Agenda item 10: Citizens and non-citizens

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Ashcroft Burnham
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Post by Ashcroft Burnham »

[quote="Aliasi Stonebender":20mu1l9n]Because we don't [i:20mu1l9n]know[/i:20mu1l9n] that they've been defrauded. Most griefer cases are very simple; if there's a hundred banana-phones filling the Platz, and they all have the name of a certain avatar, it's an open-and-shut case. [/quote:20mu1l9n]

Alasi, that's the whole point of having a trial court system in the first place. It is the only fair way of answering "has this person been defrauded by this other person?" sort of questions. There is no reason why it should be any less capable of answering it in relation to non-citizens than in relation to citizens.
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Post by Diderot Mirabeau »

Aliasi, Fernando and Gxeremio have laid out a number of perfectly good reasons why having courts with a jurisdiction that functions like an attachment worn by CDS citizen avatars is potentially problematic.

It should be plain for anyone to see that the issues they raise deserve consideration beyond rhetorically sweeping arguments.
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Fernando Book
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Post by Fernando Book »

[quote="Ashcroft Burnham":ail62mi5] Look at it this way: if we were not a democracy with a judiciary, but just a group of people with a common interest sharing a sim, would we not want to ban people who had, for example, defrauded our citizens elsewhere? Why should we allow such people onto our territory?[/quote:ail62mi5]
Yes, but as we have configured ourselves like an State, we should follow State-like procedures. The leave to enter a country depends (despite Aliasi) on its executive (it's that way in the [url= ... 1:ail62mi5]UK[/url:ail62mi5], [url= ... 6:ail62mi5]Spain[/url:ail62mi5], [url= ... f:ail62mi5]France[/url:ail62mi5] or the [url= ... l:ail62mi5]US[/url:ail62mi5]), of course according to the law, but with a great space for discretionality, and subject, but not always, to the supervision of the courts.

If we want to ban a notorious fraudster (and I'm not saying it would be a good measure, even a practical one), it's an executive job. Our courts have no jurisdiction outside our frontiers. And, also, I'm very reluctant to judge someone [i:ail62mi5]in absentia[/i:ail62mi5].
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Post by Flyingroc Chung »

People interested in this citizen vs non-citizen debate might want to [url= ... 9:12wo6t6a]take a look at this old thread[/url:12wo6t6a].
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Aliasi Stonebender
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Post by Aliasi Stonebender »

[quote="Ashcroft Burnham":1lpdz6ew]
Alasi, that's the whole point of having a trial court system in the first place. It is the only fair way of answering "has this person been defrauded by this other person?" sort of questions. There is no reason why it should be any less capable of answering it in relation to non-citizens than in relation to citizens.[/quote:1lpdz6ew]

You did [i:1lpdz6ew]read[/i:1lpdz6ew] my reply, right? It's less capable because it didn't happen where we have any view or control of the matter.
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Post by Beathan »

In his previous post "On Enforcability" (yes, I actually did read the thousand or so pages I said I read), Ash made the following point on enforcement against noncitizens

[quote:2r946hnk]Against any individual except for the estate owner, we have the power of banishment. That applies to an avatar and not a human, and it is always possible to create alternative accounts. For non-citizens, the only disincentive to do this is the amount of time and effort that it takes to create a new account. That time and effort is not huge, but not wholly trivial. A casual griefer may well find it easier to go and grief somewhere else than repetatively create new accounts and be banned here. A non-citizen who has a real grudge against us might be able to come back repeatedly with different alternative accounts and cause problems, but, fortunately, we have not had that occurring yet. That is a problem, however, common to all of SecondLife, and does not pose a sufficient threat to stability by itself to render our systems pointless or unworkable, especially since the motivation for a person to be so persistent in relation to our relatively low-traffic and remote sims is likely to be lacking.

Ash is still making this point. In that thread, Aliasi responded

[quote:2r946hnk]On the other hand, your argument has no validity in the wider context of the world (what duty to law? I never agreed to it!), and I would argue it is limited in strength even within the CDS. The founding documents and philosophy as expressed in the Constitution and the Universial Declaration of Human Rights are more fundamental than mere law, forming a moral code. Should, through some occurence, individuals who do not uphold these things gain positions in the government, I hold that the true duty of the individual citizen would be to disregard the actions of those individuals, i.e., the laws they pass, and to accept punishment or not as morality dictates.

In a practical sense, punishment will always be accepted - if only by the banning of such "miscreants" from the sim. On the other hand, every citizen banned is another source of income denied, and thus one would hope that the voting of wallets provide a disincentive to this 'doomsday' scenario - provided the members of government retain even a moderate amount of self-interest! Thus, the conception of the CDS itself as a business that provides a service, as opposed to a sovereign nation. As Desmond Shang is so fond of pointing out, the only person truly sovereign in the technical sense in the CDS is whomever pulls the strings of Rudeen Edo - although that person, too, is driven by self-interest - the desire to not pay US$195 a month by themselves, if nothing else.[/quote:2r946hnk]

In response, Ash made a hard-line legalistic argument. [quote:2r946hnk]Why? The whole purpose of having government or law is to make binding resolutions of disputes between people as to what ought and ought not be done. That purpose is incapable of being served unless people ought obey law because it is law, not merely because people agree that it ought to be law. It is for the institutions of state, with all their checks and balances, to decide what ought be law, and it is for the citizens to obey the law, whether they agree with it or not, whilst always retaining the freedom to seek, though the proper channels, to have the law changed. That is what any civil soceity entails. Anything else is anarchy.


Why do you us characterise as a commercial organisation providing a commercial service merely because we have a budget and must earn revenue to continue to operate? Those facts are, after all, true of all sovereign states as well as all commercial enterprises.

The point is that we cannot succeed in acheiving the purpose for which we are earning the revenue in the first place if we ever put the earning of that revenue before the rule of law.

Aliasi responded, quite well, to Ash's hard-line legalistic point.

[quote:2r946hnk]Agreement is the only moral basis. Otherwise, a government is no different from any random gang of thugs enforcing their will on others, however 'pure' their motives. Law at its best works as a literal social contract; while perfect agreement with every law is unlikely, the contract can provide that you shall obey the lawful dictates of the society you have joined. This condition prevails in a virtual world, but not the real one, save perhaps for immigrants. But even then, I would hold no contract can obligate one to act immorally.

Besides, you've answered your own question! People do disobey the law with impunity, every day; they must simply work to not be caught, or induce the legal system to fail to prosecute. I do not mean to imply that disobedence is a virtuous act in and of itself, but rather that virtue is quite independent of law; at most the law coincides with virtue when a moral action and an action necessary for civic order happen to be the same, such as in the case of murder or theft.


At risk of Godwining this thread, that excuse wasn't good enough for the actual Germans, and it's not good enough here.

There is no state save that expressed through the actions of individuals. There is no law that can remove the reponsibility from those individuals to act in a moral fashion; the UDHR is informed by such and it is implied that in joining the CDS you find these morals acceptable. I believe they have more importance because this importance is self-evident; rights and responsibility are inherent things that cannot be 'given', but we may certainly make a formal declaration of the ones we hold most dear.

In the end, as usual, Justice stepped in and imposed reason and and end of debate.

[quote:2r946hnk]In our little corner of this virtual world the UDHR and the founding philosophy are binding law because we have agreed in our Constitution that they will take precedence above our statutory law.[/quote:2r946hnk]

So where has all this gotten us? Nowhere. We are now rehashing it. However, in that rehashing, I think we need to look to the past argument and pass judgment on it. I think that, in the end, Aliasi is quite right in saying that enforcement against noncitizens is a nonstarter -- Ash's handwaving "we aren't important enough for the problems to ever be real problems" argument aside. (That is his only argument for the idea we can enforce against noncitizens.) Either we are important enough to have noncitizens use our system, in which case we are important enough to have noncitizens abuse our system; or we are not important enough to expect noncitizens to use our system, in which case why should we have a system intended and available for use by noncitizens, especially given the complexity and imbalance added by the prospective use of our justice system by citizens and noncitizens alike?

Further, this argument showed a fundamental disconnect between people interested in rights and people interested in laws. I have pointed to this disconnect before. Ash's system, as a legalistic system, focusses on laws and claims that rights are an emerging property of laws -- so what we really want are laws, let's go get some. Aliasi's counterargument (and mine, and Rudy's) is that this is not true -- rights are rights, and we [i:2r946hnk] should [/i:2r946hnk] have them even if we [i:2r946hnk]don't [/i:2r946hnk] have them in fact. Laws are justified only insofar as they protect these rights or allow these rights to emerge. We should not just go get some laws -- we should be very careful about the laws we get so that we don't lose any rights in the process. As a sim based on the UDHR, I think the pro-rights position prevails, as a matter of the basic policy of the CDS, over the pro-laws position.

However, this is the fundamental philosophical dispute we have been talking around, without ever talking about it except in fits and starts, since I started posting (and since even before that). Perhaps we should talk about it -- doing so might wake the legalists up to what the rest of us are screaming about. (Rule of Law is good, provided it is Rule of Good Law; Rule of Bad Law is bad even though it is Rule of Law; therefore, we can't just take steps to ensure Rule of Law, we need to ensure Good Law as well, which requires that we take steps to ensure good lawmakers, including judges, and to ensure that we have the ability to get rid of bad lawmakers, including bad judges, just because they are bad lawmakers (which might be the case even if they aren't impeachable).) OTOH, perhaps we shouldn't resume this rights v. laws debate, because, as Justice indicated at the close of the Enforcability debate, this issue is already settled -- the CDS is about rights first, laws second.

However, to follow up my recommendation on how we should make judges (2 lawyers, 2 nonlawyers), this debate might help us further refine the selection process to allow us to test the various conceptions and priorities within the context of the JA. That is, we should have one pro-laws lawyer as a judge (we have one in Ash); we should have one pro-rights lawyer as a judge (we have multiple candidates available); we should have one pro-laws nonlawyer as a judge (perhaps Patroklus); we should have one pro-rights nonlawyer as a judge (perhaps anyone other than Patroklus and the lawyers). This would give us an eclectic and carefully balanced and testable judiciary.

Let's keep things simple enough to be fair, substantive enough to be effective, and insightful enough to be good.
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Pelanor Eldrich
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Yes, loser pays plus strikeout per original code...

Post by Pelanor Eldrich »

That seems like a workable solution to me. Also, for 2 non-citizens in dispute, we should offer the services of private ADR and abitration using a system of escrow. Eldrich Financial or perhaps our Treasury would be happy hold these funds as a trusted 3rd party for a very affordable rate. :)
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