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

Paul Moore p.f.moore at gmail.com
Thu Sep 13 12:44:54 EDT 2018

On Thu, 13 Sep 2018 at 17:15, Mark E. Haase <mehaase at gmail.com> wrote:
> Let's assume her proposal was made in good faith.

Certainly. I'm opposed to any proposal to change long-established and
common usage wording on the basis that it has the *potential* to cause
offense. If anyone is *actually* offended by the wording, let them
speak up, and explain why they find it offensive. Otherwise, I'd
prefer to assume that people are sensible, and have a certain level of
willingness to take others' words in good faith, rather than assuming
offense where none is intended.

It would be easy for me to claim that the culture of assuming offense
where none was intended is itself a divisive and corrosive factor in
society at the moment. But if I did so, that in itself would be making
unfair assumptions of the intention of people making proposals like
Samantha's, so I won't - I'll merely say that I'd like any proposal
such as this to be backed by specific evidence of real-world cases
that demonstrate that the change is needed, exactly the same criteria
as we would use for a proposal for a technical change[1].

For what it's worth, I'd also have preferred it if the recent change
to eliminate the (pretty standard) master/slave terminology from the
documentation had been subject to the same requirement for evidence of

Words have multiple meanings. Assuming that a word used in one context
automatically brings along context and connotations from a totally
unrelated area seems silly to me, to be honest. Language isn't that
black and white[2].


[1] I appreciate that questions of what makes good, or even
acceptable, prose are very subjective. So concrete evidence is harder
to produce. But nevertheless, at least an honest attempt to produce
*something* would be better than simple unsubstantiated statements
like "you can't argue that the word "ugly" is harmless" (yes I can -
and I will, if you insist), or references like "In the spirit of the
big recent terminology change" to other controversial changes as if
they offered unqualified justification for more of the same.

[2] There's an example - in case anyone thought otherwise, the phrase
"black and white" referred to contrast between opposites, and not
racial stereotyping, or indeed any reference to people as opposed to
abstract concepts...

More information about the Python-ideas mailing list