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In defence of Douglas Crockford (atom-morgan.github.io)
683 points by ramblerman on Sept 4, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 419 comments

The Nodevember folk(s) posted a statement regarding this whole kerfuffle [1]. It's pretty hollow IMO.

> While we have a tremendous respect for Mr. Crockford's abilities as a speaker and his contributions to our craft, we became aware that based on private feedback - not simply the dialogue on Twitter - that his presence would make some speakers uncomfortable to the point where they refused to attend or speak.

Okay so you are calling out his behavior making people uncomfortable, publicly, but you won't say why only that it was private feedback? Wasn't he one of the early speakers who accepted anyway? You apologized for lacking nuance on Twitter with your "announcement" and yet continue to do so.

Publicly claiming someone makes others uncomfortable and that someone is an older, white male, you know exactly what you are insinuating. Statements like this, especially against white males today, can be career ending even without proof as long as it simply goes viral.

I think the only responsible thing to do is to release exactly why someone would be uncomfortable. If you can't or won't do that then you shouldn't have made the initial insinuation and, instead, simply state he's no longer coming.

Stating he was "uninvited" due to making others uncomfortable without providing anything further is just irresponsible to the point where it appears you're trying to manufacture drama. Considering your event is $350 to hear some speakers who are yet to be defined this just speaks scam to me like many other talking events.

[1] http://nodevember.org/statement.html

> You apologized for lacking nuance on Twitter with your "announcement" and yet continue to do so.

I saw parallels of this earlier this year against Richard Dawkins, when the NECSS uninvited him over twitter, followed it with a longer post on their blog[0]. After their actions caused a blowback, they apologized for their lack of professionalism. NECSS backtracked on their position[1] because the blowback was from prominent people.

I don't think prominent people in CS will band together like that, so I don't think the Nodevember folks will backtrack either.

[0] http://necss.org/2016/01/27/a-statement-concerning-richard-d...

[1] http://necss.org/2016/02/14/statement-from-the-executive-com...

That situation seemed to be handled a lot better than this one; the first blog post actually detailed the offence as opposed to oblique insinuations. I thought Dawkins' response was professional and gracious: https://richarddawkins.net/2016/02/necss-executive-committee...

The major difference there is that they actually identified the particular action that got him uninvited - and to Dawkins’ credit, (as far as I know) he deleted the offending tweets.

As for whether that constitutes a major difference or not, it's a judgement call. And I don't agree with your judgement. Here are the full facts, in their own words:

    NECSS: in response to Dr. Dawkins’ approving re-tweet of a highly 
    offensive video.
That's it. Because it was offensive. And Dawkins' reponse after continued attacks against him on Twitter:

   Dawkins: Don't you think she should apologise for shrieking "Shut the
   fuck up" and "Fuckface" at anyone who tried to get a word in?

   I didn't do wrong to her. I posted, without comment, a video of her 
   screaming vile abuse.

   I didn't apologise. I merely deleted, explaining that I did it out of
   concern for a person's life.
Apparently, she reported getting threats of violence.

It appears I didn't know everything about the Dawkins incident - disregard my comment.

The video was considered offensive because it advocated violence against women and had lines like "It's not rape if a Muslim does it."

> it advocated violence against women

You have been misinformed.

> had lines like "It's not rape if a Muslim does it."


Parody should presumably not be a get-out-of-jail free card that that allows people to rinse off and rekindle bloodstained racist tropes about people of different skin color and/or foreigners representing a sexual threat to women.

If that were the case, we could simply take any sexist or racist thing we want to say, bake it into the premise of a joke with a parody outcome, and publish it without consequence.

> not be a get-out-of-jail free card

I have no idea if you meant "jail" literally or figuratively. If you meant it literally, our differences are irreconcilable. If you meant it figuratively, no, Dawkins had to face the consequences of retweeting the video. He got disinvited by NECSS, and he was subjected to a ton of abuse and harrassment on Twitter. He was threatened with violence, which is not acceptable by law. As far as I know, he did not press charges against anyone for that, so they go free.

> bloodstained racist tropes about people of different skin color and/or foreigners representing a sexual threat to women

What racist? There was no racism there. Why would you assume that all Islamists would be of a different race and/or nationality than Dawkins. In any case, Muslims are not all the same race either. He has written plenty against Chrisitians and some British political parties too.

> If that were the case ... publish it without consequence.

Well, that was not the case. Dawkins had to face the consequences of his actions. NECSS had to face the consequences of their own actions.

No, I did not mean literal jail, just as I was not referring to a literal card. I hate to disappoint you, but no one was arguing that Dawkins should go to jail; they were more interested in whether he did something wrong.

Crucially, we're not talking about the consequences Dawkins suffered or did not suffer (a descriptive question); we're both talking about prescriptive questions: whether his posting that video should be considered wrong, and if so what consequences are appropriate and proportional.

Your one word response to Dawkins' pretty troubling juxtaposition of Muslims and rape, "Parody." indicates to me that you view parody as something that either means nothing wrong occurred or could occur (ie parody should be excluded from ethical analysis), or that things in the category of parody should be immune from any societal rebuke. You're welcome to correct me if I am misreading you on that.

My counterargument is propose a world in which people were able to make any racist or homophobic (or for example antisemitic) allegation and bake it into the premise of a parody. Should they be automatically immune from societal rebuke? If so, we open up floodgates; anyone who wishes to make racist or homophobic allegations will naturally just take the path of least resistance and sandwiched these in parodies and escape rebuke; it reduces more or less to society having no power to rebuke racist or homophobic remarks in general.

Conversely, if being incorporated into a parody does not exclude an author from moral responsibility for his remarks, then your justification of "[it's a] Parody" is clearly insufficient.


> What racist? There was no racism there

If we are talking about the video made by Sye Ten Bruggencate and published by Sargon of Akkad, then because it is a video we do not need to make any tortuous suppositions about the ethnicity of Muslims in the parody, you can watch the video and see for yourself. It fits quite squarely into a long history of racist caricatures of foreign figures or in cartoons, and even more so into a long and vicious history of presenting foreign or non-white men as a threat to white women.

> we're both talking about prescriptive questions

No, we're not, because I am not.

> whether his posting that video should be considered wrong

Consider it wrong, if you wish, and act accordingly. I don't consider it wrong, and I'm acting accordingly. Therefore, the question of appropriate consequences is not one I'd pay any attention to.

> ie parody should be excluded from ethical analysis

I don't know about shoulds, but so far, I haven't come across any parody that has gotten me all worked up. Let me lay out a few issues: when it comes to abortions, I'm completely pro-choice, and yet, I haven't come across any parodies made by pro-life people that has gotten me worked up. When it comes to human-caused climate change, I believe there is sufficient evidence for it, and yet, I haven't come across any parodies by those who deny it that has gotten me worked up. I'm an Indian, and I have seen plenty of cartoons and skits that parodies Indians, and yet, I haven't come across any that has gotten me worked up.

> Should they be automatically immune from societal rebuke?

I refuse to think on "society"'s behalf, and I'd definitely get worked up if someone claims to think on my behalf. If we are talking about violent activities, or activities that cause large-scale environmental damage [2], I'd participate in a discussion on how society should deal with it.

> we do not need to make any tortuous suppositions about the ethnicity of Muslims in the parody

All I saw was a caricatured generic Maulvi-type person, who could as easily have been British as Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Pakistani, Indian or Indonesian. I know that in the US, Arabs and Persians are considered "white". When there was a wide-spread scandal of the Catholic Church and sexual abuse of children, I did not concern myself with the issue of the ethnicity or the nationality of priests depicted in caricatures.

[2] - Edit: or fraud

I'm willing to bet that he didn't pose any danger to these people other than having the gall to publicly harbor opinions they are uncomfortable with.

In other words, diversity does not extend to diversity of opinion.

So what?

The talk organizers were faced with a dilemma: either keep Crawford and lose a bunch of other speakers or lose Crawford but keep others

I do think clarification is needed, but I could see "being a jerk " as a legit reason to not want to associate with someone. People do the same with people like Torvalds

Being unliked is also a reason that people won't want to associate with you.

Being a speaker at the same event is hardly being forced to associate with someone, nor indeed a reason to attempt to publicly repudiate them.

Additionally, in my experience Linus Tovalds is not a jerk. Is this something you sense you get by reading email threads?

Perhaps you associate a lack of politeness and deference with being a jerk, but it really isn't the same.

> Perhaps you associate a lack of politeness and deference with being a jerk, but it really isn't the same.

I would certainly associate those two attributes with being a jerk.

It's hard without specific examples, but brusque or somewhat impolite generally seem common. For example, someone asserts something technical in a strong way, lacking technical insight, or re-animating a zombie topic. The response is often short and somewhat acerbic. To be honest, replying in a sensitive way, with references to past converations, takes a long time.

I would contrast this with jerk as being someone who deliberately disregards the comfort and feelings of others to satisfy themselves: the queue jumper, Steve Jobs, someone who humiliates people on minimum wage, who doesn't re-rack the weights at the gym, who parks in the disabled car park.

I don't. In fact, the opposite: I find overly deferential people difficult to work with. I'd prefer to work with someone that is going to call me an idiot when I do something dumb than someone who will keep their mouth shut and work around me -- Letting me do stupid things without correction is unpleasant. And having people waste time trying to make me feel better or whatever just annoys me. Besides, reading a good insult is just plain fun. Especially if I know the person.

(And no, Linus tends not to flame people he doesn't know.)

I'm pretty sure lack of politeness is one of the defining traits of a jerk, yes. Which I'm quite aware of because as a lot of programmers I am something of a jerk.

So tolerance and diversity are apparently only good things if they're applied to the Right People with the Right Opinions.

Tolerance and Diversity when it tips the scale toward their agenda, Shaming, Boycotts, Twitter smear campaigns, and threats to employers when it doesn't.

If tolerance and diversity are good things, a position that is intolerant or anti-diversity would be a bad thing.

I do not understand how banning people due to some unproved, anonym accusations will result in a more inclusive society. Actually it sounds like a surefire way to achieve the antipode.

Maybe perhaps they should instead opt to lose these "others"?

I'm unsure as to who the "jerks" really are in this situation.

The whole thing feels like "reverse bullying" to me.

It's just normal bullying.

>Being unliked is also a reason that people won't want to associate with you.

Not a good reason.

i would lose the bunch that can't hold their side in a ideological argument about their work and instead resort to ad hominem

Why can't we all just be a professional and move on ?

Because we all adopted codes of conduct that assume we're easily agitated children, and then took them seriously.

Nodevember is offering refunds, so it's very hard to see how this could be a scam, and difficult to imagine how Nodevember would stand to make anything but a large loss by removing Crockford as a speaker. They chose to proceed with this anyway, which is indicative of serious concerns.

Removing him as a speaker and remaining quiet about the exact reasons can mean any number of things.

Suppose they have compelling reasons to believe having him speak would be harmful, but that they do not have a firm enough basis that they are comfortable publicising, in which case publishing their rationale could be both unethical itself and could expose them to legal action.

Or perhaps they have received information in confidence, from sources they trust, but believe that information received in confidence is not theirs to publish without consent. Or perhaps their information is alarming and yet primarily circumstantial from a constellation of different sources.

In essence, there is a fairly wide terrain where it is perfectly warranted to have deal-breaking levels of concern about a prospective speaker without being in a position to merit publishing accusations against them.

From the responses here, it seems that many struggle to imagine conference organizers could be placed in such a position. This is exactly kind of bias we might expect to find in an overly white and male subculture where navigating these kinds of murky waters is at most a purely hypothetical exercise rather than a day-to-day reality.

Then again, if you don't have some solid evidence that a talk will be offensive, how can you ban it. Is this the Minority Report where you are punished for things you haven't done yet? Mr. Crockford is a leading Javascript expert, kicking him our of your Javascript conference should only be done with some very compelling facts not just hearsay and conjecture that you can't tell anyone about.

> Crockford is a leading Javascript expert,

How is this relevant? This idea that we should apply different standards to "leading Javascript experts" than other people is far more troubling than the idea that a speaker might be invited to and then disinvited from a conference from time to time.

> should only be done with some very compelling facts not just hearsay and conjecture

I have already given several plausible examples of when a conference could have grounds enough to rescind a speaker invitation without having the grounds to make public accusations.

> a speaker might be invited to and then disinvited from a conference from time to time

Alright then, nobody ever talk to that offended person in any shape or form again, ever. No biggie when that happens from time to time, right? And I can make a good case for it, too, certainly a better one than then non-case we were being presented with. You can invite her to anything, she can has any job, just nobody be friends with her. When she asks you something, act deaf. That's not too much too ask, correct? Totally fair, no biggie, we're not wearing armbands over here at all.

> Suppose they have compelling reasons to believe having him speak would be harmful...

They didn't have any. Just take a look at the posted transcript of their discussion of this in their slack channel. It shows they had no solid reasons for doing this, and a childlike unawareness of the gravity of the situation.

I read the slack channel; I didn't see anything to indicate that the channel is where the decision was made, or represents their reasoning.

Stand up cowards and respond to this excellent comment.

The conference organizers are making me feel uncomfortable.

apparently some people claiming crookford bothered them without any evidence is enough to get him kicked out. this is madness at its finest

> We will also be removing Douglas Crockford from our keynote speakers list to help make the conference a comfortable environment for all.

If they are going to insinuate things about what he said, they should mention exactly what he said or did.

The fact that they don't somehow tells me there is not much there to go on.

To put it another way, if they have the guts to remove Crockford that should have enough guts to clearly explain why.

I've been saying this before, and maybe it is just me, but it seems Node.js community somehow attracts a disproportionate number of immature people but with big egos. Because, let's call this for what it is -- childish immature behavior. That's at best, at worst it is getting attention and hurting someone's reputation just for a power trip. "Look how important I am, I kicked Crockford out of a conference with a single tweet".

Well the lesson is when you pick some open source technology, the community comes with it. Maybe even if technology has good merits, it makes sense not to pick it because the community behind it is not compatible with what you think a community should be.

I certainly wouldn't feel 'comfortable' speaking at a conference with a reputation for publicly character-assassinating their invited speakers. Especially as the worst accusation I could find on twitter was that he used the word 'stupid'. Several times! Throw away the key...

It would be insane to go into such a humourless environment where every conversation feels like treading on eggshells.

It might also be a good idea to not hire someone with this sort of political leanings into your organization, if you know what I mean.

It seems to me like numerous advocacy organizations nowadays have run out of genuine grievances and are now attacking largely innocent things, possibly in turn harming their cause.

If you love reading "I found a meteorite!" blogs, pretty soon you're going to find an odd rock in your back yard and think it's a meteorite.

If you love reading "I found a UFO!" blogs, pretty soon you're going to see something weird in the sky and think it's a UFO.

If you love reading "I found a misogynist!" blogs...

I might also be a bit worried as a speaker that people looking over the speaker list might think I was one of those that lead to the disinvite and thus be a poor person to invite if for no other reason than further hassle.

By comfortable environment they mean where you can say what you want... as long as it doesn't offend any of their unpublished list of vague rules, then you'll be publicly shamed, with no recourse nor explanation.

That's a really comfortable environment, indeed.

> If they are going to insinuate things about what he said, they should mention exactly what he said or did.

> The fact that they don't somehow tells me there is not much there to go on.

FWIW organizations will often refuse to disclose the precise nature of these kinds of accusations, because it would (a) impinge on the privacy of a victim, (b) start a circus trial in the Court of Public Opinion (which this thread is already becoming) or even (c) further shame the accused, and it's a favor to everyone involved to stay mum.

As external parties whose involvement probably extends no further than commenting on HN, we're not entitled to an explanation nor should we expect one. It could all be a big screen of plausible deniability, or there could be serious accusations at the heart of this.

Use your own intuition to decide if their behavior is in earnest, but speculating what happened is useless (and distasteful besides).

No, they "often" ask people to cancel and state personal grounds or scheduling conflict, etc. Much like suspicious resignations. Then they get wierder when people refuse but the facts are then confusing nonsense about inflexibility and inability to reach a concensus, not a statement of vague unease about a speaker.

Given the terrible track record of the JS community with regards to basic behavior, I really have to wonder what is wrong and why anyone should risk their personal reputation by doing public activities in JS.

Perhaps transpiling purely to avoid interacting with caustic elements of the JS community will be the new normal.

This ^^

Their whole handling of the situation was incredibly unprofessional. Really makes the whole conference sound like utter crap if they can't even handle something like that like adults.

The JavaScript/Node.js community attracts a lot of young programmers compared to other communities - But there are also a lot of older people - The range is just broader; that's why we often get into these kinds of debates... I guess it makes it more exciting.

But there is no debate, that's kind of the problem. There is vague doublespeak with fine print declaring no further replies will be made. Old or young, this is just inept.

I don't think they insinuated anything beyond that he apparently made others uncomfortable.

They said "We will also be removing Douglas Crockford from our keynote speakers list to help make the conference a comfortable environment for all."

Imagine saying that about anyone, to any group (here it was to the whole world).

Let's say the invite you to a gathering publicly then wrote a tweet about "We will also be removing eli from list of invited guests, to help make the venue a comfortable environment for all".

That is just insulting, because it insinuates something terrible has happened, or you did some shameful unspeakable thing and they are just being considerate and not disclosing it publicly.

But is it true that other guests have complained about me making them uncomfortable?

So? Those other guests might just hate my gut.

Or they might prefer their pal to come speak at the last few open entries, and Douglas got invited instead.

Or they might be idiots.

Or insane.

Or "professional" touchy-feelers....

You really don't see how indirect insinuation can be very damaging? Here is like an ultimate example:

"We have asked John Doe not to attend the party as we have heard word that many parents would not be comfortable having him around their children".

Claims nothing, insinuates obvious reputation destroying behavior.

The insinuation made in the actual example with Douglas Crawford isn't exactly this clear cut, but it is still very damaging while lacking documented basis in reality.

You make me uncomfortable.

Clearer now?

That's all it takes huh? Do you not see the power in that?

The fact that they've disinvited him so publicly and so strangely is itself an insinuation. Quite a strong one, in fact.

Imagine your child was expelled from your local school and the reason given was "she made others feel uncomfortable". And that was the end of the discussion.

That's what these diversity groups do, they insert themselves into the process and then act as the new gatekeepers.

"We have deleted eli's messages from HN because he made others felt uncomfortable."

If the HN moderators wanted to do that after reviewing complaints against me, it's certainly within their rights.

You are missing the point... It does not matter if you feel comfortable or not. If you dont like something someone says, you dont have to attend. Instead of ruining a conference for people who dont care that someone uses normal language to describe things. Heck, I like speakers to be a bit raw, including people like Linus etc. So what if they are a jerk, I value them on their work, not their language. Of course I also have a personal limit of what i can classify as "acceptable", but if someone goes over that limit, i just ignore and move along. Why would i try to change the speaker or event to cater to me? Even if it was a slur or comment directed at me, it would be so much easier to just ignore it. I dont understand what gives these people the balls too try to publicly shame someone who have produced so much more value to society and tech then most of these guys combined.

>If the HN moderators wanted to do that after reviewing complaints against me, it's certainly within their rights.

What's legal/within one's rights and what's right is not the same thing.

To be also right, those HN moderators should also have thoroughly investigated (reviewed) those complaints, not just knee-jerk reacted to them (as seems to be the case here).

And even then, they should publicly state the reasons, not just leave an insinuation open.

And if this did had happened to you personally, with all the possible implications in your reputation, job etc, you'll be also demanding this of them too.

> after reviewing complaints against me

you'll have gotten better treatment than Mr. Crockford did, because clearly there wasn't much reviewing done by Nodevember. Otherwise, they could surely fill us in on what they reviewed?

That could be because he has smelly feet or because he threatened someone with a jackknife. That's kind of a huge range of insinuations to make.

This comment makes me uncomfortable.

This is becoming increasingly concerning to me. The problem is that there is no way for the person affected to receive "justice", "fairness", or "a day in court".

You want to not invite somebody? Fine. You want to disinvite somebody? Okay, but be prepared to be called a jerk.

But assassinating someone's professional character publicly? You'd better be standing on REALLY solid ground for a REALLY good reason.

Crockford might just ignore this--it's probably the best course of action given his station. He's probably sufficiently more important than these people that he's good.

However, one day these people are going to get someone with financial means all fired up and they're going to be dragged through court for a LONG time--and probably lose because they won't be able to put up the money to mount an effective defense.

Until one of these accusers loses THEIR ability to work in the field, nobody will pay attention to the repercussions.

No sarcasm intended, but is that an oblique reference to Peter Thiel's recent "scuffle" with Gawker Media?

You've kind of just resolved your concerns yourself.

> The problem is that there is no way for the person affected to receive "justice", "fairness", or "a day in court".

Of course there is. There's 'private arbitration' - just resolve the matters yourself like regular people do. Then then, if the victim feels particularly damaged, there's the courts.

> Crockford might just ignore this--it's probably the best course of action given his station.

Yup. He doesn't need 'justice' because he doesn't feel he's been particularly wronged.

Does "private arbitration" require money? I don't know anything about Mr. Crockford's financial situation but, and this is purely from a self interest perspective, I um, don't have much money to adjudicate such a matter using arbitrators. This is what makes these kind of public accusations so troubling for me. If I happened to find myself on the receiving end of these kind of accusations I would have essentially no recourse to try and clear my name.

I will embarrassingly admit that I hadn’t heard of Mr Crockford before this article but after doing a bit of research, he seems to have quite a few professional accomplishments. I don’t have any such accomplishments or a professional reputation outside of the small group of people I work closely with, I don’t have much money, and I don’t even have a college degree to fall back on as some basic certification of my competency. I imagine it would be trivially easy for someone, particularly a group online, to completely destroy my professional life based on what could very well be a simple misunderstanding. This is absolutely terrifying to me.

I personally don’t see the offense in his specific comments about “promiscuity” but I’m going to defer to those here who may have had other interactions with Mr Crockford on whether or not he is abrasive and how big of a problem that may present to attendees. With that being said, suppose that at some point in the future, perhaps a week, month, or year from now, it becomes apparent that he didn’t do anything untoward. Will such news make the front page of HN? Hell, would such an article be written at all. How can you regain your reputation after it has already been trashed?

This whole concept of publicly shaming people without an accompanying impartial investigation seems like it’s rife for abuse and sets a chilling effect in motion. I can envision a future where the elite, those with the money, power, or reputation to withstand these kind of attacks, are the only ones permitted, or willing, to speak.

With regards to him not feeling the need for justice because he doesn’t feel like he’s been wronged, we really have no way of knowing that. Perhaps he’s just resigned himself to the fact that this isn’t a battle worth fighting, or even more worrying, it simply isn’t winnable.

Sorry - I put "private arbitration" in scare quotes because I didn't mean the formal sense where you have an impartial third-party arbitrator to help resolve the dispute - I just meant they can resolve whatever disputes there might be privately.

It was probably a poor choice of words.

Sorry for misunderstanding. Although hopefully the rest of my post still has some value, particularly as I feel it would be rather hard to settle things privately after one party has already made public accusations.

>Yup. He doesn't need 'justice' because he doesn't feel he's been particularly wronged.

Way to prove the parent's point. You have taken this whole "innocent until proven guilty" scheme backwards...

> Yup. He doesn't need 'justice' because he doesn't feel he's been particularly wronged.

Not necessarily.

He may simply have done the calculation and decided that it isn't worth the money/time/press. That doesn't mean he doesn't feel wronged.

In addition, this conference used Crockford's name as a speaker for the purpose of attracting attendees. I didn't see them offering corresponding refunds now that he's not going to be a speaker. Edit: Apparently this is no longer true. How do I create a strikethrough formatting?

> I didn't see them offering corresponding refunds now that he's not going to be a speaker.

they seem to be doing that:

We are altering our refund policy due to this line up change. If you would like a refund please go to your order confirmation on Eventbrite and request it there.

(end of http://nodevember.org/statement.html)

I generally feel like there's a kneejerk reaction from people (especially in the tech community) to be "PC compliant", at the level where you almost can't have any discourse because it's such a minefield (can't imagine a rational person whoms first intepretation of the tweets is "that's sexist" to be pleasant having a conversation with).

I almost feel in the minority (or just a silent one?), but I honestly don't care what kind of political views, personal preferences, outrageous statements or whatever problems a speaker at a conference might have, as long as he gives a good talk/presentation.

I can relate to the feeling of being a 'silent' minority. As an introverted white guy who lives in a foreign country, I feel that I am being discriminated against all the time.

I literally have to force myself to act extroverted in order to succeed in the workplace. People just assume that if you're a guy, you're just a confident hussler.

I know several introverted white guys who are extremely qualified but missed out on job offers because they were honest about their qualifications and didn't talk themselves up like some other guys do.

Being introverted, shy or weak isn't necessarily a female attribute. The fact that someone assumes that makes THEM the sexist one.

The quantity of white males who are removed from their position in a possibly career-ending way without trial or due explanation (e.g. Mozilla CEO, GitHub CEO, various conferences, colleagues), plus the quantity of government aid and help that are offered based on people's gender, and not based on people's weaknesses, now makes me uncomfortable. White males who work hard deserve a life too.

22 points on the comment above (which I can't edit anymore). As the 74th comment on a page (of 640 points), it's a pretty good score: I would say that gender justice is a feeling shared by many people.

> As an introverted white guy who lives in a foreign country, I feel that I am being discriminated against all the time.

This is, literally, what it feels like to be a minority in the US and most European countries. Everything about you is questionable, you get slighted all the time, and you're the representative of an entire ethnicity. So whatever you do or opinions you hold are representative of the entire group.

Except if you make it to "fame/success status". Then you can use the minority card all the time in your favour.

Kind of like MLK, or Malcolm X, or Marcus Garvey, etc. etc.? What about those minorities wrongfully imprisoned for long periods of time for nothing short of suspicion before being released with no charges (or worse)?

I'm pretty sure their public removal was a little harsher and unfair without a so-called minority card to play.

>Kind of like MLK, or Malcolm X, or Marcus Garvey, etc. etc.?

No, kind of like in 2016.

>What about those minorities wrongfully imprisoned for long periods of time for nothing short of suspicion before being released with no charges (or worse)?

What about them? I've talked about famous people.

More likely they are invoking their famous card. The minority card had no advantages.

Chris Rock pointed out that in being a black actor he is not allowed to make a bad/questionable movie. He makes one bad film and and all of black Hollywood is out of work for a year.

>More likely they are invoking their famous card. The minority card had no advantages.

I think if you're famous/succesful, the minority/victim card can be played to your advantage too.

If you're a poor/unknown minority, nobody gives a fuck.

The same way few care or write indignant posts for sex trafficking victims or exploited immigrant people, but if some minority member at some $1000/person conference hears something they that hurts their feelings, it warrants a small media/social-media storm.

It's the upper middle class minority version of "white people's problems".

> I honestly don't care what kind of political views, personal preferences, outrageous statements or whatever problems a speaker at a conference might have, as long as he gives a good talk/presentation.

I find it interesting if a speaker has vastly different preferences, political views and makes outrageous statements that I'd never make.

That doesn't mean I'm always comfortable with it, but it's interesting to think about how people came to be different than me. It's interesting to see their interaction with others. I might learn something, even if I disagree.

Having all people be "my way" on the other hand, sounds really numb.

I feel there's a knee jerk reaction from people in the tech community to minimize very legitimate concerns about bias and about making people feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.

I think it's easy to look past someone's personal preferences and outrageous comments when you're already part of the club. But respect that that isn't everyone's experience.

> I think it's easy to look past someone's personal preferences and outrageous comments when you're already part of the club. But respect that that isn't everyone's experience.

What specifically did Crockford say that was outrageous?

"I removed comments from JSON because I saw people were using them to hold parsing directives, a practice which would have destroyed interoperability. I know that the lack of comments makes some people sad, but it shouldn't.

Suppose you are using JSON to keep configuration files, which you would like to annotate. Go ahead and insert all the comments you like. Then pipe it through JSMin before handing it to your JSON parser."


I'm now significantly less salty about the lack of comments in JSON.

That is pretty outrageous. They were to right to disinvite him to speak: he's said enough.

I have no idea. The conference organizers said people privately voiced concerns and other speakers threatened to pull out over his presence.

I was addressing the parent comment's point about inclusiveness in general.

Clearly these other people are in the club and Crockford is most definitely not. If this other person can get Crockford removed from the conference on a whim with no explanation the power and abuse of it is in the hands of the other person.

As it looks now, the people who voiced concerns and threatened to pull out were the same person.

which begs the questions: 1) whom 2) why

and it's rather "put-up or shut-up" time, I'd say.

I've never heard of this conference. I've read Crockfords books, and while any given person on earth may be a total bear to deal with, I'm not buying this greasy smarmy "he'd been uninvited for undisclosed reasons but we'll imply lot's of socially-disapproved-of reasons without confirming nor denying any of them"

what a kafka-esque load of nonsense.

the conference organizers are in the wrong and are doing further damage with every greasy fart they let out by way of explanation.


They're free to invite and disinvite whoever they please. You're free to not attend. I don't think airing private grievances will help anyone.

The problem is that they stopped being private grievances when they were used to remove a speaker from a public conference.

Way back in the good ol' days, this was exactly the sort of thing used to oppress the minorities: an unknown group of well-connected men would get together to black-ball someone for being the wrong sort of person, with no explanation, recourse, or accountability.

Like I have said before: choose your enemies carefully; you become them. The faces may have changed, but the behavior hasn't.

Yes but if you are going to give half-assed reasons for uninviting him, then you are going to have to defend yourself. If they had said: " Unfortunately Douglas Crackford will not attend the conference for unforeseen circumstances", we would not be in this outrage. If you are going to publicly shame someone and possible harm their career, you better have proof that he has done some very horrible things or comments. Listing a possible twitter message calling someone stupid does not sound like a reasonable cause too me. That is why we are voicing our concerns, and why hardly anyone here is agreeing with you.

"They're free to invite and disinvite whoever they please. You're free to not attend."

For the millionth time, this isn't about what people are legally allowed to do. This is about what it's right to do.

>I feel there's a knee jerk reaction from people in the tech community to minimize very legitimate concerns about bias and about making people feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.

Maybe people shouldn't be so precious snowflakes that should always feel "comfortable" and "welcome"? Maybe they should have the courage to be challenged?

I blame it on the BS "you are so special" mode of baby boomer parenting...

I grew up with "you're so special" parenting, sort of, but I also was raised with tolerance and acceptance. Looking back, it makes sense, because if everyone is a unique snowflake, they have to learn to be tolerant and accepting of all the other unique snowflakes in the world.

Most parents seem to teach their children that, but looking at the millennial generation, of which I am unfortunately part, you're supposed to be "accepting" and "tolerant", unless someone else's uniqueness hurts your feelings or makes you feel uncomfortable.

The former is just plain childish, and the latter is just too vague to base an ideology off of.

Because many in tech approach things with a very logical almost cold manner... They brush off emotional responses like offense, because being offended isn't a logical or useful response... Its emotion, it's random, and for many it's too much chaos to deal with.

My experience than many in tech like to believe that they are logical, while actually being as prone to bias and emotional reasoning as anyone else. Just more in denial of it.

Your view is nowhere near a minority on HN and reddit.

Ignoring the fact this discussion about this, and this culture as a whole, is a minefield to navigate, it's important to note that Douglas Crockford can definitely be abrasive [1]. The issue at hand is that whether this abrasiveness is a bad thing, when compared to the contributions he's made and whether it leads to constructive discussions.

The javascript developer who took offense (Kas?) definitely seems to have taken it too far, automatically associating Douglas's personality with being a jerk.

The other issue at hand is how this influences tech conferences, because I've always attended conferences with the implicit assumption that I was there to learn first and foremost. Discourse and disagreement with speakers is natural and should be encouraged, as it oftentimes leads to enlightening discussions for bystanders and conference attendees, which was the entire point of the conference in the first place. By allowing certain viewpoints to dominate and silence a subset of speakers, we're ultimately limiting our views and building an echo chamber, which is not what conferences are meant to be. If we're going to dismiss speakers, it should be on merit of their talk and previous talks, not their speaking style.

[1]: https://github.com/douglascrockford/JSLint/issues/17

That said, from your very link I find this:

" douglascrockford commented on Feb 21, 2011

I am sorry I hurt your feelings."

I'll take someone who realizes they made a mistake and apologizes for it any day over someone who seeks to get rid of all the people they don't like.

Perhaps. In a vacuum I could see reading "I am sorry I hurt your feelings" as pretty condescending. That's not apologizing for what you said; it's more like pitying the person for their irrational reaction to it. (Or that's how it could feel to that person.)

(I'm not saying that's how it was intended or anything. I have no idea. Just saying this could just as easily be evidence for abrasiveness as against it. I'll also just note that I don't think someone should be removed from a conference for mild abrasiveness regardless.)

You may be thinking of when politicians say "I'm sorry if you found what I said offensive", or "sorry for an offence your feel", which is a classic anti-apology.

Normally without the nuance of speech it might be impossible to tell if it was meant in a genuine way. In this case however the context makes it clear he is being arrogant and egotistical in a manner quite consistent with techie internet forum behavior.

The idea of a javascript developer feeling intellectual superiority is of course absurd.*

* Joke

Condescension is not always regarded as bad. Readers of Pride and Prejudice will recall that Mr Collins, for one, was highly appreciative of Lady Catherine de Bourgh's 'affability and condescension'!

That is a different meaning i.e. dignity with inferiors rather than being patronising.

I understand the need to give the benefit of the doubt to someone, but going out of your ways to not recognize the higher probability of this comment being irony seems kind of naive to me. Im my opinion, this looks like a 90% probability of irony and only 10% sincerity. The commentator never made the claim of being butt hurt and kept the conversation technical, but Crockford's comment comes out of nowhere and seems to want to achieve some degree of infantalization that was clearly unnecessary. Given the context of this exchange it's really difficult to me to see it otherwise than a sly middle-finger. I think people trying to see it otherwise are clinging a bit too much to their principles. This is not a court of law folks, it's real life.

The problem with doing otherwise is that you give people very little opportunity to ever be sincere. They're locked into a confirmation bias trap with no way out unless you allow it.

And one can read just as easily that the other party seems hurt by the rejection. I would not readily assume that he can't read that either.

This may not be a court of law, but I always try to think twice before I judge people. It's almost always the wrong approach, at least in my experience, and I certainly haven't always been on the right side of that.

In the end, you don't win anything by being right about this kind of thing and I know it's way too easy for me to do all the things I hate seeing others do :(

I've had people do this sort of gaslighting to me before in discussions of a technical nature. Implying my disagreement with them was somehow emotional. Which is particularly annoying in online discussions where emotion can be inferred or not at the readers discretion.

That's pretty clearly ironic, though.

I disagree. I can only read it that way if I make bad assumptions about him, which is circular reasoning.

In my experience, you should always give people the benefit of the doubt in such things. I've honestly thought otherwise in many other occasions, only to be proven wrong.

I read that as being 50% sarcastic.

> it's important to note that Douglas Crockford can definitely be abrasive [1]. The issue at hand is that whether this abrasiveness is a bad thing, when compared to the contributions he's made and whether it leads to constructive discussions.

I'm not sure what bearing, if any, one's contributions should have on how individuals or communities respond to behaviour and "abrasiveness". Good deeds should obviously be respected and appreciated, however they should not shelter one from criticism.

> automatically associating Douglas's personality with being a jerk.

Being a jerk is usually associated with one's personality.

> By allowing certain viewpoints to dominate and silence a subset of speakers, we're ultimately limiting our views and building an echo chamber,

One could argue that by enabling abrasive and overpowering personalities and cults of celebrity to dominate these events we were already doing that.

> If we're going to dismiss speakers, it should be on merit of their talk and previous talks, not their speaking style.

I would think speaking style matters at least somewhat if one is planning on speaking.

All of that is besides the point. It was unprofessional and petty to make a public announcement out of that. All you have to say is that so and so is not coming anymore. Is this conference ran by a bunch of high school kids?

To be fair, if you catch me on a bad day I will be a jerk to you if you ask me what I think is a stupid question.

Everyone has bad days, everyone can be an arsehole to others due to the emotions swirling around in their heads. It doesn't mean they are a jerk. It may just mean you asked your question when they were going through a difficult time. If you asked the same question on a different day you got a pleasant answer.

I think this kind of bias is often overlooked

I disagree with his position on that issue (var at the top) but somehow I'm not hurt by him calling "my" position stupid. People are allowed to have strong opinions on things, especially if they have spent a great deal of time studying them. And I do want to hear his opinion spoken loud and clear because the conviction is a signal that I should not ignore the opinion lightly.

I think it's fair game to call ideas stupid, and that's what he did. It's his assessment, your opinion may be different, but in this case I'd personally say his judgement was correct.

As far as feedback on ideas goes, this is a harsh criticism, but it hasn't really crossed the line into abrasiveness because it's not a personal attack. It's just a given that even smart people can and do have stupid ideas. At no point did he say or imply anything about the person raising the idea.

My goodness, a respected dev dares to defend his philosophy and implementation and is vilified for being "abrasive" ? JSLint has never not been pedantic, that is why you use it.

"You can write all the crappy code you want. I don't care, because you don't work for me. The purpose of JSLint is not to make you feel good about your bad choices. It is to help you conform to a more reliable subset of the language."

As someone that has very little involvement in the JS community, Crockford definitely comes off as abrasive in that issue. He could've just as easily said "scope confusion is an issue in JS, I don't see a reason to implement this" instead of calling someone's decision stupid. Is it bad he's abrasive? Not particularly, any undergrad worth their salt would've come across a professor who's abrasive in college. Abrasiveness is a personality artifact, and I'm not belittling him for that matter, just pointing out how someone can interpret his personality.

I've read some of his stuff, watched a presentation. He is direct and opinionated. It's part of his charm. Sometimes it's quite funny.

I've met many people who are "dicks without knowing it". Sometimes it's because they are that far up their own arse. Sometimes it's raw abrasion. It's common in the private healthcare industry.

Seems like throwing of the dummy out the pram. I'd prefer Crockford's direct approach to sugar-coat. It's how I like to work.

That and if someone's focus is on inclusion, perhaps it's an ill-thought marketing campaign where the result is exclusion.

But that seems to still assume this "abrasiveness" is a bad thing.

I find it much nicer and respectful than the passive-aggressive weasel-wordishness so common now.

> But that seems to still assume this "abrasiveness" is a bad thing.

The commenter literally says "it's important to note that Douglas Crockford can definitely be abrasive [1]. The issue at hand is that whether this abrasiveness is a bad thing..."

Exactly, but the part after that pretty much presumes that it is, which is why I was puzzled.

EDIT: And I should have made that more clear, thanks for pointing it out.

The consequences of one's own interpretation, if deleterious, are one's own loss. When they include the disinvitation of a brilliant and deeply knowledgeable speaker from a conference in his field, they become everyone's loss.

> Discourse and disagreement with speakers is natural and should be encouraged, as it oftentimes leads to enlightening discussions for bystanders and conference attendees, which was the entire point of the conference in the first place.

I agree with this, but we should tease “disagreement about the ideas that are the purpose of the conference” apart from “disagreement about things not relevant to the conference.”

If I go to a JavaScript conference, I am more than happy to see two speakers in a monkey-knife fight over whether the class keyword is taking two steps backwards. Those are the core ideas relevant to the conference.

Making jokes or metaphors that touch on contentious social topics like gender roles and so forth can touch of disagreement that may be valuable in a larger social context--like on HN and a whole or the internet as a whole, but it is off-topic for most technology conferences.

It’s a lot like discussing a programming problem on HN, and then someone mentions IQ, and someone else mentions how terrible it is that we can’t give interviewees IQ tests, and then we’re discussing racism, the right and wrong way to interview programmers, and on and on and on with something that si no longer the original programming problem.

None of what I am saying implies that I agree that Mr. Crockford should have been uninvited, and nor is it an endorsement of his choices as a speaker. But in a general sense, I totally get why its ideal that when I give a talk, I avoid jokes and metaphors that invite off-topic debate.

And likewise, I get why conferences ought to attempt to moderate the talks such that they have the highest probability of leading to on-topic debate. It’s much the same as moderating Hacker News threads to stay roughly on-topic and with high quality.

Well since the person who seems to hate him so much gave a talk at that conference same conference a year before that had nothing to do with Javascript or node (something about community/inclusivity big surprise) I would say that "on topic" covers just about anything for these circus events.

I would say he is one of the more likely speakers to stay on topic.

To be fair, the hostility he uses there isn't the type of "Discourse and disagreement" that fosters "enlightening discussions for bystanders and conference attendees".

It's just being abrasive for the sake of being abrasive.

Not that I think that thread is grounds to kick out a speaker

People and organizations can be justified in shunning Crockford's allegedly level of abrasiveness, so I don't agree that Kas took it too far in opining that Crockford, by Kas's standards, is a jerk (I do, however, disagree with the purported evidence of Crockford's "slut-shaming). My tolerance for what is jerk-like behavior is probably not a good one, and I think I've definitely made people feel unwelcome at times, even if inadvertently.

If you want to post on the net that someone is a jerk in your professional forum, you don't NEED evidence, but if you offer it and its complete flim-flam then we all assume you are an idiot.

If someone has to be so careful as to not use normal network terminology around people who are clearly ignorant and use their ignorance as a weapon against you instead of take the time to learn what the hell they are talking about, that's not a community you want to participate in anyway.

As the other poster mentioned, I'm very sympathetic to the cause of egalitarianism and pre-third-wave feminism. However, hopefully we will see more and more pushback against this kind of senseless crying wolf. If you're in favor of social justice, THIS is the thing you're fighting against?

If this even shows up on your radar and is a priority, then I'd say the mission you're fighting for has been accomplished a long time ago. Time to go home.

I don't know who really benefits from policing every word that public tech figures say. There's no monetary value to this unless this is a PR stunt to make the conference get social justice brownie points in some kind of a twisted form of social posturing. Who's to gain from this? Sociopaths wanting to exert control over others? I'm not quite ready to believe that.

> I'm not quite ready to believe that.

I used to be where you are.

I am now however firmly of the belief that there are these sociopaths wanting to exert control over others.

What's worse is that their righteousness only fuels their fervor.

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C. S. Lewis

> What's worse is that their righteousness only fuels their fervor.

Yes, and thankfully that sense of righteous indignation very often causes them to eat their own.

"There's no monetary value to this.."

People do make money from this by raising their profile. Every successful no-platform campaign that they organise is attached to their name and raises their credentials in this sordid business. Some of the worst examples end up in extremely well paid positions in the biggest tech companies.

Like who? I personally haven't seen any 'high profile' people crying wolf like this - usually they know better than this.

Given you specified it - I'd love for you to specify what makes Third Wave Feminism so much worse.

Because - academically speaking - its primarily about being sex, sex worker, and trans positive Vs how regressive 2nd Wave was on those issues.

TLDR; personal vendetta against Crockford led to accusations of "sexism", and him getting uninvited from Nodevember conference. There is absolutely no proof of sexism anywhere ,only a bunch of people who want to take him out professionally because he might have pissed them off for whatever reason in the past. Only now these people can use dubious political arguments to justify their vendetta. This can happen to anybody in any community.

I don't think public evidence of sexism matters if other speakers were uncomfortable enough to withdraw from the conference. They're trying to run a conference where people feel comfortable, not hold a public tribunal.

The "speakers" you talk about are two Twitter users. Kas Perch and Nexylove. They started to cry wolf, without any reason what so ever, and that's that, he is out, ruining it for those that actually wanted to learn about Javascript.

Listen to actual conferences these two have held. Calling others assholes, subhuman, human garbage and worse simply for dismissing their twisted ideology. Kas has shamed Twitter users lives. All of this would be against Nodevembers CoC.

Conflicting ideas and opinions can make some people uncomfortable.

But this seems less like an attempt to avoid exposure to DC than an attempt to prevent others from being exposed.

Whatever was said to the conference organizers was apparently persuasive enough for them. I'm not in a position to judge.

Of course it matters: it determines who is the aggressor in this. Whatever argument you could make for "making others uncomfortable", it goes orders of magnitude more for the shit they pulled and the lukewarm reaction to it. That people don't want the tribunal, and inform others of the execution after the fact is the problem not the solution, and "I cannot judge this" to me just reads like code for washing your hands of not even trying. Plenty of variations of that to be had, all cloaking cowardice as intelligence or morality. SSDD.

The whole bit about Kas saying "mmm" to Crockford's face when he said an insensitive thing and then publicly shaming him once he was safely back on the internet galls me, if true.

Culturally, our tendency to troll needs to decrease on the web and increase in in-person encounters. I'm convinced we'd all be better off if we showed some spine and got more vocal whenever we disagree.

I also don't like these (I assume) inter-generational squabbles in our industry. It is clear that moral views can differ between generations, so a little understanding and empathy is needed on all sides.

Please respect your elders. If you disagree with them or feel they are being disrespectful or sexist, how about kindly discussing it with them and maybe getting a feel for their perspective first before launching into public reputation annihilation?

Such things could have a very negative effect on people whose native language isn't English. I mean, if even native speakers get into troubles so easily what should I, as a non-native speaker, expect?

I maintain a tiny blog and because of possible language barriers I decided to write all of my texts in English. It could've been much easier for me to write in German, of course, but this would exclude so many people. And this was simply unacceptable from my point of view.

My command of English isn't very strong but I'd like to paraphrase german philosopher Karl Homann: "The opposite of Moral isn't Immoral but to moralize".

I know nothing about the events there but when I read things like "public shaming" or "slut shaming" or "trigger warnings" or "social justice warriors" then I can only follow the "pragmatic solutions" to solve problems of that kind: avoid conferences, avoid any kind of non-technical discussion in English, avoid the community as a whole. Stay on GitHub.

Sure, it makes you a bit of a loner but at least you sleep more easily and don't get shocked in the morning when you open your twitter feed.

Kind regards,

Similar story. I worked really hard on my English accent, something I regret now.

If you have a German accent you can speak more directly. Because many know about this cultural difference, people are expecting you to be more direct, and can cope with it. If you have a British accent and you're direct, this doesn't work. Brits think you're rude, but here's the kicker, won't tell you this - they'll just ignore you.

For me, luckily I met some Canadians (in the UK) that were nice enough to point this out so I could mitigate it a bit. Still wish I had a strong accent again.

Interesting story, if you had fostered an American accent you'd have avoided the issue as well. They expect Americans to be abrasive.

Behind you 100% on the Brits ignoring you thing. They're very responsible for the perception of what "polite" means and I blame them for so much passive aggression in what is considered "politically correct" speech. If you've ever watched their politics it's a damn joke. They fall all over each other attempting to "out-polite" each other while stabbing each other in the backs. Direct response is unheard of. Then they export this behavior to the rest of the English speaking world as a standard of acceptable behavior because so much of the world irrationally looks up to the UK for the "right" thing to do.

I take issue with that. What you see with UK politicians is a bizarre mix of the reserve coupled with imported behaviour, sometimes based on the first four chapters of Machiavelli's The Prince but also the confrontational "I'm right you're wrong" superority when talking down to the plebs of the electorate. Most those in Britain who aren't politicians are appalled by this behaviour and see it as rude, which is why we despise them. As it is also rude to go up to someone and say "I despise you" we don't and there is a reliance that they should bloody well know it by our not engaging them, plus we know they wouldn't listen or care anyway, so why bother?

The expectation that Americans are abrasive is neatly illustrated by your blaming of a 66 million people in a foreign country for the behaviour of over 300 million people in your own. We also think you're needlessly awkward for writing dates in the wrong order like the rest of the planet, but the tendency is to sigh and cope with your eccentric idiosyncrasies instead of calling you out on it.

Perhaps you were hoping a Brit wouldn't respond as you believe we don't do "direct response". We most certainly do, but prefer not to as we find it tedious.

Since when are Americans abrasive?! Polite to a fault is more usual. The French otoh, wow.

i have the exact same problem -- a lot of times, i refrain from speaking about specific subjects because i'm afraid i'll be either misunderstood or judged because my culture treats this kind of subject in a different way.

even on conferences, i try to only watch the talks and don't interact with people that much -- you never know if a person will take you the wrong way for using the wrong pronoun.

(anecdote mode: once, i was speaking to a female colleague and i mispoke her name, because i'm not american and her name was kind of hard to pronounce. she got angry at me and some co-workers even 'shamed' me. after that, i train how to speak everybody's name so that never happens again)

Oh man, I'm sorry you had to go through that, and I am impressed and so happy to hear that this is (and always has been) something you care about so deeply.

Don't let bad experiences turn you off from sharing in the future. I'm glad you used your voice here on HN today! I'd rather hear you say my name wrong, than miss out on what you have to say :D

> I mean, if even native speakers get into troubles so easily what should I, as a non-native speaker, expect?

To be honest, I don't think the issue they have with him is one of words, I think it's one of ideas. If people like this disagree with you, they would disapprove of your ideas in German too.

I am glad you have chosen to write in English, and I believe your reasoning (wider global audience) is a good one. Your English also seems great, so please don't let stories like this hold you back from sharing in the future!

This is happening in all parts of society. So-called "social justice warriors" and parts of the liberal left have sprung up that are very hostile to free speech and seek to destroy and silence anyone whom they oppose. Unfortunately, they have the full support of not only college administrations, but increasingly HR departments as they ascend into the workforce, and PR departments as they air their grievances over social media.

I am posting from a throw away account because voicing an opinion such as this is reason enough to be targeted.

I'm really tired of shit like this being bucketed as "the liberal left" when it has just about nothing to do with liberalism or leftism.

I suspect I'm just as tired of that, as actual conservatives are of their views being mixed in with Trump's.

It's censorship and bullshitocracy.

It's not related to liberal or left logically, but it is related to the liberal left socially, because these SJW movements mostly arose from the liberal left (specifically, IMHO, from the part that somehow lost track of the scope of real problems - kind of ironic, since it means they're generally a pretty "privileged" bunch themselves!).

As someone who considers himself to be liberal left, I'm annoyed by that but I do feel that it's fair to point it out. We shouldn't just bury our head in the sand in the face of an inconvenient reality.

But yes, let's please point out again and again that large parts of the SJW movements have lost track of what being liberal and left is all about, even if that's where they originally started out from.

It's annoying as they are obscuring the real issues that they purport to be for, with all this froth and nonsense.

Not all universities, apparently. [1]

My educational experience doesn't really jive with what you're suggesting, either. There was certainly a large and vocal neoliberal/SJW caste at my (large, Canadian) university, but I never saw the administration or faculty kowtow to them in any significant way. However, I'm prepared to believe the problem does exist at some schools.

1: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/08/25/u-chicago-war...

It's the authoritarian left. There's nothing liberal about those people.

Unrelated to the general tone of the thread but:

My biggest problem with this Taleb piece is that it doesn't really take into account the probability of success from a particular intolerant minority. In practice there's a kind of signal-strength effect where the further up the chain you go the less effective any one person becomes. Once you factor that into the model Taleb's argument falls apart.

I have to wonder if this was a real complaint or if it was done to highlight the obvious problem here, a bit like the guy who patented a "Method of exercising a cat".

I mean, if you're going to ban Douglas Crockford from your conference it should at least be for his stated prejudice against comments in data-interchange formats. Not vague allegations that may damage his personal and professional reputation, to which he not only has no right of reply, but any response could be damaging by generating more attention. This is the classic trolling strategy, but stepped up a level.

If he actually did something wrong, take him to court and let the facts be decided in law. Otherwise, he's innocent and should be treated as such.

I also wonder, given that the allegations haven't been published, just implied, if he would have a libel case against the conference organisers?

Indeed, his aversion for comments in data-exchange formats is much more grounds for excommunication. He's also a code-style nazi. And sjeesh, his hangups on the keywords 'new' and 'class', yes, we know, Javascript is not Java, but they're just shorthand dude, what's in a name and such, get over it. Or the deranged second half of "The Good Parts", where he earnestly assumes a linter implementation is a good introduction to a programming language. And stop already with shoving all those functional programming paradigms down JS coders throats; you're goading us on to write inscrutable, nested C-syntax vomit, without having any of the advantages of a real functional language, like you know, type safety, strict compilers, decent performance. He's both Javascript's best friend and worst enemy.

I'm joking of course. The Good Parts is amazing, and JSON is amazing. The attendees of nodevember will miss out on an amazing speaker too.

re: whether Crockford has a case about libel.

The allegations are published and the OP links to the original complaint on Medium: https://medium.com/@nodebotanist/why-i-won-t-be-speaking-at-...

Furthermore, the best defense against libel is the truth. Part of the complaint is an opinion based on public statements made by Crockford (the "slut-shaming"). The other published complaint is that Crockford said to the complainant before her talk, "the talks as the day went on just got stupider and stupider.” Unless he can convincingly prove that he never made such a statement to the complainant, he's not going to have much of a libel case. He could argue damages based on "false light", I suppose. [0]

On a (computer-related) technical standpoint, I disagree with what you think is the right reason ban a technical speaker, e.g. Crockford "for his stated prejudice against comments in data-interchange formats". That's the kind of strong diverse opinions that a tech conference should be thirsty for, just like a Ruby conference should be thrilled to have Edsgar Dijkstra talk about object-oriented programming.

But if someone says, "People who think comments belong in data interchange formats are fucking morons"...Yeah, I could see why some conferences wouldn't invite them.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_light

> The allegations are published and the OP links to the original complaint on Medium: https://medium.com/@nodebotanist/why-i-won-t-be-speaking-at-...

That passive-aggressive "update" is quite telling of his/her personality: "I’ve switched comments to ‘not visible.’ I won’t be reading them. I don’t feel the need to justify this, either. Thanks <3."

"I’ve switched comments to ‘not visible.’ I won’t be reading them. I don’t feel the need to justify this, either. Thanks <3."

Ironically, that language "triggered" very bad memories of an extremely dishonest and passive-aggressive person I once worked with.

pretty sure GP's comment about the banning and data interchange formats was a playful joke about something he disagrees with...

As far as I can tell, there's no confirmation that is the specific (or only) complaint. There is an official statement from the organisers here:


This does not give much more information, but it does acknowledge that the tweet was poorly worded. Not sure how helpful that is though, now that the genie is out of the bottle.

> If he actually did something wrong, take him to court and let the facts be decided in law. Otherwise, he's innocent and should be treated as such.

This is hilariously ridiculous. Being unprofessional, uncivilised or objectionable is not illegal. In fact the majority of reasons for someone to be fired do not involve breaches of the law. And even if it was illegal conduct e.g. sexual harassment the onus is on the accuser to have enough evidence to convict. Which is not always the case.

And no he doesn't have a libel case against the organisers.

Unlike the controversies about Strangeloop (which uninvited Curtis Yarvin) and Lambdaconf (which lost the overwhelming majority of its sponsors due to accepting Yarvin), this --- based on the evidence at hand --- seems entirely stupid.

Unfortunately, there's no rulebook conference organizers (or their Greek choruses on message boards) can consult to say when rejecting a speaker is a good idea or not. It's a judgement call.

So when you've got a speaker with a reputation as a overt, 1950s-style racist in person, and a miles-long online track record of obscurantist racism, the kind of person who when accepted to talk at a technical conference about programming languages will write many paragraphs suggesting that science has established white people are smarter than black people (but maybe that shouldn't matter to us so much!) in his post announcing his talk, then yes, maybe you should avoid inviting that person.

On the other hand, you've got a speaker who used the word "promiscuous" as a pejorative in describing technology, and who spoke disrespectfully about someone else's favorite conference.

If you accept the irrepressibly racist speaker to your conference, you're going to lose most of your sponsors. But if you reject the person who implied promiscuity might be problematic in a metaphor, you're going to fail too, because anyone will be able to get any talk punted from that conference.

Maybe there's something else going on that we're not entitled to hear about. Those kinds of things also exist.

By the way: the implication that flexing and talking about "strength" is sexist is itself sexist, and not in the bullshit "it penalizes men and they have rights too" way, but in the "it reinforces stereotypes about women" way. There are women out there who can kick your ass.

I find it a real stretch to construe Crockford's use of the word “promiscuous” as a pejorative. Given the context, his usage of the word was apt and descriptive (promiscuous does not necessarily refer to sexuality) without negative connotations; he actually made the opposite case: “that's good because that allows us to get introduced to things”.

By "in his post announcing his talk," I assume you mean "in his post defending himself and explaining his perspective, after being attacked by HUAC, Red Channels and the entire John Birch Society."

I shouldn't post. But at long last, sir, have you no decency?

>will write many paragraphs suggesting that science has established white people are smarter than black people (but maybe that shouldn't matter to us so much!) in his post announcing his talk

I don't think he did this? Do you have a link? The only post I can find of his that discuss race and the conference, is in response to the the accusations of racism and what it means for the conference. In which case it is perfectly fair for him to discuss the two, since that is what the whole issue was about.

> Unfortunately, there's no rulebook conference organizers (or their Greek choruses on message boards) can consult to say when rejecting a speaker is a good idea or not. It's a judgement call.

There is! if they bothered to write one.

I know, I know, everyone gets up in arms about Codes of Conduct, because they're oppressive SJW tools used to silence men, or whatever. But this, right here, is their use case.

If you want definitive standards, by which we can semi-objectively measure whether someone should be dis-invited from a conference, then consider a community statement of what constitutes [un]acceptable behavior.

Virtually every code of conduct will prohibit misogyny. But that's part of what Crockford seems to have been accused of. The problem isn't judging the underlying issues; the problem is judging whether they're really manifest in a particular speaker, or whether (instead) that speaker just happened to piss someone off with a grudge.

Again: there could be stuff going on here that we don't get to know about.

"misogyny" meaning... being a misogynist? being labeled a misogynist? a documented history of sexual harassment? being a man raised in Western society? using misogynist language? the "B-word" or the "C-word"? talking over another panelist? forcible rape? eating miso soup? being socially awkward? getting called out on Twitter? having pictures of half-naked women in your slide deck, as a build-up to a joke? trying to pick up women?

I would hope that we all agree on "no misogyny" as an ideal, but that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. What is the actionable threshold? Both personally, and for your community? (Rhetorical question.)

The reader might say "now you're infantilizing convention attendees" and I don't disagree. Over-specifying behavioral standards is indeed infantilizing. But I would say that, to the degree you refuse to specify acceptable behavior, you waive your right to criticize arbitrary action taken by the management.

I can't tell whether we agree or not. The idea that misogyny is such a third-rail issue that anything you can six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon connect to it is lethal? That's (to me) repellant, and if Crockford is being uninvited from this conference because of his "strong stuff in programs" bit, that's ridiculous --- in the sense of, "worthy of ridicule".

That's my point: these things are judgement calls. There aren't simple rules. To me, sound judgement suggests that making allusions to physical strength as part of a metaphor about code is perfectly all right (you might not like the metaphor, but you might not like lots of things Crockford says).

I didn't mean that it's a third-rail issue, but rather that different communities (and the individuals within) can have completely different standards of what constitutes "misogyny" and it's better to have discussion about it beforehand rather than after an incident, and it's a mistake to assume judgment calls are obvious. If they were, this thread wouldn't exist, right?

Fundamentally, I'm wary of any argument that relies upon "sound judgment" when we see time and again that there is no consensus on what that is. It's like when you see "clearly" in a math paper. OBVIOUSLY it isn't clear to me, otherwise I wouldn't be reading it.

Online communities have values re: misogyny that range in permissiveness from "ban men entirely" (your 'safe space') to the 4chan /b/ model. You can see that there is indeed a spectrum of opinion and that the entire spectrum is dense with examples, and surely everyone thinks theirs is the most reasonable in that given circumstance.

In the extreme 'safe space' model, someone like Crockford would be right out for (e.g.) the implicit misogyny in reflexively valuing masculine physical strength over more typically feminine attributes. You could counter "but the community is not that kind of safe space and doesn't require that level of metaphorical precision" (and I would agree with you entirely) but then we're having a discussion about our common expectations around a community's values.

You can decide, in your experience, that your particular set of biases reflect the zeitgeist. You can conclude "my ruling will alienate the least amount of people" or "this action will give people the sense that justice has been done" with whatever ethical or societal minmaxing strategy you choose. The core task is this: we live in a world that includes all of white nationalists, misogynists, deeply traumatized people who feel pain simply from reading certain words, and all manner of non-normative people; who are you going to exclude, and will you do it implicitly or explicitly? "Just the shitty, grudge-holding radical feminists on Twitter" is a low-hanging fruit, there are plenty other groups to consider.

That is not my counter regarding Crockford. Rather, my judgement tells me that the notion that physical strength is inherently "masculine" in some way that excludes non-masculine people is nonsensical. I don't accept it, and so the whole argument falls apart.

If only there was a system of rule making where those accused of violations could defend themselves before being found guilty.

If only...

No carefully calibrated Code of Conduct would have avoided this. The Soviet Union had a pretty liberal constitution, too; didn't help all those folks who were sent to the gulags.

Rules are worth precisely as much as the people who are interpreting and executing them. In the Nodevember case, we already know what sort of people those are.

Unfortunately this all started with the decision that it was okay to ostracize some people for their unrelated political views. It's a little late to say "wait, wait, I just meant those guys!" now that you've given this unstoppable superweapon to every grasping, sociopathic political activist in the industry.

No, it's not.

This Manichaean view of intolerance to overt racism, sexism, classism, whatever --- it's bogus, and deserves to be challenged. When spelled out: "opposition at private events to (say) racism requires that event to make common cause with the evil, gathering forces of political repression", it doesn't even sound credible.

But that view in fact appeals superficially to message board nerds because it triggers the circuit in our brain that wants social problems to be solvable with simple boolean logic, and that recoils from subjective, contextual, or situational judgement calls. It's easy to invoke it and conjure an argument that will garner upvotes and spproval.

The real world is usually not describable in an if statement that fits neatly into 80 columns. Some judgements even require iteration! That's what "judgement" is about.

Schools. Hospitals. Academic conferences. Political office. Probably even jobs. These are places where the bar for exclusion is much harder to clear. If Curtis Yarvin gets accepted to a postdoc program at Berkeley and leftist programmers picket, I'll be right there with you. But events like Nodevember, Strange Loop, and Lambdaconf are not academic conferences, they're not a serious part of the citation record for their field, they're put on by private citizens with their own objectives, they're fundamentally about entertainment, and they can make whatever calls they want.

From what I can tell, it looks like Strange Loop handled their problem pretty OK, that LambdaConf probably made a mistake, and that this Node.js conference in Tennessee is also probably making a mistake.

But, again, we don't know all the details here. We knew a lot more in the previous two conference cases.

"But events like Nodevember, Strange Loop, and Lambdaconf are not academic conferences, they're not a serious part of the citation record for their field, they're put on by private citizens with their own objectives, they're fundamentally about entertainment, and they can make whatever calls they want."

Claiming that a technical conference is "fundamentally about entertainment" is about as convincing a dodge as those "for entertainment purposes only" notices on pirate video sites. Technical conferences are an important way people in a field network, educate themselves, and advance their careers. You're stating that it's okay to blacklist people from advancing their careers because they have a political viewpoint that you don't like. Were you okay with the Hollywood blacklist in the '50s? Because that's what this is.

(And to forestall it: of course they have the legal right to do this, just as the blacklisters in Hollywood did. That doesn't make it morally right.)

I am very much a message board nerd; it has never been my intent in invoking that term to set myself apart from other people. You can verify that for yourself with the search bar at the bottom of the page: I'm usually pretty careful to include the words "like us". I wasn't this time, but now you know, and we don't need to litigate that point anymore.

Your latter point is pure relativism. What can't you say that about? People make important business connections by going to bars together, by asking their friends for favors, by selecting cofounders, by playing in the same video game leagues.

The argument about the Hollywood blacklist would be biting if I hadn't foreclosed on it in the comment you responded to without reading very carefully. Perhaps you thought that point was crafty or subtle, but it is in fact banal, lumbering, noisome; you can see it coming on the horizon from the first words typed on a thread like this. You might as well invoke Nazism.

My argument is simple, and you'll need to address it head on. The people suggesting that excluding any speaker ever is some kind of Pandora's Box that opens every event up to trolling and zealotry are making two untenable arguments:

* That there is a set of principles about exclusion OR inclusion that is somehow immune to gaming and manipulation by bad faith participants. No, any set of principles you conjure will be gamed if you don't use judgement.

* That there even exists some simple set of rules we can all follow, something that fits in 80 columns to match our source code style guide, that will resolve all these problems. No, these problems are complicated.

You want this problem to be so simple that you can beat people over the head with the obvious right answer. It's not simple. It's complicated, multi-segmented, floppy, unwieldy. You swing it through the air at people's heads, but it curls up on itself as you do, and the only thing that hits your opponents argument is a bit more air.

If someone is marching around in jackboots and a swastika armband talking about how we need to invade Poland, then it is indeed appropriate to invoke Nazism. And if someone is advocating that people should be blackballed in an industry purely because of their unpopular but also completely unrelated political views, then it is indeed appropriate to invoke the Hollywood blacklist.

Anyway, we're getting way off my original point, which was that this weapon of yours doesn't care who it's pointed at. Once you've unleashed the blacklisting, it'll get used against people you don't want it to. As has happened here.

>That there even exists some simple set of rules we can all follow, something that fits in 80 columns to match our source code style guide, that will resolve all these problems. No, these problems are complicated.

Resolving all the problems is not the goal. The norm of not excluding people for their political views is a truce, not an optimized solution.

Yes, it doesn't perfectly resolve all problems, but the problems it leaves unresolved are less damaging than fights over the correct people to exclude.

> people suggesting that excluding any speaker ever

Oh? I did not see a single comment to that precise effect. Care to source that? Otherwise, why do you turn what actually is being said into a caricature, then turn around and accuse others of wanting things to be simple?

Yeah, I don't know about that. I don't think it's possible to consistently apply good judgement about subjective and polarising issues in highly visible contexts without excessive costs.

Judgement is often possible in business because good judgement and self interest are frequently closely aligned. It is also often possible in government, because there are laws and rules in place that try to ensure an impartial and fair process.

On the other hand, projects with high visibility such as conferences are very much exposed to mob justice fuelled by social media and I don't know if it's possible at all to apply consistently fair and good judgement in a context like that. Really the only example I can think of is dang's and sctb's excellent work here on HN and quite frankly I don't know if that model would work anywhere else.

Your argument here is that it's harder to moderate a small, in-real-life, private, subject-focussed event than it is to moderate one of the Internet's most popular open- to- all- comers technical message boards?

No, that wasn't my argument. Obviously moderating HN requires a lot more effort. That being said, an argument could be made that the HN's status and the people it has access to makes it easier to successfully implement a decent system of moderation.

My actual argument was that it's rather difficult to exercise consistently good judgement when surrounded by an angry mob, if that makes sense.

If Curtis Yarvin gets accepted to a postdoc program at Berkeley and leftist programmers picket, I'll be right there with you. But events like Nodevember, Strange Loop, and Lambdaconf are not academic conferences, they're not a serious part of the citation record for their field, they're put on by private citizens with their own objectives, they're fundamentally about entertainment, and they can make whatever calls they want.

I realize it wasn't directed toward me, but I genuinely appreciate hearing that distinction. Unless things have changed, though, it seems unlikely that Curtis would go back to Berkeley. He describes his disappointment with his academic time there in an eloquent if verbose essay: http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2007/07/my-navr.... In particular, you might enjoy the contrast between his preferred "adversarial approach to CS papers" and what his description of the politicized situation at Berkeley.


Did you happen to see this comment on your "winding down Starfighter" thread?

I'd never seen that twitter account before. Not my cup of tea.

Things that seemed cool until I looked (even a little) closer at the people behind them: urbit, stockfighter, and ESR's homepage.


I'm not sure how to interpret it, but I found it ironic that you (or at least Starfigher) is being lumped in with Curtis. If the trend continues, perhaps in a few years you'll both be on the same side of that picket line!

I'm pretty sympathetic to the cause of feminism especially in technology and I cringe hard at a lot of the casual sexism that gets thrown around, but this is truly baffling. Assuming this is all they actually have on him this is nothing more than very clever word play with zero gender inferences to be made.

I find it even more confusing on the basis that regardless of gender, calling the second case slut-shaming is bizarre in a context where Crockford is painting the "old web promiscuity" in a positive light for the most part, but pointing out that it has one specific problem in the case where what you want is commitment.

To me it reads as part nostalgia for the old "promiscuity" and lack of need for complex network security. It paints it as a period of innocence. I did not see any "shaming" of anything.

Unless he followed up with something more offensive, it would seem the person complaining didn't even understand what he was saying.

Perhaps you need to be of a certain age (if anyone told me I'd soon be using that phrase about myself...) to be likely to "get" that this was not a description of "bad old days" but of good old days.

There are perfectly legitimate reasons to put a network interface controller into promiscuous mode [1], and it's nothing to be ashamed of, and perfectly acceptable to discuss at conferences.

Back in the "bad old days" of the simplex NCP protocol [2], before the duplex TCP/IP protocol legalized same-sex network connections, connect and listen sockets had gender defined by their parity, and all connections were required to use sockets with different parity gender (one even and the other odd -- I can't remember which was which, or if it even mattered -- they just had to be different).

The act of trying to connect an even socket to another even socket, or an odd socket to another odd socket, was considered a "peculiar error" called "homosocketuality", which was strictly forbidden by internet protocols, and mandatory "heterosocketuality" was called the "Anita Bryant feature".

Anita Bryant [3] slut shamed not only all gays but even Jim Morrison. It's not like Douglas Crockford held a "Rally for Decency" at the Orange Bowl to slut shame a popular poet and performance artist [4]. Just throw a pie in his face [5] and move on.


When the error code is zero, the next 8 bit byte is the Stanford peculiar error code, followed by 72 bits of the ailing command returned. Here are the Stanford error codes. [...]

IGN 3 Illegal Gender (Anita Bryant feature--sockets must be heterosocketual, ie. odd to even and even to odd) [...]

Illegal gender in RFC, host hhh/iii, link 0

The host is trying to engage us in homosocketuality. Since this is against the laws of God and ARPA, we naturally refuse to consent to it.


    ; Try to initiate connection

            init log,17
            sixbit /IMP/
            jrst noinit
            setzm conecb
            setom conecb+lsloc
            move ac3,hostno
            movem ac3,conecb+hloc
            setom conecb+wfloc
            movei ac3,40
            movem ac3,conecb+bsloc
            move ac3,consck
            trnn ac3,1
                jrst gayskt            ; only heterosocketuals can win!
             movem ac3,conecb+fsloc
             mtape log,[
                    byte (6) 2,24,0,7,7
                         ]          ; Time out CLS, RFNM, RFC, and INPut


    gayskt:    outstr [asciz/Homosocketuality is prohibited (the Anita Bryant feature)


        ife rsexec,<jrst rstart;>exit       1,
(The PDP-10 code above adds the connect and listen socket numbers together, which results in bit 0 being 0 if they are the same gender, then TRNN is "test bits right, no change, skip if non zero", which skips the next instruction (jrst gayskt) if they different sex.)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promiscuous_mode

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_Control_Program

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anita_Bryant

[4] http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/jim-morrison-prom...

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-A2Ql81WTY

I guess you'll never be allowed to speak at this conference after a comment like this...

> There are perfectly legitimate reasons to put a network interface controller into promiscuous mode

Absolutely - for a long time it was the only way of adding multiple IP address aliases on a single network card in Linux for example (might hav been the same on other OS's - I don't know).

I once had someone imply we were trying to hack because our web servers had the network cards in promiscuous mode for that reason (of course this was a genuine concern - they could not verify the difference between someone innocently adding IP aliases and someone listening in on the mostly unencrypted traffic intended for the other servers connected to the same hub (I don't miss hubs...)

Completely off the topic, but interesting to know nonetheless. It always makes it worth the time spent going through comments on HN to find such buried gems.

I don't see where the socket numbers are added. You test ac3 which is loaded from consck, but where does that come from? Or did you mean the code you linked to with "The PDP-10 code above"?

Good catch -- the link to the code was wrong (it was linking to an old version). I updated it to point to the new NCP version.

That's weird that it does several different types of moves in a row into the same register -- there must be some kind of implicit calculation going on, or maybe it's just a bug.

I'd use "git blame" to bug-shame whoever wrote that heterosexist code, but I don't think they were using safe source code control practices back then.

It's not even "word play." The word "promiscuous" was used for hundreds of years to mean "indiscriminately mixed" before it had any sexual connotation.[0] And yes, JSLint is opinionated. That's its whole raison d'etre.

It's a tempest in a teapot, not at all comparable to the LambdaConf thing, which I almost wish I hadn't learned about.

[0] http://etymonline.com/index.php?term=promiscuous

> I'm pretty sympathetic to the cause of feminism especially in technology and I cringe hard at a lot of the casual sexism that gets thrown around, but this is truly baffling.

It's not that baffling. Being a victim of harassment raises your status in certain circles. People in those circles tend to accept your word without requiring any other evidence, and so naturally some people will find harassment in anything that happens to or near them that can be stretched or interpreted, no matter how far fetched, in some way to be harassment.

This is bad because it makes it harder for actual victims. Too many people making exaggerated or false claims will make people less likely to believe the real victims.

This is probably more general. In general, if some event raises status in a group a person is in, and claims of that event are hard to verify, some people will claim the event even if it did not happen to them. They may not even be knowingly lying. They may be convinced it did happen.

A couple examples are having Native American ancestry and being abducted by a UFO. Many people claim one or both of these, and there are groups in which those claims will raise your status. Result: a lot more people claim Native American ancestry than actually have Native American ancestors, and the number of people who claim to have been abducted by UFOs is way higher than the number who have actually been abducted. My guess would be most of these false claims are from people who believe they are telling the truth.

The desire for status in the groups you are in is very strong. For instance, I recall reading a book about the major criminal gangs on Los Angeles, and they talked about status within the gangs. One of the things that earned you higher status was being arrested, refusing to talk or cooperate, refusing to take a plea bargain, and getting sent to jail. Gaining status was so important to new, young teen gang members that they would purposefully commit crimes that would get them a few months incarceration so that they could gain the status. Note that unlike UFO abduction or Native Ancestry, serving jail time is verifiable, so they young gang members cannot simply claim they served time to gain the status. They actually have to do it, and they do because gaining status is that important.

Any evolutionary biologists here? I'm curious if our need for status is just a cultural thing, or if it predates culture? I believe that most of our current close primate relatives live in groups where status relationships are very important, so it seems at least plausible that this is something that developed very long ago, in the common ancestors we share with those other primates.

Dude, dude, dude, you've almost identified the real issue here (interpreting everything as harassment for the sake of an agenda), and then gone off onto wild elaborate tangents about social status and evolutionary biology.

Look at the actual people who incite these campaigns (e.g., https://twitter.com/nexxylove/status/771503661956501504).

"Don't bother to examine a folly, ask yourself only what it accomplishes". These people have a laser-focused sensitivity on actions which make certain groups feel unwelcome. They can't be unaware of the messages they themselves are sending. Who are they trying to make feel unwelcome?


"I have a theory, feel free to prove me wrong by "kicking out" "toxic actors", I dare you".

The sad part is, I think she does have a point. People who treat each other decently might soon enough LEARN to be great coders, while being good at something is really no excuse to be a dick. Not that I think Crockford is one, but generally speaking; the better you are, the more polite you ought to be towards "little ones", or you're an asshole. But the whole logic of let's prove it by assuming it's true, with ZERO thought given to what to do if it turns out wrong, is just one gaping wound of a brainfart, I'm just astonished. I'm not not just saying that to be snarky: it does remind me of things Hannah Arendt wrote about totalitarian propaganda, e.g. someone is declared as unfit to live and then killed, proving the theory correct, with some pseudo-scientific, pseudo-compassionate babble on the side. Oh, but they're "just" declaring people as non-existing for them and any decent person, so that's different, right? Well, not different enough to be acceptable. One way in which it is the SAME is that the words are just a bunch of hot air and sophistry, the standards are all double - it's all about the action, the movement, the in-group. You don't have to build concentration camps for there to be something deeply wrong with that.

> They can't be unaware of the messages they themselves are sending.

Oh, as foot soldiers of course they can be unaware. Between https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect there isn't anything anyone cannot get themselves to believe.

Oh my goodness they actually have a tweet about the weak map statement!! https://twitter.com/nodebotanist/status/512891046192504832

I thought it was a joke, I mean... its almost funny now.

Since the number of people actually abducted by UFOs is 0, it's trivially true that the number of claimed abductions is higher than actual abductions.

How dare you deny the lived experience of the UFO abductees!!

the number of people actually abducted by UFOs is 0

How can you possibly be certain of that?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Until I see the extraordinary evidence I'm going to assume the number of UFO abductees is the same as the number of leprechaun abductees.

You're the one making assumptions.

I wonder how many people complaining about Crockford have posted or support the statement "If you can't handle me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my best." Nodevember doesn't deserve Douglas Crockford. And Lipscomb, where the event is being held, is a religiously oppressive institution where "All full-time, undergraduate students are required to take Bible classes and attend chapel twice a week. [1]" Sounds like Nodevember is a lose-lose situation for all involved.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipscomb_University

I'm of two minds here.

1) I personally don't like Douglas Crockford at all, I find him all together arrogant and overly concerned with presenting himself as an infallible single source of truth. I respect the work the man has done, but I personally think the conference is better off without him.

2) It seems that the conference organisers are all too concerned with coming out and proudly parading there actions without bothering to see if Crockford would be amenable to other courses of action like an apology or retraction of those comments.

To me, these kind of incidents feel more like the conference using the drama to boost their attendance numbers than acting in any kind of best interest of the attendee's. That's not to say that there haven't been serious incidents that need to be dealt with at conferences, but, an outright banning without any kind of negotiation where the speaker is offered to retract/apologise for their comments where the banning is done on a public forum seems designed more towards gaining attention rather than justice.

> the drama to boost their attendance numbers

I don't think the drama is very effective in boosting their attendance numbers. In my case, the whole situation makes me want to avoid attending Nodevember.

Yep, I consciously made an effort to avoid PyCon after Dongle-gate

> using the drama to boost their attendance numbers

If they are, then I have to wonder who is actually deciding to come to these conferences based on this? I would think that people with actual coding skills who want to discuss technical ideas are running away. If anybody is deciding to come, it's the type of people whose main skill seems to be finding things to get offended by.

They probably are already. I think their announcement mentioned changing their refund policy to allow refunds this late. Hmm.... I wonder why??

There is nothing to apologize for https://twitter.com/nodebotanist/status/512891046192504832 ???? really? I thought it was a joke that they were offended by the weak map JOKE but nope. they. were. serious.

The only apology that was warranted was one by the conference and they offered a crappy one in their updated message.

I’d really like to know how a decision like that is made. In Nodevember's statement on the matter[0] (which the parent link doesn’t mention, a rather glaring omission), they quite openly admit that they “...aren't professional organizers or PR people. We are still learning, and will make mistakes.” So why not admit a mistake?

I certainly don’t want to see sexist speakers at conferences, but this decision seems to have been made with almost no evidence and almost purely based on unsubstantiated rumours.

[0] http://nodevember.org/statement.html

>I certainly don’t want to see sexist speakers at conferences,

I don't want to see a sexist talk (as opposed to a-sexist talk), but an 'objectionable' speaker really shouldn't be a problem if their talk would otherwise have merit and they can be reasonably expected not to be objectionable on stage.

No-platforming and economic warfare are tactics used by the worst kind of political actors, the kind you should be actively avoiding if you value your own livelihood, let alone anybody elses.

> I don't want to see a sexist talk (as opposed to a-sexist talk), but an 'objectionable' speaker really shouldn't be a problem if their talk would otherwise have merit and they can be reasonably expected not to be objectionable on stage.

I agree, you’ve worded that better than me.

It was colossally stupid and unfair of them to tweet what they initially tweeted. I don't have a strong opinion on their larger statement, but they should have tweeted, "A statement about our speaker lineup and concerns [URL]", not a self-contained announcement about Crockford being booted in order to make a "conference a comfortable environment for all". There's almost no way to read that statement without the connotation that Crockford is accused of sexually or otherwise assaulting someone.

Crockford would be well advised to spend some quality time with his libel lawyers. Nodevember and their associates need to be taught a lesson in respecting people and boundaries, other people have rights too. Virtue signalling between sjw and their groupies are amusing and entertaining, until its not. Crockford needs to bring the hammer down hard.

I can't resist being pedantic here. Nodevember's shitty tweet does not likely fall under "libel" because it's not a falsehood. It may be considered defamatory (and libel is a kind of defamation), in the way that "We've decided not to invite Douglas Crockford because we want to maintain an environment where children aren't abused" can be technically true but defamatory by insinuation.

I justify being pedantic here, though, because the justice system is not just a binary system of "Someone got hurt, and now someone will pay in a court of law". Other common-sense factors are taken into consideration (such as the magnitude of alleged defamation, and whether the defendant is a public figure). And in terms of how things are regardless of U.S. civil law, the reality is that Douglas Crockford is Douglas Crockford. Just because some relative nobodies said hurtful things to him and he got disinvited from a privately-run conference doesn't mean he needs to turn to the justice system to find recourse. As we speak, whoever is running Nodevember's Twitter account is probably wishing they were running @CincinnatiZoo, post-Harambe. And the people who made allegations against Crockford are likely getting death threats and other things hurled their way. I'm not implying that I, or Crockford, think that this is the way things should be, but unless Crockford can conclusively argue that being shunned by Nodevember has destroyed his livelihood, arguing that Crockford deserves legal recourse against personally harmful speech would require some radical revamping of First Amendment rights.

This I'm going to agree with. One of the particularly odd things about the whole "social justice" craze is the desire to run everything through the legal system. It seems to be rooted in the idea that in any conflict, there must always be an authority figure to pronounce one side right and the other wrong, and there must be a visible, tangible punishment for the side deemed to be wrong, so they can be "taught a lesson" about how wrong they are. Maybe it's a lost art or not emotionally satisfying enough to just say that this person or group are being jerks and I don't want to deal with them anymore, including by trying to definitively prove to some authority figure why they are jerks.

Along those lines in this situation, I'm not really part of the Node/JS community, but I have at least heard of Crockford, and have never heard of Nodevember. It seems likely that the Nodevember people will suffer a lot more from this drama than Mr. Crockford. It seems petty and undignified to me for Crockford to start any kind of legal action, as they will probably suffer more from the lack of his presence and the drama related to this than any legal action would be likely to cause.

I'd guess people with lots of social capital in the JS community told the conf orgs Crockford had to go and the orgs decided disinviting him would be less risk than having Crockford's enemies campaign against the conference.

Yeah that's called bullying, or blackmail, from one side and cowardly appeasement from the other.

How would he defend himself is my problem. It seems like anonymous other parties can make accusations that can sink someone's reputation.

My thoughts:

Maybe someone can tell me what's offensive about the first comment. It seems to be poking fun at programmer machismo.

The second quote is more problematic. I'm firmly of the opinion that it is not slut-shaming because it presented both promiscuity and commitment in a positive light. On the other hand, it is perfectly reasonable for a conference to not want sexual metaphors in presentations. The whole "he used the word correctly" in TFA is a non-sequitur when the first definition is clearly sexual, and promiscuity is contrasted with commitment. Still, I would hope that less extreme measures than banning would be used to address this.

Now to one thing not in TFA, but in the linked medium post:

> I’ve never dealt with Crockford in a way that I felt pleasant afterward. He is rude, unrepentant, and completely (one could argue willingly) oblivious to the meaning of his statements. I’ve never seen a person use the word ‘stupid’ so liberally in replacement of constructive criticism.

A conference is more than a bunch of people giving talks, it's a social gathering. If there were a lot of people who agree with Kas on this, then it's a much more reasonable reason to keep him out.

On a much smaller scale, I often run pencil-and-paper RPG groups. Being a jerk is much more likely to find yourself out of my group compared to game-mechanics related issues.

"Promiscuous" also has a long history in computer networking. E.g. network cards with "promiscuous mode" (allowing it to receive all available packets rather than only passing on packets with the correct address; not as relevant any more, but was commonly used to sniff packets on a hub, but also to implement aliases). Commitment is non-sexual and often used in all kinds of contexts that does not imply anything sexual.

But I agree with you that no matter whether you are ok with the terms, calling it slut shaming is just strange.

I also agree with you that acting like a jerk would be a better reason for banning someone. But I'd also argue that "outing" him is worse than the alleged behaviour in that respect - if they're going to punish him for what has been reported, then they also ought to punish that kind of public shaming that pretty much makes it impossible for said person to get fair treatment.

There is an absolute zero percent chance that these morons have heard of promiscuous mode. That was my first thought as well.

Eventually they'll get to that. Hopefully they'll denounce TCP as a result and remove themselves from the internet.

I agree that those terms are clearly meant in a networking context, where they also have a long history. Interpreting it as slut-shaming seems like somebody who has zero interest or knowledge about technology or networking started listening to talks to try and find something that could be twisted into meaning something sexist.

I would hope that everybody with a genuine interest in technology finds these people ridiculous, and their constant demands to kick people out of things for nonsensical reasons more offense than anything that was supposedly said.

In their code of conduct, the conference states, in part:

   Be kind to others. Do not insult or put down other attendees.
Crockford appears not to be a good match, even on just abrasiveness grounds alone. Though it would have been better to determine that before inviting him.

Regardless of the whether Perch's accusations toward Crockford are well-founded it would seem undeniable that Perch is insulting and putting down Crockford: https://medium.com/@nodebotanist/why-i-won-t-be-speaking-at-...

At the time of the post, Crockford was slated to be an attendee. In fairness, this would imply that Perch be uninvited from the conference for violating the code of conduct. Or does the code of conduct have an escape cause in cases where everyone agrees that the victim has really "gone too far"?

  Some of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Colby
  by Donald Barthelme (1973)
Some of us had been threatening our friend Colby for a long time, because of the way he had been behaving. And now he'd gone too far, so we decided to hang him. Colby argued that just because he had gone too far (he did not deny that he had gone too far) did not mean that he should be subjected to hanging. Going too far, he said, was something everybody did sometimes. We didn't pay much attention to this argument.


It's a fantastic story, and while I'll concede that it's only tangential to critiques of codes of conduct, reading the story would almost certainly be more enjoyable than spending time thinking about the inherent contradictions of tolerating intolerance. If you prefer video, I was amazed to find that a couple years ago someone (Chris Rubino) remade Barthelme's classic story as a short film: https://vimeo.com/149832821

"Do not insult or put down other attendees."

Seems to me to be a useless rule, or at least one that needs some clarification. If criticizing others' works is included in that, then having meaningful discussions is not possible. If criticizing others' works is not included in that, then "Your talk was stupid" which is clearly insulting and (in most contexts) non-constructive, would still be allowed.

At its best, it's redundant with "Be kind to others." Its placement immediately after seems to be intended as an example of unkind behavior, but IMO it muddies, rather than clarifies the situation.

Disinviting Douglas Crockford – particularly in the way it was done – is not being kind. Doing so with no clear evidence is an insult to their audience. Therefore their actions are, in my estimation, entirely hypocritical.

A Pastebin of a Nodevember Slack channel, should provide more context: http://pastebin.com/3mQc7DfG

There is some discussion about the reason, and whether Nodevember should disclose a reason or make a public statement. For instance:

"Josh Crews [9:57 AM] Maybe Nodevember could make a public statement along these lines, "After announcing Crockford as a keynote speaker, we learned from others of things he's done and said at previous conferences that are against our Code of Conduct"

HermitPy [9:57 AM] why do we need to do that

[9:57] what does that do other than add more fuel to a fire?

Andrew Albright [9:57 AM] It would save people time for trying to find the answer themselves

[9:58] 'cause I burned at least ten minutes this morning to satiate my curiosity

HermitPy [9:58 AM] I personally hope people will do some research and form their own opinion

Andrew Albright [9:58 AM] ^ good point

Josh Crews [9:58 AM] you are reputation tarnishing somebody if you are not clear about the disinvitation

Andrew Albright [9:58 AM] opinion and reason for the decision are two different things though

HermitPy [9:58 AM] no doubt

Russ Anderson [9:58 AM] I will say that it’s difficult to do the research. I don’t think the twitter trail is very edifying. This chat has been much more helpful.

HermitPy [9:59 AM] We're dismissing a keynoter without context other than they didn't fit our view of the community (edited)

Russ Anderson [9:59 AM] however, I agree that you don’t owe anyone anything

HermitPy [10:00 AM] All this whole thing has done is ensure that I won't do one more fucking thing for the community, so next year other people can run their own conference and pick their own shit and deal with it (edited)"

I find the fact people continue to support these conferences quite disturbing.

Things are not going to change until people, including speakers pull out of conferences that display this sort of behaviour.

Vote with you feet. I don't support Organizations or communities that imposes speech or behaviour codes. Or tries to cram identity politics, feminism or any other unrelated virtue signalling nonsense into there content.

Its a hard at the moment but more and more people are starting to realize there is a corrosive agenda behind a lot of these movements and personalities. And you can have all the inclusion you want without opening the door to social justice activist to destroy your community and derail the focus into endless navel gazing and radical social activism.

This is utter nonsense. Unless there's some evidence of wrongdoing, pushing people out of your conference isn't acceptable. Especially if it's somebody with Crockford's reputation, who has influence, and both technical and social credit. This isn't an incident where people have come forward saying that somebody sexually or physically assulted them, and then they were banned (that's happened in some communities), it's somebody getting kicked from a conference for unknown reasons, when all the complaints about him boil down to, "some of the things he says can be rude or politically incorrect." That shouldn't be good enough. Especially if, like Crockford, the speaker has a reputation for providing valuable and relevant technical material.

Besides, if being rude was a reason to get banned from a conference, Linus, RMS, and countless others would have gotten lifetime bans from every conference out there years ago.

There is one thing I don't understand about the whole safe-space debate:

People demand the environments they reside in to be friendly and comfortable according to their definition. In a way they are demanding that all "hostiles" stop being "hostile" towards them.

The more sustainable way to not get hurt is to learn how to emotionally defend yourself and stand your ground. You just have to learn it once and are not dependent on others telling every attacker to stop attacking you for the rest of your life.

Who's doing more damage to the community - Crockford or Kas?

The intolerance that Kas is selling is not something that we should value.

THIS! +1million

This is a pastebin of a nodevember slack channel http://pastebin.com/3mQc7DfG .

It was so painful to read. It's like they are marching toward the "Safe place" South Park episode with full thrust.

So much cringe, especially the identity politics and weakness of character. It's disappointing to witness this kind of behavior in any community.

I'm pretty vigilant about calling out sexism and trans/homophobia in the tech community but I'm having a hard time seeing Crockford's comments as offensive enough to un-invite him to speak. I expected TFA to be typical apologist fare but it's really more puzzlement over a perplexing situation, a puzzlement I share.

The same way we have 'mercury free', it would be great to have a 'social justice warrior free' label.

A conference has the right to hand pick the speakers, however I also have the right to vote with my wallet and boycott them. Conferences should be required to disclose if they actively support a political alignment(which is what SJW movements are), so that I as a consumer know to avoid them.

A vocal minority of women are offended because white males used some phrases that can be interpreted as sexist in their view. Let's ban white males, problem solved.

Now a religious group is offended that most of the women are not wearing a hijab. Well, we can't have that, so let's ban women who are not dressed "properly".

Bottom line is: whatever you do, you can always find a vocal minority who are offended by that.

When I go to a tech event, I want it to be about tech, what I don't want it to be about is: politics.

Exactly! The first conference I find that publicly rejects this insanity has my money no questions asked.

PLEASE can somebody do this. There are a ton of people that would support it. If this trend continues those of us with common sense will need to organize to oppose it.

I don't want to comment on specifics. First off, there's not a lot here. Secondly, the general issue is more important.

As part of being in a secular society, you have an obligation to put up with public speakers that you might find offensive or irritating. You don't have to attend their events, and you're free to climb on the rooftops and call them an asshole -- but you have an obligation to put up with them.

If you run a conference with lots of people attending, and your speakers have any kind of interesting personality at all, you should be prepared for 1-3% of the attendees to be put-off by their history. That's good: it shows that you're doing a good job of bringing in interesting people to speak. Likewise, if you're a participant in a large conference, it shouldn't be surprising to you if the past history of somebody speaking is unpleasant to you in parts. You are, presumably, a grown-up. Get over it.

In my mind, the only thing that should matter, assuming the speaker isn't a terrorist or criminal on the run from authorities, is whether or not the information they present is worth it to you as an attendee. That's what the conference is about. It's not about making every member feel safe and secure. Screw that. Even looking past the fact that it's an impossible goal, nobody wants to go to a conference that's dumbed down to only cool kids who think correctly. Nobody in their right mind would want to live in a world like that. "Don't hang around jerks" is a fine goal for your family, your team, or your personal social circle. It's a clusterfuck to try to implement at any scale beyond that.

This bothers me because I could see at the extremes, there might be a case for excluding speakers, assuming there was something terrible in their past. Adolph Hitler, had he survived WWII, would have made a bad keynote speaker. People could never look beyond his history. But without a detailed argument over what the situation is here, both conference attendees and future speakers are getting screwed over, operating in the blind.

And that's the final result: everybody affected here doesn't really know what's going on, how to prevent this from happening again in the future, or what they might have missed. This is not about Crockford. This is about nibbling away at the value of a group of people gathering together trying to learn by promoting impenetrable and unclear illiberal values. I'll never go to a Node conference. But I'll remember how this thing played out.

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