we just tackle these issues as they come up, in context,
>>> rather than in the abstract?
>>>
>>
>> I share your unease.  But deciding to situations in context without a
>> set of guidelines is simply another kind of policy. I'm actually more
>> uneasy about ambiguity over what is acceptable, and no agreed upon
>> way to handle it.
>>
>> I don't think the current policy is ready to "go to vote" as it seems
>> there is still some debate over what it should cover and exactly what
>> type of behavior it is meant to prevent.
>>
>> I suggest there is a set time period to submit objections as GitHub
>> issues and resolve them before we vote.  Whatever issues can't get
>> resolved end up in a branch/fork.  In the end, we vote on each of the
>> forks, or "no policy at all".
>>
>> Does that sound reasonable?
>>
>> --
>> Shaun Ellis
>> User Interace Developer, Digital Initiatives Princeton University
>> Library
>>
>>
>> ________________________________
>> P Please consider the environment before you print this email.
>> "The contents of this e-mail (including any attachments) may be
>> confidential and/or subject to copyright. Any unauthorised use,
>> distribution, or copying of the contents is expressly prohibited.  If
>> you have received this e-mail in error, please advise the sender
>> by return e-mail or telephone and then delete this e-mail together
>> with all attachments from your system."
>>
>
>

--
Karen Coyle
[log in to unmask] http://kcoyle.net
ph: 1-510-540-7596
m: 1-510-435-8234
skype: kcoylenet

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