Dealing with unnecessary activities [Re: Address of ISO 3166mailinglist]

William Overington WOverington at
Thu Jun 5 13:47:24 CEST 2003

Mark Crispin wrote as follows.

>On Thu, 5 Jun 2003, William Overington wrote:

>> I also wondered whether the country where the comment was made is a
>> signatory of the European Convention of Human Rights.  Such documents are
>> not just bits of paper for lawyers to discuss at seminars!
>What on earth does the European Convention of Human Rights have to do with
>an IETF mailing list discussing the assignment of language tags?
>The implied threat in Mr. Overington's message is appalling.

There was no threat, implied or otherwise.  I never thought of it as a
threat.  I was simply pointing out the need for fairness and natural justice
of the quality in the European Convention of Human Rights.

I was simply trying to make the point that Marion had been judged without
having first had the accusation put to her and given a chance to explain her
reasoning before a decision was made.  That is an important issue.  Just
because the discussion topic is a technical matter in a technical forum does
not mean that normal standards of natural justice somehow do not apply.

I was not suggesting an action before the European Court of Human Rights or
anything like that.  It is just that in England, the rights have in the last
few years been incorporated directly into our law and that there has now
been a lot of publicity for it and that people are quite interested in
trying to treat each other to at least that standard.  Please bear in mind
that attitudes over here, with our National Health Service since 1948, may
be very different.  An old Sergeant Bilko episode from the 1950s, made in
the USA, suggested sending someone to England because "they've got
socialised medicine over there".  It is widely thought that the government
change in 1997 was because of a perceived belief that the National Health
Service was under threat of being changed away from its traditional free
treatment according to need funded from taxation basis.

> This mailing list encompasses many people and places outside of Europe.
It is IETF-LANGUAGE, not EU-LANGUAGES.  Within this mailing list, the
European Convention of Human Rights is no more than a scrap of paper, with
no jurisdiction over the activities of this mailing list.

Well, not necessarily.  If someone posts from a country which has signed the
European Convention of Human Rights or if it is posted through a server in
such a country then jurisdiction might well apply.  I do not know the law on
that and I am not a lawyer, yet things which happen in a country fall within
the jurisdiction of a country.  There is no independent sovereign order
called "The Internet".  For the avoidance of doubt, the list of European
Convention of Human Rights countries is much wider than the countries of the
European Union and came about before the European Union.

> If Mr. Overington and Ms Gunn wish to discuss topics that are irrelevant
to this mailing list, perhaps the two of them should form their own mailing
list which would be dedicated to those topics.

Well, the "if" is a speculation.  Yet who decides what is relevant?  If the
answer is "the moderator", and that might be better than what appears to be
the situation at present, then my feeling is that the moderator should ask
someone for reasons to justify relevancy of a post or series of posts before
deciding upon the issue of relevancy of a post or series of posts.

How people treat other people is never irrelevant.  It's like in an
English-speaking country the quality of writing in the English language is
important in writing books on physics, not just in books about English

Also, the posts from Marion seemed perfectly reasonable to me.  I responded
to a post which claimed that "it must be extremely clear to you by now that
members of this list are clearly _not_ interested in these issues" because I
felt that by not responding I would by implication be allowing someone to
use me as someone criticising Marion when I was not and indeed thought
differently from what was being claimed for everyone who is a member of this

William Overington

5 June 2003

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