OpenRespect is a project created by Jono Bacon to encourage greater civility in the FLOSS community.

Moral relativism

OpenRespect takes a position of Moral relativism, claiming that everyone's opinions are valid and should be respected.

While this is reasonable in the context of, for example, choice of text editor or programming language, when it comes to discussions of sexism or other deep issues in the FLOSS community it is problematic. There is no recognition that some things are fundamentally wrong.

Members of a marginalised group are required to listen "respectfully" to offensive, hurtful, or triggering arguments, such as rape apology without arguing vehemently against them.

The policy also falls victim to Geek Social Fallacy #1, "Ostracizers are evil":

In its non-pathological form, GSF1 is benign, and even commendable: it is long past time we all grew up and stopped with the junior high popularity games. However, in its pathological form, GSF1 prevents its carrier from participating in -- or tolerating -- the exclusion of anyone from anything, be it a party, a comic book store, or a web forum, and no matter how obnoxious, offensive, or aromatic the prospective excludee may be.

By treating all opinions and viewpoints as morally equal, the OpenRespect policy discourages ostracism of people whose behaviour is clearly beyond the pale.

Tone argument

The OpenRespect project has also been criticised as a Tone argument. The document says, in part:

Respect is engaging in honest, open and polite debate with the goal of enriching each others perspectives, not for the purpose of proving each wrong.

The requirement for debate to be "polite" means that people can't express well-justified anger against serious issues.

An example criticism of the OR document as a tone argument:

Stop telling people how they are allowed to complain. The entire site you’ve set up is offensive because it’s nothing short of “the tone argument”. That is, that those who are objecting to some bad conduct have to be polite, gentle, kind. If they aren’t their objections go entirely dismissed and instead THEY are called out on their “bad behavior” of objecting.[1]


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