The right to be rude

The right to be rude, by Eric Raymond.

Instead of meritocracy …, we are now urged to behave so that no-one will ever feel uncomfortable.

The effect – the intended effect, I should say, is to diminish the prestige and autonomy of people who do the work … in favor of self-appointed tone-policers. In the process, the freedom to speak necessary truths even when the manner in which they are expressed is unpleasant is being gradually strangled.

And that is bad for us. Very bad. Both directly – it damages our self-correction process – and in its second-order effects. The habit of institutional tone policing, even when well-intentioned, too easily slides into the active censorship of disfavored views. …

The cost of a culture in which avoiding offense trumps the liberty to speak is that crybullies control the discourse. To our great shame, people who should know better … have internalized anticipatory surrender to crybullying. They no longer even wait for the soi-disant victims to complain before wielding the ban-hammer.

We are being social-hacked from being a culture in which freedom is the highest value to one in which it is trumped by the suppression of wrongthink and wrongspeak. Our enemies … do not even really bother to hide this objective.

Our culture is not fatally damaged yet, but the trend is not good. … “Codes of Conduct” that purport to regulate even off-project speech have become all too common.

Wake up and speak out. Embrace the right to be rude – not because “rude” in itself is a good thing, but because the degenerative slide into suppression of disfavored opinions has to be stopped right where it starts, at the tone policing.

Can you even guess what context this is in? Difficult, isn’t it, because the same is happening in so many areas at once.

The mob of mediocrities is overwhelming actual talent and meritocracy, because we are not in real competition or under threat.

It’s like a football team that only ever trains. The aim is to make everyone feel good, instead of molding the most effective team out of the individuals at hand. The talented can be replaced by the mediocrities on the team, because the outcome doesn’t matter. The attitudes and practices that make a good team can be dropped if they annoy the mediocre, because team performance no longer matters.