Code of Conduct at events

Ian Jackson ijackson at
Wed Nov 10 16:55:07 UTC 2010

David Graham writes ("Re: Code of Conduct at events"):
> 1. The catch-22: Codes of conduct for attendees will only be followed by 
> people who would behave appropriately anyway. If such people behaved the 
> whole world industry known as 'law enforcement' and the court system would 
> be completely superfluous as writing laws would be more than enough to 
> ensure the good behaviour of the citizens.

I don't think this is true at all.  Explicitly stating, for example,
that nonconsensual touching is not OK, will by followed by most
attendees - even those who might be used to more lax standards of
behaviour elsewhere.  And where lapses occur it provides clear support
for bystanders to intervene.

> 2. The enforcement conundrum: the enforcement of a code of conduct 
> ultimately depends on the use of force by the very same police whose 
> enforcement we are questionning the abilities of. To remove someone who 
> violates the code of conduct from the premises who does not go voluntarily 
> (in which case this whole discussion is moot, as people who go voluntarily 
> needn't a code of conduct to behave, per point 1),

Have you ever hosted a party ?  This seems like an absurd contention.

Very few people will be prepared to physically defy an explicit
expulsion by the conference organisers.  Many more, sadly,
occasionally overstep the bounds of proper behaviour - in ways which
often fall short of needing an expulsion.

Your contention seems to lead to the unpalatably absurd conclusion
that despite your claim that there are people at our conferences who
are so unreasonable and asocial that they would defy an expulsion by
the organisers, the organisers should nevertheless avoid trying to get
rid of sociopaths!

Finally, a determined troublemaker will know that when the police are
called (as they will be) the police will not ask complicated questions
about whose fault anything is, but will just confirm that the
organisers are the authorised hosts and then eject (or possibly eject)
the troublemaker.  "Leave now or we call the police" is very effective.

> In any case, conventions are subject to the local laws and customs where 
> they take place, not ours. [...]

I don't think this is a reasonable position.  Any community gathering
makes its own mores in its own space.


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