There does not seem to be much correlation, in either direction, between the ability to write good code and the ability to communicate with one’s fellow human beings. There is some correlation between programming well and describing technical issues well, but describing technical issues is only a tiny part of the communications in a project. Much more important is the ability to empathize with one’s audience, to see one’s own posts and comments as others see them, and to cause others to see their own posts with similar objectivity. Equally important is noticing when a given medium or communications method is no longer working well, perhaps because it doesn’t scale as the number of users increases, and taking the time to do something about it.

— Karl Fogel, Producing Open Source Software

2 thoughts on “Empathy

  1. I think everyone gets that your beliefs are important to you and inform what you do. What they’re trying to tell you is that it doesn’t matter why you’re doing it, what you’ve been doing is objectively wrong. You’re taking actions against LGBTs to deprive us of rights just for living our own lives and loving the people we care about, and are crying persecution when we condemn you for bigoted actions.

    We don’t need to know what’s in your heart to know, and tell you, that what you’re doing is evil and wrong.

  2. Actually, quite a few people who are upset are not trying to tell me that what I’m doing is objectively wrong, because they don’t believe in absolute moral right and wrong. I’m glad to hear you do. So my question is: how is that decided, in your view? Is it the consensus of society, or something else? Where do you get the authority to call me evil? That’s a genuine question, not a rhetorical one.

    As for my position, you mischaracterise it. No-one is talking about banning anyone from “loving the people they care about” – unless you think that a particular form of governmental approval is required for love to happen? Do you think that?

    You say I am trying to “deprive you of rights” – but that’s begging the question (in the proper sense of the term). What you want is not fair access to existing rights, but a new right – the right to have a relationship with someone of the same sex called a marriage. No-one currently has that right in the UK – not me, not anyone. From where do you get the moral authority to declare that this is a right that everyone should have?

    I also deny the charge of bigotry. That means “intolerant of different opinions“. Why am I being more intolerant of your opinion than you are of mine? Why am I a bigot, and you not?

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