Re: [Last-Call] On satire, sarcasm, etc (was: Re: Last Call: BCP 83 PR-Action Against Dan Harkins)

Keith Moore <> Thu, 27 October 2022 17:19 UTC

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To: "Bless, Roland (TM)" <>,
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From: Keith Moore <>
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Subject: Re: [Last-Call] On satire, sarcasm, etc (was: Re: Last Call: BCP 83 PR-Action Against Dan Harkins)
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On 10/27/22 12:56, Bless, Roland (TM) wrote:

> this discussion is actually drifting away from an important
> aspect. It is actually not about satire, sarcasm, first or second
> language etc. It is about unprofessional behavior: there has been
> numerous feedback on Dan's messages that people obviously found them
> transgressing. Dan simply should have stopped continuing using satire,
> sarcasm, but continued to deliberately write offending messages.
> Sowing discord is unprofessional (as in the recent message here

"unprofessional" is not well-defined, and can in practice mean almost 
anything that someone doesn't like.   It can also be used arbitrarily to 
marginalize speakers who are out of favor with the leadership.

Also, there may have been a lack of useful feedback in response to Dan's 
satirical drafts.   For example, accusing his documents of being 
"racist", without explanation, wasn't informative and could actually be 
read as nothing more than a personal attack on Dan.   In my 
conversations with IESG members after his drafts were censored, it 
appeared to me that most of those on IESG simply did not recognize his 
documents as satire.   So the opportunity to make timely specific and 
constructive feedback (e.g. "please don't use satire; it's too easily 
misunderstood") might have been missed.

Also, I also would not label the cited message as "sowing discord".   I 
thought he was trying to make an instructive (if perhaps annoying) example.

But I see two unhelpful things happening here:

One is Dan not stating explicitly and clearly what problem he's 
concerned about, but instead using oblique methods like satire, or 
creating an example that should "obviously" illustrate the problem, 
especially under conditions when it already seems that there is a large 
potential for misunderstanding.

The other is when people react to a message that they don't understand, 
by assuming bad intent.

So I would argue that speakers need to try to be clearer and more 
literal, especially when the potential for misunderstanding is high; and 
that everyone should try to avoid assuming bad intent on the part of