Codes of Contradiction

Free software organizations are making more and more noise about their Codes of Conduct these days.

Do we really understand what they are about?

Debian has become a case in point.

The Debian Project Leader and sidekicks have spent almost two years sending private emails disparaging a volunteer. These emails are examples of what normal people call harassment. Every one of them violates the Code of Conduct.

They argue that it is permissable to write these things in private emails because it is not a public medium that might be found in a search engine.

It is permissable for leaders to write nasty things about volunteers but it is not permissable for volunteers to write things about the leaders.

Can you have a Code of Conduct that is only used when convenient for oppressing somebody? Or is that a Code of Contradiction?

Chris Lamb, Debian