This is the kind of post that conference organisers always wish they don’t have to make, but in this case we wanted to clarify our position on how political messages work in relation to the Code of Conduct at PyCon AU.
For context, this blog post was prompted by this tweet (from one of our organisers and talk reviewers) and the ensuing discussion. The tweet is calling for talk authors to stop using talk titles of the form “Make X Great Again”.
In the ensuing Twitter discussion (with a usual Twitter-level of nuance and thoughtfulness) there were calls for talks with this title to be summarily rejected or people who propose such talks to be banned from the conference. We’ve also heard concern that by condemning or rejecting these talks we are excluding people with a particular political viewpoint from the conference.
We want to clarify two things:
The PyCon AU team is 100% committed to running a diverse and inclusive conference. All are welcome regardless of race, sexuality, gender, background, ability, experience or political opinions. PyCon Australia will not tolerate messages which exclude other groups of attendees or cause them to fear for their safety (even in a small way).
Regardless of its origin and other meanings, the “Make America Great Again” slogan has been adopted by groups which deliberately aim to exclude on race, religion or other criteria. We do not believe that disallowing a message adopted by hate groups to be exclusionary to people with differing political beliefs. We accept all people and their beliefs, but we do not accept any behaviour or rhetoric which is exclusionary.
We know that unfortunately, it’s hard to always keep up with how words and attempted jokes might negatively affect others. As with most Code of Conduct concerns which arise from a misunderstanding, we give chances and warnings. In this particular case, we want to make it clear that talks which were submitted with “Make X great again” titles will be reviewed according to their content. If any are accepted, it will be only on the condition that the title be changed and the original title not mentioned in the slides or talk itself.
We hope this clarifies where we stand, and we if you are concerned in any way that you might be either unwelcome or unsafe at PyCon AU, we’d like to remind you that we want you to be there. Our firstname.lastname@example.org email address is open and we will take any and all concerns seriously.