Code of Conduct at events [and 1 more messages]

Adrian Bunk bunk at
Fri Nov 12 07:52:36 UTC 2010

On Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 06:28:58PM -0500, Ted Ts'o wrote:
> On Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 09:00:45PM +0200, Adrian Bunk wrote:
> > 
> > Did the victim report the offence to the police?
> > 
> > If yes, why wasn't he convicted at court?
> If I have a party, I can invite whomever I like.  It's a private
> event, and no one has a fundamental human right to attend a private
> party.  "Innocent until proven guilty" is a concept which applies to
> criminal court proceedings.  It is not something that needs to apply
> to a decision I make about whether or not I invite someone to a party
> at my house.
> The same is true for a conference.  A conference, whether it is the
> Kernel Summit, Linux Plumbers's Conference, DebConf, or any other
> conference, is a private event.  It is something where the conference
> organizers have the right to decide who is allowed to attend, and
> where the conference organizers can make a decision to eject an
> attendee --- all without any kind of court proceeding.  Doing so does
> not violate anybody's human rights.

What we are discussing is not only what conference organisers are 
legally allowed to do.

We are discussing what SPI should recommend to organisers based on a 
proposal by Ian - and for what SPI should recommend Human Rights are
a baseline for me.

And there are several points where I disagree with Ian
(even though I support preventing sexual harassment):

I think such a Code of Conduct is too abstract if part of it's purpose 
is to educate people about cultural misunderstandings (these are likely 
a more frequent problem than harassments with bad intentions) you'd need 
something more concrete describing common pitfalls (like "do not hug 

Ian's proposal does not recommend calling the police, even though in the 
event that triggered his proposal all other punishments would be 
marginal compared to the punishment at court. [1]

And no matter what an organiser might be legally allowed to do, I would
not like seeing SPI recommending to allow treating someone as guilty who 
has been acquitted at court.

As a lesson from the incident that triggere Ian's proposal, I'd like to 
see a Code of Conduct to also condemn publically accusing other people 
of crimes. A public mud battle is neither good for the people involved, 
nor for their employers ("G employee assaulted by T employee"), nor for 
the conference and the project(s) behind the conference. And publically 
denouncing someone else might backfire and can even bring you into jail 
if you cannot prove it at court. [2]

I also dislike the information-passing parts in Ian's proposal, and I 
have some doubts on the universal legality of telling other people of 
alleged crimes someone did if you cannot prove that. [2]

> 						- Ted


[1] When I try to match the description of the incident in the blog post
    with German laws I end up at "at least one year in jail" - and I 
    guess the USA are not much more liberal on that.
[2] I have no idea about US laws here (but we are not discussing 
    something US-only) and IANAL - that's based on my amateur
    understanding of German laws


       "Is there not promise of rain?" Ling Tan asked suddenly out
        of the darkness. There had been need of rain for many days.
       "Only a promise," Lao Er said.
                                       Pearl S. Buck - Dragon Seed

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