Objection Versus Extortion
From: R Philip Dowds (rpdowdscomcast.net)
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 2011 18:09:15 -0700 (PDT)
Here's an interesting consensus / blocking dynamic that has emerged at our 

Group One proposes A and B.  Person X thinks that A is unnecessary, and B is 
actually harmful.  Person X blocks the proposal.  Whether Person X is of sound 
reasoning and good intent is sometimes debatable.  But in our Cornerstone 
consensus system, Person X has filed a legitimate objection — one of power, and 
needing respectful treatment.

But now Group Two proposes C and D.  Neither Person X, nor anyone else in the 
community, has any significant objection to C and D.  However, Person X is 
upset that the Group Two proposal does not also include E.  And until and 
unless E is included, Person X will continue blocking C and D.  And maybe also 
F & G as well.

In this second example, I would say we are not seeing a legitimate objection.  
We are seeing extortion.  It's like Congress: I will thwart your education 
funding until you agree to pay for my bridge to nowhere.  This dynamic leaves 
me feeling unsettled.  Is this really OK for coho consensus?

I would argue that if Person X has no gripe with C and D, s/he should up-thumb 
it.  This would be intellectually and ethically honest, and permits the 
community to proceed with something everyone finds valuable.  And then if 
Person X still feels strongly about getting E as well, the s/he should form 
Group Three, and develop his/her own proposal for same.

Comments?  Thanks.

R Philip Dowds AIA
Cornerstone Cohousing
175 Harvey Street, Unit 5
Cambridge, MA 02140

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