Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

No Magic Bullets

A couple of days ago, I got into a conversation on billroper's LJ about the "Heckler's Veto" and that led to me thinking about something that had worried me about running the WSFS Business Meeting. After all, the entire meeting process, and parliamentary procedure itself, assumes that the people gathering actually are willing to play by the rules. If a significant number of the people showing up won't play by the rules, the meeting will dissolve. It would be like a bunch of football players deciding during a match that they don't like the rule book and that they can ignore the officials and do anything they want. There's not a lot the officials can do in that case, other than leave.

I did give a lot of thought to this approaching the 2015 WSFS Business Meeting, what with doomsday scenarios of thousands of people overrunning the meeting and refusing to obey any rules and shouting down anything they didn't like and generally causing chaos. I concluded that a meeting whose members refuse to follow their own rules is not a meeting, but a mob, and I'm not chairing a mob. Had such a thing happened, I would have ordered the meeting adjourned "at the call of the chair" and turned to the convention for help. The convention would then in turn have had to ask the convention security to clear the area, and potentially even call the police if non-members (including any people who had their memberships revoked) refused to leave on their own accord.

Yes, we had Sergeants-At-Arms. They were not going to lay hands upon anyone. Their job was to help organize a law-abiding meeting, not to knock heads together, save perhaps metaphorically.

I don't have any magic bullets or special ways to make people behave. Robert's Rules of Order is a rule book for a complicated live-action role-playing game, not a book of magic spells that will make people obey if they aren't willing to do so. All I can do is enforce existing rules as fairly and evenly as possible. It's up to the members of the assembly to make the game actually work, by being willing to behave in a civilized manner.
Tags: business meeting, worldcon, wsfs
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