Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-project (194 mails)

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[opensuse-project] Re: [opensuse-factory] Religious and political views in packages
  • From: todd rme <toddrme2178@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 9 Sep 2011 17:11:26 +0200
  • Message-id: <>
On Fri, Sep 9, 2011 at 4:29 PM, Nelson Marques <nmo.marques@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
2011/9/9 todd rme <toddrme2178@xxxxxxxxx>:
On Fri, Sep 9, 2011 at 12:29 PM, Lars Müller <lmuelle@xxxxxxx> wrote:
On Fri, Sep 09, 2011 at 11:59:40AM +0200, Sascha Peilicke wrote:
+The SWORD Project is an effort to create an ever expanding software
+research and study of God and His Word.

Maybe best if one of our English native speakers commnets on this.

As a native English speaker, I do think this is a problem.  There are
three possible areas of controversy and offence here.  Two are easy to
change. one is not.

Lets be honest here, this is a cultural issue and not a native
language issue. In case you are not aware the Bible is the book
translated to more languages in the world, which clearly ends up any
discussion about languages.

I am well aware of that, but someone asked for a native speaker's
opinion of the description, so I provided it. It seemed like a
reasonable request since properly interpreting the full meaning of the
description might be hard for non-native speakers.

1. "study of God" means that the Christian god is the one and only
true god.  This is the same as saying all other religions are false.
Obviously members of other religions would be justified in taking
offense at such a statement.


It isn't an assumption, the Sword project is created and maintained by
a Christian organization for use with the Christian bible.

This brings problems, because if you read the email from Sasha,
there's no reference to any religion in particular, this to say that:

The original email is irrelevant, the software is what it is.

2. It's contents, our shit here is about serving contents, not judging

Please re-read the original post and the request I was responding to.
The issue was with the description, not the contents.

2. "His Word" means that the Bible is the word of God.  This has the
same problem as the previous, it is saying that the Christian bible is
the legitimate word of god, and by extension that others are wrong.

Could you please tell me where in Sasha's email is the word bible or
any reference to Christianity? The rule of openSUSE on this issue
should be pretty much neutral... We're not a theological community,
we're a technology community, it's not our role to decide who God is,
the verecity of his words or whatever men tells that are His words. We
either serve this package or we don't, we are not in a condition to
judge the contents, that's the priviledge that we delegate to users.

The software is designed for the Christian bible by a Christian organization.

3. The name "sword" has a violent and aggressive connotation, usually
associated with more extreme and evangelical brands of Christianity.

The word SWORD has a high density in any of the three monotheistic
religions. In fact in some cases God is metaphored with a Sword that
defends the weak and punishes the guilty.

Lets not be radical... a sword is just a gourmet appliance :)

As I said, I do not consider a big deal, but others very well might
considering its historical usage and current connotations within a
number of Christian sects.

I am not longer Christian myself, but when I was a Christian I found
the name off-putting.  So the name might not only be a problem for
non-Christians, but for certain types of Christians as well.  However,
I think this is a much smaller issue than the description, and is
probably not worth making a big deal over.

We don't need to discuss people's beliefs...

The discussion had been framed in terms of non-Christains being
offended. I was simply pointing out that certain aspects might offend
Christians as well.

1 and 2 are easy to fix by simply changing the description to something like:

"The SWORD Project is an effort to create an ever expanding software
package for research and study of the Christian bible and theology."

You are making a dreadful assumption, Sasha's email doesn't specify
religion and can be any of the 3 biggest monotheistic religions. What
if you change the description to that and SWORD is about Judaísm. You
just offended a lot of people. And even if it is about the bible, we
should not change jack on it, because there are quite a few versions
of the bible... for example:

Once again, it isn't an assumption, it is the stated goal of the
project. Have you looked at their website? I have, I think they are
quite explicitly a Christian project.

Who are we to enforce such changes and what cost? Who is the the
greatest Theology guy to guide us? Probably no one, so why not leave
those issues that are irrelevant to us to the authors ? It's their
work, not ours, they should call it and describe as they want... It's
not our name that comes there.

I fail to see the relevance, the software appears to support a variety
of versions of the Christian bible judging by the website.

I think that would be neutral and acceptable to me.  As an atheist I
have no problem with having religous software, the issue is when the
openSUSE project has the appearance of endorsing particular religious
views or denigrating others.  The current description has this
appearance, but that is easy to fix.

Neutral brings two options:

1. Serve as any other package
2. Do not serve as any other package that breaks any guideline.

None of such options give us the right to judge the contents, that you
can do as your own private thingie, but not as a multi-cultural
community, which is what openSUSE is.

I don't recall juding the contents, nor did Sasha. What we were
judging was the description of the contents.

The name is more difficult to fix but in my opinion is not is not a
serious enough issue to warrant any action.  However, people who have
had problems with evangelical Christians in the past, or cultures that
have had problems with violence by Christians in the past, may have a
more serious issue with the name.

Wrong thing to do... None of us who live today has any responsibility
on what Roman Catholics did during the Spanish Inquisition, or even on
what Christian did during the 1st Cruzade. None of us who live today
were victims of it, or commanded/executed such deeds.

You should've been a judge to keep on judging people :)

Who are you to tell people what should and should not offend them?

So my personal vote would be to change the description to something
that does not imply a judgement on the validity of any religious
beliefs, while keeping the package.

All you did in the previous lines was to judge. Maybe you should've
started your email with this block of text and forget about the
judging. You were the one implying the usage of the word sword (which
I will defend it is a gourmet appliance), implying christians in acts
of violence... etc etc... where's the neutral non-judging stuff there?

I didn't judge anything. It is a fact that certain Christian sects
use the sword imagery in a manner that could cause offence. It is a
fact that references to things like the crusades or other acts of
violence by Christians in the past have caused offence. You may think
that is silly, but that is your judgement.

There used to be one or more Muslim prayer plasma widgets offered by
KDE:Extra.  They don't appear to be there any more.  I think the rules
should at least be consistent, so if they were removed based on their
religious content then Christian software should also not be allowed.

Could you please provide physical evidence that such applications have
been removed because they were related to Islam? I doubt that as been
the reason... What I see packaged dropped is often related to lack of
maintainers or no longer updated upstream. You are making a very
serious accusation, and I strongly recommend that you provide
substancial evidance that they were removed because they were related
to Islam, if that is true, than all I can say is that we might be
considering to enforce the same policy applied to Sirko Kemter to
those who made such decisions because deep in the end we are a
multi-cultural community and as such we can't do that kind of bullying
based on people's beliefs. It's just not civilized.

On the other hand if they were removed because of a lack of a
maintainer or lack of upstream updates then it is irrelevant to the
current issue.

No, it makes all relevance. If they disappeared because they had no
maintainer or not updated, that's one thing, if someone removed them
because they were related to be connected to Islam as you implied
above, it's really something very serious. That is called
discrimination, it's pure plain prejudice and prejudice is far worst
than bullying. So my stance is to prejudice is to apply the same rules
applied to bullies, ejector seat.

I was not imply anything. I was not accusing anyone of removing it
based on religious reasons. I figured it was possible that some
people are under the impression that openSUSE has a prohibition
against religious software while others do not. To me part of the
importance of this discussion is to clarify these policies so everyone
knows what should and should not be available. If something was
removed based on the misunderstanding that religious content was not
allowed, it should be rectified. I was not suggesting a specific
anti-muslim bias, but rather a lack of clarity on the rules regarding
the subject of religion.

You really seem intent to read the absolute worst into everything I
write. I was doing my best to provide a fair and neutral assessment
of the situation and point out potential issues that some people might
not be aware of. All of the implications and judgements you are
accusing me of are in your own imagination. Please calm down and try
to assume good faith on the part of others.

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