George Herbert wrote:
On 10/9/07, David Strauss
The fact that the voters chose to penalize
Alexandria lightly for human
rights issues only came to light *today*.
You claimed to have noticed, but not said anything, earlier in the
process, because you felt that nobody would possibly vote for
Alexandria because the violations were so self-evident and
The time for you to intervene in standards for judging WM2008
selection, and argue against Alexandria on that basis, was then not
now. For any reasonable interpretation, you were neglegent in not
doing so then if this was such an important issue to you.
Negligent? You should look up the definition of that word. If anyone
would be negligent, it would be someone voting on the locations without
being aware of the human rights records.
The human rights issues in Egypt have been brought up by others. Are you
saying I can't speak because others brought up the issue, just not me?
Gay and lesbian tourists from the US go to Egypt all
the time without
being oppressed; I'm sure some of them are offended by the local
treatment of their peers, but they vacation in good health and safety.
Westerners visiting Egypt are not, as a rule, bothered by the local
political issues. Most of the factions in those agree that bothering
western tourists is a bad idea, and though there was a spate of
terrorism it seems to have receded and stayed away. Alexandria was
also far from the areas which were affected by that.
I'm quite tired of
hearing people justify atrocities on the basis of the
atrocities not affecting them.
I am disturbed to find that you believe I'm trying to justify Egypt's
You responded to my objections by stating that the problems don't affect
most Wikimania attendees.
We live in a real world. Some fraction of that has
uncivilized tendencies. One can look at that narrowly (Myanmar,
Iran's leadership, North Korea) or more widely (East Oakland, Egypt,
Yes, there are things wrong in Egypt. It's functionally a single
party government or a dictatorship, and has some severe social and
religious uphevals in progress. Anyone following events in the middle
east or geopolitics on the wider scale should know that.
So, you would agree than anyone involved in picking the Wikimania
location would be cognizant of Egypt's human rights record without any
help from me.
I would oppose any suggestion of a Wikimania in a
Sharia Law area, or
in a truly dangerous location from participants' health and safety, or
freedom of information or civil rights perspective.
As stated and cited in my
original letter, people have been imprisoned
for criticizing the government. Does that qualify?
We just had a vocal heckler tasered a bunch at a political rally in
the United States not that long ago. Does that qualify? Do we need
to rule Florida out of future Wikimania events?
I've never said any place was perfect. In any case, tasering is
generally not as severe as years of imprisonment, and blogging is not as
threatening as vocal heckling (which can be quite aggressive).
There is a grey area. The line for "Yes,
there's a problem" is less
than the line for "...and we should cut off all cultural and
intellectual exchanges...". Wikimania falls into the latter category.
You're arguing, with no opposition, and my agreement, that Egypt is
past the first line. You are asserting that it's past the second. I
believe that the assertion is unsupported and unreasonably harsh, in a
real world context.
I'm still waiting to hear where you do draw the latter line.
>> Rangoon would be
>> bad. Bagdhad would be ... let's just not go there, and I wish any
>> Iraqi Wikipedians the best of luck with recovering your civilization
>> and country. Egypt is "travel advisories" and some topical
>> sensitivity, not "overwhelmingly oppressive" or "bring your
>> Perhaps future standards should increase the civil rights and
>> western-style freedoms issues significance in judging. But Alexandria
>> is a fine choice now. Arguing to change the selection criteria after
>> selection, without having already used the opportunity present to make
>> statements or recommendations before selection, is poor process.
> The fact that the voters chose to penalize Alexandria lightly for human
> rights issues only came to light *today*.