Editor’s Note: Last Redoubt had his pulse on the issue nearly two years ago.
I mentioned that it’s about power.
The power to control what you can say.
The power to force you to speak something that isn’t the truth, or be run out of the community, expelled.
Bluntly, the power to keep your sanity.
The language that I use is a reflection of my thoughts. I do not permit myself to indulge delusions — my own or another’s — in my speech.
Thus, my preferred pronouns.
I use “he” to refer to male persons and animals.
I use “she” to refer to female persons and animals.
I use “it” to refer to objects.
I use “they” to refer to multiple persons and objects.
I use “she or he” to refer to a single individual who may be of either sex.
This is how I use the language. How you use the language — in fact, what language you speak — is up to you.
You may choose to use a contrafactual pronoun to refer to yourself. You may choose to invent new words to refer to yourself. I will not correct your usage (out loud, anyway, my internal editor will cringe).
Do not seek to change mine.
I will not cater to your delusions.
Every minute spent figuring out a common set of definitions is time wasted not communicating. Every moment wasted mis-communicating because it later turns out we didn’t have the same understanding of a word not only wastes time but can lose lives. See the recent madness on how vagina is not inclusive enough, we should use “front hole”.
At this point, not being able to order cheap tacos in America because none of the employees speak English and won’t serve a non-Spanish speaker almost seems trivial, until you realize that no matter what the geographic labels are, parts of the US are no longer America. At least there they are under no delusions they are speaking the same language.
Consider the following: we are no longer allowed to chant “USA” without recrimination in what is purportedly our own country because it will make purported fellow Americans feel less welcome. I’m sure the students were trying to piss off and make the other school, almost uniformly Hispanic, feel bad — but if they weren’t observably different in behavior and culture, and didn’t feel like Americans, would it be hurtful?
Bishop told the Register that Aliso Niguel’s fans chanted “USA! USA!” after their team scored its first touchdown.
“They’re chanting ‘USA’ like it’s a game against another country, like it’s against Germany or against Mexico,” Bishop told the paper.
Bishop reportedly threatened to pull the team off the field after halftime if the chanting continued.
“I told her ‘You’re playing Americans. You’re playing ‘Dreamers,’ I don’t understand the USA pride thing when you score. And if I hear it one more time, I am walking off the field with the team,” he recalled to The Register.
Eric Raymond looks at speech suppression as well.
The purpose of such absurdities is never to convey truth and increase the precision of language, but rather to jam the categories and politics of some propagandist into your head — to control your mind. It is not accidental that terms like “inclusiveness” are vague and infinitely elastic; if they were not, they would not serve the actual purpose of making you feel guilty, wrong and malleable no matter how frantically you have deformed your speech and behavior to meet the propagandist’s standards of “manners”.
The manipulation depends on you never quite recovering your balance enough to recognize that your own autonomy — your ability to think and speak as you choose — is more important than the ever-escalating demands for “manners”. The first step to liberation is realizing that. The second step is resisting their attack even if you happen to agree that an individual term (like, say, “master” or “slave”) might be construable as offensive. The meta-level matters more than the object.
The third step is realizing that the propagandists for those demands mean to do you harm. They are selling “manners”, “diversity”, “inclusiveness”, but what they mean to to do is break you into loving Big Brother — becoming the primary instrument of your own oppression, ever alert to conform to the next diktat of the Ministry of Truth as expressed by the language police.
As with individuals, so with the cultures they assemble into. These “manners” demands — like the attempt to hijack the Lerna license I condemned in my last blog post — are an attack on the autonomy and health of the hacker culture. All who cherish that culture should refuse them.
I’d elaborate that these are an attack on Western culture, not just hacker culture.
Eric covers a little more on what a coding organization should and should not get involved in “politically”.