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

On Sun, Jul 09, 2000 at 12:41:44AM +0000, Bolan Meek wrote:
> When the constitutional protest was first brought up, DC 4.1.5 was quoted,
> and it sure satisfied me as being proof.  

then you are easily satisfied.

> I don't think we need to continue a "is so!", "is not!", "is so!", ...
> exchange.

you then proceed with a few hundred lines of your "is so!".

> [...92 lines of "is so!" deleted...]
> 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.

they are far more important. what you say here highlights what many of
us feared when the idea of developing a constitution and becoming a
democracy was first discussed....that bureacracy and rules would replace
pragmatism bog debian down.  John's proposal highlights another fear
about it too - that those rules would be used as a weapon by some to
exclude the work of others. unfortunately, this was probably inevitable
and the only way to fight those who would would do this is to use those
same rules against them. catch-22. damned if you do, damned if you

as for irrelevancy, your comments that i didn't bother to address were
only tangential to this - if they were somehow pointed then it was hard
to see through the verbosity and waffle.

> [...27 more lines of "is so!" deleted...]

> > 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.

no, i did not miss that point. i dismiss it. it is false. we had the
social contract and the DFSG long before we had a constitution. debian
survived and prospered without a constitution and without a formal
definition of democratic process...we worked on rough consensus and
working code and the rare vote to resolve contentious issues - all
without a bunch of rules for people to use as a weapon to exclude the
work of others.

it's too late now, there's no going back but adopting the constitution
(any constitution, our one isn't particularly bad) was a mistake.

> > 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.  

then you are seeing only what you wish to see. he wants to delete one of
the promises made and you don't see that as reneging. fine. wear your
blinkers but please don't pretend to any kind of accuracy.

> 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.

wilful misinterpretation. some try to say that the social contract does
not promise to provide (future tense) non-free archives, that it only
promises that we *have* done so (past tense) in the past. this is absurd
and very poor understanding (more likely deliberate misunderstanding) of
language - promises are not a boast about what has been done, they are
an offer of what WILL be done. there is an inherent future tense in a

the argument that john's proposal is not breaking any promises rests on
deceiving yourself and others that even though every other clause in the
social contract is a promise of what we will do, somehow the clause that
mentions non-free is conveniently just a minor footnote about what we
have done.

if you can bring yourself to believe that, then you can believe anything
and practice a very dishonest "flexibility" with truth.

> I believe that John is attempting to fulfill what he sees _is_ our
> obligation under

john is attempting to inflict his personal sense of morality on everyone
else, and like any "Holy Crusader" believes that notions of truth and
decency are trivial compared to enforcing "moral" behaviour. the lies
uttered and the damage done don't matter as long as righteousness wins
the day.

crusaders of any kind disgust me. tolerance is alien to them. their
fanatacism and zealotry is obscene, even in a mostly harmless political
backwater like debian where no lives are at stake.

> [more "is so!" lines deleted. i forgot to count them]

> > 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?   

i have proven it. you choose not to see (must be those blinkers again).
a constitution is, by definition, a list of enumerated powers. if
something is not listed then it is not permitted.

> [more "is so!" lines deleted. i forgot to count them again]

> 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.  

john's GR does not offer to do it in a different way. it proposes to
dump support for non-free entirely...in later argument he suggests that
perhaps someone else will pick up the responsibility for that promise
(with the subtext of "who cares, anyway? it's not our problem").

Anthony's amendment to John's GR does offer to do it in a different way.
while i'm not in favour of modifying the social contract or the DFSG
at all, i'm not specifically against Anthony's amendment. it at least
strives to clarify the original intention of the social contract, rather
than delete some of the promises made.

> 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.

except by their own self-judgement, crusaders are inherently
amoral...even immoral. it was john who attempted to claim the moral
high-ground with his "it's the moral thing to do" line, so there should
be no great surprise that many find amoral intolerance masquerading as
"morality" to be deeply offensive, indeed dangerous.


craig sanders

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