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Re: [rain1 at airmail dot cc] Delete abortion joke

On May  1, 2018, "Carlos O'Donell" <> wrote:

> The problem with the joke is that it touches a difficult and complex
> topic, namely abortion, and this could be a trigger for certain
> individuals causing them to relive a traumatic memory.

I happen to have traumatic memories about this topic, but it's not the
joke that brings them to mind.  The name of the function is enough to do
so.  Perhaps it has to do with my native language background and the
almost exclusive use of the term to mean termination of human pregnancy,
just like abolition, unqualified, refers to putting an end to slavery.

The disputed snippet, to me, does not in any more of this topic to mind.
When reading the manual, by the time I reach the snippet, the topic of
human pregnancy abortion is already fully in mind, with all the painful
memories related with it.

What the snippet does, however, is to denounce an attempt of government
censorship *about* the topic.  I hope none of us favors censorship, or
find it too sensitive topic a that we'd better avoid in a manual or
anywhere else.

That the message denounces censorship related with an uncomfortable,
sensitive and often traumatic topic doesn't make it any more legitimate
or desirable to censor the message IMHO.

> I suggest two courses of action.

> * We avoid jokes.

I find the gnus manual an excellent example of how technical information
can be conveyed interspersed with funny stuff, and how that makes for
lighter reading and easier conveyance of the technical information.  I
recall being very pleased at reading it some 25 years ago, and it's
still a reference for me on how to make a manual a lot more pleasant to
read, without compromising the technical information in any way.  I
wouldn't mind if we had more, not less humor in our manuals.

>   about in as direct a language as we possibly can, and include a
>   trigger warning (as is good practice). I would accept such a patch.
>   I encourage Alex Oliva to draft such a patch and propose it for
>   inclusion with appropriate references.

FTR, I have not been able to be convinced by either side of the debate
on arbitrary interruption of viable human pregnancies in general, but I
do have a well-defined position against censorship, which is what the
removed (censored?) snippet was about.

That said, if I had to come up with a message to replace what was
removed without consulting the leader of the project that had explicitly
asked for it not to be removed, I'd propose something along these lines:

  To the best of our knowledge, terminating a program by calling this
  function is not against the law in any jurisdiction, but there are
  some jurisdictions considering laws to censor information about such
  procedures.  Regardless of your opinion on the procedures, we hope you
  will support our opposition to censorship.

Alexandre Oliva, freedom fighter
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Gandhi
Be Free! --   FSF Latin America board member
Free Software Evangelist|Red Hat Brasil GNU Toolchain Engineer

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