Re: Some thoughts about Diversity and the CoC
Sam, thank you very much for raising this issue and for recognizing
that there's more than one angle to it.
I tend to agree with Scott. It is well known, at least since George
Orwell wrote his books, that controlling how people speak means
controlling how they think. So I believe that this issue is very
And indeed, in the last decades, redefining language has been a major
part of the political debate at large, with every group trying to
"hijack words for their own ends". For example, the pro- and
contra-abortion parties label themselves as "pro-choice" and
"pro-life" respectively, that is, they both try to frame the debate by
presenting themselves as "pushing for a good thing" while the other
party is pushing against. When you choose which language you use, you
effectively already take a side. And when you agree to use the other
party's language, you've already nearly lost the fight.
So this is also inevitably a political issue. It's not just about
"being polite" (or "welcoming" or "excellent" or whatever). I believe
that I absolutely have the right to "being impolite" if "being polite"
means that I must use a language that conveys a political position
that I oppose.
For example (forgive me if this might seem off-topic, but I think that
working out the details of an actual example is necessary to make my
point clear), I do not feel that I should acknowledge people's
requests to refer to them by their "preferred pronouns". That is
because I believe that people's sexual identities are determined by
objective facts, such as which chromosomes are there in their DNA, and
not by how they subjectively "perceive themselves". So when I refuse
to refer to a person with XY chromosomes as "she", or to abuse the
English language by calling an individual "they", in fact I am
defending my world view, and you must not deprive me of that right.
(May I remember that the incident that led to Norbert Preining's
temporary suspension from Debian started with him using "the wrong
pronoun" in a blog post!)
And while Debian isn't a government, neither it is an island somewhere
out of the "real world". So we can't pretend that we can leave that