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

Ted Lemon <mellon@fugue.com> Wed, 25 May 2016 14:35 UTC

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From: Ted Lemon <mellon@fugue.com>
Date: Wed, 25 May 2016 10:34:28 -0400
Message-ID: <CAPt1N1m_7gpHZU=h6AgOJEUiB+A3MFu6tAkkP5S0PAsYnibXEQ@mail.gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Recentattendees] IETF 100, Singapore -- proposed path forward and request for input
To: Patrick McManus <pmcmanus@mozilla.com>
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Cc: Margaret Cullen <margaretw42@gmail.com>, IETF Discussion Mailing List <ietf@ietf.org>
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On Wed, May 25, 2016 at 10:08 AM, Patrick McManus <pmcmanus@mozilla.com>
wrote:

>
> On Tue, May 24, 2016 at 6:56 PM, Margaret Cullen <margaretw42@gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
>> I am fairly disturbed with where this discussion has ended up
>
>
> Me too. A little empathy could go a long way here (as in so many things).
> That's a property of good leadership.
>

I think it's really important to understand that a desire to get clarity
does not indicate a lack of empathy.   It's also important to understand
that empathy isn't something that some people deserve and others don't.
The fact that person A has a worse problem than the problem person B has
does not mean that person B's problem doesn't matter.   And indeed even the
act of trying to make such a comparison is incredibly fraught.   As I said
earlier, it's very difficult to discuss this because it's difficult to
avoid making it sound like we have no empathy for person A when we talk
about person B's problem.   But it is not fair to ignore person B's problem
just because person A's problem is worse, particularly because what "worse"
means is very subjective.

For someone who has been discriminated against and marginalized their whole
life, a discussion of the practical effects of a particular example of that
marginalization, and how that particular example compares to the
less-pervasive marginalization that someone else is experiencing which
happens in a particular instance to be just as serious, may indeed feel
non-empathic.

However, I think that on a practical level the only problems that we, the
IETF, can address in this context are specific practical problems.   We,
the IETF, cannot directly address the pervasive discrimination and
marginalization, much as we wish to do so.   Nor need we--these problems
are being addressed on a social level, and many of us participate in trying
to address them on that level.   It is no accident that things have changed
for the better, nor is it the case that we are done.   The IETF is no more
capable of getting Singapore to change its laws with respect to same-sex
relations than we are capable of getting the U.S. to be less unpleasant to
visitors from disfavored countries, or for example to protect travelers
unknowingly carrying prescription asthma medication, Adderall or Ritalin
into Japan.

That is why I at least have chosen to focus on the practical.   It is not a
lack of empathy.