[gmx-developers] FW: Gromacs quotes

Tsjerk Wassenaar tsjerkw at gmail.com
Thu Dec 20 10:45:47 CET 2012

By the very nature of the polemic, this discussion can never be closed,
since the first one to give in will be accused of self-censorship :) I
guess this calls for a new "gmx-quotes-discussion" list :p

I don't think the particular discussion is important in the context of
gromacs. It's being made much more than it's worth.
But, personally I wouldn't mind an 'empathic' filter, like the one most of
us use to some extent in day to day interpersonal interaction to make an
assessment of how the message will come across. Most won't go praise the
benefits of diseases like cancer on suppression of the world population,
because there is likely someone around that is suffering from it directly
or indirectly and we can imagine the hurt we'll do. "Killing children",
especially out of the context, is along those lines. Not even funny, out of
context, so serving no purpose. Of course everyone has a particular
capability for empathy, and there is about 2/3% of the population that
lacks it, with a significant enrichment in theoretical sciences :)

Right, we can now let the discussion drift big time and go for a discussion
of 'good' and 'bad' and end up with a statement that these concept are
artificial/cultural and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with (or good
about) murder, rape, bullying. Refraining from either while feeling the
drive is also an act of self-censorship...


GMX quote candidate:

"Oh, this is a fine line to walk isn't it." - Anton Feenstra

On Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 2:02 AM, Justin Lemkul <jalemkul at vt.edu> wrote:

> If anything I have posted today has caused tension, conflict,
> anger/flaming or has detracted in any way from a constructive discourse, I
> apologize.  I hope nothing I have said crosses any professional lines, but
> we did discuss a very personal topic for me.  If the post(s) in question
> led to anyone having a "facepalm" moment or wanting to give the "gmx-dev
> finger," then so be it.
> I am not someone who is easily offended, but there is one topic that
> strikes a nerve with me, and it was raised earlier today.  I do not
> consciously choose to misinterpret anything; one cannot necessarily control
> a powerful emotion when triggered.  That said, the quote in question does
> not reduce me to a blubbering, nonfunctional state; I just think it is in
> poor taste in general and serves no productive purpose.  I will note that I
> was not the first to raise the issue, so I suspect that this may be a
> problem for others.
> I will respect whatever decision is made by the developers and will recuse
> myself from any voting on Gerrit should anything be changed.  Apparently my
> personal feelings on this particular issue may be seen as an impediment to
> otherwise objective judgment.  I've said what I think to be true and will
> say nothing more unless directly asked, and I agree with Szilard - this is
> an important topic, needs to be discussed, then left in the dust so we can
> move on to more significant and productive matters, of which I am glad to
> be a part.
> -Justin
> On 12/19/12 5:49 PM, Szilárd Páll wrote:
>> On Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 7:58 PM, Mark Abraham <mark.j.abraham at gmail.com
>> <mailto:mark.j.abraham at gmail.**com <mark.j.abraham at gmail.com>>> wrote:
>>     Thanks for the discussion - let's close the topic and keep the list
>> focussed
>>     on GROMACS development :-)
>> While I respect your call for no flaming, I personally don't feel that the
>> discussion is closed and I think that this is a topic that, although it's
>> neither about science nor about GROMACS development strictly speaking, it
>> *does
>>   matter* and is very relevant to GROMACS.
>> Honestly, I would love to have the gmx-dev finger shown (why not in a
>> "Linusian"
>> manner) to all users bothered by the mere existence of some sentence in
>> the gcq
>> DB that they might find offensive and I'd be tempted to take the time to
>> tell
>> them to mind the science and use the env. var. if a quote with obviously
>> no
>> harmful intentions bothers them so much. As I said before I am *strongly*
>> opposing self-censorship driven by nothing else but a way to adhere to the
>> cultural, ideological, or emotional state (all in all the "world view")
>> of some
>> user(s). In fact, I'd rather spend time with removing some boring quotes
>> than
>> arguing about this, there have been way to many of them showing up lately
>> :) !
>> However, this seems to be a real concern for some, including developers,
>> so in
>> order to avoid tension and internal conflicts, I think it's better to
>> take all
>> the anger and frustration out here and now, decide something, and *then*
>> move on.
>> This might sounds harsh, but let' be honest, "killing children"
>> "irrespective of
>> context" -- (*facepalm*) which shows that it's a purely personal and
>> emotionally
>> driven opinion  -- is only disturbing if actively misinterpreted. On the
>> other
>> hand, picking special interpretations is easy, for instance: the quotes
>> mentioning God or Jesus can be disturbing to some sensitive believers,
>> and the
>> ones mentioning "strike" or "torture" (both from Pulp Fiction quotes)
>> could
>> easily upset sensitive people who've had enough of both, possibly not so
>> long
>> ago -- and they would have all the right to request removal of Pulp
>> Fiction
>> quotes, after all few orders of magnitude more of their children have been
>> killed (it's just that their stories are not turned into tv shows -- sorry
>> slightly offtopic).
>> Although I'd be angered and supportive of removal if any of the quotes
>> would
>> turn out to have an obvious agenda of spreading hate or clearly and
>> intentionally disturbing some people, I have to agree with Christoph that
>> as a
>> community respecting everyone draw their own lines and adhering to it is
>> silly.
>> I hope at this point we can agree that unless we have a consensus that
>> something
>> is not appropriate (and such a consensus can be simply driven by gmx-devs
>> community's own peculiar world view), blindly accepting personal requests
>> for
>> removal is a questionable practice.
>> And as any rules, this one also has a potential exception: if some user
>> would
>> start spamming or systematically annoying people because of a quote, in
>> the lack
>> of simple and effective defense I'd personally approve the removal just
>> to save
>> our time.
>> Cheers,
>> Szilárd
>>     --
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> --
> ==============================**==========
> Justin A. Lemkul, Ph.D.
> Research Scientist
> Department of Biochemistry
> Virginia Tech
> Blacksburg, VA
> jalemkul[at]vt.edu | (540) 231-9080
> http://www.bevanlab.biochem.**vt.edu/Pages/Personal/justin<http://www.bevanlab.biochem.vt.edu/Pages/Personal/justin>
> ==============================**==========
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Tsjerk A. Wassenaar, Ph.D.

post-doctoral researcher
Biocomputing Group
Department of Biological Sciences
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB T2N 1N4
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