CC meeting 16 October 2017

Beth, Henry, Darling, Monkey, Princess, Ginger, Monk, Max, Sam, Puzz, Patrick, Kat, Adam, Breezy, Prost, Rabbitt, Wrinn, Amy, Clovis, Izzi

LLC Update

  • Maxine is our new Genesis AF
  • Laser cutter is now working
  • Trigger will be the Laser Safety Officer
  • New smart lock on front door gives us more flexibility for access.
  • There will be a new keypad lock on the toolroom

AF Update

  • Leads noms is going, but is going more slowly than normal. Please hype it.
  • Once that is complete, the leads-selection process will begin in earnest.
  • Really need a new Parking leads.

Regionals Update

  • There will be no GLC in 2018.
  • There are some TEDx-style webinars that BMORG is developing.
  • Myschevia happened. Sounds like it went really well. Beautiful effigy, nice temple.
  • Freezerburn had their ticket sale, and it was a clusterfuck, but not our camel.

Topic: Free vs Abusive Speech (owner: Monkey)

This is a topic solicited by Monkey from the community in response to the question “why aren’t you going to Flipside?” Combined with discussions in the default world around hate speech, it seems like we should have a discussion about it.

Should we create an abusive-speech policy? Should it be different at different places (warehouse vs event vs social media)?

Patrick: What do you think of what the Survival Guide says? Can we improve that? (quotes from “Personal boundaries” section)

Adam: Can you define abusive speech?

Monkey: No. Other organizations have done this to some degree. Other people have defined it and are living with their definitions.

Dahling: What is in the Survival Guide does not enumerate hate speech. And people have engaged in hate speech at Flipside. Should we enumerate this in advance, or deal with it as it happens? Advocates for enumerating in advance.

Prost: What’s in the Survival Guide sounds kind of weak. It talks about boundaries and talking about them, but there are a lot of situations where talking about your boundaries doesn’t work. The policy doesn’t say “don’t do hate speech,” it tells you “as long as no one tells you it’s wrong, it’s not wrong to do hate speech.”

Kat: I like the idea of a policy that goes further than what we have no, but as soon as you draw a line, people will lean right up to it. People can be crappy in a host of different ways without using a vocabulary list.

Patrick: Stephy has brought up the ComicCon code of conduct. Apart from one sentence (“harassing behavior will not be tolerated”), we’re basically there. They don’t enumerate stuff either.

Ginger: Instead of saying “don’t do this,” can we come at it from the perspective of inclusivity, in the sense of making people feel welcome?

Monkey: Online communities have found that loose policies around behavior encourage people to be terrible in those communities, and then other people leave. When people start acting abusive and that behavior isn’t checked, then other people just leave. Especially newcomers. Without formal guidelines, people don’t enforce their own boundaries because it goes against social conventions about rudeness. There are a lot of similarities in our community. There’s a belief that it’s wrong to call people on their bullshit.

Monk: Will never be comfortable around racists or misogynists. But trolling is a huge thing in our community, and that’s fine. We push boundaries in that way.

Adam: Are misogyny and racism just special cases of failure to respect the principle of cooperation? Are they serious enough that even if they are special cases, they need special observances?

Princess: Online communities have moderators. The problems we have are not problems of policy but of enforcement. Most people don’t read the Survival Guide, so they don’t know what to do. Does the community want the enforcers to be more heavy handed?

Dahling: We put a lot of effort into defining who we are as a community. I can imagine a world in which Nazis say they agree to our 3 principles. The only way I can see to get around that is to explicitly say that hate speech is not allowed at the event. Not identifying the problematic behavior allows someone to accuse us of selective enforcement. We don’t want to try to enumerate every group, but we can say that targeting any member of a group for being a member of that group is wrong.

Kat: Racism and misogyny are everywhere, but we can define what our community is about, and we can say that we don’t tolerate any kind of hate speech.

Monkey: If someone plays the self-expression card on me, I have no qualms about playing the accountability card on them. About trolling: the world has moved from the old days of the cacophony society, which pulled carefully crafted pranks that always punched up. Burning Man extended that out to everyone’s sacred cows, but not picking on people. Flipside borrowed that from Burning Man. It extended through our online presence very early on with hateful trolling on our mailing list (which everyone left, so we created another list, and another). But the world has changed, and trolling is now genuine attacks on people’s safety, such as doxxing, swatting, etc. It’s no longer funny. Our community does not generally understand that line. Some people will say “it’s my art,” but that’s not OK, and our community has lost something valuable by not distinguishing between pranks and trolling.

Prost: We need to be cautious with policy when we define the kinds of speech that are not acceptable. And we need to raise this and deal with this as a community, within our theme camps, etc. Deal with them on our own level instead of expecting mom and dad to come to our aid.

Amy: As someone who’s part of a camp that enjoys abusing people consensually, I’ve been talking about this a lot. I enjoy getting salty at the event. After six burns, someone took it too far, and was abusive to a female bartender, but that guy didn’t take them seriously. I like to come from the position of the teachable human.

Clovis: If someone tells me “it’s my art,” art provokes a response, and sometimes the response isn’t pleasant. Community response is an educational tool.

Monk: I’ve been trying to condense what we’ve been talking about here. Education is important. It needs to trickle down through departments, theme camps, etc. We need to identify when trolling is destructive and hurtful. With the intention of malice or with ignorance.

Monkey: A friend at another burn wrote that there was a burning cross as an art project that caused a lot of drama.

Kat: if everyone reacted to crappy speech the same as they do when we see a camera, we wouldn’t have a problem with crappy speech.

Dahling: One of the most effective trolls I ever saw was when French Camp decided to be nice.

Prost: Clarification requested on the burning cross.

Monkey: Simply that it may be worth talking about art.

Amy: There was something similar at Burning Man that was upsetting to a lot of people.

Patrick: What happened was that “heat” burned a sign with their name and the “t” was the last letter standing.

Rabbitt: I’ve seen burners nationwide be jerks. It seems ingrained in the culture.

Sam: Heard the story of someone at Flipside 2010 who crossed someone’s boundaries, the response being someone got on bullhorn threatened her in her camp. Ranger advised her to leave her camp for a while. It seems like we can draw a line somewhere.

Princess: Sounds like there are a lot of people who are passionate about this, but I’m curious if someone wants to put forward a motion.

Kat: We’ve heard from lots of people who don’t want to hear this kind of thing. Is there anyone who considers this a non-issue? [Straw poll: no hands go up]

Puzz: I don’t know the solution for Flipside, but I’ve been cracking down more on the Flipizens group. Now I don’t care about banning assholes, and there’s not a lot of discussion among the group mods.

Prost: Let’s talk about art. We’ve talked about the “my speech is my art” angle. Nothing we’ve said tonight is separate from art. Art doesn’t need to be dealt with separately, and if we address this in the Survival Guide, we should talk in terms of “expression.”

Amy: “Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right” Having the tools is only one part of the solution if I don’t know how to use it. Do we focus too much on self-expression without focusing enough on accountability and cooperation?

MOTION: Write and publish a statement of what is intolerable, that goes beyond self-expression, to violate cooperation and accountability.

[Special stack for motion begins]

Clovis: who will write it?

Monk: How’s this: “Speech or behavior that is abusive, malicious, or non-consensual is not tolerated at Flipside.”

Izzi: I like the direction this is going. I’m not comfortable with saying “…and will lead to eviction.” A lot of the decision-making process is wrapped up in how a person responds when we speak to them. I’d like to continue honing and crafting this.

Dahling: suggests adding this language to Flipside website and Survival Guide.

Izzi: Let’s refer more generally to “normal channels of communication.”

Monkey: Where is this going? Is this a recommendation for the event, or the warehouse, or Flipizens?

Wrinn: How about adding “in our community.”

Prost: I’m troubled by the “non-consensual” part. If I’m playing Jim Jones sermons (hypothetically) for two hours and no one likes it, that’s non-consensual. I could overhear something that wasn’t directed at me that I didn’t consent to. I understand the intent but I think it’s too broad.

Amy: Amend it to say “this community does not tolerate…” Is it a community value or an event value? We could also post it on the burma-shave signs coming into the event.

Dahling: Another thing to think about is bringing the art back in.

Monk: Riffing off of Izzi: “This community does not tolerate abusive or malicious behavior or speech that runs counter to this event’s sustainability.”

Monkey: Especially when we talk about rules, I agree that sustainability is a good metric, but it’s not the sole value. There’s got to be something else, so I’m not comfortable with that as a motivator. Just to clarify, we’re talking about a motion focused on the Survival Guide and other official communications for official AAR events. Once we’ve wrapped this up we can adapt to other venues.

Problem: This body sucks at trying to wordsmith things on the fly. AAR understands the intent, but let’s wordsmith this in a smaller venue and clear it.

Monkey: AMENDED MOTION: that we remand the specific wording of this statement to AAR, which will clear the result with the CC.


[special stack for motion ends]

Ginger: I understand how the non-consensual part is a problem, but it’s also important to recognize there are some areas where it’s important.

Izzi: It’s not malicious or non-consensual if you’re in the Brimstone Society because it’s obvious play.


Problem: We’ve learned over the past few meetings that there can be situations where a participant tells a ranger or other volunteer something and “nothing happens.” If a line volunteer doesn’t address a situation to your satisfaction, you can kick it up the chain of command.

Dahling: One difference between Rangers and Sanctuary is that literally everything goes in Sanctuary’s log. There’s a lot of variation in what Rangers tell Khaki, and maybe we could tighten up on that.

Monkey: MOTION: The CC recommends to Puzz and other Flipizens moderators that they revisit their abusive-speech policies with this discussion in mind.

[new motion stack begins]

Prost: Not comfortable with “recommends” as the CC has no authority over that group.

Clovis: BLOCK. No place making recommendations to someone not part of the official org.

Dahling: It’s worth remembering that all the CC members basically know all the AAR members and know how to get things done, so be gentle with someone who isn’t as connected.

Beth: MOTION: Officially recognize that Puzz went out of his way to come here, that we appreciate what he’s doing, and that we take the Flipizens group seriously.


Izzi: I like that y’all have recommended making a statement. In addition, I would also be comfortable working with CC & community members on crafting a statement to the community that is less official than our official channels. One good place for that would be the Flame.

Monkey: I wanted to talk about the operational part of this, including what Princess mentioned. So that in addition to making a statement in the Survival Guide, there’s the operational side. The CC doesn’t set policy for operations, but it does make recommendations, and we should recommend that operations be more proactive about enforcement. My impression is that we agree that we’ve allowed things to go farther than we like, and we should try to restore balance.

Prost: It’s important that our organization reflect our principles and values that we are trying to express to the community. If we have a CC member or lead who engages in inappropriate speech, then they shouldn’t fill that role. It’s happened before and looks bad for the whole organization.

Izzi: AAR talks with the AFs about what goes in the Survival Guide, so without an extra motion, we can communicate that.

Clovis: There are 4 AFs in the room right now. Dictating that something is an immediate-dismissal is kind of fucked up.

Monkey: Policies and the like are means for preventing bias from influencing your decision, but if you have too many rules, you open yourself up to rules-lawyering and preclude the application of wisdom. Systems that are too fluid tend to amplify the biases of the individuals involved. This is not conscious and is often counter to the stated beliefs of the people that hold the bias. If instead of a Ranger getting to decide whether a situation needs to be escalated, the Rangers could have a set of guidelines, but it’s a set of tradeoffs.

Izzi: we can offer guidelines

Beth: Suggests developing the community statement (alongside the AAR statement) in a subcommittee. Beth, Izzi, and Ginger all interested. Beth will chair.

Old business

  • Scheduling CC retreat: Will set up a Doodle for scheduling some time before end of year.
  • Scribe: Summer Nash has been suggested as a possible scribe. And one other person who doesn’t have a computer.

Next meeting: Oct 30