[gmx-developers] FW: Gromacs quotes

ms devicerandom at gmail.com
Wed Dec 19 18:07:32 CET 2012

On 19/12/12 17:34, Justin Lemkul wrote:
> On 12/19/12 10:04 AM, ms wrote:
>> Moderation, as an absolute concept, doesn't exist. Everything can be
>> "extreme"
>> or "moderate", depending on where you are in your opinions. I
>> personally see
>> this "moderate solution" as a rather extreme example of self-censorship.
> Deleting a handful of quotes out of nearly 400 is extreme?

IMHO yes, even *one* would be too many, because it's a matter of 
principle. You see? Everyone is different! That's why (again, IMHO) to 
talk about "moderation" or "offensiveness" is an entirely subjective 
concept and, as such, problematic.

> Excuse me if I'm prudish and thin-skinned for finding it very
> insensitive that a program at random may print out "killing children"
> (irrespective of context) after a massacre in our country that brings
> back horrific memories of a similar event that took place a few hundred
> feet from where I work every day and affected me deeply.

Justin, I have utmost respect for your work and for the immense help you 
give everyday on the gmx mailing lists. I was just praising you, making 
your name, to a student of mine telling him to join the mailing list. 
But yes: that's a bit thin-skinned. Affected you deeply? Children die 
every day, it's not that their death is more important if it's 
geographically closer to us. And it's weird that you complain, given 
that you surely know well what is the concept of parent and child 
processes in UNIX. You find it insensitive nonetheless? Do you have some 
deeper reason to be offended by that, a loss in family or whatever? Sure 
I understand. Turn the quotes off in your environment, and be happy this 

> Frankly, I
> could care less about the others that have profanity and suggestive
> remarks in them, but I'm also aware that other people may have
> objections to such content for similarly personal reasons.  We can't
> predict everyone's lives, of course, but we should try to have some
> level of decorum while having some fun.

Decorum? Yeah, of course: everybody's excuse for censorship is decorum. 
Us nice, happy, wholesome decent people, why should we bother with this 
indecorous stuff, horrible to our eyes? Let's ban it, that none shall 
have their retinas burned by that!

Sarcasm aside, I'm so worried about this because is that I've seen this 
kind of threads already -I remember Christian people complaining because 
FreeBSD has a devil as a logo, or even because UNIX has "daemons". Or 
even (I'm not joking) a thread on the Ubuntu forums because the mail 
program Evolution name is anti-creationist. Or discussions about the 
name GIMP of the famous graphics program being rude. You see, 
*everything* can be construed as offensive, given context and background 
of people. That's why if we go on a self-censorship road, we don't know 
what we end. Slippery slopes all the way -sometimes it *is* a valid 
argument, in this case because there's no *objective* barrier to the slope.

> Yes, the quotes can be turned off altogether.  That's fine for those who
> object to them completely (probably the vast minority of the
> population).  But many of them are actually funny and do bring a smile
> to people's faces.  That's the objective and we should not have anything
> that is construed otherwise.

And how do we decide that? Please don't answer "common sense", because 
no sense is actually common -everybody is different.

> We can delve into all sorts of
> philosophical and legal interpretations and at the end of the day none
> of that means anything and we're really already talking in circles.  If
> a quote brings a smile to the face of the average person (sure, we can
> only guess what that means), we keep it.

If we can only guess, then it already stops making sense. There is no 
valid "average". There is individual people.

> If it contains anything else,
> I say it gets nixed (and that's really only a few).  If people complain
> about slippery slope issues that have been brought up about gender
> equality/political correctness/whatever, we remind them of the
> environment variable and they go away.

Uhm, no, it's people who are *not* aware of the slippery slope that 
should be reminded the env variable. But maybe I'm not getting what you 


Massimo Sandal, Ph.D.

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