[Python-ideas] Retire or reword the "Beautiful is better than ugly" Zen clause

Rhodri James rhodri at kynesim.co.uk
Thu Sep 13 10:48:17 EDT 2018

On 13/09/18 14:16, Calvin Spealman wrote:
> Samantha,
> I came into this thread reading the subject and thinking "over my dead
> body!" until I read your well-thought reasoning and gave even a little bit
> of thought to the idea.
> You're absolutely right and while I think its very unlikely to get enough
> support I do think it is a very good suggestion, totally reasonable, and
> that we *should* change it.
> I ask everyone on this thread being rude to please step back and try to
> look at the issue without your bias and knee-jerk reactions. Even if you
> can't change your minds, at least be more civil about it.

I couldn't disagree more, and I say that as a card-carrying liberal.

First, did you check out Oleg's post about the likelihood that this is a 

More importantly, this whole idea of banning and/or changing terminology 
is psychologically and sociologically wrong-headed.  The moment you say 
"You may not use that word" you create a taboo, and give the word a 
power that it did not have before.  It actually becomes more destructive 
when it is (inevitably) wheeled out, not less.  You may claim that it 
stops everyday usage of the word, and to an extent that's true, but if 
people want to use the concept as an insult they will just load that 
intent onto some other previously innocent word.

I got to watch this happen when I was growing up.  My father was a 
Disablement Resettlement Officer, which means he found jobs for people 
with a wide variety of disabilities.  I watched as the words that could 
be used for disabled people changed as the current word was deemed 
insulting, and even as a youngster I was boggled that no one seemed to 
notice or care that exactly the same thing happened every time.  For a 
brief moment the new terminology would be all novel and different (and 
sometimes laughable), but after a short while all the connotations of 
the previous term would catch up with the new term and bring some new 
friends they had made on the way (see "laughable" above).

So no, I'm not changing my mind.  The suggestion to change is the 
knee-jerk reaction, and we shouldn't fall for it.

> On Thu, Sep 13, 2018 at 4:38 AM Samantha Quan <sammiequan at yandex.com> wrote:
>> First, I'd like to express how grateful I am to see more and more
>> technical communities embrace diversity and inclusivity, particularly big
>> tech communities like Python, Redis, and Django.
>> In the spirit of the big recent terminology change, I propose retiring or
>> rewording the "Beautiful is better than ugly" Zen clause for perpetuating
>> beauty bias and containing lookist slur. I realize that Zen is old, but you
>> can't argue that the word "ugly" is harmless, now that society condemns
>> body shaming, and instead promotes body acceptance and self-love. One
>> alternative to that clause I could think of is "Clean is better than
>> dirty", but please do speak up if you have better ideas.
>> I ask you to give this change serious consideration, even if it seems
>> over-the-top to you now, because times change, and this will be of great
>> help in the battle for the more tolerant and less judgemental society.
>> I understand that this topic may seem controversial to some, so please be
>> open-minded and take extra care to respect the PSF Code Of Conduct when
>> replying.
>> Thank you!
>>    - Sam
>> Some references:
>> https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Lookism
>> https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lookism
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Rhodri James *-* Kynesim Ltd

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