Adam Morgan

LambdaConf Is Embracing True Diversity

Tech is a weird place right now. There aren't enough programmers who are women, gay, or people of races other than white and Asian. Diversity is great as long as you agree with the conventional definition of diversity. How inclusive, right?

Yesterday I noticed a number of people on Twitter saying they were no longer volunteering or supporting LambdaConf, a programming conference for functional programming. The issue at hand? One of the people scheduled to present at the conference has "Neoreactionary" political views and LambdaConf, in the pursuit of true diversity, said it will allow the speaker to give his presentation at the conference in spite of his controversial opinions.

This is completely and totally reasonable. As long as his beliefs remain his beliefs, why should he be excluded from speaking at the conference?

After a bit of searching on Twitter I discovered his beliefs are actually "actions". That's odd. Exactly how does a negative opinion of a certain gender or race have an affect on them? It doesn't. So let's not call a belief, something that exists within your own head, an action. It isn't.

While we're at it, are we going to interview every speaker about their religious beliefs? Taken literally, many religious texts are frightening. Would those same people also support banning a Muslim speaker from LambdaConf because a certain number of people are frightened by Islamic fundamentalism? Of course not. They label those thoughts Islamaphobic.

It's all part of this weird trend now where the left expects communities, even at the scale of Twitter or Facebook, to be inclusive for everyone. But communities are not inclusive.

Churches aren't diverse at all. Both race and beliefs. Curves is explicit about it. If you're flamboyantly gay, you may not feel comfortable in certain parts of The South. Similarly, a redneck wearing a camo jacket and a Make America Great Again hat probably isn't welcome in a gay bar at the heart of San Francisco even if everyone would describe themselves as tolerant, open-minded, and progressive.

If you find religion offensive or wrong, you just don't go to church. You don't interact with them. Live and let live.

Why should programming conferences be any different? There's the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing which refers to itself as the "largest gathering of women technologists". FluentConf had LGBT tables. Was there any concern at all for the hardcore conservatives in the room? Of course not.

Most initiatives for diversity in tech are political in nature. It has nothing to do with true diversity and inclusion as we're seeing with the backlash against LamdbaConf.

Instead of making it political, LambdaConf has chosen to make their code of conduct exactly that. A code of conduct, not thought. As long as you don't act on those controversial thoughts in your head, who gives a fuck?

"People are free to believe whatever they want until that belief affects my life." -Ed Latimore


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