[Noisebridge-discuss] "Banning" discussion tonight

Hannah Grimm dharlette at gmail.com
Wed Feb 26 17:50:46 UTC 2014

With all due respect, Jake, you did not see the emails that he had been
sending.  He engaged in a campaign of intentional harassment for months,
that included unsolicited emails, phone calls (after creepily looking up
Tom's personal, and even taking his disagreement to unrelated public
discussions on the mailing list.  There was a level of obsession, an
unwillingness to accept "no" and "stop" that is a clear red flag.

If I had been on the receiving end of those emails, I would have been
frightened for my safety.

I find it absolutely insane that people are saying we should have had
mediation in a case of harassment.  The entire problem is that Lee wouldn't
stop engaging in unwanted contact; forcing a person to sit down with their
harasser is a great way of making sure that people who are harassed drop
the issue and quietly leave the community instead of reporting.  That's how
we end up with serial abusers in a community.

I, for one, am really glad that we didn't set a precedent of requiring
mediation or asking a person who has been harassed to face their harasser.
 The next time this happens to me, I don't want to be hearing talk about
how valuable someone is to the community or how I should have tried to
forgive them.  Applying social pressure to someone to "forgive" a person
who has been harassing them is abominable, and it doesn't matter whether
someone is an amazing hacker: if they can't treat others with respect, then
they aren't worth the damage they do to our community.

On Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 5:41 AM, Jacob Appelbaum <jacob at appelbaum.net>wrote:

> On 2/26/14, Al Sweigart <asweigart at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Mitch, Lee Sonko knew about the banning proposal. I had personally been
> in
> > discussion with him about it. I was surprised that he didn't show up to
> the
> > meeting.
> If you are surprised, I think that means your discussion didn't fully
> address constraints for a possibility of resolution of the conflict.
> It seems rather clear cut that he had a conflict on that specific
> meeting night and on many others. It also seems that he made a good
> faith effort to have others block for him.
> >
> > And this is why Noisebridge isn't a safe space: after months of
> on-and-off
> > harassment, Tom brings up this consensus proposal, it's on the docket for
> > weeks, and actually manages to pass consensus. Yet after all these
> hurdles
> > were overcome, Lee can defy his ban and come back into the space and
> debate
> > his banning.
> Actually - if we say it isn't a safe space, I'd argue that Noisebridge
> isn't a safe space for lack of a useful mediation process to resolve
> this conflict before banning someone.
> Furthermore, we have always tried to have space at meetings to resolve
> conflict - even with folks that we'd generally not want around or who
> we have banned. There is no possibility for enforcement other than the
> general will of the community. So if people want to resolve the
> conflict, it seems reasonable that Lee could come to the meeting to
> make his case and the decision could be reversed if it is a convincing
> case.
> So rather than saying "Lee can defy his ban" - which is always true
> anyway, it might be worth saying that consensus wasn't really reached.
> Members of the community are unhappy with this action being taken in
> their name. There have been lots of questionable consensus items
> passed by just a few folks - folks who know that people have a block
> on that specific consensus but sometimes are absent. This is a kind of
> bureaucratic tactic of attrition and not at all consensus of the
> membership. People understand (and I think they understood) that MCT
> was blocking the banning of Lee.
> Did anyone reach out to MCT and ask him if he was going to stand
> aside? If he failed to make it to the meeting, it doesn't change that
> people understood that he strongly did not want the banning to take
> place. Where is the discussion to resolve this conflict?
> Side stepping this issue as a matter of bureaucratic process is a core
> reason that the community feels unsafe these days.
> >
> > Because Mitch says so. Even though he's a member and could have blocked
> for
> > more discussion.
> >
> Doesn't this strike you as multiple failures? For example - one
> failure is the failure to alert people to serious actions being taken
> in their name. Another is a failure of conflict resolution before
> banning. Another is that now, you abuse Mitch because he takes issue
> with the process now that he has learned about it and the result. That
> seems like a lot of problems, doesn't it?
> > We treat abusive people with kid gloves, and even when we manage to get
> > something passed consensus and say, "Yes, this person should be banned",
> > Mitch still wants to have a do-over.
> I agree that we need better processes for dealing with abusive people.
> But shall I propose that we ban Tom, Ronald and everyone else who uses
> consensus as a weapon of political power? That seems less than stellar
> and a discussion would make more sense than simply proposing a ban.
> And anyway, what is wrong with having a "do-over" in this case?
> Isn't that the point of having a process? The power balance has
> shifted - Lee is banned, the consensus item would need to be in the
> opposite direction. That is - an item to _unban_ Lee which isn't
> exactly the same question. It also means that the process may be
> discussed and a more just solution may be found.
> >
> > Mitch, do you respect consensus? Or only when it agrees with you?
> >
> Uh, are you aware that your two statements make no sense when taken
> together? There isn't consensus if Mitch, a Member, doesn't agree with
> the consensus - which is about everyone agreeing or standing aside in
> disagreement.
> I'd say that this stems from the basic idea of consensus.
> http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/consensus says:
>   \kən-ˈsen(t)-səs\ : a general agreement about something : an idea or
> opinion that is shared by all the people in a group
> For myself and others - it means that we all agree on an issue. This
> is to say that the group is really nearly everyone in the community.
> This is rare and as a result, consensus is a heavy weapon used
> sparingly when everyone will take up the job of making that consensus
> item a reality in the space. For you and a few others, it seems from a
> distance that you both treat it as a system of rules to be exploited.
> Consensus appears to mean to a few folks that they can wait until the
> room is mostly empty, fill it with a few (sometimes as few as four)
> people and if no one objects in that single session, they represent
> the result as if it is the will of the entire Membership of
> Noisebridge. That isn't consensus, it's a hack on process - which I
> can respect but not as a matter of consensus. The hack at the core is
> to re-interpret "opinion that is shared by all the people in a group"
> to suggest that the group in question is the one consisting of four
> people rather than the membership.
> These actions of "consensus" aren't being done in good faith and they
> create more conflict than they resolve. We should work to resolve
> conflict and banning Lee probably isn't the right solution here.
> All the best,
> Jake
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