[Corpora-List] Fw: SketchEngine CEO: No “business as usual” with Russia anymore

Vasundhara G vasundhara131719 at gmail.com
Fri Mar 11 13:07:44 CET 2022

Dear Christian (and colleagues),

Thank you for saying this. I've also been quite disappointed by people's vociferous agreement with the statement. There are parts I agree with and I understand and agree with the desire to condemn Russian military aggression, but I also see many problems with the statement that are representative of a broader and problematic conflation of the Russian state with Russian people.

As you say, it's a two-sided sword. It strikes me as odd to tell Russians it's their duty to "prevent Russia from becoming the second North Korea, completely isolated from the outside world, completely cut off from any type of collaboration," in an email that's about cutting off SketchEngine's service to Russian and Belarusian address space.

It worries me when people conflate an aggressor state with its citizens (however broadly defined), because this is the sort of thinking that leads to folks calling for Russian students abroad to be deported <https://whitehousewire.com/2022/02/27/eric-swalwell-calls-for-russian-students-to-be-kicked-out-of-american-universities-2/>, and to stop collaborations with Russian academics as the SketchEngine email does - "It is now not the time to make business in Russia, collaborate in research and science or compete in sports. It is now not the time to do corpus linguistics in Russia." There are companies cutting off Russian access to the internet <https://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/russia-ukraine-latest-news-2022-03-04/card/internet-traffic-handler-cuts-off-some-russian-customers-UrliLc9YQodPocN0HzxX> (something the UN considers a fundamental human right), Russian businesses in the US are apparently being vandalized <https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/russian-businesses-us-face-backlash-war-ukraine-rcna19155>, Facebook is temporarily allowing Russophobic hate speech <https://www.theverge.com/2022/3/10/22970705/russia-ukraine-moderation-facebook-instagram-hate-speech-violence-policy>... Some of this strikes me as being similar to anti-Asian sentiment because people are frustrated about COVID-19 - the anger is misdirected and we need to all be more critical about who is getting caught in the crossfire.

As the StackOverflow post you linked says, Geo-targeted restrictions on access to Stack Overflow are unlikely to effectively block bad actors from using our site, and are technically difficult to maintain. The most inconvenienced people wouldn't be policy makers / military members - they have tools to evade IP based blocks. It would be students/practitioners who'd suddenly find themselves removed from one of the world’s largest most consistently high-quality reference sources.

Something else that put me off about the email is that I find it awfully convenient for people writing emails from the comfort of their homes and offices in other countries to be telling Russian people that "we all need to make sacrifices now," and "if you live in Russia, you need to act," when thousands of anti-war protesters in Russia are being beaten and arrested in droves <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/2/27/more-than-2000-arrested-at-anti-war-protests-in-russia> by the state. In my opinion we should be doing what we can to support everyone who wants to end this war, rather than cutting them off.

I understand people's desire to show support for Ukraine but I think this can be done without falling into the trap of hatred towards or isolation of Russian people who don't even want this war, and we should therefore all do better.

Best, Vasundhara

> On Mar 11, 2022, at 12:30 PM, Christian Chiarcos <christian.chiarcos at gmail.com> wrote:
> public

Mx. Vasundhara Gautam (they/them <https://pronoun.is/they>) Computational Linguist https://vasundharagautam.com/ <https://vasundharagautam.com/> -------------- next part -------------- A non-text attachment was scrubbed... Name: not available Type: text/html Size: 6829 bytes Desc: not available URL: <https://mailman.uib.no/public/corpora/attachments/20220311/0c451fcd/attachment.txt>

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