Point of order: what is the point of sending the discussion off to the distutils SIG if we are just going to bikeshed it (again!) here.
Bike-shedding it here is indeed inappropriate. If the PEP had listed all possible arguments that can come up in this discussion, and the corresponding counter arguments, then the discussion should be over.
Alas, it seems that the PEP still has open issues, which may mean that distutils-sig didn't finish its work, or that the more general public has different concerns.
Wrt. the ~= operator that is now under discussion: I proposed it on distutils-sig, Tarek (eventually) agree, nobody else commented. Now python-dev people neither like the syntax, nor the semantics. Saying that distutils-sig has discussed that aspect would be incorrect, though.