A small controversy is brewing over banning the Trump MAGA hat from WordCamps as a symbol of hate. Should we single out that hat?
I once would have insisted politics and WordCamps would never mix. The MAGA hat just broke that mold.
WordCamps, by the way, bring bloggers together to discuss blogging and the WordPress platform itself.
But there’s an argument about whether to ban the MAGA Hat from WordCamp events. The reason? Some see the hat, with its embroidered words, “Make America Great Again,” as a symbol of hate.
Specifically, some see it as a symbol of white supremacists.
The hat may or may not offend you. You might even own one yourself. That’s your business.
You may feel fully comfortable wearing political attire — regardless of your political views — at any public event. You may not care if such attire might offend others. That’s on you, too.
But some feel such attire has no place at WordCamp.
Aaron Jorbin feels that way. In his recent article, “Symbols of Hate at WordCamps,” he calls out those MAGA hats:
The red “Make America Great Again” hat is a potent symbol of racism. It’s a symbol used by white supremacists that is just as vulgar as a swastika or “14 words”, and it’s one that has no place in a community that seeks to have people who are “considerate, respectful, and collaborative.”
There are some people, of course, who feel the other side of the political spectrum isn’t considerate or respectful, either. You can easily forget that when you convince yourself your side can do no wrong.
Jorbin calls the MAGA hat “a symbol meant to divide.” Therefore, he says, it has no place at WordCamps because it violates two key points of their code of conduct:
- Be Considerate, Respectful, and Collaborative.
- Refrain from demeaning, discriminatory or harassing behavior and speech.
Is simply wearing a hat the same as “demeaning” or “harassing” someone? Is wearing such a hat in and of itself discriminatory behavior?
I don’t think so. I’m sure there are plenty of people who will disagree because of what they feel people who’d wear the hat might believe. But the act of wearing the hat shouldn’t be the cover by which we judge the book.
I have to agree with a response Justin Tadlock posted on WPTavern:
Let us say, for the sake of argument, that the red MAGA cap is deemed hate speech, regardless of who is wearing it, their intentions, and context. Outright ban it. Does such a ban extend to a “Trump 2020” T-shirt?
Tadlock adds, “…for many, a ban on such apparel has absolutely nothing to do with hate speech. It has to do with a difference of opinion. Political opinion. Instead of meeting on equal terms and discussing those differences as open-minded adults, it is easier to quash an opponent’s freedom of expression by labeling it all as hate.”
That’s unquestionably true.
Regardless of where you stand politically, if you only want to ban one side’s apparel, you’re discriminating.
Maybe a better compromise would be to ban all apparel that contains political messages. That way, at least, no one would feel targeted. And politics is not the reason people should attend a WordCamp…even if their blogging plans include writing solely about politics.
There’s room for all voices on the platform, even those with whom we disagree.
Those who organize WordCamp events shouldn’t lose sight of that important fact.