On inclusiveness

I’m from a country that has a – let’s describe it euphemistically – interesting history of inclusiveness. And perhaps that is why I’m rather riven towards the current discussion about inclusiveness and Codes of Conduct.

When I started to read about whether or not it would be a good idea for a conference to select certain speakers I pricket my ears. How can a conference be inclusive when such persons are allowed to speak there. I could definitely understand that people that think of themselves as better than others or that openly despise different groups of people are not what we want at conferences or usergroup-events.

Personally I don’t like such people that think they are better just because by chance they have a better start in life. How can you be proud of being white? Is there anything you did to become white? Why would I think I’m better than lesbian or gay people? Isn’t it hard enough to find someone to love and to care for? Having found a partner in your life that you can trust is something to be proud of. But does it matter whether that’s a man or a woman? And is it my business to judge the person next door for their choice?

And suddenly I started to realize that inclusiveness is also about allowing such people I personally might not like to talk at conferences that want to be inclusive. And not despite inclusiveness but because of it. I learned this lesson the hard way. In my country it is still possible for people to demonstrate that they are fascists and that they hate foreigners even though one would expect that we learned our lesson. And yes, we did. And because we learned our lessons they are allowed to demonstrate their shittyness. They have the same rights as everyone. I do not need to like that, but that’s democracy and freedom of opinion. They are allowed to demonstrate that they are shitty (in my perspective) as long as they respect the rules.

And so in my personal opinion people that are exclusive are definitely allowed to speak at inclusive conferences or events as long as they respect the rules. And it’s up to the conference or event to set those rules. That’s why a Code of Conduct is so important in my eyes for every event. It’s not a nice thing everyone has, it’s the rules of your event that everyone has to abide by. And as long as a speaker follows those rules she or he has every right to be at that event than everyone else. I might not like that, but it’s my personal choice to not visit that persons talk or to not engage with that person.

And in my eyes you are not better than those people when you decide to not visit an event because they invited someone I dislike.

Inclusiveness is not easy. And the boundary between being inclusive and being exclusive is very thin…

Or do you see that different?

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