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

Franklin? Lee leewangzhong+python at gmail.com
Mon Sep 17 06:09:37 EDT 2018

On Mon, Sep 17, 2018 at 3:17 AM Jacco van Dorp <j.van.dorp at deonet.nl> wrote:
> Op zo 16 sep. 2018 om 05:40 schreef Franklin? Lee <leewangzhong+python at gmail.com>:
>> Jacco:
>> - This is completely disrespectful and way over the line. Don't try to
>> make a psychological evaluation from two emails, especially when it's
>> just someone having an idea you don't like.
>>     """However, if merely the word ugly being on a page can be
>> "harmful", what you really need is professional help, not a change to
>> Python. Because there's obviously been some things in your past you
>> need to work through."""
> Is it, though ? Even more because in order for it to apply to any one person's aesthetics, you need to pull it out of context first. You need to be looking for it. Being triggered by a word this simple is not exactly a sign of mental stability.

Is it disrespectful to give a psychological diagnosis in a discussion?
Usually. It is dismissive (it's inarguably an ad hominem), potentially
insulting (because it's often intentionally used that way, so the
listener might interpret it that way even when it isn't intended), and
it is based on very little information. I think it's safe to assume
that you're not a trained professional, or even a well-read amateur,
since you would otherwise know how much information is fed into a
proper diagnosis, so it is also as inappropriate as giving lawyer
advice without a disclaimer, or stating your quantum telepathy ideas
as scientific "fact".

But unlike the other fields, making psychology claims about your
opponents during an argument is harmful, and not just theoretically
harmful. It's a personal attack, and tries to invalidate their right
to even be in the discussion by saying that they're fundamentally
irrational. That's harmful to both people and the discussion. Look at
how upset people get in any argument where someone accuses them of
bias, which is a weaker claim than mentally unstable.

We can go deeper. Your diagnosis is based on a single factor:
    If a person is harmed by the use of the word "ugly", they need
psychological help.

Even if that were true, you go further:
    Don't change Python for those people. Python should not
accommodate them. We should not be inconvenienced by the needs of the
mentally ill.

Let's say something in Python harms people with a certain mental
illness. They are getting treatment, or they don't know they need
treatment, or they declined treatment. Should Python change (patch,
document, maintain a change) to accommodate them? Or, on the other
extreme, should Python tell them, "Go away, and come back when you're
healthy"? What should they do in the meantime?

(On-topic: I think the only reasonable answer is, "It depends."
There's no slippery slope. There should be a weighing of the chance of
harm, the amount of potential harm, and the cost of the change. I
think it is not reasonable to accommodate everyone no matter the cost
(and literally no one here has argued for that; I checked), and I
think it is not reasonable to reject any accommodation if it's of a
certain type (which people here have at least argued for, though I
believe they're just not bothering to state their nuances).)

I don't think you are unsympathetic to the mentally ill. I think the
people you don't want to accommodate are actually the people who
_claim to fight_ for the mentally ill. Question: If someone proposes
an alternative that people think is better than the original, would
you still be against making a change? Will you think of it as giving
in to censorship or to the PC/SJW group?

> I know a girl who's been raped more than she can count - but the word doesn't trigger her like this(only makes her want to beat up rapists). If people can do that, then surely a playground insult wont reduce you to tears, right ?

It's complicated. Different people respond differently to different
situations. And people have differing experiences, even if those
experiences have the same label. It is hard to extrapolate from a
handful of examples, because the mind and the real world are both

>> - Mockery.
>>     """If we have to ban "Ugly" for american sensitivities, then
>> perhaps we need to ban a number of others for china's sensitivities.
>> Where will it end ?"""
> Well, on the internet, the word "nigger" is already basically banned for american sensibilities, while the version in dutch, my language, is "neger", which doesn't really have any racist connotation, probably because the amount of slaves that have ever been in what's currently the netherlands, has been negligible. However, it's use is effectively banned because some other culture considers it offensive to use. Why should your culture be my censorship ? And it's no coincidence I used china there - it's notorious for it's censorship. If merely labeling a word as "offensive" is sufficient to ban it, I daresay they'd mark a whole lot more words as offensive. And why would their opinion be any less valid than yours ?
> Don't think you're special - you're not. If you want to give yourself the power to ban words for offensive, you're giving that same power to everyone. And since offensive is subjective, it means anybody could ban any word, since you couldn't tell the difference between real or fake offense.

(Arguably, the equivalent of "neger" is "Negro", which is today
considered somewhat offensive in America, but is still used on
official forms because it's preferred by some older black Americans.
That's an interesting example of human culture.)

No one argued that others can't also object, so I don't know if
they'll see a problem with your slope. (I know of an example: "Laputa"
was a prominent name in a Miyazaki film, but it was derived (through
Jonathan Swift) from an offensive Spanish word, which the filmmakers
didn't know. One could ask if we should censor the word in foreign
localizations of the film, whether they land in Spanish-speaking
countries or not.)

But my objection wasn't that the argument was invalid, but that you
wrote it as mockery. Let me try to rewrite the same argument without
    """You want us to remove "ugly", but isn't that only a problem to
Americans? I am not an American. Do you believe Python should
accommodate non-Americans objecting to common American words? What
groups should we listen to, and which ones can we ignore? One group
that comes to my mind is the Chinese government."""

This invites the speaker to outline the limits of their slopes, and
explain themselves further. It opens discussion, instead of trying to
close it. It respects their input, and asks for more.

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