Slaves to speech suppression are masters of nothing

Comes the news that the Python project has merged a request to partially eliminate the terms “master” and “slave” from its documentation on “diversity” grounds. Sensibly, Guido van Rossum at least refused to sever the project from uses of those terms in documentation of the underlying Unix APIs.

I wish Guido had gone further and correctly shitcanned the change request as political bullshit up with which he will not put. I will certainly do that if a similar issue is ever raised in one of my projects.

The problem here is not with the object-level issue of whether the terms “master” and “slave” might be offensive to some people. It’s with the meta-level of all such demands. Which the great comedian George Carlin once summed up neatly as follows: “Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners.”

That is, the demand for suppression of “politically” offensive terms is never entirely or usually even mostly about reducing imputed harms. That is invariably a pretense covering a desire to make speech and thought malleable to political control. Which is why the first and every subsequent attempt at this kind of entryism needs to be kicked in the teeth, hard.

Technically Carlin was actually not quite correct. Fascism has never become quite sophisticated enough at semantic manipulation to pose as manners. He should more properly have said “Political correctness is communism pretending to be manners”; George Orwell, of course, warned us of the dangers of language manipulation through his portrait of a future communism in 1984.

But Carlin leaned left, so he used the verbal cudgel of a leftist. Credit to him, anyway, for recognizing that the “manners” tactics of his fellow leftists are, at bottom, corrosive and totalitarian. The true goal is always meta: to get you to cede them the privilege of controlling your speech and thought.

Once you get pulled onto the on the PC train, it doesn’t stop with the mere suppression of individual words. The next stage is the demand that your language affirm politically-correct lies and absurdities in public. The most obvious example of this today is the attempted proliferation of gender pronouns. There are principled cases, grounded in human sexual biology, that two or three might be too few, but at the point where activists are circulating lists of 50 or more – most of which have no predicate that can be checked by an impartial observer – the demand has crossed into absurdity.

The purpose of such absurdities is never to convey truth and increase the precision of language, but rather to jam the categories and politics of some propagandist into your head – to control your mind. It is not accidental that terms like “inclusiveness” are vague and infinitely elastic; if they were not, they would not serve the actual purpose of making you feel guilty, wrong and malleable no matter how frantically you have deformed your speech and behavior to meet the propagandist’s standards of “manners”.

The manipulation depends on you never quite recovering your balance enough to recognize that your own autonomy – your ability to think and speak as you choose – is more important than the ever-escalating demands for “manners”. The first step to liberation is realizing that. The second step is resisting their attack even if you happen to agree that an individual term (like, say, “master” or “slave”) might be construable as offensive. The meta-level matters more than the object.

The third step is realizing that the propagandists for those demands mean to do you harm. They are selling “manners”, “diversity”, “inclusiveness”, but what they mean to to do is break you into loving Big Brother – becoming the primary instrument of your own oppression, ever alert to conform to the next diktat of the Ministry of Truth as expressed by the language police.

As with individuals, so with the cultures they assemble into. These “manners” demands – like the attempt to hijack the Lerna license I condemned in my last blog post – are an attack on the autonomy and health of the hacker culture. All who cherish that culture should refuse them.

160 thoughts on “Slaves to speech suppression are masters of nothing

  1. If you can force someone to utter words they know to be false, and they know you they are false, you own them utterly. And that is what this about. Someone who is compelled, at pain of social stigma and long-term unemployment, to utter sentences like, “Some women have penises” or “Some men have periods” has no integrity left and can be forced to say or do anything.

    This is an attempt to break our minds and our souls, and the more obvious the lie they can force us to utter, the better.

    • When you own someone utterly, you’re known as the “master” and they are the “slave”. These masters are using their ownership to forbid even using the words to describe the relationship over their slaves.

      The irony goes to 11.

      • In accordance with modern methods of circular representation, particularly in keeping of accurate time, all irony settings of 11 shall henceforth be abolished, and instead reach a minimum of 13.

        That is all.
        (click)

    • Someone who is compelled, at pain of social stigma and long-term unemployment, to utter sentences like, “Some women have penises” or “Some men have periods” has no integrity left and can be forced to say or do anything.

      Some people who consider themselves to be women do have penises – I have an old friend who’s transitioning M>F right now, and I doubt she’s gone through all the surgeries yet. I refer to this friend as female even so, because:

      1) I’ve been convinced by biological arguments that human gender is not nearly so simple as it’s historically been made out to be, and something that polycentric cannot be divided into two buckets in a perfect fashion, which means we need to keep our eyes open for amendments that may be necessary.

      2) It’s the polite thing to do. Whatever name I use, this is a good friend, and this is something that’s important to a good friend of mine. I’ve had friends go through name changes, ideological changes, and a hundred other kinds of change. What’s a sex change, really? I’d no more give a friend hell over that than any of the others.

      And in case it’s not obvious, this isn’t an issue of social stigma – I’m saying this pseudonymously, on a blog totally unrelated to my career. We don’t need to up-end all of society here, but we should avoid being jerks unnecessarily.

      • I have a few transgendered friends. I’m convinced enough by their reported experiences (in particular, the two that have had vaginoplasty) that I’ll treat them as women with no reservations and no asterisks. Whether it’s a mental disorder and we should be looking for a mental fix, or whether it’s not a disorder at all and we should do all we can to help people make the transition smoothly, is at this point unanswerable, and so I’m staying the hell out of that debate. All I know is that the one friend I know who’s had the surgery – and she and I discussed it extensively before and after – is genuinely happy to have had it done, regardless of any other problems she may have.

        It helps that I’m an atheist, and so the argument “but God made them a man!” is to me semantically equivalent to “neener neener!”.

        • > I have a few transgendered friends. I’m convinced enough by their reported experiences

          And Troutwaxer has “seen Black people come close to panic over a White person using the words ‘master’ and “slave’.” And I know a guy who insists G-d is speaking to him. So what?

          > that I’ll treat them as women with no reservations and no asterisks.

          Really? I’m surprised to see you write some thing this brain-dead. Does that include the right to participate in women’s sports competing against biological women? Does that include the right to use women’s bathrooms and locker rooms even if it makes the biological women using them uncomfortable? Does it include the right to stigmatize any heterosexual male who doesn’t want to date them as an “evil transphobe”?

          Because that is the literal meaning of “no reservations and no asterisks”, and even if the you meant “except for the asterisks like the ones I’ve written above” (in which case you shouldn’t have said “no asterisks”) the SJW’s pushing this stuff don’t, and if you support them you’ll find you have no ability to object to the above either.

          You correctly recognize the “seemingly reasonable” request to not use the words “slave” and “master” as a Trojan horse to strip you of freedom, and yet you think treating biological men as women with “women with no reservations and no asterisks” is reasonable and most definitely not a Trojan?

          • > Does that include the right to participate in women’s sports competing against biological women?

            That really depends on the biology, which I’m not qualified to discuss. In this particular case, though, I’d probably ban it, or at least limit it to people who have done serious irrevocable things to prove that they mean it. Too easy for non-trans men to fake it if you make it too easy.

            > Does that include the right to use women’s bathrooms and locker rooms even if it makes the biological women using them uncomfortable?

            How many would even notice? It’s not like you get a “TRANS” forehead tattoo free with your hormone treatments.

            > Does it include the right to stigmatize any heterosexual male who doesn’t want to date them as an “evil transphobe”?

            No more than I get to criticize any woman who isn’t interested in me for being an evil lesbian. People are allowed to have sexual preferences, which is why I’m not allowed to criticize Scarlett Johansson for being insufficiently Alsadiosexual.

            > reasonable and most definitely not a Trojan?

            Who cares? There’s always someone who wants to treat the slippery slope as a waterslide. But if we let them dictate what we’re allowed to support, change would be impossible. I’ll agree with them as long as they’re correct, and stop agreeing when they start being wrong. It seems like the fair thing to do.

            • > That really depends on the biology, which I’m not qualified to discuss.

              Which is going to get even harder to discuss if you insist on false to fact statements like “transwoman are woman” or “Some women have penises”.

              > How many would even notice? It’s not like you get a “TRANS” forehead tattoo free with your hormone treatments.

              If the “woman” in the shower next to you has a penis that is fairly obvious. Stop playing dumb.

              > People are allowed to have sexual preferences, which is why I’m not allowed to criticize Scarlett Johansson for being insufficiently Alsadiosexual.

              You haven’t been paying attention to what trans-advocates have been saying, have you.

              > There’s always someone who wants to treat the slippery slope as a waterslide.

              You’re just going to start making false to fact statements like “some women have penises” out of “politeness”. That’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

              • > false to fact statements like “transwomen are women”

                “Women” is not a perfectly defined category like integers are. There’s no mathematical definition of it – it’s more like “adult”, a category that’s got a well-understood core group at the centre, but with fuzzy edges. For more reading on this, I suggest http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/21/the-categories-were-made-for-man-not-man-for-the-categories/, which sums up my views quite well. (Not briefly, alas.)

                > If the “woman” in the shower next to you has a penis that is fairly obvious. Stop playing dumb.

                Very few women’s bathrooms include group showers. Even locker rooms sometimes don’t – at our gym the men’s locker room is very casual about nudity, but according to my wife the women’s locker room is far more concerned with privacy. I’d be fine if a locker room that did have group showers had a “post-op only” rule in practice. Just remember that we’re discussing a vanishingly rare combination of circumstances here.

                > You haven’t been paying attention to what trans-advocates have been saying, have you.

                I’ve been paying attention. But this is where “I’ll stop agreeing when they start being wrong” comes into play.

                • > “Women” is not a perfectly defined category like integers are.

                  Ah, yes the standard excuse of everyone who wants to get away with spouting BS:

                  “X is not a perfectly defined category so I’ll change my personal definition of X to include completely different object Y”.

                  • Here’s a list: http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/sexinfo/article/causes-intersexuality

                    Which of the examples on that list are men and which are women? (Some are fairly clear-cut, IMO, but some are really fuzzy).

                    What basis are you using, and why? Are you counting the person’s preference in your calculations? If not, should you be?

                    I think we can both agree that a typical trans-woman saying “My chromosomes are XX” would be full of crap. Conversely, if they said “I dress like most women in my city do”, we’d both agree that’s true. But both of those are clear-cut statements. Neither one is nearly as fuzzy as gender is once you start digging into it in any depth.

                    • > Which of the examples on that list are men and which are women?

                      The vast majority of the people claiming to be “transgender” have none of those conditions. I’d ask you to stop being disingenuous, but by this point you’ve aptly demonstrated you’re incapable of doing so.

                    • I’m not saying that most transgendered people have those conditions. I’m saying that those conditions prove that gender is much more complex than a simple boolean variable.

                      If it was actually that simple, then “You are what you are, and believing otherwise won’t change it” would be a fairly compelling argument. But given it’s not that simple, there needs to be more considerations than a simple examination of a switch. As far as I;m concerned, one of those considerations(and a big one!) should be the opinions of the person in question.

                    • > If it was actually that simple, then “You are what you are, and believing otherwise won’t change it”

                      Except you’re previous paragraph hasn’t actually refuted this argument.

                      > As far as I;m concerned, one of those considerations(and a big one!) should be the opinions of the person in question.

                      Except people can lie. Also people, especially children, can be influenced to do self-destructive things by peer pressure.

                    • To follow up:

                      Your position basically amounts to arguing from the existence of gray that it’s reasonable to call a white object “black”. Actually it’s worse than that. Your argument is like that expect if we lived in a hypothetical world where greys were infinitesimally rare compared to blacks and whites.

                    • Put a coat of white paint on a black wall, and it’ll look grey. Treating it as being grey at that point seems fair to me – a trans-woman is not literally identical to a cis-woman, but they’re not a cis-man either.

                      Thereafter, when you’re dividing every single instance of grey into “is it black or is it white”, that means you’ve got an open question with the white-painted black wall. They can’t afford three more coats of white paint(i.e., surgeries don’t change someone over perfectly), but they clearly did their best to make the wall white, and that counts for something.

                      Also, to be clear, I’m speaking of adults here. Childhood transitions are far more complex, and I don’t have well-developed views on them either way.

            • (Reposting comment that got stuck in moderation.)

              > That really depends on the biology, which I’m not qualified to discuss.

              Which is going to get even harder to discuss if you insist on false to fact statements like “transwoman are woman” or “Some women have penises”.

              > How many would even notice? It’s not like you get a “TRANS” forehead tattoo free with your hormone treatments.

              If the “woman” in the shower next to you has a penis that is fairly obvious. Stop playing dumb.

              > People are allowed to have sexual preferences, which is why I’m not allowed to criticize Scarlett Johansson for being insufficiently Alsadiosexual.

              You haven’t been paying attention to what trans-advocates have been saying, have you.

              > There’s always someone who wants to treat the slippery slope as a waterslide.

              You’re just going to start making false to fact statements like “some women have penises” out of “politeness”. That’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

          • Does it make a difference if the only way to tell someone is a woman or a man, by your definition, is with a microscope? Certainly if they’ve had the surgery, there is no reason at all for the layperson to treat her as anything but a woman.

            And I’ll propose a thought experiment from an SF story: Suppose that someone were to develop a treatment that turns the recipient into a super soldier, but with one massive side effect: it drives women hopelessly insane, and turns men into women – at the genetic level, to the point that they can actively bear children of their very own? Are those who have received such treatment women, now?

            Those who have not undergone surgery are a bit more complex of a case. Even so, I think the answer is to stay the hell out of people’s bathroom arrangements entirely. I think where society will wind up is in having individual bathrooms for each person, and not have the groupings of rooms segregated by sex. I don’t think there’s another solution that will satisfy everyone, and the whole argument is getting tiresome.

            And as for dating…it’s nobody’s right to say anything at all about who someone chooses to date, for any reason or no reason at all, and anyone who tries to do so should be told to kindly keep their nose out of other people’s fucking business.

            I may well honor someone’s wish to not use the terms “master” and “slave” around them…by simply refusing to interact with them at all. Freedom of association, don’t you know. By the same token, I would support a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a trans woman marrying a man because it violates his religious beliefs, and think that the couple would be assholes for trying to force him to do so anyway – and yet zealously guard their right to marry as they wish.

            • > Does it make a difference if the only way to tell someone is a woman or a man, by your definition, is with a microscope?

              Because that is not the case. In fact as my question about playing on women’s sports hinted at, “transwomen” don’t even have the same physique as real women.

              > And I’ll propose a thought experiment from an SF story

              I prefer to have policies based on reality not fiction, and certainly not ridiculously implausible hypothetical.

              > Even so, I think the answer is to stay the hell out of people’s bathroom arrangements entirely. I think where society will wind up is in having individual bathrooms for each person, and not have the groupings of rooms segregated by sex. I don’t think there’s another solution that will satisfy everyone, and the whole argument is getting tiresome.

              > And as for dating…it’s nobody’s right to say anything at all about who someone chooses to date, for any reason or no reason at all, and anyone who tries to do so should be told to kindly keep their nose out of other people’s fucking business.

              > I may well honor someone’s wish to not use the terms “master” and “slave” around them…by simply refusing to interact with them at all. Freedom of association, don’t you know. By the same token, I would support a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a trans woman marrying a man because it violates his religious beliefs, and think that the couple would be assholes for trying to force him to do so anyway – and yet zealously guard their right to marry as they wish.

              Great analysis for how the issue could be resolved in a hypothetical fully functioning libertarian utopia consisting fully autonomous individuals (who apparently spring forth like Athena fully formed). Now how about answering the questions for the real world?

              • “> Does it make a difference if the only way to tell someone is a woman or a man, by your definition, is with a microscope?

                Because that is not the case. In fact as my question about playing on women’s sports hinted at, “transwomen” don’t even have the same physique as real women.”

                There’s far more variation among women than there is between men and women as a class, and there are plenty of men with feminine bodies to begin with. Or are you claiming that there’s no such thing as a man that cannot pass as a woman?

                “I prefer to have policies based on reality not fiction, and certainly not ridiculously implausible hypothetical.”

                That’s why I called it a thought experiment. I’m trying to figure where you draw the line between man and woman.

                “Now how about answering the questions for the real world?”

                The real world is more complex than you seem to believe.

                • > There’s far more variation among women than there is between men and women as a class

                  Compare men’s and women’s sports. Um, no.

                  > Or are you claiming that there’s no such thing as a man that cannot pass as a woman?

                  Depending on the distance and how much time I have to examine. I could probably make up a cat (especially if I’m allowed to surgically modify it) so it could superficially pass as a dog. Does that make it a dog? No.

                  > That’s why I called it a thought experiment.

                  I would think a libertarian would know better than to base his philosophy on these kinds of implausible hypotheticals considering some of the standard arguments against private property are based on far far more plausible hypotheticals.

                  > The real world is more complex than you seem to believe.

                  You’re the one arguing that modifying a X so that it can superficially pass as a Y actually makes it a Y, postulating a magic treatment that changes the chromosomes in every cell of your body while simultaneously causing your cells to rearrange themselves as if they had those chromosomes while they developed (as if the body was a commuter program one could just recompile from a modified source), and the one falling back on hypothetical libertarian utopias to avoid having to confront how your position is being used by statists in the real world.

                  • And you have yet to outline where you draw the line between women and men. How can I argue a definition you won’t give?

                    • I don’t see how you nitpicking about the absolutely tiny percentage of people where this is at all ambiguous is at all relevant to the discussion. Or are you going to insist on role playing an idiot dumber than a primitive tribesman?

                      Also, care to actually address my points?

                    • No, I’m trying to figure out how you define “woman” and “man” so we can have a meaningful discussion…but you keep dancing around it.

                      And ask Eric. I am not a libertarian, though I do lean in that direction.

                      Tell you what. You answer my question about how you define “woman”, and then I’ll answer yours. I asked first.

                    • > No, I’m trying to figure out how you define “woman” and “man” so we can have a meaningful discussion…but you keep dancing around it.

                      If you insist on role-playing an idiot I’ll play along (even though I don’t see that much productive discussion will come out if you continue doing so). The extremely strong similarity clusters corresponding to the traditional usages of those terms. In the event you are now going to pretend you’ve lost your ability to do pattern recognition. How about something like, the gender as would be assigned at birth if the pediatrician doing the assigning is sane, e.g., not John Money.

                      > And ask Eric. I am not a libertarian, though I do lean in that direction.

                      And yet the only time I’ve seen you two disagree about an issue, namely issues related to the discussion we’re having now. You take the “libertarian” position and Eric takes the “conservative” one.

                  • > Compare men’s and women’s sports. Um, no.

                    I’m a man – a big, muscular, fairly healthy(if overweight) one, in an age range that still contains many professional athletes. Any female professional athlete would beat the ever-loving hell out of me at her chosen sport. Yes, the average level of athleticism for men is higher, and the top 0.0001% of either who become pro athletes are likewise better for men than women. But the variance within genders is far, far larger than the variance between genders.

                    > postulating a magic treatment that changes the chromosomes in every cell of your body while simultaneously causing your cells to rearrange themselves as if they had those chromosomes while they developed

                    Or it’s postulating that a complex and fuzzy term incorporating many parts be re-defined slightly to make one of those parts(self-image as masculine/feminine) a more central part and another (assigned gender at birth) a less central part. Which we do all the time – “philosopher” used to include scientists, “computer” used to refer to a human who did computations, and “dialing” a phone used to involve an actual dial.

                    • > But the variance within genders is far, far larger than the variance between genders.

                      Top professional women’s teams regularly get beaten by amateur men’s teams any time they play.

                      > Or it’s postulating that a complex and fuzzy term incorporating many parts be re-defined slightly to make one of those parts(self-image as masculine/feminine) a more central part and another (assigned gender at birth) a less central part.

                      Except all those parts correlate extremely strongly with each other. You’re proposing redefining it in terms of one of those parts (the one that happens to be the easiest to muck with) while ignoring all the others.

                    • Good God! It is not “assigned” at birth. It is recognized! When you use garbage language like this, it is clear your brain has already been consumed by the SJW cancer.

                    • Eugene: Sure, the top 1% of men will beat the top 0.01% of women in many sports. That doesn’t make my statement false.

                      And yes, all of these traits do correlate strongly. Sunlight and daytime correlate strongly too, but it still rained this afternoon.

                      Zaklog: I was trying for generic terminology.

          • Incidentally, this comment is a genius case study in George Carlin’s quote. I know a few people myself and I agree with you – I don’t really have a problem in referring to them as the gender they are/choose out of, well, manners in short.

            However, the point where someone starts /demanding/ such recognition by law or by threat of social ostracism is where they can fuck straight off.

            • And this is where I come at it from, too. Referring to someone who acts and dresses and lives and thinks of themselves as a woman as “he” just seems rude, to me – and if they were my friend, it would be a calculatedly unfriendly act.

              • Yes, and this willingness to to tolerate BS to avoid being rude is precisely what made it so easy to SJW’s to infiltrate.

      • > We don’t need to up-end all of society here, but we should avoid being jerks unnecessarily.

        Funny that’s the same reason SJW’s give for not using terms like “slave” and “master” and code.

        • And if it wasn’t for the decades of established use, I’d agree with them. Nobody started using master/slave terminology for smart-watches controlled by smart-phones(which is the closest analogue I can think of that’s new), and they wouldn’t have even if it was perfectly isomorphic. Change has costs, but using terminology that bugs people has costs too. I’d like to balance those costs as best I can.

      • Do you understand, however, the problem with forcing others to agree? And frankly, I’ve seen no biological arguments that “transgenders” are anything but mentally ill. For heaven’s sake, look at the suicide rate alone. These people are not well.

    • > If you can force someone to utter words they know to be false, and they know you they are false, you own them utterly.

      I think I see a different motive for why some people say nonsense like “some women have penises”. Take a look at the last paragraph of this comment by Jay Maynard.

      > It helps that I’m an atheist, and so the argument “but God made them a man!” is to me semantically equivalent to “neener neener!”.

      At first glance it appears to be a total non sequitur since no one else had even mentioned religion anywhere in the thread and the conclusion Jay is arguing for requires the supernatural to be even vaguely plausible. However, this sentence does suggest that he has a chip on his shoulder with regards to religion. I’m not sure what it’s from, but going by his demographic probably the pastor who told him it’s wrong to have non-marital sex no matter how much short-term pleasure it gives you. Now he’d rather spout this kind of nonsense and pretend to have no common sense than admit there could be anything besides non-consent wrong with any sexual behavior.

      The rest of your comment obviously applies to this case as well.

    • You beat me to it.

      More generally, this sort of pretense at “good manners” should be called out as concern-trolling and roundly ridiculed. In the case of “master/slave” terminology:

      Why are they trying to taboo BDSM practitioners, forcing them back into the closet?

      Aren’t the people who’d have reason to object to “master/slave” terminology ethnic Slavs rather than Blacks? Objecting to “master/slave” on the grounds that it’s hurtful to blacks betrays a short-sighted, parochial, view-of-the-world-from-9th-Avenue mindset.

      As a modest proposal, “master/slave” should be replaced with “white/black.” Or perhaps with “White/Negro” or “owner/nigger.” Such a change would be a laudable protest against the continuing bigotry in the world. True political correctness ought to be opposed to mealy-mouthed dog-whistle euphemistic replacements for “master/slave” that try to deny the continued clinging of modern society to that bitter, deplorable bigotry.

      • As a modest proposal, “master/slave” should be replaced with “white/black.” … True political correctness ought to be opposed to mealy-mouthed dog-whistle euphemistic replacements for “master/slave” that try to deny the continued clinging of modern society to that bitter, deplorable bigotry.

        No, for replacing “master/­slave” the most Modest Proposal I can think of would be “oppressor/­oppressed”.

        1. By using the most generic possible terms from the ideology of would-be Thought Censors, the onus is placed entirely on them to reject this replacement. After all, it is utterly inconceivable that the very language of those who seek to avoid offense to anyone could possibly cause offense….

        2. The new terms directly highlight the dearth of style and poverty of imagination which would insist on such a change. As a metaphor, “Master/­slave” implies a ongoing, unchanging relationship which most alternate terms like “parent/­child” do not. Eliminating this can makes reasoning about long-term code behavior far more error-prone, especially for novices [slaves rarely become masters, and a slave requires the presence of a master; however, by contrast children inevitably grow up beyond the control of any parent, and orphan children are not a social crisis in developed nations]. Since, as your post so excellently demonstrates, some people believe the same unchanging “oppressor/­oppressed” relationship exists no matter how the social labels or institutions change, let the Thought Censors fight one another over the validity of this metaphor.

        3. Alternately to #2, there is no metaphorical value to the chosen terms beyond the implication of a hierarchical relationship. Insist that all hierarchy derives from the patriarchy—and since the patriarchy is inherently oppressive, the chosen terms are the only appropriate ones. On that grounds, the mere suggestion there are better terms proves those who would make such suggestions are men’s rights activists, race realists, transphobes, etc. for attempting to perpetuate such hierarchies in technical language.

        4. If, in order to annul any of the above points, the Thought Censors wish to call the chosen terms a “dog-whistle”, that same language would need to be extirpated from their dialectic. If this does happen in the future, the same claims would force them to disavow their heroes and elders who currently use that dog-whistle extensively.

  2. Language policing is getting out of hand. Twitter recently nixed some ads that used the term “illegal aliens” as “hate speech.” Never mind that that’s the term in federal law.

    It’s all a pretty nifty judo trick: Get non-leftist language banned, so that everyone must use leftist terms.

    • Yeah, objecting to “illegal” has always been ridiculous. “Undocumented immigrant” might be an accurate description for a handful of people who came legally but can’t prove it due to bad/lost/destroyed paperwork. But most of the people being described are in the country illegally, hence “illegals”. It’s not that there’s a law against the person per se, but there’s a law against the person being a permanent resident at the current time.

  3. In the golden age of open source it was apolitical, asexual (not as orientation or gender, just not relevant), and otherwise everything was ignored in the meritocracy. It was either perfect code, good code (which others could improve), or mediocre or bad code which needed work.
    Not unlike Wyoming – the Equality State – Rodeo where the Bull doesnt care if you are male or female, or recognzie 2 or 187 genders, gay, straight, black, white, yellow, blue (argeria), it will try to buck you off and you can either go 8 seconds or not.
    Now with SJWism, some insist on riding steers or cows and being counted as equal to bull riders.
    Vox Day’s SJWs always lie and the sequel, SJWs always double down notes you should not apologize or give them any quarter as it will be seen as an admission of guilt and the demands will increase.
    What should matter is the code – and I don’t mean “of conduct”.

      • (Bharatiya) Indians are sometimes called “dot Indians” to distinguish them from (American) “feather Indians”, the terms being derived from the bindi and the war bonnet respectively.

        • >(Bharatiya) Indians are sometimes called “dot Indians” to distinguish them from (American) “feather Indians”, the terms being derived from the bindi and the war bonnet respectively.

          I had not encountered this before. That is a nice playful pair of coinages!

          • Also “red dot” and “woo-hoo”, which are of course politically incorrect.

            Spelling error in the post. Search for “mnipulation” (no “a” between “m” and “n”)

          • It’s moderately clever, but do not use it around the easily offended. (Well, if there’s anyone easily offended in your life who hasn’t already run screaming, at least…)

    • Having trouble seeing through the red haze.

      Might have to go to the gym and do some deadlifts before my martial arts class tonight.

      • Concur. If I encountered these people in real life, I might be tempted to acquiese to their thesis that “words are violence, and deserve violence in response”, and I know I’d be embarrassed at my behaviour the next day.

    • The irony is… wow. These would be the first people sent to suffer in the gulags, and they want to defend them?

      Actually, no. I shouldn’t be surprised. For the amount of mental gymnastics that these people put themselves through to believe that socialism/communism isn’t the most harmful and evil ideologies ever put to paper and practice, they can have fun experiencing it. Leave the free world free.

      • The young communists of today believe that THEY will be the ones at the top of the pyramid; the idea that their ideological empire of stone will be almost immediately usurped by the biggest, nastiest, most arbitrary and vicious persons is entirely outside the ability of their simple minds to grok.

        • I love that 4chan post citing Commissar Jamal and Commissar Cletus as being the ones on top – after all, in USSR, it was exactly the social stratum that got put in power. A good example would be Nikolai Jezhov, the chief of NKVD prior to Berija of whom it was written:


          In the whole of my long life, I have never met a more repellent personality than Yezhov’s. When I look at him I am reminded irresistibly of the wicked urchins of the courts in Rasterayeva Street, whose favorite occupation was to tie a piece of paper dipped in kerosene to a cat’s tail, set fire to it, and then watch with delight how the terrified animal would tear down the street, trying desperately but in vain to escape the approaching flames. I do not doubt that in his childhood Yezhov amused himself in just such a manner and that he is now continuing to do so in different forms.

      • These would be the first people sent to suffer in the gulags, and they want to defend them?

        That turns out not to be the case, where do you think the winners of a communist revolution find the huge numbers of commissars and executioners needed to implement their vision? From broken and/or low status people like this, who would be nothing without the power they get by being a part of the apparatus. One of the more interesting sets of essays on this phenomena and how it applies to today’s affairs can be found by searching for the word bioleninism on “spandrell’s” blog at bloodyshovel.wordpress.com. Feminism, World War T, it all fits very well into the model.

    • What I found interesting wasn’t that the anti-TERFs were gulag denialists, though that was kind of shocking.

      The reason I brought it up was that call-out culture was used to silence and punish the anti-TERFs.

    • I’m not too *terribly* surprised to see that.

      I think there’s two scenarios here that are equally plausible. The first is that the person behind that twitter account well and truly believes that the gulags were happy peaceful reform resorts, and that the description of them as death camps is just another propagandist lie put forth by the heteronormative cisgendered patriarchal capitalist imperialists.

      The second is that the person tweeting realized they’d crossed a line, and in clumsily trying to enact some damage control, started inventing some bullshit in hopes it would be believed by others.

      It’s entirely possible that it was initially that second scenario, and the tweeter started to believe their own lie, and has moved into the first scenario.

      None of these possibilities gives me much comfort, just a sadness that someone could get so utterly broken.

    • No, they want abort() to be legal, I guess as long as the child process has been running less than 9 months.

      • RMS actually has (in my opinion) a funny joke in the glibc documentation on abort(), which he has very strong defended any time it is challenged.

        • I think the fact that I generally find RMS’ politics to be abhorrent, and still find the joke funny, is a good indicator that it’s genuinely funny.

          Or maybe I just like that answer because it implies that I’m a reasonable person. ;)

    • They just implemented this language change for blacklist and whitelist at my day job on these grounds. The orchestrators of this change celebrated it as a huge victory over racism.

      I got the fuck out… found a better job. There have actually been an unusually high number of voluntary resignations, many of the best and brightest darting for the door.

      • Anyone care to pick an over/under on the probability that someone in upper management there figures out that there’s a correlation between the culture and the loss of good people? Me, I put it at 10%.

  4. They want to get rid of words like “master”, by becoming our masters on what we can say, do, or think.

  5. s/onto the on the/onto the/

    (Far be it from us to overrepresent “the” in our text. They’re already privileged enough!)

  6. Due to the association of the number 14 with the Fourteen Words in the slogans of white supremacist David Lane, all occurrences of 14 shall be purged from mathematical literature. In particular, the decimal representation of pi shall now be expressed as 3.1592653589.

    That is all.
    (click)

  7. In medicine the tubing connectors you screw onto a gas regulator of an oxygen tank have been renamed from Nipples to Christmas trees. Given the whole anti-christian thing going on I guess we will need to change that to holiday bush…no wait, that wouldn’t work.

  8. Gee, and I thought I was being clever by replacing every instance of the phrase “free software” with the phrase “open source” in my project’s copy of the GPL. Now I’m going to have to edit it again to include every offensive word and phrase I can think of.

  9. “Native” being a colonial term for those we know today as “indigenous”, it could be the next word with a specific meaning in technical contexts to become taboo for social reasons.

    The censorspamfilter apparently got triggered by this comment and sent it to moderation – so maybe the future is upon us already?

  10. If these propagandists mean to do others harm – a proposition that seems rather self-evident these days – then ridicule, refusal, and exposure seem inadequate responses. The ideology behind this is insatiable.

    The passive attitude of the opposition is why we’ve gone from “Illegal Aliens” being an acceptable descriptor of someone’s immigration status to “No human can be illegal!!” in the course of an Executive Order. Or how New York State can codify such madness that can levy massive civil penalties:

    https://www1.nyc.gov/site/cchr/law/legal-guidances-gender-identity-expression.page#3.1

    (I can’t imagine that standing up to scrutiny even if Kennedy were still on the bench, but there it festers in the NYC Admin Code for now.)

    This has metastasized to fatal proportions already (the above example is only one of many), and I think we’re at the point where simple refusal is no longer an option.

    • There’s been some research (I do not have a good link immediately handy) showing that, in a given population, the accepted norms of the population as a whole will tend towards the norms of the subset which is least willing to compromise. For example, kosher foods. The subset of the populace which _demands_ the availability of kosher offerings ends up causing the food market to cater to those demands, so long as the majority of the superset has no preference one way or the other. The end result is kosher labeling on just about everything.

      What we’re seeing today with leftist/marxist ideologues dominating the culture is the result of exactly this mechanism. The hardliners got into academia and spent decades training students to become hardliners as well. Society has shifted one step at a time in favor of this small, uncompromising subset at any point when most people just shrugged and went along with it.

      The only likely way to win this cultural cold war without the eventual necessity of violence – that I can see, anyway – is to remember the values that underpin our culture to its deepest core, learn to articulate them as well as we can, and become even more immovable than those who seek domination over us.

      Quit compromising on liberty, accept the slings and arrows of those who will strike at you for doing so, and advocate in all ways for maximum truth. The research shows that the least movable force will set the course. Become that immovable force.

      • Nicholas Nassim Taleb has written quite a bit on this phenomenon. His estimate for the necessary concentration is 3%.

      • This is the good link: https://medium.com/incerto/the-most-intolerant-wins-the-dictatorship-of-the-small-minority-3f1f83ce4e15

        Which really boils down to saying if people mostly don’t care about something either way, while others do care about having it in a particular way, then it will be done that way. And in fact it should, in most cases, because it is Pareto-optimal.

        The point is that the issue here is really about the methods, the bullying methods used, than the results. If we really don’t care, then the results are not bad for us, that is tautologiclaly true, the problem is with the fascist methods. I don’t remember anyone aggressively demanding that non-Jewish restaurants should have kosher meat. But perhaps they asked the waiter often if the meat is kosher and if it was not they left, and then the owners figured that given that everybody else does not care either way getting kosher meat will increase their sales. So as far as I can tell it was polite enough.

        Really the problem with this political correctness guys is the methods. If they would simply just use the new terms themselves, others who don’t care either would adopt them. Provided of course that there are enough high quality programmers on their side to make that kind of a difference. Instead they try to bully others into using their words.

        They could simply refuse to join projects that don’t have their codes of conduct and if there are enough high quality programmers on their side, it would change things. Instead they are trying to force codes of conducts on existing projects and get the disagreeing fired.

        This is really the root of the issue, methods, not results. One gets the impression that there are either not enough quality programmers on their side to simply do it the above, decent ways, or they are more interested in power and control than the results.

        This is different from what Nassim Taleb is talking about. He is talking about people who care about results and their methods are usually far nicer. Open source software with the restrictive GPL type licencing itself is a good example of Taleb’s “intolerant” – may as well call it: motivated, caring – minority winning. I remember in my youth many amateur videogames were freeware, “begware” and suchlike. Lots of people did not make any money over software they wrote. And yet they just kept the source out of unthinking habit, not for any particular reason (other than to avoid stupid questions), just out of habit. They were the classic case of the majority not caring, and open source who actually cared converted these folks. Obviously not those folks who can charge €50 for a copy of videogame like GTA V and still sell many millions of copies. Nobody wants to give that kind of money up. But the folks who made no money over software anyway did figure that there is no value in keeping the source but there can be value in sharing it, especially if they were eyeballing a sexy GPL code to include, and GPL is really somewhat intolerant, compared to some other licences. So open source is really a better example of what Taleb is saying. Intolerant in Taleb’s terminology does not mean you go and bully people, it just means you really care about something others don’t.

        And this open source advocacy worked partially because the tactics were not bullying. Leading by example, arguments, and refusing to cooperate with their own stuff (GPL) or making a competing replacement was the way, it was a decent way. Open source advocates did not infiltrate closed source shops and did not try to bully and intimidate other people to force them to release their source if they really did not want to because they were actually making money. This is really a big difference.

        The point is Taleb describes the cases when you want results. You usually do it nice enough. And when people want power, not results, they bully others.

        • The point is Taleb describes the cases when you want results. You usually do it nice enough. And when people want power, not results, they bully others.

          On Twitter, at least, he frequently discusses Islamicization as well, and in this case, where the minority want both results and power, it’s bullying (or outright violence) all the way.

        • >The point is that the issue here is really about the methods, the bullying methods used, than the results.

          Close… you’re right that this is bullying behavior. As such, the desired “result” is to make you submit, i.e., to show that they are the alpha dog and you are the beta dog. The mcguffin over which this drama happens is irrelevant.

          I’ve seen SJW called “cry bullies” before. I think that’s an insightful description.

    • People who say “No human can be illegal!” either don’t understand how English works, or they’re lying. Unlike German, English compound nouns can span multiple words. They still convey a single idea, though.

      “illegal immigrant” unpacks to
      “illegal + immigrate + [doer]”
      grouping this way:
      “(illegal + immigrate) + [doer]”
      We see that it’s the action of immigrating that is illegal, not the person.

      [If there were a single word that meant “to immigrate illegally”, such as “illmigrate”, we could call the person who does that an “illmigrant”.]

      • Good grammatical insight, but political slogans, like marketing slogans, are carefully engineered to be emotionally catchy, they don’t come from mistakes.

        One thing that bothers me about these libertarianish circles, compared to my NRxish ones is going to the utmost extent to try to attribute everything to stupidity and nothing to intent (“malice”). I mean, politics is competitive, people are really trying to win, people really do have different interests or at least perceive them so. This in itself isn’t really that malicious, it just depends on the actual details if it is so. And of course there is a big space between truth and lying, “bullshitting”, “propaganda”, and so on.

        Perhaps this attitude of trying to explain everything with stupidity and nothing with intent comes from you guys having really guy moral standards, that is, you consider bullshitting as bad as lying and consider having conflicting political interests and pursuing it at the detriment of other people automatically evil, and not really a normal thing that becomes evil onl at the extremes. While in fact it is rather unavoidable that people will have different interests and not everybody can cooperate all the time. Society is a more Machiavellian than idealistic thing.

        On this topic I would recommend first reading Scott Alexander’s piece on conflict and mistake theory: http://slatestarcodex.com/2018/01/24/conflict-vs-mistake/ and Spandrell’s excellent rebuttal: http://slatestarcodex.com/2018/01/24/conflict-vs-mistake/

        The problem is really the naive view that only Marxists and suchlike believe in inherent conflicts and moderate liberals, libertarians, conservatives should think everything bad that happens is a mistake. It is naive and the Right needs to get more Machiavellian, or better: Mosca-ian (Gaetano Mosca: The Ruling Class). There are real and true inherent conflicts of interest. No society is entirely harmonious. Which makes bullshitting rather normal. The problem is really with one of extent, when people take this too far, is when it becomes evil. These days, of course, people are really taking it too far.

        Just to give an example. I am working on a theory of instutional dynamics. I think in a corporation the CEO and the IT Manager for example, and all other managers have a real and true conflict of interests. Both want the IT Manager to do an excellent job, but the CEO wants that at the smallest possible budget, the IT Manager wants that at the largest possible budget. And of course all the vendors and the tech journalist support the later, so the CEO can really be blackmailed into “if we don’t invest into really expensive new thing X [that will look really good on my resume], every hacker will pwn us” and this is where from it unfolds. This is really how the world works, far more with conflicts of interest and far less with stupid mistakes.

        • Good point on the stupidity/malice nexus. It’s increasingly bothering me too. I’m sure a lot of so-called stupidity is really low-grade (and usually unacknowledged) malice, the desire to do down someone. Observers may not be aware of this desire and thus charitably attribute the stupid action to a brain fart, they didn’t know all the facts, etc.

        • Any large group contains a majority of people who are motivated by good intentions. They can very easily be stupid and/or wrong, and the leaders of the movement might be malicious crooks, but the rank and file mean well. I take it as an axiom of politics that if you can’t explain their views in a way that a decent, well-meaning person might advocate, you lack understanding of their beliefs. Disagree if you want, but I think people should try to understand even if they do disagree.

          Also, I’d like to read that rebuttal, but both links went to the same SSC article.

          • Sorry, screwed up the second link: https://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com/2018/03/09/mistakes-happen-for-a-reason/ if you have a question about that, ask there because Spandrell is the author, not me.

            My own point is precisely that stupidity vs. malice is a false dichotomy, because conflicting interests, zero-sum games are not really malice, rather normal. It is stupidity vs. interest conflicts.

            So when you are saying any large group contains a majority of people who are motivated by good intentions, it is unclear what you mean. They have no really zero-sum conflicting interests with others? They do, but are willing to compromise? They want to pursure conflicting interests at the detriment of others, but not too extremely? It is the second two what I would call good or rather normal.

            The problem is precisely that too much of a moral view where actions are judged good or bad does not really capture the nature of conflicts of interests. They are somewhere in between. People are rarely that good to never have or never pursue interests that conflict with the interests of others. People are rarely that evil to be willing to follow their interests to the utmost, even if it means large scale robber murdery. It is somewhere in between. There is a danger in too much moral idealism, it gives a false picture of the world.

            • Thanks for the link – it’s interesting. I don’t agree, but I suspect a full discussion would be far too long and outside the scope of this thread.

              I guess I’m making a few interrelated claims here.

              1) At least in modern developed-world societies, most people feel that helping society as a whole is a good thing to do whenever possible. Few see any major groups within society as implacable enemies who need to be actively harmed – there’s those you care less about(“Why do those CEOs need any more money?”), but few where you’d feel bad if they had a good day that didn’t cost anyone else anything.

              2) People want to think of themselves as “one of the good guys”, and so they’ll try to do the right thing, not merely the expedient thing, whenever they have the resources to do so.

              3) People will usually view their own beliefs and actions through a lens that allows them to feel like they’re doing right, whether or not they actually are. This is where we get the fun phenomena of motivated reasoning, confirmation bias, and the like from.

              4) Zero-sum conflicts exist, but they’re fairly rare. Furthermore, when they do exist, we’ve generally realized that the act of fighting tooth and nail for them makes them negative-sum, and thus we’ve tried to minimize such conflicts whenever possible. (This is the real genius of democracy, IMO – it’s not just about making policy better, it’s about making sure that the losers don’t pick up guns very often).

              You’re right that people are shades of grey, and that it’s almost never absolutes in action. But I stand by my claim – if you don’t know how someone can advocate for (pro-life/pro-choice/high-tax/low-tax/pro-war/anti-war/etc.) beliefs without turning the claim into “I guess they just hate (women/babies/job creators/poor people/foreigners/oppressed foreigners/etc.)”, then you do not understand their arguments. Or you’re pretending not to understand so that you can preach to the choir more effectively, but in that case you’re kind of being a jerk, or worse yet a politician.

  11. I don’t understand why some people get so upset about words when there is no analogy. Every processor is an actual slave, it has an owner, it is condemned to a life of eternal waiting and labour and eventually is disposed of without a backward glance. This doesn’t bother anybody.

    Yet an abstract process being labelled ‘master’ or ‘slave’ does. Even when the relationship between the abstractions isn’t one of slavery. And then if we change the words, the offence goes away regardless of whether the slavery continues.

    I think they may actually have more of a point with ‘whitelist’/’blacklist’.

    • I think this is what bothers me. “Master” and “slave” aren’t merely discussions of plantation slavery* from 200 years ago, they’re terms of art in fields as diverse as computer programming, mechanical engineering, and BDSM.

      As “terms of art” I very much hope they aren’t offensive, because they describe, with absolute verbal and intuitive clarity, the behavior of the two items in a technical relationship. A “master” hard drive is in absolute control of a “slave” hard drive. A “master” computing process is in absolute control of a “slave” computing process. The problem is not merely that someone is offended, but also that lots of documentation uses these words, (particularly older documentation) and I can’t think of any terms to ACCURATELY and INTUITIVELY describe the technical relationship between two such processes.** So the issue is not merely a matter of emotions, but of accurately conveying information (particularly to non-technical people.)

      This brings up another issue, which is how we talk about the problem. Complaining about SJWs is fine if you feel that way, but for me the real issue is that when we discuss technical issues, words must accurately describe the issue they’re focused on, and I think this is the better argument against this kind of censorship.

      Having said all this, I can understand the other side, even as I disagree with their ideas for solving the problem. I’ve seen Black people come close to panic over a White person using the words “master” and “slave.” Having heard these words, a Black person is immediately compelled to stop all other thoughts and actions and deal with the possibility that the White person who is using these words is an aggressive racist who means them harm. It is often very, very difficult for a Black/White relationship to recover from even the innocent use of the worlds “master” and “slave” by a White person because the phrase immediately triggers some extremely powerful self-preservation concerns.

      I’m not sure what the appropriate way to deal with these concerns is, primarily because of the “accuracy of description” issues I discuss above. Maybe an RFC about appropriate terminology, so that everyone can make the same adjustments to their documentation at the same time? (And maybe we could stop feeding the beast? A president who says “there are good people on both sides” of a clash between the KKK and anti-fascists does not create an environment where it’s easy for Black people to recalibrate their racism radar.)

      * Yes, I hate plantation slavery. Why wouldn’t I?

      ** Given the sexual connotations, particularly in a professional environment, I think we can all agree on the inadvisability of calling two computing processes “dominant” and “submissive.” We could replace “master” with “control” or “controller,” but I don’t have a useful word to replace “slave.”

      • “Ruler” and “subject”, or “commanding” and “commanded” processes, perhaps? I suppose “slave” could be replaced with “servant”, “serf” or “helot” – for all the terrible things Spartan helots suffered, it doesn’t call up spectres of plantation slavery.

        I think that if a modern black person has a reaction to hearing the term “master” or “slave” that would be provoked by immediate concerns of self-preservation, though, that they’re having an excessively dramatic reaction. At least in the USA – we haven’t had chattel slavery in a mighty long time. I can see it being an uncomfortable reminder, but a cause for immediate concern for one’s physical safety? I don’t deny that people react that way, but I find it difficult to believe that it’s a legitimate concern, as opposed to a phobia or something akin to one.

        EDIT: fixed bad phrasing.

        • But race-baiters like Joe Biden will helpfully say “They’ll have y’all back in chains!” to keep the “immediate concerns of self-preservation” stoked.

          Never mind that a far more immediate concern of self-preservation is the gang-bangers and other thugs who contribute to the mortality stats.

        • I can see it being an uncomfortable reminder, but a cause for immediate concern for one’s physical safety?

          Obviously we’re talking about a variety of individual responses here.

          • I’ve seen Black people come close to panic over a White person using the words “master” and “slave.” Having heard these words, a Black person is immediately compelled to stop all other thoughts and actions and deal with the possibility that the White person who is using these words is an aggressive racist who means them harm.

            That’s basically unhinged, crazy, wackadoodle. It’s dumb and counterproductive to attempt to remake society so that oversensitive nuts never become upset. It can’t even be done: the oversensitive will always find something to freak out about.

            • It seemed that way to me at first, then I ran into multiple cases where a Black person ran into a racist, who complained that the Black person should be a slave (or call the racist “master.”) So obsession with masters and slaves is a real warning sign that someone might be difficult.

              • Yes, but the people obsessed with masters and slaves are the ones telling us we can’t use these terms in IT, where there is not even any hint of the other sort of slavery.

              • This is just silly.

                How many people in the Python community have an “obsession with masters and slaves”? How many in the entire developed world?

                I’ve never met one.

                Maybe such a thing exists in the loons like KKK or Aryan Nation or somesuch. But if you got their whole membership together they’d prolly fit in my carport.

                A determined effort to ignore them is the better plan.

                • Replying to all of the above, I’ve seen this in real life once (I actually caused the panic – this was when I was much younger and not very good at people. Sorry to E.) and in a noticeable fraction of news reports which discuss racists blowing up in public. So for better or worse, it’s definitely a thing.

                  The problem for a Black person is that one racist can run your whole decade, and while some racists are loud in the form of the KKK or Aryan nation, other racists quietly document all a Black person’s shortcomings (and none of their positives) and get the Black person fired/arrested/blacklisted, so looking for “tells” is a necessary Black skill, and a misinterpretation of what a White person means is less important than preserving someone’s career/liberty/reputation.

                  • I don’t mean to pry, but where and when was this “a thing”? It sounds like you are describing a Hollywood version of Alabama in the 1950s.

                    • I made my mistake with a middle-class Black person in a major (non-Southern) city in around 1980-something. I’ve also seen the issue in news reports in the last year.

                    • > I’ve also seen the issue in news reports in the last year.

                      The news media wants to make money, and racism is the hot topic that is making them money right now. Even ignoring the political/ideological reasons the hideously biased, deceitful media might have for highlighting anything their confirmation bias says is racism-in-action, there is plenty of cause for skepticism of such reports.

                      Today’s journalists were yesterday’s teen bloggers, and they seem to do about as much actual journalism.

                      Further, if we take what they say as truth, and given how much else the media could be reporting on, you should always ask yourself, why are they reporting on this, at this moment? Propaganda can take the form of selected truth presented at the opportune time.

                      Point being, the news media is not the neutral voice they claim to be, intentionally so or otherwise. Just because they say it doesn’t make it true.

                  • I echo PapayaSF’s comment re: sounds like a Hollywood caricature (not that I doubt such things happen, mind), and add that this seems like behavior ANY tremendous asshole would engage in if they didn’t like someone. The fact that racism is at the heart of the person’s rationale is ultimately irrelevant, unless we subscribe to the concept of the “hate crime,” which IMO is just a newspeak way of creating legal penalties for thought crime.

                  • I call bullshit.

                    If this is real, then give verifiable names, places, dates.

                    Oh, and, one anecdote doth not make a trend. And one anecdote is not that from which the rule is fashioned.

                    • Even if the incident was real it’s a ridiculous notion to run a society according to the whims and delicate sensibilities of a weak person who, by the sound of it, may well have been in a permanent state of mild hysteria.

                      I don’t believe for a second that hearing the words ‘master’ or ‘slave’, especially when uttered in a non-historical context such as IT, immediately paralyses every Black within 100 metres and sends them into a whimpering tailspin. That’s not how language works. People are really good at keeping track of context.Maybe troutwaxer should try this experiment with a few Blacks, there’s nothing like empirical evidence.

                  • This sounds like a conspiracy theory: “other racists quietly document all a Black person’s shortcomings (and none of their positives) and get the Black person fired/arrested/blacklisted,”. Got any proof for this assertion? Any? This has the same truth value as “florine in the water is making the frogs gay.”

                    • Sorry, I meant “fluorine” not florine. It’s a reference to the absurd theory espoused by Alex Jones of Infowars.

  12. SJWs destroy everything they touch. They don’t care about python or anything else. Python and Lerna is just a vehicle to force their politics on the rest of us. It’s all politics all the time. The personal is political. The political is personal.

    This will mark the beginning of Python’s slow slide into irrelevancy.

    Very disappointed in GvR.

    • Nooooo! I need python! My build system is written in python. I have opengl based guis written in python! I depend on some degree of language stability.

    • I’ve noticed that many of these issues (like the Rust dining philosophers one) are not being raised by stereotypical SJW entryist dangerhairs — the Randi Harper types we normally associate with such politicking — but experienced hackers in good standing. This points to a fundamental shift in hacker values. Rather than a bunch of screeching incompetent SJWs “taking over” we’re seeing competent hackers change their outlook. Which was kind of, you know, the point.

      • Guido’s compromise was, I think, effective damage control.

        Huh? Guido merged 3 of 4 of the PRs. Looks to me like he all but completely caved.

  13. Raymond:
    Reading over this, my mind jumped to the old Chinese story of calling a deer a horse.

    Specifically, an eunuch (Zhao Gao) of some standing in the Chinese court brought a deer before the Emperor and his entourage, but called it a horse. The Emperor was confused, as it was obviously a horse. But he asked those around him if it was a deer or a horse. Some said it was obviously a deer. Those who would follow the eunuch said it was a horse. Some remained silent.

    The eunuch would then go on to use his position to execute those who said the truth, and to execute those who remained silent. He’d also go on to get a bunch of other folks killed and to take down a Chinese dynasty, so there’s that, too.

    Thoughts on the story, and how it relates to current times with the various CoCs and related thought-policing going on?

  14. Wondering if the terminology police ever come for our much-used SPI protocol…what would the MISO and MOSI pins be called then?

  15. By the way, what actual replacements were used instead of “master” and “slave”? Was it “primary” and “replica” (which is arguably better, when it applies), or “leader” and “follower” (which IMHO is just stupid)?

    Also, I think removing those terms is stupid, if the goal was as stated. It would be better if the main meaning of “master”/”slave” was about computer program, and secondary meaning about people… ;-)

  16. Never in my life has the Master-Slave terminology wrt databases etc ever brought chattel slavery to mind. The only non-ridiculous alternative I can think of is Controller-Worker. But that just feels labored.

    ESR, any way you can make the comments area wider, so as to not degenerate into fitting only two words per line as many levels of nested comments develop? Surely the archives list doesn’t need to all be displayed. Maybe go only so far down as to where your article ends, then put an ellipsis link to a full list? or some fancy javascript or whatever.

    • I swear to god I hadn’t refreshed my screen and had not seen this comment when I made mine below. :D

      ESR! You are not being sockpuppetted by people who want wider comments! (Of course, that’s just the sort of thing a wide comment loving sock would say…)

  17. ESR: Do you also experience the comments section here to have later comments not merely indented from the left, but also squeezed by an ever increasing right margin?

    If this is a phenomenon you see, and not merely an artefact of my own particular combination of softwares and adblocks and anti-JS tools and the like, is it something that’s a result of the local CSS, and is it something you might consider fixing? I find it difficult to read text that’s only 15 chars wide but 900 lines long.

    Obviously, it’s not a huge priority, but… I dunno. Ergonomics stuff that never gets mentioned never gets altered, either. Thanks for listening. :)

  18. Is there a polite and non-confrontational way to resist these demands or does it always end in a fight?

    …because if it ends in a fight, the change-requestors always seem to end up with the bigger voices and that doesn’t bode well for the resistors.

    • Probably best to treat it as any other offered patch. Reject it. If they demand to know why, explain how it fails to further the goals of the project. If they start insisting and stamping their feet, then it’s just time to channel the dispassionate immovability your parents had when you insisted they were committing crimes against humanity by making you go to bed early on school nights.

      An example I just made up:

      The purpose of this project is to make it easier to dynamically generate HTML from Python templates. Neither a web browser, nor the Python interpreter are aware of, much less capable of caring about body type, gender identity, racial ancestry, or other factors irrelevant to programming or a person’s worth as a human being. Trying to pre-emptively worry about those distracts from this project’s purpose.

      Anyone who can contribute to this project in a manner that furthers its goals is welcome to do so. Those contributions which further this project’s goals will be accepted. Those contributions which do not will not be accepted. This is the standard to which all contributions are held, including this one, and unfortunately, this patch is of the latter type.

  19. On the width of the comments section, I suspect it is an artifact of the styling of the theme/template/whatever used. I note that the archives go back to 2002, and I’d wager that this blog is still running on the original template picked when it was set up. Who needs to fiddle with his web page when he has a blog template that works and there’s kernels and graphics libraries that need hacking on?

    15 years ago, CRTs were the dominant form of computer display, and that meant display resolutions on the order of a about 1000 pixels wide for common people, and probably not more than 1600 for power users — maybe ~2000 pixels if you had money. Even as LCD displays were beginning their takeover 10 years ago, they were limited, and a horizontal resolution on the order of around 1000 pixels was a safe bet.

    I looked at this page at almost all resolutions offered by my laptop, from 640×480, all the way up to it’s native 1920×1080. I note that the width of the comments section is set by the width of the article, as they both sit in the “content” div. The width of “content” is about 70% of the “main” div. I’m guessing this template was originally designed around a display resolution of 1024×768, as that is the first resolution in which the archive links appear next to the “content” div instead of below it, and at higher resolutions, the “main” div stays around 1000 pixels wide.

    Honestly, the width of the “content” section of the page looks good. The font size keeps the lines from getting so long that they get too hard to read. Hell, I’d argue it shouldn’t get much wider. Sampling what look to be the longest lines in the original post, I see line lengths of just under 110 characters per line. If anything, the “content” column could probably stand to be narrower. Wikipedia’s article on line length in typography cites studies claiming that a narrower line length is better suited to works intended to be read more thoroughly.

    It is not until horizontal resolutions of about 1300 pixels that the page looks like it could stand to expand to fill the screen again. But even if the page were re-styled to fill 1300 pixels (a safe bet today), this wouldn’t solve the problem by itself. Make the “content” section much wider without increasing the font size, and the lines of the original post and un-nested comments will become too long to read easily. The extra width may or may not make the most deeply-nested comments tolerable. Keep the font size proportional while widening the layout, and the most deeply-nested comments will remain intolerably narrow. Increase the font size to reduce the cpl of the OP, and deeply-nested comments get worse.

    Counting, it looks like comments nest up to 9 deep at maximum. At this point, lines are about 30 characters wide. That is definitely too narrow; 45 is the minimum width recommended in typography.

    To address this, I’d recommend two things. Either limit the nesting to 4-deep, or adjust the styling so that nested comments are only indented on the left, instead of both left and right. Doing both these things would probably help even more. I’d offer a patch for the latter, but in my fiddling, I am reminded just how bad I am at CSS.

    Or maybe just get rid of the nesting altogether and have the reply button pre-fill the Reply box with the quoted text of the comment you’re replying to.

    • > I’d wager that this blog is still running on the original template picked when it was set up.

      You’d lose that wager. Eric’s gone through this dance multiple times over the last, oh, 5-10 years. The current format is one of the best we’ve had so far, though obviously could use some kind of improvement to smooth out the edge cases.

      • I stand corrected. I based that statement on the fact that I’ve been following this blog for at least 5 years now, and the main format has not changed in that time.

  20. You know the sad thing here is that if you read the patches there’s a reasonable clarity argument for each of these changes.

    For example, when you fork a process parent/child is more descriptive than master/slave.

  21. My very first encounter with the term “politically correct” happened at a party in my late teens. I was ordering a pizza, and some woman demanded that I not order it from Domino’s (this was back when they had a decent product), on the grounds that doing so was not “politically correct.”

    I asked her what she meant, and she told me that Domino’s founder was a contributor to anti-abortion politicians and therefore beyond the pale. I responded that one of the wonderful things about a market economy is that it makes it possible for people to cooperate with others who may not share one’s beliefs, to our mutual benefit.

    I ordered a couple of pizzas, and when they arrived, the same bitch complained bitterly about the fact that they both had meat on them. When I pointed out that she hadn’t chipped in for the food, and therefore her opinion was of no consequence, she went around trying to recruit allies to condemn me for my “chauvinism” and “insensitivity”.

    Since then, I’ve responded to all demands of SJWs in pretty much the same way. I dismiss them summarily, with insults proportionate to the level of irritation they’ve caused me.

  22. I think we need to remember that language and its evolution is practically the most democratic process in human civilization. No authority owns language. It’s owned by the people who speak and writ it. Governments, no matter how oppressive. cannot dictate it. Nor can scholars, academics or elites. Dictionaries must follow and reflect, not define, the spoken and written language. If they don’t, they are useless.

    Now, we all just have to remember that and say whatever the fuck we want.

    • The very fastest way to get me to utter anything is to tell me I can’t. The volume I employ is pretty much directly proportional to the level of threat being levied against said utterance.

      As my Grammie would have said, I was born ornery, and had a relapse.

  23. But surely the maintainers of Python can do what they like with their own documentation? If they were trying to bully other projects into removing master/slave terminology, that would be wrong. But they can change their own project if they want to. As can any other project.

    Freedom of speech includes freedom of speech for “SJWs”. I’m allowed to remove “offensive” language in anything I control – but I shouldn’t have the right to force others to change. If there was a campaign to get Github to take down projects that had master/slave terminology I’d be completely against that. But I can’t see that’s happened here. It seems Guido is just exercising his own right to free speech.

  24. I just saw that Linus has implemented some kind of Code of Conduct

    What’s worrisome is this last section, which suggests the SJWs have their nose in the tent:

    Attribution
    ===========

    This Code of Conduct is adapted from the Contributor Covenant, version 1.4,
    available at https://www.contributor-covenant.org/version/1/4/code-of-conduct.html

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