Re: c-r list: abuse & purpose


Richard Moore

Dear c-r,

Arun said:
>I really think we should all just take a step back and examine
>the value of this list to us.
> ...The path that Richard has embarked on
>will break up this list...

        Perhaps, but I doubt it.  I DO hope that the list is "shaken up" a
bit, and that we have a healthy discussion of what the purpose of the list
shall be in the future -- not just by a select elite but by the whole
membership.  If we are to formally abandon our original charter, I believe
everyone should be aware and have a voice in the decision.  Here is that
original charter:


                       To Form a CPSR Working Group

                                30 March 95

Name of proposed Working Group:

                Campaign for Citizen Rights in Cyberspace

Proposed Working Group Chair:

                Richard K. Moore <•••@••.•••>

Proposed Liasion to CPSR Board:

                Doug Schuler <•••@••.•••>


          To educate the global public about the democratic potential
          of networked communications, and about threats to that

          To seek to build coalitions with other public-service
          organizations and progressive constituencies to further
          our educational program; to influence public policy, on
          a global scale, in support of the open, democratic
          develpment of Cyberspace in the Information Age.

CPSR members who support this petition, and who wish to serve as Working
Group members:

        Lee Dallaire <•••@••.•••>
        David A. Hirsch < •••@••.•••>
        Craig A. Johnson <•••@••.•••>
        David McNickle <•••@••.•••>
        Aditya Mishra <•••@••.•••>
        Richard K. Moore <•••@••.•••>
        Doug Schuler <•••@••.•••>
        Stuart Shapiro <•••@••.•••>
        T. Bruce Tober <•••@••.•••>
       [Andy Oram <•••@••.•••> -- added later as campaign Chairman]

        This is what's "on paper".  In FACT the WG (Working Group) has
never functioned as a body, and was never intended to.  It was assembled in
order to meet the formal criteria for creating a CPSR WG: the c-r list AS A
WHOLE was understood to be the actual "activist group" which was to take
positions, issue statements, and promote coalitions.  This was understood
by everyone involved at the time, and was reflected in the general postings
to the list.

        There was no co-leader team until months later, and this team was
NOT set up to replace the WG -- it was simply some (very welcome)
volunteers from the list who responded to my request for help in
maintaining the web site, forwarding bulletins from telecom lists, etc.

        Life being life, things have evolved otherwise than originally
envisioned.  In order to have more time to act as an individual
contributor, I passed the moderator & chairmanship batons over to Andy,
gave the other co-leaders posting privileges, and we ended up in the
current situation.  Now the other co-leaders evidently believe that (1)
they ARE the Cyber Rights Campaign, and (2) it is infeasible for the entire
list membership to say or do or agree on anything -- the list is now
evidently perceived as nothing but a distribution list for bulletins.

        This didn't seem to be the case when the entire list focus was on
CDA, which was VERY recently indeed.  No one discouraged the idea of list
consensus and action then.  Suddenly when economic issues are being raised,
as they should be, we see a desire expressed to discourage "list activism",
and to restrict activism to individuals, the co-leader clique, ad-hoc small
groups, and the parent CPSR body.  I can only presume that this sudden
shift in organzational perspective, and the emphasis on co-leader
prerogatives, is ideologically based.

Arun goes on:
>What I think we have here, is a fundamental difference in opinion between
>(at least) two camps on cyber-rights. Richard and some others feel that
>these telecom "robber barons" will raise rates, kill mailing lists and the
>free spirit of the Internet. Many on the list, including me, don't think
>that will happen. Richard is convinced there is a conspiracy between
>government and the telcos, while some of us fail to see evidence of this.

        Here we see the underlying ideological issue openly expressed.  My
point is that this issue (and the organizational one) needs to be discussed
rationally on the list, not suppressed by abusive and dictatorial moderator

        The document that sparked the formation of the cyber-rights list
was my analysis of PFF's Magna Carta.  The issues there were ENTIRELY
economic and monopolist -- nothing to do with censorship -- and that's what
brought the original list together.  The Magna Carta monopolist agenda has
been playing out exactly as stated, is embodied in the Telecom bill, and
came about by corporate domination of the legislative process.  MANY
follow-up analyses have been posted re/monopolism, including these recent
2/7     - The New(t) Telecomm Agenda: cable sells out to telcos (Layman)
3/11    - Re: Cyber-Rights position on ISP charges
3/13    - re: Copyright reform
3/28    - Re: Circuits? Circuits?
3/19    - Speculations re/ Cyberpace Inc economics
4/2     - James Boyle: "Sold Out"
4/5     - monopolies> Baby Bell Merger(s)

        For Arun to say "some of us fail to see evidence" beggars
comprehension.  No one has attempted to refute these analyses -- they've
been simply IGNORED by the other co-leaders.  Certainly I don't expect
everyone to agree to these viewpoints, but they do raise the central issues
of the future of cyberspace, and deserve to be earnestly discussed.  For
the co-leaders to persistently ignore such fundamental issues is in my
opinion a passive-aggressive means of controlling the list agenda.  And to
say "no evidence" exists I find insulting in the extreme.


Arun returns to the "abuse" issue:
>I personally don't care for vitriol aimed at persons one is discussing
>with. I don't think it is helpful, it wastes a lot of time and bandwidth.

        Evidently we're in agreement on this.  In addition, _I_ believe
that "don't care for" is not strong enough when it comes to moderator

>Richard, I don't think Craig has a problem with criticism -- do you??

        Few of us enjoy criticism -- certainly I don't.  By "problem" I
refer to a failure to address the issues of the criticism or disagreement,
and a tendency instead to respond primarily with personal abuse.  I see
this as "having a problem" -- attempting to shut-up the opponent and stifle

>I have seen Craig get angry, but only when he thinks
>individual actions are threatening the credibility of the list.

        I'm sorry, but an issue being important is not an acceptable excuse
for abuse.  In fact, it is Craig's credibility and effectiveness that is
most reduced by his occasional anger-beclouded non-substantive statements.
These are only occasional -- let's be clear on that -- but I believe the
chilling effect on participation persists.

>Now Richard, I'm sure you too see the list as a useful launching pad, only
>Marilyn and you would like to send a payload of, um, something some of us do
>not approve of.

        Let's clear this one up right now.  I posted an analysis (re:
"Straits of Consumption") with no suggestion (or intent) of that being a
"draft c-r statement" of any kind.  I hoped only that it would spark some
substantive debate.  Marilyn's initiative caught me completely by surprise,
was not well thought out (IMHO -- sorry Marilyn), and I was not intending
to endorse it.  Only when Andy picked it up and revised it into his own
consensus proposal, did I say I'd support _that_.  Marilyn and I have
_never_ exchanged messages (that I recall) and are not in cahoots about

>Richard, you too are a
>democratic-minded person, so I will request you to drop this thread.

        Whoa!  I'm not quite sure what thread you mean, but I would prefer
NOT to drop any of the following:
        1) re: monopolist telecom regime
        2) re: cyber-rights entertaining possible consensus statements
        3) re: the underlying substance of Marilyn's proposal

        There has been no democratic process or rational debate that has
rejected any of the above threads.

>Why can't we agree that for any issue on which we would like action to be
>taken, the group in favour takes it up with the cpsr board, without
>claiming list consensus unless there genuinely is consensus. Basically,
>the list stays for discussion only...

        OF COURSE list consensus can only be claimed if it is genuine.  NO
ONE ever suggested otherwise -- despite the co-leader defensiveness re/
such a possibility.  Marilyn saw my posting, and since I'm a co-leader, she
can be forgiven for assuming that perhaps there was some agreement behind
it.  Furthermore, the initial on-list responses (from David Bennahum and
Charles Bell) _seemed_ to underscore a sense of agreement.  Being a
marketing person, it was a valid contribution on Marilyn's part to try to
turn perceived agreement into some kind of ACTION.  As soon as she learned
disagreement existed, she dropped the initiative.

        This issue of "acting irresponsibly in the name of Cyber Rights"
can only be ascribed to co-leader paranoia and misunderstanding, and IT is
the thread that should be dropped, IMHO.  As for the list being "discussion
only": that is up for debate.