Posting this NOT because I want to stir the pot, fan the flames, etc, but because it’s happening and it affects us. The quick version: guy gives presentation with hardcore porn images in Minneapolis. Guy is taken to task for it. Guy gives poor me, you prudes can’t handle sex, some of my best friends are women apology. Guy is taken to task for it. Discussion is very, very long. Some awesome things are said, like this, which I’d say pretty much sums it all up:
“We are in a comparatively irreverent industry. I remember seeing a couple of people swear onstage at the Webbies back in 2005, for example. We tend, as a whole, to lean toward more radical politics, more speaking your mind, and more irreverent humor — across all genders — as compared to other industries. The relative permissiveness in our industry partially accounts for why you might see something that pushes “the line” on stage at a web technologies conference than say, at a professional conference of another type. This needs to be kept in mind when the term “professionalism” is used rhetorically in these conversations.
So one thing that I think is true, is that we will continually be dancing toward “the line”, and not just on issues of gender, but also politics and other areas. And because of this, we do need to continually revisit what the boundaries of “offense” are or might be. Hopefully this will result not in fear-based non-expressive atmospheres, but in a civilized atmosphere where we are sensitive to our audiences, and they are sensitive to us as we express ourselves with whatever level of irreverence or forthrightness we choose. As a part of the inclusive atmosphere, it is critical that that inclusiveness works in all directions, and that all stakeholders keep a good faith attitude of questioning the content and context of their actions, and also the character and motives of their “offense”, or whatever reactions might be invoked.
The uber-goal, with this reflective consideration of expressers and reactors, is that we are able to openly discuss all factors at any time. That we have a safe environment for people to express and feedback. That includes allowing room for people to offend, allowing room for people to express their discomfort, and allowing room for people to apologize, be heard, and agree or disagree. Everything will work out for the best if that is the atmosphere of discourse that we support. We wont always agree, but we must put as much effort as possible into seeing the world from each other’s viewpoint.”
Here’s a link to letters by conference organizer and offensive speaker in response, and discussion.