Re: IETF 100, Singapore -- proposed path forward and request for input

Ted Lemon <mellon@fugue.com> Wed, 25 May 2016 20:37 UTC

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From: Ted Lemon <mellon@fugue.com>
Date: Wed, 25 May 2016 16:36:23 -0400
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Subject: Re: IETF 100, Singapore -- proposed path forward and request for input
To: Melinda Shore <melinda.shore@gmail.com>
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> "We" can have a very
> successful meeting, depending on the value of "we."

> So, when we talk about "we," who's included?
​
It's probably easier to enumerate who's excluded than who's included:

   - Clearly, anyone who is not willing either as a matter of principle or
   a matter of concern for safety to travel to a country where engaging in
   consensual sex with their partner is illegal would be excluded.   But in
   order to consider this a matter of personal safety, one would have to
   assume that something unusual would happen, because from that particular
   perspective, nobody has _in fact_ been arrested for such behavior since the
   1990s, and I wasn't able to find a single example of a foreigner being
   arrested (which doesn't mean it's never happened).   However, as a matter
   of principle, which you have expressed, this would exclude you, and that is
   definitely a bad outcome.   I think it's quite reasonable to refuse to
   attend as a matter of principle, so we have to take this seriously.   Of
   course you would be able to participate remotely, but we've had that
   discussion elsewhere, and it's not terribly comforting.
   - Other people who are excluded are anybody who can't afford to travel
   to Singapore for a week, whether they live the next town over or in Florida.
   - Other people who are excluded are anybody who is unable to get a visa.
     Vinayak Hegde spoke rather eloquently on this topic on the mtgvenue
   mailing list recently.
   - Anyone who believes that flying internationally three times a year is
   too heavy of a carbon burden is excluded (I know several people for whom
   this is the case).

There are two problems with looking at it this way.   First, from this
perspective all venues look alike: there is no destination where everyone
is welcomed equally.   This is a point several people have made.   The
other is that it treats a matter of intolerance as equivalent to a matter
of immigration policy.   If you have suffered from intolerance all your
life, this will seem unfair.   If you have been treated as a third-class
world citizen all your life, it will also seem unfair.   You and I have a
certain kind of privilege that people from countries like India and Mexico
don't have, and that has to feel unfair to them.   I have a kind of
privilege you don't have, and I'm sure that feels unfair to you (FWIW,
which isn't much, it also feels unfair to me).

In terms of the practical impacts of this, Singapore may well be less bad
than the U.S. for more IETF participants.   Or it may be more bad--I really
don't know.   But while the specific form of discrimination that we see
with Singapore is indeed different, and objectionable to folks like you and
me and Ted, the other kind of discrimination is completely invisible to us,
except in the sense that some IETFs we don't see people we were hoping to
see, who happen to come from those countries.

The point is, it is a perfectly valid position to say "as a matter of
principle, the IETF should not go to Singapore because of their intolerance
of LGBT people."   But it is also a perfectly valid position to say "as a
matter of principle, the IETF should go to Singapore, because it is an
easier destination for a lot of Asian people than any destination outside
of Asia."   It's possible to frame the statements so that one sounds more
acceptable than the other, but I think doing so is obfuscatory, not
illuminatory.