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Andy Rutledge

Context:Much-Needed Explanation

January 8, 2013 | By Andy Rutledge

As I intended and expected, the Q.U.O.T.A. site has caused quite a stir and no small amount of consternation. But it is widely misunderstood, and mostly willfully so. There is quite a lot of content there and without reading all of it one can miss the joke and the core message.

Certainly the crude humor and harsh usage of at least one acronym can be found offensive—again as I intended, for the behavior and ideas referenced and ridiculed are gravely offensive—but for some it presents too-great a barrier. That component alone has prompted minds to close and opinions to sour. I regret that this is so, but in reflection I believe it must be expected.

My purpose with that portion of the parody site was to ridicule those who use their position and energies toward deceptive and destructive ends (whether they recognize their effect or not), but the net was perhaps too-widely cast. I certainly wanted to shock broadly (to encourage self examination), but not offend so broadly. Seems I missed the mark on that point and for that I sincerely apologize to those not targeted who were offended.

As to my effort at offence and ridicule (along with some humorous chiding), it was directed at those who hold with the idea of arbitrary quotas in the volitional pursuit of what they call diversity. The fact is that their effort works in direct opposition to what they proclaim. Instead of mitigating racism and sexism, the effect of their ideas is to perpetuate and exacerbate these horrible things. The Q.U.O.T.A. site is meant to illustrate that fact in a harsh and ironic fashion.

Baseless Accusations

“…And before assuming that a conference probably couldn’t find enough women because not enough women applied (blaming the victim), first find out whether or not the selection process actually included an open call for talks.” - Aral Balkan, On false dichotomies and diversity

Blaming the victim? What victim? Who are these victims? Just who are these women who are being excluded from consideration at conferences? When was the last time you heard or read about a woman eager to speak at a conference, trying to get on some conference speaker panels, but was consistently denied? Where are their valid complaints?

I see talented women listed in speaker lineups all the time. Are they flukes? Certainly not. Does this idea of excluded worthies have merit? Nope; turns out your straw man is a woman. By evidence she simply doesn’t exist (and I ask for all evidence to the contrary).

But while Mr. Balkan makes the logical and responsible suggestion for first finding out whether or not the selection process included an open call for talks, most don’t seem to care about finding facts. They go straight to the presumption of a crime, followed by accusations.

And they are not alone. They’ve decided there is a crime being committed and have found a bunch of people (who, specifically?) guilty, but don’t seem to be interested in the facts of the matter. This is not helping. In fact, it is working to champion racism and sexism.

The Opposite Effect

The cult of diversity is blind to individuals and recognizes only categories and demographics. These cult members miss the fact that people are not categories, but sovereign individuals. Diversity as a volitional pursuit is an ideal based on categorization rather than individual quality, and is fundamentally racist and/or sexist, as the context allows.

Those involved always proclaim something other than quotas in their effort toward diversity, but their word and actions belie those claims. For instance, just one example:

Even The Atlantic publication proclaims the hideous requirement for tokenism:

“Men: You can help fix this. Refuse to participate unless there are women on stage with you.” - From The Atlantic: A Simple Suggestion to Help Phase Out All-Male Panels at Tech Conferences

So apparently the simple, arbitrary call to have women (or at least one!) on stage with men fixes something. Really? What exactly is it fixing?

This is not a slippery slope; it’s a cliff we’ll all go over. What about requiring whites on stage with blacks or Asians on stage with women? No, really, if we’re going to be arbitrary about this we’ll need to know a couple of things:

  1. What is the comprehensive, accepted standard for arbitrary diversity for stages, and
  2. Just whose arbitrary standard must organizations and events meet? Will there be some sort of annual conference with committee discussions about which criteria to add and which to modify. Will there be floor votes or will some elected representatives craft our standards? How black is black? How white is white? Inquiring minds want to know.

Regardless, some are already deciding how to implement these unknown new artibrary quota standards:

Conclusion

I’ll say again: the cult of diversity is blind to individuals and recognizes only categories and demographics. As such, their ideas are tripe. People are not categories, but sovereign individuals. We should each be judged according to our individual quality, not by the color of our skin or the content of our plumbing. Diversity can be wonderful, but diversity is about ideas and experience, not skin color and gender. And no, this is not some argument to keep conference speaker lineups homogenous or white. Racism is racism.

Diversity as a volitional pursuit mis-defines the term and turns it into an effort at racist, sexist categorization. We should not tolerate such a hateful idea in our industry or society.

I regret how my effort at harsh criticism of some served to offend too many, but I sincerely hope that my much-needed ridicule will give rise to individual reflection on the issues at hand.

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Background photo by Andreas Praefcke.