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Re: Censorship in Debian

On 1/10/19 5:28 PM, Matthew Vernon wrote:
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),

White JEWISH male, who's grandparents all came from Eastern Europe - we've been on the receiving end of LOTS of bad language & behavior.  (And it seems to be coming back.)

Also, grew up in the 60s - not a good time to look Jewish, and have long hair (well, a bushy Jewfro) when traveling in large parts of the country.  ("Long haired hippy freak" could get you killed.)

And then, it wasn't always "age of the geek."

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".

No.  I may mind, but I sure don't want others minding on my behalf.  I find THAT offensive.

To keep it personal, I mind if someone calls me a "Jewboy" or a "Hebe" (unless, of course, it's me, or some other NY Jewboy - then it's just fine - I'm proud of being a "New York Jew," and a Yankees fan, now living in Red Sox Nation).

I appreciate it you don't use that kind of language, and more if you don't think that way, but I can fight my own battles thank you very much - I sure don't appreciate someone censoring discussion on my behalf.  (Cops stopping violence, laws against broad-based discrimination, programs that balance the scales and redress previous grievances are one thing - but I'm with the ACLU on on speech, demonstrations, and so forth, or, as Lewis Brandeis put it, in a famous Supreme Court Decision, is "the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence" - though, strangely, in an opinion CONCURRING with suppression of speech).

I'm saying that there's a point at which one gives back as good as one gets, rather than crying for others to protect one's sensibilities.  And I sure don't want folks stepping in, who don't have a dog in the fight.

I don't want wannabee nazis (you know, the morons who march around in polo shirts, carrying tiki torches, chanting "Jews will not replace us," and generally making good targets of themselves) complaining about Internet censorship.  I want them afraid to rally, running home to momma, because they're afraid of the "scary liberals."  And maybe, just maybe, learning something from the experience.  (Have you noticed how few "free speech rallies" we've had lately?)

...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.

It's one thing to have some social norms, and jump on people who go way over the top.  It's quite another to have star-chamber like censorship & banning.  And even more for you (a male) to take action on their behalf.  It seems to be awfully arbitrary to listen to (some) women's complaints about offensive language, while not listening to other women's complaints about "white knight" behavior.

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.

Maybe not.  And good for you to refrain from using such language. But who are you (male from your name) to be the one applying defense on their behalf - haven't you heard enough complaints about playing "white knight?"  Personally, I find it offensive to have privileged people whine & complain on behalf of the oppressed.  (Ever notice how often it's the white suburbanites who are quickest to take issue with "offensive language," preach political correctness, and jump in as social justice warriors?  We used to call them "limousine liberals.")  Frankly, I don't want WASPs advocating against anti-Semitism.  And I prefer to either respond in kind, or kill-file people, than to have someone else call them out, or censor them in my name, thank you very much.

Censorship & banning are, in themselves, offensive behavior (to me).  Calling someone out, shunning them, not so much (again, to me).  I have mixed reactions to firing people for behavior outside work (e.g., marching in a nazi rally) - obnoxious behavior at work, harassing co-workers, pissing off customers are certainly firing offenses, marching in a political rally, not so much (though being stupid enough to be caught on camera, consorting with wannabe nazis - drop a drone on that guy's ass).

Miles Fidelman

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice, there is.  .... Yogi Berra

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