ntang (ntang) wrote,
ntang
ntang

Open Source: promoting racism since the turn of the century [g]

Heh, this is a recent post from the OpenOffice-releases mailing list.

Daniel Carrera wrote:
> Oscar Wright wrote:
>
>> To Whom It May Concern
>>
>> I am an African American and I have used open office
>> for three years now and I have always recommended to
>> friends and co-workers over the MicroSoft Office
>> suite. I was using the thesaurus feature of your
>> product when I noticed what I would hope is an
>> oversight. I typed in criminal and got the synonym
>> black.
>
>
> Good lord! I'm so sorry about this. I just checked with my program and
> indeed, when you type in "criminal" and run the thesaurus on it, one of
> the options is "black".
>

absolutely. we need to add this to the list of 1.1.2 blockers NOW!

> I have been heavily involved in this project for a long time and I
> assure you that we do *not* discriminate on the basis of race, colour,
> religion, etc.
>
> I can testify to this personally, as I am a "minority" myself. The
> OpenOffice community is the most open and intelligent group of people I
> have had the pleasure to work with.
>
> I will take this up with the appropriate project and try to get this
> issue resolved by the next version of OOo.
>
>
>> So I suppose in the minds of the programmers at
>> open office my report could just as easily read
>> "..dangerous blacks have no business on our city
>> streets."
>
>
> I think that the programmers might have been thinking of "black hats"
> which is an unfortunate, but nonetheless real term in the language.
>
>
>> I have been trying to think of one single
>> instance in which the word black could be a synonym
>> for criminal and I have yet to find it.
>
>
> I concur. There isn't one. All I can imagine is that the author meant
> to type "black hat" or "black market" or something of the sort.
>

the author in this case did his work in the early 1900s in the US, so...
we cant really be sure :(

the thesaurus is constructed from Rogets thesaurus using a simple
automated transformation. Any bißdirectional associations found in it
would also be present in the OOo thesaurus ß there has really been no
human review of it, but it seems there should be...

>
>> I do not know if this is an oversight or perhaps the opinion of one
>> or more of your staff.
>
>
> I assure you it is not an opinion of any of our members (and I know most
> of our members personally and have friendships with many).
>
>> If it is an oversight it needs to be corrected immediately. If it is
>> in fact a
>> deliberate comment then what you are doing is not only amoral, but
>> illegal and
>
> > I will see to it that it is presented to the proper authorities.
>
> I am not sure that the authorities would agree that this is a case of
> discrimination. Nonetheless, I will try to see this thesaurus corrected.
>
> Best wishes,
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