The PSF should be less political, not more

I am pushing back against the PSF board’s recent political statement and discouraging the board from making political statements in the future. A precedent has been set and if there isn’t sufficient pushback I expect the PSF board to make more political statements ongoing. This is unfortunate.

The statement was made by the board (presumably unanimously) but was not labeled as a statement by the 13 board members, but instead as a statement of “The PSF” – a group that includes me. In this particular instance I agree with the board’s statement, however gauzy. But I did not sign up for the PSF to make political statements on my behalf and I doubt other PSF members did either. What about the non-Americans who don’t care about this issue? You put words in their mouth. What about the members who disagree with the statement in whole or in part - are they on notice that they are not welcome in the PSF?
I have been involved with python for 20 years, which is most of my adult life. Over 20 years I have come to the opinion that politics is the wrong forum for most things. Hell, I haven’t been registered to vote for over 10 years because politics has been increasingly divisive and team sports. Over the last 10 years the PSF has become increasingly political - and a very exclusionary and evangelical kind of politics at that.

The drumbeat to “get religion or GTFO” makes this an easy choice. I hereby resign from the PSF.

may-your-chains-set-lightly-upon-you-ly,
-Jack

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Can you give a link?

So long and thanks for all the fish!

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What a horrible, ignorant, selfish take. I’m glad PSF is taking a stand, and that it causes people with reactionary ‘beliefs’ to reveal themselves and depart from the community.

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This is the kind of sectarian dogma that I certainly don’t want to read on a Python forum. It is fine to dislike and fight reactionary beliefs. It is not fine to wish “people with reactionary beliefs” out of the community.

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But it is a binary choice, there’s no way around it. By welcoming reactionaries you are pushing disadvantaged groups out and make them feel unwelcome and unsafe. That is an actual practical effect of that position. I don’t assume that that is what you want to achieve, but then I honestly don’t understand why you think it’s fine to let reactionaries be members of your community.

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Who said we had to explicit “welcome reactionaries”? Is it hard to imagine the community can be indifferent to people’s characteristics and opinions?

If the Python community was a political party, sure, I would care what the opinions of its other members are. It is not, and I’m glad that people of all opinions and backgrounds can participate and contribute to the greater good.

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It would be wonderful actually. Unfortunately, our world right now doesn’t work that way, and the treatment you receive from different institutions and power structures varies wildly depending on your innate core characteristics. Look no further than the numerous instances of police brutality against the black community in the US. In that context, by being “indifferent” to that, by demanding (as the OP did) silence about those issues in your communities you take an active political stance in support of the violently oppressive status quo.

Tuning out of politics is a luxury. Being comfortable in a community that opens its doors to people with hateful beliefs is a luxury. Maybe their hate is rarely targeted towards you, or you just have a thick skin. I don’t know. But I ask you to be considerate of those who find it unbearable for their safety and mental health to collaborate with people who treat their existance and suffering as something that doesn’t matter. Or worse.

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This is naive. While we cannot limit Python usage due to our laudable chosen open licensing, we can choose who we wish to work and engage with. And we are. We have a Code of Conduct to define and enforce a level of expected behavior.

Similarly, excluding our black community members by holding racist opinions is unacceptable behavior. The PSF and the DSF make it clear.

Finally, Jack is in fact privately agreeing with BLM and holds a lot of the same progressive views as are represented now by the protesters. He disagrees that the PSF should officially acknowledge and endorse those same views. I don’t agree with that. It’s puzzling to me and I hate to see him go but ultimately it is his right to leave the PSF over this issue.

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For reference that Code of Conduct, reporting, and response procedures are at https://www.python.org/psf/conduct/.

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I am not indifferent. I am not advocating anyone should “tune out of politics”. I am saying that the PSF - not its individual members, but the organization - should avoid making political statements. This is different.

If you think that equates to “take an active political stance in support of the violently oppressive status quo”, then I think you should question your reading comprehension.

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The code of conduct enforces conduct. It does not enforce people’s opinions. Realistically (and fortunately), it cannot.

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That is not an appropriate way to lead a discussion.

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That’s hair splitting. It’s not a “political opinion” if voicing it out loud would be an immediate breach of our Code of Conduct.

More importantly, there’s action through inaction. It favors the status quo. It is actively working in favor of the status quo. And that status quo is fine with denying 40 million Americans what essentially are human rights.

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As a non-American who tries to stay out of American politics, I’m somewhat sympathetic to the sentiment. However the PSF is still an American entity and as such silence in this matter is equal to complicity.

We’re not talking about endorsing a presidential candidate in Germany or taking a stance on Brexit. We’re talking about bloodshed in the streets of the very country that the PSF is serving as a non-profit.

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My point precisely is that most people here don’t express their political opinions publicly. If they did, this community would change from being a relatively peaceful technical community, to a political minefield.

The problem is, the PSF’s stance is encouraging people to think that is a place where political beliefs are discussed, argued and defended. And at least one poster here was rejoicing at the idea of excluding people for their opinions, even unvoiced.

Many people here are not US inhabitants, and have no ties with that particular country. The PSF is historically US-centered, sure, but the Python community is worldwide. And I see little being done to change the PSF’s US-centrism.

A non-geographically-centered but politically-minded PSF would also have to take a stance on events in Brazil or Hong-Kong, for instance.

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Again. A political opinion is whether we should raise taxes or lower taxes. Whether we should integrate countries of the EU tighter or not. Free trade or tariffs. This sort of thing.

It is not a political opinion if openly stating it violates the CoC. And even unvoiced, such an “opinion” is damaging to our conduct.

Hypothetical example targeting you: if some radicalized Pole were to hold the “opinion” that all French people are cowards and can’t be trusted, do you think it wouldn’t have impact on your work with that person? How would such dude work with a steering council where one of the sitting members comes from France? Should that man be given any prominent position within the community?

Signaling that this will not be tolerated is important for our French community members to feel safe and welcome. It’s actually better without having to wait for an actual violation.

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if some radicalized Pole were to hold the “opinion” that all French people are cowards and can’t be trusted, do you think it wouldn’t have impact on your work with that person? How would such dude work with a steering council where one of the sitting members comes from France? Should that man be given any prominent position within the community?

That isn’t to do with this. That would be a personal issue that’s either detectable, and would warrant exclusion on the grounds of that individual’s discriminatory behaviour, or undetectable. Neither of those has anything to do with someone resigning on the grounds of the precedent being set whereby blanket political opinions are broadcasted by a non-political organisation.

Otherwise intelligent people’s brains seem to bend the idea of “well it’s fine in this case but what about another case” around them like gravitational lensing, rather than letting it impinge on their brains, but let’s try. The PSF comes out strongly in favour of the Second Amendment, and believes the same should be applied in all countries. Is that fine?

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Jack has a point: The Python Software Foundation is not a political organization and wasn’t founded with that purpose. The PSF mission is focused on furthering the use of Python and helping its community grow (https://www.python.org/psf/mission/).

The PSF can make statements about its membership and the resources it owns and shares with the Python community, but as soon as such statements turn global, they cross the line and become a political statement.

It is perfectly fine for PSF individuals or groups to state their opinions, but doing this as the organization PSF does require more consideration.

We can state our views on what we believe our community stands for, our ideals and vision, but only with focus on our mission and our community.

And this is actually an advantage. The PSF is not going to save the world, but it can help the community build tools to help save the world. By staying focused on the community, this goal will be much easier to reach than by entering the political sphere and minefield.

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