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Debian, lists and discrimination

There are 3 questions in this email and a lot of explanation.

When almost all of a population is divided into two classes, "postitive discrimination" in favour of one class is usually indistinguishable from "negative discrimination" against the other. A discriminatory list has been created on lists.debian.org. The creation of debian-women was mentioned in the depths of the last "bits from the listmasters" http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-announce/2004/07/msg00013.html having previously been bug 252171. Sadly, I didn't spot those, so was unable to try to fix this new bug before now. There is no equivalent encouragement list for men, nor any attempt to address any other unrepresentative demographics. Those of you who read a lot of email may remember discrimination was discussed a bit (not always usefully) in the DPL elections: thread starting http://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2004/03/msg00017.html and others.

I only found out about this after Amaya emailed me questions about why I think debian-women is important and useful. I replied that I think it is important as a symbol of rampant sexism in debian and not useful at all in the long term. I don't know the sex of some of my debian collaborators and I do not see why it is so important. Of course, my views have not appeared on http://debian-women.opensource-knowhow.com/supporters.html - it seems there are only positive views there, even if some mention other skews. (I can't decide if Matthew Wilcox is being funny or serious, BTW.) Does debian really support sexism this much?

This new bout of sexism seems to have been triggered by Erinn Clark's pro-discrimination talk at debconf4. Slides might be http://cytosine.org/~helix/women_in_debian.pdf (no HTML version?) but ICBW. "Workshops for young girls" is discrimination, pure and simple. As the slides note, the DFSG say we don't allow copyright licences to discriminate against groups of people: should we allow the project to discriminate against men?

To me, the most obvious fix is to replace debian-women with something like debian-equality or debian-welcome, to try to get people active against discrimination rather than actively promoting blatent sexism. The mailing list howto is clear on how to create lists, but not on the appropriate method for fixing bugs in list creation. What are the mechanics to do this?

I expect some flames for even asking about this, as the debian-women list seems to have attracted some aggressive sexists from other software-related groups already. I hope that people won't feed the trolls and it results in debian doing something better to tackle inequalities.

Please reply to debian-project only.

MJR/slef    My Opinion Only and not of any group I know
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