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why Ian Jackson won't discuss the "disputes" document draft with me

Hi folks,

Just a brief note to those of you who have been following the "disputes
resolution" document threads.

Ian Jackson sent me an unsolicited private mail a few days ago
complaining that he was perceiving an abrasive tone in my messages
regarded his draft.

After a few private exchanges, he asked me to stop mailing him privately
on the subject.  He also gave me notice that he would not be paying any
further attention to my contributions in the public discussion, and
suggested that I would need to find a spokesperson through whom to relay
my feedback on the document.

(On the lighter side of things, almost as ironic as an unresolvable
dispute over a document about resolving disputes is being asked by a
person who sends you unsolicited private mails to stop replying to those
same mails!)

Anyway, Ian has graciously offered permission for me to repost
publicly his half of this private email exchange, which will make it
possible for people to make up their minds about how reasonable each of
us are being.

This exchange is available at:

I personally remain ready to discuss just about anything with Ian in
what I regard as a calm and professional manner (look ma, no screaming
capital letters, exclamation points, or ad hominem attacks).  However,
my effort to keep the discussion strictly on a logical and, admittedly,
fairly formalized yet candid manner appears to be more than Mr. Jackson
is willing to cope with.

I will continue to offer my perspectives on the disputes resolution
document with the frankness that I have been.  Any spectators who happen
to share my views may need to make those points independently to Mr.
Jackson for him to take them into account, since he has given me notice
that my words may be disregarded by him on the grounds of their form
rather than their content.

While Ian said in his final message to me that he'd rather this whole
exchange remained under wraps, I think it's important to the openness
that Debian touts.  In my opinion, there would have been nothing wrong
with Ian complaining about he perceived as my abrasive tone in public in
the first place.

But the main point I want to make in posting this exchange publicly is
to contrast Mr. Jackson's apparent approach to arguments with mine.  I
think it is important -- *especially* when writing formal documents like
joint resolutions -- that one work very hard not to read between the
lines when interpreting the communications of those who disagree.  While
it is not reasonable to expect machine-like, perfect rationality from
ourselves every waking moment, I think it is an ideal to which we should
aspire when undertaking the weighty role of a representative for many
voices, as Ian is doing in this proposed document.  Under such
circumstances, one must focus on the message and not the messenger as
far as one is able.  Putting aside my own occasional deep cynicism about
politics for a moment, I'd like to believe that the extent to which one
can achieve this goal of rising above personalities and perceived
careless phraseology, the more successful one will be as a political
representative.  I guess it is my task to find out which perspective of
mine -- the hopeful or the cynical -- hews closer to reality in the
Debian Project.

Thanks for your time.  Shall we get back to the draft?

G. Branden Robinson                |      To stay young requires unceasing
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      cultivation of the ability to
branden@debian.org                 |      unlearn old falsehoods.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |      -- Robert Heinlein

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