It makes sense, though, with this context as well. The issue at hand is calling things what they in fact are. In the Odyssey, there is a source text and culture, where persons who were slaves were called such. In codebases, however, we are working with abstract concepts in the first. There is no necessary historical reason to maintain certain language. Abstract concepts are such because they do not exist out in the world, and so have no "actual" name.
It looks like this PR removes both sorts of usages reflexively (the author, apparently not a native speaker, perhaps not being aware of a distinction). In the ensuing discussion it seems like those who support the PR are focused on the former sorts of usages, while those who disagree are focusing on the latter - resulting in folks talking past each other.
Although I can't completely agree with this, there is definitely some negative effect of such actions whenever they're undertaken. People who think "this is going too far" will naturally oppose to them. So I wonder about the net benefit here, really. We've been using the master/slave terminology for years, but it has nothing to do with actual slaves and I can't imagine anyone thinking about them when dealing with technology.
While I read it as doubling down on bigotry. "Oh, you think I'm a racist? I'll show you what racism is really like." I find it hard to think that someone who isn't sexist would decide to become sexist out of spite over terminology.
> We've been using the master/slave terminology for years, but it has nothing to do with actual slaves
In technology, the term "master/slave" is used as a metaphor. The master is in command, and the slave is supposed to obey the commands of the master. In this metaphor, we are assumed to be aligned with the interests of the slave master.
This metaphor absolutely has something to do with actual slaves.
In real life we have concluded that the only moral goal for a slave master is to renounce power, and the goal for slaves is freedom.
If we use the modern view when we apply the metaphor then our moral goal should be to free database slaves. Which isn't really what we want.
That's why I agree with the idea of using a different metaphor.
It doesn't work exactly that way. It's more like some people start telling you to do things that seem absurd to you and imply you are doing something wrong whereas you had no bad intentions at all, and this causes a negative reaction.
> If we use the modern view when we apply the metaphor then our moral goal should be to free database slaves. Which isn't really what we want.
If we really follow this logic, we should ban all negative words and reconsider all metaphors. We should never run any daemons as they're associated with the devil and this could upset adherents of Theistic religions (your explanations of daemon etymology shouldn't matter then). We shouldn't use the name Apache because of the sad history of American natives. We shouldn't use terms such as "bug squashing" as they would imply animal cruelty. And so on and so forth.
I grew up thinking it's okay to wear outdoor shoes inside the house. Since then I've visited places doing that is not just impolite, but rude.
If I visit a Japanese restaurant and people start telling me to take my shoes off, and imply that it's wrong to wear shoes with zashiki style seating - even when I have no bad intentions - should I double-down and insist that I wear my shoes?
No, of course not. What would you do in that case?
> If we really follow this logic, we should ban all negative words
... No? I mean, the example I gave describes how the metaphor is almost completely inverted. That's not a negative, but a flipping of the meaning. I don't see how you concluded that as my logic.
> reconsider all metaphors
"Awe" used to mean something more like fear, and "awesome" meant "profoundly reverential" or "inspiring dread". Since the 1960s it has taken on a meaning more like "impressive, very good". (Quotes from etymonline.) When the Bible says something like "great and awesome God", it doesn't mean to read it the same way that Bill and Ted would use it.
Similarly, the Christmas song says to "don our gay apparel", which has a rather different meaning now than from when it was written.
In both cases, if you want to emphasize the original intent, then yes, I do suggest changing what words you use.
You'll note that neither case refers to a negative.
> We should never run any daemons
Unlike for master/slave, where the terminology comes from actual slavery, the term 'daemons' as used in computing does not come from the (Biblical) devil but from Greek mythology. That meaning has been used in English since the 1500s.
> this could upset adherents
You'll note that my argument isn't based on upsetting people. It's based on using a metaphor where the underlying understanding or interpretation has changed.
You comment 'your explanations of daemon etymology shouldn't matter then'.
There can certainly be an argument for using a different term even if there is no etymological descent. As Christopher Hitchens commented, after using the word "niggardly" - which has no etymological connection to the vile slur - "Nobody said anything, but I privately resolved -- having felt the word hanging in the air a bit -- to say "parsimonious" from then on."
However, very few are making it that argument about daemons, while the push for a change in the master/slave term is at least 20 years old, that I'm aware of. Since some people will object to anything, no matter what, the idea that there may be an objection doesn't sway me much.
> We shouldn't use the name Apache because of the sad history of American natives
I lived in New Mexico, and know that people from the Jicarilla Apache Nation and from the Mescalero Apache Tribe are not opposed to general use of term "Apache". (I verified just now that they use 'Apache' on their web site.) I think you are just making this up to make a point.
My argument, however, was not based on hypothetical situations that someone might be offended or that there might be negative interpretation.
If you are making it up, then I suggest that you should not use the suffering of American Natives to score an internet point.
> We shouldn't use terms such as "bug squashing" as they would imply animal cruelty.
I believe you are right. Also, "bug hunt." I have wondered why it always felt a bit odd to me. Along with that would be phrases like "ddt" as a name for a debugger. FWIW, I prefer "fixing bugs" rather than "killing bugs.
If there is a general cultural shift towards Jainism or some other belief which avoids the killing of bugs, then yes, we should reconsider that metaphor.
Don't you agree?
I don't believe anyone would oppose "going this far" in terms of reducing or abolishing actual slavery.
I think what pisses people off is the utter frivolousness of it all. We all know that this is actually not doing anything about actual slavery.
Replacing the word slave in Python or software in general will do actually nothing for actual slaves in the world nor will it change the minds of actual slavers and actual slave owners.
So whilst people probably do not care that much about which specific word is used, they get pissed off by the frivolous sanctimony displayed by the proponents of the change.
That can piss people off too.
That isn't to say that there doesn't exist terminology that people should be mindful of. But most privileged, white people wouldn't recognize it. When the candidate for Florida governor denied using the word "monkey" to illicit traditional racial animus in his conservative base, people on the left were incredulous. But why? As we're seemingly attempting to do with the words "master" and "slave", we work hard to erase the incidents of oppression rather than actually addressing oppression. Is it so hard to believe that, once excised from common speech patterns, the memory of the origins and import of words and phrases is forgotten, even if the undertones linger? Especially among earnest individuals? (You can be earnest but still prejudiced and even prone to using the language of prejudice.)
Now, no doubt blacks in Florida had good reason to be incredulous of his supposed ignorance. But context matters, in particular the perseverance of the more crass language of racism in Florida. The use of the word "monkey" was offensive because of the context and what it implies, quite concretely, about the motives of someone running for a very powerful office that has traditionally done horrible things to certain Florida communities. But nobody is, yet, arguing that we should remove the word monkey from zoo plaques, or stop using terms like monkey-patching.
And that's despite the fact that, very much unlike the word "slave", if you shout out "monkey" in the company of certain groups heads will turn. Chattel slavery doesn't exist and hasn't existed for a long time. Absent a malicious or awkward context, the word "slave" doesn't elicit or trigger any anxiety or anger or tension in African-Americans. That slavery is some pervasive obsession of African-Americans that shapes and colors their every thought is a TV trope, and a racist one at that. Blacks no more identify as a slave then they do a monkey. Again, context matters; it's the context which makes the implication; it's context which turns a word into an instrument of oppression. But when the word and topic legitimately come up it makes privileged whites very uncomfortable, which is why it's so memorable and poignant in their collective imagination, and why it makes for cheap tension in script writing.
Considering that he's not a native speaker, and child has an irregular plural form, I find your comment very insulting.
A lot of the 'obvious' connotations to americans about words are simply not there for the larger anglophone world. That doesn't make their concerns invalid - just that it's not 'obvious' that the choice of words is poor.
I make no comments on the merits of this particular issue, just a general point about the context in which a lot of the debates are held, especially with non-american english speakers (e.g. antirez).
My first contact with "master" and "slave" were IDE drives.
In the same vein, even if a small number of people created an alternative meaning that was offensive for a term, I wouldn't think that particular word should be changed/removed just because of that minority of usage.
When the first and most common usage has an ugly history that impacts real people, that seems like a good candidate for an alternative term.
Really, "master" and "slave" are pretty overused in tech for situations where it only kind of makes sense if you squint. There are a couple of examples of this. For databases, "master" and "slave" doesn't accurately describe the relationship, its more like "original" and "copy". For git, "master" as a name doesn't really make sense either since it implies it's master of something, when "main" or "primary" is closer to the truth.
I also remember seeing "dom" and "sub" being suggested somewhere, and even if it was a joke I'm all for it.
Removing the term "slave" seems like the big win here.
This discussion always seems to go bad, but changes like this are innocuous to the language and a bonus for people. Totally fine!
Programs are meant to be read by humans, and language/terminology has a huge impact. If there are cost-less replacements to words that are easy to adopt, why not adopt them? These changes are beneficial to the community, don't hurt the language, and are cheap to adopt in many cases anyway.
(-) Dom / Sub
(-) Boss / Tasklet
(-) Pat / Pleb (short for Patrician / Plebeian)
(-) Planter / Seed
(-) Client / Contractor
(-) Cat / Human
(-) Doctor / Patient
(-) Dog / Sheep
(-) Knight / Page
(-) Planet / Moon