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What is the ideal anti-harassment policy for atheist or skeptic conventions?

 
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Old 01-Jul-2013, 07:54 PM (19:54)     1        47449
D4M10N
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Default What is the ideal anti-harassment policy for atheist or skeptic conventions?

Many people on one side have argued that anti-harassment policies (AHP) are indispensable at conventions, some going so far as to characterize the movement for more and better policies as part of a campaign for social justice.

Many people on the other side have argued that AHP are unnecessary or even harmful. Justin Vacula, for example, recently characterized them as infantilizing of women and demonizing of men.

Your thoughts? Are AHP necessary and useful, or unnecessary and harmful, or somewhere in between?
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Old 01-Jul-2013, 08:31 PM (20:31)     2        47450
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I've been relatively agnostic on the subject, myself, seeing a published policy as possibly useful and most likely harmless.

My thinking is that the sort of people who flout social convention by sexually harassing others are likely not going to take the words of an AHP very seriously either, at least not until they get caught in the act. On the other hand, conference staff need to know exactly what to do when and if they are faced with the sort of people who do flout the usual social conventions (e.g. continue to talk with those who have made their disinterest clear, instigate unwanted physical contact, propose sexual liasons in their opening sentence, etc.) so as to create a sort of due process and fairness in the handling of those who cross the usual social boundaries.

Last edited by D4M10N; 01-Jul-2013 at 08:33 PM (20:33). Reason: feeling stroppy
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Old 01-Jul-2013, 09:18 PM (21:18)     3        47452
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I certainly don't regard them as indispensable, but I am not opposed to them either. I think it all depends on the policy. I think it is possible to craft one that is worthwhile, and I suppose it is also possible to write one in such a way that it ends up being worse than not having one at all.

At a minimum, I'd suggest that a policy include:
  • A brief definition of harassment using concrete behavioral terms
  • A clear statement that this behavior will not be tolerated
  • A brief description of what someone should do if they encounter the behavior
  • A brief description of the consequences to someone found to have engaged in the behavior
  • A statement of how individuals making false reports will be handled
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Old 01-Jul-2013, 09:53 PM (21:53)     4        47453
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I've never been to a conference so it seems a bit silly to have a written set of "guidelines" for behavior in public when we already comport ourselves in public every day with out extra ones. That said, Basic instructions regarding respecting others and not disrupting the event would be fine.
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Old 02-Jul-2013, 02:44 AM (02:44)     5        47454
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Submariner USN View Post
I've never been to a conference so it seems a bit silly to have a written set of "guidelines" for behavior in public when we already comport ourselves in public every day with out extra ones.
There may be far more extra rules than you realize, if you generally comport yourself well. I've seen people kicked out of metal bars and Irish pubs for seemingly routine infractions.
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Old 02-Jul-2013, 08:10 AM (08:10)     6        47456
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I don't have a dog in the harassment policy fight really. If I went to a conference, I'd just hope that they had one that made sense and was appropriate. They're probably a good idea, as people know what's expected of them, and you can feel a bit safer knowing that people will get kicked out if they break the rules.

I think the whole AHP argument was a red herring. It came after this post: http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdi...o-intolerance/

The post made people uncomfortable (it suggests that there's a secret list of bad people), and yet the SJW lot managed to turn it into an argument about whether we should have AHPs or not. People took the bait and, well, the rest is history!
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Old 02-Jul-2013, 01:43 PM (13:43)     7        47457
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Notung View Post
I don't have a dog in the harassment policy fight really. If I went to a conference, I'd just hope that they had one that made sense and was appropriate. They're probably a good idea, as people know what's expected of them, and you can feel a bit safer knowing that people will get kicked out if they break the rules.

I think the whole AHP argument was a red herring. It came after this post: http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdi...o-intolerance/

The post made people uncomfortable (it suggests that there's a secret list of bad people), and yet the SJW lot managed to turn it into an argument about whether we should have AHPs or not. People took the bait and, well, the rest is history!
I think what people are afraid of would be a harassment policy that was over-reaching and capriciously enforced. For example, I imagine some of the FtB people would want a harassment policy that allowed them to have Justin Vacula ejected from a conference because he "made them uncomfortable" or similar.
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Old 02-Jul-2013, 07:12 PM (19:12)     8        47460
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Notung View Post
I think the whole AHP argument was a red herring. It came after this post: http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdi...o-intolerance/

The post made people uncomfortable (it suggests that there's a secret list of bad people), and yet the SJW lot managed to turn it into an argument about whether we should have AHPs or not. People took the bait and, well, the rest is history!
Delicious smoked herring. Now I'm hungry, especially after that long walk down Unpleasant Memory Lane.

It is difficult to trust that the secret list is well-sourced given some of the nasty accusations I've seen confabulated by the pro-AHP crowd throughout the course of this debacle (e.g. upskirtgate) but I do not doubt that some people have been widely known to cross the usual boundaries of etiquette and ethics.

This can be highly subjective, of course. Examples that come immediately to mind are fraught with moral greyness, and most of them pretty much hinge on the subjective reaction of the person receiving the attention. Even the well-known examples sometimes do that, for example, the swingers card incident would deeply offend some people, but not offend others.

Right now, I'm leaning in favor of a policy that takes this inherent subjectivity into account, one that encourages people to report any discomfort to the staff and allow them to address incidents on an ad hoc basis. I particularly like this language from Atheist Ireland:
Quote:
Please do not create an unpleasant or hostile situation by uninvited and unwelcome conduct towards another person.

Please let us know, privately if, for any reason, you are not having an enjoyable experience, and we will do our best to resolve the problem.
Pretty much covers the gamut of possibilities, and makes it clear that they seek private resolution rather than public callouts.
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Old 05-Jul-2013, 12:53 AM (00:53)     9        47471
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Anti-harassment policies (AHP) should be in place. The point of having them is to allow organizers of getting rid of some subject even if they technically didn't break a law (but act in a way that is deemed unacceptable for that event). Not everything allowed in public is working for an event. I think it's up to organizers to decide and communicate, and up to everyone whether they want to attend under that circumstances.

However, I regard the anti-harassment policy issue more as a MacGuffin for Social Warriorism of the Atheism+ Folks {FC(n), certain FTBers, SkepChick, SecularWomen and their mooks}. It proved to be a perfect plot device to exaggerate different views and then label other people as misogynists or sexists when they have other opinions on the AHP, which they took as a representation of harassment itself (i.e. being against AHP = condoning harassment; typical wayward reasoning).

Most people who argued against AHPs have stated that they apprehend them as authoritarian and are worried that they are dictated by the A+ folks, who come across as socially inept and emphatically challenged. I can understand it, when you see the Orwellian atmosphere in the A+ forums and to a lesser degree on FTB (balanced out with an extra dose of profanity, insults and death wishes).

What is far more important: (1) that people can report incidents easily. Have a number on the back of the ticket. (2) That the report is taken seriously. There is someone listening to it, collects evidence (if required) and settles the matter and (3) that if some individual is found violating these rules is removed from the site.

I can't help to point out that this whole discussion is also very American. Due to your legal system, it seems, everything must be extra explicit. And making things explicit has various side effects in communication. For example, you may need to define whether you actually allow people to "hit on" someone else and make it verboten. Suddenly people have to decide how much it takes away from the experience. In Germany – for example – they aren't too afraid as lawsuit costs are in some way tied to the damages. In theory, if organizers don't like your nose, they can throw you out. If you sue them, it won't ruin them (at least not due to the legal process). But that is based on superficial knowledge. Somehow these things Americans are occupied with seem never an issue here.
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Old 07-Jul-2013, 05:01 PM (17:01)     10        47483
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I've nothing against reasonable policies.
The anti-harrassment policy in place for the current SkepChickCon event, at Convergence, is not bad at all.

Quote:
Harassment

CONvergence is dedicated to providing a safe and comfortable convention experience for everyone. Harassment of any kind, including physical assault, battery, deliberate intimidation, stalking, or unwelcome physical attentions, will not be tolerated. If people tell you “no” or to leave them alone, your business with them is done.

Leave them alone. Do not follow them or attempt to disrupt their convention experience in any way. If you continue to attempt to have contact with those people, you may be removed from the premises.



CONvergence is not responsible for solving any interpersonal problems that may arise between individual members. In general, we can take no action to prevent a person from attending the convention unless that person has made a specific and credible threat toward the convention itself. If you feel that a threat exists against your person, we advise you to seek a restraining order against the individual in question and to involve the host hotel itself (security staff specifically) and the municipal police department in advance of the convention; otherwise, we recommend simply avoiding that individual.

If that individual stalks, harasses, or attempts to assault you at the convention itself, you may report that individual to a member of Operations (they will report it to the hotel’s security staff who will get the police involved if necessary) or you may report it to hotel security directly, and the appropriate action will be taken. Conversely, any attempt to have an innocent person removed from the convention by falsely accusing him or her of threats will be itself treated as an act of harassment and will be dealt with appropriately. The responsibility for settling interpersonal disputes lies solely with the individuals involved, and CONvergence will not tolerate being used as a leveraging point in such disputes.
This policy is the official policy of the ConVergence comic convention, which is why the SkepchickCon event, that takes place as one track of the larger convention, has the same policy.

I find the Convergence policy especially interesting because it seems to be based on the idea that anti-harrassment policies themselves can be tools of harrassment and this potential is counteracted by the wording of the latter part of the policy.
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Old 09-Jul-2013, 11:49 AM (11:49)     11        47490
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skepsheik View Post
I find the Convergence policy especially interesting because it seems to be based on the idea that anti-harrassment policies themselves can be tools of harrassment and this potential is counteracted by the wording of the latter part of the policy.
Yeah, nice to see that in there - shows an awareness about the approach of some to AHPs...
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Old 09-Jul-2013, 03:48 PM (15:48)     12        47491
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Damn you all for framing this controversy in terms of plot tropes!

Now I'm stuck trying to figure out whether the policies in question are a Red Herring, a Chekhov's Gun, a MacGuffin, or just another Plot Coupon that must be obtained before taking things to the next level.

The only thing that I'm sure of at this point is that we're going to need a Magnetic Plot Device to explain why certain players consistently attract drama.
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Old 10-Jul-2013, 01:49 PM (13:49)     13        47498
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I liked the policy used by Eschaton 2012 (http://eschaton2012.ca) which CFI Ottawa put on and told at least one of the organisers so. I could not find it on the current site, but it is still on archive.org

http://web.archive.org/web/201207200...ge=conduct.php

I liked how it did not get in the way of adults but does provide assurance that help was near by. I've been generally against AHP since they can be a legal mine field but this one was simple and not legally a problem as far as I can see as I am not a lawyer.

Note the last sentence "However, any attempt to have an innocent person removed from the convention by falsely accusing him or her of threats will be itself treated as an act of harassment and will be dealt with appropriately."

P.S. I've been very busy attending music festival concert after concert. http://musicandbeyond. ca hence I've not been keeping up.
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Old 11-Jul-2013, 12:45 AM (00:45)     14        47500
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Oh it is still there. Just couldn't find it from menu bar. http://eschaton2012.ca/?page=conduct.php
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Old 13-Jul-2013, 01:18 PM (13:18)     15        47513
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DianeBruce View Post
Oh it is still there. Just couldn't find it from menu bar. http://eschaton2012.ca/?page=conduct.php
That seems to be the same wording as the section used by ConVergence/SkepChickCon.
I presume that it was the ConVergence organizers that borrowed the section, it doesn't quite sound like something that the SkepChicks would volunteer if they had the choice.
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Old 16-Jul-2013, 07:12 PM (19:12)     16        47522
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Didn't see a harassment policy at TAM. Didn't see too much objectionable behavior but then again I didn't stick around the Bacon and Doughnut party long.
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Old 17-Jul-2013, 08:35 PM (20:35)     17        47529
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Quote:
Originally Posted by birdterrifier View Post
Didn't see a harassment policy at TAM. Didn't see too much objectionable behavior but then again I didn't stick around the Bacon and Doughnut party long.
Even though it was on the website, in the venue, and on the schedule, don't think for a moment that Penn's party was a JREF-sponsored event. The various and sundry disclaimers were quite clear about that.
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Old 18-Jul-2013, 03:27 PM (15:27)     18        47536
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And the donated funds benefited the JREF!
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