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

Keith Moore <moore@network-heretics.com> Mon, 10 October 2022 10:28 UTC

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From: Keith Moore <moore@network-heretics.com>
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Subject: Re: [Last-Call] Last Call: BCP 83 PR-Action Against Dan Harkins
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Note: this is a part of my formal response to IESG's Last Call that I 
have chosen to make public.   I have also, privately, made a more 
detailed response available to IESG, which I reserve the right to make 
available to others.  Everyone who has received or will receive a copy 
of the private response has been/will be requested, and expected, to 
keep it in confidence.

What I'm saying in these messages is entirely my own opinion.  I'm not 
representing any one else, nor acting on anyone else's request.

-Keith


/I strongly disapprove of the proposed PR ("posting rights") action with 
the proposed penalty. /    I believe it is improper from a procedural 
viewpoint, unnecessarily vindictive, without obvious justification, and 
an over-reaction at best, proposing sanctions that are disproportionate 
to the actual offense(s), if any.   I believe it will do unjustified 
personal harm to Dan Harkins, perhaps limit his income-making potential, 
career, or work opportunity, and damage his reputation without 
sufficient cause or factual support.  I also believe that this PR 
action, whether or not approved, has the effect of increasing toxicity 
in the IETF community, and harming its credibility and ability to 
function as a fair, consensus-building standards-making organization.  I 
respectfully disagree with those who assert that this effort will make 
IETF less toxic or more fair.

It's possible that some lesser sanction than has been proposed in the 
Last Call message, say more limited in scope and/or duration, would be 
more appropriate.   At the same time it may not be possible to undo the 
harm that this proposal has already done.

I reread all of the messages cited in the Last Call and disagree that 
those messages, individually or collectively, warrant a PR action.   
That's not to say that I view every word in every message as entirely 
appropriate or harmless.   But I don't think IESG has established enough 
of a pattern of abuse or disruptive behavior on Dan's part to warrant 
such an action.

For many of the cited messages, I had to read the message multiple times 
to even guess what IESG might have been concerned about, since they did 
not make their concerns explicit.  I'm not at all sure that my guesses 
matched their concerns.

For the purpose of this Last Call response, I have not attempted to 
review messages other than those cited in the Last Call, except to 
establish context for the messages that were cited.   Based on private 
emails that I have received, I believe that some others have based their 
responses, at least in part, on messages other than those cited in the 
Last Call, and/or their personal knowledge of Dan.  While I do not wish 
to constrain anyone else's responses, I personally believe that it's 
inappropriate for IESG to evaluate such accusations outside the specific 
offenses which they, as accusers, claim that Dan has committed.   
Accused persons cannot effectively defend themselves against every 
possible interpretation of every message they've sent to any IETF 
discussion, for the indefinite past.


*I. Problems with the accusations*

1. The accusations do not cite /any/ specific text that Dan has posted, 
other than entire messages.  Perhaps more importantly, the accusations 
fail to explain why any of these messages violates any specific IETF 
Consensus rule.    A PR action should not be justified by vague 
assertions, even if the action is supported by other people commenting 
on the Last Call.     Without specific accusations, it's really 
impossible for the accused, or anyone else in the community, to 
effectively call those accusations into question.   Those who wish to 
argue against the proposed action have to second-guess what IESG was 
unwilling to say (or perhaps, could not agree on).

2. More broadly, it seems like there's been a general refusal from IESG 
and/or the Chair in all discussions about the use of language in IETF, 
to be specific about what behavior(s) they believe are worthy of 
sanction, or why.   Instead there has, in my estimation, been a 
continued insistence on ambiguous restrictions like "unprofessional" or 
"uncivil" or "disruptive" behavior that are subject to broad and 
arbitrary interpretation.

I do not believe that ambiguous rules are inherently wrong.  I do 
believe that imposing significant penalties on an individual based on 
perceived violation of ambiguous rules is wrong.  It's difficult for 
those so accused to defend themselves, precisely because the rules are 
so vague and arbitrary.   Leadership and Last Call responders alike can 
also effectively interpret those rules however they wish, including 
varying the interpretation according to how much they dislike the accused.

3. While this Last Call might not have been intended in that way, and 
BCP 83 can be read to actually require it, there's something sordid in 
inviting people to "pile on" to support such unsavory ideas as 
censorship.   It reminds me of a witch trial in which a mob demands 
severe punishment for a vaguely defined crime like being a witch, which 
cannot effectively be refuted, and for which any accusation from a 
member of the mob is accepted without question.


*II.  Evaluation of the cited messages relative to the accusations*

4. It seems like the bulk of the accusations against Dan are that he has 
expressed "racism".     I do not find such expression in the cited 
messages.

If the Last Call had cited messages in which Dan had promoted abuse of, 
harm to, derision of, or prejudice against, people of color or any 
ethnic background or culture, I'd emphatically support the action.   If 
he had called into question that racial prejudice or inequities exist, 
or that they do substantial harm, I'd also support the action.   The 
existence of race-based prejudice is well-established independent of 
anyone's claimed experience, and denying that such prejudice exists is 
profoundly insulting to people who routinely experience such prejudice . 
But I haven't seen that he's done any of those things or even hinted at 
them.   Rather, I think he's questioned some people's theories about the 
nature of racial prejudice, and the insistence that those theories be 
treated as fact, or that they influence IETF policy, without being 
subject to question.    I do not believe that any of the cited messages 
were racially prejudiced or intended to promote racial prejudice.

I do not personally believe that disagreeing with someone else's theory 
of racial inequity, or denying, belittling, or probably even ridiculing 
such a theory, is an expression of racism [*]. In the absence of 
unambiguous evidence supporting that theory and disproving other 
theories, resulting from robust scientific research, it is reasonable to 
call such theories into question. Reasonable people should be able to 
agree or disagree with a theory, and it should be possible to discuss, 
investigate, and/or refine such theories until they're substantiated or 
found to be lacking merit.   Of course it's not merely the theory that 
was being called into question, but the insistence that everyone must 
adhere to that theory,  attacks against people who do not support that 
theory, and the insistence that the theory influence IETF policy without 
question.

[*] Admittedly there's a somewhat a fine line here.  I believe that 
everyone has the right to try to interpret reality, and form theories 
about reality, based on their own experience of it. (Though they should 
be aware that nobody's experience is representative of the whole of 
reality.)    Indeed, I think forming such theories is a fundamentally 
necessary and human activity.  Our brains are wired to build models of 
what we observe and what is important to us.   People should not be 
compelled to believe or support others' theories.  Nor should people 
disrespect a theory that's widely held by some group, any more than one 
should disrespect a religion or adherents of that religion. There should 
be room to disagree, when necessary, without expressing disrespect.

Similarly, it's not wrong to point out that the word "racism" is 
sometimes used in a way that itself is problematic, or at least 
ambiguous.   While I understand that "racism" is sometimes used to 
describe specifically structurally-based inequities, I also observe that 
the word is not universally used in that way.   And in practice it's 
hard to tell when the term "racism" is intended to be interpreted with 
such precision.   It's absolutely reasonable and useful to discuss 
structurally-reinforced inequities in the treatment of certain groups, 
differently from other forms of prejudice.   But the varying usage of 
these terms makes it difficult to distinguish one kind of "racism" from 
another and respond appropriately, outside of certain circles in which 
those terms are effectively disambiguated.  IETF is not one of those 
circles.

5.  Dan has not always been infallibly polite.   But neither have his 
accusers, or really, have most IETF participants that I've known over 
the years.   IESG has not shown that Dan's messages in their aggregate, 
are significantly less polite or more disruptive than those of many 
other IETF participants who are tolerated or even elevated to positions 
of authority.

Also, it's inappropriate to try to evaluate Dan's messages without 
evaluating the context(s) in which they were written.  While I don't see 
"they started it!" wars as productive at all, we all know that it's 
difficult to respond to personal attacks respectfully, calmly, and 
rationally, every time.   I believe that /all/ IETF participants who 
find themselves subject to such attack have a duty to try to avoid 
adding heat to the discussion (such as by adding insult to a reply), and 
that the community leaders (IESG, WG chairs, etc.) have an /even greater 
duty/ than ordinary participants to avoid doing so.

6.  BCP 83 authorizes PR actions taken against individuals whose 
messages "appear to be abusive of the consensus-driven process."   I am 
unconvinced that Dan's messages, taken as a whole, have been abusive of 
the consensus-driven process.   I haven't seen him interfere with 
others' ability to state their own views, nor interfere with others' 
ability to consider views expressed by other participants.

7.  I believe that this proposal is itself harmful to the 
consensus-driven IETF process, because it will likely have a chilling 
effect on all IETF discussion, /especially//because this proposal lacks 
specific justification for the proposed action. /

I believe that this action is likely intended to serve as a warning to 
others, but it sets a dangerously ambiguous warning.   If, for example, 
a PR action were proposed because one IETF participant accused another 
of being a "________"  <insert insult>, approval or disapproval of such 
a PR action would at least establish a clear line for others to follow: 
don't call someone a "________" (or anything similarly insulting).  By 
contrast, approval of this PR action would not establish a clear line, 
but instead send a more vague message that (for example) it's not okay 
to disagree with IETF leadership, or persons elevated by IESG 
leadership.   While that kind of dysfunction is unfortunately common in 
corporate environments, it is not one of the virtues of 
"professionalism", and not consistent with IETF's mission.   IETF 
participants need to be able to freely disagree with the views of IESG 
and other leaders, and freely discuss IETF processes, within reasonable 
bounds of decorum that apply equally to everyone.

If IESG believes that there are specific subjects which are unacceptable 
to discuss in IETF, IESG has the power to exclude those subjects in WG 
or mailing list charters, subject to the usual processes. Similarly 
working group chairs have the power to set aside discussions of topics 
that are not appropriate for the working group's charter.    If 
individuals disagree, they have recourse through the usual public 
charter discussions or, when necessary, established appeal processes.   
I see no reason to sanction individuals for mentioning subjects that 
haven't been explicitly excluded, and are within the defined scope of 
their discussions.
*
*8. The Last Call provided no information as to how the cited messages 
were selected.  One responder suggested that the IESG had "tried alot 
with the individual but no change for two years", which is approximately 
the period of time that the cited messages represent.   I wonder whether 
the IESG was collecting messages for two years to support a potential PR 
action.    Surely the primary purpose of a PR action is to address 
abusive or disruptive behavior in a timely fashion.  Was it really 
appropriate to wait two years? Or was there instead a desire to wait 
long enough to collect sufficient ammunition?

The communications between IESG or their proxies with the accused, prior 
to the initiation of the PR-action, were not disclosed to us. While the 
lack of disclosure may serve a valid purpose (why air dirty laundry if 
the parties can quietly agree on a resolution?) the lack of transparency 
becomes problematic once either party initiates action via some public 
process, and claims that they've followed the required process.

I know from my own experience as an AD that any communication from an AD 
can be taken as a threat, because ADs effectively have power to render 
many years' worth of your work useless, or delegate change control of 
that work to others, and/or harm your company's business interests.   
It's therefore difficult for an AD's unsolicited input to be seen as 
helpful, even if the AD is genuinely trying to help participants express 
themselves clearly.  It's even harder if the AD accuses or suspects the 
participant of malice, rudeness, disruption or acting in bad faith.

In general, even though IESG claims that:
> Multiple attempts have been made to enter into a private discussion with this
> individual, both by IESG and community members, to communicate disquiet with his
> conduct on the lists. These attempts to restore respectful and courteous conduct
> on the lists have been rebuffed with communication that can be considered both
> antagonistic and hostile, and the pattern of behavior observed has continued.
it's not possible to evaluate the veracity of such claims while those 
communications remain private.   In particular, it's not possible to 
evaluate whether either party made a good faith effort to come to a 
resolution, or even to understand the other party's position.   (This 
may be more of a problem with BCP 83 than with either IESG or Dan.)

It has often seemed to me, that if someone wants to harbor or nurture or 
encourage some prejudice against an individual or group, they'll find 
plenty of "evidence" to support that prejudice, and will tend to 
disregard any evidence to the contrary.   One reason is ordinary 
confirmation bias, to which pretty much everyone is susceptible.  
Another reason for that is that the prejudiced individual generally 
makes their prejudice evident to the individual or members of that 
group, and that influences how that individual or group members react to 
the prejudiced individual.  (This can, of course, work both ways.)
*
*

*III.  Summary of my personal evaluation of Dan's messages**
*

8.  Most of the messages cited in the Last Call were on topic, and 
within reasonable scope of, the discussions in which they appeared.

9.  Of the fifteen messages cited in the Last Call, I found:

  * one message that I judged to be entirely inappropriate (though not a
    violation of any of the Guidelines for Conduct or any other IETF
    Consensus rule I'm aware of);
  * two messages that contained pointless but relatively minor personal
    "digs";
  * two messages that were parts of threads of insults traded between
    Dan and others;
  * two messages that are in my opinion so old that they really
    shouldn't be evaluated to support this PR action (and one of those I
    did not find objectionable);
  * one message that was almost entirely devoid of substance relative to
    the volume of pedantic irrelevant content;
  * two messages that I thought would have been inappropriate if they
    had been directed at a specific person or people, but I couldn't
    tell that they were; and
  * approximately five messages in which Dan was responding to insulting
    statements, personal attacks, or inaccurate characterizations of his
    speech, made by others

Given that I find only a few of the cited messages even borderline 
inappropriate, and that they were spread out over a period of more than 
two years, I do not consider these messages, in the aggregate, 
sufficiently offensive, insulting, or disruptive to support the 
accusations made, or justify the proposed remedy. If any of these 
messages actually were disruptive, IESG has not supplied evidence to 
support that claim.

10.  Dan has shown a willingness to discuss "hot button"**issues, or to 
take up less-popular positions on such issues.  I don't fault Dan for 
that in the least, as these are important issues that need to be 
examined from all sides if they are to affect IETF policies.**  However, 
extra care to minimize the potential for flame wars is often needed when 
discussing such issues.   I do not find that due care was always 
employed in constructing those messages.**

Lack of due care is not a violation of our Guidelines for 
Conduct.*//*However, RFC 7154 does state:

       English is the de facto language of the IETF.  However, it is not
       the native language of many IETF participants.  All participants,
       particularly those with English as a first language, attempt to
       accommodate the needs of other participants by communicating
       clearly, including speaking slowly and limiting the use of slang.

One could argue that Dan has not always made sufficient effort to 
communicate clearly, for example by relying on references unlikely to be 
familiar to works of English language literature which are not known 
throughout the world, and expecting the meaning of such references to be 
clear to such readers.

**11.  From the selection of messages cited, it is difficult to escape 
the impression that Dan is being singled out for his willingness to 
express "politically incorrect" opinions on controversial topics, and 
perhaps for not tailoring his messages to be likely understandable by 
the spectrum of readers of his messages, more than for anything else.   
That's the thing that nearly all of the cited messages seem to have in 
common.**Other explanations are possible but I don't see patterns in the 
cited messages to justify other possible explanations that come to my mind.*

*

*IV.  Dan's messages (and drafts) in comparison to other contemporary 
and related messages and drafts.*

12.  In the past there was an internet-draft that explicitly called IETF 
participants "racists" without supplying any justification.  I judged 
that internet-draft to be inconsistent with the IETF Guidelines for 
Conduct, patently offensive, and (in my opinion and the opinion of many 
others) toxic and harmful to IETF.   But while that draft was revised to 
reduce the use of such language and be more vague about who it was 
accusing, to my knowledge no version of that document was censored, nor 
were its authors sanctioned in any way.  Instead, it was amplified by 
IETF management at the time, who gave it preferential exposure in a 
working group and tried to have that draft used as a basis for IETF policy.

On the other hand, when Dan wrote satirical drafts implicitly 
criticizing efforts on the part of IETF leadership to support that kind 
of prejudice, that draft /was/ censored by IESG.  In addition, the IETF 
Chair has publicly accused it, without any specific justification, of 
being "racist".   That accusation was itself, IMO, inconsistent with the 
recommendations in RFC 7154.

(I note in passing that RFC 7154 refers to itself as "Guidelines for 
Conduct".  I believe it was intended more to encourage constructive 
behavior, than to be used as a set of rules to be enforced.   The 
recommendations are, IMO, at least as applicable to the IETF Chair as to 
anybody else.   But in general, I don't think they should be used as a 
basis for sanctioning any IETF participants.   It is necessary to have 
some "room" between ideal behavior, and behavior that deserves sanction.)

I will admit that Dan's drafts were not particularly easy to understand 
in their entirety, even by me, and were presumably less likely to be 
understood by readers not familiar with English-language satirical 
writings.   But accusations of those documents being "racist" were 
unsupported and unfounded.   They were not racist, though at least one 
was critical of some theories of racial inequity and attempts to remedy 
such inequity. (Disclaimer: I'm making these assertions from memory of 
reading those documents, as I do not currently have access to those 
documents.   Indeed, the removal of these documents from Internet-Draft 
archives has resulted in a loss of transparency of IESG's action.)

In my estimation, it was not disruptive or otherwise in violation of RFC 
7154 for Dan to write those documents.  But neither were the documents, 
in practice, likely to contribute constructively to IETF discussion.   
That, in my opinion, is more due to inadequate tailoring of the 
documents for the intended audience, than to any inherent impropriety of 
the subject matter, argument, or intent.

(It is worth considering whether the authors of the above-mentioned  
"toxic" Internet-Draft made much the same error than Dan did, that of 
failing to tailor their draft to the IETF audience.)

It's possible that satire is never a good way to communicate subtle 
concepts to a global audience, because it's too likely to be 
(mis)understood as insulting, especially by participants for whom satire 
is unusual in their native language literature or cultures.  This is an 
unsurprising result of using a literary device that treats something 
that's harmful as if it were desirable, with the expectation that the 
reader will recognize it as satire.   It's also possible that mere 
mention of a controversial topic that seems to be unrelated to the point 
of a discussion is likely to be misunderstood as some sort of insult, 
unless perhaps the relationship of that topic to the discussion is made 
clear.

13.  It's difficult to escape the impression that IETF leadership are 
trying to make an example out of Dan, or that this effort is in part 
retaliation against someone who has (if imperfectly) called attention to 
their prejudiced treatment of sensitive issues.   Not only is that not a 
good look, it's counterproductive for IETF. For IETF consensus to have 
any meaning, IETF and IETF management (including the Chair and IESG) 
must be explicitly tolerant of diverse viewpoints as long as they are 
reasonably relevant to IETF and the discussion in which such viewpoints 
are expressed.

I do however acknowledge that IESG may be under considerable pressure to 
make an example out of Dan, in order to signal their willingness to 
adhere to a politically correct view of racial disparity.

It's not wrong for IESG or others to point out that a message or 
document is easily (mis)interpreted as abusive in some way, and to 
perhaps ask that it be revised.   But punishing the author seems excessive.

14.  More broadly there seems to have been a concerted effort on the 
part of multiple generations of IETF leadership to marginalize 
individuals who are (perhaps arbitrarily) believed to be "rude" or 
"unprofessional", even though those descriptions are hopelessly vague, 
and the accused individuals may have been treated quite rudely merely 
for expressing different views, sometimes in the guise of "inclusion". 
    IMO such efforts have contributed more to toxicity in IETF than any 
of Dan's messages that were cited in this Last Call.    I understand 
that IETF's main work product is consensus, but a declaration of 
consensus is misleading at best if it results from suppression of views 
or of individual participants.


*V.  Recommendations for IESG and others
*

15.  I respectfully request that this PR-action be abandoned.  If not 
abandoned, I request that the duration of such sanctions be limited to a 
very brief interval.

16.  The primary roles of the Area Directors, and probably also the IETF 
Chair, should be as facilitators of technical consensus, or occasionally 
mediators (not dictators) of technical compromise, much more than as 
arbiters or enforcers of politeness or political correctness or 
"professionalism".

There's a fundamental conflict of interest that results from the same 
group of people trying to serve both roles. Less-conventional views are 
often seen as "rude" or "impolite" or even "disruptive" simply because 
are less-conventional or threaten established interests, or perhaps 
because they touch on controversial subjects.   If IESG are now the 
arbiters of acceptable speech AND the enforcers of their own rules (or 
their interpretations of vague rules), this inevitably will have the 
effect of suppressing views that differ from IESG's.  And that's not 
consistent with the mission of a consensus-building organization, or 
with the ability of IESG to be seen as  fair, neutral 
consensus-builders.  IETF needs for IESG, as much as possible, to stay 
above such battles.

17.  IESG should take a good look at its own role (from the past several 
years to the present) in making IETF more toxic.   There are other ways 
to contribute to toxicity than mere rudeness, after all, including (for 
example): making threats to individuals' ability to participate (which 
might also threaten their livelihood); spreading disparaging opinions or 
rumors about individual participants; making and circulating lists of 
"problem" participants; appropriating list moderators and others to act 
as "tone police"; marginalization of individuals or their contributions 
for non-technical reasons; publicly or privately attacking participants 
for their views; or tampering with consensus processes (like this one) 
by attempting to limit certain speakers' ability to contribute.

IESG should seek advice from outside parties with experience in 
/consensus-based/ decision-making, (rather than, say, consultants to 
corporations, military, or other strictly hierarchical organizations) to 
advise it how to facilitate such discussions without encouraging 
toxicity, and perhaps make such recommendations available to WG chairs 
and the general community.

IESG should work to make itself to be better facilitators of consensus 
or compromise, before it tries to sanction more individuals for their 
speech.

I know from long experience with IETF, that IESG often narrowly tailors 
working group charters in an effort to avoid strong conflicts of 
interest within the working group.   Perhaps IESG should exercise at 
least a similar degree of effort to try to avoid unnecessary political 
controversy.   We are fortunate in IETF in that most of the questions we 
face are between different purely technical choices for how to solve 
more-or-less the same technical problem, and are relatively 
uncontroversial among those not directly affected by those technical 
choices.  While we cannot always always be so fortunate as to avoid 
tackling controversial problems, perhaps we can at least try to avoid 
tackling political questions that we are unqualified to answer.

18.  Rather than trying to penalize or marginalize or "correct" the 
voices of those who are frustrated or "in the rough", IETF as a whole 
(including IESG, WG chairs, authors, directorates, and ordinary 
participants) should try to make sure that all views are respected and 
maximally understood, so that everyone involved in the discussion can 
give those views due consideration, and so that participants can have 
trust in the process.   The best IETF participants have always made an 
effort to practice and facilitate that.  It doesn't always work, but 
it's a much better first approach.

19.  BCP 83 should be revised in various ways, e.g.:  to require more 
specificity in accusations, to limit the scope of review to specific 
accusations and IETF consensus-based rules, and to evaluate only 
specific messages cited (also considering the contexts in which they 
appear), rather than inviting the community to find its own reasons to 
attack accused individuals.   A PR action should not be an invitation to 
a fishing expedition or witch trial.  It would also help to increase 
transparency of the portion of the process before a formal PR-action is 
started; and to invoke a neutral mediator before formal process is 
started, with the goal of minimizing the potential for misunderstanding 
and improving quality of communication where appropriate.

20.  It's possible that the Guidelines for Conduct should be revised, or 
other recommendations made, in at least two areas: (1) how to respond 
constructively to attacks or perceived attacks, on one's person, 
contributions, others, groups, or the community, while minimizing the 
potential for such discussions to get out of hand; (2) it should make 
clearer that it's not appropriate to pressure people who are perceived 
to be "in the rough" to change their opinions or to cease contributing 
to the discussion, so that the majority can win.  A third possibility 
worth considering would be to add (negative) rules to the (positive) 
"guidelines" that currently exist, so that the relationship between 
ideal behaviors and forbidden behaviors would be obvious, and the 
forbidden behaviors would have IETF Consensus behind them.

21.  Community leaders such as IETF Chair, IESG members, IAB members, WG 
chairs, etc., and IETF staff, should be especially steadfast to avoid 
making either personal attacks, or nontechnical criticism of people's 
contributions, or to try to rig a discussion, or change the rules of an 
ongoing discussion, in a way that would favor some people or opinions 
over others.

22.  I believe IETF might benefit from having some kind of facilitators 
to help contributors (including leadership) express themselves with 
maximum clarity, and/or defuse discussions that have gotten out of hand 
or seem to have potential to get out of hand.  Such facilitators need to 
be independent of IESG, and have no authority to impose or recommend 
sanctions, so that they can be maximally trusted.    They should have 
some sort of training in clear communications across different cultures 
and languages, constructive engagement, and resolution of the kinds of 
conflict seen in IETF.   The primary goals of such facilitators should 
be to promote respect for all discussion participants and their 
contributions, to assist participants in expressing their own ideas 
clearly, and to help minimize the potential for misunderstanding, 
especially given differences in background, culture, and language.   The 
facilitators must not be "Tone Police".   They may engage in discussion 
with the affected participants, point out problems, answer questions, 
and offer suggestions, but should not accuse or belittle participants or 
dictate language to them, and they should keep their opinions about 
participants to themselves.  I'd like for such facilitators to be 
available to community members who request it on their own behalf, and 
available to community members who complain about others' contributions, 
but they should advise the complaining party before contacting the other 
party.   WG chairs and other process facilitators may also recommend 
that participants take advantage of the availability of such 
facilitators.    All advice given by facilitators should be kept 
entirely confidential.

I expect that such facilitators might be paid professionals, or 
volunteers for whom IETF provides training, or some combination of the two.

*VI. Closing Statement*

In closing I wish to point out that the privilege that someone enjoys, 
or the burdens that life presents to them, are not things that can 
reliably be determined by appearances.   I've seen many examples of 
this.    Some burdens are obvious to an observer, but many are not.   
Most people cannot tell by looking whether someone has some sort of 
disability or serious health issue, whether they've endured or are 
enduring abuse or trauma, whether they've suffered significant personal 
losses, or been personally attacked for no valid reason.   I believe we 
would all do well to keep in mind the saying: "Be kind to everyone, for 
everyone is fighting a difficult battle" [*].  Insisting that everyone 
behave ideally, all of the time, or be subject to sanction, doesn't seem 
consistent with this idea.

Also, we are all living in rather trying and uncertain times.  The whole 
world is still suffering from a global pandemic that has claimed 6.5+ 
million lives so far, leaving many more with long-term health issues, 
certainly on the scale of a major war. Many of us have lost friends 
and/or family to COVID, or to other diseases whose treatment was 
impaired by the impact of COVID on our health systems.  Many lives and 
valuable institutions have been disrupted, haven't recovered, and may 
not recover.   There are ongoing armed conflicts in various parts of the 
world that have done and continue to do tremendous harm to innocent 
people and have the potential to escalate.   The potential for use of 
nuclear weapons is probably greater now than at any point since 1962.   
Some of us, or our colleagues, may be directly affected by some of these 
conflicts.   For those of us in the United States, the very fabric of 
our government is still under threat, and the potential for civil war is 
greater in the US than at any time since 1865.

The very Internet that is the work of our organization, has brought 
tremendous benefit to the world, but also tremendous changes that many 
people struggle to deal with, even when the change was needed.   We 
don't always think about that because we're in the middle of it, but 
many of the stresses that our world is experiencing are at least in part 
a result of making the Internet real and ubiquitous, and the shifts in 
power that resulted.

(whew!)

We should take all of this into account when considering how we treat 
one another, and ourselves, now and probably for many years to come.   
Most of us will be dealing with these effects for the rest of our lives.

[*] Various versions of this are attributed to Scottish author Ian MacLaren