‘Insanity’: Backlash over suggestion to nix ‘master’ & ‘slave’ from Python programming language
The political correctness debate has now found its way to the world of computers, after a developer from the Python programming language suggested that the words “master” and “slave” should be removed.
“For diversity reasons, it would be nice to try to avoid ‘master’ and ‘slave’ terminology which can be associated to slavery,”wrote Victor Stinner, a Python developer who works for Red Hat. He included links to previous complaints on the same topic.
But the move quickly put the IT expert at odds with some people on social media who were quick to voice their unease over the suggestion.
“It reminds me how communists and Nazis forced scientists and engineers to use ‘correct’ terms in accordance with official ideology. It’s absolutely same,” Reddit user AdmiralUfolog wrote.
“Is this real or satire? I can’t tell,” questioned Reddit user i_lurk_here_a_lot.
Reddit user Zeroflops said that “words are just sounds. We define their meaning. If we are offended by the word or ban it we just give it power.”
Some didn’t see a problem, with Reddit user sputknick saying they are “on board with this one” and stating that they will be substituting those words for “parent” and “worker” from now on, as it “gets the same message across.”
That was clearly not the case for others. A man by the name of Matej Cepl wrote on the website bugs.python.org: “Guys, really, don’t we have anything better to do with your time than this silliness?”
“Dear Lord, this is insanity. Any words can become offensive if you think hard enough...language has context. It needs to be used. And the people getting offended need mental help and therapy. Else every word in the dictionary will soon be removed,” Reddit user 13steinj wrote.
Python isn’t the only corner of the computer world to be faced with the terminology debate. In 2014, Drupal swapped the terms “master” and “slave” for “primary” and “replica” following debate among the community. That same year, Django traded the words for “leader” and “follower.” CouchDB did a similar move in 2014, according to The Register.
The discussion about he words used in computer terminology dates back to at least 2003, when the County of Los Angeles directed electronics makers doing business in the county to remove or change terms that could be interpreted as being discriminatory or offensive, including “master” and “slave.” However, the county later backed down following public complaints, saying its directive was simply a request.
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