Re: [Last-Call] Last Call: BCP 83 PR-Action Against Dan Harkins

Brian E Carpenter <> Thu, 06 October 2022 20:37 UTC

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Date: Fri, 07 Oct 2022 09:37:01 +1300
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To: Keith Moore <>,
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From: Brian E Carpenter <>
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Subject: Re: [Last-Call] Last Call: BCP 83 PR-Action Against Dan Harkins
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On 07-Oct-22 06:23, Keith Moore wrote:
> On 10/6/22 12:17, Bless, Roland (TM) wrote:
>> Really?
>> For example, here:
>> He is ridiculing and humiliating groups by stating that "Where identity
>> groups can compound their power with the intersection of their venn
>> diagram of group identity. A trans black activist would have more
>> "authenticity", more ability to shout down Dave Chappelle than a white
>> trans activist and both of them would have more power than some cis
>> white male trying to shout down Dave Chappelle."..."The goal is to be in
>> as many identity groups as possible. They highlight their group identity
>> intersection because it _increases_ their place on the hierarchy!">> I don't interpret Dan's writing that way.   I think he's citing an
> credible problem with some models of privilege and/or intersectionality,
> particularly when there's an expectation of some sort of compensation
> for perceived lack of privilege.   I don't think he's ridiculing or
> humiliating groups, I think he's lampooning the models and arguing that
> they're intractable.

It's very possible that was the intention, but that is a literary or
journalistic technique. Using that sort of technique when writing for
a large, diverse, international community of engineers with a very large
fraction who learned English as a second language for technical documents
is essentially guaranteed to fail, to be widely misunderstood, and to
cause distress as a result.

The functional test is not whether the writer's *intention* was satire,
but whether the audience recognizes it as satire. As far as I can tell,
many of them didn't.

(When I snarkily referred to Dan using they/them in an earlier message,
he didn't react to it as satire. My mistake, sorry.)

> But I think I see why people misunderstand messages like this. Anytime
> you discuss a hot button issue and don't perfectly recite the "correct"
> response (or sometimes, even if you do), there's a good chance that some
> people will have strong emotional reactions that prevent them from
> really understanding the message you're trying to convey.   I think it's
> extremely unfortunate because these topics are vitally important and
> deserve to be explored, but it's also foolish to fail to observe that
> pattern of behavior. If a speaker knows that people are likely to have
> knee-jerk reactions to something they say, they can either try to avoid
> triggering those reactions or they can plow straight ahead and risk
> causing them anyway.  It's their choice, and maybe not an easy one, but
> I think I know which one is at least slightly more likely to be useful.
> Of course, humor, including even ridicule, _can be_ a way of diffusing
> such adverse reactions.   But it requires a lot of skill to be
> effective, and not everyone can pull it off.   It's very risky.
>> Embracing diversity and inclusion of group members is obviously about
>> participation and respect and not about increasing their power over
>> others and people do not/cannot change their identities or orientations
>> in order to to that.
> Of course, but I don't think anything that you quoted contradicts that.
> Keith