254

From your official FAQ (now deleted and replaced, see update below) about the Code of Conduct revisions (I've bolded the parts that I find objectionable):

Q9: Do I have to use pronouns I’m unfamiliar or uncomfortable with (e.g., neopronouns like xe, zir, ne... )?

Yes, if those are stated by the individual.

It has long been a principle of American jurisprudence that the government cannot compel people to say anything that goes against their conscience. In the famous 1943 case West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, involving parents who, for religious reasons, did not want their children forced to recite a pledge of allegiance to the United States, Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote:

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.

Now, Stack Exchange is a private company, not a part of the U.S. government, and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not binding on you. You have a legal right to create a Code of Conduct that compels people to use speech they find uncomfortable. This would be a violation of the First Amendment if a government entity did it, but you have the legal right to do it.

However, the fact that you are willing to compel speech that people find uncomfortable has persuaded me that you do not believe in freedom of expression. At least, not in this particular area of speech. And if you're willing to sacrifice that freedom in one area, you're going to be willing to sacrifice it in more areas soon, because you hold other things higher than freedom of expression.

I cannot in good conscience sign any Code of Conduct that compels people to speak in ways that would offend their conscience, or even that make them uncomfortable. My conscience is not offended by using the pronouns that people have requested, but I know that some people do find that their conscience would not allow them to use neopronouns. (I have talked to some such people). And since I cannot in good conscience sign your revised Code of Conduct, which you require all contributors to sign, the only principled thing to do is to stop contributing to your site other than this farewell message.

My only major contribution to your site has been in the tag, where I have a gold badge. As of yesterday, there were 12 gold badge holders in the tag, 4 of which have not contributed anything (questions or answers) for at least a year, leaving 8 active holders of a gold badge in the tag. Now that number has gone from 8 to 7.

P.S. It's one thing to say "Certain kinds of speech are not allowed on our site and will be removed if found". Everyone has to do that, since sadly, there are many people on the Internet who think nothing of trying to spam their advertising messages in places where such messages are completely inappropriate. The principle of free speech means that you must not compel me to be silent, but it in no way requires you to give me a platform if you find my message objectionable. But there's a big, bright line between "you do not have to give me a platform" and "you can compel me to speak in ways that make me uncomfortable or offend my conscience". You have blithely stepped over that line with no consideration of the principles of free expression that you are violating, and I refuse to continue to participate in a site that does not understand the fundamentals of freedom.

Edit: I do want to start a discussion about the principles of free expression, and the only place I've seen such a thing happen so far is in answers to other questions (such as this one or this one), where a discussion is harder because the only way to answer an answer is with a comment — and comments cannot be downvoted so it's hard to gauge how many people disagree with a comment, and more importantly it's hard to express a full idea in 600 characters when you're discussing fundamental philosophical/political principles such as free expression and what its limits, if any, should be. That is part of why I put "Coerced speech is incompatible with freedom" in my title: it's my reason for leaving SE, but it's also the subject around which I hope to spark a discussion. If this is a duplicate of other questions, I'd be perfectly happy to have this closed as a dupe, and have that discussion in the answers to those other, pre-existing question(s). But if this is not a duplicate of other questions, only of answers where a discussion is harder to have, I would respectfully ask that the question be reopened so that a discussion can be had in the answers here.

Edit 2: Thank you to those who voted to close this as a duplicate of a previous question, as I asked. But Aza's "An update on my resignation notice" post, while an excellent summary of many of the issues involved in this debate, does not touch on the issue that is at the core of this post of mine: the principles of free expression and how coerced speech is incompatible with freedom. I would therefore, again, ask for this question to be either reopened, or closed with a duplicate that actually discusses the main issue I'm trying to address. I misunderstood the "This may be a duplicate" box that appeared at the top of my post to mean that the question had been closed. It has not; it's still open for answers if anyone wants to discuss the principles of coerced speech. Sorry about the mistake in my previous edit.

Update: The FAQ that I originally linked to has been closed and deleted, and replaced by a new official FAQ, which does not contain the specific language I objected to. I have not yet read it carefully enough to decide whether it allows the free expression I value, or whether it still restricts people from following their conscience. Until I have time to give it that careful reading, I will continue to stay off the site. (I did feel the need to edit this post to keep it up-to-date, which will unfortunately have the effect of bumping it back to the top of Meta.SE. So if any new comments or questions show up here, I will try to engage with them, but I will continue to refrain from commenting or answering elsewhere until/unless I make the decision to return. If there was a way to avoid bumping this up to the top of the active list, I would do so.)

Also, even if I decide that the updated FAQ sufficiently addresses my concern for free expression, I do not plan to return until Monica's concerns are fully addressed. The way Stack Exchange treated Monica was shameful, and nothing less than a full and complete apology and retraction (including unconditional reinstatement) is sufficient to fix the harm caused to her. (Requiring her to reapply for mod status is not sufficient, for the reasons Monica explained: when you fire someone without cause, it is a further violation to require them to come to you hat in hand begging for readmission. The only honorable thing to do is to unconditionally offer them their job back. Anything short of that would fail to acknowledge that you did wrong. Since Monica did nothing wrong, Stack Exchange must treat her as if she did nothing wrong, by restoring the privileges that were unjustly taken away from her.)

  • 21
    This does seem to seek input and discussion to me. For example, the text includes, "I do want to start a discussion about the principles of free expression". In addition, it has >100 net upvotes, which does signal approval from voters on some level. – gung - Reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 20:45
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    @gung, Shog is cleaning things up. I would let him be -- he's good at damage control, he only does his job, and he knows he's only buying time. – Frédéric Hamidi Oct 11 at 20:52
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    @FrédéricHamidi, I didn't mean for it to read as a criticism of him. I'm sure he's tired & this is a thankless task. But I do also think this should remain open. I want to voice that point of view respectfully. – gung - Reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 20:55
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    @shog9 you should probably also close the posts on this topic by sarachipps, davidfullerton and cesarm as they clearly also are not seeking input and discussion. – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 21:17
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    This question was closed twice by five community votes, and reopened twice by five community votes, in the first few hours after I posted it. Which means there's widespread disagreement over whether my stated desire to start a discussion is actually true. Personally, I would appreciate it if people took me at my word and assumed good faith on my part. But I understand if @Shog9 wants to close the question for a while given that there was a close-and-reopen vote war about it, just as you would lock a question for a while after an edit war. I just ask that it be reopened in a few hours. – rmunn Oct 11 at 23:07
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    And I should add that the wholesale deletion of a comment thread that was getting too long, while quite reasonable (and I don't know what may have happened in the 6-7 hours that I was away from the Internet, so there may have been even better reasons to clean it up than just "it was getting too long"), illustrates my point about discussion in answers rather than comments. Which is another reason why I'm asking to have this reopened after a little while, so that people who want to leave thoughtful replies, positive or negative, can do so in a form that's not quite so ephemeral as comments. – rmunn Oct 11 at 23:13
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    @mxyzplk Using Meta for "Stack Overflow, the company, to communicate with the community" has always been on topic. We need to know what's happening sometimes even if it isn't in the form of a question. – Robert Longson Oct 12 at 7:47
  • 1
    You need to re-phrase your post as a question. See how SE posted this announcement that contains a question implicitly. Try to edit it that way. :) – Fermi paradox Oct 12 at 9:24
  • 2
    I posted a similar comment with regard to the official FAQ and had the message deleted for violating the rules, even though it violated no rules, by one of StackExchange's employees. It seems they really don't care. I too am done with this site. – shellster Oct 14 at 21:40
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    Exactly my feelings. Thank you for expressing them better than I ever could. – gdoron is supporting Monica Oct 25 at 6:30
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    Rules for thee, never for me. – Carpe CM Oct 25 at 17:18
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    I'm leaning the same way. SE are never going to admit their mistakes and readmit Monica. So we stay (and remain frustrated) or leave... – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Oct 25 at 17:42
68
+50

Instead of leaving, what you should — IMHO — do is:

  1. Declare you reject the (new) CoC as coercive and inappropriate.
  2. Ignore it in your SE activity

Don't leave — stay and fight!

And, let's be honest: By your rep, you seem to be a Stack Overflow user mostly. It's likely this whole "pronoun kerfuffle" won't actually come up anytime soon, if at all, in any of the questions you're involved in.

P.S. — Just to clarify — I'm not against personal pronoun choices (though not thrilled about the headache these might get me into), and I don't even know if you are; that's not really the point.

  • 35
    It's a good thought, but the CoC's coercion of speech wasn't the only thing pushing me to leave, it was just the final straw. The animated ads thing, the bungling of Monica's firing, the complete deafness of Stack Exchance staff to the community's pressing desire for better curation tools (which they continue to be deaf to: the blog post announcing the CoC changes even said they plan to get rid of the "why your question was closed" boxes!)... they were all already pressing me to leave. But for other people, that's good advice. – rmunn Oct 11 at 16:00
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    @rmunn: There aren't any ads when you use an ad-blocker :-P ... well, just bear in mind that a lot of people like me - that is, who are annoyed with SE's policies - would be sad to see like-minded users leave. – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 16:21
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    I fully understand, and I'm sad to be going. But IMHO, having seen what an official SE representative chose to retweet... they're never going to listen, because they don't believe anyone can possibly object in good faith to their policies. Which means the only way left is to leave, and when a competitor site finally shows up, join that one instead. There's no competitor (yet) with nearly the same value as Stack Overflow, so I'm currently stuck with nowhere to go to give people the help I used to. But SE's policies are just not going to change, ever. – rmunn Oct 11 at 16:27
  • Oh, and as I just said to ColeenV - I'm going to have to step away from the Internet for a few hours to deal with real-life concerns. So if you have more to say and I don't respond, it's not because I'm ignoring you. – rmunn Oct 11 at 16:28
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    @rmunn: They're not going to listen to words, that's for sure. But if faced with mass rejection of their attitude, they might not be able to execute their policies; and I'm sure they don't like appearing like blundering malicious fools. – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 16:34
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    @rmunn: You know what? I take my previous comments back. I've reached the conclusion that the gender pronouns business is too much of a Red Herring. I am now a bit suspicious people like you are just being manipulated into leaving for business reasons which don't actually have anything to do with pronouns or "inclusivity". – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 19:42
  • something like this? – gnat Oct 11 at 20:01
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    stay and fight - how? Have you seen how many questions about it have been recenty posted? Not a single reaction. The only leverage the community has is the content it provides so withdrawing it is the only viable option. – Christine H. Richards Oct 11 at 20:27
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    But following the advice in this answer (especially on the technical sites, where 'this whole "pronoun kerfuffle" won't actually come up anytime soon') will mean SO,Inc. still gets all they want: the contributions, and we have effectively no way of demonstrating our dissent with the CoC. I have not made a final decision yet, but I am very prepared to vote with my feet and go looking for a site with better philosophy. – Reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 20:38
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    On the contrary, leaving the site and stop visiting it is exactly what will have an effect. Nothing else. There is no reasoning or arguments, we have done that for years and SO doesn't give a s***t about anything the community says, since somewhere around 2016. – Amarth Oct 11 at 20:42
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    @ChristineH.Richards we could stop contributing completely and at the same time fight with arguments (posts, comments etc). Leaving is exactly what some SE employees stated they wanted from dissidents. – Fermi paradox Nov 3 at 13:42
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I can only wonder how many heads exploded on the english.stackexchange.com side...

In some cases, these "neo-pronouns" are just bad grammar. That is my position on this whole topic.

I am not by any means a linguistic expert. I have never posted attempted to answer anything on english.stackexchange.com. That said, I have traveled and had my share of high school English and Spanish. I was in Colombia last year, and tried explaining to some co-workers how this kind of was happening on campuses in the US. They thought I was making it up and that it was hysterical. You know, us crazy Americans and our first world problems.

And why wouldn't they? Spanish, like many European languages, is a Romance language. All the words have genders. How is this kind of thing supposed to work then? Does a non-binary person still drive un coche (a car)? Or should it be una coche? Do they eat in una cocina (a kitchen)? Or un cocino? Do you use los baños or las bañas? I wouldn't suggest trying to find out...

You may not know, but some people take their language seriously (grammar geeks). And they should. Language is an agreed upon system of communication used to convey thought. It has rules. It's how we first started passing on knowledge. Yes, it has and does change over time, but that is usually organic and not by political fiat.

In Spanish (as well as I understood it in high school, and recall some 20+ years later) if the gender of an object/word wasn't known, the rule was that you defaulted to the masculine. That wasn't to "mis-gender" or because the masculine was "better", or the feminine was "bad". It is because you need A default. As far as I ever knew, English had always been the same way. The bible doesn't refer to God with he/him/his because God was a man - God was supposed to be beyond that kind of concept. Those masculine pronouns were just the default.

Non-specific spouse #1 :

I talked to someone at the cable company about our lowering bill...

Non-specific spouse #2 :

What did he say?

There is nothing malicious there. Could they be used instead of he? Yes. Is it acceptable to use he when the gender of the person being referenced is not known? Yes.

Should this kind of thing get someone kicked off a platform? Should they be fined? Thrown in jail? Executed?

I guess for some people it's all of the above. For me it's none of the above.

As for spouse #1, I guess it depends on how much love there is for spouse #2.

  • 42
    I can confirm precisely 0 heads exploded on the EL&U side. We’ve been used to this usage longer than most folks. – Dan Bron Oct 11 at 19:05
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    FYI, much of this brou-ha-ha started when Monica was fired because she thinks using they in the singular is grammatically incorrect & wanted to find another mutually acceptable way to refer to people. In addition, Monica is Jewish. Personally, I could care less about prescriptive grammar, & I know it wasn't your intention, but in light of this, referring to people who take grammar seriously as "grammar nazis" may be insensitive. Could you edit that out? – gung - Reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 19:23
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    This answer is based on the assumption that non-binary people are ridiculous, make unreasonable demands, and are interested in changing the grammatical gender of all words rather than expressing their own gender via language. The answer could be improved by either removing this assumption and associated snide jokes, or by supporting it. – Leopold says Reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 19:30
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    While the number of people who have been murdered/executed for using he as a gender-nuetral pronoun are absolutely 0, people being murdered for simply being transgender is a very real and scary thing. Your hyperbole is outright offensive. – AGirlHasNoName Oct 12 at 0:52
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    "The bible doesn't refer to God with he/him/his because God was a man - God was supposed to be beyond that kind of concept." This is incorrect, at least in most Christian traditions that I'm aware of. God is male, even if He doesn't have a physical body aside from that of Jesus Christ. – nick012000 Oct 12 at 7:27
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    Language evolves. There's nothing inherently wrong with making up new words or new grammar if there is a (perceived) need to do so. – gerrit Oct 13 at 8:08
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    "Is it acceptable to use he when the gender of the person being referenced is not known? Yes." This may have been normal in the past, but such usage is largely considered antiquated. Language does evolve. – Gregory Currie Oct 14 at 9:16
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    @gerrit but there is plenty wrong with forcing you to use the newly made up words. – Luis Reinstate Monica Oct 14 at 9:43
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    @LuisRico We disagree there. – gerrit Oct 14 at 10:16
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    @gerrit I guess we do, but you can freely express your opinion and I can't. Not only that, I have to openly express my agreement with yours – Luis Reinstate Monica Oct 14 at 10:31
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    @AGirlHasNoName Not to diminish your point - There have been plenty of muders/executions for (and in the name of) political ideology. I would even wager that there has been a few more than those done for sexual identity. Despite what some may believe, this topic is a political one when it's enforced using force (whether that is legal force, or force of platform rules). – Jason Warner Oct 14 at 13:53
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    If you want to change it to something other than "geek" (because you find that offensive), I have no problem with that. I think many people would understand that calling someone a geek is not as offensive as calling a Jewish person a nazi, perhaps not you, though. Be aware that I am not compelling you to use any particular word, I'm not even forcing you not to use a particular word. I simply requested you not use that word out of basic human decency. – gung - Reinstate Monica Oct 14 at 14:38
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    I took it as snark. There was a good day & a half between my comment & when someone else edited your post. If you had taken the point seriously, you could have edited or commented. The fact that you didn't also provides information. – gung - Reinstate Monica Oct 14 at 16:46
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    @Leopold This answer is based on the assumption that non-binary people are ridiculous where? make unreasonable demands But... they do. There's no scientific evidence to back up non-binaryism. and are interested in changing the grammatical gender of all words rather than expressing their own gender via language But... that's exactly what they're doing. Am I missing something? – Qix Oct 25 at 12:08
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    @Qix scientific evidence: doi:10.1007/s11930-017-0111-8 and doi:10.1080/15532739.2017.1370627. Not that "here's how not to cause me life-shattering suffering" needs peer review. exactly what they're doing: Non-binary people are obviously not interested in changing the gender of words like "car" and "kitchen" in any language; they're interested in having words that fit their own gender. ridiculous: The claim that it has anything to do with words for inanimate objects, and "crazy Americans and our first world problems". – Leopold says Reinstate Monica Oct 25 at 18:55
24

Why leave? Some SE employees stated they'd be pleased with exactly that.

Sara Ownbey Chipps has retweeted

Tyranny Siren @bitandbang · 11 Std.
Reading comments on a blog post about a CoC:

If you’re against CoCs and to protest you’re leaving the community because the CoC has become more inclusive...

  1. You identified yourself as part of the problem
  2. You removed your problematic self from the community

... thank you?

Instead:

  • stop contributing completely (including flags, reviews, etc)
  • encourage other dissidents not to leave and to instead oppose unethical behavior with constructive criticism.
  • 7
    Sometimes there are better things to do in life. – user1306322 Nov 3 at 14:21
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    This tweet (and particularly, the retweet) has been criticized a lot, and one could dissect this on multiple levels. But as a starter: The wording: "If you’re ... leaving ... because the CoC has become more inclusive" could be ridiculous, if it wasn't so dangerous: People are leaving for an awful lot of reasons, and suggesting that people are "leaving ...*because* .. inclusive" is so incitive, shallow and inconsiderate that I nearly fremdschäme me for that. Fortunately, at least some of the discussion here has higher standards. – Marco13 Nov 3 at 15:41
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    @Marco13 Forget that tweet. You should have a listen at the infamous podcast instead. hashtagcauseascene.com/podcast/sara-chipps – dfhwze Nov 3 at 16:39
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    @dfhwze could you sum up the most important points with timestamps? It's rather lengthy. I can add it in the answer or even better you could post an answer (giving you more tools on Meta with the rep you ll get). – Fermi paradox Nov 3 at 16:42
  • @Fermiparadox minute 32:00 till end I would listen entirely through. If I sum it up, my comment would get deleted ;-) – dfhwze Nov 3 at 16:43
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    The podcast has been discussed, to some extent, in meta.stackexchange.com/questions/336623/… ... – Marco13 Nov 3 at 16:52
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    To clarify: I'm not "leaving" in the sense that I'm going to delete my account; I'm going to leave my account as-is, because it's still valuable to me to be able to point to it and say "I had a gold badge in F# on Stack Overflow before I left in protest". That might help me in future job interviews, for example. But I'm "leaving" in the sense that I'm no longer contributing answers, or even comments (except on this one question) to the site. If Stack Exchange, Inc. were to reverse course, I might come back, but that retweet makes it clear that the company has no intention to reverse course. – rmunn Nov 4 at 8:47
20

Respect goes both ways.

  1. Anyone has the right to choose whichever gender they want and the right to ask people to address them with whichever pronoun they prefer.

  2. Anyone has the right to not believe in the existence of certain genders and the right to refuse to address a person with the pronoun that person prefers.

This is what we do in all other situations. I work with people who believe in God while I don't and we get along fine. We are even friends. I play volleyball in a team with people who vote for political parties that I believe aim for the wrong goals. I'm vegan and yet I take care of my old parents who eat meat.

You are free and welcome to say what you like, and I am free to either comply with your wishes or not.

-36

We coerce speech all the time and almost no one objects.

Stack Exchange, and indeed any polite community, compels many kinds of speech. This is good.

Simple example

A user who refuses to say "please" and "thank you" when appropriate (e.g. who insists on "Edit this to add an example!" instead of "Could you please edit this to add an example?") would probably have their posts edited against their will, may get banned, and certainly wouldn't be trusted to be a moderator.

Extreme example

Suppose a user refuses to believe women can program. If they believe a question was asked by a woman, they don't say "you can use jQuery" but "tell the man who wrote this code that he can use jQuery".

Faced with moderator warnings, they offer the following compromise: "the programmer who wrote this code can use jQuery", which does not explicitly claim that the programmer in question is a man; but they refuse to use any language that suggests they believe in female programmers.

It's clear that we would and should reject the compromise. The most sympathetic reaction such a user would get is "If you can't be polite to female users, please don't use the site"; the most common would be "What's wrong with you? Just say 'your code', she clearly wrote it!".

This example is intended to show the clearest-cut possible example of acceptable compelled speech, and is not intended to be realistic. Though I have in fact met people like this.

Historical example

In the early history of the US, many people supported race-based chattel slavery and considered doing so a deep and important part of their values. They claimed this was a religious duty imposed by their conscience. They thought of abolitionists as unreasonable fanatics.

I've been asked in several places to endorse a value statement containing platitudes like "We are all equal, regardless of race". If a time-travelling Alexander Stephens objected to such a demand on grounds of opposition to compelled speech/religious conscience/personal values, he would get no sympathy whatsoever.

Conclusions

There are a few grounds on which one can object to compelling this particular speech:

  • Bite the bullet and oppose compelled speech in all cases, including for the anti-polite, sexist strawmen, and racists with TARDISes. This can be done, but must be defended: it's certainly not a widely accepted principle.
  • Defend this particular objection on its own merits. It seems hard to do so without overt transphobia, but perhaps there is such an argument.
  • Appeal to some norm that defines when it is and isn't okay to compel speech.
  • Question Stack Exchange's authority to compel this particular speech: muddling between enforcing rules that society already agrees on vs picking a side in a current hot-button issue, or introducing division when they should maintain peace. This sounds like a fruitful line of argument.

But "It's compelled speech, therefore everyone reasonable can see it's bad" does not hold water.

  • 29
    No. Removing specific content for any reason or no reason is not compelled speech. That's not what this is about. You're comparing apples and oranges. – Robert Harvey Oct 11 at 20:27
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    This is an odd mix of factually incorrect statements & non sequiturs. We don't coerce speech. When a user adds "please" & "thank you", it is often edited out. It is considered clutter. A user who does not add that to questions posted would certainly not get banned. It goes downhill from there. – gung - Reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 20:31
  • 3
    @RobertHarvey I'm confused. The compelled speech in the examples, respectively, is "please", "your code", and "I endorse the Being Less Racist Than 19th Century Georgia Value Statement". – Leopold says Reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 20:33
  • @gung Thanks, I've edited to clarify when "please" is appropriate and would be forcibly edited in. If you can suggest improvements to the other examples, please do. – Leopold says Reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 20:36
  • 4
    Your examples can only be comments (as an answer they would get deleted) and I really would love to see an example where a mod edited "please" into a comment. – Tom Oct 11 at 20:41
  • 3
    I can't follow that. Are you thinking of someone commenting to suggest the OP clarify their question, & they don't include 'please' in the text of their comment? That isn't really an issue. It certainly isn't compelled. Be aware that very few people are ever banned, & certainly not for something as trivial as that. I'm honestly not aware of SE ever compelling speech before, or of coerced speech in larger society. It would take an answer at least as long as this to go through everything here. This isn't connected to any reality I'm familiar with. – gung - Reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 20:42
  • I for one don't think that editing "please" and "thank you" into comments should be your business at all and I have never seen that. Editing questions and answers is not compelling speech because the poster can edit it again and choose a different wording. And your Alexander Stephens would get no sympathy but he would not be punished for not making that statement either. – Stop harming Monica Oct 11 at 21:34
  • 32
    There's a difference between "This speech is not allowed here", or even "This comment is rude and will not be allowed unless you find a kinder way to say it", and dictating exactly what must be said. When the new CoC says "You must use these pronouns even if you find them uncomfortable", it refuses any latitude for people to find a compromise position, one that would acknowledge the dignity of both sides by treating others with respect while not violating one's own conscience. – rmunn Oct 12 at 0:24
  • 13
    This is why your hypothetical examples don't quite work as arguments against the point I'm actually trying to make: the people in your hypotheticals aren't trying to treat others decently. The problem (one of the problems) with the CoC and especially the FAQ is that it doesn't allow the people who really are trying to treat others with respect, but don't want to do so in the way that the FAQ dictates, to have any latitude. Forcing people of good will to speak against their conscience and refusing to allow them to is just plain wrong, and I can't go along with it. – rmunn Oct 12 at 0:33
  • 2
    @rmunn: "the difference is whether the speaker is trying to treat others decently" falls under "Appeal to some norm that defines when it is and isn't okay to compel speech." You could edit the question to 1) explicitly state that's the rule you use 2) explain why it's a rule we should all agree on. That would render my answer obsolete. – Leopold says Reinstate Monica Oct 12 at 8:11

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