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

Stephen J. Turnbull turnbull.stephen.fw at u.tsukuba.ac.jp
Sun Sep 16 04:33:45 EDT 2018

Chris Barker via Python-ideas writes:

 > We now have anecdotal evidence that "beautiful is better than ugly"
 > can be offensive out of context. Other than that, we have people
 > "suspecting" or "imagining" that some people "may" find it
 > offensive in context.

"Sam" at yandex.ru did not even do that.  She just took it out of
context.  The post was a troll, whether she is or not.

So put it back in context.  PyCon 2017 had the whole python -m this on
the back of the shirts.  If somebody *ever* complains about that, I'll
bite my tongue and ignore them.

 > Is it any better to make a change that has not been asked for by
 > imagining other's sensitivities than it is to ignore others'
 > sensitivities?

Either way you're ignoring their actual sensitivities, so it's at root
the same (the former manifests as patronizing, the latter as rude).

On the other hand, sometimes there are better terms to use.  It's one
thing to pull "beautiful is better than ugly" out of a poem in which
most of the lines follow that same pattern of "<positive adjective> is
better than <negative adjective>", breaking the symmetry.

It's another when replacing "master/slave" comes up, and it's pointed
out that there *are* more precise terms, such as "original/replica",
in some contexts.  I'm of two minds as whether it's worth the churn,
but if others are willing to do the work ;-) of finding all the uses,
proposing replacements, and submitting the PRs, I'd be willing to
review and add my $.02 as to whether there's actually an improvement.

I would also disagree with Greg Ewing's take on "robot".  It may have
meant "slave" in the original Czech, but in English it has strong
connotations of "automaton" and an inherent lack of autonomy, quite
different from a human slave's flexibility to perform any command, and
the way a human slave's autonomy is stripped by force, respectively.
If Czech-speakers want to offer their opinions, I'm listening, but I
wouldn't be surprised to find that their consensus opinion in 2018 to
be that the English usage of robot is more prevalent than the Czech
original meaning.


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