Zero tolerance is, and always has been, a bad thing

First off, I’m not an active FOSS developer, nor have I even seen a Ruby on Rails. But there’s something about this entire debate that bothers me.

It started with me reading on slashdot about claims of sexism being ignored by open source developers. I clicked one of the links and got to this page. One of the quotes on that page sum up a big part of the problem here:

“Although of course being overall lovely doesn’t stop you being occasionally sexist by accident, even I’m guilty of it from time to time.”

- sqbr

“Well, yes..”, I thought to myself. I’ve been that guy. I’ve said sexist things. Sometimes it was funny, usually it wasn’t. Sometimes I say it because I’m upset and want to be edgy, sometimes I say it because I’m a moron. I felt a bit bad about it.

Then I thought “But wait..”. I’ve also heard people say stereotypical things about men, and I don’t just mean jokes. I mean stuff like assuming I don’t want to help out with some specific task, or expecting me to behave in some specific way.

Everyone makes mistakes.

To me, saying that even joking about sexism is bad is like trying to ban computer game violence in an attempt to lower murder rates.

I’d much rather live in a socieity with ten murders per year and personal freedom than a society with one murder per year and no personal freedom.

Bad things happen, and if you spend too much effort trying to prevent it, you just make things worse.

posted 14 years ago