Religious right still doesn’t know what ‘civil disobedience’ means

Once again, the religious right is threatening “civil disobedience” in opposition to same-sex marriage.

And so once again we see that the religious right does not know what “civil disobedience” means.

The Family Research Council is the latest group to mouth this threat:

The senior vice president of the Family Research Council said on Wednesday that civil disobedience may be necessary to prevent same sex marriages after voters in several states approved marriage equality.

John Lewis (left) and Jim Zwerg in 1961 in Montgomery, Ala.

In a special broadcast titled “Election 2012: Aftermath & Aftershocks,” FRC president Tony Perkins told Senior Vice President Tom McClusky that LGBT marriage rights were still “morally wrong” even though pro marriage equality measures passed in Maine, Maryland and Washington. Voters in Minnesota also defeated a proposed amendment to codify marriage discrimination in the state’s constitution.

“The people can vote on it — it’s the first time we’ve seen that [pass] — courts can rule on it, but I don’t think you can violate natural law and force Americans to recognize it as morally right,” Perkins explained.

“I think the term for a lot of things over the next four years, civil disobedience is going to come into play,” McClusky agreed.

This has been a standard refrain from the religious right for years, and it gained momentum after it was popularized in Chuck Colson’s “Manhattan Declaration” in 2009. Most of those repeating this call for “civil disobedience” seem to mean little more than what Colson meant — that it is pleasant to indulge in imagining oneself as heroic, good and courageous, and as the moral heir somehow of Gandhi and King. (See recently, for example, Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch, or the group ActsFive29.)

But beyond such fantasy role-playing, what could the Family Research Council’s McClusky possibly mean when he says “civil disobedience is going to come into play” to protest same-sex marriage?

I can’t imagine. I would guess that what FRC is thinking of, if they’re thinking of anything at all, is organizing protests that end with some demonstrators getting arrested for trespassing. That used to be an effective tool for grabbing media attention, and it does display a level of commitment on behalf of those willingly facing arrest, but as we’ve discussed before (Civil Disobedience in Hazzard County), that’s not civil disobedience. Getting arrested for trespassing is only civil disobedience if you’re protesting laws against trespassing.

Civil disobedience can be a powerful tool of nonviolent change, but it is really only appropriate or effective in response to an unjust legal prohibition. It does not apply easily or work well as a protest against what one regards as an unjust lack of legal prohibition.

Let’s consider an unlikely hypothetical situation. The governor’s ex-wife collected stamps, so the governor railroads through legislation banning stamp-collecting and imposing mandatory life sentences for all convicted philatelists. That would be an unjust prohibition, and thus civil disobedience would be an appropriate and powerful tool against it. The strategy is obvious — everyone collects stamps until the courts are swamped and the jails are filled or until the outcry forces the unjust law to be repealed.

But consider the opposite situation: The law permits stamp-collecting, but you feel it ought to be prohibited — you believe that the lack of a prohibition is itself unjust. You’re not without options in that situation — there are paths you can take and strategies you can pursue to try to get such a prohibition written into law. But civil disobedience will not help you. This particular context will not allow for the use of that particular tool.

The latter situation is analogous to where the Family Research Council finds itself. In an increasing number of states, the law permits something — same-sex marriage — that FRC believes ought to be prohibited. And that means civil disobedience cannot “come into play.” Marriage equality does not impose any unjust prohibitions that FRC or its members could violate as civil disobedience. Their complaint is that the law is too permissive, and a law that extends permission is difficult to violate in protest. Civil disobedience just isn’t an option in such cases.

It’s also possible that by “civil disobedience,” McClusky was referring to specific action taken by those few individuals who are in a position to violate laws permitting same-sex marriage. Perhaps McClusky meant disobedience to those laws on the part of county clerks and justices of the peace. Maybe what he means is that such officials should disobey the law by refusing to fulfill their duties when it comes to same-sex couples.

But that would not be civil disobedience either. Those clerks and justices would not be acting as individual citizens, but in an official capacity as public servants — as civil authority. When civil authority chooses to disregard the rule of law, that’s not “civil disobedience” or “conscience,” it’s just petty tyranny.

And petty tyranny tends to have the opposite effect of civil disobedience when it comes to galvanizing public opinion.

So when I hear the Family Research Council call for civil disobedience to protest marriage equality, I give up. I have no idea what they mean by that. And I’m fairly certain they have no idea what they mean by that either.

 

  • Sindragosa

    The Religious Right should take a hard line on this issue: Don’t send them a wedding gift.

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

    Its not about action. Its about the dog whistle. Its telling people who oppose gay marriage are akin to Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement, that they are an aggrieved and morally righteous minority who aren’t going to take it anymore.

    Action would merely detract from the time spent fapping to their own awesomeness.

  • ReverendRef

    The strategy is obvious — everyone collects stamps until the courts are swamped and the jails are filled or until the outcry forces the unjust law to be repealed. — So when I hear the Family Research Council call for civil disobedience
    to protest marriage equality, I give up. I have no idea what they mean
    by that.

    Off the top of my head . . .

    1) The FRC and their disciples believe that allowing, dare I say promoting, SSM will ultimately cause the destruction of the family. 

    2) The strategy of the FRC and their disciples would then be to prove that this is the case. 

    3) For them to prove that SSM destroys families, they would have to show that this is the case, not simply make hysterical claims about cat killing babies.

    4) Therefore, their civil disobedience would be to immediately call for everyone in the FRC camp to divorce their spouse.  This would result in a massive backlog of paperwork in the local court system, as well as causing hundreds of thousands of children to be from broken homes.  This would also inflate the divorce rate above 60% (I’m guessing).

    5) They could then point to the permissiveness of SSM as the direct cause of the destruction of the family and, with those results, push to have SSM banned.

    However, I’m not entirely convinced that the FRC is that committed to their cause.  With any luck, we will be hearing the death-rattle of discrimination-as-moral-imperative as states throughout the country continue to push for full equality.

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    If the government comes around and forces some heterosexuals to marry somebody of the same sex, they should refuse and engage in sitins.  Now that would be a real example of civil disobedience, and one that I would encourage.

    Somehow that does not seem to be what the Family Research Council is proposing.

  • Katie

    Its also possible that they intend to start protesting at weddings. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

    In other words, The Liar Tony Perkins is a wanker.

  • Mornacale

    An idea that is turning my stomach–and thus that I must share–is that by “civil disobedience”  the FRC actually means means open bigotry and intimidation of LGBTQ folks. Given that they see no division between their religious views and politics, I’m not at all certain that they recognize the difference between the political right to marry and the social virtue of tolerance. I can easily imagine a campaign to be as openly intolerant as possible, presented under the guise of civil disobedience.

  • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

    Possibly so; that would pretty much vitiate any claim they have to being marginally less loathsome than Fred Frackin’ Phelps, though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericrboersma Eric Boersma

    I hope so. Groups like the Westboro Baptist Church protesting peaceful, private events by  is one of the best things that can happen to a cause like SSM. Adding the FRC to that list would only hasten the acceptance.

  • Carstonio

    I suspect some intend to actually disrupt weddings. The Phelps bunch tried protesting a military funeral here recently, and they were far outnumbered by the biker veteran groups who acted as a shield for the mourners.

  • g127

    Have to disagree with you on this one, I’m afraid. There are a lot of instances where not following the law is the right to do, even if you’re a civil servant. People in a position of relative power can do a lot of good for ordinary citizens if the laws are unjust.

    I don’t know if you have ever seen ‘das leben der anderen’ a german movie about the secret service in East Germany, but it serves as a great example: an employee of that organisation was ordered to spie on an artist and give reports on his supposed disloyalty to the soviet union. The man bugged the house of the artist and found all the evidence he needed. He did not do his job however and that was the right thing tot do.

    Just to be clear: I support gay marriage and think that any civil servant that refuses to complie with a new marriage law should be fired. I just don’t agree with you’re take on this that just because you’re employed by the government, you should not be allowed to disobey orders.

    Just for fun sake: imagine a civil servant in Texas allowing gays to marry even if the law doesn’t. What if he would just give out licences, put the names of the happy couples in the books. I wouldn’t see that as petty tyrany: i’d see that as someone making a great statement.

  • Magic_Cracker

    So when I hear the Family Research Council call for civil disobedience to protest marriage equality, I give up. I have no idea what they mean by that.

    Likely it means talking a bunch of shit about how persecuted they are but they’re not afraid to speak up on on CBN or  Fox News or at the Value Voters Summit, no sir! Their suffering whatever second- or third-hand scorn makes its way through their filters and into their mansions, fully loaded Range Rovers, private jets, and green rooms is exactly like Jesus being stripped and scourged, and they’ll be sure to tell us about it — well, not us, but they will tell their supporters about it and loudly enough for us to overhear and then — hoo boy! — won’t we regret our friends and family having equal rights, yessiree!

  • Becca Stareyes

    Just for fun sake: imagine a civil servant in Texas allowing gays to marry even if the law doesn’t. What if he would just give out licences, put the names of the happy couples in the books. I wouldn’t see that as petty tyrany: i’d see that as someone making a great statement.

    Actually, if I recall correctly, the mayor of San Francisco did just that in February of 2004, which is what kicked off the case that got to the California Supreme Court which ruled that the state government could not discriminate based on the genders or sexes of the couple when issuing marriage licenses.  Which lead to Prop 8, and the suits that followed…

  • Jeff Weskamp

    My guess is, they mean that pastors who oppose same-sex marriage should refuse to perform weddings for same-sex couples.  After all, they do believe that legalizing SSM means that pastors will be legally *compelled* to perform such weddings.

  • Dan Audy

    I suppose you could try performing ‘citizen’s arrests’ on anyone you catch stamp collecting and hauling them down to the police station.  However, unless you actually get other people to do this on the truly mass scale needed to overwhelm the justice system all you are going to accomplish is getting arrested for kidnapping and related crimes.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    I’m guessing they want business owners to engage in “civil disobedience” by  putting “Straights Only” signs on their doors. 

  • LL

    See, this is why I don’t try to engage these types in serious debates of any kind. It would be pointless. Anybody who thinks depriving other adults of basic rights = fighting slavery/racism just isn’t playing with a full deck. They’ve abandoned reason and logic.  

    Plus, I imagine most of the people who proclaim their interest in “civil disobedience” against same-sex marriage are probably too lazy to go through with it. Sure, they’ll go vote against it if they’re already there to vote for Mitt Romney to save America from the Secret Muslim Socialist, but if they have to go out of their way, like showing up at a “gay wedding” to protest all the gay stuff going on, I suspect they’ll just find something else to do to demonstrate how committed they are to the cause of keeping grownups from making their own decisions, like buying one of those “Adam and Steve” bumper stickers. Or maybe they’ll just write a strongly worded letter to the editor of their local newspaper. There’s some guy here (Dallas) who writes into the paper pretty much weekly to bitch about some liberal abomination destroying America. He’s probably bitched about same-sex marriage, but I don’t usually read the “Old Man Yells at Cloud” section of the newspaper, so I’m just guessing on that one.

  • Tricksterson

    What I’m afraid of is that their idea of “civil disobediance”, or at least some of their whackier members will be what the rest of us would call terrorism.

  • Darkrose

    I’m not too worried about it. At their core, the people promoting this are cowards; after all, they believe that their own marriages are apparently fragile enough to be threatened by the marriage of someone they don’t know. Once they realize that “civil disobedience” implies “getting arrested”, they’ll go back to buying “marriage = 1 man + 1 woman” bumper stickers.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Man, will those pastors ever be disappointed (not to mention bored) when absolutely no legal consequences follow them not officiating weddings if they don’t want to.

    I always like to point northward when people mention this silly fear, and tell me which churches in Canada have been forced to hold weddings for anyone.

  • Arimus

    Maybe they will get some tents, camp on public property and start a general assembly! 
    Occupy marriage bed. #OMB. Oh wait… these were the same people suggesting we get jobs instead of protest.
    These guys are way to concerned with being the main characters in their personal Left behind hero saga to be of any use, anywhere. I suspect they mean for their audience to grab some chic-fil-a soon. 

  • Becca Stareyes

     Well, clearly that’s the best kind of ‘civil disobedience’: the kind that requires no effort and takes on no risk. 

    I still get confused why anti-gay pastors think gay people would want to be married in a church that’s supports antigay bigotry given:

    1. The number of churches/temples/etc. that do sanctify same-sex marriages.  If you’re set on a religious wedding, one can be arranged. 

    2. The fact anyone can get married at city hall/the county clerk’s office/etc., thus it’s a far bigger deal when county clerks start acting on their bigotry rather than doing their job (or quitting in protest). 

    I suppose it goes with the idea that gay people get toasters for converting people to homosexuality: clearly we can’t get married in the nice UU church or out in the city’s botanical gardens with a friend officiating and the license from city hall because it lacks the ‘corrupting the sacred’ element that is a necessary part of a gay wedding.  (It matches the flowers and the cute cake-toppers.)

  • ReverendRef

    What I’m afraid of is that their idea of “civil disobediance”, or at
    least some of their whackier members will be what the rest of us would
    call terrorism.

    And what the rest of us would call terrorists, they would call Freedom Fighters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Fred, I am disappoint.  All that talk about  The Liar Tony Perkins, and you never addressed him as such?  Oh well, at least @google-8b61397c370508880cce62503d7ce25f:disqus (and now I) picked up the slack, so to speak.

  • RickRS

    I’m afraid it much more than what’s suggested by our commenters.  It could be a veiled appeal to the “crazies” in the anti-gay movement.

    To wit: 
    Because gay marriages are a sin and must be stopped, laws must be broken.  Or “civil disobedience”.   And in order to stop two gay people from lawful wedlock, use any means, up to and including murdering one or both of the gays. 

    The FRC then acts mildly put out that somebody did what the FRC secretly wanted and the mainstream buys the act. The FRC see no reason to change what they say, and the dog whistles continue in order to encourage another “crazy” to come out of the woodworks and do it again.

    Very similar to pro-life actions, in other words.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    I can easily imagine a campaign to be as openly intolerant as possible, presented under the guise of civil disobedience.

    So, uncivil disobedience, then, I guess.

    Hmm, I wonder if we could meme that.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    If crime fighters fight crime, and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight?

  • D. Potter

    Eventually it will dawn on them that they can, depending on the state, slither into j.p. and county clerk jobs and set up their roadblock there (verb deliberate).  In some states, these are elected.

    In the same way I don’t want creationists teaching science, I wouldn’t want justices of the peace and county clerks to be discriminatory, but it’s hard to prevent that when they don’t all look like Dolores Umbridge.  (That’s what the oath of office is for, of course, but I expect FRC types to lie.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    An idea that is turning my stomach–and thus that I must share–is that
    by “civil disobedience”  the FRC actually means means open bigotry and
    intimidation of LGBTQ folks.

    That may be what will happen :( as they’ve already decided that “marriage is for me but not for thee”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Au contraire on the civil servant civil disobedience thing.  Remember, Fred’s talking specifically about civil disobedience, and how it only works when you’re trying to make laws less restrictive (or more permissive, whatever works).  So, your civil servant example doesn’t contradict Fred’s actual point at all; he’s not trying to enforce things more strictly, so it doesn’t fit as petty tyranny.

  • Veylon

    Probably their best bet is the “disobedient civil servant” option, despite Fred’s pooh-poohing of the notion. If their guy gets fired, then well, here’s a genuine bona fide victim who’s been kicked to the curb by The System for his beliefs. If he doesn’t, they’ve won.

    If they want to play smart and nasty, they can try to get local civil servants to sign pledges not to perform gay marriage and promise to resign if their colleagues do, thus threatening to undermine the functioning of government due to lack of employees if they don’t get their way. There are probably areas where this tactic would work, although that would do little to prevent gays from simply driving a ways away and getting married in another area.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    There is pretty much only one thingthey *can* mean. Break into same-sex marriage and forcibly prevent them.

    They’re calling on the faithful to commit hate crimes.

  • banancat

    I’m concerned that they will take this “civil disobedience” to the same level that ends up with them murdering abortion providers.  They intend to stir up riots and then completely wash their hands of it when someone goes too far and shoots someone in a same-sex marriage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.mcirvin Matt McIrvin

    “Just for fun sake: imagine a civil servant in Texas allowing gays to marry even if the law doesn’t. What if he would just give out licences, put the names of the happy couples in the books.”

    That was exactly what Gavin Newsom did in San Francisco back in 2004. I recall a certain amount of controversy among supporters of same-sex marriage as to whether it was a good idea or not (and I was a little worried at the time that Mitt Romney might refuse to implement SSM in Massachusetts and claim he was being civilly disobedient too). But it was the counterexample that immediately came to mind when I read Fred’s essay.

  • banancat

     I kind of had this idea too.  So basically they will perform “civil disobedience” by…not disobeying the law?  Does it count if they are disobeying something that exists only within their collective imagination?  This is more of a philosophical question than a legal one though.

  • MaryKaye

    I’m in an interracial marriage myself, and my impression is that legalization of interracial marriage was followed by a period of petty harassment by both private and public individuals.  Yeah, you’re married, but try to get a hotel room together, or a couples discount on something, or to adopt a child, or join the PTA, or ….

    I expect the same things are already happening to our QUILTBAG neighbors, and will continue to happen until society gets its collective head together.  I imagine that in many areas they’re still happening to biracial couples, though here in Seattle we have had little to no trouble.  (One scary episode east of the mountains in the red part of Washington: it turned out they thought my husband was Native American instead of Japanese-American, and they warned him sharply to get out of that part of town.  I don’t know if it was marriage-related, though.)

    I suspect this is what the opponents mean by “civil disobedience”.  The law says these people are married; we disobey by treating them as if they are not married.  Hopefully not too many such folks are in positions to do actual harm with this.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Maybe they’ll eat more take away chicken.

    The image of people lining up across the block to eat fried chicken, while considering themselves in solidarity with marchers getting the shit kicked out of them by Alabama state troopers in 1965, reverberated around the world and made the participants look ridiculous. More of that would be just fine.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    Eeeeverybody wants to be Martin Luther King.

  • Tehanu

    Yes, they want the moral authority of Martin Luther King, but they think they can get it by putting on a Martin Luther King Halloween mask and screeching that gays are persecuting them by existing.

  • http://sohowaboutthis.wordpress.com/ James McMullen

    Perhaps they are planning to heroically refuse to marry someone of the same sex. 

  • P J Evans

    I seem to recall that there were a couple of county clerks in California who refused to issue marriage licenses  to same-sex couples, and were told that they could either issue the licenses according to law, or find new jobs elsewhere.

  • Lori

    That’s not civil disobedience either unless they’re violating a specific law against protesting at same sex weddings. Otherwise they’re either doing something perfectly legal (loathsome, but legal) or they’re trespassing and we’re back to Fred’s point about that.

  • Lori

     

    the biker veteran groups who acted as a shield for the mourners.  

    I love those guys.

  • Lori

    Yup. And with the unemployment rate still north of 7% county clerks who no longer want the job shouldn’t be difficult to replace.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I think that Jeff hit on something earlier which synched up with my first thought, so let me elaborate.  

    If we assume for a moment that the legalization of gay marriage will compel pastors to perform gay ceremonies, and the pastor is theologically opposed to gay marriage, then the pastor refusing to marry the gay couple would be an example of civil disobedience.  The law would be compelling the pastor to violate their religious beliefs, a big no-no under the separation of church and state, and their actions would have justification.  

    Now, we all know that the law makes no such compulsion, no pastor is required to perform gay wedding ceremonies, nor even recognize such a thing if they are that disgusted by the idea.  However, despite knowing what the limits of such laws are, the AFA and NOM have been peddling memes that legalizing gay marriage will impinge on the religious freedom of people opposed to gay marriage, because that is a message that stirs up the base, even if it is charging at windmills.  

    So in the context of their echo-chamber, it does make a certain kind of sense.  But they will never have the opportunity to actually put such disobedience into practice because no such law will compromise their rights to their own religious views.  

  • Jenny Islander

    But, see, they’re not lying.  They’re just rejecting consensus reality and substituting their own.  It’s okay to cross your fingers while making an oath if you have decided ahead of time that the oath means what you think it means.

  • Lori

    Not entirely OT: Dan Savage has set up a tumblr to thank straight supporters who worked for marriage equality in this year’s election. 

    WE COULDN’T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT THEM.

    We are LGBT people who want to thank the straight people who helped us
    win marriage equality in Maine, Maryland, and Washington state, and who
    helped us defeat an anti-gay marriage amendment in Minnesota.

    If you’re a queer person whose straight friends worked hard to win
    marriage equality—worked phone banks, knocked on doors, spoke out, gave
    money—send us a photo and a couple of sentences about what your straight
    friends did. Click on SUBMIT, upload a photo, and thank your straight
    friends publicly!

    If you’re a straight person who worked for marriage equality… THANK YOU!

    http://straightupthanks.tumblr.com/

    The photo captions are really sweet and it’s cool to see some of the folks who worked so hard to make this year’s historic votes happen.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    @Mornacale:disqus

    An idea that is turning my stomach–and thus that I must share–is that
    by “civil disobedience”  the FRC actually means means open bigotry and
    intimidation of LGBTQ folks. Given that they see no division between
    their religious views and politics, I’m not at all certain that they
    recognize the difference between the political right to marry and the
    social virtue of tolerance. I can easily imagine a campaign to be as
    openly intolerant as possible, presented under the guise of civil
    disobedience.

    This is where my mind went, although mine was more cynical and alarmist. The thought went, “No, we’ve seen what bigots protesting insufficient law-enshrined bigotry against the marginalized looks like. It looks like lynchings.” I’m worried that it’s not just a code word for bigotry and intimidation but also terrorist-intentioned vandalism and violence. Firebombing of houses of married gay couples and of justices willing to marry them. Etc.

    Of course, the law and the long slow arc of justice is against this sort of vigilante activity in the long run. But in the short run, it sucks to be the couple dying inside their arsoned house. (And I am depressed at how many different news stories Google gave me for the search term “lesbian couple killed in arson“. I was looking for the Grants Pass OR incident from … the early 90s? At least many of the results I got involved couples who survived the loss of their home.)

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    @c0b48f6b3e6d61ed2c75e9b553fa9b28:disqus Occupy marriage bed. #OMB.

    “Niagara Falls! Hordes of us! Husbands! Wives! Flowers! Chocolates!
    All streaming into cozy hotels
    All going to do the same thing tonight
    The indifferent clerk he knowing what was going to happen
    The lobby zombies they knowing what
    The whistling elevator man he knowing
    Everybody knowing! I’d almost be inclined not to do anything!
    Stay up all night! Stare that hotel clerk in the eye!
    Screaming: I deny honeymoon! I deny honeymoon!
    running rampant into those almost climactic suites
    yelling Radio belly! Cat shovel!
    O I’d live in Niagara forever! in a dark cave beneath the Falls
    I’d sit there the Mad Honeymooner
    devising ways to break marriages, a scourge of bigamy
    a saint of divorce-”

    (from “Marriage” by Gregory Corso)

  • SDGlyph

    I was struck by this quote:
    “The people can vote on it … but I don’t think you can violate natural law and force Americans to recognize it as morally right”

    Obviously ‘the people’ and ‘Americans’ are not supposed to be the same group here, because No True American etc etc. The doublethink on display is quite impressive.

    The point was made, some time ago on a thread about exporting democracy to the developing world, that democratic politics is less about ballots than it is about being willing to accept the other guy’s rule if the vote favours him: a fair ballot followed by an attempted coup by the losing side is no democracy at all. In this, and all the talk of rebellion and secession when their guy didn’t win, the far right are showing exactly how far their commitment to ‘freedom’ – and their concept of democracy – really stretches.


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