Debian and the privileged “gender class” some privileged people

I realized that I was doing the same failure as others attacking me of being transphobe because I criticize one trans person, that is extrapolating from one bad example to a larger class. I am sorry, and apologize to those from the LGBTQ community in Debian that I have accused you wrongly. This does not change my original critique of Martina Ferrari.

The article has been revised to make this clear.

Debian has a long history of divisiveness, but recent years have shown a strong move to inclusiveness. Introduction of the Code of Conduct (CoC) have furthered a welcoming and open atmosphere and environment. This is all very much appreciated, despite some members of the Debian community abusing the CoC for chilling effects (think Ian Jackson’s witchhunt for example) – and I have warned against that already many years ago.

Unfortunately, it seems that the welcoming atmosphere has given some members of the LGBTQ community in Debian seemingly a free pass to insults, trolling, shit-loading onto whoever they seem fit as target. Any criticism of their side is reinterpreted as “transphobe”, or “tone policing”.

This is a very similar situation people criticizing the state of Israel are now finding themselves in a difficult situation, in particular in the US, with the widely followed re-definition of antisemitism including “critique of the state of Israel” into the list of antisemitic activities.

A recent thread on debian-project gave an excellent example for this degenerated development. The starting post was polite, no personal attacks, but a statement in clear conflict with the CoC. Enough reasonable voices answered to this email. Until, well, until Martina Ferrari popped out and unloaded an email full of “bullshit”, “fuck off”, “genocide”, and “nazi” quabblebabble (quoted below in full).

By itself one would just put this email aside as an outlier to the otherwise reasonable debate, but Ferrari is member of the Anti-Harassment Team (now called “Community Team”) in Debian, effectively interpreting the CoC, and suggesting disciplinary measures to DAM. For example, I was thrown out of Debian for some months due to Martina’s and others evaluation and recommendation. (Besides having spread FUD and lies about me in her blog before).

I dared to answer to Ferrari’s email and remind her both of the CoC and the position in the AH Team. I would have expected that the reaction of other members in Debian would also be to discipline, at least in words, Ferrari, but what happened is that others jumped up immediately to defend Ferrari.

It seems that Ferrari is so well connected to several others in key positions in Debian (for sure some DAMs, and all the AH/CT) that she has a free pass to unleash whatever comes to her mind, disregarding any agreed upon standards of communication and courtesy. And anyone daring to step forward to criticize this is coming immediately under attack (I was immediately warned by listmasters for breaking the CoC!).

I can only hope that this pendulum of absurdities will return to a normal level, where we can communicate and interact indifferent of each other self-definition, but are also able to criticize each other without fear of being reprimanded immediately. But the hope is small.

Ferrari’s email in full:

On 12/12/2019 07:22, Gerardo Ballabio wrote:

> So this is also inevitably a political issue. It’s not just about
> “being polite” (or “welcoming” or “excellent” or whatever). I believe
> that I absolutely have the right to “being impolite” if “being polite”
> means that I must use a language that conveys a political position
> that I oppose.

It is not about being polite, being an asshole to people is never a right.

> For example (forgive me if this might seem off-topic, but I think that
> working out the details of an actual example is necessary to make my
> point clear), I do not feel that I should acknowledge people’s
> requests to refer to them by their “preferred pronouns”. That is
> because I believe that people’s sexual identities are determined by
> objective facts, such as which chromosomes are there in their DNA, and
> not by how they subjectively “perceive themselves”.

Apart from being a ridiculously ignorant position, like anybody who
studied biology would tell you (Matthew already did), this is a good
example of not-polite-just-assholish discourse.

If I tell you that my pronouns are she/her, and that my name is Martina,
and you happen to insist on misgendering or deadnaming me, you would not
be defending an opinion, you would be acting like an asshole, and I
would be completely justified to tell you to fuck right off into the
sea, because you would be a ignorant bigoted jerk who enjoys making
people suffer so they can feel smug about their edginess.

So when I refuse
> to refer to a person with XY chromosomes as “she”, or to abuse the
> English language by calling an individual “they”, in fact I am
> defending my world view, and you must not deprive me of that right.

If your worldview is based on denying people of their identity and their
humanity, your worldview needs to be crushed by any means necessary
before it commits genocide. Wars have been fought and international
tribunals set up to deal with people defending similar kinds of world views.

> Anyway, thank you for clarifying that using people’s preferred
> pronouns is a requisite for being welcome in Debian. As I read them,
> neither the CoC nor the Diversity Statement are explicit on that.
> Maybe it would be useful to make it explicit?

I think we don’t need to add bullet points to say don’t be a transphobe,
like we don’t need to say don’t be a nazi.

Martina Ferrari (Tina)

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