Why not pick *nice* places for the Usenix conventions?

Henry Spencer henry at zoo.toronto.edu
Sat Jun 29 03:47:39 AEST 1991

In article <1991Jun28.144741.6090 at ncsa.uiuc.edu> acheng at ncsa.uiuc.edu (Albert Cheng) writes:
>>> ...state that has the most repressive view of women's right... 
>>i'd agree that we cannot simply do nothing, for, as always, silence kills.
>USENIX is a computer association and I would prefer it stay that way.
>Every city is either too conservative, or too liberal, or too left,
>or too right, or too middle to someone.

I'm afraid I have to agree with this, although for slightly differing

"Silence kills", yes... so how many of us said something -- or, more
to the point, *did* something -- when the Soviets were butchering the
Afghans?  How many of us have helped (as in, real investment of time and
effort) to set up a recycling program?  How many of us have at least
protested destructive logging practices, or sexual harassment of bank
employees, or the lamentable level of science education in our schools?

Is it because we do not think these are worthy, even important, causes?
Or because we don't think we could help?

The fact is that you could spend your whole life on worthy causes, with
no time left to eat or sleep, much less accomplish anything technical.
In real life, you *have* to set priorities, with no more than a regretful
glance at all the important issues that you simply cannot spare time and
effort for.

The question is not whether Louisiana's record on women's rights is awful,
or whether Usenix is a computer association, or whether "silence kills".
The issue is whether Louisiana's record is important enough *to Usenix* --
to the association, not just its individual members -- to justify significant
time and effort.  There are real costs involved in changing a conference
location, especially given how far in advance facilities bookings have to
be made for a conference this size.  Does Usenix, required both by its
charter and (I think) by general consensus of its members to be primarily
a technical group, have enough interest in this non-technical issue to
take trouble over it?  Is this issue *so much more important* than *all*
the others that it is clearly important enough when the rest aren't?

I doubt it.

If enough of Usenix's members care enough about this issue to take some
trouble over it -- say, by refusing to attend a conference that they
would really have liked to go to -- Usenix is going to listen.  If not,
one must conclude that Usenix, as an association, has higher priorities
and must, alas, give this problem no more than a regretful glance.
Lightweight protocols?  TCP/IP *is*     | Henry Spencer @ U of Toronto Zoology
lightweight already; just look at OSI.  |  henry at zoo.toronto.edu  utzoo!henry

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