Response to John De Goes

This document (originally published on GitHub) contains additional supporting material for the claims in this post (published 1 September 2019), in response to a cease and desist letter from John A. De Goes that I received on 6 July 2020. In the letter De Goes's lawyer claims that the post "specifically targets our client with the goal to publicly vilify our client" and threatens to sue me for defamation in a German court.

Please see also this post for more information about De Goes deleting the FCoP repository on GitHub shortly before sending the cease and desist letter.

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The Fantasyland Code of Professionalism

The Fantasyland Code of Professionalism (FCoP) is a code of conduct developed by the Fantasyland Institute of Learning, an organization that was founded by John A. De Goes and is responsible for LambdaConf, a functional programming conference.

Many other people have written about the shortcomings of the FCoP as a code of conduct, including Christie Koehler, who calls it "beyond mediocre" and "downright dangerous", and Matthew Garrett (in an article titled "The Fantasyland Code of Professionalism is an abuser's fantasy").

The purpose of the post you're reading now isn't exactly to critique the FCoP, though, but to preserve some of the discussion surrounding it, since De Goes has recently deleted the FCoP GitHub repository and several other FCoP-related documents, in a move that seems related to the fact that he's currently threatening to sue me for defamation.

One of the claims in De Goes's cease and desist letter is that the following statement (published here) is false:

The FCoP was developed specifically in response to the 2016 LambdaConf controversy, and it's clearly designed to protect white supremacists like Yarvin.

De Goes's lawyer writes:

The FCoP is a code of conduct for professional communities that our client has created. The FCoP is clearly not designed to protect white supremacists.

I've provided evidence in another document that it's reasonable to describe Curtis Yarvin as a white supremacist, and that many other people besides me have done this, including journalists, prominent software developers (for example Erica Baker in this Inc. article), and one of his former business partners.

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John De Goes and the FP community

Update (25 July 2020): John De Goes has hired a lawyer to send me a cease and desist letter demanding that I delete this post. See my responses here and here for more details.

This post is a collection of links about John De Goes that show some clear patterns of behavior:

  • De Goes defending white supremacists and misogynists.
  • De Goes attacking critics and accusing them (especially women) of lying.
  • De Goes engaging in targeted harassment, either directly (@druconfessions) or indirectly (e.g. via ClarkHat, a LambdaConf sponsor).
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A note about LambdaConf

Yesterday morning John De Goes published a blog post explaining why he and the other LambdaConf organizers decided not to uninvite an outspoken defender of slavery and lots of other vile stuff from their conference.

If you think that keeping Yarvin on the program was the right choice, then this post isn't for you. I think you're wrong, and it's pretty likely I also think your reasons are bad, predictable, and boring. John's blog post is at least not predictable or boring, even though there are plenty of problems with the process he describes, and even though it's really hard to read his anxiety about the power of "social media", etc. as anything but more Moldbuggian fretting over lost privilege.

What this post is about is how good last year's LambdaConf was. It's the only LambdaConf I've been to, and will probably be the only one I'll ever go to, now, but it was also possibly the best tech conference I've ever been to. They seemed to get so many things right and to have thought carefully about so many things: the balance of the program, the clarity about the code of conduct, the on-site child care, the emphasis on not organizing every extracurricular event around alcohol, and so on. I'm not sure I've ever seen another conference note the availability of all-gender restrooms on their website. At least from my perspective, none of these efforts felt perfunctory—I got the impression that the organizers really cared deeply about creating a welcoming environment.

This was especially important to me at last year's conference because in May 2015 the Scala community was even more of a disaster than usual. Scalaz had recently withdrawn from Typelevel, the Scalaz leadership had been rearranged, and I'd been in some fairly unpleasant arguments with a couple of the LambdaConf speakers and more than a couple of the other attendees. I was nervous about what this would mean for the tone of the conference, but somehow it was a non-issue—I personally saw nothing but civility and a lot more good will than I expected, and I believe the LambdaConf organizers deserve at least part of the credit for that.

This is why I find yesterday's decision so frustrating—I know people do shitty, inconsistent, exclusionary things all the time, especially in the tech industry, but this is like watching a friend do something particularly shitty, inconsistent, and exclusionary.

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