Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Announcing The Ruby Conference Ratings Board

DHH on the GoGaRuCo drama-fest:

It's already out of control. Indignation and outrage are powerful drugs and they're working their magic right now. There will not be any civil discussions possible before the high subsides and people get some distance.


Here's one proposal: Start rating your conference or track according to the material. The movie standards of PG, M, and R would do just fine. Then people can self-select on the type of content that they're willing to hear.

I, for example, can just make sure that I only attend or speak at M and R rated conferences and tracks. If you're offended by profanity, for example, you'd be forewarned that sitting in on an M or R track would be a bad idea.

That's how a movie theater manages to cater to all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds. I think that fits well for this.

Nothing I love more than going to see a good rated-M movie. Good old M. It hasn't been used since 1969, but it's a classic. They don't make M like they used to.

DHH isn't just the guy who revolutionized Web frameworks forever. Oh no. That's not enough. He's also every bit as good at handling people as he is at developing features, deciding what features to develop, and building a top-notch business. Because all these skills are really the same skill: the skill of being awesome. And his proposal makes a lot of sense.

After all, it's not as if what Matt Aimonetti did was wrong in any way. It would be insane to suggest that all the guy needs to do is learn a little bit about communication skills so he can stop making people angrier every time he tries to apologize to them. Only a crazy person would say that.

It's true that if Aimonetti's presentation had been done at work, he would have been fired and slapped with a lawsuit that he would have had no chance of winning and barely any chance of even surviving. But just because you can lose a job over it, and a judge can punish you for it, doesn't mean it's wrong. It doesn't mean you've been a complete dick, and if you can't see that then you need to find somebody who can explain it to you. Not at all! There isn't even any porn in the presentation, except for the blow job in slide 7. And that hardly counts because you can't actually see the guy's penis, so she could be doing anything down there. Maybe she lost a contact.

Like an arty foreign movie, a bold, innovative presentation should carry a special warning: Be careful! This might be too awesome for you.

And that's what the Ruby Conference Ratings Board will provide. After all, somebody has to put in the time to make these ratings. It'll take a group of volunteers. I am now assembling that group of volunteers. And oh yes: we'll be using M.

Seriously, what the fuck is this M shit? What is he even talking about? Is that some crazy shit they have in Denmark?

Oh hey. Wait a minute.

Speaking of crazy shit, what do you bet neither Denmark nor France have any kind of sexual harassment law?

In Denmark, the rules about sexual harassment are not so strict as you know it in your country but we are in the middle of a process. It is only 5 years ago when a court rule that a man could not be punished if he did beat his wife up if she had accepted it for years. Our politician had since changed the laws. But making jokes and signs about once sex or origin is still allowed.

Across the channel, it's hard for women even to initiate litigation. For a person to sue for sexual harassment in France, he or she would have to prove that it resulted in some form of professional or emotional damage, says Marie-Hélène Fournier-Gobert, an employment lawyer at Barthélémy et Associés in Paris. "An isolated attempt to kiss someone or a sexist comment would not be considered sexual harassment," she says. Americans find such distinctions disturbing. "The French definition of sexual harassment is what we Americans would call assault and battery," says Michael Rubenstein, co-editor of the Equal Opportunities Review in London, who wrote the European Commission's code of practice on measures to combat sexual harassment at work.

Welcome to America, kids. You're not in your respective Kansases any more. Speaking as a first-generation American with a name Americans can't even say, I know it can suck. But when in Rome, do as the Romans do, and shut the fuck up about it already.


  1. I didn't want to be the first to say to the Europeans saying we were too touchy, "well maybe, but you *are* in America now." There is established case law for the work place though, and it's not surprising that expectations about that would flow into professional conferences.

    Some day the law suits are going to start flowing more even in the tech field and we'll have to start trying to convince jurists that hiring 1 woman for every 13 men is a figure that is totally not our fault (

  2. It's actually the simplest thing in the world. If somebody's employer bought your ticket to GoGaRuCo, you can now sue them for sexual harassment. You'd probably only get a small settlement, but you wouldn't walk away empty-handed. Meanwhile we've got these guys from other countries who can't figure out what the fuss is about. I honestly wish somebody would just shut the fuck up and sue them already. What they did is punishable in a court of law, albeit only by proxy and only with civil penalties. If there was a lawsuit against GoGaRuCo, these otherwise intelligent guys who in this case are just clueless would see what the problem was. Right now they seriously think that the problem is somehow similar to hearing a swear word on prime-time TV. The other fantastic benefit, if somebody would just stop yammering about it and bring litigation, is they would get to have their say in the courthouse and we could all get on with our lives.

  3. I don't really want to see lawsuits, and they would be losing suits. Your company has to have known there was a problem, and taken no steps to remedy it. I really don't think anyone is going to claim that over one slideshow. And I doubt that that as a reality is either of our points.

    It is instructive to remember that in this country those sort of things are actionable, so it's not just "no biggie, right" in every case. This case fairly minor, but it's not that far of a stretch from where someone *could* make a case out of it, especially if they already had cause to complain in their workplace.

  4. I don't normally post comments with such little content, but you deserve a pat on the back for your comments on "On Engendering Strong Reactions". Nice work.


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