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

Margaret Cullen <margaretw42@gmail.com> Thu, 26 May 2016 18:44 UTC

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Subject: Re: [Recentattendees] Background on Singapore go/no go for IETF 100
From: Margaret Cullen <margaretw42@gmail.com>
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Date: Thu, 26 May 2016 14:44:02 -0400
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To: "Fred Baker (fred)" <fred@cisco.com>
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Hi Fred,

> On May 26, 2016, at 1:15 PM, Fred Baker (fred) <fred@cisco.com>; wrote:
> http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/21/12-states-ban-sodomy-a-decade-after-court-ruling/7981025/ indicates that 12 states have anti-sodomy laws on the books, including Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that those laws are unconstitutional.  The fact that states have not cleared them off the books is annoying, but does not mean that they are currently enforced or enforceable.

As far as I know, the law in Singapore is still in force.  According to videos sent by one of the posters here, their Parliament considered rescinding the law bout 10 years ago, and decided not to rescind it.  

> We have met three times in Texas, three times in Florida, and once in Utah. We have had no incident that I became aware of.

Did any IETF participant claim, in advance or since, that it wouldn’t be safe for them to travel to those locations?
> 
> Which doesn't say that Ted is wrong, but it says that his information is dated.


I have known Ted Hardie for almost two decades, and while we don’t always agree, I have never known him to be careless, alarmist or paranoid.  Ted cares deeply about the IETF and the Internet, and I don’t believe he would raise an issue like this to gain attention or obstruct our work.  So, when Ted says that it might be unsafe for him to travel to Singapore with his family, I believe that there are rational reasons for him to think so.

> If we can't go to Singapore, I don't see how we go back to Texas, Utah, Florida, important parts of Africa, or the Arab world. And, oh yes, much of Eastern Asia. To me, that's the crux of the issue. I respect Ted, Melinda, and the many others that are LGBT and working in the IETF. However, the issue has, in my opinion, become far more political/emotional than fact-based. I'd like us to make sure we have the right guidelines in venue selection that focus on having successful meetings, and remote participation capabilities that will enable someone that chooses to attend that way to do so productively.

I hope we would not go to most of the Arab world, anyway, because of the status of women in those countries.  I would not be willing to travel to a country where women cannot vote, cannot own property, cannot drive, etc.  So, if the IETF were to go to one of those countries, I would not attend.  I would also think less of the IETF and it’s commitment to gender diversity. (BTW, I think it is fine for women to _choose_ to abide by religious or cultural restrictions — I object to laws that require them to do so.)

You seem to be advocating for an IETF that meets all over the world, while people who are unwilling to travel to those places for reasons of safety or ethics would stay home and participate remotely.  While there might be some (as yet unquantified, see below) advantage to that approach, it would have the _hugely unfortunate effect_ that the most privileged people in the world (rich, white, U.S./European, straight men) might be the only ones who are willing/able to attend every meeting in person.  Given that our leadership selection process depends on in-person attendance, both as a way to select nomcom members and as a requirement for leadership positions, that would run counter to our efforts to make the IETF a more diverse organization across many lines.

Also, while I enjoy our World Tour as much as the next girl, the meeting in Buenos Aires had very poor attendance from regular attendees, and this made it harder to get work done, IMO.  Attendance numbers (and therefore registration fees) were also down.  What are the benefits that offset those costs?  Does having one meeting in a country actually result in an increase in meaningful, ongoing participation from people in that country?  Has anyone checked how many first-time attendees from a given location send mail to our mailing lists more than six months later, attend future meetings (in person or remotely) and/or author documents?  If so, could someone publish the results of these studies?

This is obviously a very complicated issue.  The IETF has a choice to make about what sort of organization it wants to be, and there are rational viewpoints on both sides of this issue.  I don’t think we will resolve this issue, though, if we keep throwing up strawmen (like being unable to meet in Texas), instead of trying to understand the more subtle effects of the choices we are making in these situations.

No one person can have a diverse perspective, and I can’t claim to speak for everyone in the IETF about these sorts of issues any more than you can.  Probably the best way for the IETF to make good, carefully researched and highly responsive decisions in this area would be to have an IAOC that is as diverse as possible, along as many different lines as possible.  I will send that suggestion as input to the new nomcom when it has formed.

Margaret