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From: Michael Slone
Subject: OFF: CFJ 1195 Dismissed
To: email@example.com (agora-official)
Date: Sat, 19 Feb 2000 14:19:08 EST
X-Mailer: Elm [revision: 212.4]
Doing what is explicitly prohibited (and possibly penalized) by
the Rules is a breach of the Rules, however if something is not
prohibited but just penalized by the Rules then doing it is not a
breach of the Rules but merely part of the Agora.
Called by: Peekee
Eligible: Anthony, Sherlock, Steve, Wes
Had their turn: Blob, Chuck, Crito, elJefe, Elysion, Harlequin, harvel,
Lee, Murphy, Wes
Already served: -
By request: Michael
On Hold: Oerjan, Palnatoke
Called by Peekee: 13 Feb 2000 12:39:48 +0000
Assigned to Wes: 13 Feb 2000 11:32:59 -0500
Dismissed by Wes: 17 Feb 2000 21:36:40 -0800
Dismissal published: As of this message
Evidence attached by the Caller:
At first glance, this Statement seems fairly straightforward, especially
in light of the various arguments and reasonings that have been put
forth in the various Agoran forums since the fateful day that the
question was first asked: "If the Rules don't actually forbid it, is
it illegal?" Of course, that question is beyond the scope of this
ruling. In fact, after examining this Statement very carefully, we
found that it's relation to the overall question is peripheral, if not
This particular Statement makes several claims. First, it claims that
"doing what is explicitly prohibited (and possibly penalized) by the
Rules is a breach of the Rules." Second, it claims that "if something
is not prohibited but just penalized by the Rules then doing it is
not a breach of the Rules." And thirdly, it claims that in such a
case, that type of action would be "merely part of Agora." We will
examine each claim one by one, and then review them to make an overall
The first claim, as it happens, is fairly straightforward. "Doing what
is explicitly prohibited (and possibly penalized) by the Rules is
a breach of the Rules." The American Heritage Dictionary of the
English Language, Third Edition defines "breach" as "a violation or
infraction, as of a law..." and go on to say that it "denotes an
act or instance of breaking a law or regulation." Quite clearly if
the Rules set a regularion, and a Player violates that regulation,
then e has breached the Rules.
The second claim, that "if something is not prohibited but just
penalized by the Rules then doing it is not a breach of the Rules"
leaves consideraby more room for interpretation. Key to understanding
this statement is deciding the difference between "prohibited" and
"penalized," if any.
Both the Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary and the Heritage
Dictionary of the English Language agree, word for word, that to
"prohibit" is "to forbid by authority." Both also go on to describe
an alternate definition of "to prevent or preclude." If the second
definition is used, then to perform an action that one is prevented
from performing would be impossible, thus we shall rely upon the
first definition for purposes of this Judgement.
Even armed, however, with this definition of "prohibit," we are hard
pressed to determine what is actually prohibited by the Rules. Now,
if the Statement we were working with were to say "explicitly prohibit,"
well, that would make this task much, much easier. But since the
Statement itself allows for those actions which are implicitly
prohibited, we must therefore allow for that possibility when rendering
Judgement. The dictionary certainly makes no claim that we can find
requiring any prohibition to be formal or explicit. In fact, it
specifically mentions as example the common law that prohibits stealing,
which Kelly has adequately pointed out oftentimes does not explicitly
forbid the activity. Thus implicit prohibitions are included in this
The word "penalty" seems best described by the Heritage Dictionary of
the English Language as "1. A punishment established by law or authority
for a crime or an offense. 2. Something, especially a sum of money,
required as a forfeit for an offense. 3. The disadvantage or painful
consequences resulting from an action or a condition: neglected his
health and paid the penalty." A very broad definition to say the least.
In a legal sense, the first two are very closely related, differing
only in the subtle target of the reference while tying into the same
act or situation. The third definition would seem to apply more to a
practical or moral situation, thus we will examine and discard its
application to this particular Statement.
As we can see, the definition of "penalty" explicitly refers to either
a crime or an offense. Since it would seem that any action could only
be defined as a crime or an offense if it were at least implcitly
prohibited, we would contend that an action which is penalized yet
not prohibited is a contradition in terms, and thus impossible.
This results in the last clause, which further qualifies the impossible
act, being irrelevant.
We do feel compelled to mention three points of note, however, to at
least partially address the issues which we believe Peekee attempted
to address in this CFJ. They may perhaps result in the issue being
decided informally, or at least in the formuation of a more precise
Statement to be Judged.
First, not all actions which are prohibited by the Rules are explicitly
prohibited. In all our linguistic research, we found numerous examples
of prohibitions being implicit. The very application of a penalty
implicitly prohibit the action. Determining whether a particular
action is prohibited or not, of course, is left to another Court.
Second, not all disadvantages imposed by the Rules are penalties.
There are numerous occasions where partaking of an activity results in
a disadvantage to one's self, but which are obviously not a penalty.
The cost of Voting, spending P-Notes to raise Priority, etc. There are
some Rule-imposed disadvantages which may be arguably either a penalty
or a fee, but these particular instances are for another Judge to
decide on a case by case basis.
And thirdly, that regardless of whether a particular action is a
breach of the Rules or not, and regardless of how explicitly such
an action is prohibited or permitted, one's stance on whether to
perform such an action is a moral question rather than a legal
question. As an individual, we would never condone that someone
stack a deck in a card game, but if one does it, the game does
continue. Whether the game is valid or not depends not only on the
fidelity of those involved, but upon the perspective of the viewer,
and even that determination is a moral judgement. There have been
many arguments of the meta-game, even occasional mention of the
meta-mega-game. Perhaps the moral question of fidelity would be
considered the meta-meta-meta-game. But either way, it is clearly
beyond the scope of a mere CFJ.
In conclusion, however, it is our studied opinion that this
Statement in its very nature is contradictory. We therefore
DISMISS this CFJ per Rule 1563.
Clerk of the Courts harvel