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[ga] My last post on list rules

On Sat, Feb 12, 2000 at 09:27:33AM -0600, Weisberg wrote:
> Sanctioning the form of speech (i.e. how people choose to express their
> points) is a slippery slope with no easy landing.

The "fallacy of the slippery slope": you first assume that there is some
form of gravity that will cause Harald to inevitably become a dictator;
you further assume that there are no countervailing forces, in case such
a gravity were to exist.  Both assumptions are simply assumptions. 

> It is very difficult to
> explain why Mr.  Williams post required sanction while Mr.  Crispin's
> did not. 

It seems pretty clear to me -- I very carefully chose my words, and I
very carefully avoided any direct insult.  However, it's possible that
Harald might disagree, if someone were to complain, and I might be
warned, or banished for some period, as a result.  In such a case it is
my own fault for straying too far, and I would live with the

> I oppose sanctions for either.

Sanctions could be possibly imposed on either.  In fact, sanctions 
could reasonably be imposed on *this* message, if it were part of a 
long, tiresome off-topic thread ;-).

We put a human in the loop for precisely the same reason that the US
legal system has judges and juries, even though we in theory are a
"government of laws, not men".  There is no mechanical substitute
available for human judgement; we need humans in such positions; such
positions are positions that have a lot of responsibility associated
with them.  I made a judgement concerning how my post fit in the list
rules; it's possible that my judgement doesn't accord with Harald's.  If
so, I will either campaign to get Harald removed, or moderate my
behavior.  In fact I have a great deal of respect for Harald's fairness,
so I would do the latter.

To repeat: No set of rules can completely and unambiguously define
acceptable human behavior in a forum.  Human judgement is required. 
This is always the case -- there is, in fact, no such thing as a totally
unconstrained forum.  Abusive behavior, at some threshold, is *always*
enjoined.  At an extreme, you can't shoot your opponents in the debate;
you can't mailbomb your opponents in the debate, or hack their
workstation.  Human judgement makes those rules, always -- it is simply
incoherent to say otherwise.  We have established a provisional set of 
rules, and put a human in the loop.  The bar now has a "no spitting" 
sign, and a bouncer. [To alter the metaphor only slightly :-)]

> Subjective evaluation of style is unnecessary
> and has a chilling effect.

To the contrary, some subjective evaluation of style is necessary. 


Kent Crispin                               "Do good, and you'll be
kent@songbird.com                           lonesome." -- Mark Twain
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