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Coming up with a new Oracle (was: Re: First call for votes for the Lenny release GR)

On Mon, Jan 05, 2009 at 02:07:08PM +0100, Raphael Hertzog wrote:
> Can we stop this absurd discussion/reasoning?

I don't believe it is absurd.  But reading some of the private replies I've
already got to my other mail, it seems my motivation for this discussion has
not been obvious.

To me, this discussion is not (and has not been for several weeks) about who
was right and who was wrong about the recent events.  In the main, I have been
trying to understand the position of the people whose understanding of the
Constitution obviously differs from mine in a significant way, and to find the
extent of our disagreement.  That requires, among other things, poking around
in the other person's arguments and try to see whether the flaws I perceive in
them are actual flaws in the argument or in my understanding of the argument.
(I do also sometimes strongly express that I disagree on some point, mainly as
a response to an assertion which, if left uncontested, might be seen as a
consensus position.)

The big goal, for me at least, and hopefully for the other participants, is an
eventual agreement on what the constitution says, or alternatively, a broadly
accepted amendment of the constitution that clarifies unclear matters and
settles the major disputes.  Now is not the time to start the formal process
for amending the consitution, but we may as well explore the issues while we
concentrate on other matters.

It may be that -vote is not the correct list for this discussion.  If so, we
may as well move it to another list.  Moving it to private mail, as some people
have suggested to me, would be counterproductive, as private discussion leaves
no public record and it is also not open for non-participants to become

> There's a context behind all this and discussing things while ignoring the
> context is useless.

I do not ignore the context, but at the same time, I see no point in addressing
it in every mail, where the context is not the point of the message.

> Your lawerish-like interpretation of everything that happens in Debian

(I assume that was a typo for "lawyerish".)

For the record, I am offended by this description (not so much the reference to
lawyering, though I'm sure you intended it as an insult, but that you seem to
think I interpret the bug reports I receive in a lawyer-like fashion).

> BTW, the context is 4.1.5 in our constitution: "Issue, supersede and
> withdraw nontechnical policy documents and statements."
> So by default, we issue "policy documents" and "statements" (or position
> statements). The special case is the modification of the foundation
> document, and to meet that case, you have to be explicit about it.

I see nothing in the Constitution that says that point 5 in section 4.1 is the
default if another point is not explicitly invoked.  But perhaps pointing this
out would be more of my "lawerish-like [sic] interpretation of everything that
happens in Debian".

To explain my point further:

To determine which point is being invoked requires assessing the matter as a whole.
It is simplest when the GR proposal actually says which point it intends to
invoke, but even then the proposal may have it wrong.  It is quite possible that
the proposal's declaration of its purpose is inconsistent with what it actually
does - in that case, it would be ridiculous to insist that the declared purpose
trumps the facts of the matter.  When the proposal does not say which power of
the developers by way of general resolution is being invoked, the matter may be
a bit more difficult.  In any case, one must *think* about it, and determine
what the actual effects of the proposal are (and not what it says its effects
are - remember the "editorial changes").

Now, it is quite possible for reasonable people to come to different
conclusions of fact and interpret the Constitution differently.  In the case of
such a situation, we need some oracle, one that everyone respects, that
pronounces the Official Truth and the Official Interpretation.  The current
Constitution says that this Oracle is the Secretary, but since it is obvious
the position of Secretary is no longer generally trusted with that power, we
come back to the issue at hand - and to the initial paragraphs of this email.

Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho, Jyväskylä, Finland

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