META: Action on Gun Moratorium
Fri, 18 Jun 1999 19:16:30 EDT

I'm announcing publicly the action I'm taking on the gun moratorium. I agree with Eliezer that this shouldn't be taken too seriously. It is, after all, just an e-mail list. However, I believe it is important to make clear the rationale for the action I'm taking. The following is based on posts made through June 15.

First, I've decided to extend an amnesty regarding all posts on the
"High-tech weapons" and "G*n cam" threads. Replies to the private emails I
sent to some of the posters on these threads convinced me that the over-all approach to that subject was taken in good faith as not being within the ambit of the moratorium (i.e. beyond the subject of gun RIGHTS) and, in fact with only one exception, the posts appeared to be civil and to avoid the kind of pointless and personalistic squabbling that precipitated the current problem. I did not contact every poster on these threads, because it was becoming clear as the last week progressed that it would be unfair to sanction posters who were carrying on a discussion they clearly believed in good faith was exempt from the moratorium. I will note that I considered this thread to have been within the moratorium but, so long as posters continue to limit discussion to technological issues, will not consider it such hereafter. However, any posts in that thread (or any other) that violate the general guidelines of the list calling for polite discourse will be subject to the normal sanctions of unsubscription upon receipt of a complaint. In this regard, please remember that all list posters have the right to seek unsubscription of indivduals they believe have transgressed the bounds of civility.

Second, postings in the "Fear of Guns vs. Fear of No Guns" thread were clear violations of the temporary moratorium. Checking my records, I find that I contacted each poster in that thread. Tim Bates responded that he had not seen the moratorium announcement and made his case credible by not subsequently posting in that thread or other gun threads. Accordingly, I'm taking no action against Tim. The other posters in that thread either did not respond to my personal emails or did not plead ignorance. Accordingly, a sanctioning action will be taken against, and I trust that no one will accuse me of partisanship in this matter, as EvMick is one of my favorite people on the list -- I really enjoy tracking his travels as the only transhuman trucker discovered to date.

Because the moratorium by and large had the effect of dampening the unpleasant and obsessively numerous postings in the guns thread, I am going to reduce the originally-announced sanction from a three-month to a one-month suspension. If ExI is able to implement a moderated or otherwise better-structured list in the meantime, the sanctioned individuals will be invited to resubscribe at that time. Otherwise, I will invite these posters to resubscribe one month hence.

Having announced this action, I feel obliged to ask that each member of this list community please take the personal responsibility to avoid the kind of nasty, personalistic or obsessive posting that precipitated this problem in the first place. I personally believe that a discussion of gun rights is perfectly proper on this list. However, undertaking a crusade that involves posting as many as dozens of messages per day, day after day, is just the kind of inflammatory tactic that can ruin an online community. Personalistic slurs and foul language are clearly prohibited on this list and are subject to on-going rules calling for unsubscription of individuals who engage in this sort of verbal behavior.

Letting someone you consider wrong or even evil have the last word is a lot less damaging to your cause than prolonging a pointless exercise in name-calling. Please consider that drafting and posting a well-reasoned summation of your views is much more persuasive than engaging in a prolonged campaign of name-calling, no matter how eloquent or entertaining to you the name-calling may be.

     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