All people deserve respect. Ideas are not people. (was: Text-mode apps)

Ben Finney ben+python at
Sun Apr 2 19:10:54 EDT 2017

Terry Reedy <tjreedy at> writes:

> On 4/2/2017 12:26 PM, Steve D'Aprano wrote:
> > Not all Americans, perhaps not even a majority or a plurality, are Ugly
> > Americans, but there are enough of them to screw it up for everyone else.
> Shall we discuss Ugly Australians, or whatever the appropriate epithet
> would be?

Provided that, just as Steven has done, the discussion criticises ideas,
attitudes, and behaviours: that would not be bigotry nor prejudice at

It's a difficult distinction, but an essential one: we *must* be free
always to hold ideas and behaviours to harsh criticism when warranted,
no matter who holds or does them, while respecting the dignity and
rights and individuality of all persons.

> > It's an ugly stereotype, not because it is a stereotype, but because
> > it embodies a set of ugly attitudes and behaviours.
> I am sure I have seen similar things written by various other people
> justifying their prejudices.

Prejudice on the basis of a person's innate traits has no place in civil

Ideas are not people, and are not innate to the person who holds them.
An idea is not deserving of respect; that respect must not be assumed,
it must be earned.

More importantly, ideas inform behaviour. That is what makes robust
criticism of bad ideas so important.

Once an idea is expressed or demonstrated through behaviour, that idea
or behaviour is not innately deserving of respect, and it becomes fair
game for open criticism.

What we need to always keep in mind is that the *idea* should be
criticised, without attacking the *person*.

 \           “Value your freedom or you will lose it, teaches history. |
  `\     “Don't bother us with politics,” respond those who don't want |
_o__)                            to learn.” —Richard M. Stallman, 2002 |
Ben Finney

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