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Dealing with group *-fail, Part 2
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
This is a followup to my earlier post.

In the comments, siderea pointed out that most of the real *scandals* of recent years have not been because of isolated individuals, though they often started that way. They erupted into scandals only when the offending individuals are supported (overtly or implicitly) by the leaders of the community.

So "pushing the assholes out" is not really the right approach. It's to clearly establish, and enforce, what standards a community has. Bringing pressure on the leadership of a community can, and often does, prompt those leaders to act to correct bad situations. Often the leaders were unaware (or insufficiently aware) of these problems, and just speaking up is enough to inspire action. Sometimes the leaders are an *active* part of the problem. In these cases, making a public stink may cause these problem leaders to reevaluate their problematic stance, or potentially resign, or be removed by election or some other process. In the worst case, if the leaders are both problematic and holding onto their power, then at least it has become clearly established what kind of leaders they are, and, by extension, what the organization is willing to tolerate, so that members (or potential members) know what they're getting into. In *that* situation, I certainly encourage people to vote with their feet.

Last year's ReaderCon incident is an interesting case study. When the problem was first brought to the community leaders, they acted badly. But as community pressure kept up, that set of leaders resigned, en masse, and a new set was elected, who acted quickly to (re-)establish community standards.

I've been mulling this over for a few days, but was particularly inspired to post by this announcement from Kickstarter. It details the problem, what actions the leadership of KS did (and didn't) take, and why. Most importantly, it established clear new standards that will hopefully prevent that particular offense from re-occurring. It's a *model* of a well-structured apology, and appropriate corrective action. I applaud them.

While writing this post, I took a short break and was reading LJ, and saw *another* story to illustrate my point. Exodus International, a decades-old ministry devoted to 'curing' homosexuality in Christians has decided to shut themselves down and apologize for all the harm they caused. Even a group that takes toxic ideas as its central focus can, in time, come to realize its own toxicity.
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So "pushing the assholes out" is not really the right approach.

A significant quibble: it is a necessary, if not sufficient step. Pushing the assholes out indicates that the community is coherent and dedicated enough to recognize the assholish behavior, decide it is assholish, and punish the offenders. These are all important preconditions for changing the culture.

For people who think in instances rather than in generalizations, having a shining example of an asshole eviction can be critical to having the conversation, "So what are our standards? How do we enforce them? And when stuff actually happens, even when it's done by people we like, do we still enforce the standards?"

Also--I think the leaders of the community are often left to deal with these things. I think that's a mistake. The most healthy cultures I see are the ones where *everyone* is a functioning part of the immune system. Sure, the white blood cells do the actual evicting--by force if necessary--but everyone models good behavior, everyone sounds the alarm, and everyone guides newcomers (or existing members) when they start trending toward assholish behavior.

A significant quibble: it is a necessary, if not sufficient step.

Sometimes, perhaps even often, it is necessary. Exclusion is not the only sanction.

I was recently pointed at a fascinating discussion of a matriarchal culture which is quite proud (as per the interviewees) of how they don't have much domestic violence in their communities, and they attribute it to using financial sanctions: the punishment for hitting your wife is having to pay a substantial fine to her. This is fascinating to me, because this remedy doesn't have a whole bunch of problems our system of handling DV has: it doesn't require the woman to abandon the relationship just to get justice and a deterrent, it doesn't remove the money from the family so doesn't economically imperil the family, it doesn't remove the perpetrator from the family (which can also economically imperil the family), and it still validates that DV is wrong and deters it, and by financially compensating the victim, each time it happens, she is in a better financial position to leave if she decides to.

Sorry for accidentally deleting Metahacker's question. In context, DV clearly means "domestic violence".

"I was recently pointed at a fascinating discussion..."

Is it a pointer you can pass on? It occurs to me that David Friedman teaches a course about legal systems very different from our own, and that he might find this useful.

Is it a pointer you can pass on?

I can if I can find it again. Note it wasn't the primary point of the article. ETA: Found it! The whole of the reference:
She cites recent cases where young women have bolted from such arrangements, fleeing to Dhaka to work as maids or beauticians. Modern Mandi women, she says, pride themselves on not tolerating any form of abuse. "We don't allow domestic violence or adultery. If a man hits his wife or cheats on her, we make him pay a fine to make amends – a few pigs, or a lump sum of cash. It's a very good deterrent."
This is the Mandi people of Bangladesh.

It occurs to me that David Friedman teaches a course about legal systems very different from our own

Oh, does he; is this something I would be able to get access to?

and that he might find this useful.

Maybe, but I think it mostly reduces to a previous case with which he will be intimately familiar: weregeld.

Edited at 2013-06-24 02:27 am (UTC)

"is this something I would be able to get access to?"

Well, he's physically out in CA, so that's an issue. I don't know if there's any way to access the lecture content. But I expect he'd be willing to at least share the syllabus, if asked.

" In the worst case, if the leaders are both problematic and holding onto their power, then at least it has become clearly established what kind of leaders they are, and, by extension, what the organization is willing to tolerate, so that members (or potential members) know what they're getting into. In *that* situation, I certainly encourage people to vote with their feet."

Ok. Those things being done, I am taking your advice, and voting with my feet. Let me know if you decide to clean up your livejournal, as I do like your posts.

Yeah, I *am* going to let people who frequently contributes useful and insightful commentary to my posts get away with occasionally being rude. And if some people who contribute less often and less helpfully take enough offense to leave, I'm willing to accept that.


Which disproves your original proposal.

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