Sadly, the original topic was already closed before I was able to respond. Since this is a topic that directly involves me, I’ll take my changes and I’ll just open another thread.
There are a few points I wish to address in this discussion, both from a procedural stance as well as on the actual use of the word ‘Cripple’.
I think that it’s a shame that I have in no way been contacted concerning this single comment on Twitter. As the author of the article, I think that it’s very concerning that the editors did not inform me of this issue and that the editors intervened without consulting me. While I respect editors and their changes, I do think that changes in response to complaints should always happen in accordance with the author. This should be standing procedure for all complaints, for all authors and articles.
This also coincides with the actual legal terms on the page: The opinions expressed in the articles are those of the authors, not Red Hat/IBM. Any changes to articles, should be discussed and approved by the author since else Red Hat/IBM can’t claim that they have no involvement with the content.
See the kanban board for the author-editor discourse:
I think that there are three topics to discuss here in detail: The use of the word cripple, the lack of cultural context, and the clear political take.
First, let’s talk about the word Cripple. Luckily, I can be quite short on this topic since there is a famous American comedian who already vocalised all the things I could reasonably say:
The second issue, is that of cultural context. In my mother’s tongue, there is no such thing as Ableist. This is an American English neologism that I had to look up. Cripple is a proper English word though, and “to cripple yourself” is a common expression thought around the world in International English. If all current and future articles should be read through the lens of American English, including a subset of neologisms that most Americans likely wouldn’t know about, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.
In a great sense of irony, by trying to be as inclusive in your edit as possible, you’re inversely doing a great disservice to people for whom English is a second language.
The last point is that of proportionality. This is a single complaint on Twitter by an account of a week old, with 1 retweet and 1 like. Are you really so soft-boned that you’ll edit an article for a single complaint? In response to this single complaint, there are now already multiple statements of support. It baffles me that one twitter complaint outweighs the support of three project contributors.
We (Authors and Editors together) are R&D volunteers for Red Hat/IBM, a US military contractor who is also active in China. By acting like we’re in touch with the some political subset of society, will only shine more light on the fact that we do not have the moral high ground. We contribute to an excellent Operating System because we’re personally motivated by it, but I’m not kidding myself and believing that this is some social justice project.
I think that there have been some editorial shortcomings in this affair.
- There should be a better procedure for handling complaints
- The editorial team should be more down to earth
- More acceptance of English as-is
- More alignment with English as it is spoken worldwide
- More proportionality when acting on complaints
PS. It’s funny that a single English word triggered such a strong response. Initially the editor-team was concerned about promoting non free software, and violent murder simulators that push gambling onto minors.