Civility in the Marketplace of Ideas [was: Public Domain Python]

Kragen Sitaker kragen at
Wed Sep 20 23:26:27 CEST 2000

In article <hyd7hysuv6.7hy at localhost.localdomain>,
Pat McCann  <thisis at> wrote:
>Vehemence and personal attacks can both be civil.  Cold-blooded deceit
>and obnoxious public behavior cannot and those that engage in such
>incivility deserve both vehemence and personal attacks, civil or not.

Vehement personal attacks are a kind of obnoxious public behavior, and
--- as far as I know --- the only kind that is at issue here.

>Thankfully, they usually get it and only the most head-strong are able
>to resist conformance to community standards of civility. Unfortunately,
>too many allow celebrities that entertain or otherwise do something good
>for us wide latitude to be incivil which encourages more of the same
>from them and others.  Leaders should be held to higher standards than
>the rest of us, not lower.

Your post contains little that can be argued with.  However, it is
minimally relevant to the discussion; no cold-blooded deceit or
resistance to community standards of civility are involved here, and
not even vehement personal attacks by celebrities are involved, unless
you count Dave Winer.  The only leaders I am aware of in the discussion
--- Guido, Tim, and Richard --- are meeting higher standards than
nearly anyone else in the discussion.

Vehemence seems to be ubiquitous, though.

>Of course, this shouldn't be taken as a defense of everything said in 
>public forums which allow a measure of anonymity where behavior is free
>to sink far below even Stallman's low level of civility.

You mean, where people use fake email addresses?  <wink>

Stallman's level of civility seems to me to be pretty high, with some
unfortunate exceptions not related to Python; if you have
counterexamples, by all means, assert them directly instead of posting
vague insinuations about "cold-blooded deceit" and "community standards
of civility" from a fake email address.
<kragen at>       Kragen Sitaker     <>
Perilous to all of us are the devices of an art deeper than we ourselves
                -- Gandalf the Grey [J.R.R. Tolkien, "Lord of the Rings"]

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