Re: [Gendispatch] Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF

Dan Harkins <> Tue, 02 March 2021 11:33 UTC

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Date: Tue, 02 Mar 2021 03:33:16 -0800
From: Dan Harkins <>
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To: Fernando Gont <>, Phillip Hallam-Baker <>
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Subject: Re: [Gendispatch] Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF
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On 2/27/21 7:00 PM, Fernando Gont 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.
> 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.
> In a multi-cultural environment, you probably *need* to apply Postel's 
> principle.

   That is exactly right!

   The thing is, the OK symbol still has no "fascist" association. It 
was not
racists, it was a group of trolls that wanted to see what ridiculous thing
they could get people to believe. These trolls did things like convince
people to put their iphones in a microwave oven and so they decided to have
a go at the unfortunate trend to label everything "racist".

   It became "Operation O-KKK". As one 4-channer said, "Leftists have dug so
deep down in their lunacy, we must force [them] to dig more." In an effort
to recover lost pride, said leftists realized they should probably stop
digging and they decided to say that it wasn't them that were fooled, it was
really actual racists that got fooled and the innocuous symbol really became
racist. They still can't admit they got pranked.

   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. And that's where it becomes
dangerous. "Who is using the term" matters, as PHB said. What it boils down
to is: I can use it because I'm good, when my opponent uses it, though, it's
racism straight up.

   Which brings us back to TERM. We need to avoid the temptation to include
these sorts of subjectively "bad" terms. Especially when they are so
specific to one subset of one culture. Instead of selectively applying a
rule-- "who is using this term?"-- we should assume the best in what we 
and we should be careful in what we say, something like that.

>> 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".
> (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)

   Yes, these stunning and brave gestures of language policing have no
place here.

>> 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 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