Re: [Gendispatch] Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF

Dan Harkins <> Tue, 02 March 2021 23:46 UTC

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Date: Tue, 02 Mar 2021 15:46:01 -0800
From: Dan Harkins <>
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Subject: Re: [Gendispatch] Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF
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On 3/2/21 2:34 PM, Bron Gondwana wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 3, 2021, at 08:53, Phillip Hallam-Baker wrote:
>> On Tue, Mar 2, 2021 at 4:37 PM Christian Huitema < 
>> <>> wrote:
>>     On 3/2/2021 11:31 AM, Keith Moore wrote:
>>>     On 3/2/21 6:33 AM, Dan Harkins wrote:
>>>>       This is why it is important to set the record straight on
>>>>     this bit of
>>>>     folklore. There is really no racist baggage associated with the
>>>>     OK gesture
>>>>     but now people feel empowered to selectively condemn people who
>>>>     use it. It
>>>>     has become a weapon to attack opponents.
>>>     I think the lesson for IETF and TERM there is "be very cautious
>>>     about creating new weapons that can be used to attack
>>>     opponents".   Because people can and will use such weapons for
>>>     purely political ends, e.g. to demonize the people who are
>>>     promoting ideas that the attackers believe will harm their
>>>     interests.   It's often easier to attack people personally than
>>>     to attack their technical contributions, and we want to be very
>>>     careful about legitimizing such attacks.
>>     It could be say that demonizing the OK gesture is an attack on
>>     veterans. In the French air force, that gesture was part of the
>>     standard ground check. So much noise that you can't speak, so the
>>     mechanics used it to signal all clear. I suppose the same was
>>     true in other NATO countries. As a consequence, it was widely
>>     used in regular communication between service members to signal
>>     that things were fine. I sometime find myself doing it out of
>>     habit, and I suppose others do too.
>>     -- Christian Huitema
>> The issue is not the fact that it is a legitimate gesture with a 
>> widespread legitimate use. What creates an issue is that a particular 
>> group of people decided to subvert that meaning.
> That is a totally unworkable standard.

   Exactly! There was no issue created by authoritarian communist 
deciding to subvert the meaning of "democratic" or "people's republic". We
all knew that the Federal Republic of Germany was the good guys and the
German Democratic Republic was the bad guys and we all still understood
what "democracy" meant.

> By that standard, if "the racists"[tm] decided to go all in on the "I 
> like my coffee" memes (CONTENT WARNING: search at your peril) then me 
> slurping down my large coffee without milk becomes a racist and 
> vaguely homoerotic act with no change of intent or behaviour from me.

   We can't allow some fringe group of people-- be they PHB's swaggering
bullies or the leftists who got punked by 4chan trolls-- to decide what
words mean for the rest of us.

   The OK sign is used as part of a standard ground check in the French 
air force.
It's also used by divers to tell each other that things are just fine 
And if some rando somewhere thinks it's the symbol of white supremacy then
just hope he's not flying your plane or diving with you.


"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to
escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius