I think that the list in the proposed Code of Conduct is useful for defining what kinds of stories publishers are (not) interested in, but it’s not especially suitable for proscribing conduct. Conduct comprising most of the items in the list is already illegal in many (or most) jurisdictions, and the Guild is not equipped to handle those violations anyway. The correct response in case of illegal conduct is to let the proper authorities handle it.
I think the list is a bit of both incomplete and too specific. Superficially, reducing a number of the items to “illegal activity” seems to partially fix that, but it falls apart remembering that the guild isn’t limited to the U.S., so the question of jurisdiction comes up. Even within the U.S., some States prohibit (for instance) marijuana and some don’t–and I doubt we necessarily want to ban endorsing or advocating “illegal conduct” because that endorsement and advocacy is how (again: for instance) marijuana became legal in the states where it’s legal, which is perfectly valid.
Some of the items, like racism, bigotry, and discrimination, are at least arguably protected “speech,” at least under U.S. law (except in cases like housing, employment, etc.) So that does require some subjective interpretation on our part, but there are examples to fall back on: terms of service for other internet services, for instance, and local laws about hate speech (I think that’s a thing in some places?) could help to narrow it down to something specific enough to please the majority and enforce. Nobody wants bigots in general or Nazis in particular around. As others have pointed out, there’s precedent in organizations like ours for nixing membership for members or pospective members who are not a good fit for the organization, and clubs do that anyway, formally or not.
The Guild’s activities encompass more than just the chat and forum spaces. Guild sponsored social gatherings at conventions, for instance, should probably also be included, and there are probably others.
One thing that’s missing is the trigger that initiates action. The Guild doesn’t want to police anyone’s social media, that’s fairly clear. Nobody has the desire, the time, or the resources. But a lot of the objections seem to relate worries that could happen. Specifying that a complaint is required before the guild will look into anything or take action on it might partly resolve that, along with explicit prohibition of policing activity, something like, “The elected officers of the Guild shall not engage in policing of members’ activities outside Guild spaces, and may only consider whether a member’s activities are in violation of the code of conduct if a complaint is received.” Also, specifying the range of sanctions available could clarify that Banned For Life is not typically step #1.
Obviously, checking undesirable activity within guild spaces is desirable and I don’t think anyone can seriously argue that’s outside the scope of the Guild’s prerogative.
Additionally, if we’re going to have official sanctions, we should probably have an appeal process, too. I don’t know what that would look like, but we could probably model off of organizations like SFWA if we go that route.
In all, I think that the intent here is fine. We want a safe, reasonably peaceful community where people feel welcome. But maybe a strongly legalistic approach isn’t the best option, particularly given the cited rarity of enforcement actions. The reason laws are so complicated is that they have to cover every contingency, every objection, every qualification, and even then, the lawyering (literally) inevitably begins. Ideally, that helps make sure the law isn’t abused (a highly debatable topic outside the scope, here), but it makes things very, very complicated, and we don’t really need that level of rulemaking. We’re not civil authorities, we’re a bunch of creative people who by and large want to get along and make stuff, while helping each other out and having a good time. Clarifying what we expect of our members is good, and outlining what can happen for bad behavior is good. Sticking ourselves with hard and fast rules (without legal advice we’re likely not equipped to procure and retain) will likely cause us problems down the line when they prove incomplete or we change our collective mind about whether a specific rule is good or bad. Not many of us are lawyers, so trying to draw up laws to govern ourselves may backfire later, and a simple statement of intent might serve us better.
[Edits: to correct typos because I did this on my phone.]