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Re: Censorship in Debian

Miles Fidelman <mfidelman@meetinghouse.net> writes:

> At the risk of repeating myself: I'm a firm believer in applying
> Postel's law to email discussions - "be conservative in what you do,
> be liberal in what you accept from others." Personally, I try to
> observe both parts of it, but I see more and more people doing just
> the opposite, and, if anything, leaning toward taking so much offense,
> at so much, as to be offensive for that.

The effect of this maxim is that if you're someone who isn't on the
receiving end of a lot of bad language or behaviour (because, for
example, you are a white male), then it's easy to say "Oh, I don't mind
what people say about me, so no-one else should mind either". You're
speaking from a position of relatively high social position. When you
say that to someone who is often on the receiving end of abuse (because
they're queer, or black, or trans, or a woman), you're saying in effect
"if you want to stick around here, you'll have to accept the
racist/sexist/homophobic things people say to you - otherwise you're not
being liberal in what you accept".

...which is why, of course, the Debian project has said that we won't
accept racist/sexist/homophobic/etc language in our spaces, because we
want a broad range of people to feel welcome in our community. I don't
get to decide what is offensive to women[0], I get to listen to women
and believe them. And I should then help ensure that language that is
offensive to women isn't used in Debian - it's not fair on women to have
to justify Every. Single. Time. why particular language is offensive or
offputting to women.



[0] WLOG to other minorities
"At least you know where you are with Microsoft."
"True. I just wish I'd brought a paddle."

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