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

Huaiyu Zhu hzhu at
Fri Sep 22 00:31:41 CEST 2000

On 21 Sep 2000 13:31:49 -0700, Pat McCann <thisis at> wrote:
>hzhu at (Huaiyu Zhu) writes:
>> Hi, Pat McCann,
>> I'm not sure if this is your real name.  But since I was wondering why there
>> has been a persistent thread attacking RMS in confusing ways, I did a little
>> review of pipermail archive.  Your first post came up on Aug 14, as a follow
>> up to "some comments for Python 3000 - my requests"
>Well, pat my can; I've been found out.  It's not my real name.  I might
>even have posted here under a different name shortly before then.  I was
>drawn here by news that the Python license (which was an important
>influence in leading me to purchasing "Learning Python") was changing.
>I'll admit to knowing more about licensing than about Python.  I plan
>to know more about each, but licensing is currently my main interest.

It's not an offence to use a pseudoname, but it would be better for everyone
to know that (people use pseudonames that are quite obvious), especially if
you are making personal attacks on somebody in a group that is not primarily
concerned with the issues in dispute, and especially when the attacked
person does not normally read here.  These are not hard rules, but just the
commonly accepted civic behavior.

>I've been trying to prepare myself for organizing an effort to
>popularize the use of a license similar to the new Python license, other 
>just-don't-sue-me licenses, and transfers to the PD.  I'm slowly working
>on the web site, but I'll probably not be willing to do all the nasty 
>organizational work and offensive and defensive propaganda that I'd have
>to do as the real me for all future employers and associates to have
>easy access to in Internet archives.  I'm no RMS.

Well, I've certainly seen you attacking other people's licences far more
than promoting the licences you do like.  If you really have an issue with
GPL per se, there are more appropriate groups to discuss this.  IIRC,
gnu.misc.discuss?  Even *.linux.advocate would be a better choice than here.

>> [snip]
>> I don't quite see how this relates to Python.  But from that time on, you
>> just kept on picking every thread relating to licence and patent and trade
>> marks and make unsubstantiated attacks on RMS, FSF, and GPL.
>Yeah, except that I've substantiated them frequently.  Are you implying
>that I shouldn't comment on other people's comments about licensing-
>related issues, or that I should filter my thoughts to avoid comments
>on RMS, FSF, and GPL? 

No, I was thinking that the latter was the true motive, while the former was
just a smoke screen for others to view you as a programmer.

[personal opinions on RMS snipped] 

>The snipped quote was, I thought, a suggestion for improving the syntax
>of Python which I thought could probably coexist with the current syntax.
>It seemed on-topic to me, but I guess I have to admit that I didn't really
>expect to be accepted and was hoping one of the clever people that read 
>here would consider it when designing the next scripting language.

Well, if that quote was applied to some other language, like C++, it might
make more sense.  A "suggestion for improving the syntax" seems bogus to me,
as you say below you like Python's indentation.

But since your main interest is not Python, that's understandable. The way
you said it makes it sound like you really know Python and care about how it
looks and feels.

>> To alleviate my suspicion, (and that of many other who would certainly be
>> aroused), would you please tell us a little bit about what you do with
>> this "your language", and why you like it?  I would appreciate it very much,
>> and would apologize if my suspicion turned out to be unfounded.
>You don't say what your suspicion is, which makes it harder to
>alleviate.  First, you are unfair in implying that I said Python was "my
>language".  I said "I'd just like my languages to..." which implies no
>such thing.  Do you suspect that I'm not a Python coder?  IIRC, I've
>said that I'm a beginner.  (I keep "Learning Python" on my toilet tank,
>but it is not often read.)  About the only thing I've done with it so
>far is to debug "linbot".  IIRC, I've already said why I like Python,
>but it mainly has to do with its readability (indentation replacing
>grouping tokens), its good-looking OO support, and, of course, its (old)
>license.  And while there are things to like about Perl (I've only read
>books and toyed with that too), it's much harder to read and offers too
>many ways to do one thing for my taste.

My suspicion arose from stories I heard about MS paying people for public
campain to badmouth others that they view as threats.  I'm not claiming that
you are doing this, but your track record in this group does look like one.

What you said above does not really alleviate my suspicion, as it is so
vague that anyone could just string together from other people's posts. What
do you use linbot for?  How do you debug it if you do not know Python? IIRC,
the discussion concerning linbot here in the past few months is also about
licencing only.  And did you say you like the old or new Python licence, or
both?  This all looks pretty much like smoke screen to me.

>Now that I've tried to satisfy your curiosity, maybe you'll care to
>return the favor.  Why do you care?  Or was that supposed to be a
>complaint hidden in face-saving language which doesn't need to be
>defended because it doesn't make any important points overtly?
>(You should know that some people find such "polite" writing to be quite
>impolite because the insulted can't, with certainty, complain that
>anything insulting was said, let alone defend himself against it. In
>this case, it makes little difference, since I see no need to defend
>myself against anything I am able to infer from your post.)

I care because of the suspicion I have, as explained above.  I think I've
now made it more explicit than I had intended the first time.  

If you really want to tell people something bad about GPL, RMS or FSF that's
relevant to Python, you could say something like "RMS made such and such a
statement.  If he had said it in such and such a way, he would have made his
point in a more civil way".  Well, had you formated your attacks like this,
you would have made your points in a more civil way.

OK, I think I've said more than I should on this topic in this group.  You
are free to defend yourself, but my suspicion is still there.  This issue
does not interest me any more.  It's a good eye-opener, though.


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