Re: [Mtgvenue] Background on Singapore go/no go for IETF 100

John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com> Thu, 26 May 2016 18:24 UTC

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Date: Thu, 26 May 2016 14:24:31 -0400
From: John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com>
To: nalini.elkins@insidethestack.com, Ole Jacobsen <olejacobsen@me.com>
Subject: Re: [Mtgvenue] Background on Singapore go/no go for IETF 100
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--On Thursday, May 26, 2016 16:07 +0000
nalini.elkins@insidethestack.com wrote:

>...
> I think now there needs to be some policy based on
> reasonableness.  This needs to be a part of the venue
> discussion.  Everyone has to decide for themselves what level
> of risk they are willing to assume.  I suspect for some people
> they will tolerate no risk.  For most people, a risk of less
> than 1% or 5% ( or .00001% which is what I suspect it is for
> Singapore) is probably good.
> 
> Note, that we pass drafts based on ROUGH consensus not ACTUAL
> consensus.  As in any situation, 100% agreement or consensus
> is almost impossible to achieve.

Without commenting in this note about what I think we should do
about Singapore, I think arguments based on rough consensus in
this sort of situation are very dangerous and not appropriate.
A rough consensus argument says that, if only a few people are
even potentially affected and the odds of them experiencing a
direct and serious impact are quite low, it is ok to just go
ahead with the meeting.  

I don't have any way to know, but I assume that the number of
people who are GLBT and who would travel with families to
Singapore is not huge.  Narrow that further to those whose
families/ traveling companions would include children and the
number becomes smaller.  Narrow it even more to the entirely
unpredictable number whose situations would require them and
their relationships to confront local authorities and practices
(such as needing to deal with a hospital) and I hope the number
would go to zero, not because of any special properties of that
group but because I assume we manage to get through most IETF
meetings without anyone, or families traveling with them,
needing to deal with checking into a hospital.

If our decision-making has to turn on counting the number of
people who are likely, or, even worse, certainly, directly, and
obviously affected as distinguished from worrying about the
risks, the answer is going to be "go to Singapore and let them
cope".   I do not believe that answer is acceptable but that
conviction has nothing to do with a consensus measurement of
those who are or might directly affected.

Perhaps an observation about a different situation (although one
that has come up on the list in a different form) might help
explain this to those who seem to be being a little dismissive
of the issues and risks.  For historical reasons as well as a
few nasty personal experiences in the past, I get anxious when a
visa application asks for "religion".  I've been known to leave
that item blank and then worry about it on some occasions and to
fill it in and worry about it on others,  but I generally prefer
to avoid places that ask, especially when they have laws and/or
strongly established customs that favor one set of beliefs or
practices over another.  Does that mean I won't go to those
places?  Not necessarily.  However, the problem occurs the
moment I'm asked and involves my having to balance principles
and risks from that moment (potentially including altering my
behavior if I do go).  That particular balancing situation is
something that I believe that I should not be required to do. I
don't believe an organization that wants my participation should
force me into doing so.  If it decides to do so, no amount of
"consensus" about what I should feel or how I should behave
makes any difference at all although I may observe that, if
people feel a need for that particular discussion, or believe it
should influence my decisions, it tells me (and others) a lot
about the organization itself, things that are not at all
favorable.

    john