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SubjectA Plea to Unfuck our Codes of Conduct
I don't usually pride myself on being a person who spends a lot of time caring
about political or ethical issues (I am honestly still unsure whether this
particular personality trait of mine is a flaw or not), but recent events
have caused me to throw my hands up in disgust and yell profanities at my
bedroom wall. At this point I feel it has gotten so bad it would be an
injustice to not comment on them; the issues which I can usually spend a
large portion of my time ignoring (as they happily ignore me right back) have
finally touched the one place I had hoped they never would: the Linux Kernel.

Maybe it seems insensitive of me to not go out of my way to care about these
things, and I perhaps have slightly oversimplified my position. It's not
that I don't care exactly, on the contrary, if I actively see bigotry and
hatred I will probably spend most of my day trying to change the offending
opinions. It's more that I just realize who I am:

I am a (quite unapologetically) "privileged" not-so-white-on-the-outside
though quite-white-on-the-inside straight male living in the wonderful state of
Hawaii. It's because I know exactly what I am that I would feel like a
pompous, self-aggrandizing blowhard if I were actively protesting issues
like this. I can't pretend to know what you've been through, but I do know
hate when I see it and would prefer to only step in when I am damn sure
someone is being a righteous asshole. How can I be so sure? Because I
recognize the person I used to be.

But that's all just distracting backstory; I'm not what's important here.
What IS important is the complete disregard of how valuable understanding
(even TRYING to understand is just as important, really) how another human
being might be feeling. I usually hate blanket statements, but it is completely
appropriate to say that we ave collectively decided that such trifles are
nothing but wastes of time and effort, which I find to be a very sad thing.
Note that when I say human being, that statement purposely leaves "human being"
completely unqualified. Using ANY labels beyond "human" to qualify the topic
here just completely misses the entire point in the first place. Black, white,
male, female, divorced potted plant retired in the Florida Keys or whatever
is absolutely unimportant here.

All we are trying to extend is a little bit of empathy after all; why should it
matter whom the recipient is? They would deserve it just as much.

I originally had planned to post examples of behavior we should not be
promoting. I had myriad examples, oh did I ever! All with accompanying
commentary, all prepped and ready to go. A bunch of beautiful, click
bait-esque tweets and inflammatory Github issues later, I realized that
_I_ was missing my own damn point. I was about to spew the same hypocritical,
finger-pointing bullshit I was arguing against. This would obviously help no
one among us except those looking for a cheap laugh, so instead of posting a
shining example of how easy how easy it is to fall victim to your own hubris,
I've elided that entire section of the post :)

Instead, I'll make a vaguely-related analogy as to what I feel the problem
is (with all of my wizened, 27-odd-years on this earth, what could possibly go
wrong?). Simply put, I believe we all seem to have forgotten the reason we
all started doing this in the first place. Remember way back? No, no, even

Why did we even start mucking about with these blasted computers in the first

Because it was _fun_.

Now why, instead, are we now so dead-set on being so goddamn serious all the
time? What happened to simpler times where things like "error: ‘long long
long’ is too long for GCC" were the norm? What happened to simpler times where
were used to be able to laugh at ourselves? Sure, there were disagreements and
the occasional toxic troll, but it was very easy to just pointedly ignore them.

Have we forgotten that we don't have to actively like and interact with every
human being on this planet? More importantly, if everyone was getting along
fine before, why do we need to change things? Even MORE importantly, when
everyone happened to NOT be getting along fine, what happened to trying to
fix the root causes of the discord (and no, I don't mean the societal root
causes, I mean the specific issues causing these specific troubles), instead
of lumping everyone together into this A/B good/evil dichotomy?

Human beings, in my limited experience, can never just be classified as black
and white or good and bad about anything, ever. I usually never like using
absolutes unless I am damn certain of my argument (and even then, being wrong
has been known to happen which makes me even more hesitant to make such an
assertion), so trust me when I say that this is something I have spent many
sleepless nights endlessly debating the truth of in my head before coming
to this conclusion. There will always be an "except when..." somewhere when
it comes to things like this, which makes finding the correct answer much
harder. Unfortunately this same trait also makes jumping to the "easy" solution
that much more harmful.

We are all different people and there are bound to be many others in this
world who will end up being the oil to our water. Trying to vaccinate the
planet against everyone we don't like instead of simply solving each problem
if and when they present themselves is a road leading to madness.

If we resign ourselves to just being so goddamn steadfast in our opinions, and
are no longer open to the possibility that aybe, just maybe, this time we are
wrong, we can't realistically expect anything *except* conflict to be left.
This is a point I wish I had the words to express more eloquently, because it
really is the most important sentence in this entire post.

It would be nice if I had some sort of magical solution to offer in conclusion
to all this ranting, but sadly, it's not that simple. Humans are annoying,
complicated creatures and sometimes the only correct answer is "it depends."
It's a bit more annoying to have to put extra thought into things, I agree, but
that's really the only sane approach here. We need to realize we are talking to
a human being on the other side of the monitor, and maybe we can't exactly know
how they feelm but we can damn skippy we can try. Empathy is not impossible by
any stretch of the imagination, just very, very difficult.

Thus, it's with a heart devoid of any sarcasm and a head bowed deeply in respect
that I ask of the open-source community:

Please, for the love of God, can we all just stop this Sisyphean war of attrition
already? Can we try our best to not persist all of this petty, useless bullshit
currently doing the rounds in open-source? All of this caustic name-calling
and tendency to dramatically filibuster any and all opposing opinions is getting
us nowhere. It truly amounts to nothing but masturbation via mailing list in the
grand scheme of things.

Please don't misunderstand who I am directing this at; both sides (all three if
you count the apathetic among us) are all equally guilty of what's become a
ubiquitous he-said-she-said modern-day cliche. At this point, it quite honestly
doesn't even matter whose fault it is anymore. We all just need to take a step
back, all of us, and take a long, deep breath. We might just happen to remember
that we are all adults here.

Angry rhetoric or useless statistics should not be our choice vehicle to bring
about the change we want to see in the world; without fail, EMPATHY should
always be our weapon of choice.

So if this post helps a few people stop and consider that simple piece of advice,
and maybe think twice before churning my inbox and those of other LKML subscribers
with haphazardly thrown together solutions for problems that no `git apply` could
ever fix, then I would consider that a more decisive win for equality than any
"Code of Conduct" I've seen thus far.

Anyways, I mostly just wanted to let those poor saps who are stuck up there
having to make these hard decisions know that some of us realize how truly
heavy it is for you. Some of us realize the gravity of what we have been
asking of you, and so I just wanted to say "thank you" for dealing with all
our trite crap over the years and in the years to come. Sure, maybe you haven't
always been right, but you are human too, just like the rest of us, and, in
my humble opinion, don't need to feel this ashamed for trying to run this ship
as best you knew how.

Joey Pabalinas
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