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IBM Fought for 'Master Race' and Now It's Banning the Word 'Master'

We need to go back in time to understand why many people are so angry

GitHub to replace master with main starting in October: What developers need to do now

Summary: A lot of the current push to ban the word "master" came from Red Hat (soon IBM, helped by Intel and Microsoft for the most part); we take a hard look at IBM's history to better understand the incredible double standards and what the real motivations might be

THE 'international bullshit machine' (IBM) is telling us that the world's problems boil down to something like a Git branch being called "master". That's easily debunkable. We wrote about it many times before and we explained why it's a pretty big deal.

“Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners,” George Carlin once said. This whole abolition of master, slave terms (not practice) seems to have been started by Red Hat (soon IBM because of the imminent takeover), at least in this earlier case if not earliest (2 years ago). We're not aware of the debate going further back than this and it was started by a Red Hat employee. "For diversity reasons," he asserted, "it would be nice to try to avoid "master" and "slave" terminology which can be associated to slavery." Notice the references there (GitHub, already Microsoft's on paper).

IBM cardNow read the comments from fellow developers. We'll quote a few (this is from 2 years ago, before people became reluctant/afraid to publicly object). "I'm a little surprised by this," said an early comment (on the bug tracker). "It's not like slavery was acceptable when these computer science terms were coined and it's only comparatively recently that they've gone out of fashion. On the other hand, there are some areas in computer software where "master" and "slave" are the exact technical terms (e.g. IDE), and avoiding them would lead to confusion. Of the four citations you reference, one of them is a PR for Django, and three of them say "see the Django PR". The Django PR is an unreadable infinitely-long page of miserable arguing. So the context doesn't help much. Have there been any actual complaints? Or is this an attempt to solve a problem that doesn't really exist?"

Early debates included also this: "As a counter-example: A quick grep finds 555 occurrences of the word "kill" in CPython master. Everybody knows killing is bad and using the term might upset certain people. Yet I would not support expunging the word "kill" from Python."

Another one: "I'm not super-excited by the idea that Python has to change its behavior based on secret comments. Python has traditionally had a very open governance model where all discussions happen in public."

This was weeks after the creator of Python surprisingly resigned. We cannot prove there's a connection between those two events (resignation and controversy/commotion).

"To me," said another person, "there is nothing wrong with the word 'master', as such. I mastered Python to become a master of Python. [...] Like Larry, I object to action based on hidden evidence."

"The term "master" has so many positive connotations that I think it is misguided to effectively eliminate it from the current English language," another developer noted.

"In fact," said another developer, "in the BDSM subcultures, "master/slave" can have *positive* connotations. You want to support diversity, then why are you discriminating against that subculture?"

Another comment: "Talking about diversity: my wife is of a nationality that historically were often stolen to be slave [...] Both of us are angered by this attack on our linguistic culture. Stop trying to sanitize and infantalize language."

Also note: "The discussion under GH PRs [Microsoft GitHub] is now censored. What will be the next level?"

That was after Microsoft bought GitHub, at least on paper. No discussion allowed. The debate was secret.

Wikipedia's article on this very subject states upfront (at the top): "This article may be unbalanced towards certain viewpoints."

We know who's good at gaming Wikipedia. Some people receive a salary to do it. Microsoft even got caught doing this, infuriating Wikipedia's co-founder.

"IMO," said another person, "the problem isn't the master/slave terminology itself but the way how the changes were introduced (no discussion) and the justification ("diversity reasons"???)"

Notice this other ticket, also citing GitHub extensively:

It has come to my attention that CPython's source code contains problematic ableist/saneist terms and/or pejoratives, namely

sanity check 144 silly 26 insane 13 crazy 13 stupid 6 lame 2 lunatic 1

Some of those slipped into the documentation. In an attempt to make Python community more inclusive and welcoming, we should clean up these usages and replace them with something neutral (where applicable). Unfortunately, to this day many developers deem such efforts as "trolling", so please note that the precedent has already been set by many major projects. Here're just a few:

Other resources:

The goal of this issue is not to stir up arguments, but to figure out the alternatives and ways to replace those problematic terms.

So they're starting to take control of language further and further. Even a word like "crazy" (or "lame") is going to become a Code of Conduct (CoC) violation of some kind? Where does this go? Where might it end?

"I find this nonsensical and I'm very disappointed that this ideological nonsense is infecting Python," said another comment.

Guido van Rossum himself wrote (weeks earlier): "Now that PEP 572 is done, I don't ever want to have to fight so hard for a PEP and find that so many people despise my decisions."

To CoC antagonists he wrote: "your only option might be to leave this group voluntarily. Perhaps there are issues to decide like when should someone be kicked out (this could be banning people from python-dev or python-ideas too, since those are also covered by the CoC)."

This poses a potential danger to people like Linus Torvalds inside the Linux Foundation, for reasons we covered before [1, 2]. Language control is a slippery slope which overlooks or distracts from the vastly bigger problems.

I've always wondered about the timing of Guido van Rossum's sudden resignation (unscheduled, unplanned, no succession in place), seeing pointless controversies being floated at the time. As Daniel Pocock put it quite recently: "It is permissible for leaders to write nasty things about volunteers but it is not permissible for volunteers to write things about the leaders."

Now, going back to IBM, it was its initiative initially (or Red Hat's). IBM keeps pushing this elimination of words, even by sending PR people to me, urging yours truly to suit their nonsensical narrative.

Well, IBM wants us to think that it's against "masters". But its history tells an entirely different story. Not only is IBM a deeply racist company; historically it profited a lot from the "master race" agenda, which involved not only discrimination but incarceration/incineration of people of the 'wrong' race.

From the full book which contradicts this hypocritical narrative, War Against The Weak:

IBM eugenics p34
page 34

IBM eugenics p36-37
pp. 36-37

IBM eugenics p54
page 54

IBM eugenics p803-807
pp. 803-807

IBM eugenics p852-856
pp. 852-856

IBM eugenics p927
page 927

IBM eugenics p1051-1052
pp. 1051-2

IBM eugenics p1172
page 1172

IBM eugenics p1613-1614
pp. 1613-14

So that's IBM. How very tolerant a company. IBM knew exactly what it was doing all along. It only stopped when it became a PR embarrassment for Mr. Watson and his associates, after receiving a Nazi medal and meeting Mr. Hitler himself in person.

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