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April 24th, 2018

The Classic TV Spot The Homosexual Game

I have a certain fondness for the old Burke’s Law TV series. It’s a very weird concept even for its day: a millionaire playboy police captain who investigates homicides among Los Angeles’ fabulously rich in his chauffeur driven Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II, in between makeout sessions with one lovely babe after another. And it’s certainly a product of its time in its regard for women. But all that went over my head when I was a kid. My interest in the show was I liked Gene Barry, having loved his stint as Bat Masterson previously, and the stories were pretty engaging mysteries that usually played fair with the audience. But the big draw for me at that age was that Rolls Royce. I was absolutely fascinated by that Rolls Royce.

Years later I’m sitting at home watching an episode from the first season DVD set. Because even with all the early 1960s sexist baggage I find I still enjoy the whodunnit mystery format, the writing is better than I remembered (at least two episodes were written by Harlan Ellison, and in one of them Sammy Davis Jr. Plays a suspect named Cordwainer Bird (!)), the Rolls Royce still fascinates me, and I get to watch a ton of famous dead Hollywood stars bring their magic to life again. The episode I’m watching is Who Killed Annie Foran? (the episode titles always began with “Who Killed…”).

The episode synopsis is thus…

Party girl Annie Foran is found strangled in the back seat of a customer’s car at the exclusive restaurant Club Nova. Suspicion falls on her ex-boyfriend, baseball sensation Eddie Dineen, who was there at the time in the company of his mentor, the acerbic columnist Whitman Saunders, and Saunder’s assistant, Milo Morgan.

Don Ameche does a killer job playing Whitman Saunders, a slimy Hollywood gossip columnist whose evil just oozes of the TV screen. The scenes between him and Gene Barry are electrifying in this one, and all the more when you consider that Saunders is a pitch perfect embodiment of the evil faux moralizing gossip columnist and Burke is a millionaire playboy giving Saunders all the righteous shade you could ask for.

Saunders has been playing up Eddie Dineen in his columns, and wrote a hit piece on his ex girlfriend Annie to get the couple to break up and get Dineen matched with the more socially glamorous and acceptable (I think…I’m typing this from memory at the moment) Mitzi Carlisle.  The episode begins at dinner party in a very exclusive club with Saunders, his assistant Milo, Eddie and Mitzi. Ameche just oozes evil as he pontificates about this and that, abuses the waiter over some slight he won’t even explain, while dictating his next column on Eddie to Milo. As they are leaving a valet pulls what they think is Saunders’ car around and when the valet opens the back passenger door Annie falls out, dead. Cue the screams from the ladies in the crowd. 

But the car didn’t belong to Saunders. It was another man’s car that was nearly identical to his. Burke quickly rules that man out as a suspect and quickly focuses on Eddie, who may have thought Annie was a drag on his career. Annie as it turns out, was a call girl, though this was 1964 TV and you didn’t come right out and say so. So it’s implied as Burke and detective Tilson search her apartment looking for her address book because…suspects. Burke finds a picture of Eddie he autographed for her. But maybe it was Mitzi, who didn’t want her respectable socialite name associated with Annie’s in one of Saunder’s columns. Or maybe Mitzi tried to set up Saunders because she really loves Eddie and hates Saunders for being such an evil manipulator but she dumped the body in the wrong car. Or maybe it was Eddie’s coach (played tough as nails by Jackie Coogan). Or maybe it was Fisk, the shifty night clerk of the hotel Annie stayed at, and worked out of (played by Sterling Holloway the way Sterling Holloway always plays anybody). Fisk tries to blackmail Eddie over his relationship with Annie and Eddie goes on the run and is eventually captured by Detective Tilson (the series young nerd to Les Hart’s hardboiled old school cop). But by this time Burke is convinced Eddie didn’t do it. He had arrived at the dinner party with Saunders, and couldn’t have put the body in the wrong car.

But Milo…meek mild deferential Milo, always dutifully writing down Saunders’ dictation arrived at the party late. In the Big Reveal at episode’s end, Burke confronts Milo in his apartment and asks why he did it. Milo as it turns out, worked at the same Chicago newspaper as Saunders and was a bright and rising star, slated to get his own column, until Saunders dug up some dirt on him. Remember, this is 1964 so the writers couldn’t come right out and say he’s a homosexual. You had to allude to it, just as they did in 1972, in that Hawaii Five-O episode I was bellyaching about previously, though with a bit more of a heavy hand. Words…bad words…about Milo…were thrown about, he tells Burke as he lounges in his evening attire in his piss elegantly furnished stereotypical homosexual apartment, and he lost his job and his career when no newspaper would touch him afterward. Then Saunders, who gets the column and the fame Milo would have but for him…graciously…offers Milo a job as his assistant. And if you’re thinking now that if it was the last job on earth you’d tell Saunders to go stuff it rather than work for him after what he did, you need to understand a basic fact about homosexuals on TV and in the Movies of the period…and well after: These are homosexual characters written by heterosexual men whose only understanding of homosexuals and homosexuality is everything their cheapshit bar stool prejudices tell them.

Milo kills Annie and tries to frame Saunders because all this time he’s hated the man’s guts (and Don Ameche plays a intensely evil stone hearted narcissistic man in this one). He killed Annie because she was a call girl. Evil, he tells Burke, destroying evil. Burke observes that’s a bit psychotic. Milo, being homosexual, doesn’t deny it. The one slim shred of decency the writer, Tony Barrett, allows him is to say if Eddie had been arrested for the murder of Annie he would have stepped up and confessed to the crime himself, to keep Eddie out of jail.

(I’m paraphrasing this from memory at the moment, and might replay the episode later to get it right…)

BURKE: Would you have confessed if it looked like Eddie was going to to take the fall for Annie’s murder

MILO: Would it help my case?

BURKE: Not in the least.

MILO: I would have confessed.

 

 

Somewhere, in some better place, maybe, Vito Russo nods his head…

Hollywood is too busy trying to make old formulas hit the jackpot again to see the future. Hollywood is yesterday, forever catching up with what’s happening today. This will change only when it becomes financially profitable, and reality will never be profitable until society overcomes its fear and hatred of difference and begins to see that we’re all in this together. –Vito Russo

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Classic TV Spot The Homosexual Game

July 12th, 2009

Just So We Don’t Have To Talk About What Louts We Allowed Ourselves To Become

Once upon a time, it may surprise you to learn, the American Puritan set wasn’t so afraid of the natural world.  In fact, they embraced it with a passion very much akin to the environmentalists of today.  My favorite American landscape painter, Fredric Church, embodied the thinking in those days.  His absolutely stunning landscapes were representations not merely of nature’s awesome beauty, but also of the eternal spiritual truths one may behold within.  They were revelations on canvas for "…those who have eyes to see and a mind to understand". 

In his essay, Church and Luminism: Light for America’s Elect, David C. Huntington says of Church’s painting, The Andes of Ecuador, that it is…

…a joyous paean to a divine universe.  The very composition appears to soar in exaltation.  All, as it were, becomes a resurrection.  The light of the sun expands without effort to touch and bless the whole earth.  The atmosphere itself bears the higher message of the painting.  In Cotopaxi, however, the sun must suffer for the evils of this world.

Church painted Cotopaxi in 1863 and many understood it to be a parable for the nation in the midst of a bloody civil war.  Understand, these were not your trite modern bible story paintings.  They were realistic, almost hyper realistic, awesomely beautiful landscapes.  Church twice visited South America, drew many sketches in oil on paper of the natural wonders there.  As well as any modern day naturalist, Church took pains to make sure that every detail of his landscapes were true to nature.  And yet they were created by an artist for a viewing public that took for granted that the natural world and the revelations of the Bible not only did not contradict one another, but did in fact emphasize one another. 

Cotopaxi is a geological parable, a proverb drawn from the sacred "volume in stone".  The canvas is as charged with the spirit of prophesy as is Bushnell’s discourse.  "The word, the meaning and the expression" of the great Andean volcano becomes a "revelation" to "those who have eyes to see and a mind to understand".  Cotopaxi is nature’s type for the regeneration of America.

Once upon a time in America, religion was not at war with the natural world.  In fact it was the pride of many biblical literalists that Americans held a special regard for the natural sciences.  Some even believed that it was here in North America (some said it was Yosemite Valley) that the Garden of Eden had once been located.  Much of the 19th century efforts to protect and preserve the natural wonders of America were based in no small measure on these deeply religious people’s intent to venerate that "sacred volume in stone"…

For those who will have remarked the visible absence of an explicitly Christian context in The Personal Narratives and Cosmos of Alexander von Humboldt, works which twice inspired Church to visit South America, McCosh’s treaties would seem to provide a missing link between Church’s religious and Humboldt’s secular approach to natural history.  Typical Forms and Special Ends in Creation is a dedicated Calvinist’s guide to the "Science of Design".  Geology is viewed as a Bible in stone, infallibly inscribed with the story of creation.  Like the verbal Bible, known to the generations who lived without the benefit of the new dispensation of science, the physical world is as much, so McCosh tells us, the word of God as is the word recorded by the prophets and the apostles.

And then Darwin came along and scared the steaming shit out of all of them, and they never forgave science for it.  It takes courage, and a little humility, to look God in the face and ask a question, because you might just get an answer.  Why yes Pope Urban, Gallilao and Copurnicus were right…the earth isn’t at the center of the universe after all.  And oh…by the way…neither are you… 

After Darwin, America’s religious purists retreated back into a padded room prison of Bible idolatry which has corrupted them ever since.  It is not a matter simply, of science verses the Bible.  Religion that teaches its faithful to deny any fact that contradicts its dogmas makes liars out of them.  First to themselves, then to their neighbors.  When lying to yourself becomes a daily necessity, to lie to your neighbors becomes simply a fact of life. 

Witness the routine, almost offhanded lying by the modern religious right in their war against their gay and lesbian neighbors.  A good recent example is provided by Timothy Kincaid over at Box Turtle Bulletin

Reports are coming in that some people collecting signatures in opposition to the new marriage law in Maine are doing so under false pretenses (Sun Journal):

Gerard Caron walked into the Auburn Post Office and was met by a woman with a pair of clipboards.

“This petition is against gay marriage and this other petition is to support gay marriage,” she said, according to Caron.

The Poland man said he asked her why there would be a petition to support something that already happened, referring to the petition “in support of” gay marriage.

“She just kinda gave me a little grin and didn’t say anything,” he said.

Then he looked at the two petitions and discovered they were identical, both were supporting the repeal of the same-sex marriage law, Caron said.

There is no way this person honestly made that mistake.  It was a lie.  A simple, easy, toss-off lie for Jesus.  We are doing God’s work and that means we have to lie.  Eventually the lying becomes so ingrained in one’s day to day life that it goes unnoticed.  What was a pious duty becomes a habit of two-facedness.  Thus, during the Dover Pennsylvania Intelligent Design trial, Alan Bonsell, then on the Dover Pennsylvainia school board, may have actually believed it when he told Judge John Jones that he didn’t know who the money came from to purchase copies of Of Pandas and People, a creationist textbook, even though he himself had handed his father the check for $850 to buy them…a check that a former board member had given him, from the proceedings of his church’s fund raiser for the books

The judge also wanted to know why the money needed to be forwarded to his father, why Buckingham couldn’t have purchased the books himself.

Bonsell stammered.

"I still haven’t heard an answer from you," Jones said.

"He said he’d take it off the table," Bonsell said.

"You knew you were under oath?" Jones asked at one point.

Yeah he knew he was under oath. This is what fundamentalism brings people to.  More specifically, it’s what idolatry brings people to.  They are not worshiping God the creator.  They are worshiping a book.  After Ben Stein’s film Expelled came out, National Review columnist John Derbyshire smacked out into the open what his fellow movement conservatives are loath to speak of publicly

When talking about the creationists to people who don’t follow these controversies closely, I have found that the hardest thing to get across is the shifty, low-cunning aspect of the whole modern creationist enterprise. Individual creationists can be very nice people, though they get nicer the further away they are from the full-time core enterprise of modern creationism at the Discovery Institute. The enterprise as a whole, however, really doesn’t smell good. You notice this when you’re around it a lot. I shall give some more examples in a minute; but what accounts for all this dishonesty and misrepresentation?

My own theory is that the creationists have been morally corrupted by the constant effort of pretending not to be what they are. What they are, as is amply documented, is a pressure group for religious teaching in public schools.

The shifty…  That’s it exactly.  It’s the shifty.  But Derbyshire doesn’t dig deeply enough into the cause.  It isn’t simply creationists are pretending not to be a religious pressure group.  Morality in the fundamentalist world is a constant struggle to have it both ways.

All this was churning in my thoughts the other day when I came across this post by Marv Knox, Editor of the Baptist Standard.  Marv thinks it’s time for Baptists to talk about homosexuality.  Here’s what talking looks like to Marv…

I’m not a geneticist or a biologist, so I don’t know if someone is “born homosexual.” I do know many homosexuals who swear they did not choose their orientation and never would choose to feel this way. Still, a direct reading of Scripture says sexual relations are designed by God to be enjoyed between one woman and one man exclusively within the bonds of marriage. While I empathize with the pain and grief of homosexual friends, I believe the Bible says their option is to remain celibate. I do not belittle their suffering, because the sex drive is one of the most powerful forces on Earth, but I also cannot ignore what seems to me the plain teaching of Scripture. Likewise, I do not feel their same-sex yearnings alone comprise sin. Humans are responsible for actions, not feelings. So, we must differentiate between homosexuality and homosexual activity.

There’s lots here to unpack, but if the first thing that strikes you is how shallow this man’s empathy is for his gay "friends" you don’t grasp what it means to talk about…well…anything, in fundamentalist circles.  It all comes back to the bible, and ultimately there is no talk because there are no questions.  Questions aren’t permitted.  Only answers.  Does your job bite?  Well, Ephesians 6:5-8!  Are credit card companies ripping off the public?  Well, Psalm 37:21!  Origin of the species?  Well, Genesis 1:20!  Homosexuality?  Well, Leviticus 20:13! 

Talk about homosexuality? Sure…as long as we already know what the answers will be.  Talk to homosexuals?  By all means…to save them. You can talk all you want as long as you don’t listen.

Marv empathizes with the pain and grief of his homosexual friends.  Some of my best friends are…  But he is also perfectly willing to join in the pummeling of them because that’s what the bible tells him he must do.  This he regards as friendship.  Look at that, if you have the nerve.  His "friends" are in pain and grief.  Marv is not looking the other way while they suffer.  He’s looking right at it, adding his own righteous measure to it, and calling that empathy.  He must.  The bible calls us to love our neighbor, and to kill the homosexual…

Mark 12:31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 

Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. 

"A direct reading of scripture" says both these things.  We must love.  We must kill.  Therefore, to love the homosexual, is to kill them.  Or at least, to make sure they understand that God condemns them.

And let it be said that gay people are killed every year in this country by murderers who claim some measure of justification in the bible’s condemnation of homosexuality.  But while actually killing his homosexual neighbor may be more then Marv’s conscience will endure, twisting the knife in their hearts can be seen as a kind of tough love, the moral qualms at seeing yourself doing it washed, washed, washed away in the knowledge that you are simply obeying God’s will.  That isn’t you bringing pain and grief into the lives of your homosexual neighbors, it’s the fallen state of humanity…it’s Satan…it’s God’s will…not mine…  I am twisting this knife into your heart because God wants me to love you…

Once upon a time the righteous believed that God’s will could be seen in nature’s design.  Then one day nature informed them they weren’t the center of the universe and they turned away in anger.  But as Jacob Bronowski once said, when you discard the test of fact in what a star is, you discard in it what a human is.  The commandments were not written on the stone, but in the stone, and in the light of the sun and stars, and in the songs of birds, and the color of the tiger’s eyes and the fish’s scales, and in our flesh and blood and bones, and in our hearts.  To turn away from the natural world is to turn away from your human identity, and everything fine and noble a human being can become.  Then you enter the wasteland, where inflicting pain and grief upon your neighbor is regarded as loving them…where the death of love is embraced as the purest essence of it.  No Marv, let’s not talk about homosexuality.  Let’s talk about how you became so callow.  You need to understand why that happened.

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

April 20th, 2009

Freeing People From The Bondage Of Homosexuality In Uganda, One Bullet At A Time…

Via Box Turtle Bulletin…  Scott Lively and Exodus’ hard work in Uganda is paying off it seems…

 

Timothy Kincaid, notes that the Ugandan government is now denouncing Amnesty Internation and UNICEF the U.N.’s children’s relief fund, for promoting homosexuality (UNICEF is accused of smuggling pro-homosexuality books into Ugandian schools…) and he asks

I wonder if American anti-gay groups, including Exodus International, are proud of the part they played.

Yes.

This has been another edition of Simple Answers, To Simple Questions…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Freeing People From The Bondage Of Homosexuality In Uganda, One Bullet At A Time…

October 28th, 2008

The Long Dark Night Of My Empty Soul…Let Me Project It On To You…

It’s been…interesting…to watch the reactions of the heterosexual mainstream to the gradual unraveling of the Bush republican mask.  Wow…these people really are Nuts!  And…they really Do live in their own separate reality…  Yes.  Yes they do.  And now comes the dawn, that they not only live in their own separate reality, they project their own private demons onto everyone who doesn’t live their with them.  This from David Krutz Talking Points Memo…

Dark Night of the Soul

Barack Obama is noted for his powerful intellect, but I don’t think he gets nearly enough credit for the mental dexterity it takes to be simultaneously an Islamic theocrat, atheistic communist and national socialist while posing as a center left candidate. Those must be the compartmentalization skills they taught him at that Manchurian madrasah in Indonesia.

The fact that Obama embodies the worst nightmares of so many on the political right says far more about them that it does him. In this piece at The Corner, Mark R. Levin, bristling over normally rational conservatives like Colin Powell and Charles Fried falling under Obama’s demagogic spell, pushes ajar the door to his inner psyche, where the horrors are of the communist-cum-Nazi variety. Levin doesn’t go in much for the Obama as closet Muslim nightmare. I’m sure it’s just a failure of imagination.

Emphasis mine.  Re-read that sentence again…  The fact that Obama embodies the worst nightmares of so many on the political right says far more about them that it does him.  Ya Think?  And here, via Sullivan, is Eric Martin over at The Poorman

New meme: Obama is nuclear holocaust Jesus:

Anyone familiar with the history of communism knows enough to be terrified by utopian visions. Equally frightening is the staggering breadth of the Moonbat Messiah’s ego. Not long ago, Obama told Sunday worshipers in Greenville, South Carolina that they don’t have to wait for any Second Coming:

“I am confident that we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth.”

Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, et al. had ambitions on a similar scale, although I don’t recall them comparing themselves to God. For the messianic aspect, you normally have to leave politics for cults like Heaven’s Gate.

Obama isn’t the first to mix Marxist utopianism with cult deification. Jim Jones did it with his Peoples Temple. Fortunately Jim Jones never had access to the USA’s nuclear codes.

A bit of a misstep here, comparing Obama to Jim Jones, rather than the more evocative Charlie Manson.  True, Jones brewed the original Kool-Aid, and did go to darkest Africa swarthiest South America.  But Charlie Manson was much scarier, was all about the class and race war, and – and this is critical here – was from the Epochal and Very Scary Late Sixties, rather than the Forgettable and Mostly Embarrassing Late Seventies.  Now, one could construct a perfectly serviceable Culture War narrative based on late-70’s resentment – in fact, I can think of 3 without even trying:

  1. Obama as secret (black, gay, urban, coastal) disco partisan opposed to salt-of-the-Earth (white, suburban/rural) Eddie Money fans;
  2. Obama as secret (London/NYC, jobless, stoned, callow) anarchist punk rocker/reggae listener opposed to John McCain’s steady, hard-working Frank Sinatra-listening establishment type;
  3. Obama as creepy glam transsexual Ziggy Stardust Bowie vs. coked-out fascist but sensibly-tailored Thin White Teuton Duke Bowie;

The last one made more sense when it was in my head – substitute some kind of scary forced-busing liberal Negro vs. punk-killing “Death Wish” Charles Bronson narrative here.  It’s not hard.  But once you’ve made a narrative choice, you do have to stick with it – you can’t just keep bouncing around, or people become confused.  If you are telling the story of a scary vampire, you can’t decide in chapter 2 that he’s also 500 feet tall and radioactive and bent on destroying Tokyo, in chapter 3 that he is actually a giant man-eating shark, and in chapter 4 that he is all this and a super-terrorist trying to plant a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles.  All of these things are, indeed, scary, but taken together they add up to a muddle.

This is the problem.  It’s not just the McCain campaign’s problem – although their inability to pick a narrative and stick to it is a special kind of inexcusable –  it’s a problem for the entire wingnut noise machine.  Obama is a Marxist Muslim Arab Jesus Black White Terrorist Technocrat Racist Do-Gooder Liberal FDR Stalin Hilter Commie Fascist Gay Womanizing Naive Cynical Insider Noob Boring Radical Unaccomplished Elite Slick Gaffe-Prone Pedophile Pedophile-Seducing Liberation Theology Atheist Etc. & Anti-Etc. with a bunch of scary friends from – wait for it! – the Nineteen Hundred And Sixties.  It makes no sense.  It’s a jumble sale of fears and scary associations from 50 years of wingnut witch hunts and smear campaigns, a flea market of pre-owned and antique resentments, and if one does detect a semi-consistent 1960’s motif running through it all, that’s because that’s when most of these ideas were coined.

But Sullivan should have at least recognized all this.  Consider the Militant Homosexual: If he’s male he’s a contemptible, mincing, swishing, girlie-boy faggot with limp wrists and a high pitched voice that giggles a lot.  He cowers pathetically and hides behind his purse at the first sign of trouble.  But he’s also a dangerous psychopathic killer lurking in the alleyways, waiting to pounce out a rip the liver out of you and eat it.  Lesbians are male haters who just need a real man but are so ugly they couldn’t get a real man if they wanted one, which they all secretly do.  But lesbian are hot…especially when they’re having sex so real men can watch them and get off. 

Gays are a weak and pathetic minority of very sick and mentally unstable individuals.  They are a powerful gay mafia that controls Hollywood and the news media.  They lurk in back alleys and dirty slums and engage in petty theft and prostitution to support themselves.  They’re a rich and powerful elite who control congress and the courts.  Their minds have been completely destroyed by sex and drugs and AIDS.  They are clever and scheming and secretly manipulate governments and the media.  They are narcissistic.  They hate themselves.  They have sex with hundreds of partners every night.  They are lonely.  They engage in every kind of filthy, sadistic, sexual perversion known to man, and invent new ones every day.  They are delicate prissy dainty little fairy boys.  They have no friends and are incapable of emotional connection.  They occupy in a vast secret subculture with its own code words that they all know and recognize.  They lurk around schools looking for children to molest.  They lurk in public restrooms trying to seduce men into having sex with them… 

The long dark night of the bigot’s soul.  When I was busy growing up, black men…negros…coloreds…were shiftless shuffling lazy stupid servents.  When they weren’t big and powerful criminal thugs that went around raping white women.  The fact that Obama embodies the worst nightmares of so many on the political right says far more about them that it does him.  But doesn’t it always, no matter whose face the nightmare has? 

Because in the end, it is the world that is their nightmare.  The world they cannot cope with.  The world that doesn’t need them.  Every time we tell them to get the fuck off our backs, we remind them that they need us far more then we need them.  And so they despise us a little bit more.  And so the nightmare, the demon, the destroyer of worlds, has our face.

[Edited a tad…]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Long Dark Night Of My Empty Soul…Let Me Project It On To You…

August 11th, 2008

Blood Into Money

From Forbes Magazine comes this account of Jerry Falwell’s money machine…

Biblical Bling

Hundreds of millions of dollars poured into the ministries of Bible Belt televangelists in the 1970s-80s. But these fortunes would never have materialized without a secular weapon from the North–a Massachusetts marketing outfit begun by a group of twenty-something Harvard business school grads called Epsilon Data Management. Falwell began using the company in 1976; he was the first televangelist to sign up. When his contributions exploded, other preachers like Pat Robertson, Jim Bakker, Oral Roberts and Rex Humbard contracted with Epsilon and made a pile, too.

Before Epsilon, Oral Roberts used punch tape-driven Friden Flexo-writers. Billy Graham handwrote every homespun fundraising appeal himself. "You could see the buckwheat flying off the paper," recalls Gaylord Briley, one of the top religious fundraisers of the era. In a few years Epsilon was doing work for 7 of the top 10 televangelists in America. 

Two threads joined together in the 1970s to produce the political machine we now know as the religious right.  In the early 1970s, the feds began challenging the tax exemption of many fundamentalist schools over their race segregation policies.  I’ve blogged about that previously Here

But the spark that lit the roaring fire that eventually consumed the republican party wasn’t integration specifically…

In a recent interview broadcast on CNN the day of his death, Falwell offered his version of the Christian right’s genesis: "We were simply driven into the process by Roe v. Wade and earlier than that, the expulsion of God from the public square." But his account was fuzzy revisionism at best. By 1973, when the Supreme Court ruled on Roe, the antiabortion movement was almost exclusively Catholic. While various Catholic cardinals condemned the Court’s ruling, W.A. Criswell, the fundamentalist former president of America’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, casually endorsed it. (Falwell, an independent Baptist for forty years, joined the SBC in 1996.) "I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person," Criswell exclaimed, "and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed." A year before Roe, the SBC had resolved to press for legislation allowing for abortion in limited cases.

While abortion clinics sprung up across the United States during the early 1970s, evangelicals did little. No pastors invoked the Dred Scott decision to undermine the legal justification for abortion. There were no clinic blockades, no passionate cries to liberate the "pre-born." For Falwell and his allies, the true impetus for political action came when the Supreme Court ruled in Green v. Connally to revoke the tax-exempt status of racially discriminatory private schools in 1971. Their resentment was compounded in 1971 when the Internal Revenue Service attempted to revoke the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University, which forbade interracial dating. (Blacks were denied entry until that year.) Falwell was furious, complaining, "In some states it’s easier to open a massage parlor than to open a Christian school."

Seeking to capitalize on mounting evangelical discontent, a right-wing Washington operative and anti-Vatican II Catholic named Paul Weyrich took a series of trips down South to meet with Falwell and other evangelical leaders. Weyrich hoped to produce a well-funded evangelical lobbying outfit that could lend grassroots muscle to the top-heavy Republican Party and effectively mobilize the vanquished forces of massive resistance into a new political bloc. In discussions with Falwell, Weyrich cited various social ills that necessitated evangelical involvement in politics, particularly abortion, school prayer and the rise of feminism. His implorations initially fell on deaf ears.

"I was trying to get those people interested in those issues and I utterly failed," Weyrich recalled in an interview in the early 1990s. "What changed their mind was Jimmy Carter’s intervention against the Christian schools, trying to deny them tax-exempt status on the basis of so-called de facto segregation."

Dig it.  It wasn’t abortion.  It wasn’t militant homosexuality.  It wasn’t rampant sexual hedonism.  It wasn’t the secularization of America’s schools.  It wasn’t even racism, that lit the fire the brought the fundamentalist leadership charging into our political system in a blind destructive frenzy.  It was their tax exemption.  It was money.

The second thread is the advent of computerized direct marketing.  Richard Viguerie was a pioneer in its use for the republican party.  Viguerie had more then a mailing list.  His genius was in applying computerized database analysis techniques to it, tracking the giving patterns of the names in his database.  He paired that with a ruthless analysis of which marketing campaigns worked, and which did not.  Viguerie, a right wing extremist, wasn’t interested in informing the republican base so much as in pushing their buttons so they would open their wallets and go to the polls.  And he got results.  With his database and direct mailing technique, Viguerie almost single-handedly turned around the fortunes of the Republicans after Watergate. 

Remember, this was a time before the Internet, before the widespread use of cable TV and the appearance of 24 hour cable news, before even talk radio as we know it today, with its national audiences and personalities.  Viguerie showed the republicans how they could bypass the news media of that day, and not only get their their message out on their own terms, but do it below the radar of the popular culture.  His mail appeals were Targeted.  The message was tailored and precise, and didn’t have to appear in any newspaper or television ad where the rest of the country could see it too. 

Falwell saw the success of Viguerie’s technique, and revamped his own direct mailing effort…

Computerized database marketing turned the late 1970s into an era known as the golden age of direct mail prospecting. Direct mail was still an almost clandestine medium. The content of such correspondence was rarely exposed to media scrutiny. Falwell crafted his letters with theological abandon, hitting his mortal enemies with blunt force. Epsilon led Falwell to discover that the secret to steady income is consistency; getting lots of donors to give a little, but regularly. Epsilon also taught Falwell that most donor lists contain "compulsive contributors"–usually amounting to four percent of the list, says Briley. 

These twin threads of course, have a common root.  Money.  It was all about the money.  That is why there is a religious right today.  And that is why they’ve made common cause with the corporate world, the world of Caesar, the world of mammon, that they once disdained.  When Carter went after their tax exemptions, they found had a lot in common with those kings of business after all.

And how do you push the rube’s buttons enough so they’ll give you money, over and over and over again?   Well…here’s one way…

Besides Epsilon, Falwell had the formidable talent of Jerry Huntsinger. Then 45, he was a former minister who lived on a farm near Richmond who had been taking advertising concepts from the for-profit world and applying them to nonprofit religious ventures. Huntsinger brought a novelist’s touch to direct mail. He considered every fundraising letter a first cousin to the short story. "A short story has a problem that seems insurmountable, a sympathetic character that is a victim of the problem, complications and obstacles, but finally, a resolution." He advised his clients that emergency appeals work best because they give donors a feeling of "excitement at coming to the rescue."

Huntsinger was also a master at fine tuning the mechanics: the color of the envelope, the position of the address window, which paragraphs to indent, which sentences to underline. He knew how to lure a reader’s eye just to where he wanted.

Huntsinger encouraged Falwell to focus on wedge issues in his mailings, excoriating the feminist movement and attacking homosexual rights, often equating both with the dangers of communism. As one letter stated: "Dear Friend: Homosexuals are on the march in this country. Homosexuals do not reproduce, they recruit, and many of them are after my children and your children….This is one major reason why we must keep "The Old Time Gospel Hour" alive…So don’t delay. Let me hear from you immediately. I will be anxiously awaiting your reply."

The sense of impending doom the letter conveyed fit perfectly with Huntsinger’s operating credo. It turned a pitch into a storyline (gays on the the march) with sympathetic characters (children) under threat from sex offenders (gay pedophiles). It was an emergency appeal that sought to panic his audience into coming to the rescue.

The Forbes excerpt ends on the note that the gay bashing appeals actually raised very little money.  Given the history of the religious right’s move into politics, I don’t believe it.  Before Anita Bryant showed them that waving the gay menace at people could practically stampede them to the polls, the Falwells and the Robertsons actually did very little gay bashing.  But on the day Falwell stood by her side in front of reporters and declared that "a homosexual will kill you, soon as look at you", he knew she was on to something.

Falwell and his kind didn’t create the climate of fear and contempt toward gay people.  But in the 1970s they began to whip it into a frenzy.  For money.  Never mind all that love your neighbor as yourself crap.  The harder you push their buttons, the more they open their wallets.  And the best button of all was the Homosexuals Are On The March And They Want Your Children button.  It worked.  The money came rolling in.  For Falwell.  For Robertson.  For Dobson.  And for all the other crusaders for Christ.  The money came rolling in.

And here’s the color of money…

  

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Blood Into Money

May 15th, 2008

How Will Peter LaBarbra Go Fuck Himself?

Via numerous sources…  When the homophobes say gays are obsessed with sex, count on them to describe the sex we are obsessed with in more detail then most gay pornography.  So naturally, in the wake of the California decision, we see Peter LaBarbra framing the issues involved in his own demure way…

How Will California Homosexual Couples Consummate their Counterfeit ‘Marriages’? 

Oh I suppose they’ll…Go To Disneyland!

Whatever.  Here’s how my gay couple consummated the Lawrence v. Texas decision that finally overtuned the sodomy laws…

 

 

For someone who thinks same-sex sex is so ugly Peter, you sure do think about it a lot…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on How Will Peter LaBarbra Go Fuck Himself?

March 14th, 2008

Heroes Of The Culture War…(collect the entire series!)

They way the religious right stands up to our modern decadent secular morally relativistic culture to uphold the values of truth and decency is just…just…breathtaking.  Sorta like the way catching a whiff of an open sewer is breathtaking…

I have a whole freak’n stable full of Culture War Heroes for you today.  First, from Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters comes the usual suspects Peter LaBarbera and Matt Barber, and Laurie Higgins who doesn’t want the the little snowflakes at Deerfield High School in Michigan to read the play Angels In America.  Laurie, bless her heart, is responding to Superintendent of Schools, George Fornero’s fact sheet about the controversy anti-gay hatemongers have been stirring up in his schools over the play.  Specifically, accusations that the play is obscene, that it is homosexual pornography, that children as young as 14 years of age would be reading it, that parents were never informed that their kids would be reading it, and that students are being required to read it against their parent’s wishes.  Point by point, Fornero dispatches each of these.  Higgens, responds thusly:

  • Students studying the play are second semester seniors in Advanced Placement English. (Translation: “We save the most offensive tripe for the most intelligent.”)

In other words, why no actually, only the oldest students in the school would be reading the play…not the 14 year olds.  You can see how the rest of this is going to go can’t you…

  • This play has been taught to similar classes in other high schools. (Translation: “Everyone else is doing it, and we’re lemmings and conformists who cannot think for ourselves.”)
  • The College Board oversees all Advanced Placement testing; the class syllabus, including all readings was approved through the Board’s audit process. (Translation: “Of all the readings offered through the College Board, we’re including the most offensive.”)
  • Parents received information about Angels in America that specifically addressed the mature content and potential for offense. (Translation: “We’re using the inaccurate euphemism ‘mature’ for the more accurate term “obscene.”

…and so on and so on.  But pay attention, really pay attention, to all the ducking she’s doing there.  Fornero directly contradicts one party line after another there and Higgens responds not with facts to counter any of that, but venom.   Facts don’t matter, when you’re on a mission from God…

  • Parents were asked to make an informed decision about the text their child would read. Two viable choices were presented: Angels in America and Albert Camus’ The Plague. They were also given the option of having their students read both texts. Letter to parents requested that they provide permission for their student to read the selected text(s). (Reality: Many parents have neither the time nor interest in reading the entirety of Angels in America; This teacher is much beloved by students, and teens are rebellious, therefore, even parents who don’t want their children to read Angels may feel the force of social pressure, compelling them to allow their children to read the provocative, controversial text.

In other words…why yes, as a matter of fact, parents were notified. 

  • According to Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Waller, the reading and discussion of the material is not a violation of the obscenity laws, or any other laws, of the State of Illinois. (Reality: The fact that it may not technically violate obscenity laws does not mean it is not obscene.

The play is not obscene.  It is not homosexual pornography.  It is not required reading.  Only the most gifted second semester seniors would be reading it.   And parents were notified.  But never mind…we’ll just keep saying that the school required 14 year old students to read obscene homosexual pornography without parental notification.

Vis:

Deerfield High School in Deerfield, Illinois, recently assigned the pornographic book “Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes” to students as young as 14 as a required reading.  Mike Adams, Town Hall.

And…by the way…LaBarbra’s anti-gay web site is titled, Americans For Truth.

Atrios called them zombie lies, in that no matter how many times you shoot at them they just keep going and going.  Thing is, your gay and lesbian neighbors have been seeing this behavior for a lot longer then when the Bush administration came to town.  In fact, I don’t think anyone could possibly have been less surprised by the behavior of the republicans since they took over the government then the gay community.  It’s not that facts don’t matter to them, it’s that Eric Hoffer was right when he said that propaganda doesn’t fool people, so much as allow them to fool themselves.

And speaking of TRUTH…

Recall that after Oklahoma representative Sally Kern’s anti-gay bile fest was made public, she immediately began claiming that she was getting death threats in her email…  

OSBI opens investigation into death threats against lawmaker

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is looking into death threats against a state lawmaker who told a political group that the gay agenda poses a bigger threat to the U.S. than terrorism and "is just destroying this nation," an OSBI spokeswoman said Tuesday.

OSBI agents met with Kern, of Oklahoma City, at the state Capitol Monday afternoon after she received thousands of e-mails and telephone calls from people reacting to her comments to a group of Republicans about gays and their lifestyle.

"I’m not gay-bashing. But according to God’s word that is not the right kind of lifestyle," Kern said in the recorded comments.

"Studies show no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than a few decades," she said. "It is not a lifestyle that is good for this nation."

Kern said a few of the e-mails she received supported her comments but that most condemned them and some contained death threats and obscenities.

"I hear what you said and you should be killed…," said one e-mail.

Well of course when a government official starts receiving death threats it’s a matter for the police.  But the problem with that is then the damn police will be wanting to see…you know…the Evidence

OSBI reading Kern e-mails

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is sorting through nearly 7,000 e-mails that were sent to a state lawmaker after she said homosexuality is a bigger threat to the United States than terrorism.

Comments by Rep. Sally Kern, recorded several weeks ago but placed on the Internet site YouTube only late last week, have caused a national outcry, resulting in more than 500,000 hits on the Web site.

A fellow lawmaker contacted the OSBI on Monday and suggested that agents go through the e-mails, some of which might be threatening, OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown said.

Kern said Monday that she had not received death threats. On Tuesday, she said, "It’s changed," but she did not elaborate.

Brown said Tuesday, "There are a lot of e-mails to the representative that say, ‘You ought to die,’ rather than, ‘I am going to kill you.’

"I wouldn’t characterize them as death threats," she said. 

No society that embraced homosexuality ever lasted longer then a couple of decades.  Homosexuality is a bigger threat to America then terrorism.  Homosexuals are going after two year olds in our schools.   Homosexuality is a cancer on our nation that will destroy it.  I’m getting emailed death threats.  No…wait…don’t look at my goddamned inbox!!!  …hey…I didn’t really mean death threats as such…

And via Box Turtle Bulletin…we find that Focus On The Family is Still pushing the death threats story, and just never you mind that there weren’t any… 

Lawmaker Faces Death Threats over Statements on Homosexuality

Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern reportedly has received up to 7,000 e-mails and hundreds of phone calls — including death threats — since speaking out about homosexuality at a Republican event in January.

"According to God’s word, that is not the right kind of lifestyle," she told the group.

…But lying through your teeth is when it’s for God.

Truth.  Morality.  Values.  The Bible.  Jesus.  Aren’t we so blessed to have people such as these fighting for them… 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Heroes Of The Culture War…(collect the entire series!)

March 13th, 2008

Now Why Is This So…Not Surprising…?

Guess who might have a gay son…

Sally Kern Scrubs Gay Son?

Well in lieu of the kid actually coming forward, it’s not much more then rumor.  But it wouldn’t surprise me.  Alan Keyes.  Phyllis Schlafly.  Pete Knight.  Charles Socarides.  And this commenter brings up something I hadn’t considered, but should have in light of what my travels among Ex-Gay survivors have taught me…

I see in this foolish woman much anger and resentment. Her beliefs are challenged within herself, because if she stands by them then she must accept her part in her son being a homosexual. She isn’t strong enough to do that. Instead, she has created a paranoid delusion that there is some vast conspiracy of gays infiltrating schools and governments to turn others gay and force their lifestyles on everyone. Her subconscious has created this great gay evil so she doesn’t have to blame herself…

Now that I look at it, I can see there’s probably a lot of that going on here.   The reason they’ve become warriors against the gay menace, is that if there is no gay menace, then all they have left to explain why their kids are gay is what the pulpit thumpers have been pounding into them…that its poor parenting that makes a kid gay…that they’re the ones to blame…their children are going to hell because of them…

Geeze…  I could almost feel sorry for her now.  Can I?  Nope.  Still can’t…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Now Why Is This So…Not Surprising…?

November 6th, 2007

To Those Of You Who Once Called Me A Friend And Yet Still Voted Republican…

Don’t ask if I’m still pissed off at you…

Kentucky GOP Pushing Anti-Gay Message In Final Days Of Gov Race

Going into the home stretch in in the Kentucky gubernatorial election, the Republicans appear to have brought out one last card: Paranoia against gays.

The state GOP is now sending a robo-call throughout the state featuring none other than Pat Boone, warning that as a Christian he is concerned that Democratic nominee Steve Beshear, who has been way ahead in the polls, will work for "every homosexual cause."

"Now do you want a governor who’d like Kentucky to be another San Francisco?" Boone asks. "Please re-elect Ernie Fletcher."

And at a campaign stop last night, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports, the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor made a direct attack upon the Democratic ticket: "Do you want a couple of San Francisco treats or do you want a governor?"

(Emphasis mine) So the republican candidate gets way behind in the polls and he starts waving the Gay Menace.  This is what republicans do to win elections, and never mind how many gay Americans it gets killed.  Talking Points Memo has a recording of Fletcher’s robo call.  You may recall that on April 11 of last year Fletcher, declared Diversity Day in Kentucky, and on the same day eliminated anti-discrimination protections for gay state and local government workers.

I wrote a post a few days back about wanting a door I could walk through from time to time.  Don’t assume that means I’m not just as pissed off at all of you as I was.  In fact, I might even be More pissed off now then I was.  Because it just never stops with the republicans.  It just never stops. 

I don’t expect everyone who knows me to agree with me on every political issue.  But if you can vote republican while they’re doing this to gay people to win elections then you are not my friend.  It really is that simple.  I’ve got a bullseye on my back, along with ever other gay American citizen, and it’s not gutter crawling maggots like Ernie Fletcher who put it there, it’s all of you who told the republicans they can incite passions toward gay people as often and as crudely as they like and you’ll still vote for them.

So don’t ask.  Just…don’t. 

When the roll call of the gay bashed for this election cycle is read and I’m lucky enough not to be on it that’ll be no thanks to the likes of any of you.

Burger King Workers Charged In Gay Couple’s Beating

(Union City, New Jersey) Two workers at a Burger King in Union City have been charged with assault and a hate crime in connection with the beating of a gay couple outside the restaurant.

Christopher Soto and Angel Carbaballo, who have since been fired by the chain, are scheduled to appear in court this week.

The victims, both in their 40s, have not been named.

When the couple asked for a refund for a menu item that the counter person discovered was not available, another counter person then asked who wanted the refund – “The faggots over there?”

The couple left the restaurant, but a group of Burger King employees allegedly followed them to a side street and beat them mercilessly, though not fatally. 

The employees made repeated anti-gay slurs during the beating according to the indictment.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on To Those Of You Who Once Called Me A Friend And Yet Still Voted Republican…

August 9th, 2007

Not As Outlandish As You Might Think…

From The Onion…

Small Town Holds Annual Gay Shame Parade

GRAND PLAINS, NE—A tight-knit rural Midwestern farming community commemorated the demonization of homosexuality Sunday with its annual Gay Shame Parade, a three-decade-old tradition that has become a cornerstone of the town’s cultural identity.

Despite the pageantry, parade organizers stressed that the event has a serious message

"Everyone loves a parade," PTA chairwoman Agatha Buell said. "But it’s about a lot more than the clowns, the decorations, and those Shriner fellows in their tiny cars. It’s about making folks feel sickened by the deviant homosexual lifestyle, like God wants us to."

Spectators couldn’t help but be delighted by the parade’s surprise finale, when, after dutifully leading the marching band for the entire mile-long parade route, local music teacher Colin Atherton was marched past the county line and told never, ever to return. 

…has become a cornerstone of the town’s cultural identity.  Well…considering the rhetoric coming from the radios and pulpits these days, you have to figure a lot of people might read this and wonder what the joke is.  You watch…somebody somewhere is actually going to organize one of these…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Not As Outlandish As You Might Think…

December 9th, 2006

What It Looks Like When Playing To The Moonbats Doesn’t Win You Anything

Canadian Prime Minister Stephan Harper, who campaigned on a promise to hold a free vote on restoring the traditional definition of marriage, read the tea leaves and instead ended up holding a vote on whether or not to hold a vote.  You can’t govern from the far right in a country whose political process and news media haven’t been utterly corrupted by right wing billionaires and big business. 

Demonizing minorities for the sake of driving the bigot vote to the polls can only get you so far in the civilized world, and Harper apparently wants to keep on being prime minister…

Same-sex marriage file closed for good, PM says

Tory attempt to restore traditional definition fails in House; social conservatives cry foul as Harper declares debate over

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper has declared the contentious issue of same-sex marriage to be permanently closed.

After a Conservative motion calling on the government to restore the traditional definition of marriage was defeated yesterday by a resounding 175 to 123, Mr. Harper said he will not bring the matter back before Parliament.

"I don’t see reopening this question in the future," he told reporters who asked whether same-sex marriage would return to the table if the Conservatives won a majority government.

Nor does he intend to introduce a "defence of religions" act to allow public officials, such as justices of the peace, to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

"If there ever were a time in the future where fundamental freedoms were threatened, of course the government would respond to protect them," said the Prime Minister, who voted for the motion. "The government has no plans at this time."

The declared end of the same-sex marriage debate brought comfort to those who have been fighting for such unions. But social conservatives who have supported Mr. Harper’s government said they felt betrayed by his decision to quit their fight; some said it will come back to haunt the party in the next election campaign.

"I am afraid that the Conservative Party feels that they can take social conservatives for granted in this country," said Joseph Ben Ami, executive director of the Institute for Canadian Values.

Social Conservatives…? That’s a polite way of saying ‘bigot’ isn’t it?  And as I understand recent Canadian political history, calling Harper a Tory is a bit misleading.  Harper’s party, the Conservative Party of Canada, was formed from a really odd (to this outsider) merger between the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Alliance, which, particularly in Alberta, couldn’t seem to fag bash enough.  The Alliance was Canada’s bigot right, in morals and tone not all that dissimilar from the southern state republicans down here in the U.S,.  They can’t be happy with this.

But the rest of the western industrial world isn’t still arguing about evolution.  Whatever levers big money has to pull in Canada, it looks like playing the fundamentalists for votes isn’t a winning proposition.  So for now anyway, gay people in Canada don’t have to play the roll of the bogeyman herald of the apocalypse who drives the batshit crazies to the polls and keeps the conservatives in power.  They can have lives.  Real lives.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on What It Looks Like When Playing To The Moonbats Doesn’t Win You Anything

November 30th, 2006

Profiles In Virtue Trading Cards…Collect Them All…

Card 18 – Milt Romney:

Milt – while running against Ted Kennedy in the 1994 Massachusetts senate race

When Romney ran…for the Senate in 1994, he wrote a letter to the Mass Log Cabin Club in which he pledged: “[A]s we seek to establish full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent.” During the same campaign, when he was accused of having once described gay people as “perverse” during a religious meeting of Mormons, Romney’s campaign issued a forceful statement decrying the accusation as false and reiterating that Romney respected “all people regardless of their race, creed, or sexual orientation.”

Milt – February 2006…while campaigning for the 2008 GOP nomination for President of the United State

SALT LAKE CITY — Speaking before an adoring audience of Utah Republicans last night, Governor Mitt Romney drew a link between America’s prestige around the world and the legalization of same-sex marriages in Massachusetts.

”America cannot continue to lead the family of nations around the world if we suffer the collapse of the family here at home," Romney said, calling the Supreme Judicial Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts ”a blow to the family."

Milt – while running for governor of Massachusetts in 2001…

During his 2001 run for governor, his campaign distributed bright pink flyers at the June Pride parade declaring “Mitt and Kerry wish you a great Pride weekend!” During his inaugural speech, he said it was important to defend civil rights “regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or race.” He appointed eight openly gay and lesbian people to high profile positions in his administration. And before he decided to run for president — that is to say, before he needed to establish some strong anti-gay bonafides — Romney doubled the budget line item for the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth.

Milt – Last May…while campaigning for the 2008 GOP nomination for President of the United State…

This would be the same commission, mind you, that Romney tried to disband in highly public fashion last May.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Profiles In Virtue Trading Cards…Collect Them All…

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