What it's like when Nazis infiltrate your conference

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/07/26/nazis-vs-hope.html


A tactic that I really like is hiring an off duty cop. You have a member of your CoC oversight team with the cop at all times. Disruptor shows up and you have them removed by the cop as uninvited. Sometimes this leads to the Nazi resisting (best outcome) sometimes the Nazi is just booted. Either way… win.


It’s a good wake up call for all organizations like this.


White supremacist and fascist trolls have lately become emboldened (I wonder why) to take their garbage from the Internet to meatspace.

Whether it’s a conference like HOPE or a site like this one*, a dedication to open discourse has to be balanced by an understanding of Popper’s Paradox of Tolerance and clear policies reflecting the fact that advocates of thoroughly discredited ideas like white supremacism and misogyny and anti-LGBTQ bigotry and fascism are not welcome to use the platform.

[* where just yesterday a white supremacist tried – and failed – to take racist dumps all over the threads]


This is where a can of “fart spray” comes in handy. You don’t even have to spray it on them, just in their vicinity. I call it “fart shaming.”


This demonstrates yet again that the only true underlying principle of government is use of force. That is, regardless of how organizations might like to see themselves, their code of conduct has to have a bedrock policy of “The convention organizers may, at their sole discretion, immediately eject without refund or recourse any attendee whom they deem disruptive to the event. Your attendance at this event implies your agreement with this policy.”



Ooh! Ooh! If they’re blocking the aisles and refusing to move, can I draw a pentagram on the floor around them? Please?

I think I’m kidding. Obviously conferences need a better, more comprehensive plan for dealing with this shit. But that doesn’t stop me from being a big fan of the whole following-nazis-around-with-a-sousaphone kind of thing.


The irony of a hacker conference being exploited


I’m not sure what government has to do with this situation. In the U.S. the government is just about the only organisation that’s prohibited by law from ejecting or barring people from a public space or forum controlled by it based on their repugnant political views.

Other organisations, including conferences (like HOPE), Web forums (like BB BBS), and private corporations (e.g. shopping malls) are allowed to impose their own codes of conduct and exclude anyone they like (unless it’s discrimination against a protected class of person under the Constitution). In most cases the use of force isn’t necessary unless, as in the case of the HOPE conference, the undesirable visitors are using physical measures themselves as part of their disruptive activities.


Maybe it’s because I’m having a caffeine-free day, but I’m having trouble parsing this paragraph. Who are the “bona fide” attendees? Are they the same as the “they” who were “allowed to stay”? If they are, what’s remarkable about being “bona fide” while being “allowed to stay”? Surely one implies the other?


Thanks but I’ll take a pass on masked Anti-fascist vigilantes as well.

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“Government” as in how an organization gets its participants to behave in the way it wants them to behave.
“Use of force” as in, participants either do as they’re told, or they’re ejected from the venue.

The point isn’t that organizations are allowed to impose their codes of conduct, it’s that they have to decide in advance that they will do that, tell people that they will do that, and then do that. While an event is going on is the wrong time to be debating issues of freedom of speech and whatnot. The time to do that is before, when you decide what behavior will not be tolerated, and after, when you have a post mortem to see how things went and what you can learn for next time. During the event, if people are behaving in ways that are disruptive or derailing to the purpose of the event, you get them removed right then and there.

Here’s an example of such a policy: http://www.webster.edu/faculty/classroom-disruption.html


I “understand” Westboro Baptist’s warped need to disturb veteran’s funerals and political events.

I’m not exactly clear on why neo-fascists are crashing these various conferences.


That’s probably a violation of fire regulations for the venue.


The bona fide attendees are (or should be) the people who, in the sole discretion of the event organizers, are properly participating in the event.

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I think @doctorow typed ‘admitted’ when he meant something like ‘ejected’ here:


I dunno, I think it’s more of an illustration of the fact that just because you’re good at finding exploitable holes in systems doesn’t mean that you’re good at designing said systems against attack. In many ways, that’s its own sub-specialty of the security world. You definitely need a hacker mindset, but you also need to have a foot in the “real world” as well, where you can predict: how 98% of “normal” people will react to the system, how the 1% of weirdos will, and the 1% of malicious exploiters. And then build a system that has ways of handling all these different groups.


I’m no expert by any means, so anyone who might actually know please chime in…

My guess is to perpetuate the ‘we’re so oppressed’ and ‘just want free speech, bro’ viewpoint to keep their audience tuned in and outraged. The youtube clip would be something like “We’re just a bunch o’ regular folks who went to this elite liberuh conference and they attacked us, and our freedums. MAGA!.”


If justice is blind, then injustice rules supreme. Boot the bastards. I don’t give a shit about the letter of the rules - the spirit is all that matters.

Rules are a peace treaty, not a suicide pact