supergee: (kerplop)
[personal profile] supergee
Anthony Burgess's sf novel The Wanting Seed offers a cyclical theory of history. There are two approaches: the Pelagians believe that people are good, so they set up a policy based on trusting people. When that proves disastrous, the Augustinians take over, with the theory that people need Lotsa Rules. Eventually, the rules become so oppressive that the Pelagians return, and the cycle begins.

The approach also applies to trusting those in power. Trust judges to determine criminal sentences, and after a while it is noticed that the rich people and the white people get off easy, so there is an Augustinian outcry for mandatory sentences. After a while, it is noticed that the Rules are trapping relatively harmless people in Draconian sentences.

High schools don't want kids bringing weapons to school. So they have a discretionary policy. Some of those caught are found to have relatively harmless weapons or good excuses, so they are excused. After a while it is noticed that the rich people and the white people get off easy, so there is an Augustinian outcry for Zero Tolerance (which as Bruce Schneier has pointed out, means Zero Discretion). And so on.

Announcing a Zero Tolerance Policy and not following it (as Readercon did) is the worst of both worlds.

Date: 2012-07-29 09:15 pm (UTC)
lavendertook: (snow white/ravenna)
From: [personal profile] lavendertook
I like some flexibility in laws as well, but I can't see the problem with having zero tolerance on sexual harassment at a a con. The flexibility is still there and comes in when determining whether an action is clear harassment or random rude behavior. Its toleration is a big reason why I rarely want to attend cons anymore--I hate that atmosphere. When is it tolerable for attendants to have to put up with sexual harassment?
Edited Date: 2012-07-29 09:18 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-07-30 01:51 am (UTC)
lavendertook: bingo walking away (walking)
From: [personal profile] lavendertook
I see banning someone from a con as an intermediate step itself to taking on the daunting task of calling on the legal system and filing a harassment charge and trying to get a restraining order. It's not some severe Draconian punishment and people, like those on the board of Readercon need to stop acting like it is, making victims of harassment feel even more daunted to come forward. It's for providing the harassed some trauma-free space that they should be completely entitled to.

If cons were more proactive in supporting victims of sexual and racial harassment than our legal system, letting victims of harassment know that their continued presence in the culture is more valued over the presence of their harassers, and that they should consider themselves valued members of the community, I'd want to be part of that culture. As it is, not so much.

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Arthur D. Hlavaty

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