The technical terms “master” and “slave” have been deemed offensive by some IT workers, sparking a debate about whether to remove them from the popular Python programming language.
Developer Victor Stinner called upon his colleagues to “avoid” those words in a post on a Python troubleshooting message board.
“For diversity reasons, it would be nice to try to avoid ‘master’ and ‘slave’ terminology which can be associated to slavery,” Stinner wrote, linking to other messages boards where the topic had been discussed.
Fellow developers blasted the encroachment of social justice propaganda into their field, with many pointing out the major disruptions changes in a system’s fundamental terminology can cause.
“Are these ‘diversity reasons’ really reasons?” one developer wrote in response to Stinner. “What I’ve heard seen so far regarding ‘diversity reasons’ had little to nothing to do with rational thinking or argumentation. Is it really necessary to pollute Python code base with SJW ideology/terminology? What comes next?”
“This case can create a very problematic precedent i.e. — one can modify (even drastically) a well-established terminology based on ‘pseudo-reasons,’ political opinion or ideology. IMO this should be stopped and prevented as soon as possible for all sake.”
“I’m a little surprised by this,” another developer replied. “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, and avoiding them would lead to confusion.”
When asked if there have been any formal complaints about the terms, Stinner replied, “Yes, but sadly they are private.”
One developer pointed out that people from many ethnic heritages have experienced slavery in the past, and that the etymology of the word “slave” can be traced to its roots in European serfdom.
“My maternal family comes from a racial group (Slavic) which gives us the English word for slave and come from serf background,” he wrote. “Stop trying to sanitize and infantilize language. That’s far more offensive than the master/slave terminology.”
Python developers are apparently just the latest to be sucked into the “master/slave” debate.
“The Redis community wrestled with this last year,” reports The Register. “In 2014, Drupal, after some argument, swapped the terms ‘master’ and ‘slave’ for ‘primary’ and ‘replica.’ The same year, Django traded ‘master’ and ‘slave’ for ‘leader’ and ‘follower.’ CouchDB carried out a similar linguistic purge, also in 2014.”
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