Linux Foundation bans person for Tone Policing.

On November 6th, The Linux Foundation made a public statement that it had banned an individual from one of their upcoming events (KubeCon) -- the banning was based on that individuals public tweets (including a picture with a red "Make America Great Again" hat) and statements, unrelated to KubeCon, that were determined to violate the Linux Foundation Events Code of Conduct.

This action by the Linux Foundation promptly drew both praise and criticism.

Regardless of the personal opinions of any one of us, this moment provides an interesting opportunity to observe, and evaluate, the efficacy of this sort of Code of Conduct, along with the process and methods used to enforce it.  Due to the unusually public nature of how all of this transpired, it also allows us to see how individuals (and groups) can impact the outcome -- and be personally impacted in return.

With that in mind, as we walk through the events, this writer will endeavor to keep personal opinions at bay... focusing purely on the known facts, with as much input from those involved as possible.

Warning: Some of the quotes contain words not suitable for many audiences.  I have taken care to censor those words within this article, however the provided links to the original source material will (in some cases) contain some quite vulgar language.  Follow those links at your own discretion.

Now, as with any story, these events did not occur in a vacuum.  Prior to the involvement of the Linux Foundation there appeared to be an ongoing dispute between multiple members of the Linux, Open Source, and broader Software Development communities.  That dispute took place primarily on Twitter (as well as within some YouTube videos) -- with many of the original messages deleted.  As such it is extremely difficult to piece together everything in a verifiable and accurate manner.

Since we are focusing, in this article, on the banning of the individual from an event -- we are going to start with the initial (to my knowledge) and primary public complaint posted by Kim Crayton and directed to the organizers of the conference (KubeCon).

".@KubeCon_ organizers I am beyond disappointed to learn that, after the past 2 weeks of community engagement with @cmaxw, you haven’t made the decision to discontinue your association with him This is what I mean when I say 1-2 degrees of separation can cause harm #causeascene"
- Tweet from Kim Crayton, Nov 5 2019

This tweet included two pictures provided as evidence for why Charles Wood (@cmaxw on Twitter) should be banned from the event.  The first picture was a screenshot of a Tweet from Charles Wood, referencing the disputes mentioned previously, which reads as follows:

".@KimCrayton1 and friends... would you be willing to have an open call and talk? I'm happy to record and post it with no edits. I can probably also get @simpleprogrammr to come. All I ask is that everyone be civil during the discussion.
What I'd like is a back-and-forth that allows everyone to express where they're coming from. I'm not sure I expect apologies or reparations. I would expect that there be no name calling or browbeating. Just express your point of view, supporting facts, and experience."
- Tweet from Charles Wood, Oct 23 2019

The second picture included in the complaint was a 2016 picture of Charles Wood standing in front of Trump Tower wearing a red "Make America Great Again" hat.

The day after Kim Crayton's tweeted complaint, the Linux Foundation provided the following response.  Also in the form of a Tweet:

"Hi all, We have reviewed social and videos and determined that the Event Code of Conduct was violated and his registration to the event has been revoked. Our events should and will be a safe space"
- Tweet from The Linux Foundation, Nov 6 2019

The Linux Foundation also included a link to their Code of Conduct for their events.

Shortly thereafter, Charles Wood responded to his banning from attending the conference:

"It's interesting that by asking people to calm down, pull up a chair, and have a conversation, I've created an unsafe space at a conference. 
Honestly, this stuff makes NO SENSE!
I have taken no action that threatened or harassed anyone."
- Tweet from Charles Wood, Nov 6 2019

In response to a statement that he had been "disparaging members of the community", Wood responded with additional details provided to him by the Linux Foundation:

"Who did I disparage? In what way? That's not what the email said from the CoC committee. They cited "tone policing." That's not disparagement. Not joining in on canceling another person is not "tone policing" either BTW. Sounds like I lost my ticket for other reasons."
- Tweet by Charles Wood, Nov 6 2019

Noting that the reason given for the banning of Wood was "tone policing", it seems worth noting that neither the word "tone" nor the word "policing" exist within the Linux Foundation Events Code of Conduct.

This Code of Conduct spells out, very specific details of what constitutes "Unacceptable Behavior."  They are as follows:

"Harassment will not be tolerated in any form, including, but not limited to, harassment based on gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion or any other status protected by laws in which the conference or program is being held. Harassment includes the use of abusive, offensive or degrading language, intimidation, stalking, harassing photography or recording, inappropriate physical contact, sexual imagery and unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors. Any report of harassment at one of our events will be addressed immediately. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Anyone who witnesses or is subjected to unacceptable behavior should notify a conference organizer at once."

The Code of Conduct also makes clear that it applies to all activities (of all participants) -- including activities on social media, unrelated to the conference itself:

"Individuals who participate (or plan to participate) in Linux Foundation events should conduct themselves at all times in a manner that comports with both the letter and spirit of this policy prohibiting harassment and abusive behavior, whether before, during or after the event. This includes statements made in social media postings, online publications, text messages, and all other forms of electronic communication."

This means that Tweets posted at any time would, indeed, be open to scrutiny to check for violations.  However, the stated violation "Tone Policing" is not present (in any form, including synonyms) within the document.  As such it is not immediately clear what statements by Wood violate the Code of Conduct.

I reached out to the Linux Foundation, multiple times, for clarification or statement.  After 5 days, I had not received any response.

Likewise, I contacted Charles Wood, who declined to comment with the following statement:

"I'm not sure I want to go on the record with anything at the moment. You're welcome to comment on anything that's already out there."

Kim Crayton, who posted the complaint, was also given the opportunity to provide her views and provide further information:

"My viewpoint is well documented and I have absolutely no desire to explain it further"

Worth noting that the previous tweets from the individual providing the complaint (Kim Crayton) includes multiple violations of the Linux Foundation Code of Conduct.  Including this one that was directed at Wood specifically:

"[CENSORED] YOU
[CENSORED] CIVILITY
WE ARE NOT FRIENDS
I DO NOT WANT OR NEED TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT [CENSORED]
YOU’RE JUST REALIZING THAT YOUR LITTLE VIDEO HAD THE OPPOSITE EFFECT THAN YOU’D PLANNED
SO TO BE CLEAR...[CENSORED] YOU"
- Tweet from Kim Crayton (directed to Charles Wood), Oct 23, 2019

Crayton also has a history of statements similar to the following:

"WHITE MEN, FOR ALL THEIR CHEST BEATING, ARE SO [CENSORED] WEAK"
- Tweet from Kim Crayton, June 1 2019
"[White] Women In Tech Organizations Are Full Of [CENSORED]"
- Tweet from Kim Crayton, July 16 2019
"I’ll continue to say, white dudes in TECH ain’t [CENSORED]"
- Tweet from Kim Crayton, Oct 18 2019

It is unclear if Kim Crayton plans to attend any Linux Foundation events, or what the Linux Foundations reaction might be on if these Tweets do, or do not, violate any portion of the Code of Conduct.

During all of this, The Linux Foundation made public statements about the actions it was taking (banning Wood after receiving the Tweeted complaint) but have not provided enough details or context to fully evaluate how well the Code of Conduct, or the actions based on it, functioned.

After these events, Robert Martin published an open letter to the Linux Foundation in protest of the banning of Charles Wood.  Followed by an article from Cher Scarlett praising the decision to ban Wood from the event.  Both have distinct viewpoints on what has transpired, but both contain significant details for those looking to gain more insight on what transpired (with additional sources and Tweets beyond the scope of this article).  They are also worth reading as examples of how these events are being interpreted by differing parts of the broader Tech community -- and what impact all of this is having.

I am keeping my personal opinion out of this article.  Just facts, so you can make up your own mind on what, if anything, all of this means.  Like any human, I have personal thoughts on the matter... and I discuss them in the corresponding episode of the Lunduke Show.

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