Index ← 3735 CFJ 3736 3737 → text
===============================  CFJ 3736  ===============================

      When the Referee MUST impose the Cold Hand of Justice, e CAN do so
      by announcement.


Caller:                        D. Margaux

Judge:                         omd
Judgement:                     FALSE



Called by D. Margaux:                             14 Jun 2019 15:27:27
Assigned to omd:                                  14 Jun 2019 16:52:30
Judged FALSE by omd:                              15 Jun 2019 03:04:38
omd files Motion to Reconsider:                   17 Jun 2019 02:31:57
Judged FALSE by omd:                              17 Jun 2019 04:43:12


Caller's Arguments:

omd wrote:
> I initially read the CAN as attaching to the preceding SHALL
> rather than the following one.  When read as intended, it authorizes
> the Referee to perform two actions.  One is to "announce" the Finger
> Pointing to be Shenanigans, which e doesn't need authorization to do.
> The other is imposing the Cold Hand of Justice, which e does need
> authorization for, but... even with this proposal, I don't think
> anything states *how* e can impose the CHoJ (i.e. by announcement).

I don’t think our recent CFJs have addressed whether the Referee CAN
impose the CHoJ by announcement. This logic implies that e CANNOT, and I
think I agree with it. What a mess.


Judge omd's Original Arguments (pre-motion):

The rabbit hole goes pretty deep:

From Rule 2478:
      When a player Points a Finger, the investigator SHALL investigate
      the allegation and, in a timely fashion, SHALL conclude the
      investigation by:

      - Imposing the Cold Hand of Justice on the perp, as described
        elsewhere; or

From Rule 2557:
      When the rules authorize an investigator to impose the Cold Hand
      of Justice for a violation, e CAN do so by levying a fine on the
      perp with a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 2x the base value of the
      violation, within the following guidelines:

From Rule 2555:
      To Levy a Fine of N on a person, where N is a positive integer, is
      to grant em N blots. To expunge a blot is to destroy it.

From Rule 2577:
      To grant an entity an asset is to create
      it in eir possession.

There are actually two cases of poor drafting here.

First, Rule 2478 does not explicitly state than an investigator CAN
impose the Cold Hand of Justice, merely that e SHALL.  Does that
actually "authorize" em to do so (Rule 2557), or does it merely create
an obligation that's impossible to satisfy?  I initially thought the
latter.  However, the wording ("SHALL conclude the investigation by...
imposing the CHoJ") is fairly similar to "SHALL do X by announcement",
which has been treated in the past as equivalent to "CAN do X by
announcement, and SHALL" - see CFJ 1765 [1].  So I'll say it does
trigger Rule 2557.

Second, Rule 2557 does not mention a mechanism such as "by
announcement", and as far as I can tell, neither does any of the other
rules involved.  Does it work anyway?

Well, to start with, when Rule 2557 says "e CAN do so by levying a
fine", does that imply "e CAN levy a fine", or is it simply saying
that e CAN impose the CHoJ, assuming e has some existing mechanism of
levying a fine?

After all, if a rule says that, e.g., someone "CAN do X by
announcement", which is roughly short for "CAN do X by announcing that
e does X", it is not saying that e CAN announce that e does X.  That
wouldn't make sense, because according to the definitions in Rule 478,
the ability to announce something is a matter of external reality
rather than part of the gamestate.  Instead, e needs an existing
mechanism of announcing that e does X, which fortunately exists, and
the rule is giving such an announcement the effect of actually doing

Still, in this context, common sense suggests that Rule 2557 is trying
to authorize em to levy a fine.  If not, the rule would only make
sense if the investigator were someone separately empowered to levy
arbitrary fines, and "authoriz[ing] an investigator to impose the
[CHoJ]" would effectively just mean permitting such a fine to satisfy
the rules' desire for punishment for a given violation, as opposed to
being treated as unrelated.  But that interpretation seems strained
given the wording, due to (among other things) the use of "authorize"
and the mention of minimums and maximums.  Besides, the rules don't
give anyone the power to levy arbitrary fines, and AFAIK never have,
for as long as the current iteration of blots have existed.

So Rule 2557 authorizes em to levy a fine, but doesn't say how.  In
that case, CFJ 3425 [2] is on point:

> Therefore, any "attempt" to perform a CAN, where the CAN is not qualified
> by a method, will succeed if we can say that a legal "attempt" took place.

> For an attempt to change a regulated quantity, the attempt must
> communicate with the recordkeepor, and we generally require clear
> communication.  A message to a discussion forum would not qualify, as
> following a discussion forum is not required.  However, sending a public
> message would clearly legally communicate the attempt to all players,
> and so would be a legal "attempt" to perform the action.

I'll honor the precedent here.  When the Referee is authorized to
impose the CHoJ, e can create Blots by communicating eir attempt to do
so to the recordkeepor for Blots – and sending a public message is one
way of doing so.

This does create an odd result, because the recordkeepor for Blots
is... the Referee emself!  Sending a public message is *one* way for
em to communicate with emself, but e could also do so purely mentally;
there are no grounds to deny em that ability, as long as e understands
clearly what e means to communicate to emself.  That seems a little
like an absurdity, but not really, or at least it's not much worse
than the result in CFJ 3425.  It's odd that the Referee can change
important gamestate without telling anyone, true, but not that much
odder than being able to change it by only telling one other person.
It's odd that we can never know for sure what the Referee thought to
emself, but then, so too can two people communicate and refuse to
reveal what was said, or even lie about it.  (And even when two people
are involved, there is no requirement that the means of communication
be electronic or durable; they could communicate verbally, if they
were physically nearby.)

The Referee is, at least, obligated to publicize the results of eir
actions indirectly, in the form of eir weekly report on Blot holdings.
Though that doesn't help if e's acting in bad faith: even when mental
actions are involved, eir report is still merely descriptive of the
gamestate, not something that normatively establishes it; in other
words, it can be false.  (Unless it self-ratifies.)

But again, not so different from CFJ 3425.  Thus, in spirit, this CFJ is

But there are two technicalities regarding the actual CFJ statement:

>       When the Referee MUST impose the Cold Hand of Justice, e CAN do so
>       by announcement.

One is the same as in CFJ 3425:

> FALSE on a technicality; the action succeeds, but via the announcement of
> attempt and R2152, not "CAN by announcement" as per R478.  This
> technicality is important, as it ensures that "CAN by method X" isn't
> severable into "CAN (by announcement attempt) by method X".

The other is that the condition in the CFJ statement, "the Referee
MUST impose the Cold Hand of Justice", is overly broad; it could be
true if, e.g., the Referee pledged to impose the CHoJ on someone who
has not been finger-pointed, which would *not* allow em to do so.

For both of those reasons, I judge CFJ 3736 FALSE.



Judge omd's Final Arguments:

I overlooked the "only using the methods" clause, which indeed
postdates CFJ 3425 (it dates to 2017, while CFJ 3425 was judged in

Levying a fine is certainly a regulated action, and Rule 2125 takes
precedence over all of the Cold Hand of Justice-related rules due to
higher power, so it seems that imposing the Cold Hand of Justice is
impossible after all.

I note in passing that there might be odd results if a similar
situation occurred (rule claiming to make something POSSIBLE without
specifying a method) with a rule that takes precedence over Rule 2125.

I re-judge CFJ 3736 FALSE, and earn another 5 coins for doing so.