The Contributor Covenant: Why I Find It Offensive

Another Species Confused On Covenants…

The Contributor Covenant

Programmers have a history of having what are often vitrolic exchanges–especially in coding communities. Not that long ago, there was an exchange of what amounted to verbal fisticuffs which resulted in a virtual Emily Post for programmers in open source.

So what’s the big deal with that? Well, mainly that many open source projects snatched it up as part of their platform for contribution which means if you want to contribute to their platform, you have to adopt this quasi-metaphysical-pseudo-religious code of conduct along with your contribution. I have problems with that.

There Was Already A Covenant

For one thing, my own spiritual beliefs are not very pleased with the co-opting of the word Covenant. If that were not enough, however, the fact that the “woman” who suggested this code of conduct is actually a man is more than enough to rile me. That’s right, the originator of this idea who is using the word Covenant which is clearly a religious word first and foremost, happens to have gender bent and wants to be identified as a woman which of course runs completely counter to the original meaning of the word Covenant. It is ALMOST a mocking of both religion and spiritual traditions that hold that the Covenant with Israel from YHVH is a sacred thing. It may well be such a mocking.

Why I Am Bent Out of Shape

More and more, there seems to be some weird overlap between programming politics and an almost quasi spiritual belief. A mechanic does not need to have a particular belief in order to fix a car or to use the tools required to fix what is broken. He or she can be an Atheist or a Buddhist. He also is not required to be holding a certain ethic to pick up the wrench. We may reasonably expect, however, that when he picks up the wrench as a member of the human race he might hold to some basic conduct that is pro-social. However, and this part is very important, he is under no such obligation to be so. If you do not like his attitude, you find another mechanic.

Everybody Has to Adopt The Old Testament Covenant, Right Now!

The next thing I find silly about all this is that we know how well it would go over if we stated that everyone had to adopt the Ten Commandments before contributing to an open source project. We could say, however, that those commandments are perhaps the most PRO-Social conduct to adopt. If suddenly everyone were to adopt those Ten Commandments in the open source world, I would still have some issues–specifically that the forcing of the acceptance of that set of rules was automatically foisted on anyone who wanted to join that community as a most assuredly spiritual belief. There is simply no reason that someone should have to adopt YHSVH as a Messiah or Buddha as an Avatar to start working on an open source project. In this situation, it is sillier yet to suggest that they need all these rules to be “nice to each other”. It has already been done–it requires one rule, and the simple expression is “Do unto others as you would have done unto you”. If you want to adopt a code of conduct, just adopt that.

But My Biggest Issue

My biggest beef, though, is that it seems to me this new gay-trans-furry-fangled-strap-it-on, saw-it-off, glue-it- together attitude is getting itself closer and closer to a secular humanism. If you want to do that out in a gay club with many gay friends and crazy trans folks, great. Go do it. Do it hard. However, when you start bringing it into the programming world and requiring what amounts to a spiritual sort of adoption of a belief in order so that people are “nice to you”, well, that’s a problem. Here is a helpful page from the FAQ for this crap:

Isn’t this just a way for progressive/left-wing people to push their agenda?

“Everthing is politics”, but the code of conduct is not about an advance of progressive/left-wing politics. It’s about establishing a minimal level of civil and professional collaboration. Civil, non-discriminatory, and professional behavior should be a baseline and shared value held by people of all ideologies, regardless of political affiliation (with the obvious exception of hate groups).

So, basically, the answer is “yes and also no”. It’s really making sure people are “nice” unless they happen to be “hate groups”. Well, this has already been done with the Covenant of Israel and it was a way of separating Godly people from “Pagan, ungodly groups”. Israel had to elect to agree to the premises however, and all of them said that the precepts were “good for them to do”.

Programming Is Not Voting

When I go to use a programming tool, I am not electing to agree to anything beyond doing some programming with that tool. My use of Python is not a tacit agreement with any specific spiritual belief or metaphysical requirement. When I ask a question in the community, I am not anticipating that anyone is necessarily going to be “nice” to me let alone if they are not “nice” that they are a “hate group”. Some folks are just jerks and they do not fly under any other banner than jerkdom. If they spread that attitude in a non-discriminatory way, then at the very least, they are not a hate group.

If we wave all that aside, however, this is a pretty clear cut example of cultural appropriation spun about by someone with an obvious agenda that the open source community was foolish enough to adopt because programmers tend toward secular humanism anyway.

To any of them or those that think that this idea has any merit, I say congratulations to. Why? Because by reading my article you just agreed to the Messianic Covenant. Welcome to the Age of Aquarius. Now stop your sinning immediately, or prepare to burn for your transgressions. Have a nice day.

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Joe Bill Schirtzinger
Writer/Author

My preferred topics of interest are US History and Technology.