back to article You have GNU sense of humor! Glibc abortion 'joke' diff tiff leaves Richard Stallman miffed

Late last month, open-source contributor Raymond Nicholson proposed a change to the manual for glibc, the GNU implementation of the C programming language's standard library, to remove "the abortion joke," which accompanied the explanation of libc's abort() function. Nicholson said: "The joke does not provide any useful …

  1. Notas Badoff

    Hidden wisdom

    Long time ago I captured a comment from Usenet I thought useful:

    "There's no winners here, just the sad trolling the bad trolling the mad. I call Cripple Fight on this."

  2. tfewster Silver badge

    You can tune a file system but you can't tuna fish

    1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
      Coat

      You also can't tuna noodle casserole.

  3. JohnFen Silver badge

    Wait, what?

    I can see people wanting to avoid politically sensitive jokes, but this...

    "O'Donnell recommended avoiding jokes altogether, a position supported by many of those weighing in on the issue."

    ...is hard to interpret as anything but another indication of the ongoing decline of the software industry.

    1. tmerchant

      Re: Wait, what?

      Thoroughly agree, jokes have been a cornerstone of the Free Software movement from the beginning.

      1. Mycho Silver badge

        Re: Wait, what?

        GNU is literally named as two jokes in one.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Wait, what?

      Not just the industry but civilization. Everyone takes everything too seriously, however humor isn't universal so some will be offended. To those... if it offends you, don't look. If one is of religious ilk, then "if thy eye offends thee, pluck it out".

      A pox on political correctness....

      1. tfewster Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Wait, what?

        I once got a call from an upset user, who complained that the departmental server in their office area kept showing messages about dead children. She'd had a family tragedy recently and, very understandably, the messages were distressing her.

        The server console messages in question were of the form "child process nnn died". I explained what they meant and that they were were quite normal. I declined her request to rewrite the operating system, but I adjusted the display settings and affixed a label "Dumb terminal - brightness has been turned down".

        1. DropBear Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Wait, what?

          I have written software at some point for a client then later just happened to meet someone who worked there at the time and got to see my code - when we realized this, you know what was first thing he mentioned? Not that the code was shit or that it was great, no. "Your comments were quite funny you know..." Humour is part of who we are and therefore of what we make. It needs to stay!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wait, what?

        "if thy eye offends thee, pluck it out"

        I believe you will find that the context for that statement gives it quite a different meaning than the one you gave it. It was part of the sermon on the mount in which Jesus was defining adultery, so "offending" in this sense would be leading one to commit adultery and not getting upset about lame jokes.

      3. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
        Pint

        Re: Wait, what?

        humor isn't universal so some will be offended.

        There is a few quotes I can pull out of the bag here....

        1) offence is never given, only taken.

        but my favourite is from a notorious very non political correct comedian when asked about if he worried about offending people....

        2) Every joke will offend somebody somewhere, so consider the jokes YOU find offensive as tax on the ones you find funny.

        Beer, well, he owned a very famous northern comedy club named after his favourite brand of smokes.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wait, what?

        Not just the industry but civilization. Everyone takes everything too seriously, however humor isn't universal so some will be offended. To those... if it offends you, don't look. If one is of religious ilk, then "if thy eye offends thee, pluck it out".

        A pox on political correctness....

        Exactly!

        A joke that doesn't offend anyone isn't funny!

        ...but you don't have to take my word for it, because Benign Violation Theory does a much better job of expanding on that concept.

        You can read the original paper here:

        http://leeds-faculty.colorado.edu/mcgrawp/pdf/mcgraw.warren.2010.pdf

        Dig even deeper, here:

        http://leeds-faculty.colorado.edu/mcgrawp/Benign_Violation_Theory.html

        TL:DR? Here:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theories_of_humor#Benign_violation_theory

    3. John Sanders
      Holmes

      Re: Wait, what?

      @JohnFen

      >> ...is hard to interpret as anything but another indication of the ongoing decline of the software industry.

      I think you mean society as a whole.

      Remember humor is dangerously subversive to SJW as it doesn't allow them to control the language, and an SJW needs to control language to set the narrative so they can't achieve power without opposition.

      Having said that, in my humble opinion anyone ever butt-hurt by such an obvious joke is not fit for purpose.

      1. lowwall

        Re: Wait, what?

        Right. And I've noticed that humour is the hallmark of all internet utterances that contain the term "SJW" (or its apparent synonym "snowflake").

        1. GX5000
          Devil

          Re: Wait, what?

          Of course it is.

          WE coined the derogatory term SJW as an insult.

          Now they're using it to identify themselves...

          CLASSIC!

      2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        FFS

        Everyone who seeks power seeks to control language not just your mythical SJW bogeymen.

  4. VikiAi Silver badge

    The joke is more about attitudes to abortion than abortion itself, the way I read it.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      I view the joke as being about government censorship than even attitudes about abortion, but I agree with you that it's not really about abortion as such.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      That's what I assumed it would be after reading the headline.

      Having read the article however, it's making fun of censorship, not abortion IMO.

  5. caffeine addict Silver badge

    Oh, come on. It's hardly laugh out loud funny, but it is worthy of a slight smile.

  6. Weiss_von_Nichts

    Also not stictly technical, but:

    "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke."

  7. CheesyTheClown

    Shouldn’t quality and professionalism be the issue?

    Man pages on Linux have been on a nearly consistent decline relative to the number of features added to the system. As authors of Linux utilities depend more on web based documentation, man pages have become more and more horrifying in quality.

    Let’s also make clear that there are many of us who believe Stallman should simply be muted and censored as his behavior is generally reprehensible. I have actually experienced opposition to use of LGPL code by legal teams because they feared being associated in any way with such an oaf. I do not discount the contributions made by Stallman, but I believe his damage to the GNU world far outweighs the benefits at this time. He clearly marks everything he touches as questionable with regards to professionalism.

    As to jokes in man pages. This can be saved for flame wars in forums. There is no benefit to adding them to documentation that should be free of anything other that empirical data unless positing a theory with regards to appropriate use. For example “I would recommend use of an alternative function as the algorithm used in this one may prove questionable with regards to data security.”

    I have no opionion regarding the specific joke in question as I see it as lacking the depth necessary to make it entertaining. I see it as offering no more engaging value than the labeling of a manhole cover. But I also believe that even if it were a funny joke, it’s better for the forums.

    1. Peter Prof Fox

      There's no quality issue. It's a movement you benefit from.

      The originators of the free software culture which you enjoy today had heard of a thing called satire and realised every actor in society should act wisely and with responsibility. How prescient. Where has that wisdom gone?

      We don't have essays and references to that father of satire Juvenal in man pages but we do have the free (recognise the word?) spirit of contempt for restrictive regulation. Who are you or anybody else to 'decide' on the grounds that 'it's your opinion and that's what matters' to deface an important document. Dyking out perfectly appropriate observations is the actions of a miserable self-appointed Bowdleriser. Do tell us exactly which silent and oppressed group you purport to be acting for.

      You're always free to fork the man pages. That's what freedom is. You live in a software society made possible by people like Stallman. Fork or f**k-off.

      For those readers who are slow on the uptake, some bright minds brought two things to the late 20th century and now the 21st century:

      1 A vision of free software. LECTOR SI MONUMENTUM REQUIRIS CIRCUMSPICE That was Sir Christopher Wren's epitaph. Now look around you and you'll see free software everywhere. And how much poorer would we be without it?

      2 A commitment to a progressive, cooperative, energetic society that continually built on the foundations of previous generations.

      Perhaps you should educate yourself by starting with Ian Hislop giving the 2016 Orwell lecture (Available for free on YT. It's a brilliant summary of all the issues surrounding this silly spat. )

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There's no quality issue. It's a movement you benefit from.

        No need to fork the man pages - switch to FreeBSD. Whilst often understaffed, they still view them as important.

        As for the 'joke' - not offensive. Also, not funny - just a paranoid rant masking as humor. It is also confusing at first glance, advising that the function may not be recommended in the future.

        1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

          Re: There's no quality issue. It's a movement you benefit from.

          ...a paranoid rant... - paranoid or prescient, in the context?

        2. doke

          Re: There's no quality issue. It's a movement you benefit from.

          FreeBSD recently adopted an appallingly bad code of conduct. The problems aren't as much with what it says, as what it doesn't. It has no transparency. There is no requirement that charges be publicly announced (in an anonymized fashion). There is no provision for defense. There is no requirement for the defendant to be informed that a charge is pending against them, so they are unable to plan our mount a defense. After the fact, appeals are allowed only to a tiny subset of penalties. Appeals are handled by the same committee. There is no way to appeal to a higher, or different, authority.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There's no quality issue. It's a movement you benefit from.

          > No need to fork the man pages - switch to FreeBSD. Whilst often understaffed,

          > they still view them as important.

          > As for the 'joke' - not offensive.....

          Whilst on the subject of FreeBSD documentation standards, and jokes in man pages..... :

          PCIB(4) FreeBSD Kernel Interfaces Manual PCIB(4)

          NAME

          pcib - PCI bridge driver

          SYNOPSIS

          To compile this driver into the kernel, place the following line in your kernel configuration file:

          device pci

          DESCRIPTION

          The pcib driver provides for host and PCI bridges in a PCI system.

          BUGS

          This man page is too short.

          FreeBSD 12.0-CURRENT January 18, 2008 FreeBSD 12.0-CURRENT

      2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: There's no quality issue. It's a movement you benefit from.

        We don't have essays and references to that father of satire Juvenal in man pages

        Now that's a challenge we should accept.

    2. eldakka Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Shouldn’t quality and professionalism be the issue?

      > documentation that should be free of anything other that empirical data

      says whom?

      Fuck off, I'll put whatever I want in documentation I create on my own time, which is generally what most GNU software is.

      > Shouldn’t quality and professionalism be the issue?

      Most GNU-based software is being created by people who are not being paid, therefore, by definition, it is not professional software, it is a hobby, or even a lifestyle, but not a profession. Which is not to say that some, or many, of the contributors are not professional, many of them are professional developers. However, they are not doing GNU contributions as a profession.

      1. Not That Andrew

        Re: Shouldn’t quality and professionalism be the issue?

        IIRC at last half of the contributors to core GNU projects like glibc & GCC are actually paid to do so these days. Not that that justifies removing a statement on reproductive rights and censorship (but unfunny attempt at humour).

    3. Steve Knox

      Re: Shouldn’t quality and professionalism be the issue?

      Let’s also make clear that there are many of us who believe Stallman should simply be muted and censored as his behavior is generally reprehensible.

      So you believe that censorship is acceptable behavior? I happen to think it can be, in one specific set of circumstances.

      Censorship of others is at best morally questionable: even when their statements appear reprehensible to the rest of us, logically countering them is generally much more productive.

      However, self-censorship is a very useful practice, as it can preserve one's reputation and prevent foot-in-mouth disease. Give it a try, won't you?

    4. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Shouldn’t quality and professionalism be the issue?

      GNU doesn't believe in man pages, they use 'info'.

      1. AJ MacLeod

        Re: info

        Totally beside the point of this discussion of course, but I have been using GNU software for two decades and don't think I've ever come across a worse documentation system than info. The browser is so unusable that I'd actually virtually forgotten that "info" exists - after an initial struggle to see the logic I've always just used such man pages as are available rather than waste time trying to untangle the writhings of the tortured mind that created the info browser!

        1. Alan Mackenzie

          Re: info

          I disagree with you profoundly. Info is likely the most useful and user friendly doc system there is. What it isn't is beginner friendly; being a sophisticated system, it takes time and effort to learn and get used to. Examples of its features include typing "i" followed by a word to look up that word in the index/indices, moving directly to the page where it is defined; "u" to go to the heierarchically containing page. There are hyperlinks and search facilities.

          Indeed, it is hard to believe that Info is older than HTML, given how many of its features are missing from HTML.

          1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

            Re: info

            "I disagree with you profoundly. Info is likely the most useful and user friendly doc system there is. What it isn't is beginner friendly; being a sophisticated system, it takes time and effort to learn and get used to. "

            Alas, you contradict yourself.

            User friendly means it's also friendly for beginners.

            Info is not the only culprit here, but one really does need to recognise where "the competition" has the edge.

        2. onefang Silver badge

          Re: info

          "The browser is so unusable that I'd actually virtually forgotten that "info" exists"

          pinfo or tinfo makes it a bit easier to use at least.

    5. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

      Re: Shouldn’t quality and professionalism be the issue?

      I dont really agree with you on many points but, why did you start talking about man pages?

      This is about a comment in source code. Not "published" documentation.

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: Shouldn’t quality and professionalism be the issue?

        The article says it's in the Manual for glibc.

        Not in the code.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shouldn’t quality and professionalism be the issue?

      "Let’s also make clear that there are many of us who believe Stallman should simply be muted and censored as his behavior is generally reprehensible."

      Let me guess. You make a living writing and/or selling closed-source software.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shouldn’t quality and professionalism be the issue?

      @CheesyTheClown: I think you should consider changing your professional sounding but perhaps overly dour forum handle to something a little less serious.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shouldn’t quality and professionalism be the issue?

      >Let’s also make clear that there are many of us who believe Stallman should simply be muted and censored as his behavior is generally reprehensible.

      Really? That term "many of us" is in my experience a cheap attempt at invoking authority by a claimed majority. Unless you can document that I must declare you a bald faced liar. Also:

      >I have actually experienced opposition to use of LGPL code by legal teams because they feared being associated in any way with such an oaf.

      Really now, have you? I work in law and it is never my job to oppose a document because it could be associated by a person who has been called an oaf on the Internet. Nor have I ever heard my colleagues do so either. That simply is not our job. Again I must ask you to document your claims carefully, or I shall assume you are a shameless serial liar.

    9. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Shouldn’t quality and professionalism be the issue?

      @CheesyTheClown

      Where I come from, clowns are supposed to be funny.

      So I assume your ridiculous and unhuman opinion is a troll.

  8. Ptol

    The "joke" makes a valid political point very much in line with the GNU political views

    I would expect that any software developer or technical author who had written that joke into their software document at work, for their customers to read would probably be having a difficult conversation with their boss afterwards...

    However, as I understand it, one of the aims of GNU software is to make a political stance about freedom of software, its source and its documentation, and in that respect this line of text is very much on message.

    Whats next? break everyone existing code by renaming the function from abort() to terminate()?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The "joke" makes a valid political point very much in line with the GNU political views

      > Whats next? break everyone existing code by renaming the function from abort() to terminate()?

      A complete false equivalence, and you know it.

      1. KiTA

        Re: The "joke" makes a valid political point very much in line with the GNU political views

        > A complete false equivalence, and you know it.

        All snark has a kernel of truth to it, and this is no different. There have been good faith yet still insane requests for similar renames in the past.

    2. Michael Habel Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: The "joke" makes a valid political point very much in line with the GNU political views

      Whats next? break everyone existing code by renaming the function from abort() to terminate()?

      I propose we use the term "EXTERMINATE!" (But, it seems we don't have a Dalek Icon here :( )

  9. gnasher729 Silver badge

    It's the kind of "joke" that I would expect from Stallman. It's not funny. It's tasteless, and defending it is even more tasteless. The man is an embarrassment.

    1. VikiAi Silver badge
      Facepalm

      You didn't actually read it, did you.

      But you do like to be loudly opinionated.

      1. ghp

        Not opinionated, but opionionated.

    2. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

      We know where you stand then

      "It's the kind of "joke" that I would expect from Stallman. It's not funny. It's tasteless, and defending it is even more tasteless. The man is an embarrassment."

      So you disagree on his stance on abortive rights? He has been very clear that he fully supports abortion as a right and this statement in his code represents his comptempt towards a government that didnt at the time.

      I'm wondering if any Russian gay programmers have ever written such messages against their own government on its position on their sexuality. Guess they should shut up too.

      1. KiTA

        Re: We know where you stand then

        What do you mean "at the time?" Trump re-instated the rule that the joke references.

        The ultimate irony about the "Social Justice" advocates are the "alt-right fascist dudebro capitalist mra racist sexist transphob nazis straight white males" they harass and chimp out on regularly usually are more informed and more active in producing actual positive social change than they are.

        To wit: They're more pissed at an "abortion joke" than the fact that the social injustice the joke is mocking is still going on

        ... But then again, you don't get brownie points on twitter for griping about the Global Gag Rule, but trying to browbeat RMS might get you a nice internship at the Ada Initiative ...

  10. HildyJ
    Facepalm

    Programming needs jokes

    Jokes in documentation, code, and even instruction sets have been around forever (or at least since Grace Hopper's bug incident).

    My favorite is from no less than the old, very buttoned down, Big Blue (IBM for you youngsters). In the 360 Assembler instruction set, a key instruction, "Branch and Link" uses opcode 69 (and I defy anyone to tell me that wasn't intentional).

    1. ragb

      Re: Programming needs jokes

      It was intentional that 0x45 as the opcode for BAL is placed with other Branch-like operations in the range of 0x44 to 0x47. I could see that someone later noticed that the opcode in decimal was 69. From the limited BAL programming I did in the '70s, one didn't use or display decimal values for opcodes often. But if you have more proof, it would be very interesting to see. Thanks!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Programming needs jokes

      " "Branch and Link" uses opcode 69 (and I defy anyone to tell me that wasn't intentional)."

      The IBM 360 opcodes are orthogonal. That means opcode bits like "4x" have a generally predictable effect on a function's addressing mode involving store and/or register locations.

      BAL is hex 45 - which is the predictable RX mode variant of the RR mode BALR (hex 05). In the same way the conditional branch BC (hex 47) is a predictable mode variant of BCR (hex 07).

      By Occam's razor the humorous meaning of BAL in decimal is thus coincidental.

      Such orthogonality made me far happier with the Motorola 6800 microprocessor's instruction set than the apparently less organised Intel 8086 set.

    3. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Programming needs jokes

      My favorite is from no less than the old, very buttoned down, Big Blue (IBM for you youngsters). In the 360 Assembler instruction set, a key instruction, "Branch and Link" uses opcode 69 (and I defy anyone to tell me that wasn't intentional).

      One of the OSes for the PDP11 (can't remember offhand if it was RSTS or RSX) had the error code IE-NFW (error value 69) for "Network Host not Reachable"

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Made me decide to donate

    Always loved gnu and what it stands for, and Stallman's wit. This instantly made me decide to order a signed copy of https://shop.fsf.org/books-docs/free-software-free-society-selected-essays-richard-m-stallman-3rd-edition

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Made me decide to donate

      Send me a copy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Made me decide to donate

        "Send me a copy."

        It can be downloaded for free (of course) as pdf.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Made me decide to donate

          > It can be downloaded for free (of course) as pdf

          Bugger. That ruined my sarcy quip!

    2. Not That Andrew

      Re: Made me decide to donate

      a) What stopped you donating before?

      b) It was a terrible joke, unsurprising RMS found it funny. Although I defend it as a statement on reproductive rights and censorship. I fear for your sense of humour, though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Made me decide to donate

        "a) What stopped you donating before?"

        Did you donate? Well did you, punk? And if you didn't, why the hell not? And if you did, what stopped you donating before? Well? Shame on you for not being the first ever person to donate to fsf!

        I didn't say I didn't before. Regardless, it's a moot question. There is always a first time for everything. Donating to something you have not donated to before does not make your donation less legitimate or somehow less worthy than those who came before you.

        I think the joke is extremely well written and testifies to the writer's witty and intelligent mind, and it is quite funny. I recall reading it for the first time and was very amused.

  12. Long John Brass Silver badge
    Flame

    Trigger Warning /rant

    This

    should simply be muted and censored as his behavior is generally reprehensible

    and this

    should simply be muted and censored as his behavior is generally reprehensible

    Smarmy po' faced crayon munching morons need to take a good long look in the nearest available mirror and realise this constant value signalling bullshit is slowly quickly and steadily making the world a worse place each and every fucking day.

    The grey skinned dead-eyed dickheads are running the goddamn show now and every hint of any actual diversity of though and action are crushed under their expensive designer boots; All in the name of diversity and inclusion. The mind fucking boggles.

    1. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: Trigger Warning /rant

      The antics of the SJW’s and the perpetually twiggered “millennials” is a part of what got Donald Trump elected!

      Well Done. Truly a victory for “diversity”.

      /sarc.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I believe the joke is a reference to "Mexico City policy" where concervative American governments prohibit talking about abortion.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexico_City_policy

    1. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

      OMFG that shit exists?

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        It's what happens in puritan/backwards countries that forget to separate the state from religion. Most commonly found in regimes where the leaders like to wear military medals and hats, the bigger and less practical the hat the better with bonus points for inflicting the same hats on the following of yes-men.

        1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

          Also, catholic/backwards countries that forget... Like 7% of the EU?

          Malta and Ireland... we're looking at you!

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Meh

      The joke is a reference to the USA

      Seen from Europe (not sure about NI) it's a very sad "joke" about a country where religion and men still believe they should have the right to decide if a woman can or cannot have a legal abortion if she wants one.

      A very sad joke.

      Having had a look at the link "Mexico_City_policy", it is also a sad joke about a two party system.

      "The policy is a political flashpoint in the abortion debate, with Republican administrations adopting it and Democratic administrations rescinding it. The policy was enacted by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1984,[3] rescinded by Democratic President Bill Clinton in January 1993,[4] re-instituted in January 2001 as Republican President George W. Bush took office,[5] rescinded on January 23, 2009, as Democratic President Barack Obama took office[6][7] and reinstated on January 23, 2017, as Republican President Donald Trump assumed the office.".

      I give Stallman credit for sticking to his guns.

      1. Huw D
        Coat

        Re: The joke is a reference to the USA

        "I give Stallman credit for sticking to his guns."

        Sticking to his GNUs, surely?

      2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: The joke is a reference to the USA

        @Lars,

        You may want to look into what Ireland will be doing on May 25th, 2018, and how the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland plays into the sadness of the joke.

      3. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: The joke is a reference to the USA

        I give Stallman credit for sticking to his guns

        You may be thinking of ESR there, not RMS.

  14. EveryTime Silver badge

    Help! I was triggered by this!

    Actually, no, upon further reflection, I'm not.

    I've contributed a vast amount of heavily used code to the world. Much of it had humor in the comments and error messages. The only people that suggested that it should be removed were non-contributing wankers.

    Stallman, for all of his flaws, has done vastly more for the world than the total of the other people in this 'debate'.

  15. Esme

    I neither think it's much of a joke nor see any great problem with it. So long as the documentation is, overall, clear (ie: not buried beneath a morass of supposed witticisms) then I don;t see a problem. Not that I'm much inclination or need to look at software documentation more than once in a blue moon, but a smidge of humour here and there can actually help folk learn and remember stuff. I have no comment re Mr Stallman's personality - I do not move in those circles, havent read books by/about him, etc. I simply do not care - I'm a software user, not a techhie.

  16. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    The Issues

    1. Should (technical) documentation contain jokes?

    2. Is this joke offensive?

    3. Has Stallman over stepped the mark in insisting that the joke stays in?

    Have I missed anything?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: The Issues

      You've missed "Is it funny?". The joke should stay in, but should be re-written so that it is actually funny. (That will annoy everyone and in some meta sense be the funniest thing about it.)

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: The Issues

        I agree, if it was funny it would be worth defending for inclusion but it is such a lame attempt at humor Stallman should be embarrassed for claiming it as his own.

        Sadly, this is true of almost all the "jokes" in Unix man pages, like the "tuna fish" joke.

  17. Citizen99
    Linux

    "The Blob" extending it's tentacles into yet another area ...

  18. Herby Silver badge

    Jokes??

    I remember that one version of make had a cookie (easily recreated in the Makefile):

    sh-3.2$ make love

    Not war?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Jokes??

      "sh-3.2$ make love

      Not war?"

      Reminds me, a friend of mine had a bumper sticker on a car (added by previous owner) which said "War is not the answer". A prankster neighbour obfuscated the "not" and the friend would get the occasional remark from people who did not get the attempt at "a form of humour known as sarcasm". :D

  19. codejunky Silver badge

    PC gone mad

    Cmon winter is over, the snowflakes need to go away.

    "expressing concern about the potential offensiveness of the words"

    For anyone arguing this they need to be told they are being offensive. It is offensive to insist we should abandon language because someone chooses to be offended at words. The first casualty being a sense of humour.

    1. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

      Re: PC gone mad

      Cmon winter is over, the snowflakes need to go away.

      I am all for a little more burning of fossil fuel to speed up global warming.... its one way to get a reduction in snowflakes.

  20. Simon Harris Silver badge
    Joke

    Regional variations.

    If there are going to be such jokes in the man pages, maybe man could check your locale to make sure the joke is relevant to your region, and substitute alternative jokes as appropriate. Maybe man could also include an AI system that scans news sites for information about legislation and governmental changes that might render the joke's satire out of date.

  21. iron Silver badge

    concern about the potential offensiveness of the words

    Not one of those words is offensive except maybe "Federal censorship."

    I am not surprised that almost all the complaints were from men. What the fuck happened to my gender in the last 10 years?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: concern about the potential offensiveness of the words

      "What the fuck happened to my gender in the last 10 years?"

      Nothing. On one side those who consider themselves "liberal" are often showing surprising intolerance of other views. On the other side the current political climate has encouraged "conservatives" to try to re-impose their view of their implicit rights to superiority.

      Politics is a spectrum - where the extremes of "left" and "right" are often overlapping in their attitudes and methods.

      1. handleoclast Silver badge

        Re: concern about the potential offensiveness of the words

        Politics is a spectrum - where the extremes of "left" and "right" are often overlapping in their attitudes and methods.

        At the risk of falling into the "no true Scotsman" fallacy (or being accused of having done so) I'd say that the extremists of left and right are not actually left or right wing at all but authoritarians/wannabe totalitarians. Once you advocate censorship you have departed from the ideals of liberal democracy set out in the enlightenment, and it's for damned sure those in control (whether overt or covert) of the extremists are in it for power/money/fame.

        Sure, some of the extremists drift into it, seduced by the lies of those in control of the extremists, but once there they are no longer of the left/right/middle/whatever even if they think they still are. I don't see Communism as extreme left or Fascism as extreme right, they are just flavours of totalitarianism using different fairy tales to sell themselves to their populations.

        1. usbac

          Re: concern about the potential offensiveness of the words

          @ handleoclast

          I wish I could up-vote you 100 times. That's about the best explanation of the current political situation I have ever read.

          As an American, I think our founding fathers would be disgusted by the far ends of either party. If you look at very early American history (early for us anyway, a mere few hundred years), the political parties associated with by our founding fathers don't look anything like our current political parties.

      2. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
        Big Brother

        Re: concern about the potential offensiveness of the words

        On one side those who consider themselves "liberal" are often showing surprising intolerance of other views.

        I read an article written by one of those blue hair, liberal, SJW snowflakes you mentioned in your post, a few days back.... They were claiming that you should ask permission from your baby to change its nappy (dyper for our colonial cousins) so not to upset them.... Its people who publish stuff like that who are part of the problem we have today with kids running feral and the opening of the ministry of jokes ( new speak - MinJO).

        But ultimately our own fault in the IT world for making platforms like the internet accessible to the terminally stupid.

      3. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge

        Re: concern about the potential offensiveness of the words

        "...those who consider themselves "liberal" are often showing surprising intolerance of other views."

        Sadly this is so often the truth. I often enjoy the hypocritical liberal types screaming about freedom of speech in one sentence and the very next, screaming loudly to demand that someone whom has offended them be silenced.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: concern about the potential offensiveness of the words

      Whether or not I agree with you regarding the joke, you have a blinkered argument.

      "You do things to children when they don't want you to".

      Not one of those words is offensive, either.

      The overall statement, however, is incredibly offensive and potentially libellous. Even the word "abortion" isn't offensive. It's the concept. I think their argument is "human abortion is a serious thing that shouldn't be made light of to get a cheap laugh." Not "you can't say abortion".

      1. Cederic

        Re: you do things to children

        I happily admit that I do things to children when they don't want me to. The little shits are getting educated anyway. They're going to bed before it's the next day. They're wearing clothes to the shops.

        Why would I find your statement offensive, let alone libellous? The only offensive thing you've said is that the concept of abortion is offensive. I find that a ridiculous viewpoint but fortunately for you I'm intelligent enough to accept that some people hold it.

        If you can't make jokes about abortion then you can't discuss it, because the human brain sees humour everywhere. But you seem the sensitive sort so I'll avoid the obvious joke here about candidacy for a post-natal implementation.

        Incidentally, Stallman wasn't going for a cheap laugh. He was using the medium of humour to make a very serious point, one in which he has such strong beliefs that he's literally changed a global industry to pursue them. Whether you find his joke funny or not, don't go pretending that he doesn't treat the topic seriously.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: you do things to children

          "[...] because the human brain sees humour everywhere."

          Humour is often a reaction to something considered taboo to discuss otherwise. We laugh at things that make us uncomfortable.

          In apartheid South Africa there were the "van der Merwe" jokes. On the face of it the joke was often reinforcing apartheid attitudes - but underneath was a barb aimed at those who supported it.

          The reality of political thought crimes in Soviet Russia turned the satirical joke into an art form.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: concern about the potential offensiveness of the words

      "What the fuck happened to my gender in the last 10 years?"

      I may well get shot down here (hence AC), but you have to ask that question, given your handle?

  22. ForthIsNotDead
    FAIL

    Fail

    I'm not a fan of Stallman the man, but his contribution to free software speaks for itself.

    That said, perhaps the virtue-signalling bell-end that is advocating removal of this comment from the source would find his time much more productively spent if he focused his efforts on the Mexico City government's effort to ban the actual *discussion* of abortion.

    Prick.

  23. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

    Well done that man!

    Jokes in comments are what helps to preserve a sense of the human beings behind the software and its creation. They help to date the code beyond simply its coding style. Glibc and other projects following similar ideals exist on many levels. As a PRODUCT providing functionality that can be used freely (as in freedom) and as something beyond a product showing people the ideals behind the project through its code, comments and associated licensing.

    Silicon chip makers make ther mark on their creations also. There are websites decicated to showing the creativity and humor in this so called silicon art. Do we open up all microchips and erase such works just because thay are "silly" and "non-functional"?

    Should we enter caves and remove cave paintings that might offend on a sexual or animal rights level? The cave paintings serve no purpose and could offend. Why keep them?

    Removing the human element from comments added to publicly developed software created specifically for political reasons seems to be very weird to me.

    Hacker culture is more than just holywood hackers infecting a mainframe with animated viruses that jump about the big boss' screen while he shouts at his evil minions to stop the cool teen hackers trying to save the orphanage. It is much more than that. Throughout the history of computers the creators of the hardware and associated programmers drove much of their research further by HAVING FUN. To the point that these machines were employed in makiing model railways work, or little tunes coming out of a simple audio output leading perhaps to speech synthesis.

    We have no museum for this stuff. It all exists in the code. You want to wipe the internet clean?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well done that man!

      "You want to wipe the internet clean?"

      Many people appear to want to do exactly that - with their own definition of "clean".

      As is always the case with "clean up" campaigns - any laudable aims quickly get lost in extremes of either grandstanding or a hidden agenda. They often claim to be acting on behalf of a third party - whose views they have not solicited in any impartial way.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well done that man!

      "The cave paintings serve no purpose and could offend. "

      The stone masons and carvers on ancient cathedrals left behind many irreverent touches in their work. Some are glossed over as being "devils" or other "sinful" characters - but many are deliberately provocative or disrespectful of the clergy of the time. Much the same as Chaucer was in his "Canterbury Tales".

    3. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      Re: Well done that man!

      Should we enter caves and remove cave paintings that might offend on a sexual or animal rights level? The cave paintings serve no purpose and could offend. Why keep them?

      There are people who believe exactly that (it is a particular form of Aniconism), are offended by any depictions of sentient beings, and will deface/destroy them when they encounter them (a practice known as Iconoclasm. The practice of iconoclasm has destroyed many cultural artifacts, for example, the painted effigies in the Lady Chapel in Ely Cathedral in the 1500s as a result of the Reformation, and the wholesale removal of 'idolatrous' images and later symbolic images from English churches in the 1640s.

      I feel the deliberate destruction of historic artefacts because they do not conform to current thinking is a form of censorship that reveals a fundamental insecurity on the part of the destroyer. If your philosophy cannot withstand the thought that once, people may have thought differently, there's something wrong.

      1. Nick Kew Silver badge

        Re: Well done that man!

        Iconoclasm is alive and well today. Modern-day wannabe-Savonarolas range from Islamist nutters to our own Royal Family.

        The worst instance affecting us is, I think, the censorship movement characterised as SJW. That's worst because it's the most influential: it's taken root in the BBC, for instance. But we should bear in mind that the real a**hole SJW is as much of an embarrassment to reasonable left-ish folks as Trump is to advocates of free speech who push back against SJWs.

        And of course there's nothing new about it. See for instance Wilt (1976) for some wicked send-up of SJWs that look remarkably similar to today's.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well done that man!

        "I feel the deliberate destruction of historic artefacts because they do not conform to current thinking is a form of censorship that reveals a fundamental insecurity on the part of the destroyer."

        It is the rewriting of history. Not just a revised view based on possibly valid re-interpretations - but falsifying of the original records.

        They are proving their allegiance to a group by vociferous support of its shibboleths - which can also be exacerbated by self-doubts about them.

    4. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
      Devil

      Re: Well done that man!

      The cave paintings serve no purpose and could offend. Why keep them?

      There is a more modern version of the cave paintings that are being erased.

      There is a world famous artist, He had paintings hanging in many prestigious art galleries and one I believe was in Buck House. After a very public criminal trial, he was imprisoned. People disgusted at his conduct who owned his paintings have been taking them down from display. Some have been destroyed.

      The the fiscal value of his paintings are now exactly £0.00. Many of the owners of his works have not destroyed the works, but are keeping them in storage in the hope that someday they will be of enough value to recoup some of the money they were previously valued. I have also heard that one or two art dealers are buying them up for a fraction of the previous value to store them so they are not destroyed in a hope to make profit in the future.

      He is offensive, which projects onto his works, but it does not make his art offensive. but should it be destroyed?

      Satan.... well he is...

  24. Paul 195
    Big Brother

    This is one of those cases where you wish everyone involved could lose. It's a crap joke that does little to help understand abort(), and Stallman makes himself look ridiculous by going to such lengths to defend it. Claiming it's really offensive and will "trigger" people is also ridiculous. Some people might find it mildly offensive, but the average twitter stream will contain far worse.

  25. Jimmy2Cows

    ...could be a trigger for certain individuals causing them to relive a traumatic memory...

    On that basis, no one should write or say anything, ever. You know, just in case it's a trigger for certain individuals causing them to relive a traumatic memory.

    Twat. Oops. I just triggered a traumatic memory about a pregant goldfish.

  26. Rich W

    Python?

    Python!

    An entire language based on a set of jokes (some of which may, or may not, be deemed acceptable at a given moment in human culture.)

    The light-hearted nature of the Python tutorials led to a hugely enjoyable period in my life while I was learning that language.

  27. handleoclast Silver badge

    I disagree with what you say but I defend your right to say it

    Or, as Chomsky put it: "If you do not agree with freedom of speech for those with whom you disagree, you do not believe in freedom of speech at all." (Not an exact quote as he's said the same thing many ways over the years).

    If you disagree with those sentiments then fuck off to your safe space and never come out. For your own good, of course. I would never suggest censoring you, but obviously you'll be happier there in your bubble.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I disagree with what you say but I defend your right to say it

      "I would never suggest censoring you, but obviously you'll be happier there in your bubble."

      That "bubble" is being enacted as "safe spaces" by those who want to censor things outside that environment rather than challenge them.

      1. handleoclast Silver badge

        Re: I disagree with what you say but I defend your right to say it

        That "bubble" is being enacted as "safe spaces" by those who want to censor things outside that environment rather than challenge them.

        I understand that. Really I do. But it's on a par with somebody threatening to hold their breath until you capitulate, to which my response is to say "Go ahead, then. I hope you can hold your breath as long as I can refuse to capitulate."

        If they're in their safe spaces comforting themselves then they can't be out in the real world censoring people. Works for me. Oh, and if they think holding their breath in their safe spaces will help, then go for it.

        Far better that they stay in their safe spaces than they go all trigglypuff.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So I guess most of the posters here have not read the email thread.

    https://sourceware.org/ml/libc-alpha/2018-05/msg00099.html

  29. lukewarmdog
    Facepalm

    I love the fact that one of the people who doesn't like the joke has threatened to write better code to spite Stallman. (from reading the email chain posted earlier)

    If all it takes to get better programs was to offend people then I strongly suggest he goes full offensive.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think the problem is that it’s not appropriate.

    GNU’s name, a bit of wordplay, fine. Really contentious topics, not fine.

    Do what you like in your own code base, say what you like in your own home, but in a community codebase (or at a community event) try and think of other people’s sensitivities too.

    It’s not a matter of being a snowflake. It’s about respecting other people. If you end up making one developer cry because they had an abortion and it really hurts them, that’s one too many.

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      I don't think you even vaguely understand the subject of the joke. Your inference is that there's a chance that any mention of the *concept* of abortion might make someone cry... but evidently you don't think a function called abort() may have the same problem. The people who are going to be offended by the joke are those who are offended by ridicule aimed at the government for prohibiting discussion of abortion. Indeed, if we are to take your concern seriously, the topic of the joke will come true: the function should be renamed because... "if you end up one developer cry because they had an abortion and it really hurts them, that’s one too many".

      Hypothesis: those objecting to the joke are probably rabidly anti-abortion and are primarily interested in eliminating criticism of one of their own tactics...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I disagree. I’m strongly pro choice. And I understand the “joke”. But I do think we should try and not cause upset as part of a developer community. Yes, maybe seeing abort() will upset them too, and that is their issue. But making a pointless comment shows that you probably aren’t bothered about upsetting other people even more than otherwise necessary.

        As someone who has seen and heard first hand what difference a good code of conduct and a “safe” environment can do for people’s self esteem and willingness to participate and accept everyone for who they are, I think it’s important.

        Maybe people who haven’t had that experience don’t see the benefits.

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          I can agree with that.

          But before we ban something on the grounds that we don't want to try to upset anyone, perhaps we should determine whether, in fact, it does upset them.

    2. Mycho Silver badge

      GNU’s name, a bit of wordplay, fine. Really contentious topics, not fine.

      Here's the thing, if you're triggered by animal abuse then I strongly advise not looking up the origin of the name GNU. If you're not then you can find it here.

  31. Baldrickk Silver badge

    $ unzip; strip; touch; finger; grep; mount; fsck; more; yes; fsck; fsck; umount; sleep

    What? it's just console commands.

    No need for anyone to get triggered.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never care

    What happened to the good old "don't give a flying f**k" if you don't like a joke ?

    I also read the mailing list discussion with the arguments "what if jokes were against you" ?

    I am so inclined to think that i would not really care about it, ie not give a flying frack, not being a self conscious diva.

    1. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: Never care

      You wouldn't tell a joke, would you?

  33. CrispyD
    WTF?

    Pick your battles.

    For me, this is Just Wrong (tm). No matter that it's not funny, potentially confusing and arguably offensive, it's just the wrong thing, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. II RS wants to get involved in this debate - fine, let him - but hiding it in the glibc docs? Really? Has there ever been a Daily Mail or Fox News headline screaming "Outrage at glibc developers...."

    I'm all for humour in docs - if only to keep my inner Donald Trump amused while I try and learn something, but politics disguised as crap satire? If I have to think harder about the joke than how 'mkfifo()' works then there is a problem.

  34. IGnatius T Foobar

    Stallman

    It's not hard for Stallman to get offended by something. In fact, the days that he's *not* offended by something are about as infrequent as the days he takes a shower.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Stallman

      @itfoobar

      You forfeit your right to contribute to this debate due to your error.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Carlos O'Donnell, a senior software engineer at Red Hat, suggested ..."

    Ironic, considering that that abortion known as systemd, and the other abortion known as Gnome, both essentially came from Red Hat.

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