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May 02 2012

The London 2012 Olympics. We demand Justice for Women.

Here is a list of  suggestions/demands  ‘the League of the International Rights of Women’ made. I support their ideas. What about you?

”Universality of the Olympic Charter
The Olympic Games will open in London on 27 July 2012
“The Olympic Movement has always been about more than just a sporting competition” [IOC (International Olympic Committee) President]

The only Law that governs the Games is the Olympic Charter based on universal values which each member of the Olympic Movement swears to observe (Olympic Oath).
The Olympic Charter proclaims:
A goal: ‘to contribute to building a better world’ (Chapter 1, Rule1.1)
Universal fundamental ethical principles, such as: ‘Any form of discrimination [including gender discrimination] is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement’ (Principle 5)
A commitment to equality: ‘implementing the principle of equality of men and women’ (Chapter 1, Rule 2.7)
Neutrality in sport: ‘No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted on any Olympic sites, venues or other areas’ (Chapter 5, Rule 51.3)
The Charter as a lever for the rights of women:
Where cultural and/or religious traditions govern political institutions and social mores, women are still subject to constraints linked to gender stereotypes and taboos.

In the stadium, under the same law, wearing similar attires, women athletes share with men the joy of exertion and striving for the highest goal.

 

1. To ban countries that exclude women from their delegation (Principle of non-discrimination):

In 1992 a feminist association the Atlanta + Committee (an offshoot of the League of the International Rights of Women)
denounced the absence of women from 35 delegations to the Barcelona Games: South Africa was excluded from the Games for 30 years for racial apartheid. Why has sexual apartheid not received the same treatment? The foundation stone laid by the Atlanta + Committee has now become part of Olympic history:
‘On the eve of the centenary celebrations of the modern Olympic Games, entirely new demands have been put forward by a European-founded feminist coalition. Quoting the Olympic Charter, which bans any form of discrimination in the Olympic Movement, the Atlanta + Committee publicly urges the IOC to exclude from the Atlanta Games any delegation that comprises only male athletes’ (extract from Vol. III of A Century of the IOC).
The number of delegations that do not include women has shrunk from 35 in Barcelona in 1992 to 3 in Beijing in 2008, thanks to pressure from the Atlanta + Committee. But why do the Games still accept countries that so openly violate the Olympic Charter?

 

2. To ensure neutrality in sport by banning the wearing of political or religious symbols (Rule 51 on the neutrality of sport):

As far back as 1994, Tehran delegates at the Brighton conference on ‘Women and Sport’, asked for the rules governing sport attire to
be amended to allow the wearing of garments that are imposed on all women by the Khomeini regime. In 1996 an Iranian woman athlete took part in the Atlanta Games clothed from head to toe. In 2008 at the Beijing Games, 14 delegations had veiled women: an athlete from Bahrain took part in the 400 m race totally covered, openly demonstrating a political and religious stance. In 2010 in Singapore, at the first session of the Youth Games, the IOC accepted – with the approval of FIFA – the participation of female Iranian football players covered from head to foot.

 

3. To stop supporting separate Games for women, which institutionalize sexual segregation in sport (Principle of non-discrimination):

Since 1993 and every four years, Iran has organised Games – replicating the Olympic format – for women from Islamic countries.
There is one major difference: the total absence of the media or male spectators. Since 1995, the Atlanta + Committee has
denounced the presence of IOC observers at these Games. The IOC justifies this by claiming that it is a step forward as it allows these women to take part in competitions. However, during apartheid in South Africa the IOC had declared that competitions organised for Blacks only were unacceptable. Why does it now approve segregation that  goes against the Olympic Charter?

 

4. To demand effective parity between men and women within Olympic disciplines and events (Principle of non-discrimination):

 

Age-old disparities… The Modern Games (1896), as conceived by Pierre de Coubertin, excluded women, apart from a few disciplines that were considered secondary (golf, tennis, sailing) .

Thanks to Alice Milliat’s (one of the first women sport managers) and others persistence, in 1928 women were finally admitted to track and field events.

Since then, a long battle has been waged on two fronts: to increase the number of female participants (29% in 1992 in Barcelona, 42% in 2008 in Beijing) and to widen the range of sports open to women.

At the London Games the introduction of female boxing will open another door.

Although they show some progress, global statistics still hide the persistent lack of equality.E.g. at the Games in Beijing in 2008:
• There were 1704 more male athletes than female athletes.
• 165 medals were given to male athletes compared to 127 to female athletes because of a lower number of disciplines opened to women.
…still hidden in the ‘details’
There is now parity as regards the number of sports open to both men and women. There are discrepancies, however, as to the corresponding number of disciplines and events. Examples of disparity: in boxing, canoeing and wrestling there are fewer events for
women, e.g. canoeing has three events for men and only one for women.

 

5. To observe the minima determined by the IOC and increase the number of women participating in the decision-making bodies (Commitment to the promotion of equality)

Women are still a small minority in the governing bodies of the Olympic Movement, such as the IOC, NOC, OCOG, International and National Federations.
At its 105th session in Atlanta in July 1996, the IOC decided that the NOCs should allow women at least 10% of the seats in all decision-making bodies by 31 December 2000. This rate should have reached 20% by December 2005.

We are still very far from this goal! Here is a striking example: of the 19 members of the 2012 London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), only one is a woman: the  Princess Royal.

 

6. In and around the Games: eliminate gender discrimination based on sexual stereotypes (Building a better world)

To fight against sexism, homophobia and transphobia.

• In the Olympic Movement sport has an educational role and contributes to the building of identities.

Within the framework of the Games, it is important to reject gender stereotypes and the sexualisation of the sportsman’s or
sportswoman’s image. The wording is also important: for example, describing an event as a ‘women’s event’ but not describing an event as ‘a men’s event’ is a way of saying that sport is first and foremost for men.
• Everyone has the right to take part in sport
Only a small number of sportsmen and women openly declare their homosexuality. These Games must demonstrate that the Olympic movement is aware of this issue and ready to make a lasting commitment to fight homophobia in sport at all levels.
The 2012 Games must be a secure and welcoming place where everyone must be able to take part without fear in respect of their sexual orientation.

 

Paralympics
In the same spirit, why not include the paralympic events in the Olympic Games so that all athletes can benefit from the same public and media exposure!

Fight against organised prostitution around the Olympic sites

During every large sporting event, prostitution increases dramatically. It would simply be unacceptable for London if, once again, a sporting event were accompanied by organised prostitution, as was the case at the football World Cup. Buying sex is not a sport, it is downright exploitation.

7. To pay homage to women pioneers in sport: the Marathon Gold Medal should be given to both the male and female marathon winners by the IOC President (Principle of non-discrimination)

The Marathon is still at the heart of the Games: before the closing ceremony the only Gold Medal personally given by the IOC President is to the (male) Marathon winner.
Why not to the female winner?
At the first modern Games in Athens (1896), Stamatha Revithi, a Greek woman also known as Melpomene, was refused the right to compete in the Marathon because she was a woman.
She persevered, ran a solo race, finished it in a respectable time and became a legend!
Why not organise the Marathon for both men and women, the latter starting their race before the male competitors so that the winners of both sexes can share the applause?

 

Our message addresses everyone but especially the Olympic Movement

This is a reminder

• to those who argue that ‘these demands are outside their remit’:
In 1958 in an open letter to the President of the IOC, Olav Ditlev-Simonsen, of the Norwegian NOC, was the first to request the exclusion of South Africa because of its apartheid policy.
• to those who prefer to compromise with requests, devoid of any connection with sport, made by certain countries:
The Olympic Oath they have sworn makes them ambassadors of the Olympic values and not of their own country’s policy.
The IOC’s only response to our many requests has been:
To welcome the growing number of women athletes participating in the Games.
This answer avoids the truth: women are still excluded, as a matter of principle, from certain delegations, just as Blacks were from the South African delegation.

The IOC never argued with the antiapartheid movement that they should be satisfied with the growing number of Black participants from other countries. It acted according to the Charter.
To keep silent on the breaching of Rule 51 and other rules of the Olympic Charter.

 

Enough is enough!

Why is it that what was considered by the Olympic Movement to be intolerable for Blacks is tolerable for women?

We demand an end to gender-based discrimination and stereotypes. 

London must mark the turning point:

Great Britain is the birthplace of modern sports based on standardised rules and their application;

British feminism has left its mark on the history of modern societies and on democracy;

The Games are taking place in Europe, where it is claimed an ambitious plan is being developed

The 2012 Olympic Games provide a historic occasion for affirming the rights and duties of women and men in sporting competitions and for reminding participating countries of the obligation they have to respect that equality. ”

 

 

 

18 comments

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  1. 1
    Ysanne

    @Point 2, which you mostly make about women competing fully covered due to religious reasons:
    Why not go one step further, and limit dress regulations to issues of practicality for the given competition, instead of telling athletes how much of their body to cover or expose?
    I find it quite problematic how for example beach volleyball outfits for women are regulated to be “sexy”, down to prescribing a “maximum width” of 7cm for the bikini bottom’s sides. (And upward-angled leg cutouts, etc.) And it was a close call with the thankfully abandoned “skirt rule” for Badminton.
    All in the name of being “attractive” to male spectators.

    Maybe the issue is not really religion in this case, but that it’s only about men’s ideas about how women should look while competing, instead of what female athletes prefer to wear.

  2. 2
    Robert B.

    Um. Wait a minute.

    Inside the Olympic arena, women use their bodies to perform great feats of athletics. This is big business – advertisers, TV broadcasters, the city of London, and many others will make a great deal of money from the Olympics. But the Games have a policy of amateurism, so none of this money goes to the athletes who make it all possible. Everyone gets paid except the stars. Nonetheless, women should certainly be included equally, and have more involvement than they do at present.

    Outside the Olympic arena, women use their bodies to perform sex work. This, too, is big business, and again there’s a great deal of money involved. But in this case, the women who use their bodies to provide a valued service do generally get a share of the money. Nonetheless, this is horrible and exploitative, and women should absolutely be barred from working in this way.

    How does that go again?

    (And by the way, if sex work is without exception exploitative, unwilling, and so on, and prostitution increases dramatically around major sporting events, where do the extra workers come from to make up this temporary increase? Do we posit roving bands of pimps who arrive in advance of the athletes and round up additional women, who they force to work as prostitutes and then release when the event is over? Barring that, I can’t see but that the extra workers must have made an economic choice like any other. Short of radically redesigning the whole economy – which I’m happy to discuss if you have a proposal – who are we to take that choice away from them?)

  3. 3
    Sids

    First, I’ll say I like your posts, Taslima. You aren’t afraid of controversial topics and I really respect that.
    While a generally agree, (I know I’m probably going to be eaten alive for this) I have to take issue with point 4. Personally, I’m a big advocate of sport at all levels and encourage everyone to have a go. But there’s a reason that national sports teams are supported to a higher degree than state teams and so forth. Because they compete at a higher level. As much as its nice to say that men and women are equal in most (there are exceptions, netball, gymnastics) sports men simply compete at a higher level. I don’t think this can be disputed, look at the world records for track and field or swimming.
    The unfortunate truth is that while there’s no denying the effort that they put in, many international champions of women’s sport perform at or below the level of a good state or regional men’s teams/athletes. I have no doubt that part of this is because sport isn’t promoted as much for women so they tend to be drawing from a smaller pool and have less opportunities, but nonetheless, it doesn’t seem fair to reward them at the same levels when they perform at lower levels. To do so seems to echo positive action and lowers the required standard based solely on gender.

    1. 3.1
      Robert B.

      We consider similar feats of athletics made with different tools to be different events. Jumping over a horizontal bar with a vaulting pole, for example, is different than making a similar jump without one – it counts as a different event with its own medals, even though the jumps with the pole are always higher.

      So if a woman’s body has different physical properties than a man’s, why shouldn’t we equally value the best accomplishments made with each?

      If you insist on only counting the performance of greatest magnitude, regardless of circumstances, are you okay with track and field coming to be dominated by athletes with prosthetic legs? Such devices are already surpassing the performance of human biology.

      And even if you set aside all that, is anything about this issue worth injecting extra male privilege into the most visible international tradition in the world?

      1. Sids

        I don’t know how to quote, so bear with me…

        “Jumping over a horizontal bar with a vaulting pole…”
        Indeed, and pole vault incorporates different muscle groups, and different technique, and is fully inclusive of all athletes. If a competitor simply decided they wanted to use a shorter pole and realised that he then couldn’t compete with the other athletes, would you support them having an all new event with equal rewards? (The equipment analogy falls apart a bit, since a person can choose what equipment they use, they can’t choose their gender [kind of...]).

        “So if a woman’s body has different physical properties…”
        If a person is unable to compete with the other athletes because ze has less muscle or shorter legs or whatever would you give them an event just for them? Or would you simply point out that they didn’t reach the standard of the other athletes? The obvious counter example here would be boxing with separate weight classes. Personally, I think that while that’s good for encouraging different people to enter the sport, I don’t think that light weights should expect the same prize money or other rewards as the person that they cannot equal.

        “…are you okay with track and field coming to be dominated by athletes with prosthetic legs? ”
        Since the Olympics are about finding the best physical specimens (faster, higher. stronger), I don’t think that external influences should be brought into it. That becomes more of a competition of who is best able to manipulate their hardware, which is an entirely different competition.

        “…is anything about this issue worth injecting extra male privilege into the most visible international tradition in the world?”
        I think we can both agree that that isn’t a good thing, but the issue is how to deal with that fairly. I’m not really sure what the solution would be.

        In order to be fully fair, we would need to remove gender segregation completely. Forget finding the ‘fastest man’ and ‘fastest woman’ and just find the ‘fastest person’. This of course would have the side effect that there would be almost no women qualifying at all. Which would be unfortunate.

        On the other hand, don’t we already do that with other differences? For instance, different races do have different physical characteristics. Some are more suited to certain events than others. Do you take issue if no black people are in the 1500m freestyle? or no white people are in the 100m sprint? (obviously I’m stereotyping, but I think the point is clear). Would you expect them to introduce separate/more events just so that every group can get the same number of medals? Personally, I don’t keep tally of medals won by individual races, so why do we do so with genders?

        If a salesman was to sell 10% more than a saleswoman, would you expect them to be paid the same? Would you say “she’s ‘just a woman’, so should have a lower standard?” Why do so with sport? (obviously if they sold the same amount, then they should be paid the same amount, that’s a different issue entirely).

        If a man runs 100m in 10.3 seconds he is considered a decent athlete, but will not be invited to the Olympics at all. If a woman performs the same feat, she will be an Olympic gold medal winning world record holder. Is that gender equality?

        1. Ysanne

          If a competitor simply decided they wanted to use a shorter pole and realised that he then couldn’t compete with the other athletes, would you support them having an all new event with equal rewards?

          Doesn’t happen in pole vaulting right now, but in a lot of sports, yes, there are separate disciplines for a range of tool variations.
          Say, diving (jumping off a platform, not scuba): The tricks that get you a gold medal with from the 1m-board are not enough for the 10m-platform.
          Or equestrian: The eventing horses wouldn’t stand a chance in the dressage or show jumping competitions. But then, there’s a discipline for riders and horses who are OK at both and great in cross-country, too.
          Or fencing: Three different kind of long pointy bits of metal, each with a different set of rules of poking and/or hitting the opponent.
          Or wrestling and boxing: Categories based on weight, because obviously it’s not fair to have a tiny wiry 50kg person wrestle a 120kg muscle mountain.

          Even more obvious for (non-olympic) sports such as motorcycle races: Would you completely dismiss the winner of a 250cc motorcycle race as unworthy of attention just because the bikes in the 1000cc class are much faster anyway?

          So, yeah, there are fairly specialised disciplines and categories in order to ensure more or less fair conditions for the participating athletes. In disciplines that place high demands on physical attributes such as height, strength or flexibility, it makes perfect sense to have subdisciplines for more or less homogeneous groups of competitors, and dividing into male and female is one of the most obvious groupings.

          It’s definitely not just about the absolute result — if it were, you could just completely forget about a discipline such as a marathon race: After all, any idiot with a crappy car is faster than the best runners…

          1. Sids

            Fair points, but as I’d pointed out the equipment analogy kind of falls flat. Most of the examples you’ve listed there the different equipment makes for an entirely different sport with different tactics. I would say that’s a bit different than simply saying “This athlete can’t compete with the people who are actually the best at this sport, so we’ll put them in a separate event which is exactly the same except with rules specifically excluding other competitors based solely on their gender. Then we’ll claim that the achievement is equal.”

            The boxing/wrestling/weightlifting/motorcycle example is the best analogy there and as I’d said, I don’t think the lower weights/powers there should be getting the same rewards either.

            Your example with the car beating the marathon runner harps back to Robert’s point with the prosthetic limbs and such. Incorporating external (beyond the athlete themselves) aides that bring an advantage turns it into a completely different sport which is more a matter of manipulating equipment rather than the individuals athleticism. This could lead to an argument about whether pacemakers or bionic ears count, or if a certain hockey stick helps more than the other athlete’s. But that’s a discussion for another day.

            To me, there should be a single division open to everyone (all genders, all races, everyone equal – isn’t that what sport is all about? breaking down barriers?) as the pinnacle of the sport. If they then want include more people by bringing in a separate part of the competition open only to subsets of the whole, then fair enough, but the rewards should not be the same. For example the tennis opens will have a junior section. While the juniors can compete with the adults (I think), the junior competition is closed to the adults. As such the juniors get lower rewards.

            Generally speaking, Asian people will be less suited to short distance sprinting than someone of African heritage. Should we therefore create new events only open to Asians just so that they can win more? Isn’t segregation something that we should be avoiding?

            I apologise if I offend by going back to race, but I think it shows the point where an athlete may not be as suited biologically to a specific discipline, but bring other strengths. I think that’s a better way to celebrate people of all types. To see the strengths in them and allow that to show, rather than just creating a quota so that they have no choice but to win.

            If we want more female’s winning medals I would suggest that instead of just segregating and excluding anyone that could beat them, we instead start pushing for new sports to be brought in that are more suited to a woman’s physique. Men can compete, but would theoretically be less likely to win. I’m not sure specifically what those would be (if I tried, I’d just be spewing out stereotypes). Any suggestions?

        2. Taslima Nasreen

          The physical differences between men and women can not be compared with the physical differences between black men and white men. They are not the same.

  4. 4
    Sids

    As for point 2, couldn’t a nations flag be considered a ‘political symbol’? Don’t many of those flags also contain things which could be considered ‘religious symbols’?

    The athletes are already segregating themselves based on country of origin (or residence… or preference… or something…) so by the very nature of the games, neutrality (at least from the athletes themselves) isn’t really something that can be promoted.

    To me, as long as it isn’t giving them an unfair advantage – nor a disadvantage for other competitors, and the dress codes are being followed (such as above, where the head scarved women are still wearing their uniforms over the top), I think athletes should be free to express themselves with whatever extra accessories they want. The point is to see people performing at their best. To take away the ‘lucky charms’ and other trivial things that make the competitor more comfortable seems petty.

    One thing I would say is that the athletes should have to go through the qualification rounds with whatever extra things they plan on having. They shouldn’t be able to whip out a political item after earning the stage without it.

  5. 5
    tony goddard

    The ‘Olympic Ideal’ seems past its sell-by date. The modern games are a dystopian fantasy with SAM (surface to air missiles) to be installed in residential areas near the arena, and a plethora of intrusive anti-doping legislation which merely gives commercial impetus to a whole lot of illegal organisations bent on evading the controls. Drug testing is pernicious, because there are many with asthma who can make the grade in any number of sports, but many OTC remedies contain banned substances. It is only a sort of puritanism from the days of Victorian empires with their ‘Muscular Christianity’ which add recreational drugs to the list of banned substances. There are also important vested interests in running all the drug testing laboratories, and a system of certification of these laboratories to make sure the people running them are neither corrupt nor incompetant.

    As far as women competing in sport is concerned I would very much like to see more events which are gender neutral: women compete against other women and men, and vice versa. Weight limit divisions in some sports could help.

    What is the much touted ‘Olympic Legacy’ ? Bankruptcy in the case of Greece, and a huge complex surrounded by security guards in Beijing, along with the normal social cleansing (relocation of the poor) that goes along with such jamborees. If an Olympics does not lose money, it only makes a profit from commercial sponsorship from the sort of companies that promote environmentally degrading schemes or the sale of commercial tribal symbols (Brand Names)..

    Olympic sport is the apex of a scheme which discriminates against women. Decisions in the West are made by men who did things like rowing, or football while at University. The rowers do have the occassional female cox, but that is often seen as mere tokenism.

    The call (#5) for more women to participate in decision making bodies is particularly pertinent.

    1. 5.1
      seditiosus

      I agree with you. And while I’m in favour of removing discrimination from sporting events like the Olympics, I also think removing discrimination from politics and culture is a) more important, and b) will filter through to events like the Olympics, instead of the other way round.

  6. 6
    left0ver1under

    Isn’t it funny how asking for equal treatment for women is “politics”, but telling athletes to shut up about politics “isn’t politics”?

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/SPORT/02/10/olympics.britain/

    British athletes selected for [2008]‘s Olympic Games in Beijing will be asked to sign a contract that forbids them from criticizing China’s human rights record.

    [...]

    Athletes who refuse to sign the agreement will not be allowed to travel to compete in the Games from August 8-24, according to a sunday newspaper report.

    Another form that IOC sexism takes can be shown in beach volleyball. (It’s a stupid sport, but putting that aside….) Women in that sport have been required to wear bikinis, suits so small they end up becoming thongs on most of the competitors. The IOC still pretends it’s not selling skin to attract viewers.

    There was an “uproar” a few years ago about Iraqi women wearing spandex shorts during beach volleyball. Muslims said the Iraqis weren’t covered up enough, and the event organizers said the shorts covered too much. The shorts may have covered more skin and were fully opaque, but they were still fairly revealing.

    For this year’s olympics, the IdiOtiC organizers have relented and women can wear shorts, but they still have to be spandex, not the loose beach shorts men wear.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/mar/27/olympic-beach-volleyball-london-2012

    1. 6.1
      Ysanne

      Or one-piece suits. Still with an “upward angled leg cutout”. I seem to recall there’s also a ridiculous long-legged spandex thingy, similar to the outfits worn when it’s really cold. The point of having those seems to put a sign on the wearer: “This woman is being made to look ridiculous for refusing to show her buttocks and abs.”
      (Not that I’d have any problem with wearing thongs and cropped tops myself. It’s just nobody else’s business what a woman chooses to wear.)

    2. 6.2
      Phillip Helbig

      The original Olympic games were done in the nude. Going back to this tradition would solve all the issues regarding dress codes for various Olympic sports.

  7. 7
    IUSW

    I see you had to add a piece about prostitution. Sporting events like the Olympics don’t bring about an increase of prostitution and trafficking. The last two world cups, south Africa and Germany had no increase in organised prostitution. South Africa many sex workers arrived but left early because of no business. Germany there was hysteria about a huge wave of trafficked women, none appeared.

    The same is true for the Greek Olympics, which saw a small increase in detected trafficking, probably caused more by greater awareness.

    Hysteria of this type has caused clamp downs in the London Bouroughs by the police. Increased raids and closure of working flats. This has been detrimental to women’s safety, causing some to work on the street, while those still working in flats dare not call the police when they are threatened by criminals. Those that have reported crimes of violence and theft are often then prosecuted with offences associated with prostitution.

    http://www.xtalkproject.net/?p=1059

    http://www.scot-pep.org.uk/news/join-campaign-moratorium-sex-worker-arrests

    http://ncafcwomen.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/moratorium-on-sex-worker-arrests-during-the-olympics-join-the-campaign/

  8. 8
    Sean

    Should all countries that discriminate against homosexuals be banned or just the Muslim ones? I am not aware of many countries where gay marriage is legal or homophobia isn’t a serious problem. How about countries like the US that are currently engaged in wars of aggression against other countries. How about those like the UK, Israel, France and Turkey that are involved in proxie wars in Syria or in openly calling for war against Iran?

    Within the context of the Olympics it is difficult to justify singling out Muslim countries for censure when they are hardly the biggest human rights offenders.

  9. 9
    modern house

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  10. 10
    lauchlan leishman sydney

    I do enjoy the way you have presented this specific problem plus it does supply me personally some fodder for thought. Nonetheless, through everything that I have observed, I only wish when the opinions pack on that folks continue to be on issue and don’t get started on a soap box associated with some other news of the day. Still, thank you for this superb point and though I can not really go along with the idea in totality, I respect the point of view.

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