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Did someone mention Herb Gurland?

Posted By: Taper_Mike
Date: Tuesday, 4 March 2014, at 11:05 a.m.

In Response To: I love choices (phil simborg)

Yup, it was Phil!

Phil: “Anyone who chastised Herb Gurland for following the horrible rules that he was forced to live with, that would have punished him if he had made a stupid error, is not being fair to either Herb or the rules.”

Since Phil opened door, and because I feel so strongly about this, I would like give an explanation why I think Phil is wrong.

  1. NLM rules gave Herb a choice. He could try to win on an absurd technicality, or he could play like a gentleman, and take his lumps like a man.
  2. NLM rules did not require Herb to choose to behave like a jerk by trying to win on a technicality.
  3. It is Phil's private moral judgement that Herb must choose behave like a jerk when NLM rules are in force. He states that Herb was “forced” to act like a jerk.
  4. Those who criticize Herb disagree. Their private moral judgement is that NLM rules do not require Herb or anyone to behave like a jerk. This moral judgement is just as valid as Phil’s. NLM rules do not require us to adopt either one of them.
  5. Phil states that it is not “fair” to judge Herb, because Herb was “forced” by NLM rules to behave like a jerk. It is plain, however, that the rules did not force him to make the choice he did. The rules gave Herb a choice, and he elected to act like a jerk.
  6. Judging the choice that Herb made is therefore entirely appropriate and fair.

The reason I belive it is important to publicly chastise Herb Gurland is so that a message is sent loudly and clearly. A very large segment of the backgammon community does not approve of this sort of behavior. Indeed, a majority of those posting in the original thread hold this opinion. Without a public airing, there is little incentive for the behavior to change.

Although I have argued above that judging Herb is appropriate and fair, the issue of fairness is entirely irrelevant to the choice that Herb must now face. Last year, I described it thusly:

Perhaps there is a lesson here about social animals.

Right or wrong, if one knows that a certain behavior will earn the disapprobation of ones peers, then he must accept the consequences when he elects that behavior.

If Herb now begins to experience alienation from half his friends in the backgammon community, he may, even if he feels he is in the right, choose in the future to win with dice, checker play, and cube actions rather than by a punctilious enforcement of bad rules that it is in his power to waive.

It’s his choice.


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