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

Nathaniel Smith njs at pobox.com
Thu Sep 13 14:36:08 EDT 2018

On Thu, Sep 13, 2018 at 9:13 AM, Mark E. Haase <mehaase at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Sep 13, 2018 at 10:49 AM Rhodri James <rhodri at kynesim.co.uk> wrote:
>> 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.
> Samantha posted this as a *proposal* to python-*ideas*, the mailing list
> where we purportedly discuss... umm... ideas. Samantha has not banned any
> words from Python, so let's tone down the hyperbole.
> These responses that assume Samantha is a troll are based on... what? Other
> posters on this list use Yandex e-mails, and nobody called those people
> trolls. And there are a lot of disagreements about ideas, and most of those
> people don't get called trolls, either. The Python CoC calls for *respect*,
> and I posit that the majority reaction to Samantha's first post has been
> disrespectful.
> Engage the post on the ideas—or ignore it altogether—but please don't
> automatically label newcomers with controversial ideas as trolls. Let's
> assume her proposal was made in good faith.

It's not just automatically labeling newcomers with controversial
ideas –  This is a very common tactic that online organized bigotry
groups use: invent fake "socially progressive" personas, and use them
to stir up arguments, undermine trust, split communities, etc. The
larger campaigns are pretty well documented:


Smaller-scale versions are also common – these people love to jump
into difficult conversations and try to make them more difficult.

That said, in OP's case we don't actually know either way, and even
trolls can inadvertently suggest good ideas, so we should consider the
proposal on its merits.

Applied to people, lookism is a real and honestly kind of horrifying
thing: humans who happen to be born with less symmetric faces get paid
worse, receive worse health care, all kinds of unfair things. It
wasn't too long ago that being sufficiently ugly in public was
actually illegal in many places:

But even if we all agree that beautiful and ugly people should be
treated equally, I don't see how it follows that beautiful and ugly
buildings should be treated equally, or beautiful and ugly music
should be treated equally, or beautiful and ugly code should be
treated equally. The situations are totally different. Maybe there's
some connection I'm missing, and if anyone (Samantha?) has links to
deeper discussion then I'll happily take a look. But until then I'm
totally comfortable with keeping the Zen as-is. (And I'm someone
pretty far on the "SJW" side of the spectrum, and 100% in favor of
Victor's original PR.)


Nathaniel J. Smith -- https://vorpus.org

More information about the Python-ideas mailing list