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

Dan Harkins <> Sat, 08 October 2022 05:06 UTC

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Date: Fri, 07 Oct 2022 22:06:32 -0700
From: Dan Harkins <>
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Subject: Re: [Last-Call] Last Call: BCP 83 PR-Action Against Dan Harkins
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   Hi Ted,

On 10/7/22 3:23 PM, Theodore Ts'o wrote:
> On Fri, Oct 07, 2022 at 11:38:40AM -0700, Dan Harkins wrote:
>>    A study from McKinsey. Oh.
>>    "Good intentions are important, but the impacts of people’s actions
>> are the true measure of goodness."
>>    The real danger of that it places the recipient of the message into an
>> unimpeachable position of authority. While it's certainly possible that
>> someone would be dishonest as to their intention in making a statement
>> it is also possible that someone would be dishonest in how they
>> perceived a remark-- stating that offense was taken when it really
>> wasn't. But it's not possible to question how the recipient took it,
>> otherwise you are not "validating someone's experience" or their "truth".
>> And this can lead to targeted abuse of people where these kinds of
>> "micro-aggressions" are fabricated in order to silence or punish
>> someone.
>>    Sorry, I don't buy it. Intentions matter.
> Dan, the problem with your position is that it's possible for the
> sender to be dishonest about their intentions.  And so unless we have
> the ability mind-read, it's impossible for other people to figure out
> what the sender's true intentions and motivations might be.  And, if
> that gives "senders" free license to say anything that might be
> hurtful, or divisive, and be able to be able to say, "Whoops!  I
> didn't mean to hurt anyone", that's not really an acceptable outcome,
> either.

   Yea but see, if someone is saying something nasty but simultaneously
saying "but I didn't mean anything by that!" it's quite different than
someone receiving an innocuous comment that was innocently made
and claiming offense. My position is not to give license to nasty people,
it's to protect people. Nasty people will obviously be nasty regardless
of what they say their intention is. But innocent people can be wrongly
accused and the problem is, there is little recourse possible because
to push back is taken as "invalidating the victim's lived experience".
If you accept that intentions take the backseat to how the comment
was received you give carte blanche to targeted attacks.

> In practice, with the way micro-agressions tend to be handled is that
> folks are told --- look, the way that you said that was hurtful; could
> you please refreain from doing that?  But at also, whoever is
> adjudicating matters will also tend to use a reasonable listener test.
> It is reasonable to for someone to insert what is pretty obvious
> divisive topic, like race, into a completely unrelated discussion,
> like masking?  Is it reasonable to assume that someone didn't realize
> that this might be hurtful/divisive/trollish?  Would it really
> constrain someone's ability to express themselves if they were to
> enjoined from using anologies of race in either technical discussions
> of protocol or anti-COVID masking policies?

   It wasn't a technical discussion. It was about mask mandates on

> There have been those who probably believe that it doesn't pass the
> laugh test that a senior engineer can't understand why injecting race
> into an unrelated discussion might not be a socially appropriate thing
> to do.  Maybe that's a reasonable assumption, and maybe it's not.  But
> if someone believes very strongly that they should be able to inject
> race into IETF discussions, and that there should be no constraints on
> how they communicate ("Free speech!", I hear the cry), then this might
> be one of the places where there may need to be social consequences
> that need to be imposed.

   Race was brought into the terminology discussion much to my

> People of good will might disagree on where those lines might be
> drawn; but if we believe that there *is* such a line based on decorum,
> and that IETF lists shouldn't be a free-for-all ala certain Reddit and
> 4Chan fora, then draw these lines we must.
> At least in my opinion, the fact that some of your posts have gone
> beyond those lines, isn't even a close call.  So if you will take a
> bit of advice from someone who has worked with you quite a lot back in
> the IPSEC days, I believe you will be much more successful if you were
> to dial back some of your opinions about culture war related topics
> within the IETF context.

   Yes, you're right, of course.

> You're free to hold such beliefs; but the IETF really isn't the best
> place to be trying convince people one way or another on such topics.
> It's not likely to be successful, since it will be seen to be
> off-topic, and it's going to get in the way of the technical
> contributions you might want to make to this organization.

   The thing is Ted I'm not bringing this stuff up in a vacuum. Many
of the "problematic" emails I'm accused of sending are in response
to someone else injecting race into the IETF. I didn't write those
Les White April Fools drafts because I wanted to inject race into
the discussion, I did it because people were talking about "equity"
and "inclusion" and I was asking how one goes about achieving
said goals in the IETF and was met with silence. So those drafts
were sarcastic examples of how you could go about achieving

   Yes, the admin-discuss email you're talking about above was not
in response to anyone else directly but there was a distinct whiff
of virtue signalling in much of the demands for masking and that
was what I was responding to-- "hey, you can virtue signal your
allyship simply by wearing a mask!" To say that is racist is wrong.
There's nothing racist about it. But calling people "racist" is all the
fad these days. It's the lazy retort used by people who think they
hold a trump card in a debate. The word has been debased so
much by improper use that it is borderline worthless anymore.
Jay is just further debasing the unfortunate word.