Four fallacies in some current Drupal community thought processes

Of course I couldn't help but be aware of the raging debate that went on today over certain remarks Dries made in his keynote at DrupalCon Copenhagen. My own opinions on the matter aside, sometimes people are just plain wrong. Here are some examples of the incoherent arguments being put forward today.

Fallacy #1
"People can irrationally take offense at things sometimes; therefore, any time someone takes offense at something, he/she is being irrational". I heard this argument bandied about in various forms today. What it actually boils down to is equivalent to "Sometimes when it's cold it is also raining; therefore, if it's raining, it must be cold".

Fallacy #2
"You don't have a right to criticise the behaviour of individual members of a group unless you are a member of that group". How this 'argument' was actually presented was along the lines of "Those criticising Dries's comments as sexist were from outside of the core Drupal community; they need to be one of us before they can criticise us". I don't need to be a member of a group to criticise the actions of that group.

Fallacy #3
"Person X is generally awesome and wonderful; therefore Person X is beyond reproach no matter what he/she ever does or says". Uh, what?

Fallacy #4
"You don't have the right to criticise the behaviour of someone whose gender is the opposite of that for which you have a sexual preference". Or something. Did anyone else manage to parse the last paragraph of that nugget of wisdom at and figure out what he was actually trying to say? I'd be intrigued to hear other interpretations.

Seriously though, I shudder at the thought of the kind of code that would follow from such a poor grasp of logic as is demonstrated by some of the remarks I've come across today :-/

With respect Kat, this is a little tendentious

... in that you've only selected poor logic from the one side and then, rigged a couple of them up into straw men. You could equally have picked out others such as:

Fallacy #5
If you disagree with me something was sexist, you are sexist too.

Fallacy #6
We took offence, therefore it must have been offensive / We took offence, therefore everyone has to take offence

Fallacy #7
Drupal lacks female contributors therefore the way to attract more is to build in strict North American Feminist sensitivities.

Fallacy #8
North American social conditions are representative of global social conditions.

Just to answer two of your points, I don't understand Fallacy 2, because almost all criticism of Dries came from either drupal core devs - eg webchick, chx - or major contrib faces. As for Fallacy 4, Caleb did botch his peroration - no doubt about it! But what about the opening paragraph? It was angry, sure, but expressed the indignation and bewilderment of a not insignificant number of people who are just as opposed to sexism, but simply couldn't see the offence.

We'd all like the involvement of more women in Drupal, but I don't agree they will all come to drupal with the expectation of being cosseted and having every man treading on eggshells. In fact I suspect many women from outside North America would actually be turned off by such an atmosphere. Besides which, the ramifications of turning drupal into a china shop where the finest sensitivities are enshrined could be catastrophic - especially if it grows as Dries predicts and is adopted beyond the west. Even if it was somehow possible, no-one likes to be denied freedom of speech, particularly when it means stifling a sense of injustice. The offended need to complain, sure, but not bully if others disagree with their assessment - which is what many felt happened this week.

Dries handled it proportionately and showed just what a great project leader he is with his measured response. That 'think' is telling.

Anyway - sorry to splurge a long comment, especially as its something that clashes with your views.

Where was the bullying?

Hi Nigel, thanks for your comment. I was aware of the one-sidedness of the examples I had taken and tried to see if I could make it more balanced - but I honestly didn't see or hear anyone express anything like the further four fallacies you have described above. The first two I presented were from conversations on IRC (the second admittedly from someone who wasn't aware of the full details of what had happened, but I still felt it was a fallacious piece of reasoning worth pointing out). The other two were from Caleb.

What I heard from chx, webchick, etc. was along the lines of "That was a bit disappointing, it's a pity he didn't think that one through a bit more to avoid perpetuating social stereotypes". Maybe there were harsher comments, as it seems that what you heard was more along the lines of "Thou shalt not say x", where x is a remark that can be construed as sexist. Even if that were how it was put, the message from the side that reacted against these views was loud and clear "THOU SHALT NOT SPEAK!"

It is pure hypocrisy that Caleb has redirected his blog post to the wikipedia article on Thought Police - his article that contains the words "How dare they." I ask you, who is looking to deny freedom of speech here?

It's quite possible I missed large parts of the discussion, but I did not see any bullying other than some nasty replies to chx's post (e.g. saying the Drupal community was full of "humourless prudes and old maids" - I'm hoping that was a different Nigel!) and this blog post by Caleb.