The Witch and the Witch-hunt
A lot has been said about the recent CAT report and updates. It feels to me like we're not getting anywhere because the critical matters aren't being addressed.
Right now there are two groups of people with opinions on this matter.
One group is appalled by the original report, because they have a number of serious concerns with the report. There was
- A truth-seeking process that was haphazard at best, in ways that are obvious to anyone with the slightest bit of knowledge of what happened
- An expeditionary power-grab despite explicit requests not to do so
- A punishment that was clearly not proportional to the incidents described
- A willingness to cherry pick people from one side of a conflict where both sides have behaved in ways they really shouldn't have.
- An apparent willingness to punish people who associate with Subject
Combined this means that people fear the CAT because this is exactly the sort of behavior that can easily result in innocent people being banned.
The other group was relieved that someone they have known to be toxic is finally being removed from the community. Most have had so many negative experiences with him that they'll readily believe any further accusations in his general direction without need for further evidence. Others genuinely don't care anymore how the sausage is made as long as he's eliminated from the community.
These different worldviews make it almost impossible for people to talk about the issue at hand, because they're talking past each other. Almost any discussion on the subject quickly devolves to bickering between people saying "How can you defend this toxic person" versus people saying "how can you defend this miscarriage of justice". For a lot of people it becomes a "you're either with us or against us" type of issue. Without splitting these conversations, we can't actually meet each other eye-to-eye. One can admit that what happened here was a cockup without denying that it tries to deal with an actual issue.
Simply put, it rather appears like the CAT is firmly in the second camp. Everything that happens makes sense if they already believed him to be toxic and this incident was an opportunity to kick him out for once and for all. I'm not saying this was a conspiracy or some such; I'm suggesting that they were sufficiently biased that they got sloppy in dealing with this incident, they were entirely caught off guard by opposition to what they had done. The thing is, the CAT should not be doing a witch hunt, even if we know the target to actually be a witch.
The CAT's (draft) charter says "the CAT must be trusted and viewed as consistent and impartial" and "to maintain the trust of the community, the CAT must make its processes and actions transparent while not sacrificing privacy" but right now a large segment of the community doesn't trust them anymore because they have failed to do exactly those things. Despite all their good intentions, the CAT's actions actively worked against those intentions by focusing on the "easy win" and made the situation more difficult the next time action needs to be taken.
The CAT is supposed to enforce accountability in our community, but it can not credibly and effectively do that if it is not accountable itself. What TPF should have done IMHO is pull the report and let someone else redo the entire thing, but it's probably too late for that now. What they can still do to put our community on a path out of this conflict is for them to:
- acknowledge what they did wrong
- answer the question "how could this have happened?"
- apologize for it
but from my conversations with them over the past five weeks it rather looks like they intend to just move on without doing any of those things.
We've been infighting for a full year now, for a brief moment between the PSC's
use v7 announcement and the CAT's report it seemed we might finally get some peace. The CAT clearly underestimated just how divisive this action would be, and more division is the very last thing our community needs right now. This is the thing that upsets me the most of all; I remember a few weeks ago telling myself "finally we can put all this drama behind ourselves", I even wrote a blog post with that perspective and quite the opposite has happened.
I am tired of conflict and very disappointed.