A distinction along Pete's dimensions (was: Re: Concerns about Singapore)

John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com> Thu, 07 April 2016 22:57 UTC

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Date: Thu, 07 Apr 2016 18:56:55 -0400
From: John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com>
To: "ietf@ietf.org Discussion" <ietf@ietf.org>
Subject: A distinction along Pete's dimensions (was: Re: Concerns about Singapore)
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Thinking about Pete's comments (with which I agree), and some
other comments made late in the BOF, an observation:

There are lots of places in the world with archaic laws
affecting personal behavior and relationships that we generally
find unacceptable.  In some of those places, they are not
enforced, have not been enforced for decades (or much longer),
and it is clear that any attempt to enforce them would result in
political outrage even though it is hard to get rid of them.  In
other places, they either are enforced or their enforcement is
only a matter of a small shift in the political winds or some
politician or lae enforcement entity looking for an excuse to
harass an individual or group.

Places where the problem is tied to laws or rules created
recently have to be treated as part of the second group, at
least until a _lot_ of experience accumulates.

The two cases may be hard to distinguish from a distance, but
they are very different.  In the first case, we might well want
to avoid meeting there, and make a statement about our reasons
for doing so, in order to join with others to create economic of
social pressure for change.  Or we might want to deliberately go
there in order to be supportive of local communities.  Getting
that choice right depends on input from people who are local and
listening to that input very carefully.  IMO, it is also a
decision that should be made openly and in consultation with the
IETF community and not in secret by a non-transparent IAOC
and/or Meetings Committee, both because that is the right thing
to do and because whatever message we want to deliver is likely
to be much more effective if it has clear community support.

The second, especially if it puts members of our community (or
anyone who attends with them) at risk of criminal or other types
of harsh treatment, falls into Pete's category that I would
describe as "don't even think about it" (at least I hope that is
consistent with his remarks).  I actually have mixed feelings
about Ted's suggestion that everyone else leave their families
home too.  On the one hand, it would help make a point and
spread the pain around.  On the other, it would seem a far
better option for everyone who is concerned about the problem
--and everyone who can be educated enough between now and
meeting 100 to care-- to stay home and participate remotely.  If
that were to wreck the budget or cause other real pain to either
the venue or the IAOC, I think we could at least be assured that
it wouldn't happen again.   But I really hope that we can make
whatever changes are needed to prevent us from _ever_ getting to
that point.

Note that I have not expressed an opinion above about whether
Singapore, or anywhere else that we are scheduled to go or might
contemplate, falls into the first category, the second, or, in
other cases, neither.  I don't have enough information, someone
local has said what amounts to "first category" and I think we
need to put some community effort into figuring that out.
What upset me is that the situation there caught us by surprise
but I think we need to move past that, figure out what to do
about that meeting, and, most important, make sure we learn from
the situations, both in terms of not repeating mistakes and
about the value of sufficient transparency that the IAOC can
obtain and take advantage of community knowledge.