What’s Wrong with the World

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One of Jeff Culbreath's suggestions for opposing the Islamicization of America was to use the "nature abhors a vacuum" principle and to make Christianity public. Just how radical a proposal was this?

Well, federal inspectors have ordered a bank in Perkins, Oklahoma, to remove crosses, a Bible verse, and the message, "Merry Christmas, God with us" from the teller's counter. The feds said that they violate a clause in federal bank regulations prohibiting "...the use of words, symbols, models and other forms of communication [that]... express, imply or suggest a discriminatory preference or policy of exclusion." Just how far this would go, of course, nobody knows. If they'd just had the words "Merry Christmas," would the feds have said the same? Maybe. Who knows? Nor should the feds have the power to shut down these expressions of religious sentiment in a small-town bank in any event. Naked public square? You bet. Government enforced. And it isn't just for public schools anymore.

Update: I had nothing profound to say about this incident, except to express disgust. Lawrence Auster did much better than that, and his comments on this topic are so apposite that I am borrowing them immediately:

I am always saying that the rule of non-discrimination, if followed consistently, means that no distinct society or culture can exist, no distinct human individual or human family can exist, no distinct species or organism can exist. Nothing can exist, since all things, in order to exist, must be different from, and thus be distinguished and discriminated from, other things. [Written in 2009 and applied today to this story.]

[snip]

So, for people in a community to be Christian (whether believing Christians or even just “cultural” Christians), for them to put up signs in a bank saying “Merry Christmas, God With Us,” and for them to display a Bible verse at their website, are not allowed because these acts are discriminatory. By virtue of existing and being expressed in a community or institution, Christianity, Christmas, and the Bible are discriminatory and exclusive of that which is not Christian. And therefore they must be prohibited.

Of course, the rule of non-discrimination is not applied to everyone equally. Nonwhite and non-Western minorities get to express their cultural and religious particularity all they want, and even receive government funding to do so. Thus there are Islamic charter schools in this country, public schools formally promoting Islam. But the inconsistent application of the rule of non-discrimination is not the point. The point is that the rule of non-discrimination must destroy everything to which it is applied. And the liberal order applies it to Western culture and all its institutions, in order to destroy them.



Update 2
: Feds back down. Some days the knight wins. Good for all the people who expressed outrage, including Congressmen. [HT to reader Al for the link.]

Comments (74)

I'm a peaceful man. I try but I just can't get excited about revolutions over confiscatory high taxes and ruinous economic policies. But this kind of bovine excrement makes me want to grab a dadgum pitchfork. (A metaphorical pitchfork, if you're one of Obama's DHS agents.) Combined with the mind-numbing abuses of Jackboot Napoleono and her TSA blueshirts, what the blazes are we waiting for?

I say they should wait until the federal agents have gone, thumb their noses, and slip the crosses up on the counter again. Hehheh, such a dangerous revolutionary idea. And be sure to say, "Merry Christmas!" loud and clear to all their customers, to see if the feds decide to do something about _that_.

But I have no doubt that the Feds would shut down the bank. Then what?

Perhaps the passive aggressive response is better. _Just_ shift to saying "Merry Christmas" and make them come back and forbid that another year. Drag one's heels, in other words.

Lydia, you're a chess player. Dragging one's heels just puts off the inevitable. If the feds are serious - and I believe they are - at some point it's a real standoff. So what's the bank's next move? What's Oklahoma's next move?

Here's how it will play out, just like it always does. The bank managers will conclude that "Merry Christmas" and so forth are just little things which are not important enough to justify closing a bank. That's how this process works, inch by diabolical inch. Nothing will change until a state or local government ups the ante and turns this into a sovereignty issue. Until then we'll all just keep rolling over.

Gee, and here I thought I was being defiant by suggesting they retain _anything_. Seriously, I have no really better ideas. I think the time may have come to be somewhat sneaky. ("Sneaky," that is, about crosses, Bible verses, and saying "Merry Christmas," all highly dangerous and seditious items.) Is it really true that the federal agents will come back and shut down the bank? The locals seem pretty supportive. It isn't that anyone reported them. The feds found this stuff in the course of a yearly investigation. So if they were to put the material back up (except the web site) next week, would the federal agents find out? Maybe, maybe not. Another move would be to tell the employees with a large-scale wink that they are free _as individuals_ to wear the Christmas pins, say "Merry Christmas," etc., and that it will become a real free-speech legal free-for-all if the federal agents try to tell them that they have to _forbid_ these individual expressions by their employees.

But I'm open to better suggestions.

My husband and daughters are the real chess players, but I know this: A weaker player can sometimes pull off a surprise win against a stronger player by complicating the position and hoping that the stronger player blunders or loses on time.

Well, I think it ought to be showdown time. I'd like to see the bank refuse to give an inch. If the feds are bluffing, call their bluff. If they're not bluffing, let them fine the bank, let the bank refuse to pay, let the feds close the bank, and then let Oklahomans decide if that's the kind of statehood they signed up for.

I'm always inclined in the direction of lawfare. If the bank is going to be defiant, I'd like to see them get a legal team to argue that the feds are misinterpreting the regulation. Someone to whom I told this story said, half-humorously, that the Christian symbols in question don't manifest a discriminatory preference or policy of exclusion because salvation is offered freely to all! I kind of liked that. But in any event, the bank could argue that in fact there is nothing remotely "discriminatory" or "exclusionary" about their banking practices and that a reasonable person would not think that there is merely from these symbols.

I think if we want to re-Christianize the public arena, the best place to begin is with laws against unnecessary business (including organized sporting events) activities on Sundays. The next matter is to acknowledge the proper control that parents have over the education of their children, with regard to the place, time, and matter of learning, and so the choosing of instructors or schools, if any.

I caught the tail-end of a joke on "The Simpsons" (which went downhill after the sixth or seventh season, and became quite blasphemous...but I digress)

A convict is injured. "Don't feel too sorry for him, folks" the warden says "he's in here for building a nativity scene on public property".
Marge sighs and shakes her head "There's so much evil in the world"

I think y'all should come over to Ireland - North or South.

They're allowed to say "Merry Christmas" in the banks in Ireland, Graham?

You're allowed to say "Godspeed!", "God Bless". Some people might invite you to church.
School life is lovely. In a public school, by the way. This isn't a privately funded Christian school, or a "Faith School". This is mainstream secular education.
I can tell parents that I'll be praying for them.
My school Principal, not an evangelical, insists that I have an evangelical take the school Easter service every year. I "preach" at the Harvest Service.
Most Sunday Schools would be happy with the Religious Education syllabus.
Ministers pray at the beginning and end of every prize night.
There is a strong Scripture Union.
Protestant/Catholic relations are improving.

All in all, it's a little slice of heaven. I couldn't wish for a better job in a better place. (When we're not bombing each other or rioting, that is...I suppose I have to concede we've had our problems)

Graham

Oh, the School Christmas service is held in a local Church. It is important, my Principal insists, to let teens who are not sent to Church by their parents understand what a Church Service is like.

This,

http://www.newsok.com/feds-relent-on-perkins-banks-display-of-christian-themed-items/article/3524584

was totally predictable. You can put away your pitchfork, Jeff.

I guess it's not Christmas until we have at least one "War on Christmas" post.

I'd say it's not "Winter Festival" until we have some disingenuous "liberal" chanting: "Move along, folks! Nothing to see here!"

You can put away your pitchfork, Jeff.

Good news, Al, but I think I'll keep the pitchfork handy for a while.

In the meantime, I'm offline until sometime after the Feast. A holy and happy Christmas to all!

Ditto on the offline bit,
and ditto on the Happy Christmas to everyone

Graham

Hey, good. I'm glad the idiots backed down. Maybe they thought the lawfare I suggested would work. (See the "reasonable person" phrase in the story? In another life I was a lawyer.)

By the way: It doesn't cease to be a war on Christmas just because the good guys occasionally win a round against an outrageous attempt by the bad guys to storm a new hill. The outrageous attempt was there, and it was based--non-coincidentally--on the anti-discrimination law.

al, happy winter holiday to you.

One could just change the sign to:

Mary's Christmas: God with us

and let then try to parse that. Nothing discriminatory about stating a fact about someone else's belief, since one isn't wishing anyone anything, just stating a fact about what Mary believed. Christians will get the message, anyway.

"...the use of words, symbols, models and other forms of communication [that]... express, imply or suggest a discriminatory preference or policy of exclusion."

This law is stupid, idiotic, nincompoopery, since the sign:

No bank robbers allowed

would not be allowed under this law, as it is also discriminatory, isn't it?

Why don't government regulators look up the word semantics and context in the dictionary? Obviously, the law was meant to apply to money matters, such as showing a preference to lending money to only rich folk. They should also look up the words over-generalization and First Amendment, since they are. in terms of logic, establishing a religion of non-discrimination, which, although it seems trivial, is a religion, since it binds man to a specific view that either there is no God or he does not discriminate.

At some point the government is going to run into the Church (from the Catechism of the Catholic Church):

1903 Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, "authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse."23

The common good implies common sense and sometimes discrimination is a proper response of both people and governments...or else they can just stop banks from giving out money, because, you know, it has discriminatory language printed on every bill... and don't even think about calling a bank robber a criminal. That's clearly discriminatory.

The Chicken

The back story here would be most interesting. This is the sort of thing that gives administrators ulcers and hypertension. "He (she) did what!!!"

"It doesn't cease to be a war on Christmas"

There never was a war on Christmas. This is a Fox meme designed to produce the predictable outrage from the usual suspects. I understand that in your and Auster's and the Chicken's world all anti-discrimination laws and regs are outrages on the natural order and Jim Crow would be a small price to pay for ideological purity but you guys are in a minority (BTW, DADT falls at 3 PM EST, yea!).

These laws and regs are not going away and, as with the enforcement of all laws and regs, calibration is necessary (that is why we don't get cited for going 35.5 MPH in a 35 MPH zone). Just as many of you all are having real problems coming to terms with an increasingly pluralistic society so is it with the PC wienies who have yet to come to terms with their own demons.

Thanks, johnt and a happy Festivus to all.

Greetings, all, from Ljubljana, Slovenia!

al, as I'm always trying to explain to my students, the single most important skill for any sort of intellectually honest argumentation is the ability to paraphrase the views of one's opponents in ways that they themselves would accept.

Do you really think that Lydia or Auster or the Chicken would accept this as a paraphrase of their views?

"...all anti-discrimination laws and regs are outrages on the natural order and Jim Crow would be a small price to pay for ideological purity."

I mean, really...what's the point of that sort of talk, other than to be insulting?

America had its early war of Christmas when the Puritans made it illegal not to work on Dec 25 and, of course, there is the modern current war on Christmas and because it was first chronicled (beginning with VDARE, as I recall) by Christians Al sneers at it and dismisses it as a propagandistic meme.

And in the midst of his gay gainsaying, Al gives his shout-out and huzzahs to the queer community and DADT.

And then, the funniest thing of all, Al rehearses part of the liberal Creed - These laws and regs are not going away

Yes, Al. They are going to go away; along with the lunatic left that put them in place.

The laws and the left shall pass away. These laws will not remain on the books once Sharia comes to America.

Put that in your progressive peace pipe and smoke it.

Steve, I believe Lydia is on record as being opposed to public accommodation laws. The implication of such opposition is obvious. If i misread or misremembered I will gladly apologize to Lydia.

If you read Auster's post and his reponse to a comment one will tend to form the concept "deranged". Either he would, at best, have to tolerate JC laws or his position is incoherent.

Here is a particularly vile segment that speaks for itself,

"Thus the driving force is not revenge by nonwhites against whites. The driving force is white liberalism. Of course, white liberalism has the same end as nonwhite vengeance, which is the weakening and destruction of the white world. But white liberalism is the dominant force in this scenario, nonwhite vengeance the secondary force. Why do I say this? Because in the absence of white liberalism, nonwhite vengeance would be helpless against whites, whites would simply reject it and stand against it. But in the absence of nonwhite vengeance, white liberalism would still be able to do its destructive work. Thus white liberalism is the key element, not nonwhite vengeance."

"It's understandable why you would place the emphasis on nonwhite vengeance, as you are naturally focused on the anti-white psychology that you have seen among your fellow non-European immigrants in the West and have written about.very cogently."

Our friend, the Chicken, posted his somewhat emotional comment after it was known that the fool in the field had been overruled, revealing a general animus to anti-discrimination laws. Using the words, "stupid, idiotic, nincompoopery" to describe the language of the regulation reveals, at best, an appalling ignorance of the history of racial and ethnic discrimination in this nation.

Again, as with Lydia, if I am mistaken, I will apologize. Often we speak and write without considering the implications. James Burnham wrote, "Who says A, must say B", a formula that works with anti-discrimination laws once we start backing off.

BTW, I'm not accusing either the Chicken or Lydia of racism. It is entirely possible to be so in the thrall of an ideological concept (say, the potential evil from government) that one become blind to actual evils that an unclouded analysis revel to be quite curable through the benign use of the police power.

"...ability to paraphrase the views of one's opponents in ways that they themselves would accept."

Admittedly this is a useful approach, one that I wish was more often practiced here-abouts as the descriptions of liberal positions by almost all bear little relationship to reality. Still, ideology blinds and some conclusions are inescapable regardless of protests. An ideologically convenient definition of what constitutes a "death panel" is a perfect (and recent) example of why your dictum fails from time to time.

Slovenia in winter?

I'd rather have DADT repealed than the DREAM Act passed.

On the other hand (and speaking of anti-discrimination), how long before we have an effective DADT policy for folks with a moral opposition to homosexuality? It's not just acceptance that liberals want; it's the suppression of all condemnation.

I've never said that anti-discrimination regulations are "outrages against the natural order," and I think that's over-the-top. I do think that they are a bad idea, and I think that the present case is a good example of why they are a bad idea. The whole notion that all "discrimination" is automatically bad is also a bad idea. And no one can or does live by it. Liberals think they have this all worked out as a system and that everyone who isn't insane can see what is reasonable and unreasonable discrimination in every case, but that's not true, either. (Gender discrimination is a particularly good example of cases where there is widespread and even sharp disagreement among people who are not all crazy about what is reasonable and what is unreasonable.)

In the present case, the federal agents were acting very much on the principle that for anything to have a distinctive quality, such as the distinctively Christian quality of this bank, is for it to "discriminate" against other things and hence for it to violate the regulations. I think Chicken's reference to nincompoopery is right on target, here.

DREAM regularizes the status of folks who find themselves in a limbo through no fault of their own. Rewarding military service and educational achievement seems like a good idea to me.

"It's not just acceptance that liberals want; it's the suppression of all condemnation."

Paul, see the discussion with Steve above. The definition of "acceptance" that is in vogue on this blog and with (it seems) most social conservatives would give you all a veto on any and all social policy. There is nothing special to "moral opposition" It is merely opposition. Your so finely tuned sensibilities, in a free and self governing community, should carry no more weight than mine or anyones.

You all are free to internally accept or not, I really don't care and it is none of my business. Your freedom to form thoughts and concepts is absolute. Your ability to impose your will on others isn't. That your opposition to this or that is informed by what you consider to be "moral" should in no way be dispositive of anything.

Repeal of DADT, 65 yea, 31 nay

"The whole notion that all "discrimination" is automatically bad is also a bad idea."

I don't know anyone who asserts that, I certainly don't. See Steve's dictum.

I will note that Lydia failed to object to my assertion that the implications of her position re: public accommodations would require her to tolerate at least some Jim Crow laws. Steve, are you following?

The standard that we can never pass a law that some agent in the field might misapply seems unrealistic.

"Laws." Where do "laws" come into this? I'm saying laws _against_ discrimination by _private_ actors are a bad idea.

And while I would have liked to see someone take on the application in this case (if the feds had not backed down) and engage in the "lawfare" I suggested above, the specific regulation cited by the agents more or less invites this kind of "misapplication."

For the record, I think liberals want to destroy _Christian_ society, no matter what the skin color of the people in the society. The agenda in South American countries to legal abortion is just one small example of this fact.

al:

I can't speak for Lydia, but I am most certainly opposed to public accommodation laws. If you think that an "obvious" "implication of such opposition" is support for "Jim Crow," than you really need to return to GO without stopping or collecting $200.

Jim Crow mandated *de jure* racial segregation in all public facilities. Public accommodation laws, on the other hand, *banned* racial discrimination in all facilities open to the public.

For any traditionalist conservative or libertarian, there is a vast and crucially important space in between these two alternatives. To reject one is not to endorse the other.

If you understood that, but chose to write as if you didn't, then you were being intellectually dishonest. If you didn't understand that, than you really are at the a-b-c 1-2-3 level of understanding the positions of the people you're trying to argue with here, and should learn to conduct yourself with a more becoming degree of modesty.

As for Auster, his various public attacks on me leave me disinclined to defend him at any length, but I'd still find it interesting to see you try to explain just exactly what it is that you find so "vile" in the passage you cite, and why you think that Auster would have to "tolerate JC laws" on pain of incoherence. Myself, I don't see it.

I am glad to see you admit the usefulness of the principle of interpretive charity. I am sorry to see that admission followed by a "Still..."

Slovenia in Winter is quite lovely.

al @ 3:40 p.m.: I see that you have now amended "Jim Crow" *tout court* to "some Jim Crow laws."

Would you mind providing two or three examples?

Just as many of you all are having real problems coming to terms with an increasingly pluralistic society so is it with the PC wienies who have yet to come to terms with their own demons.

I do not have to come to terms with a pluralistic society. In fact, it is within my rights to actively argue against it. I suppose I look as plurality akin to the concept of entropy in a statistical ensemble. The more randomized views are within a society, the greater the informational and political entropy. Man is, however, nothing if not a creature in opposition to entropy. The very fact that there is something akin to marriage in which disparate views must be set aside for the common good and the formation of a stable society of two speaks to this.

Order and organization may proceed from within man or by supernatural agency, as evidenced by moral codes or the Natural Law, or they may be imposed from without, via legislative pronouncements and codes of man-made civil/criminal laws.

Problems occur when either of the two methods of organizing human behavior clash (as in this case) or actions and laws are taken out of context (as in this case, where the law is being used for other than its original intent) or people have no hierarchy of what is important, so all laws and actions and points of view are equal and there is no way to tell the difference between the good and the bad, the true and the false, the tolerable and the intolerable.

I assume, at least speaking for myself, that part of the process of being human is to seek the truth, be it factual truth, moral truth, artistic truth, or scientific truth. An idealized pluralistic society is opposed to the truth, purely and simply. There may be n different opinions, but there cannot be n different truths. For this to be the case, each person would be a singular instance of information and communication would be impossible.

Ideally, there needs to be a mixture of divergence and convergence of opinion in a society, but this does not mean that there cannot be valid cases of complete convergence of opinion or complete divergence. If neither is allowed by the law, then the law becomes inhuman.

Jim Crow laws are not a proper comparison to laws preventing the display of Christmas greetings. Jim Crow laws fly in the face of the inherent dignity of the species, homo sapiens, whereas the whole point of Christmas is to announce the fact that all humans have an inherent dignity vouchesafed by the Creator.

I understand that in your and Auster's and the Chicken's world all anti-discrimination laws and regs are outrages on the natural order and Jim Crow would be a small price to pay for ideological purity but you guys are in a minority (BTW, DADT falls at 3 PM EST, yea!).

Apparently, you understand my points quite incorrectly. There is nothing wrong with discrimination, per se and there is nothing with a plurality of opinions, per se, but each must be received in it proper place and time. In fact, the truth depends on this. One can eat this green leaf (lettuce), but not this one (Hemlock). Just as there are physical discriminations, there can be societal discriminations, but only so long as they correspond to a truth that is inherent in man or the nature of a situation. On the other hand, there is a range of taste in music, say, that is a necessary part of the flexibility of the human species. The trick is to know when to apply discrimination and when to apply broadmindedness. I claim the Fed, in this case, have made an unsupportable claim - that to state the truth (it is the Christmas season, after all) is a form of discrimination that should not be allowed.

Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote in his essay, A Plea for Intolerance:

America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance-it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.

Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil … a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error … Architects are as intolerant about sand as foundations for skyscrapers as doctors are intolerant about germs in the laboratory.

Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, so much needed to rouse us from sentimental gush, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.

If there are no moral truths, then laws become nothing more than exercises of power. Just as one is not free to ignore physical truths except at one's peril, so one cannot ignore moral or human truths except at the peril of societal cohesion. Jim Crow laws are bad precisely because they are morally wrong - they do not correspond to the truth of the human condition, either scientifically or morally.

There are, however different competing views of who God is and what is the right relationship of man to God. They all cannot be right and so, there MUST be discrimination between that which is true and that which is false. The government cannot shackle the truth nor the expression, thereof, except by exercise of power and only for a time because the truth is greater than power.

Not all things are equally true or acceptible, even in regards to the governing of a society. There must be this truth: sometimes a man is entitled to his opinion and sometimes he is not. We cannot set human laws or human opinion above the truth, so we must discriminate in situations where the truth is not broad. Tastes in music is a broad truth with overlap between individuals; validity of religion is a narrow truth - so narrow, in fact, that there can be only one. It is not within the competence of any government to prevent a man from seeking or expressing that truth, even in the context of a bank. They may handcuff me and take me away, but they cannot handcuff the truth. Thus, my point stands. When the law says:

"...the use of words, symbols, models and other forms of communication [that]... express, imply or suggest a discriminatory preference or policy of exclusion."

Is stupid, idiotic, nincompoopery. In fact, it is a form of clinical insanity. The government is specifying that no member of the society can discriminate even as they, themselves, discriminate. They are saying, in essence, that they know the truth better than anyone else, including, the Author of Truth, by the way. They seem to want to make men equal, but in truth, they have lost touch with the common man and common sense. In truth, they want to make all men disequal.

Chesterton, on orthodoxy:

Every one who has had the misfortune to talk with people in the heart or on the edge of mental disorder, knows that their most sinister quality is a horrible clarity of detail; a connecting of one thing with another in a map more elaborate than a maze. If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment. He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by charity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity is in this respect a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.

I submit that this applies to governments as well as people. Silly, senseless, Jacob Marleys they are...

The Chicken

P. S. I did not just speak emotionally in my earlier post. My bank-robber statement was an example of reductio ad absurdum and the money example was proof by counter example - both recognized techniques in logic and mathematics.

Obviously, I meant Ebenzar Scrooge, above.

The Chicken

You all are free to internally accept or not, I really don't care and it is none of my business. Your freedom to form thoughts and concepts is absolute. Your ability to impose your will on others isn't. That your opposition to this or that is informed by what you consider to be "moral" should in no way be dispositive of anything.

I am also free to, by persuasion, voting choices, political activism, and whatever legal means are at hand, convey my moral sensibilities into law. This is essence of self-government. Your worry about "imposition" merely a liberal hang-up. Legislation imposes morality. There is no getting around it. That's what it does. The more substantive, the more strongly felt is the imposition.

If you cannot see that, say, the decision by Judge Walker in California flowed from a highly refined moral philosophy, a body of doctrine concerning obligations and liberties, which he imposed on the state of California (against the majority will), then in Steve's fine language "you really are at the a-b-c 1-2-3 level of understanding" political philosophy.

Paul J Cella:On the other hand (and speaking of anti-discrimination), how long before we have an effective DADT policy for folks with a moral opposition to homosexuality? It's not just acceptance that liberals want; it's the suppression of all condemnation.

The “liberals” used to claim that they wanted tolerance for persons with a same-sex attraction. Oddly enough at the time, for the most part, American society was already tolerant -- no one but a few psychopaths (who frequently themselves suffered from a same-sex attraction) wanted to kill homosexuals; we just didn’t want to be constantly hit in the face with the behaviors. We wanted to pretend to be unaware of it.

So, the “liberals” worked on changing the understanding of what “tolerance” means and entails, from an intentional overlooking of that which one would prefer to not exist to an acceptance of it.

Then, the “liberals” worked again on changing the understanding of “tolerance” to something more positive than mere acceptance, to an active disinclination to express disapproval.

Now, the “liberals” are working again on changing the understanding of “tolerance” to mean “joyful celebration.”

And, all the while, the “liberals” actually despise “gays” in just the way they falsely accuse us conservative Christians of doing.

... I probably should have used the word 'sociopath,' rather than 'psychopath,' to more accurately say what I intended.

Dear Masked Chicken. Thanks for that fantastic 5:15 post. If you do not have your own blog you should be forced to start one:)

I look forward to reading every post of yours because I find that you put into clear, understandable, words what I can only merely vaguely sense. You have a real gift, sir.

These laws will not remain on the books once Sharia comes to America.

True enough, but that won't be anytime this century and hopefully never.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/article711186.ece

"For any traditionalist conservative or libertarian, there is a vast and crucially important space in between these two alternatives. To reject one is not to endorse the other."

Jim Crow was the body of law and custom that disadvantaged and terrorized African Americans in the American south after Reconstruction and before the series of mid-twentieth century court decisions and laws at the federal level that proscribed them. If we didn't have those laws and decisions at the federal level, we would still have Jim Crow laws and the customs they supported.

These ills could only have been cured through federal legislation, Supreme Court decisions, and federal troops. If one opposes the only way in which Jim Crow could have been removed then one either supports Jim Crow or one considers states rights to be so sacred a concept that the sacrifice of the rights of African Americans is justified that states rights might be preserved. In some cases constructive support becomes support.

MC, I considered your post "emotional" as you clearly understood that the regulation was designed to ensure fair access to credit and yet you used your two "proofs" which make no sense in the context of that understanding.

""...the use of words, symbols, models and other forms of communication [that]... express, imply or suggest a discriminatory preference or policy of exclusion."

This law is stupid, idiotic, nincompoopery, since the sign:

No bank robbers allowed

would not be allowed under this law, as it is also discriminatory, isn't it?

Why don't government regulators look up the word semantics and context in the dictionary? Obviously, the law was meant to apply to money matters, such as showing a preference to lending money to only rich folk."

You later dragged in my Jim Crow comments in a way that kakes no sense as I considered the actions of the field agents to be stupid.

Paul, fair enough and more later but Robert George has a relevant paper out and Koppelman links and comments here,

http://balkin.blogspot.com/2010/12/what-marriage-isnt.html

"But you are missing the main thing. Non-discrimination, at least in the white countries, is primarily embraced and enforced by liberal whites, not by nonwhites. It's liberal whites who built up this idea, established it, put it into operation, enforced it, with the nonwhites following along and getting what they could out of it."

Steve, this is facially racist. It is also historically ignorant. A particular group of East African Plains Apes settles here, another there and hundreds or thousands of years later someone gets on the innertubes and assigns cosmic significance to turning east instead of west, or north instead of south. Anyone who considers their complexion beyond sun exposure and aesthetics needs serious couch time.


"These laws will not remain on the books once Sharia comes to America.

True enough, but that won't be anytime this century and hopefully never.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/article711186.ece"

This is outside of the topic of discussion, but you may be wrong.
Certainly Doug Saunders in the above mentioned piece has not proved what you think he has proved.

Lots of hand waving and bad faith arguments do not constitute proof.

This is not to defend Steyn arguments on Eurabization that have their own problems.

"I am also free to, by persuasion, voting choices, political activism, and whatever legal means are at hand, convey my moral sensibilities into law. This is essence of self-government."

Of course, and "legal means" is operative here and I would add "proper". Constitutions impose limits on what we can have the state accomplish. The essence of self-government, after all, is self-restraint and modesty. You are free to use legal means and so are those who oppose your imposition. Last time I looked it was legal to file suit questioning the constitutionality of any law.

"Legislation imposes morality."

Sometimes but you beg the question. Not all moral concepts are properly legislated. "Can" and "should" are the first questions that need to be asked once legislation is envisioned. You also need to have a basis that goes beyond the mere opinion of any given dispensation.

"If you cannot see that, say, the decision by Judge Walker in California flowed from a highly refined moral philosophy, a body of doctrine concerning obligations and liberties, which he imposed on the state of California (against the majority will), then in Steve's fine language "you really are at the a-b-c 1-2-3 level of understanding" political philosophy."

It isn't complicated. No rational basis was demonstrated by the defense. This is from Judge Walker's opinion,

"The arguments surrounding Proposition 8 raise a question
similar to that addressed in Lawrence, when the Court asked whether a majority of citizens could use the power of the state to enforce “profound and deep convictions accepted as ethical and moral principles” through the criminal code. 539 US at 571. The question here is whether California voters can enforce those same principles through regulation of marriage licenses. They cannot. California’s obligation is to treat its citizens equally, not to “mandate [its] own moral code.” Id (citing Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa v Casey, 505 US 833, 850, (1992)). “[M]oral disapproval, without any other asserted state interest,” has never been a rational basis for legislation. Lawrence, 539 US at 582 (O'Connor, J, concurring). Tradition alone cannot support legislation. See Williams, 399 US at 239; Romer, 517 US at 635; Lawrence, 539 US at 579."

You seem to put great stock on the bare majority vote that approved prop.8. In our system certain rights are protected and can't be taken away by majority vote. This is well established. It is also not the first time California voters have used passed measures that were ruled unconstitutional.

All we have here is your deeply felt opinion that depth of conviction on your part entitles you to deny others certain basic rights. That might fly in a theocracy but not so much under our Constitution.

Also, as George's paper demonstrates, there isn't a good case to be made for your sides moral opinion.

al, you expect us to take seriously a man who writes this: "A proposal to modify marriage is ontologically similar to a proposal to modify the game of chess."

And (from you): "In our system certain rights are protected and can't be taken away by majority vote."

I didn't know that you could take away a right that doesn't even exist.

Al, now you're just moving the goalposts.

We're not even debating the merits of Prop 8 or the ruling that overturned it. I leave that question aside (assuming, of course, and you and I know each other's view on it well enough).

What we're debating is this preposterous notion that only one side of that debate is involved with the imposition of morality. The other side is operating purely in a world of sweet rationality and technical legal adjustments. Which precisely explains why the Judge's decision commenced start to finish in a tone of ringing morality and was greeted with celebratory strains of moral justice achieved, comparable to the Civil Rights Act.

Not all moral concepts are properly legislated. "Can" and "should" are the first questions that need to be asked once legislation is envisioned. You also need to have a basis that goes beyond the mere opinion of any given dispensation.

Here you are lecturing me on a point I myself made. It is a curious rhetorical tactic. Of course, it is obvious to everyone but liberals that "should" or "ought" are questions that are definitionally impossible to answer if morality has no place in the discussion.

So: Proper legislation (to use you favored modifier) is legislation that flows from a coherent public philosophy of duties and liberties, defensible by reason and capable of persuading the sovereign (however that sovereign is composed).

I would recommend, Al, that you particularly attend to Prof. Baker's chapter in The End of Secularism gamely entitled "The ALCU Sits One Out in the Bible Belt." It concerns a liberal Christian theologian who developed an explicitly scriptural defense of a particular regime of progressive taxation. This woman managed to persuade an Alabama governor to get on board with her cause (which cause, again, was expressly based on scriptural arguments), and this unlikely duo went around the state together barnstorming for a fairer tax code. It will no doubt shock you to your very soul to learn that the secularists ... well, they sat out this instance of moral and theological imposition.

The same sort of thing happens when, say, Roman Catholics interpret the Church's social teaching to favor trade unions, anti-usury laws, tougher regulation, more widely-distributed property, etc. I notice that, in the course of various arguments initiated me and others here (notably Maximos), arguments deriving from this distributist public philosophy, you have not once deployed the secularism card. Hmmm. That is very interesting.

The truth is that secularism in this sense is a transparent charade. It's a debating tactic only. No one holds to it consistently. Al certainly does not. No progressive denounces calls for anti-usury laws on the grounds that someone cited Scripture or tradition in favor of them. The moment a man is seen arguing from Christian premises to conclusions deemed conducive to liberalism, the secularists abandon their position.

Christmas is a time to celebrate and be joyful in what has been given to us: a Savior. There is another savior, a wicked, worldly savior, who would deliver us from our illusions of sin and fallenness into the perfect world of Any-Thing-Goes...and it came to pass that on that world, in the country of Crowds-be-Pleased, Christmas was be replaced with National Gift-Giving Day, and the crowds rejoiced.

Christmas is a time to celebrate and be joyful in what has been given to us: a Savior. Only hope holds the heart against the day when Christmas will become a time to mourn and weep for we knew neither the time of our Visitation nor that love is always a singular act, a lone child of the heart.

Christmas is a time to celebrate, for the Law has been replaced by love and love has become the only law. If the whole world would only love as it ought, there would be no need of laws, but, alas, we knew not our need for a Savior... and so the world will always make love into a common act, a set of twins named Iwin and Ulose, borne of a broken and divided heart.

Christmas is a time to be merry. Oh, come, be joyful. Love will triumph, after all, for never was it known that any other government, save the government of that Lone Child, would allow itself to surrender power and die for all.

Christmas is a time to celebrate what has been given to us: weakness and suffering and pain redeemed, because one little Child was born into the world. Governments can rule, but they can never be one with us in our sufferings. Only one of us could be one-with-us and I know with the certainty of the Season, that the Government of Heaven is nowhere on Earth except in the eyes of a little Child.

The Chicken

Now, THAT is emotional writing. Vermont Crank...never, never compliment The Chicken...it lead to my referring to myself in the third person and posts like the above.

Merry Christmas, all. Back (maybe) next week.

The Chicken

"The moment a man is seen arguing from Christian premises to conclusions deemed conducive to liberalism, the secularists abandon their position."

Exactly. When have you ever heard a liberal complain against Martin Luther King for "mixing religion and politics" or "not respecting the separation of church and state?" How about the Berrigan brothers? William Sloane Coffin? Jesse Jackson?

Pick your lefty religionist -- it just doesn't happen.

Merry Christmas, Chicken.

Paul, a rational advocate of a secular society can't dismiss a proposal based on its origin in religious belief or doctrine. Liberals supported the governor's tax proposals because they were good public policy. I've made this clear, or at least I thought I had. Can you point to one instance where I have opposed a moral claim solely on its origins?

The problem with your moral claim on marriage is that you are unable to take it to the next essential step. You can't give a reason why one who is outside your dispensation should care. You can't propose a state interest that survives serious analysis which isn't the case with other issues.

It's immaterial that you use doctrine to inveigh against usury because you also lay out the real harms to society and on that we can agree. What am I supposed to do, suddenly deny what I know to be true merely because a Christian, informed by his beliefs, agrees with me?

Republican virtue may, from time to time, require us to set aside our deepest religious convictions when we can't convince our fellow citizens of their relevance. Ones dispensation should, in that same republic, have a certain latitude in policing its own membership, subject to sound public policy.

The dispositional nature of majorities in a free republic is going to be limited.


Chicken,

God bless you -- I couldn't agree more with Vermont Crank that you should start your own blog. In the meantime, I hope "your angel" wipes off that Bishop Sheen quote from your computer (I still listen to his show on the radio!) and you come back after Christmas with some more great Sheen stuff.

"The dispositional nature of majorities in a free republic is going to be limited."

Of course. By why does it always seem that it is the Right-leaning majorities whose "dispositional nature" is being "limited?" It seems that to the liberal mind a "tyranny of the majority" can exist only on the Right, while Left-majoritarianism is all sweetness and light.

Can you imagine the outcry if a conservative judge had overturned a similar referendum that originated from the Left? You'd never hear the end of it.

"Can you imagine the outcry if a conservative judge had overturned a similar referendum that originated from the Left? You'd never hear the end of it."

Maybe or maybe not. Do you have a concrete example? For that matter, what is substantially wrong with Judge Walker's decision?

Let's say that the citizens of a broadly conservative state had voted on a liberal-originated referendum to ban handguns in the state by a 53% to 47% vote. A conservative federal judge with NRA ties, however, overturns the referendum. Would it have mattered much to the Left what the "substance" of his arguments were? Of course not. The NRA thing alone would be enough to start the fur flying.

Come on, Al. Admit it. There's a gigantic double-standard here on the Left.

The problem with your moral claim on marriage is that you are unable to take it to the next essential step. You can't give a reason why one who is outside your dispensation should care.

Of course I can. And of course I able to show a compelling state interest in the health of the institution of monogamous heterosexual marriage oriented toward the nurture and upbringing of future generations. But then you are just going to call that sectarian or tradition-bound or whatever and declare victory.

Which is why I say that the argument here is not about the nature of marriage and the rights inherent therein. It is about the nature of "moral imposition" in legislation, a question which you are conventionally muddle-headed about. Why you agree with the moral imposition of anti-usury laws, but declare inadmissible the moral imposition of traditional marriage, is not a question that can be answered by vague gestures toward "good public policy."

It is a elementary train of logic that shows us that, if moral imposition is acceptable for purposes of "good public policy," the question is no longer, "is moral imposition okay?" but "what constitutes good public policy?" The pretense of countless liberals to constantly bounce back and forth between these questions, as convenient; such that when a conservative proposes morals legislation, the liberals can decline to even argue with it on merits, pronouncing instead that "you can't impose morality"; while when a liberal proposes morals legislation, the liberals can pronounce that it's "good public policy" and never concern themselves with their previously-asserted scruples on moral imposition.

Me? I strive for consistency. I say of course we can impose morality. That is the business of legislation. And it is the business of self-government to reconcile competing moralities in mutual acceptable ways.

So let's have done with this charade, shall we?

"The pretense of countless liberals is to constantly bounce back and forth between these questions, as convenient."

And this convenience almost always has to do with which tack will bring about the desired result. Modern liberalism is nothing if not opportunistic.

Excellent example Rob, as i happen to agree with Heller (your assumption of liberal unanimity on this matter is dated and likely the result of your not getting information on the left from the left).

This may be of interest,

http://www.guncite.com/journals/embar.html

Anyway, on another issue that close, one would have to examine the campaign and the reasoning of the decision.

Al, I'm not talking about you, or unanimity. I'm talking about the Left in general. Would they not in fact have a cow if something like that occurred?

Hi Rob, I don't believe they would. I would guess that very few actually back an outright ban and a persuasive argument to overturn a ban is easy to make.

Al, I find it difficult to believe that if a conservative jurist overturned a referendum that was popular on the Left there wouldn't be a huge outcry.

al writes:

"Jim Crow was the body of law and custom that disadvantaged and terrorized African Americans in the American south after Reconstruction and before the series of mid-twentieth century court decisions and laws at the federal level that proscribed them..."

Unfortunately, this is very unclear. According to you, does "Jim Crow" include *any* law *or* custom, publicly enforced or privately observed, which "disadvantages" or "terrorizes" African Americans? Am I understanding you correctly?

Obviously, that's much, much broader than my definition (or, rather Wikipedia's, for I was merely quoting them, above). But that's OK - you're free to use terminology any way you want to, so long as you're clear about it.

Perhaps you can help me out on some details:

Race-blind criteria in, e.g., school admissions, hiring & promotion in most varieties of high-prestige employment, &c, invariably lead to gross relative underrepresentation of African Americans. So, in your view, do such race-blind criteria "disadvantage" African Americans? In which case they count as "Jim Crow?"

Similarly, race-blind criteria for disciplining school children and punishing virtually all varieties of violent crime invariably result in gross relative over-representation of African-Americans in school-suspensions, incarceration, &c. So, in your view, do such race-blind criteria "disadvantage," or perhaps even "terrorize" African Americans? In which case they, too, count as "Jim Crow?"

Suppose we were to confine the franchise to married parents with children. Obviously, given current comparative rates of illegitimacy, that would lead to gross underrepresentation of African Americans on the voting roles. Would that count as "Jim Crow," on your view?

If you answer these questions "yes," then I think you'll be able reasonably to conclude that this site is a hot-bed of "Jim Crow" supporters. But, in the process, you will have drained the label "Jim Crow" of most of its sting. No?

You go on to claim that "these ills could only have been cured through federal legislation, Supreme Court decisions, and federal troops."

Well, sez you. You offer absolutely no reason to believe this absurdly overstated claim, and I *don't* believe it.

You continue: "If one opposes the only way in which Jim Crow could have been removed then one either supports Jim Crow or one considers states rights to be so sacred a concept that the sacrifice of the rights of African Americans is justified that states rights might be preserved."

But this involves an elementary argumentative fallacy. Consider that from "person P opposes policy Q" and "only policy Q can prevent consequence R" you simply *cannot* validly infer that "person P supports consequence R." At a minimum, you would need a further premise to the effect that person P *believes* your second premise.

* * * * *

Your comment on the passage from Auster which strikes you as "facially racist" strikes me as facially silly. You point, you sputter: "A particular group of East African Plains Apes settles here, another there and hundreds or thousands of years later someone gets on the innertubes and assigns cosmic significance to turning east instead of west, or north instead of south. Anyone who considers their complexion beyond sun exposure and aesthetics needs serious couch time." Neither Auster nor anyone else that I know of "assigns cosmic significance" to the particular migratory paths taken by various ancient groups of humans, as such, nor to their complexion, as such. I think you know that. So why you write such poppycock is a bit of a mystery to me. Do you enjoy making yourself look like a dope in the cause of lefty moral fanatacism?

To make it even weirder, it was Auster's reader who brought race into the discussion at all (the original post, which I quoted, was talking quite insightfully about liberal principles and their implications), and Auster's response to her was _downplaying_ the issue of race--essentially telling the reader that she was trying to make this all about race when in fact it is about ideological warfare that occurs _between_ people with the same racial background. Perhaps he could or should have said that more clearly or have told her that she was dragging in race pointlessly or something like that, but it seems as though some people (like Al) break out in hives when they see anyone using the term "white" repeatedly in a passage without even considering the actual dialectical content of what is being said and/or responded to.

By request, I've revised a handful of my comments in this thread and posted them as a new entry:

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2010/12/can_we_impose_morality.html

You can't give a reason why one who is outside your dispensation should care. You can't propose a state interest that survives serious analysis...

Here's one: you exist because you didn't have two mommies.

"Here's one: you exist because you didn't have two mommies."

Bill, there is a difference between stating the biologically obvious and elucidating a compelling state interest and demonstration that the proposed means has, at minimum, a rational connection to the desired end. You are, of course, free to try again.

"Unfortunately, this is very unclear. According to you, does "Jim Crow" include *any* law *or* custom, publicly enforced or privately observed, which "disadvantages" or "terrorizes" African Americans? Am I understanding you correctly?"

Yes, this is also from the wiki,

"Some examples of Jim Crow laws are the segregation of public schools, public places and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants and drinking fountains for whites and blacks."

To that we must add voter suppression and a legal system that, when not actively terrorizing African Americans itself, winked at private terrorism.

Blacks are over-incarcerated in large part because the folks who wrote the sentencing guidelines privileged drugs used by whites over drugs used by blacks. This is currently being corrected.

Much if not most of the issues you raise can be filed in the "badges and incidents of slavery" drawer, a category perpetuated by nearly a century of Jim Crow.

I note that Wikipedia draws a line in the mid-sixties for defining the Jim Crow era. This is useful as it allows us to recognize the importance of the mid-century civil rights movement, legislation and court decisions. It also allows us to recognize and correctly characterize actions that would return us to that benighted era.

"Well, sez you. You offer absolutely no reason to believe this absurdly overstated claim, and I *don't* believe it.

Steve, Bill Buckley admitted error back then. Your statement shows that you are unfamiliar with our national experience from at least the Civil War to the mid-sixties. This is a blog, not a book, the gap is simply too large to fill in in a comment. Perhaps you will share with us your optimism as to the southern states spontaneously doing the right thing, all of a sudden, after over 300 years of persisting in the wrong.

Outsourced to George Wallace, speaking in 1963;

"Today I have stood, where once Jefferson Davis stood, and took an oath to my people. It is very appropriate then that from this Cradle of the Confederacy, this very Heart of the Great Anglo-Saxon Southland, that today we sound the drum for freedom as have our generations of forebears before us done, time and time again through history. Let us rise to the call of freedom-loving blood that is in us and send our answer to the tyranny that clanks its chains upon the South. In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny . . . and I say . . . segregation today . . . segregation tomorrow . . . segregation forever."

http://www.archives.state.al.us/govs_list/inauguralspeech.html

"Suppose we were to confine the franchise to married parents with children. Obviously, given current comparative rates of illegitimacy, that would lead to gross underrepresentation of African Americans on the voting roles. Would that count as "Jim Crow," on your view?"

In some circumstances, perhaps.

"But this involves an elementary argumentative fallacy. Consider that from "person P opposes policy Q" and "only policy Q can prevent consequence R" you simply *cannot* validly infer that "person P supports consequence R." At a minimum, you would need a further premise to the effect that person P *believes* your second premise."

Resolving the decades of oppression visited upon African Americans was the central issue facing the United States at mid-century. Is your syllogism a defense of ignorance or denial?

This is really simple, one asks, which side am I on? If my ideology demands that I side with oppression, I am likely to abandon that ideology, what do you do?

Ever open to correction and always seeking to be fair, i returned to Auster's site. I was, of course, aware that he was replying to a comment. I quote,

"But you are missing the main thing. Non-discrimination, at least in the white countries, is primarily embraced and enforced by liberal whites, not by nonwhites. It's liberal whites who built up this idea, established it, put it into operation, enforced it, with the nonwhites following along and getting what they could out of it."

"Thus the driving force is not revenge by nonwhites against whites. The driving force is white liberalism. Of course, white liberalism has the same end as nonwhite vengeance, which is the weakening and destruction of the white world. But white liberalism is the dominant force in this scenario, nonwhite vengeance the secondary force. Why do I say this? Because in the absence of white liberalism, nonwhite vengeance would be helpless against whites, whites would simply reject it and stand against it. But in the absence of nonwhite vengeance, white liberalism would still be able to do its destructive work. Thus white liberalism is the key element, not nonwhite vengeance."

I stand by this displaying "ignorance", this is simply not descriptive of what went down in the United States. I will allow that racist is inadequate; it is also quite deranged.

I included the reference to our distant ancestors as a reminder to those who think us special that we are just chimps on a roll.

there is a difference between stating the biologically obvious and elucidating a compelling state interest and demonstration that the proposed means has, at minimum, a rational connection to the desired end.

The "proposed means" (prohibiting marriage to homosexuals) has a "rational connection" to the "desired end" of not granting society's moral approval to sexual perversion. I've always known that you have no interest in the moral question, but I've never understood why you should be so shallow about the deepest of human relations, the love between husbands and wives. I think you've given a clue: "we are just chimps on a roll."

I should have known better than to carry on a conversation with a monkey.

Zing!

Al, you didn't really answer Steve's objections except to double-down on "you dirty racist" and the expansive use of the term "Jim Crow." On your grounds, the disproportionate numbers of abortions of black children (alongside the recently-exposed evidence of open racism at Planned Parenthood) constitute a particularly depraved "return to that benighted era." We will all eagerly await your denunciation of PP as a Jim Crow organization.

Furthermore, if we are just chimps on a roll, who the hell cares if the white chimps oppress the black chimps, or the hetero chimps oppress the homo chimps? Or vice-versa? I mean, really -- what does it matter? Do you liberals get mad when a spider "oppresses" a fly, or a lion "oppresses" an antelope?

"Perhaps you will share with us your optimism as to the southern states spontaneously doing the right thing, all of a sudden, after over 300 years of persisting in the wrong."

It's highly possible that had Reconstruction been handled in a fairer, less obviously anti-Southern way, its blowback would not have resulted in segregation of the Jim Crow type. I have many problems with the Lincoln adminstration, but had he lived I have little doubt that post-war events would have transpired differently w/r/t these things. Since the same crowd who pushed the war to begin with were the ones who wanted to punish the South afterwards, you can partially blame them for Jim Crow -- the New England Yankee Progressive do-gooder busybodies, fathers and mothers of today's nanny state liberals.

According to a Jerusalem Post article last week, the average Muslim family in Israel has 3 children, the average Jewish family has 2.2 children, and the average Christian family has only 2 children.

As most of you know, this is reflective of the disparity between Muslim and Christian family size worldwide. I just thought I'd remind you.

In our system certain rights are protected and can't be taken away by majority vote. This is well established.

al

False. The contrary is not only what's "well established" it's in both the Federal and California State constitutions. You may wish to review their amendment processes. For example, had California's Prop. 8 not been an initiative amendment Judge Walker would have had to hunt for other specious grounds in his attempt to block it.

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