Re: Rules & Regs Violation
From: Martin Sheehy (
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2006 17:48:28 -0700 (PDT)
Yes. Rules.
   I suppose society functions better w/ them than w/o.
  Ten Commandments, and all that.
  Pity we have to keep adding to them. Playing God are we? It's nice to be a 

ken <gebser [at]> wrote:
  Fillard Rhyne wrote:
> Ken and Thomas have brought up some good points -- e.g., rules work
> best when there are very good reasons for them, and there are clear
> benefits to a non-restrictive approach.

Thanks for that. Having lived in highly regulated environments, it's
good to hear someone acknowledge that humanity should play a role in our
lives too.

> That said, the whole point of having a rule is to express a
> *decision* -- an agreement -- that the community members have made in
> the past and are therefore responsible for following in the present.
> If someone feels a rule should be changed, the burden should fall to
> them to bring it to the community membership (or to an appropriate
> committee or whatever), make a good case, and inspire a new decision.

I wouldn't disagree with this. Having been a member of several
organizations and witnessed the workings of many others (including IC
meetings), it's more than apparent that not everyone attends, even some
of those who attend are too timid to speak their minds before a group,
especially when it doesn't look like it'll serve any purpose, and that
some decisions aren't given sufficient thought before they're made.
Point is, not every community decision can be construed as a point of
personal honor for every member of the community.

Having voiced one side, I'll voice the other side also.

I sincerely feel that it happens entirely too often that people say one
thing and do another. The sophistication of our society and language
are in large measure what make us human. We aren't really very human
without the ability to conclude and keep agreements.

In 'The Tyranny of Structurelessness' Jo Freeman makes a very persuasive
argument for rules-- as opposed to taboos, an oral tradition, and other
relics from the mythic tradition. There should be a way better than
rules for communities and societies to function, but until there is, we
have to live with rules, some or most of which we never agreed to.

As for the particular situation with the member with the satellite
dish... if there's no agreement in place specifying how to deal with
infractions, that would make enforcement difficult. It would also seem
hard to put such an agreement on sanctions in place at this point in the
process. I doubt that the guy with the dish is going to agree to
anything else, especially how he should be sanctioned. This points up
why having good reasons for a rule are helpful: revisiting the rule can
show the person that s/he's being unreasonable and not really thinking
about the consequences of not following the rule.

> What sometimes happens instead is someone effectively says, "I'm
> going to violate this agreement until another community member
> sacrifices their valuable time dredging up the necessary arguments
> and convincing me that the agreement is a good one." That puts the
> burden in the wrong place. Making a decision should *settle* a matter
> so people can get on with their lives rather than constantly get
> dragged back into old discussions.
> It _is_ good to explain things and to answer questions so that people
> can understand why things are the way they are and hopefully be at
> peace (or suggest changes).
> (Anne -- With regard to your original question, it sounds like Rob
> and Ann have some useful ideas for looking at community values and
> exploring whether the satellite dish is merely a symptom of a deeper
> problem -- important to know and deal with -- and Sharon has a good
> idea for creating a bottom-line enforcement mechanism. I'm not sure I
> have anything to add.)
> Fillard 503-777-0117
> "We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!" - The
> Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 
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