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Republicans Hoping To Find Ways To Get Politicians To Shut Up About Rape

With the recent comments by Congressman Phil Gingrey only a day old, many in the Republican Party are wondering how they can get people like him to keep their mouths shut when it comes to rape:

Rep. Phil Gingrey’s attempts to explain Todd Akin’s rape remarks are leaving many Republicans beyond frustrated that a few in their party can’t help but insert rape into the already contentious abortion debate.

“This is actually pretty simple. If you’re about to talk about rape as anything other than a brutal and horrible crime, stop,” said Republican strategist Kevin Madden, who was a senior adviser in Mitt Romney’s campaign.

(…)

Gingrey’s lengthy explanation of what Akin meant was quickly circulated by Democrats, repudiated by medical groups, and had some Republicans smacking their heads in frustration.

And it may have added new urgency to a training program that’s already being launched by an anti-abortion group — the Susan B. Anthony list — to keep candidates and lawmakers from continually making the same kind of comments that may have helped ruin Republicans’ chances of winning the Senate.

Former Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) questioned why Gingrey was talking about the months-old comment in the first place.

“There’s no way to defend what Todd Akin said,” Bono Mack said. “You just can’t do it and you shouldn’t try to put it into a scientific context. It was a bad statement. And to try to defend it or explain someone else’s poor choice of words, it would be a fool’s errand.”

Bono Mack, who was first elected in 1998 but lost her reelection this fall, said some House Republicans don’t understand the full range of emotions associated with the abortion debate.

“It was my belief when I was in the Congress, and I tried to explain this to my colleagues: The abortion issue isn’t just about abortion. It’s about so much more. It’s about delving into what it means to women and what it means to Americans,” she said. For women, it means “a loss of autonomy. To Americans, it means government intrusion into their lives.”

(…)

Marina Ein, whose public relations firm does crisis communications, said the party needs some kind of “sensitivity training” for its candidates if it wants to do better in the next elections.

“It all boils down to whether or not the Republican Party thinks this is a problem,” she said. “If they want to make inroads with women, then they need to subject every one of their candidates to sensitivity training — not to mention reality training.”

The training would have to “educate politicians on subjects that are absolutely taboo, except to say, ‘I sympathize with the pain of anyone who goes through fill-in-the-blank,'” she said.

Madden’s advice is simply to stop talking.

“Our pro-life values as a party should be framed in terms of the culture of life,” he said. “It’s easy enough to do that. It shouldn’t be conflated with other issues.”

Bono Mack blamed the problem, in part, on too much focus on the politics of abortion instead of the real policies, especially in legislation she saw on the House floor.

It was “never about truly pushing a policy, regardless of how you felt about abortion. There were never the votes in the Senate. [They were] putting this forward to make a statement some way or another to help a particular congressman or to shore up their base. I believe it was short-sighted.”

The reality, of course, is that many in the GOP, especially it’s most conservative wings, don’t really disagree with anything that Akin, Mourdock, and Gingrey believe in when it comes to abortion. They oppose nearly all exceptions to a complete ban on abortion, with the exception of threats to the life of the mother. Their answer to women who have been raped or are victims of incest is that they need to bear the child, usually with a comment that “God intended it” or some such thing. When confronted with just how barbaric that position is, they end up coming up with ridiculous explanations for their position like what we’ve heard from these politicians. Akin, Mourdock, and Gingrey aren’t outside the conservative mainstream at all.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rafer Janders says:

    Interesting, isn’t it, that other Republicans only want them to shut up about rape, and not to actually change their minds about rape…..Their sin isn’t what they believe. It’s letting the rest of us really know what they believe.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 49 Thumb down 0

  2. Rafer Janders says:

    Bono Mack, who was first elected in 1998 but lost her reelection this fall, said some House Republicans don’t understand the full range of emotions associated with the abortion debate.

    Well, sure. Not having a fully developed sense of empathy is why most of these guys became Republicans in the first place.

    “It was my belief when I was in the Congress, and I tried to explain this to my colleagues: The abortion issue isn’t just about abortion. It’s about so much more. It’s about delving into what it means to women and what it means to Americans,” she said. For women, it means “a loss of autonomy. To Americans, it means government intrusion into their lives.”

    Silly Mary Bono Mack, trying to explain to Republican lawmakers that women are actually fully sentient human beings with their own emotions, reasoning and hopes. It’s a fool’s errand.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 1

  3. george says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Interesting, isn’t it, that other Republicans only want them to shut up about rape, and not to actually change their minds about rape…..Their sin isn’t what they believe. It’s letting the rest of us really know what they believe.

    And even so, they keep talking about it. You have to wonder just how low their self control is that they can’t even manage to just keep quiet. Not exactly a trait you’d want in your elected representatives, whether you agree with them or not.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 0

  4. Gustopher says:

    I actually kind of respect the “God intended it” argument. I don’t believe it, but I can see how it makes sense from the perspective of someone who believes in an all-knowing and all-powerful god.

    I think the Republicans would get a lot less outrage if they stuck with that, rather than trying to explain it away. Unwanted pregnancies from rape could be there with houses burning down with children inside, tornados wiping out churches, and countless other unfortunate, horrible, unpleasant acts of God. Bad things happen to good people — even innocent people — and sometimes they are a blessing in disguise and sometimes they just suck, but with faith and blah blah blah.

    We are, despite my best efforts in the War of Christmas, a very religious country. Go with the flat out religious argument, toss in (and mean) a little communities standing together, and it’s a lot less unctuous. But it needs a lot more concern for the child after it is born than Republicans have traditionally showed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  5. stonetools says:

    If they fervently believe this stuff, and are surrounded by and speak to like minded believers, they will inevitably say these things. Expect more such talk.

    Now if they were to change their beliefs….

    Spot on post by Doug, BTW. I don’t say that a lot, so I’ll say it now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  6. stonetools says:

    @Gustopher:

    But it needs a lot more concern for the child after it is born than Republicans have traditionally showed.

    A fetus is a person, deserving of special care and protection from the government-until it is born….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  7. michael reynolds says:

    Of course the rape exception is itself idiotic.

    How would that work, exactly? Would an accusation of rape be sufficient? So that a woman in a desperate condition might falsely accuse someone? Or would we need a conviction? Because it’s kind of hard to see how that would be timely.

    The rape exception is a silly, unworkable, non-plan promulgated by people who haven’t spent ten seconds thinking about how it would work.

    The usual caliber of thinking on the Right where stupid is just the starting line.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 0

  8. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @michael reynolds: Hence the attempts to define “forcible” and “legitimate” rape, in order to keep those dirty lying sluts from using abortion as birth control while protecting the virtue of “our” God-fearing middle class white wives and daughters.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  9. al-Ameda says:

    The reality, of course, is that many in the GOP, especially it’s most conservative wings, don’t really disagree with anything that Akin, Mourdock, and Gingrey believe in when it comes to abortion. They oppose nearly all exceptions to a complete ban on abortion, with the exception of threats to the life of the mother.

    I think we can remove this from the above:

    “they oppose nearly all exceptions to a complete ban on abortion, with the exception of threats to the life of the mother. For true believing conservative men, I’m not sure that the mother is more important than the unborn.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  10. Sejanus says:

    @al-Ameda: Damn straight. The Dominican Republic shows us what happens when personhood laws are enacted: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57496613-10391704/dominican-republic-teen-at-center-of-abortion-debate-dies-from-leukemia-complications/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  11. gVOR08 says:

    Just the most conservative wing of the party?

    “Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan says that he personally believes that rape is just another “method of conception” and not an excuse to allow abortions.”
    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/paul-ryan-rape-just-another-method-of-conception/

    “Furthermore, while the RNC plank on abortion is not explicit with regard to the issue of exceptions, it is impossible to read the plank in a way that does not logically lead to such a ban. If, as the plank calls for, 14th Amendment protections are extended to unborn children as a matter of constitutional decree, under what circumstances would a state have the ability to grant abortion rights at all?”
    http://www.factcheck.org/2012/08/factcheck-mailbag-week-of-aug-21-27/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  12. Argon says:

    Another aspect of this is the notion that Biblically ordained moral laws have a rational justification. That is, these people are still flirting with Natural Theology and assume that moral imperatives can also be deduced in the ‘natural order’ of things. Hence if rape is bad then God, being good, must have given humans a natural ‘defense’. So of course if one conceives from a rape then it must be because God has been unhappy with you or perhaps because it wasn’t a ‘legitimate rape.’

    Likewise, if being gay is wrong by God then many believe there must also be some nasty, physical effects as well because it’s ‘unnatural.’

    It’s crappy theology and abysmal philosophy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  13. mattb says:

    Personally, I think they should take a note from Foster Friess…

    Whenever a white male social con decides to make any comment about rape or abortion, they should try to do it while holding an aspirin between their teeth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  14. Rafer Janders says:

    In the year 2013, in America, one of the two major political parties has a problem with many of its most prominent members trying to minimize the severity of rape.

    I’d say it’s remarkable, if that same political party hadn’t also gone pro-torture ten years ago.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  15. swbarnes2 says:

    They oppose nearly all exceptions to a complete ban on abortion, with the exception of threats to the life of the mother.

    Republicans deny that there even is such a thing as a pregnancy that threatens a mother’s life. And Doug, you know that’s true, because you quoted Republican Joe Walsh when he said it!

    If Republicans value the health of women so much, why didn’t your pal Bob McDonnell say so in the Republican National platform?

    Their answer to women who have been raped or are victims of incest is that they need to bear the child, usually with a comment that “God intended it” or some such thing.

    When you vote for politicians who restrict abortion access, that’s your answer too.

    Akin, Mourdock, and Gingrey aren’t outside the conservative mainstream at all.

    Correct. Why don’t you add Bob McDonnell to that list? He has the same agenda, which you support with no regrets, right?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  16. Moosebreath says:

    “Republicans Hoping To Find Ways To Get Politicians To Shut Up About Rape”

    Doug has actually hit on an important point here. We see once again the bigotry of low expectations rear its head when it comes to Republican politicians. They can’t actually control their tongues, so we need to find ways to do it for them. Just as they can’t actually propose any useful spending cuts, and want the President to do it for them. Just as they shouldn’t be held responsible for blowing up the economy and creating foreign policy debacles the last time they held the Presidency, and tried to pretend they didn’t support that President down the line when no one else did.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  17. Unsympathetic says:

    To the Republican party, nobody except super-rich white males over the age of 40 and corporations are people who deserve rights. Everything else is messaging, always.

    Republicans will continue to lose until they accept total defeat in their “culture war” and demonstrate fundamental, believable change. If it’s a war per their definition, they lost it because they declared it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  18. Justinian says:

    One aspect of the “rape debate” is that all political discussion on the issue of abortion is done under paradigms of irresponsibility. Let me explain.

    There is no pending legislation in any state legislature dealing with abortion, except on the fringes of the issue, such as defining parental consent for voluntary abortions sought by minors. Thus, a politician can say “I believe abortion is murder” without actually having a statute punishing it as murder, having the tens of thousands of trials of women and their abortion providers come to court and be tried before juries, and the persons thrown into prison for long periods of time whenever the jury returns the verdict “guilty.”

    Ever since Roe vs. Wade over fifty years ago, no one bears any responsibility on the issue, because the Supreme Court took the issue out of everybody’s hands. All agree that Roe vs. Wade takes the issue of abortion out of state legislatures and places it somewhere else. Since the abortion controversy is still a live one, that place apparently is in the streets (or chatrooms or polticians giving interviews).

    But all the talk on all sides of the issue is done in a paradigm of irresponsibility. People say whatever they want without having to worry that anything substantial will result from their words and views.

    Hence the sayings of some politicians on the matter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  19. Unsympathetic says:

    @Justinian:

    All Republicans are irresponsible all the time.

    In the same vein:
    Paul Ryan was just “irresponsible” with his budget, because he never proposed anything based on numbers achievable in reality.
    Cheney was “irresponsible” with his plans to conquer the known world with two army divisions and a smile.

    And who could forget GWB imperially declaring all criticism of him to be wholly irresponsible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. Justinian says:

    @Unsympathetic:

    I do not deny the validity of your examples of irresponsible behavior by members of the Republican party, but I do believe your assertion

    All Republicans are irresponsible all the time.

    will not withstand scrutiny.

    Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. Was he irresponsible all the time, or could there have been moments in his years in the Presidency (and in Congress before that) when he was, in fact, acting in a responsible manner? Eisenhower was another Republican. Was he always irresponsible?

    There are hundreds of members of the Republican party in Congress, thousands in various state legislatures, and tens of thousands on various county councils and school boards. Are they all irresponsible all the time?

    Incidentally, the very form

    All this are always that.

    tends to indicate prejudice of opinion and stereotyped thinking. One may say

    All triangles are always planar figures

    and still speak truth, but human society rarely allows for such broad generalizations to be said about its members.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. swbarnes2 says:

    @Justinian:

    There is no pending legislation in any state legislature dealing with abortion, except on the fringes of the issue, such as defining parental consent for voluntary abortions sought by minors

    There are lots of laws severely curtailing access to abortion, which pretty much amounts to the same thing.

    All agree that Roe vs. Wade takes the issue of abortion out of state legislatures and places it somewhere else.

    Ideally, the decision should be in the hands of the woman who will be affected by it, not in the hands of conservative, male state legislators, but I understand completely that conservative guys violently disagree with that.

    People say whatever they want without having to worry that anything substantial will result from their words and views.

    Not true. 50,000 women in Texas lost access to their doctors, because Texas specifically defunded doctors who are affiliated with Planned Parenthood. This isn’t empty rhetoric on the part of conservatives. They want to enact policies which will hurt women, and they succeed all the time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  22. Justinian says:

    @swbarnes2:

    SWBarnes2 wrote:

    Ideally, the decision should be in the hands of the woman who will be affected by it, not in the hands of conservative, male state legislators.

    and also

    50,000 women in Texas lost access to their doctors, because Texas specifically defunded doctors who are affiliated with Planned Parenthood. This isn’t empty rhetoric on the part of conservatives.

    SWBarnes may know the issue better than I do, but it does appear that all the Texas State Legislature did was direct that no public money be spent for abortions. Thus, both the access to abortion and the money to pay for it are indeed in “the hands of the woman who will be affected by it.”

    And if the woman has no money? Then she is the object of charity. Proponents of easy access to abortion should be raising funds for it.

    Again: it is the Republic of Texas, and an inherent feature of republics is that public money cannot be disbursed except by acts of the Legislature. We cannot force Texas to fund things contrary to the will of the legislature without violating the republican form of its government.

    And so, the issue has boiled down to this: conservatives are on record as opposed to public money being spent on abortion, and these words and beliefs do indeed get translated into acts of state legislatures.

    In my opinion, enough people are morally troubled by abortion that public money should not be used for it. It is not as if abortion is like roads and sewer systems, things done by the government that virtually no one finds morally offensive.

    I grant the argument is weak: many people are morally opposed to several of the wars and military adventures and misadventures we have gotten ourselves into, but must pay the tax for them just like everyone else. And if not wars, then there is much else to dislike about how Washington spends money.

    Still, all these problems are avoided if those who want women to have not only access to abortions but access to free abortions simply gather the money for that purpose themselves. And if people are going to have highly controversial services provided them by the government, then they should accept the loss of autonomy inherent in that arrangement.

    Note: All the preceding arguments are predicated on the belief that the Republic of Texas simply is not funding abortions. If it goes further, for example using the power of its purse to wrest concessions from hospitals and other entitites, a practice so prevalently performed by the federal government, then I must grant that Roe vs. Wade is no longer so operative as it has been, and abortion is as much a legislative issue as it ever was.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  23. An Interested Party says:

    Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.

    I’m sure Unsympathetic was talking about the current Republican Party…Lincoln was a member of a radically different Republican Party a very long time ago…ditto Eisenhower…

    Still, all these problems are avoided if those who want women to have not only access to abortions but access to free abortions unnecessary, botched military campaigns simply gather the money for that purpose themselves. And if people are going to have highly controversial services provided them support these kind of military campaigns by the government, then they should accept the loss of autonomy inherent in that arrangement. do more than simply slapping yellow flag magnets on their vehicles and/or stroking their chins as they bloviate as armchair warriors from the safety of their office chairs.

    Happy to be of help…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. swbarnes2 says:

    @Justinian:

    SWBarnes may know the issue better than I do, but it does appear that all the Texas State Legislature did was direct that no public money be spent for abortions.

    You are lying. Texas reorganized the funding for women’s health solely for the purpose of not giving money to anyone affiliated with Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood does a hell of a lot more than abortions, and by cutting them off, they have denied 50,000 women all kinds of health care, not just abortions.

    It is not as if abortion is like roads and sewer systems,

    Says you. Women are human beings, and human beings deserve health care. Republicans and conservatives do not want to give it to them, and this kills women. Surely you know about the young woman in the Dominican Republic, and the woman in Ireland, both of whom died because their government had made it illegal for them to receive the health care they required to survive. The same thing can and will happen in the US, when conservatives have their way.

    Besides, conservatives want to drown the government in a bathtub, so it is dishonest to argue as if it is an unquestionable given that conservatives want to spend any government money doing anything required for public safety.

    Still, all these problems are avoided if those who want women to have not only access to abortions but access to free abortions simply gather the money for that purpose themselves.

    Your arguments are embarrassing.

    1) Making contraception and abortion widely accessible is a hell of a lot cheaper than paying for all those children

    2) When an abortion requires taking days off of work, and paying for hotels because the only clinic in the state is 8 hours away, and is only open in the middle of the week, and has a mandatory waiting period, and requires you to pay for medically unnecessary ultrasounds and vaginal probes, and you need a hotel room for a few days, and travel to and from, and someone has to watch your children, and your boss will fire you if you take that much time off, that’s a very expensive proposition. That’s how Republicans want it to be.

    Oh, and the leading cause of death of pregnant women is murder by the father, so asking for help from the father might not be that great an idea.

    So having an emergency piggy bank isn’t going to work for many people. It’s health care. It should be one of the things that a civilized society provides for its members, even the poor ones.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  25. Argon says:

    @Justinian:
    One may note the changes some states have made to medical licensing codes that were enacted specifically to eliminate clinics that can perform abortions. Hence while abortion remains ‘legal’ in these states, access to the procedure is blocked.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  26. anjin-san says:

    Planned Parenthood does a hell of a lot more than abortions, and by cutting them off, they have denied 50,000 women all kinds of health care

    It varies by location, but Planned Parenthood offers services for men as well. When I was in my 20s, I was playing the field pretty actively. I also had no insurance. Thanks to Planned Parenthood I was able to get tested for STDs at a price I could afford.

    http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/men-4285.htm

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. anjin-san says:

    Proponents of easy access to abortion should be raising funds for it.

    Really? Should the millions upon millions of middle aged men who are not impotent, yet use Viagra and other similar products strictly as a performance enhancer be out of pocket for the costs? Right now, insurance is picking up the tab. I am not seeing why a man’s need to have a better stiffy trumps a woman’s need to control her reproductive system.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  28. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Justinian: You are completely wrong. The Texas defunding has nothing to do with abortion except in the fever dreams of social conversatives, it has to do with funding preventative health care and birth control services for low income women. While they are under the Planned Parenthood banner, the clinics that have been removed from the program do not provide abortions.

    The State has decided that it will forgo $200 million dollars annually from the Federal government – $200 million that Texas taxpayers send to Washington – and stop providing healthcare and birth control to the 50,000 women who use Planned Parenthood as their provider under the Texas Women’s Health Program without a plan in place to develop the capacity to shift those women to other providers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  29. swbarnes2 says:

    @Argon:

    One may note the changes some states have made to medical licensing codes that were enacted specifically to eliminate clinics that can perform abortions. Hence while abortion remains ‘legal’ in these states, access to the procedure is blocked.

    Yes, this just happens in Virginia, sponsored by Republican Virginia governor Bob McDonnell. Doug long ago asserted that he has no regrets helping to put McDonnell into power, and presumably James voted for him too.

    These policies and politicians do not fall out of the sky. They are able to enact the policies they do because they are supported by “reasonable” conservatives like James and Doug. They may or may not spout the obvious lies that folks like Justinian do, but make no mistake, they are all on the same team, supporting the same horrible policies with their votes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. Justinian says:

    @swbarnes2:

    swbarnes2 wrote

    They may or may not spout the obvious lies that folks like Justinian do, but make no mistake, they are all on the same team, supporting the same horrible policies with their votes.

    Cicero had a very famous saying. When asked how he became such a successful orator and advocate, he replied, “by knowing my opponent’s arguments better than my own.”

    I realize I am frequently a dissenting voice on this blog, but dissenting voices are the only thing that keeps groupthink at bay. Not only liberal groupthink, but conservative as well. I keep myself out of conservative groupthink by posting on this blog.

    Let’s examine this “obvious lies” issue from the top. I even started my post acknowledging that swbarnes2 probably knows more points of fact than I do about Texas, when I wrote

    SWBarnes may know the issue better than I do, but it does appear that all the Texas State Legislature did was direct that no public money be spent for abortions.

    This gets the response, not of “You are mistaken” but of

    You are lying.

    I even end my post with this acknowledgement:

    Note: All the preceding arguments are predicated on the belief that the Republic of Texas simply is not funding abortions. If it goes further, for example using the power of its purse to wrest concessions from hospitals and other entitites, a practice so prevalently performed by the federal government, then I must grant that Roe vs. Wade is no longer so operative as it has been, and abortion is as much a legislative issue as it ever was.

    Does that sound like the writing of someone who “spouts lies”? In fact, since swbarnes2 has fairly well shown that these state legislatures do indeed go further than merely tell people who want abortions to pay for them themselves, we can conclude that Roe vs. Wade is no longer operative as it once was, something I for one did not know, and which others probably did not know either. In my opinion, we are all learning from this process.

    As an another example, An Interested Party had a post with a lot of strike-outs in it which I find hard to parse. Apparently he is trying to convey the point I already had in the paragraph that begins “I grant the argument is weak.” I don’t think it is “spouting obvious lies” to grant that one’s argument is weak.

    Incidentally, I am not part of a conservative conspiracy. I post on this blog because I write things I believe are true, and substantiate them as well as I know, and have worded my posts so that I may revise and refine my thinking if I am in fact mistaken on anything. And I believe those reading these exchanges have their opinions refined as well by the process.

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