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My recent appalling behaviour on this list.

From: John Darrington
Subject: My recent appalling behaviour on this list.
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2017 06:46:00 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.23 (2014-03-12)

Occasionally one makes mistakes.  On this occasion I have made an
enormous one.   I hope this post will go some small way to put it
right and explain how it came about.  I don't seek to excuse anything
I said or did.

The entire ugly thread started last week when I replied to this
message from ng0:

Unfortunately, I replied having read only ng0's postscript and not the
context in which it was written.

I erroneously thought ng0 was telling us that one should ALWAYS use
singular-they when referring to ANY indefinite individual in the third
person.  It never occured to me (as is obvious when I now read it
properly) that this was a request from ng0 to refer to themselves that
way.  I assumed the context was some patch to the Guix user-manual.
I did not read the mail properly and I shouted off before I was in
possession of the facts.

In my mistaken belief that ng0 was trying to impose upon the world new
rules of English grammar, I considered this to be an assault on
freedom of speech.   I told ng0 I would refuse to comply, having
completely misunderstood (and failed to clarify) the request.

Ng0's angry response, I attributed to wounded pride, an over-inflated
ego and a childish temperament on ng0's part.   I now see that this was
totally unfounded.  Under the circumstances, ng0 had every right to
feel extremely insulted and very angry at what I said.   The people who
sprang to his defence are commendable.

In the very long flame-war which followed I thought I was acting in
the interests of freedom of speech (and saving the English language at
the same time).  Had I taken the time to check the facts before
opening my mouth, this entire unpleasant episode would have been
avoided.  I did not do so, and that was inexcusable. 

I apologise to ng0 without reservation.

If I ever have cause to discuss ng0 in the third person, I will of course
do so using their pronoun of choice.

I apologise too, to the rest of this list for wasting time and resources,
on a completely unnecessary flame-war, which could have been avoided
if only I had fully read a post before replying.


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