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07 October, 2012

Freethought Day Code of Conduct

The code of conduct in the Freethought Day program was two pages long and very extensive. It included, "Ask for consent before all interpersonal contact," and "Outside of [speakers' and entertainers'] performance, understand that they may not necessarily wish to pose for photographs, provide an autograph or be interviewed." I didn't get any pictures with the authors or speakers I met because I was uneasy and didn't want to look creepy. If I had asked for a picture and they had said no, I would have respected it, but because of the note in the policy, I would have felt guilty for asking, so I didn't even ask.

I think that, on a small scale, this is the kind of thing Thunderf00t and Karla Porter are talking about when they mention the unexpected side-effects of extensive and rigorous policies. There was even a moment when I reached out to shake someone's hand to introduce myself where I thought, "Should I ask first?" This is a handshake, folks. Our culture's universal greeting and sign of respect, much like bowing in Japan.

I was disappointed a bit about it because I didn't agree with Ms. Porter and Mr. Thunderf00t about there being no need for a policy, but, as I didn't see or experience any harassment at the event (and have no reason to believe it would have been prevalent without the policy), in this case, I think it would have been better not to have one. That's all I'll say on the subject until I have more information. It didn't totally change my mind about harassment policies in general, but it did get me thinking.


  1. Interesting observations Katie. Here is my response. Much too long for a comment so I turned it into a post! http://karlaporter.com/relationship-management/to-have-or-not-to-have-a-conference-code-of-conduct-policy

  2. I imagine that policies like this will take some getting used to and may require some adjustment over time. I just hope that they accomplish something meaningful too.