Re: Greg Burch: Time to Act
Fri, 18 Jun 1999 09:05:46 EDT

I've come to a decision about enforcement of the temporary moratorium on discussion of gun rights. This decision has been approved by Max More and will be implemented today. Because I have to be away from the net during the day today and I don't want to publicly announce the result of this action until it has been implemented, look for a report on this action and a brief explanation of it this evening.

In the meantime before I hop on an airplane this morning, some meta-meta-comments:

In a message dated 99-06-17 21:30:44 EDT, (Harvey Newstrom) wrote:

> Just to clarify, I have not prepared anything other than postings that have

> appeared on this list. I'm not sure which of these postings rises to the
> level of "indictment" or why ExI would need anybody's help in determining
> who has posted what to this list. Greg seems to be expanding the simple
> process of moderating the mailing list into full-blown court drama.

I apologize for the use of a word, Harvey that is very much in the idiom of my personal and professional life. Let me note that in fact what you and Jeff did was very much, however, in the spirit of private law enforcement that at least some extropians are quite interested in. The custom of private prosecution of criminal law was an old one in the English common law and continued in the US until into this century in some places. Those who oppose an overly-powerful centralized state today have come to appreciate that private tort actions serve a similar function. (For instance, my own thinking about the positive value of private tort enforcement has evolved significantly over the last decade as I have become increasingly libertarian in my political philosophy.)

As for having a "full-blown court drama", let me offer some brief observations about the process. Libertarians (in the most general sense of the word) need to be flexible. When you condemn authoritarianism, you necessarily have to embrace the fact that social systems should be able to respond flexibly to evolving facts. As a result, due process becomes a very high value to libertarians.

Yes, this list "belongs" to ExI and it is therefore private property. As officers of ExI, Max and I can basically do whatever we want with the list, I suppose. But if we exercise this "authority" arbitrarily and unfairly, we will pay a price: People will freely choose to cease to associate themselves with ExI and the organization will suffer as its membership and influence dwindles. Therefore, both Max and I place a high value on PROCESS: We try to get input from the people who are effected and others whose opinions we value before we take actions that effect the community that has gathered around extropian ideas and values. In this regard, consider that it may be no coincidence that ExI has had lawyers involved in it from its inception.

We didn't impose a temporary moratorium on discussion of gun rights lightly or thoughtlessly and, when it turned out that enforcing it required listening to what people had to say about it, we didn't reflexively act to unsubscribe every poster who had mentioned the word "guns" in a post. Instead, as the person charged with managing this temporary problem, I ended up having to consider what the purpose of the temporary moratorium was, also consider the knowledge and intentions of the people who might be sanctioned under it, and finally consult with Max before taking action. This has taken time during a week when I was much busier than I had anticipated I would be.

Finally, to put this all in context: This IS just an email list and we all have important work to do in our day-to-day lives (for many of us, work that actually involves moving the transhumanist agenda forward bit by bit -- pun intended). If each poster will make an effort to be civil, annoying distractions like this won't be common and we can get on with our lives.

     Greg Burch     <>----<>
     Attorney  :::  Vice President, Extropy Institute  :::  Wilderness Guide   -or-
                         "Civilization is protest against nature; 
                  progress requires us to take control of evolution."
                                      -- Thomas Huxley