Politeness as a tool for malice

Politeness in a civilized society exists to make interactions among people as smooth as possible. However, more than a few groups of people have taken up the notion of politeness as a mask for expressing their authoritarian and aggressive attitudes.

Incident: John de Goes

I originally learned of this pattern when coming across the whole Typelevel incident against the programmer John de Goes. I’m only paraphrasing here: Typelevel accused John of being rude because of his comments on Github, and yet the people (including myself) who looked over those comments found no problematic behaviour.

Typelevel has, essentially, kicked John using politeness as a tool.

Incident: NoRedInk

A former employee of the company NoRedInk wrote this comment:

If only I could have read this years ago, before I had the misfortune of working at NoRedInk. The team shows a bewildering mix of cargo-cult inclusiveness coupled with inability to consider that anyone could be different from them in any way that matters. I’ve never before or since met a group where a mentor would advise someone to “show more curiosity” by asking fewer questions!

[I was] fired halfway through the period for “engaging in conflict” which I can only speculate referred to a bizarre conversation on company Slack about whether or not it made sense to add a cache.

This incident seems very similar to that involving John de Goes.