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Re: Constitutional, Parliamentary Issues (was Re: CFV: Non-freearchive removal)

Craig Sanders wrote:

> On Fri, Jul 07, 2000 at 04:09:59PM -0500, Bolan Meek wrote:
> > Craig Sanders wrote:
> > >
> > > On Thu, Jul 06, 2000 at 10:03:26PM -0500, Bolan Meek wrote:
> >  ...
> > > > Craig Sanders wrote:
> > > > >
> > > > > On Thu, Jun 29, 2000 at 10:32:03PM -0500, John Goerzen wrote:
> > > > > > The requisite discussion period having been entertained, ...
> > > > >
> > > > > your CFV is unconstitutional because nothing in the consitution allows
> > > > > the Social Contract or DFSG to be amended.
> > > >
> > > > It's been pointed out plenty of times that the body of Developers
> > > > do have this power, according to the DC:
> > >
> > > it has been asserted by some that this is the case.  note: not proven, not
> > > established, just asserted.
> >
> > It has not only been asserted, but proven through the quote of DC 4.1.5.
> that is your assertion.  it also has not been proved.
> > The problem is, then, that you have not accepted this quote as proof.
> because it is not proof.

When the constitutional protest was first brought up, DC 4.1.5 was quoted,
and it sure satisfied me as being proof.  But we have already established that
_you_ do not intrepret the provision for the majority of the developers to
_issue_  non-technical policy statements to include the power to _amend_
them, particularly not the DFSG and SC.  While it is proven satisfactorily
to me, and to others, it is not to you.  OK.  I don't think we need to continue
a "is so!", "is not!", "is so!", ... exchange.

I offered up reasoning following the interpretation of amending as being
issuing of superceding documents.  I notice that you did not comment
on that.  Are you thinking about that?  Or was my reasoning so flawed
so as to be beneath consideration?

> > But let's go further: there is no specific power delegated to anyone
> > to declare this measure UC, nor to define whether "issue" includes
> > "amend".  Therefore, by 5.1.4, it would fall to the Project Leader.
> things don't have to be declared unconstitutional. they are either
> permitted by the constitution or they are not. no need for any
> declaration at all. modifying the DFSG and the Social Contract are NOT
> permitted by the constitution so those activities are unconstitutional.

Whenever there is a conflict as to what is constitutional or not, there
must be a decision, and a declaration to communicate that decision.
Why do you allow such a unreasonable reflex as to apply your viewpoint about
the constitutionality of the proposal in denying this?

To this point, _you_ have declared the proposal to be constitutional.
However, _you_ don't have the authority, by yourself, to squash
it.  I doubt that the measure will pass, and it might be that there
shall not even be a quorom to vote on it, but the proposal shall
be voted upon _unless_ there is a declaration with some authority
otherwise.  Initially, the Project Leader has sufficient authority,
and perhaps the Project Secretary, unless somehow the majority
of the Developers _do_ want to proposal enacted, and are thus
motivated to override the PL | PS.

> > Suppose that without the intervention of the PL, the proposal would
> > carry by a majority vote.  Well, this same majority can override the
> > PL, according to 4.2.2 , since there is no specific protection for
> > already issued docs, nor any clarification that prevents amendment as
> > part of the power to issue.  This is proof #3, and I think, somewhat
> > stronger.
> no, this is not a proof of any kind. the constitution is a list of
> powers, whatever is not listed is not permitted. the constitution does
> not list the ability to modify the social contract or the DFSG so those
> actions are prohibited.

It _is_ proof of some kind, even if it is weak.  Yes, you're right, in that
Section 4 doesn't _clearly_ and unambiguously specify the power to
_amend_ ANY document, of any kind.  However, as I've said, I, and
I think, _most_ would admit "amending" as a subset of "issuing".
You have persisted in protesting that "it's not listed, you can't do it",
but you have offered, as far as I've seen, no reasoning to persuade
anyone with an opposing view.

> > You may continue to reject the assumed power to amend, being lexically
> > included in the power to issue, but really, the judgment belongs
> > to the majority, since there is, apparently, an ambiguity, or an
> > incompleteness, in the DC.
> no, that is not the case. if there is an ambiguity then it should be
> cleared up by an amendment to the constitution.

It is _much_ the case that if the majority were to intrepret the DC
so as to include "amending" in "issuing", and have a collective
will to apply John's proposal, neither you or even the PL would
have the power to withstand that judgment.  Did you not follow
the line of reasoning concerning the majority being able to override
the PL in his decisions?

But I agree that it ought to cleared up in the DC, just to prevent
these kinds of disputes.  Do _you_ see an ambiguity, or incompleteness,
(and could, therefore, admit that this might result in a good faith
difference of intrepretation) in 4.1.5?

> > (maybe I ought to file a bug report..., and maybe, when I'm a
> > Developer, I'll close the BR by issuing a CFV to amend the DC to
> > clarify this.)
> that is the appropriate way to deal with this situation.

(Hmmm...  OK, for the BR, what would be the version of the DC?
How many times has it been amended?  Were the previous changes
made Major UI changes, Minor, or just bugfix releases?  Uh,
do think this ambiguity bug is merely Wishlist, Normal, Severe
or Release-Critical?  Boy, if it's RC, I guess this BR shall just
shut down Debian until it gets fixed...)

(note to new-maintainer:  please add "push for an amendment to
clarify the power to amend in the DC" to my Statement of Intentions".
Thank you)

> > I notice that you didn't respond on the matter of the relative
> > importance between the DC, and the DFSG & SC:
> > [...]
> > Does this mean I've posted something that makes sense?
> no, it meant that i couldn't be bothered responding to the irrelevancies
> (especially on this crappy keyboard i'm currently typing on)

As for irrelevancy, perhaps it'll be gauche for me to point this out,
but you were the one that claimed more importance for the DFSG
and SC than the DC in your effort to decry the unconstitutionality
and wrongness of John's proposal.

> > I'd like to further point out in this that Debian doesn't belong
> > even _to_those_who_founded_it_ (only), but (also) to the membership
> > whom they've admitted since the founding.  It is often the case
> > that, with new membership, and the changes of sentiment and priorities
> > that (may) come with it, that earlier members feel that new members are
> > screwing things up.  That is a risk that founders must take when
> > admitting new members in on an equal footing.
> that is why all organisations have a charter and a list of enumerated
> aims and associated founding documents, to clearly specify the aims of
> the organisation AND to limit the possible future directions to those
> acceptable to the founders.

Yep.  And in the case of Debian, it is why new maintainers are required
to verify that they will uphold the DFSG and SC.  And rightly so.

> > In any case, the DC is the charter, the contract between the members,
> > and, absent any provision in the DC otherwise, any and all other
> > documents belong to the body, the membership, and are subject to their
> > collective will, as expressed by a majority vote.

> you miss the point. the social contract is the promise we made to
> our users and to the remainder of the free software community (and...

Ah, but in this case, it seems that it is _you_ that missed _my_ point in the
above, that the DC is _more_ important than the DFSG and SC,
relative to Debian, because it only with an underlying charter
that supports those that Debian's stance can continue.

> you miss the point. the social contract is the promise we made to
> our users and to the remainder of the free software community (and
> incidentally to ourselves as we are both users of debian and members of
> that community). whether or not there is a legal obligation to abide by
> that promise is irrelevant - there is a moral and ethical obligation
> to live up to the promises that we have freely made. we can not renege
> on those promises without implicitly announcing to the world that we
> are liars and cheats. honour is far more important than legalistic
> quibbling. if we do not respect our own word, how can we expect anyone
> else to do so?

And I don't miss your point.  I agree with you.  If we make a promise,
we ought to uphold it.  When I applied to become a Developer, I made
a commitment to honor the DFSG and the SC.

That said, let me also say that I don't believe that John is attempting to
renege on the promise of support offered in SC.  It has been clear to me
from many comments on both sides that there are differences in
interpretation as to what is required of us by our promise, differences
in understanding of the commitment and responsibility.  I believe that
John is attempting to fulfill what he sees _is_ our obligation under
those policy statements, and that he is trying to bring about the
conditions necessary, and to clarify in the SC what we mean by
promising support.  So I think that your statement of your point
is overly reactionary, and unreasonable, in protesting via rejecting
what I think is a common assumption about the meaning of DC 4.1.5.

And I would not vote for his proposal, but would rather work for
the same goals in a different way.  My engaging you on this issue
isn't over John's proposal; it over what I consider to be truth
about the provisions in the DC.

> > If you feel that the DFSG and the SC need special protection, propose
> > an amendment to give them that, such as needing the same ratio as to
> > amend the DC, and after the requisite discussion period, call for
> > votes.
> an amendment is not needed to protect them because the current
> constitution does not allow modification of them.

OK.  That's your claim.  I've presented reasoning to prove, otherwise,
which you have rejected.  How about some proof on your part, other
than merely repeating this same thing, over and over?   Hmmm?
Or failing that, at least, perhaps, point out what is wrong with my
understanding or reasoning?

If you can't, then I challenge you to beat me to the punch, so to speak,
and make the proposal, and CFV, above, instead of the clarifying
amendment I will propose, once I am admitted, that amending
and even superceding policy statements are in the power of the
Developers.  After all, even though I believe in keeping promises,
I believe that Debian can change its collective mind, and that the
future composition of Debian ought not be forever limited, lock,
stock, and barrel, by what the past polity decided.

Not that I have _any_ interest (at this time) of changing them.  I support
the DFSG and the SC.   I think that they are right.  Even on some points
I've questioned,  such as the classification as non-free those that limit the
political classes of users, or those that make some kind of requirement for
commercial use, I've come to see the correctness of the current DFSG

But I've seen the latitude afforded by the support offered in the SC,
and I can't bear claims that to do it a different way, or even to offer
_less_ support, is tantamount to abandoning the users.  Worse yet,
I have a vsceral reation against those who will only answer out of
their emotions, and go so far as to attack the morality or insult
the intelligence of those who disagree with them.

> if it is desirable to modify them, then an amendment to the constitution
> must be passed to specifically allow that.

Of course, if you're right, this is the following consequence.  But this
depends on your claim:  I don't think that _you_ have proved _your_
position.  Perhaps I've just missed it, though; feel free to send me
a link to the archive of your post contained what you think is your
most cogent post on the matter, and I'll check it out.

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