ntang (ntang) wrote,

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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