Re: [Gendispatch] Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF

Phillip Hallam-Baker <phill@hallambaker.com> Sun, 28 February 2021 03:53 UTC

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From: Phillip Hallam-Baker <phill@hallambaker.com>
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 2021 22:53:42 -0500
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To: Fernando Gont <fernando@gont.com.ar>
Cc: "STARK, BARBARA H" <bs7652@att.com>, Andrew Campling <andrew.campling@419.consulting>, GENDISPATCH List <gendispatch@ietf.org>
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Subject: Re: [Gendispatch] Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF
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On Sat, Feb 27, 2021 at 10:01 PM Fernando Gont <fernando@gont.com.ar> wrote:

> Hello , Phillip,
>
> On 27/2/21 14:15, Phillip Hallam-Baker wrote:
> [....]
> >
> > TERM is in a similar situation. We are going to need to deal with a lot
> > of cross cultural issues and even within the Anglosphere.
> >
> > Take the OK hand gesture. Until a few years ago it had no facsist
> > associations whatsoever. Then a group of racists on 4-Chan decided to
> > start using the gesture 'pretending' it to be a racist gang sign. And of
> > course the minute that racists started flashing it as a gang sign, it
> > became a racist gang sign. And of course, deliberately insulting people
> > and then telling them they must treat it as a joke or they will 'look
> > stupid', is simply a way to double down on the insult. Bully, bully.
> > swagger, swagger, sneer, sneer, oh why are we being cancelled?
> >
> >
> > Meaning is determined by usage. Who is using the term, why they are
> > using it, matter.
>
> I'm not sure what this means.  That said, given the number of countries
> and cultures on this globe, I doubt anyone could really expect that
> people should be aware about stuff like the stuff you're referencing.
>

Oh I am pretty sure most people understood the point.



> For instance, I don't know what's 4-chan (some online forum?), or even
> what you call the "ok sign" -- here we probably have at least to
> different signs for it.
>

Again, you seem to have got my point.

And none of that changes Wittgenstein's point that meaning is usage and the
reason certain symbols become offensive is that some groups decide to use
them for the purpose of giving offense. There was nothing offensive about
the penitents robes of the la Borriquita brotherhood until Hollywood
decided to adopt them as the uniform of the Klu Klux Klan which at the time
had been extinct for decades. Today, they are almost universally understood
as a hate symbol.


> And yes, there is a partisan political dimension to this. I didn't
> > remove the terms 'master' etc.' from the Mesh specifications because I
> > was concerned they might cause offense. I removed them because I want to
> > make absolutely clear that I oppose the fascist seditionists who stormed
> > the US Capitol on January 6th.
>
> I believe that our ability to do useful work may be endangered if our
> documents are going to become "political statements".
>

That is inescapable in an environment where people have been told they must
take sides.


(quite the contrary, there reason for which I'd be keen to avoid
> specific terms is for the possibility that might offend e.g. a fellow
> colleague)
>

It is not about merely giving offense. This is about the use of words to
tell people that they are less important than others.



> > When a bully appears and attempts to appropriate the US flag as his own
> > personal banner, there has to be resistance. Defining the exact means by
> > which the US flag is to be worshiped by taking away the career of the
> > man who defied him was a way of claiming sole ownership of the
> > interpretation of the nation's symbols. Which was of course the reason
> > we needed to demolish the monuments to their ideology.
>
> This thread was started in the hopes of fostering diversity and
> inclusiveness in the IETF.
>
> I don't think discussion of USA internal political affairs is of use for
> such purpose.
>

The rise of populist authoritarianism was hardly limited to one country.
And while the role of the Internet and social media were rather different
to that being asserted by some, we certainly played a role

The reason I am bringing up the political context directly is that is the
only thing that makes these proposals important. We would not be making
expensive changes to APIs if this was merely about offense. The reason that
we are getting rid of terms like 'master' and 'slave' in protocol
specifications is not some urge to follow some abstract left wing fashion.
The reason we are eliminating 'master' and 'slave' is because there has
been a resurgence of support for the racism and last month a white
supremacist carried the banner of the slaver confederacy through the US
capitol.