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Re: supermajority options

On Thursday, November 21, 2002, at 12:03 PM, Branden Robinson wrote:

Arguably, if the system you have mostly works (which it apparently

It does?  Having a General Resolution on hold for over two years

It mostly works, in the sense that we have one of the best --- if not the best --- linux distributions out there, and soon the said will be said of other kernels. It works in the sense that our users are generally happy.

There are certainly rough edges, and our voting system is one of them.

I can't think of a better procedural method.

Failure of personal imagination is a pretty weak argument.

Certainly. At the end of the day, we have to have something. I'd like it to be something more than my failed imagination, as you put it.

I'd _love_ to say "supermajorities suck, X is much better" but unfortunately I can't utter the second clause.

And there is definitely something to be said for stability; I don't
think you'd want the people with the left hand glued to their ---
well, we both know where that goes --- yelling YEAH, BABY! FRESH
COMMITS! of the Debian Constitution.

I was making a very exaggerated joke to try and demonstrate that there is some virtue to stability. Sorry for stealing your monopoly on jokes that don't quite go off well.

Assume for a moment that non-free does get removed, and we decide that can be done by simple majority. Assume the developers are closely divided. It is possible then that non-free's existence would flap every few weeks; all it takes is a few developers changing their minds. Or --- quite possibly --- someone who supported non-free but didn't bother to vote suddenly deciding to cast a vote.

I lean towards the side that says dampening this flapping is a good thing, though I dare not lean far: I realize that it is quite possible for this to lead to minority rule. I think this addresses the next three paragraphs, which I have snipped for brevity.

Those who assert that we cannot amend or withdraw non-technical
documents, because the Constitution countenances only the "issuing"
of them (4.1.5) would logically have to conclude that "amendment" of
the Constitution (4.1.2) does not include its own abandonment.

Straw man! Non sequitor! A bunch of other Latin words!

Those terms have meanings, and you're misapplying them.

I beg to differ. I believe my example amendment below shows that a strict reading of "issuing" and "amendment" does not lead to the conclusion that the Constitution can not be abandoned; hence it does not follow; hence "non sequitor."

I also fail to find the connection between the definition of "issuing" and the definition of "amendment"; to quote www.m-w.com:

    issue: 2a to put forth or distribute usually officially
           <government issued a new airmail stamp> <issue orders>

    amend: ... 2b to alter especially in phraseology; especially :
           to alter formally by modification, deletion, or addition
           <amend the constitution>

Notice that amending specifically includes deletion. Issuing does not. Therefor, I find arguing against people who assert the strict definition of "issue" by saying the Constitution would not allow for its own abandonment through "amendment" to be a straw man. I do not believe that is their position, nor do I believe it follows logically from their position.

An amendment worded:
   A) The entirety of the Debian Constitution is hereby struck and
      replaced as follows in section (B)
   B) "First post!"
      1) Hot grits!
      2) Natalie Portman!
      3) L1n0X R0cK$!
   C) Sections shall be renumbered as appropriate
does indeed leave the "Debian Constitution," but in name only.

Is a repeal in everything but name a repeal or not?  When is a rose a

Well, according to m-w.com again, repeal is "to rescind or annul by authoritative act." It would certainly be an annulment (to be even more explicit, the text could be replaced with 'this document is null and void'), so I'd have to say "yes, it is a repeal." And thus I can come up with no reading of the Constitution that does not allow for its own repeal.

Also, the IETF only issues new technical documents, but somehow manages
to get along. We could, under the letter of the current Constitution,
issue a Debian Social Contract, v2.0. And then change policy to comply
with it.

I suggest you ask the Project Secretary's opinion before pursuing this
line of reasoning too far (7.1.3).

If the secretary doesn't chime in to this thread, I'll try and remember to ask. I'll also do some thorough searching to see if I can find it mentioned previously.

[1] http://www.democ.uci.edu/democ/papers/McGann02.pdf

Thanks for the link --- it's on the reading list.

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