MoD language guide

BarcelonaAnalPark

LE
Book Reviewer
hence the quantity and lack of quality of emissions from the so-called LGB so-called Alliance and the likes of James Dreyfuss, and Simon (an irritant at best ) Fanshawe or Graham Linehan ,
Graham Linehan is a very intelligent & articulate man. He's made some good contributions to the debate & attracted flack from the usual suspects.

Being a military themed forum, it's not unusual to see new profiles, well-resourced with links & narratives, diving into controversial or polarised debates with reactionary opinions and inflammatory styles but with curious styles of written English. So it does raise a wry-smile to see accusations of xrw & RT funding on a topic which from the outside appears to have created a chasm in Western society.
 
@Gravelbelly
The above is a good demonstrative answer to your question, why I and others simply do not trust the LGBT activist side in this. It has nothing to do with LGB or even T communities, not least because I don't see activist groups show any evidence that they genuinely represent their concerns. It's about the activists groups who are pushing particular debates and policies in their name are doing a major disservice to those they claim to represent.

As spent at least a week in the papers a few months ago, there are plenty of LGBT people who have now publicly agreed, including several of the Stonewall founders.

And I disagree. You keep calling the MoD document a "speech code", even though it goes at great length to explain that it is no such thing. Please, do point out the sections of text that make you most concerned that the document is lying.

You might also explain your position with regards to Section 28? I was an adult when that was put into UK law, you were probably at school when it was still in force, and yet you insist that the MoD putting out a few pages' explanation of how to discuss unfamiliar situations is "using a chainsaw to swat a fly". Perhaps you could explain your position on the subject of UK public-funded schools still following Section 28 policy? What of the Briggs Initiative in the USA, or Proposition 8? Would you still say that the "LGBT activists" have been as successful as the "anti-LGBT activists"?

From my position, your current line of argument is rather like those in the USA who insist that they do not trust BLM activists. They insist it has nothing to do with the black community, not least because you don't see activist groups show any evidence that they genuinely represent their concerns - and it's about the activists groups who are pushing particular debates and policies in their name, and are doing a major disservice to those who they claim to represent.

It's convenient to dismiss activists as "unrepresentative", if you don't want to face an uncomfortable truth about why they are active in the first place.
 
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Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
And I disagree. You keep calling the MoD document a "speech code", even though it goes at great length to explain that it is no such thing. Please, do point out the sections of text that make you most concerned that the document is lying.

You might also explain your position with regards to Section 28? I was an adult when that was put into UK law, you were probably at school when it was still in force, and yet you insist that the MoD putting out a few pages' explanation of how to discuss unfamiliar situations is "using a chainsaw to swat a fly". Perhaps you could explain your position on the subject of UK public-funded schools still following Section 28 policy? What of the Briggs Initiative in the USA, or Proposition 8? Would you still say that the "LGBT activists" have been as successful as the "anti-LGBT activists"?

From my position, your current line of argument is rather like those in the USA who insist that they do not trust BLM activists. They insist it has nothing to do with the black community, not least because you don't see activist groups show any evidence that they genuinely represent their concerns - and it's about the activists groups who are pushing particular debates and policies in their name, and are doing a major disservice to those who they claim to represent.

It's convenient to dismiss activists as "unrepresentative", if you don't want to face an uncomfortable truth about why they are active in the first place.
I call it a speech code because that is what it is: it is guidance about how and what to say in particular circumstances. Whatever the document calls it, that is a speech code.

Why do I think it's a lie? Because as you pointed out before, I've known the organisation to which it applies. The difference between "guidelines" and "rules" is a classic fudge in organisations like the MoD, like the difference between "policy" and "law". Certainly in theory only one (law) has force. Yet in practice the other (policy) is almost always enforced as if it has the weight of law behind it, and censure often will result from contravening it. Already in the Services, individuals are often censured for contravening 'guidelines' through equally subjective disciplinary action: e.g. "failure of values and standards". This is an AGAI criteria for censure, but the evidence is usually nonexistent or subjective, often based on subjective and open guidelines such as these. These documents enables a bullies charter just as much as rules (or guidelines) stating opposing ethical norms - I do not and would not support those, either.

I can speak specifically to the Army / MoD and say it happens there. But this is also exactly what has happened across various companies, institutions and is very widespread in universities in the US/UK. Again, you are suggesting this is theoretically harmless in the face of mounting practical experience that it is used to do harm.

Your questions about Section 28 and BLM. First off, let me posit a question you could have asked instead: I'm curious what is your interest, experience or motivation in this issue? An open question that, I suspect, gets to what you are trying to establish, but doesn't prejudge or imply the answer.

What you actually wrote was a thinly veiled assumption that I support homophobic and racist legislation, or am aligned with groups who do, and that (best of all) I am ignoring "uncomfortable truths". This isn't much different from @enpointe's tactics. I have thousands of posts on here over many years. Please point out to me the posts that raised your suspicions that I'm actually a badly motivated homophobe, Christian apologist or racist? Good luck, because none of those things are true. I've written extensively and in detail on this thread. Please point out to me the posts which imply the same motivations? Good luck there too, for the same reason. This is exactly how debate is degraded in bad faith. Despite pages of specific points and presenting sources to support it, despite my specifically raising this fellow traveller problem and explaining my view on it, you ignore it all and go for: please state your opinion on these objectionable views - as if the only thing that can be going on is that I am hiding behind logic and evidence to cover up awful things. Because there are badly motivated actors out there who disagree with you, you assume anyone who disagrees with you is badly motivated. Shame on you, No 1.

For what it's worth, because I don't have anything to hide:
  • I don't / didn't / wouldn't support S28 because it was a nationally mandated discrimination on bad grounds.
  • I don't support faith schools because I think they are too often antithecal to education.
  • I do support the right to faith schools (clearly advertised as such) because I recognise that they solve a rights conflict: that religious believers shouldn't have my views imposed on them.
  • I think the problem with BLM is (almost) exactly what you describe - the organisation BLM is not representative of either the movement for Civil Rights or the group 'all Black people in America'. What's more, this is both common sense and widely evidenced with plenty of prominent black conservatives objecting to BLM being treated as if it is representative of American Black people, obviously a huge and diverse group. Are you concerned that I believe in objective facts?
I'll also give you an answer to the question you could have asked. My interest in this is because I'm autistic. My experiences (bad ones, mostly) in the Army and since childhood, have taught me very well how social 'guidelines' are weaponised against those who don't conform to them, intentionally or otherwise. I've seen how they enable malicious individuals to abuse them in the name of various social niceties which may come automatically to most, but not to some. Most often that means specifically weaponising 'manners' such as these. I have, again, umpteen personal experiences of this: saying or doing something I simply did not register was verboten. Often it takes several attempts for me to work out the problem, because offence is rarely explicit. "But" - you may reply - "then surely this helps you work out what to say or do?". No. It validates the idea that someone must say the "right" thing. I, and people like me, are never going to consistently pass that test. Worse, it increasingly legitimises penalties for saying the "wrong" thing.

I've got a better, more tolerant and understanding solution. Stop teaching people there is a "right" thing to say. Try to understand the person, the situation, the context and the meaning. Stop taking the lazy and ineffective shortcut of regulating the words. With no small irony: do the work.

Perhaps if you had been a kid who was starved for three days, made to spend hours standing naked and wet in a shower block during winter, or a variety of less fun abuses by a bully in authority operating under cover of the idea of "teaching manners", you too might be more wary of authoritarianism embroidered with pink kittens. As I pointed out several pages ago, the existence of that document - regardless of its pretty feeble section on neurodivergence - prejudges an inherent good in establishing and specifying such speech, when many feel precisely the opposite, because defined speech is a cudgel often used to beat us with. It, and you, prejudge the inherent good of "sensitivity" or prioritising "feelings". To me, quite aside from just not processing those in the same way as most people, those ideas establish a chronic and actively painful conflict with appeals to "honesty", "truth" and "rationality".

Any 'diversity' formula that doesn't even seem to try to acknowledge and balance those inherent conflicts is not one I have any faith in. Much less the practice - which increasingly is what is reported in DEI complaint texts - which interprets tiny variations in indvidual social responses as malicious. My entire life in society has basically been one large trial-and-error about which expressions, vocalisations or reactions will pass as normal, and which will incur (often extreme) reactions of offense or rejection. I still don't have the second one down, and I've had a lot of practice. Yet here you are arguing that further regulation of such intricate socialisations is harmless, because its harmless to you. Meanwhile, people, probably more like me, are socially ostracised for minor speech and behavioural mistakes, and you...well you've failed to address it at all, despite my raising that point almost every page. The sheer arrogance of your myopia about others experiences astounds me.

Specifically relating to the current trans debate, it has made me aware of situations such as the very large number of children being treated for gender dysphoria, who have an ASD diagnosis co-morbid or show ASD traits. This is increasingly highlighted in independent research in the US and (e.g. Bell vs Tavistock) legal findings in the UK that such diagoses are often ignored or sidelined in the name of "affirmation". In other words: it looks increasingly likely that autistic children are having characteristic social difficulties misdiagnosed as gender dysphoria, resulting in mis-treatment that involve surgical mutilation and major chemical interventions whose long-term effects are admitted to be unknown. This is simply institutional child abuse. It is being enabled by an activist culture that shuts down dissent, ostracises those who challenge their narratives, and paints their opponents with bad faith accusations and slurs. This is the culture that you are echoing, if not a fully paid up member of.

So when you say I'm ignoring "uncomfortable truths", shame on you No. 2. I strongly suspect that within five to ten years, the issues above I describe will out, because there are some fine journalists who have the thread and keep pulling. At that point, much like the debate around grooming gangs that was initially dismissed as Islamophobic, it will rapidly invert to asking how "they" let this neo-conversion therapy and medical experimentation on autistic children happen, and how "they" shut down debate about it. If that happens, I want you to remember this very clearly. It wasn't "they". It was you. The arrogance, hubris, unwillingness to engage with facts, and assumptions of bad faith have aligned you with a toxic political tribalism that you are implictly and explicitly supporting. By apparently treating this as an issue of sides in which you need to intervene on the side of the righteous (i.e. yours), you enable and excuse awful people and acts. Regardless of what you think or know about yourself as a person, your behaviour engaging with this topic is exclusionary, arrogant and has all the hallmarks of bad faith.

If you dislike this, or instinctively react that I'm on a side too, take a proper read through everything I've written. This time, allow that I might be both honest, and right. Allow that, perhaps, you see people on the 'other' side purely as a reflection of your own unacknowledged tribalism.

That's my final observation - it's never been the psychopaths, bullies or the malicious who are the most destructive agents in these problems. Them you can see coming, defend against, and sometimes overcome. Some you can even understand or sympathise with, because often their malice stems from a similar trauma to that they cause. The worst people are the ones who see what is happening, but stand by mute or get behind them. They are the weak, lazy and cowardly. They are the worst not just because they enable the bullies, but because hide behind a facade of normality or righteousness. They hide it so well, that it is hidden even from themselves. They are impervious to the idea that they might be wrong. If you are one day reading about the GIDS/Autism scandal, I want you to remember: that was you.

Note: I've not bothered with sources this time, because over ten pages of you asking for them, I've provided them and you ignored it. Go read the stuff I've already sourced instead.
 
For what it's worth, because I don't have anything to hide:
  • I don't / didn't / wouldn't support S28 because it was a nationally mandated discrimination on bad grounds.
  • I don't support faith schools because I think they are too often antithecal to education.
  • I do support the right to faith schools (clearly advertised as such) because I recognise that they solve a rights conflict: that religious believers shouldn't have my views imposed on them.
Agreed, agreed, agreed - we share very similar opinions on all of these things.

I've got a better, more tolerant and understanding solution. Stop teaching people there is a "right" thing to say. Try to understand the person, the situation, the context and the meaning. Stop taking the lazy and ineffective shortcut of regulating the words. With no small irony: do the work.
And I agree. How about a document which says something like:
"We all make mistakes, and respectfully correcting others contributes to an inclusive culture. Learning from our own mistakes is crucial to being inclusive".
Or even
"If we treat everyone we encounter as we would wish to be treated, an integral part of these interactions is the language we use."?

Maybe: "The Wigston Review also identified that the majority of harm caused by inappropriate language is unintentional, often due to the poor understanding of its impact on others. This need for better understanding around language is also evidenced in the increasing requests for guidance on language from across Defence (including the need for coherent guidance on terms to describe ethnicity and on gender-neutral language). The way to improve this understanding and achieve meaningful change around use of language is through a coherent and joined up approach"

I came across an interesting article from a Chief Inclusion Officer for a large multinational; he agrees with your earlier point about Implicit Assumption, and doesn't like unconscious bias training - but his reasoning is still worth a read:


These documents enables a bullies charter just as much as rules (or guidelines) stating opposing ethical norms - I do not and would not support those, either.

I can speak specifically to the Army / MoD and say it happens there. But this is also exactly what has happened across various companies, institutions and is very widespread in universities in the US/UK. Again, you are suggesting this is theoretically harmless in the face of mounting practical experience that it is used to do harm.

You're the one suggesting that this will happen as a result of this document - but I don't think you've demonstrated proof beyond anecdata. A Quillette article is about as solid a basis for factual debate on the subject of gender identity, as a Daily Mail editorial; and as for the two people who you linked stories for, they've worked really hard to get noticed, almost as if it was deliberate:
  • Marion Miller is a professional political activist; employed by an organisation that campaigns against transgender rights. Unsurprisingly, her supporters will claim that it's all bollocks. Let's wait for the court case, the Procurator Fiscal doesn't generally do things on a whim.
  • Graham Linehan seems somewhat vocal on the subject of transgender people; enough that he got himself permabanned from Twitter (which takes a fair bit of effort).
You aren't giving good examples of "innocent people hammered by bullies" - these are cases where someone went out of their way, in a determined effort to achieve their desired effect.

I agree that Hate Crime legislation is difficult to write well, perhaps even impossible. I've got lawyer friends who can get quite energetic around the subject - and I agree that the well-wishers can be damn dangerous (see the Scottish Justice Minister who was determined to remove a key principle of Scots Law, namely corroboration, because he believed it would lead to greater success rates in rape prosecutions). The irony for me was watching a Conservative legal friend point out that the EU Courts offered an additional backstop against politicians determined to force through badly-written laws for political gain - the Dangerous Dogs Act, the Firearms Act, identity cards, and thankfully-failed attempts to introduce detention without charge or trial.

But that doesn't mean that Hate Speech doesn't exist, or that it can't (or shouldn't) be prosecuted. And I don't think that a language guide framed as a "look, if you want to understand why saying something this way might offend, but this way probably won't" guide has more risk than benefit - in my opinion it's a more constructive approach, than a coercive one.

Your questions about Section 28 and BLM. First off, let me posit a question you could have asked instead: I'm curious what is your interest, experience or motivation in this issue? An open question that, I suspect, gets to what you are trying to establish, but doesn't prejudge or imply the answer.

What you actually wrote was a thinly veiled assumption that I support homophobic and racist legislation...Please point out to me the posts that raised your suspicions that I'm actually a badly motivated homophobe, Christian apologist or racist?

You've cited a Quilette article about how comedians who "punched down" against the LGBT community got criticised and lost a few gigs; declared this to be undeniable evidence of LGBT activist censorship, first step on a slippery slope to tyranny, etc, etc; ignoring the fact that the actual legislation, actual censorship, actual threats against employment, has overwhelmingly been anti-LGBT - hence my point about Section 28.

I was suggesting that you ignore the evidence when it doesn't support your position. I have no reason to believe that you are any of those things; but it's a reasonable question, because so many of the most vocal on this subject do support bigoted legislation (but only ever framed in a helpful way, of course: "protecting our children and womenfolk", etc, etc).

When it comes being offended by "thinly-veiled assumption", I'd suggest that you're a hypocrite.
Because there are badly motivated actors out there who disagree with you, you assume anyone who disagrees with you is badly motivated. Shame on you
Bollocks.
  • My first post in this thread was a reply to you was an attempt to treat the subject with a bit of humour, suggesting that straight white blokes possibly weren't the best-placed to ridicule efforts at inclusion, and pointing out depressing HCDC evidence on the lived experience of women in the armed forces (post 15).
  • When you decided that a comparison with Nazism was appropriate, I tried to carry on the debate without accusation (post 94).
  • Where I've tried to provide evidence the claims (see links in the posts above), your response is that this is apparently "general handwaves that are mildly unrelated" (post 143)
I'd say that I did rather well, before I started to bite.

  • I think the problem with BLM is (almost) exactly what you describe - the organisation BLM is not representative of either the movement for Civil Rights or the group 'all Black people in America'. What's more, this is both common sense and widely evidenced with plenty of prominent black conservatives objecting to BLM being treated as if it is representative of American Black people, obviously a huge and diverse group. Are you concerned that I believe in objective facts?

I was attempting to use your own words to highlight the similarity of your argument with those used in different debates. The "but XXX isn't representative" and the "look, there's an X person who disagrees with them" argument may be true, but it is also irrelevant. Campaigns for civil rights haven't always been sensibly run, or effective; and some of their activists have been right nasty b**tards - but that doesn't devalue the underlying cause. NICRA had a point. BLM has a point. Stonewall has a point. And there are reactionaries who don't like it.

I think you believe that you deal in objective facts. But as I pointed out in an earlier post, where I was trying to build towards agreement (post 140), I now understand better that your background lends you different interpretations of the same data.
 
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Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
You're the one suggesting that this will happen as a result of this document - but I don't think you've demonstrated proof beyond anecdata. A Quillette article is about as solid a basis for factual debate on the subject of gender identity, as a Daily Mail editorial; and as for the two people who you linked stories for, they've worked really hard to get noticed, almost as if it was deliberate:
  • Marion Miller is a professional political activist; employed by an organisation that campaigns against transgender rights. Unsurprisingly, her supporters will claim that it's all bollocks. Let's wait for the court case, the Procurator Fiscal doesn't generally do things on a whim.
  • Graham Linehan seems somewhat vocal on the subject of transgender people; enough that he got himself permabanned from Twitter (which takes a fair bit of effort).
You aren't giving good examples of "innocent people hammered by bullies" - these are cases where someone went out of their way, in a determined effort to achieve their desired effect.
Quick reply - don't think I linked to Marion Miller or Graham Linehan, but I may be wrong. Think that was someone else.

I did link to Quillette, but did you read the actual article? The comedian in question (not Graham Linehan) is even less "right-wing" than JK Rowling. As you've compared it to the Daily Mail - how many Quillette articles have you actually read? I read quite a lot of Pink News, which is why I know where and how I disagree. Can you say the same about Quillette?

PS Quillette is very academia focused, but given that the gestation of this culture has been in universities, that is hardly proof of ignorance.

PPS That article isn't about comedians who "punched down" ... it's about how the perception of their jokes was weaponised by individuals who were actually punching down, against those they realised they could ostracise in a very small and cliquey group. I think you may be remembering two different articles, about Graham Linehan (not my link) and Jessica Pigeau (my link). Very different examples.
 
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Quick reply - don't think I linked to Marion Miller or Graham Linehan, but I may be wrong. Think that was someone else.
Post 130

I did link to Quillette, but did you read the actual article? The comedian in question (not Graham Linehan) is even less "right-wing" than JK Rowling.
I reread it - and I owe you an apology for not reading it more carefully. I got to the point where it started talking about Louis CK (who I'd heard of) and switched off. I should have continued to the end. It's a good article, and it makes several good points...

...but I don't see how the MoD could become a safe space for predatory individuals - it's too late, as you've pointed out in other threads, because the toxic gits are already there; thriving in an environment where "the only opinion that counts is the senior officer present".

(The examples I'm more familiar with are in Science Fiction, not comedy - the case of "Requires Hate", as a similar worked example. Or the chatter surrounding predatory behaviour on the convention circuit.)
 
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Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Post 130


I reread it - and I owe you an apology for not reading it more carefully. I got to the point where it started talking about Louis CK (who I'd heard of) and switched off. I should have continued to the end. It's a good article, and it makes several good points...

...but I don't see how the MoD could become a safe space for predatory individuals - it's too late, as you've pointed out in other threads, because the toxic gits are already there; thriving in an environment where "the only opinion that counts is the senior officer present".

(The examples I'm more familiar with are in Science Fiction, not comedy - the case of "Requires Hate", as a similar worked example. Or the chatter surrounding predatory behaviour on the convention circuit.)
Got it - I did link to articles in which they featured. Didn't remember it because the point of both was: the police did these things that it was promised they would not do. I don't think the identity or politics of those cautioned is relevant (that is, after all, the point of freedom of speech) but the articles clearly featured them. I think my point stands however - I also wasn't promoting their views but the actions against them merely for stating them. This is the "ACLU defending racists" approach (that they have now abandoned), which I support.

Jessica Pigeau is excellent. I recommend listening to the podcast too, she is better in discussion. I am curious about my other question though - how much have you read Quillette (or similar outlets that you may have heard are disreputable) and made up your own mind? I think that question goes to the heart of what we are discussing.

You are right about the MOD, but I think it means the opposite of what you do: when a killer who just shot 30 people pauses to reload, you don't hand him a new magazine.
 
I am curious about my other question though - how much have you read Quillette (or similar outlets that you may have heard are disreputable) and made up your own mind? I think that question goes to the heart of what we are discussing.
I try to give them a chance. I tried watching Russia Today for a while (probably managed a few hours; it was fascinating as a perspective, but got boring) and Fox News (slightly less before I gave up; I was in the US on business a few years back, found that I couldn't take more than ten minutes at a time). I have a low tolerance for deliberate lies. I'm perfectly happy to read the Daily Telegraph or the Guardian, if nothing else is around; I understand their biases, even if their columnists grate.

I've tried reading Toby Young, George Monbiot, and Simon Jenkins (concluded that they're either utter tw*ts, or clickbait writers aiming to generate outrage), I occasionally dip into Guido Fawkes (biased but at least predictable), and I found Dominic Cummings' blog fascinating.

I've not read Quillette before; I've dipped in this evening, and the top article on its current front page isn't exactly quality journalism, more a polemic (perhaps I'm spoiled by Economist articles) and looks at first glance as if the site defines itself by what it's against, not what it's for...they appear (to this hopeless SJW) to have the intellectual rigour of all those early Wavell Room articles about how the Reserves should be reorganised...

You are right about the MOD, but I think it means the opposite of what you do: when a killer who just shot 30 people pauses to reload, you don't hand him a new magazine.
In turn, I'm curious as to how the adding of discussion, to an already-flawed system, will make it worse. Those toxic leaders already have pretty much unlimited power; it's not as if many of them are gay, women, or BAME. There are already gatekeepers, and in/out groups. Just think of the urban myths about cavalry subalterns and their shiny new Ford Capri, or reread General Cowan's letter.

The only way I can think of it being "a new magazine" would be one of the first women to command an infantry battalion, turning out to be utterly toxic (but hiding it in the same way as generations of toxic men) - the US Navy had an instance of that a few years ago (and sacked her anyway). Or perhaps the stories I read on this site about a legendarily incompetent British Army Officer and self-claimed helicopter pilot with a double-barrelled name, who shamelessly played the race card for a few years before detection (and stripey suntan).

I just don't see how a document declaring support for inclusive language is going to affect such situations. The toxic sh!t with a commission just doesn't need it, they're doing fine with the OJAR.
 
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FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
Here's a considered view:

 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I've not read Quillette before; I've dipped in this evening, and the top article on its current front page isn't exactly quality journalism, more a polemic (perhaps I'm spoiled by Economist articles) and looks at first glance as if the site defines itself by what it's against, not what it's for...they appear (to this hopeless SJW) to have the intellectual rigour of all those early Wavell Room articles about how the Reserves should be reorganised...
It's not journalism, it's exactly what you describe - an outlet for mostly academics who have been censored in their own universities and fields. It also publishes other writing, including some journalism. But defining itself by what it is against (censorship) is exactly the point, and the number and background of contributors sort of highlights that there is a problem, at least in academia. That's my first point about it.

My second point is that your initial reaction (I'm presuming before reading, because it was an earlier post) was to dismiss as unreliable and right-wing it based off a Wiki link. You don't have to agree with every article to nonetheless see that it isn't reasonably any of the things it is slurred as (far-right, transphobic, homophobic, etc). You mention the first article up - well the third one is this: about acknowledging and solving domestic violence among Anglicans. Hardly reactionary far right. Check the RationalWiki link on it, and then read some of the articles. There is an investigative series on the causes of the upsurge of gender dysphoria diagnoses in the US which is well worth reading (but long). Read some and come back whether this is really transphobic as it gets portrayed.

It seems clear to me that there are at least three censorship effects here. First, the direct censorship that is in evidence in various legal and news cases previously referred to, attempted or actual "cancellation". This is increasingly visible, and an increasing number of cross-partisans are condemning - see the Harper's letter, the Stonewall founders, etc. The second is self-censorship, which is the publicity of the first set encouraging people to be quiet (either through fear or agreement, though the polling shows more likely fear). But the third is exactly what has just happened here: automatic dismissal because the references and cues you use to establish whether something is worth listening to (i.e. whether it is reliable, biased) have themselves become unreliable and biased. Your immediate reaction to hearing a new journal name was to research it - this is perfectly reasonable. But my point is that those search resources have become deliberately politicised and biased. This doesn't censor so much as it polarised - but the effect of that is to make opposing arguments invisible to particular poles.

Whether you agree with everything in each outlet isn't the point - the deliberate attempts to delegitmise them are. And yes, this is done as much by Fox News (and their audience) as it is by the Guardian (and their audience).

In turn, I'm curious as to how the adding of discussion, to an already-flawed system, will make it worse. Those toxic leaders already have pretty much unlimited power; it's not as if many of them are gay, women, or BAME. There are already gatekeepers, and in/out groups. Just think of the urban myths about cavalry subalterns and their shiny new Ford Capri, or reread General Cowan's letter.

The only way I can think of it being "a new magazine" would be one of the first women to command an infantry battalion, turning out to be utterly toxic (but hiding it in the same way as generations of toxic men) - the US Navy had an instance of that a few years ago (and sacked her anyway). Or perhaps the stories I read on this site about a legendarily incompetent British Army Officer and self-claimed helicopter pilot with a double-barrelled name, who shamelessly played the race card for a few years before detection (and stripey suntan).

I just don't see how a document declaring support for inclusive language is going to affect such situations. The toxic sh!t with a commission just doesn't need it, they're doing fine with the OJAR.
"Adding of discussion" is not a problem, exactly the opposite. But these language guides never add discussion: they regulate and police it. By definition anything that does that is limiting, not expanding debate. If yesterday I had the whole English language to choose from, and today the guidelines have either preferred or discouraged particular words, the range of potential expression has been limited. If this guide was one page that said: understanding where other people are coming from is a good thing, create space and time to talk with people about their experiences and consider different ways of experiencing and engaging with your collegagues - then I would be all for it. But you seem to be suggesting that is what it says when it does not. It specifies particular words that are preferable to others. It highlights particular identies in particular ways and thus implicitly prioritises them. It assumes that certain statements are true when a substantial minority disagree with them. All of these are implicit or explicit value judgements. What is somewhat remarkable is that this is exactly the point of much of the academic theory behind DEI - it fails to be neutral and inclusive on its own grounds.

This is the basic mechanism quite separate from the potential for authoritarians to abuse such rules, which I've already gone into at length. The 'new magazine' I referred to is giving additional excuses, opportunities an loopholes for abuse: obviously the easier it is to make such justifications, the more likely and often it will happen. I have no doubt that already the linked MOD document - regardless of claims that it is not a "speech code" - is being described as 'best practice' guidelines. If it's best practice; diverging from it is worse practice. Someone who deliberately follows worse practice is open to career and discipline consequences. This will discourage them from doing so. These are not hard cause-and-effect pathways to work out.

You quoted the Wigston report as suggesting that there were "increasing demands for guidance on language". Certainly it says that. I would like a bit more detail about what that means. Do you genuinely think that a few years ago, increasing numbers of private soldiers or the general public got up one day and thought: "You know what I'd really like? A pamphlet on acceptable political terminology." Of course they didn't. What has happened is that an environment has been created in which accusations of using the wrong language have been weaponised and given force. People see this affecting lives and careers, and are scared that it might happen to them. So, in cultures or organisations which trend to authoritarian or centralised edicts and solutions, they ask nanny for help. You may be correct that among young people, for example, this process is more automatic and less questioned because they have always existed in a censurious social environment. But that isn't a value judgement on whether that is a good thing, any more than it's good that children who grew up in the USSR or China learned there are certain things you don't say or ask. As such, I would want to know a lot more about the data in that report. Who is asking for this? Why? All else being equal, do they want to be asking for it, or do they feel they have no choice? I would particularly ask that because many other polls (linked previously, from mainstream neutral or left-leaning pollsters) consistently find that a large majority (up to ~80%) across all political leanings disapprove of mandated speech and oppose "political correctness", so the surface finding of the Wigston report directly contradicts the trend. As such I just don't trust it, leavened with additional mistrust from experience of politically motivated senior officer pronouncements.

So I don't see the logic of your argument once you scratch the surface. For me this starts with a value judgement: free speech and expression is still the best system we have of arbitrating disagreements without violence, and advancing ideas and knowledge. What has become the prevailing wisdom about free speech (that it is not and has never been absolutist) is wrong. The logic of free speech is absolutist, in both directions. My freedom to speak is what guarantees your freedom to speak. That does not allow for either of us to limit the other. If we do, the logic reverses: If I don't allow you to speak, why should you allow me to speak? The fact that most legal systems have regardless imposed speech limits does not disprove that - it just means those limits degrade the system. Sometimes (yelling fire in a theatre) they degrade it less than they mitigate bad actors exploiting it. Sometimes (Soviet political correctness laws) they benefit only a tiny elite and contribute to societal disasters (see: Chernobyl). That confusion of the existence of speech limits and the desirability of speech limits has been used to undermine the fundamental logic of speech rights. Now increasingly we find ourselves in an environment where limits on speech are doing exactly what free speech logic predicts: each side no longer accepts the right of the other to speak, disagreements multiply, violent resolution becomes more likely. Look at the current state of political debate in the US/UK and deny that is happening. Is it entirely coincidental that is exactly what was predicted by centuries of liberal philosophical work on freedom of speech.

You are treating these curbs as fundamentally harmless. I think you are falling into the boiling frog trap and haven't thought through the problem. They are harmful in the same way as a pebble in an avalanche - on its own, you're fine, but en masse, it's fatal. It's not each small example that is the problem: it's the effect in aggregate, and the direction of travel. At some point you have to recognise this is a vicious circle and say enough. I think we got there some time ago, and the degraded state of the public square (which everyone acknowledges) seems to support that view.

(There is a caveat to all this, but this post is already very long. The caveat is that it matters how speech curbs operate. A universal ban on saying "word A" is less destructive than a situational ban of "group B cannot say word C". Since the logic of free speech is an egalitarian balance, equal or egalitarian bans are less destructive than unequal ones, because they do not situationally benefit or limit particular groups. Speech limits we had 10-20 years ago tended to be universal bans (e.g. hate speech laws). But speech limits over the past 10 years have increasingly been unequal bans - each group attacks the rights of the other but maintains their own - which creates echo chambers, the core mechanism of which has been advertising algorithms. So while I don't agree with blanket bans (e.g. the N-word) they do explain why the norms we had between 10-20 years ago were less controversial and destructive than those we are developing today.)

So these documents don't add to discussion. They abridge and regulate it. Like sugar or nicotine, that doesn't mean people won't crave it. But it is is bad for all of us.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I was suggesting that you ignore the evidence when it doesn't support your position. I have no reason to believe that you are any of those things; but it's a reasonable question, because so many of the most vocal on this subject do support bigoted legislation (but only ever framed in a helpful way, of course: "protecting our children and womenfolk", etc, etc).

When it comes being offended by "thinly-veiled assumption", I'd suggest that you're a hypocrite.

Bollocks.
  • My first post in this thread was a reply to you was an attempt to treat the subject with a bit of humour, suggesting that straight white blokes possibly weren't the best-placed to ridicule efforts at inclusion, and pointing out depressing HCDC evidence on the lived experience of women in the armed forces (post 15).
  • When you decided that a comparison with Nazism was appropriate, I tried to carry on the debate without accusation (post 94).
  • Where I've tried to provide evidence the claims (see links in the posts above), your response is that this is apparently "general handwaves that are mildly unrelated" (post 143)
I'd say that I did rather well, before I started to bite.



I was attempting to use your own words to highlight the similarity of your argument with those used in different debates. The "but XXX isn't representative" and the "look, there's an X person who disagrees with them" argument may be true, but it is also irrelevant. Campaigns for civil rights haven't always been sensibly run, or effective; and some of their activists have been right nasty b**tards - but that doesn't devalue the underlying cause. NICRA had a point. BLM has a point. Stonewall has a point. And there are reactionaries who don't like it.

I think you believe that you deal in objective facts. But as I pointed out in an earlier post, where I was trying to build towards agreement (post 140), I now understand better that your background lends you different interpretations of the same data.
Finally to all these bits I haven't addressed here.

Ok, I accept there was a degree of assumption on both sides. You may be correct that I was being somewhat hypocritical, I step back from that. I took your initial framing of "straight white blokes" as more serious than perhaps you meant it. Equally, I think you misread my raising the Nuremburg laws: it's not the same as calling you a Nazi. The point of the Nuremburg Laws was specifically that they played to existing popular beliefs among the (European and American) population, and used that to give them the force of law. When you read the histories, the clear point about both Nuremberg and concentration camp guards is not that bad people became Nazis, it's that most people became Nazis.

I also would like to compare these three infographics:

1280px-Nuremberg_laws_Racial_Chart.jpg

3FJNFODJTZBDVE45COX75AULT4.jpg

JF-US-AFRICAN-AMERICAN-COMP-02.jpg


I see some worrying methodological and ideological similarities there. I'm not crying "Nazi" because I was banned from a game forum. I'm pointing out that a set of ideologies which defines racial characteristics, assigns groups of people to those, and then agitates to politically and culturally treat them differently by attacking their access to work, speech and livelihoods, is following a disturbingly similar playbook to Nazism. Yes, you can apply that description to both the KKK and some of this left-DEI activism. It's the playbook that needs condemning. That is my reply to your point that civil rights campaigns haven't always been well-run: yes, that's why it is important to judge them on their methods and not just their ideas. Good ideas do not justify bad methods, particularly when bad methods involve shutting down opposing ideas. That is simply totalitarianism.

My point was: by reducing opposition to "straight white blokes" you encourage that playbook. I accept your reponse that it wasn't totally serious. But these days, precisely because of stuff like the above, it is increasingly difficult to tell when that is the case.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I'd also point out that, presumably, precisely the reason we culturally use the Nazi analogue, why Godwin was a thing in the first place, why films keep revisiting the Holocaust, is that we had such an awful and recent example of how badly wrong that playbook can go, that we keep it close to hand. So if anyone starts sounding like it again we can go: LOOK, NAZIS, before it gets any worse. It's the tripwire on a warning flare.

Generalising entire peoples by their skin colour; assigning dubious values judgements to them as a race; making it harder for them to speak; ostracising those who publicly challenge this ideology; manufacturing their censure and firing. All of these behaviours sound to me like exactly the behaviours that should trip that warning. Whether that comes from the Left or the Right ('left' organisations and govts have killed many people with the same playbook), or how wonderful I might think the cause is, has nothing to do with why the warning is in place.
 
It specifies particular words that are preferable to others. It highlights particular identities in particular ways and thus implicitly prioritises them. It assumes that certain statements are true when a substantial minority disagree with them. All of these are implicit or explicit value judgements.

Our side is that of reason and free speech! Theirs is but submission to dogma and ideology! And repeat.

When I'm trying to make sense of a tricky situation, I resort to motive - are these arseh0les trying to tell everyone else how to live their lives (the Soviet model), or are they actually trying to let people live their own lives without being hassled?
  • Sixty years ago, the debate was whether heterosexuality should be discussed at all, or even taught in schools. There was a substantial minority who disagreed with this. They sought to equate sexuality with perversion, to create disgust and gain support.
  • Thirty years ago, the debate was whether homosexuals should be treated equally. There was a substantial minority who disagreed with this, who did not believe that they should exist (or at least, not in public). They sought to equate homosexuality with child molestation, to create disgust and gain support.
  • There are transgender people who are now living in what they believe is the "right" body. There is a substantial minority who disagree with this, who do not believe in their existence. They seek to equate transgender people with predation, to create disgust and gain support.
A substantial minority can disagree with my atheism. Fair enough, so long as they don't insist that I can't get married (because I'm an unbeliever), my words shouldn't be trusted in a court of law (because how can I take an oath on a Bible?), or can't be allowed to work with children (because I'm obviously amoral).

On the other hand, a substantial minority disagree with religion. Fair enough, so long as they don't insist that the religious aren't allowed to wear their headdress (because it's not uniform), shouldn't be trusted in a court of law (they only answer to the Pope, not to the Queen), can't be trusted in a position of authority (because their judgement will follow their religious beliefs, and not the law of the land).

From my perspective, do the people concerned abide by the laws of the land? If so, the disagreement is irrelevant. Do the reactionaries oppose their individual behaviour, or their group identity? If the latter, they can do one IMHO.

There are significant (not huge) numbers of honest, decent, transgender people who are trying to live as normal a life as possible. There are rather fewer loudmouthed gits making a big deal over their identity (be that race, gender, or sexuality), in an attempt to escape responsibility of their actions, or to gain status / power over others; perhaps they're honest but clumsy, the people who tear the arse out of whatever they support - but the existence of an few w*nkers does not invalidate the arguments for the rights of the majority (unless you're the CSM and into group punishment).

... For me this starts with a value judgement: free speech and expression is still the best system we have of arbitrating disagreements without violence, and advancing ideas and knowledge. What has become the prevailing wisdom about free speech (that it is not and has never been absolutist) is wrong. The logic of free speech is absolutist, in both directions. My freedom to speak is what guarantees your freedom to speak. That does not allow for either of us to limit the other. If we do, the logic reverses: If I don't allow you to speak, why should you allow me to speak? The fact that most legal systems have regardless imposed speech limits does not disprove that - it just means those limits degrade the system. Sometimes (yelling fire in a theatre) they degrade it less than they mitigate bad actors exploiting it. Sometimes (Soviet political correctness laws) they benefit only a tiny elite and contribute to societal disasters (see: Chernobyl). That confusion of the existence of speech limits and the desirability of speech limits has been used to undermine the fundamental logic of speech rights.

I'm not sure that Chernobyl is a good example of a language code; "political reliability" in Soviet terms was about a whole lot more, the words were merely an excuse. Perhaps the Terror of the French Revolution, the Red Army in the Stalinist era, or the Cultural Revolution in the PRC would be better examples, you counter-revolutionary wrecker and capitalist running dog, you....

Never forget that the UK was vetting BBC employees until at least the 1970s, and surveilling those of... "dubious politics". I wonder how likely you'd be to get a job today in the Security or Intelligence Services if you're a card-carrying member of the CPGB (an entirely legitimate UK political party). Is that a limit on free speech? Or worse, a limit on the thoughts in your head?

Look again at the OJAR, or any corporate annual review - all of them are effectively "free speech", all of them carry sanctions, and I'm sad to say that most of them are irrelevant - the promotions or bonuses all too often depend on "they're like me" and "I like them"; ducks choose ducks, the paperwork is just an excuse. The removal of Confidential Reporting in the mid-90s, and the terrifying thought that the victimsubject might actually get a copy of what you wrote about them? Unpossible!

I'm not sure whether I should be arguing that you as a free speech enthusiast should support CR over OJAR; or whether the resulting changes and speech limits generated an improvement in reporting standards, thus supporting my position rather than yours...

Now increasingly we find ourselves in an environment where limits on speech are doing exactly what free speech logic predicts: each side no longer accepts the right of the other to speak, disagreements multiply, violent resolution becomes more likely. Look at the current state of political debate in the US/UK and deny that is happening.

The current state of political debate in the US/UK is made possible by inequality. There's chaos and uncertainty in the air, and those who point the finger and shout "Your poor situation is all their fault" have demonstrated that they tend to get votes and power as a result. Anger is a convenient lever to get ticks against your name at the ballot box.

Farage blames immigrants and the EU; the Daily Mail blames immigrants, the EU, and working mothers; Commies blame Tory Scum, merchant bankers, capitalism, and Zionism; Thatcherites blame the idle poor who won't get on their bike and Sharia Law; etc, etc. None of this is IMHO to do with civil rights, or appropriate language - those are just a handy vehicle for attacking "the other", a convenient rallying cry.
 
Last edited:

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Our side is that of reason and free speech! Theirs is but submission to dogma and ideology! And repeat.

When I'm trying to make sense of a tricky situation, I resort to motive - are these arseh0les trying to tell everyone else how to live their lives (the Soviet model), or are they actually trying to let people live their own lives without being hassled?
  • Sixty years ago, the debate was whether heterosexuality should be discussed at all, or even taught in schools. There was a substantial minority who disagreed with this. They sought to equate sexuality with perversion, to create disgust and gain support.
  • Thirty years ago, the debate was whether homosexuals should be treated equally. There was a substantial minority who disagreed with this, who did not believe that they should exist (or at least, not in public). They sought to equate homosexuality with child molestation, to create disgust and gain support.
  • There are transgender people who are now living in what they believe is the "right" body. There is a substantial minority who disagree with this, who do not believe in their existence. They seek to equate transgender people with predation, to create disgust and gain support.
A substantial minority can disagree with my atheism. Fair enough, so long as they don't insist that I can't get married (because I'm an unbeliever), my words shouldn't be trusted in a court of law (because how can I take an oath on a Bible?), or can't be allowed to work with children (because I'm obviously amoral).

On the other hand, a substantial minority disagree with religion. Fair enough, so long as they don't insist that the religious aren't allowed to wear their headdress (because it's not uniform), shouldn't be trusted in a court of law (they only answer to the Pope, not to the Queen), can't be trusted in a position of authority (because their judgement will follow their religious beliefs, and not the law of the land).

From my perspective, do the people concerned abide by the laws of the land? If so, the disagreement is irrelevant. Do the reactionaries oppose their individual behaviour, or their group identity? If the latter, they can do one IMHO.

There are significant (not huge) numbers of honest, decent, transgender people who are trying to live as normal a life as possible. There are rather fewer loudmouthed gits making a big deal over their identity (be that race, gender, or sexuality), in an attempt to escape responsibility of their actions, or to gain status / power over others; perhaps they're honest but clumsy, the people who tear the arse out of whatever they support - but the existence of an few w*nkers does not invalidate the arguments for the rights of the majority (unless you're the CSM and into group punishment).



I'm not sure that Chernobyl is a good example of a language code; "political reliability" in Soviet terms was about a whole lot more, the words were merely an excuse. Perhaps the Terror of the French Revolution, the Red Army in the Stalinist era, or the Cultural Revolution in the PRC would be better examples, you counter-revolutionary wrecker and capitalist running dog, you....

Never forget that the UK was vetting BBC employees until at least the 1970s, and surveilling those of... "dubious politics". I wonder how likely you'd be to get a job today in the Security or Intelligence Services if you're a card-carrying member of the CPGB (an entirely legitimate UK political party). Is that a limit on free speech? Or worse, a limit on the thoughts in your head?

Look again at the OJAR, or any corporate annual review - all of them are effectively "free speech", all of them carry sanctions, and I'm sad to say that most of them are irrelevant - the promotions or bonuses all too often depend on "they're like me" and "I like them"; ducks choose ducks, the paperwork is just an excuse. The removal of Confidential Reporting in the mid-90s, and the terrifying thought that the victimsubject might actually get a copy of what you wrote about them? Unpossible!

I'm not sure whether I should be arguing that you as a free speech enthusiast should support CR over OJAR; or whether the resulting changes and speech limits generated an improvement in reporting standards, thus supporting my position rather than yours...



The current state of political debate in the US/UK is made possible by inequality. There's chaos and uncertainty in the air, and those who point the finger and shout "Your poor situation is all their fault" have demonstrated that they tend to get votes and power as a result. Anger is a convenient lever to get ticks against your name at the ballot box.

Farage blames immigrants and the EU; the Daily Mail blames immigrants, the EU, and working mothers; Commies blame Tory Scum, merchant bankers, capitalism, and Zionism; Thatcherites blame the idle poor who won't get on their bike and Sharia Law; etc, etc. None of this is IMHO to do with civil rights, or appropriate language - those are just a handy vehicle for attacking "the other", a convenient rallying cry.
Excellent, I get to write a shorter reply, because I agree with much of what you say, as you're firing at a different position.

Your first bit in bold doesn't really apply, because my "side" isn't right, left, trans or anti-trans. My side is: don't censor people; do support speech; do exercise reason; do allow debate; do balance rights. I'll happily condemn anyone who doesn't do that, and support anyone who does, regardless of political "side": the US has many recent examples of right-wing censorship and calls for more, for example. So, yes, my side is the side of reason and free speech, because that's my side. I'm not going to claim one polarity at the top of the pararagraph censors more than the other: I'll condemn all of it when they do.

Your second set of paragraphs I generally agree with, but as above, there's a simple answer to this and it's what I've been getting at all along. Stop listening to the "loudmouthed gits" and stop letting them represent the debate. If they are unrepresentative, the fact that they are being treated (by media, mostly) as representative is a real problem, because they are damaging the cause they claim to represent. This is why I raised the names I did pages earlier (the ones @enpointe calls fakes, liars and out of touch) because I've tried to read and understand other voices than the loudmouthed gits. My contention is simply: lets give them a voice too. Note, my contention is not that the loudmouthed gits are not allowed to speak, or even that they are not representative of who they say they are. That is what the loudmouth gits are saying about the people I mentioned. My contention is to ask for a bit of evidence of representation, and allow the same for others. When we do that, establishing rights becomes a viable process both for them and for those where rights might conflict.

That is not at all what has happened so far with the trans rights debates, and as I said much earlier in the thread, that is a significant departure from a far better run campaign for LGB rights fifty to twenty years ago (whose methods and intent I broadly agree with). The same applies to BLM (both the organisation and those who use the same methods) and the original Civil Rights movement. This has been argued by dissenting black academics and conservatives in the US who point to the de facto negative consequences (rapidly rising crime, for one) that rioting and defunding police departments have had on black communities in US cities, and that in many of these cases, black communities poll as wanting more police involvement, not less. I'd draw a parallel there with desistence. Uncritically allowing the loudmouths to represent the debates is enabling real harm, primarily but not limited to those they claim to represent.

Chernobyl is, at least in part, a great example of what happens when speech codes reach logical extremes, in that the delays and information blockages caused by what they were unwilling to say (at all levels) hugely contributed to the severity of the disaster. All of this has been made pretty clear in the ensuing investigations, mostly after 1991, of course. Yes, your other examples are also good ones. I'm really keen to avoid any of them, to be honest.

I don't know enough about the old CR system to comment on the comparison with OJAR, but I do know that logically that because free speech addresses some problems does not imply that free speech addresses all problems, and that's not what I'm suggesting.

Your final paragraph - this may all be correct, but it's also only partially relevant. A febrile atmosphere (clearly exists) means we should all be more cautious about how we conduct discussion on fundamental rights, but it does not inherently mean we cannot conduct discussion on fundamental rights, or indeed follow rational processes to establish, test and balance them where they conflict. If there has been a "best practice" process on the trans debate in the UK so far, it's been the courts (note this does not mean blanket agreement). But that is a poor condemnation of our political, media and activist scenes, because the courts should not be deciding public policy, but error checking it.
 

enpointe

Old-Salt
< chin stroking edge fascism apologia >

Your final paragraph - this may all be correct, but it's also only partially relevant. A febrile atmosphere (clearly exists) means we should all be more cautious about how we conduct discussion on fundamental rights, but it does not inherently mean we cannot conduct discussion on fundamental rights, or indeed follow rational processes to establish, test and balance them where they conflict. If there has been a "best practice" process on the trans debate in the UK so far, it's been the courts (note this does not mean blanket agreement). But that is a poor condemnation of our political, media and activist scenes, because the courts should not be deciding public policy, but error checking it.
yet here you are actively supporting people who call for genocide
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
yet here you are actively supporting people who call for genocide
Can I suggest you look back over this last page and see Sarastro and Gravelbelly having a sensible discussion/debate/argument? The fact that they are willing to engage with each other gives them a reasonable chance of changing the other's mind and the minds of people reading.

Then you come in, chuck around accusations of supporting fascism and genocide while sprinkling 'dumb' icons like confetti and wonder why no one takes you seriously. Do you understand that by making your points in such a hyperbolic way that you are actively turning people away from the ideals you want to promote? It's the equivalent of a child having a tantrum; stamping your feet and squealing doesn't help.
 

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