[Noisebridge-discuss] Lack of due process when Cynthia forced to leave

Carl carl at icarp.info
Thu May 3 13:22:37 PDT 2012


You know I don't post here all that much, but I really felt that I had
to respond to this...

I've read through all of the comments about what transpired with
Cynthia, on the discuss list and the meeting notes.  Although I haven't
been present at Noisebridge during the past week, from what I've read so
far, I am really not pleased about how people involved in this situation
treated her.  (This would include Jesse, Will, and apparently a third
man.)

First of all, calling the police really should not be done unless:

1. Someone is harming or threatening harm to another person, causing
damage to the space, stealing, or otherwise causing trouble or
performing an illegal activity.

2. A person who has been officially banned from the space refuses to
leave.  And by "official", I mean a due process has been followed
whereas a previous discussion and consensus was taken to ban a
particular person.

3. AND ONLY AFTER the Noisebridge community are unable to handle the
situation on our own should we get the police involved.


I find it troubling when individuals take it upon themselves to forcibly
remove people from the space, who by all accounts of what I've read, did
NOT cause any trouble prior to being asked to leave.  I believe it was
wrong for Jesse and Will to have done what they did in this case, prior
to taking it up at a meeting where the members could discuss and make a
decision as to whether to ban Cynthia from the space, AND ONLY AFTER
this discussion and consensus would it be appropriate to ask someone to
not return.  (and as she brought up, informing her of this could have
been done through email prior to her arrival in order to avoid this
confrontation.)

I am also troubled by the flippant and immature responses on this list
about Cynthia being "crazy".  Her past talk of legal actions against
Texas corporations has no bearing on what transpired.  As far as I can
tell, she hasn't forced anyone to listen to her talk about such matters.
It was your choice to listen to her talk about it or not.

Lots of people in this space suffer from some sort of mental illness.
I've not heard of one single incident or accusation that Cynthia has
harmed, threatened harm, or otherwise caused any trouble to anyone in
the space.  That's all that matters.  Kicking someone out of a space
because they may be mentally ill, while not causing trouble or harm to
anyone else in the space, is discriminatory.  (IANAL, but it may also be
illegal by the ADA.)  

Now it IS OK to kick someone out for not working on "hacker"-related
activities, as that is the purpose of Noisebridge as a hackerspace, but
we really should clarify what our standards are for this, which I don't
believe we've done.  There really should be a due process put in place
to handle situations such as these, so that the individual in question
be given a chance to defend themselves, and also to try to avoid these
types of confrontations.  I don't think any one individual (or small
group) should have the right to arbitrarily force someone to leave
simply because they don't like them or "approve" of them.

This whole issue of kicking people out started when people, "Occupiers"
which some called "Oogles", were sleeping overnight at the space even
though they were specifically told that Noisebridge wasn't a homeless
shelter and had to leave.  That was OK and a justified reason for
kicking people out.  Now that they're gone, it seems like we're
targeting people who don't stay overnight, who may be occasional
visitors, but who seem to not be using the space for "hacking", without
a clear definition of what "hacking" is or is not.  Individuals are
taking it upon themselves to determine whether certain other people are
to be allowed inside the space.  

How far down are we going to go with this?  It seems like we're heading
towards rejecting more people than prior to when the Oogles started
arriving at the space.  The first time Noisebridge ever banned anyone,
it took considerable discussion and a consensus process.  Nowadays it
seems like any member can just ban anyone they don't like.  How and why
did we get to this point?  And I'm not just talking about Cynthia here,
but others as well.  (take Erica for example, who no longer feels
welcome here.)

And lastly, I think we need to stop this witch-hunt non-hacker hate
mentality that we seem to be developing here, which will only drive away
new people who may not be familiar with hacker culture.  If we try to
make an effort to become friends with them, then we can encourage
newcomers to contribute and learn to become hackers by involving them
with our projects.  Instead of rejecting them, we should be trying to
encourage them to become productive participants in our community.


-Carl




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