On 06/29/2020 08:13 AM, Keara Berlin wrote:
Hi all, I didn't mean for there to be significant differences between what I posted here versus in the commit message. Sorry for any confusion around that! Thank you for putting them both in one place here - that is helpful.
To be clear, the proposed change:
"When writing English, ensure that your comments are clear and easily understandable to other English speakers."
And the commit message:
Instead of requiring that comments be written in Strunk & White Standard English, require instead that English-language comments be clear and easily understandable by other English speakers. This accomplishes the same goal without upholding relics of white supremacy. Many native English speakers do not use Standard English as their native dialect, so requiring conformation to Standard English centers whiteness in an inappropriate and unnecessary way, and can alienate and put up barriers for people of color and those whose native dialect of English is not Standard English. This change is a simple way to correct that while maintaining the original intent of the requirement.
I find it difficult to express my horror and outrage with this commit message, but let me try: Picture this scene from a movie I watched a long time ago: towards the end of the US Civil War a small band of deserters approach a large home; only one man, his wife, and their baby are home as the man's father and brothers have left to run errands. The leader of the small band approaches the man and asks for water. The man, happily and cheerfully, obliges and draws a bucket of fresh well water for them. When he turns around to give them the bucket of water, the leader runs him through with his saber (stabs him in his guts all the way to the hilt).
That's what it felt like: betrayal.
Before the PEP-8 amendment thread I thought Strunk & White was some popular culture reference, and as such I had no interest in it. However, given the brouhaha that ensued I did some digging to discover for myself what it was. Here is what I have found:
- it has had at least four editions thus far - it has been modernized as times have changed (the 2000 edition removed the advice to use masculine pronouns whenever possible, and warns that some will find unnecessary masculine usage offensive) - its advice is hotly debated amongst linguists (not surprising)
and perhaps the most relevant:
- White is the last name of the second author.
Of course I don't know if Keara or Guido knew any of this, but it certainly feels to me that the commit message is ostracizing an entire family line because they had the misfortune to have the wrong last name. In fact, it seems like Strunk & White is making changes to be inclusive in its advice -- exactly what I would have thought we wanted on our side ("our side" being the diverse and welcoming side).
According to whichever dictionary Google uses, white supremacy is:
noun the belief that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and should therefore dominate society.
Does Keara, Guido, or anyone, have any such examples from Strunk & White?
Finally, what's wrong with having a standard? Communication, especially in written form, is difficult enough without everyone using whatever style/grammar/colloquialisms happen to suit their fancy at the time. As a silly example: when I started using Python having the first parameter of a class method be `self` irked me, so I used `yo` instead (Spanish word for "I") -- it was shorter, and it tickled my fancy. Two years into using Python and I replaced every instance of `yo` in my libraries to `self`; the cognitive dissonance between my code and everyone else's was an unnecessary distraction.
Speaking of unnecessary, I think the change to PEP-8 was unnecessary. I think it was pushed through without any consideration for those against it, and I think the commit message was extremely offensive.
To hopefully stave off some attacks against me:
- I am not white - I am not Ivy League educated - Black lives do matter - Police are terrifying