Crisis Magazine Surveys a World Full of Sin and Evil…

Crisis Magazine Surveys a World Full of Sin and Evil… August 19, 2015

and wisely decides to run yet *another* hit piece on the threat of faithful, obedientt, holy, and chaste Catholics who are same-sex attracted. Because it’s just not enough to be faithful to the Church in thought, word and deed when you are gay. You need to be punished, accused and scolded, not for what you do, but for your temptations.  And Crisis now exists to do that on a regular basis.

For some reason, watching the spectacle of punishment Crisis doles out even to gay people who have sacrificed a huge amount in order to remain faithful to the gospel, non-Catholic gays get the distinct impression that *nothing* they do will ever make them acceptable to the Jesus that men like Deacon Jim Russell preach.

Melinda Selmys takes this mean, merciless and silly piece apart till there is nothing left of it. Good for her.

Let’s stop for a moment and think about this seriously. Prever is not an activist. He’s not a heretic. He is deeply supportive of Courage, and thinks that there should be Courage chapters in more Catholic dioceses. He’s a gay Catholic who believes in the Church’s teachings, and who has taken a great deal of flack for defending those teachings in public. He’s reasonably supportive of reparative therapy, and even has positive things to say about organizations that are seen as unadulterated (and dangerous) lunacy by everyone except the most conservative of the conservative.

This is the young man who should be no-platformed by the Church? Umm? Just how small and exclusive does Jim Russell want his echo chamber to be?

Apparently pretty fucking small. As Russell writes, “Simply said, being “gay” is not enough; being a “gay Catholic” is not enough; being a “celibate, gay Catholic” is not enough. And even being a “chaste, celibate, gay Catholic” is not enough.” In order to have a public existence in Jim Russell’s Church, you have to be a carefully groomed mascot for Jim Russell’s pet theories about SSA and Theology of the Body. Anything less and you should be silenced – both for the good of the Church, and for your own good.

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  • Joseph

    Hmm… no defender of Crisis here, but I don’t think the article in question says what I think Selmys has interpreted it to say. I read the entire thing, and, what I gathered, the author was complaining about the guy’s general confusion of what he believed about SSA himself and how he vacillates between ideas on it constantly… basically that his inconsistency on the topic begins to make it appear that his loyalties to the *gay* sub-culture sometimes assaults the necessary struggle against it. The question left open, therefore, is “does he make a good role-model”, not “does he make a good Catholic”.
    Anyway, I have a problem with trusting *feelings* and anecdotes over the sciences. If there were a conference on Alcoholism, I don’t think there would be more credence given to the alcoholic who wants to give his testimony over that of the scientists studying the nature of alcoholism and there certainly wouldn’t be an apparent false dichotomy between the alcoholics testimony and the information provided by the psychologists/scientists/doctors. The tweets put out by Prever during the conference indicate that he disagrees entirely with the information provided by the psychologists/scientists/doctors and that only his testimony matters.
    The Church a hospital for us all. Though it doesn’t have wings in it where patients should indicate the pride in their illnesses all over the walls.

    • Newp Ort

      Your analogy would be apt if you could supply some examples of divarifications from church teachings by these out, gay, chaste Catholics.

      • Joseph

        I see you misunderstand. As you know, there is *gay* (someone with SSA) and there is *gay* (the militant active homosexual sub culture). The two are always getting conflated (to deny this would be… well… living in denial). So when someone says, ‘I’m gay’, the way popular culture instantly perceives the statement to mean, ‘I’m making a public statement that I’m joining the cause’ not ‘I’m struggling to control my SSA which I know is wrong’.
        So, when someone who comes out is writing negative tweets regarding statements made about SSA by psychologists, scientists, and doctors at a Catholic conference, how do you think those who identify with the militant subculture ‘gay’ are going to interpret that? That’s right, as a statement of defiance and pride. So, Prever becomes a symbol of defiance rather than one of submission to the Church (or hospital) to those who look to him to see how a ‘gay’ man can coexist with Catholicism. Since he insists, he’s chaste (which I believe), it makes it appear that he’s dancing up and down the hospital wing he’s residing in painting the walls rainbow colours.
        That may not actually be the case, but that’s “how it would appear” to those who identify with the *gay* subculture, thereby actually hurting his message and the Church he proclaims to cling to for strength. Comprende?
        I’m pretty sure that’s why the author of the article was calling him out, at least that’s how it seemed to me.

        • Newp Ort

          You might be right about the message of defiance, but really I think it will attract more people wanting to leave that lifestyle and behavior. “This man is like me, perhaps I can be like him and come to the Light of Christ,” that kind of message.

          I think the message the author is sending to the militant gay subculture is that if

          “being a ‘chaste, celibate, gay Catholic’ is not enough.”

          then there is no way in heck they will ever be wanted or accepted in the body of Christ, no matter what they do.

          But perhaps that is the message you and the author would like to send. All this nitpicking and finding ways to keep them out will, well, keep them out.

          • Gabriel Blanchard

            That’s exactly how I feel. I actually *am* a bad example, but if Joseph Prever isn’t good enough for them, I’d never bother — or dare — to set foot in a parish where men like Deacon Russell or Mr Ruse set the tone. It seems that nothing will satisfy them except word-for-word repetitions of Church teaching and complete silence about our experience. I don’t know of anybody else in the Church whom they treat this way.

            • chezami

              Everybody is to be judged by their obedience to Holy Church–except gays. They are to be judged by their temptations even (and especially) when they are obedient to Holy Church.

              To hell with that. Who made these guys judge, jury and executioner?

              • Seamrog

                Not ONE bit what the Deacon EVER said, posted, or implied.

                Shame on you, Mark.

            • Newp Ort

              It’s not even church teaching Prever takes exception to. These dudes want silence anyone who won’t buy 100% in to their version of what makes people gay. (Apparently it involves being friends with women and being bad at sports.) And you can only talk about your experience if you constantly self -flagellate while doing so.

          • Joseph

            I agree with you there. I personally think that if this “deacon” wanted to really practice being a proper priest, he would have privately contacted Prever. And that last quote was out of line (though I don’t remember reading it, I wonder how I missed it).

        • Gabriel Blanchard

          Speaking as a gay-identifying Catholic (who accepts the Church’s teaching) and one who used to be a gay activist before I converted to Catholicism, the only people that I’ve found to consistently interpret the word “gay” as meaning “activist,” or indeed anything further than “attracted to the same sex,” are conservative Christians. I believe the putative miscommunication is a chiefly, even an entirely, Christian (and especially Catholic) problem, not one of what those outside the faith will think.

          I’d add that this is a prime example of many Catholics seeking to reach out to LGBT people in almost exactly the wrong way. Seeing someone (and, importantly, someone who’s gay himself) responding with sincere faith and also with humor, honesty, and vulnerability is far more appealing and approachable than a saccharine facade of unqualified peace. Human life isn’t like that, and LGBT people aren’t likely to be attracted by such a thing. We’re also more than a little irked by confident assertions about how we should think and behave coming from people who, necessarily, cannot fully understand how we feel and what we experience, which is precisely what the reverend Deacon is doing.

          As to the opinions of doctors, psychologists, etc., the vast majority of them — while admitting that human sexuality can be fluid — have stated in no uncertain terms, and after a solid six decades of study, that attempts to deliberately change sexual orientation rarely if ever work, and do harm more often than not. Considering that prominent Christian leaders of major ex-gay ministries (notably Alan Chambers) have said the same and stepped away from the ex-gay model, without necessarily compromising their moral views, I don’t believe that this can be dismissed as simply the sort of thing that non-Christians are always doing to embarrass the Church, either.

          I can also say — knowing Mr Prever on a personal basis — that loyalty to the gay subculture is the last thing on his mind. I don’t know that I’ve ever met a gay man who cares less about that. Kung fu, sure, but not gay stuff.

          • Joseph

            ‘…the only people that I’ve found to consistently interpret the word “gay” as meaning “activist,” or indeed anything further than “attracted to the same sex,” are conservative Christians.’
            Might I suggest you rethink this position? Are you seriously suggesting that there is not a ‘gay’ subculture that is militant? Honestly, I don’t really care about what conservative Christians think because when someone says ‘conservative Christian’, they usually mean ‘fundamentalists’ and, since most of those are anti-Catholic anyway, I don’t identify with them. But you’re actually denying here that there is a massive bigoted movement hiding behind the ‘gay’ moniker that runs around trying to litigate, out, and destroy businesses, political careers, and religious institutions who dare to believe that there may be something wrong with the homosexual act (to varying degrees, mind you). The movement even extends internationally where they are politically pushing other nations to modify their laws and definitions of human rights in this area. That’s militant, that’s activism.
            That’s what I’m talking about. Does that mean I’m anti-gay because I’m opposed to the militant sub-culture which, you’re right, has nothing to do with ‘gay’ with regard to SSA? No. You see. The two get conflated. A common error. If someone opposes one, in the mind of the popular culture, he must oppose the other.

  • Dave G.

    That was a hit piece?

    • Joseph

      That’s what I was unsure about. It appears less of a hit piece to me than it does a means to highlight the inconsistencies and contradictions in the image that Prever is trying to create of himself. It’s a sort of schizophrenia: he both portrays himself as a member (and defender) of the gay sub-culture that doesn’t accept any scientific or psychological understanding of SSA (at times) and a self-identified gay person who is loyal to Church teaching.

      • Newp Ort

        How is he a defender of the gay subculture?

        • Joseph

          If you read my other comments, you’d realise that I’m not saying that he *is* a defender of the gay subculture. He could be *perceived* to be by his kneejerk tweets.

          • Newp Ort

            If you want to be uncharitable you can see it that way. Looks to me like he’s being honest and having a bit of humor too. And it looks like the author has found a reason to say “this guy isn’t good enough!” so he can take his formerly gay football and go home.

  • orual’s kindred

    From what I remember of Joseph Prever’s blog, he has admitted to having some trouble with using ‘gay,’ because of the complications surrounding both the term and the wider subject. I happen to agree that there is plenty of complications to wrestle with. There is also the prevalent subjectivity that involves much of the discussion (and I also think it problematic when Catholics willingly go along with the apparent popular of the term.) There’s a lot of confusion regarding this subject, and I do not think it a kind of failure when a person admits as much. In the tweet quoted in the article, he says, Can’t tell if I’m upset because this is true or because it’s false or because it’s too personal, and I can appreciate that honesty at least.

    He has also written extensively about dealing with severe depression and other issues. I’ve seen posts that seem to be written with plenty of emotion, with plenty of struggle. I think he has plenty of problems to deal with, which I think does compound his difficulties in living out Church teaching. Neither can I say that I agree with all of what he’s written (especially since I can’t even remember all of them). However, in cases where subject matter X comes up against Church teaching, I don’t remember him ever favoring X.

    Unless I’m mistaken, I’ve also seen some of the article writer’s comments on this blog. In the linked article, he says, “The other testimonials from those with same-sex attraction were, as I witnessed them, seasoned, settled, certain, and integrated. That was not my experience in listening to (and reading) Prever and Tushnet.” I would have thought that a quite subjective criteria to propose. The writer then not only goes on to explicitly demand more than chastity and celibacy from self-described gay Catholics. He considers them lacking in “expertise” when it comes to “the authentically Catholic anthropology and theology associated with homosexuality.” I don’t think he has demonstrated what “expertise” he demands, and I don’t think he has shown Joseph Prever to have gone against Church teaching.

    It would seem that the writer has problems with Joseph Prever, and I’m not going to contest that. I don’t know, however, if he gave good arguments to support said problems. The article seems to highlight the author’s view of him as juvenile, confused and/or confusing; and overall not to his liking. And this seems to have been a significant factor in declaring Joseph Prever unfit for public witness. I don’t think I can agree with this.

    • orual’s kindred

      (I also dug around with regards to what the U.S. bishops said concerning ‘coming out.’ According to this document, For some persons, revealing their homosexual tendencies to certain close friends, family members, a spiritual director, confessor, or members of a Church support group may provide some spiritual and emotional help and aid them in their growth in the Christian life. In the context of parish life, however, general public self- disclosures are not helpful and should not be encouraged.

      (The document then goes on to say that Sad to say, there are many persons with a homosexual inclination who feel alienated from the Church. Outreach programs and evangelization efforts ought to be mindful of such persons. In areas where there are larger concentrations of homosexual persons, individuals may profitably be dedicated solely to outreach ministry to them; in other areas, ministry to persons with a homosexual inclination should be included as part of overall evangelization efforts.

      (As to Joseph Prever saying that But I’ve got good and wise friends …whose experience and conclusions are different. That’s okay. I take it that he has friends who have differing experience and conclusions, which he accepts. Given that he said I tend strongly towards […] that eros between men is intrinsically, and not only accidentally, consummationless; unfulfillable in principle, and therefore wrongheaded from the start. it seems that, even supposing for argument he subjectively finds that two men “falling in love” is okay, he still defers to Church teaching.)

    • Joseph

      Can’t tell if I’m upset because this is true or because it’s false or because it’s too personal
      I liked that quote as well. If it was false, he wouldn’t have a doubt. So, perhaps he’s admitting here that the psychologists, doctors, scientists have actually done their research thereby negating is other tweets?

      • orual’s kindred

        I think he seems to be admitting that he’s having a hard time processing what was being said. I haven’t seen the full presentation so I can’t say much about it. Nor can I say that Joseph Prever’s admission negates his other tweets. What I’ve read of his writings is as Melinda Selmys said in the quote: not only does he try to live out Church teaching, he supports reparative therapy within a certain extent. I myself am not sure about it, (though to be clear, I don’t dismiss it outright either). He has a lot of problems, and he admits as much.The struggle can’t always pretty or admirable, and I don’t expect it to be. However, through all his problems, he appears to remain obedient to the Church. For myself, I’m not sure how that isn’t a compelling witness to following Christ.

    • orual’s kindred

      *sigh* popular of the term should read ‘popular use of the term.’ Ugh.

  • Torquemada Tequila

    Sorry Mark, you lost me when you used “Crisis Magazine” and “Catholic” in the same sentence.

    • Rebecca Fuentes

      Reading Crisis did me more harm than good. I ended up pretty sure that God couldn’t love me.

      • Joseph

        LOL. I kinda got that sense from just this article as well. I guess that’s why they call it ‘Crisis’.

    • chezami


      • Seamrog


        Sad, and obnoxious.

    • Artevelde

      Crisis gets really amusing when you click a few links to contributing authors’ private and affiliate blogs. Before you know it, the gates of extreme right nostalgia hell open up and the self-imagined reincarnations of Charles Martel/the Viking Crusaders/some senile Habsburg emperor begin to fight the Marxist/Turkish/Euro-nihilist enemy in earnest.

      • SecretAgentMan

        That would, however, be a cool manga series

      • IRVCath

        Note that actual similarity to actions of actual Habsburg emperors, actual Charles Martel, or actual crusaders is sorely lacking among them.

  • The Church in western societies is shriveling, there are fewer baptisms, marriages and there is less and less attendance at Mass, the teachings of the Church are ignored, so let’s displace our demoralization by attacking one another.

    And let’s have more forgiveness and worry about contrition later, as long as we fill up the pews with happy faces.

  • Andy

    From reading Deacon Russell’s column I guess that my struggles with “sins” make me less than others. The church should, must I think, be there to support all of us, the field hospital idea springs to mean. In reading Deacon Russell’s words I felt sadness for both the Deacon and Mr. Prever. Mr. Prever seems to be wrestling with many “demons”, SSA, a feeling of lack of support and understanding from the church among many. The Deacon seems to be struggling with a person who is not at all like him. Both need our prayers.
    The tweets that the Deacon highlights seem to me an example of “on-the-spont” responses which is what tweeting is about. Having attended many conferences I have thought many of the same things – sudden insights, sudden critiques – wrestling with what was heard/seen. Thankfully when I attended more conferences tweeting was around, neither was the instant focus father Internet and blogging. Given the ubiquitousness of the instant communication – tweeting, Instagram who knows what else – world we all have to be careful in interpreting what another person says. We have moved from being somewhat introspective before we talk to felling that sharing our immediate thoughts are vital to the rest of the world – a sign of our hubris and self-importance.

    • Joseph

      I’d probably agree with you on the Tweets. Just how many of them he regrets, who knows. The one honest one where he can’t nail down why he was disappointed was an excellent one, however.
      Still, if he is to be the *poster boy* or *model* for a Catholic struggling with SSA, knowing that the sub-culture is militant and openly opposed to any studies that psychological issues may contribute to SSA, especially anything done in light of Catholic teaching, then he must be aware that kneejerk tweets will be taken up as clarion calls to those militants and anti-Catholics and/or validations that he’s *on their side*. What comes with celebrity is responsibility… and the kneejerk tweeting that displayed major contradictions with how he speaks on Catholic talk shows or writes on blogs and how he truly feels will be taken up as a victory for those who are trying so hard to maintain *sides*.
      I think it was fair to call him out. But, like I said, I’m no apologist for Crisis. I just don’t see why Prever should be *off limits*… simply because he identifies as *gay*?

      • MT

        It’s fair to tell someone in private that something the say might not completely right and with charity to correct them. It’s a an entirely different and wrong thing to call out said person in public and on top of that, say they aren’t a good witness to the faith because Good Catholic never ever sin.

        • Lucy

          Are you kidding? Prever was *public* in his comments. I would hope he can take public discussion of what he says *in public*

          • MarylandBill

            I think things need to be balanced. He was commenting in public on a conference. Fraternal correction on the other hand can and indeed should be done in private. In part it is because the article is not addressing his arguments per say but rather who he is and where he is on his faith journey.

          • Joseph

            Two wrongs don’t make a right.

            • Desert Sun Art

              Whether it’s wrong to publicly criticize someone’s public, immature tweets is arguable.

        • Joseph

          I can agree with that. This should have been a private conversation (which would have obviously been more pastoral in the first place). It’s never a good idea to say anything that can be perceived as negative with regard to homosexuality when the goal is to be there for those who identify as ‘gay’. It’s too political and will kick over the ant hills of the bat sh*t crazy people on either side of the political fence.

      • Andy

        I tend to agree with MT below – if Deacon Russell wants to talk to Mr. Prever then go in private – i find calling someone out publicly to be less then useful. I think we all need to be careful of the internet separability – I can say what I want because…

        • Joseph

          I agree. It would have been way more helpful and would have been a pastoral approach (just realised a few minutes ago that the author was a Deacon… shame on him for stirring the pot, though his points may have been valid).

  • SteveP

    “I, too, urge readers to please pray for Prever. I have no personal animosity toward him, but I’m calling out Prever’s seriously immature conduct toward those who made the gratuitous and gracious gesture to include him in this richly rewarding conference on SSA.”
    Congratulations Papa Bear: definitely a hit piece. Without a doubt. The deacon best fall back into line lest Catholic unity be completely broken. Yup.

  • Lucy

    Mark, could you deal with the specifics of the Crisis article? And don’t say, “I don’t have time” or “not my circus, not my monkeys.” You bring it up, critique it in general, but not specifically, point by point. Why not?

    • chezami

      The specifics of the Crisis piece are handled by Selmys quite well. Prever had ever right to his opinions and it is rubbish to say that his unsureness about every detail of pastoral care of SSA renders him somehow a dangerously unstable person posing as an “authority”. it was a hit piece. One of many Crisis perversely insists on making against chaste faithful gay people. Why do you defend it?

      • Joseph

        I, for one, do not defend Crisis at all. But I still don’t “totally” agree with your assessment, or Selmys. The author probably should have discussed this personally with Prever rather than publicly, but I think he had a point.

        • Seamrog

          Setting Crisis aside, Shea’s and Selmys’ pieces are both WAY out of line.

          They are disingenuous and border on dishonest.

  • Ken

    I think there is a point that could be taken from this and that is when we have a Catholic conference or public group setting can we have an environment where people can freely discuss their opinions or should we just stick to repeating the documented teaching of the church and not air any opposition to it. I’m more in favor of an open environment where people can voice their thoughts, questions and personal experience as long as there is someone there to make sure that the church teaching is correctly represented and the discussion doesn’t go off the rails into an attack on the church or a place to air personal complaints about the church. The writer seems to be advocating that it should have been just a repeating of the documented teaching of the church and left it at that.
    My biggest problem with the article is that the writer didn’t seem to have reached out to Prever and at least get his side of the story. It isn’t just charitable to do so it’s a public posting and poor journalism to not take the minimal effort to pick up the phone. I think everyone should be able to defend themselves especially in a public forum.

    • Joseph

      The problem is: tribalism. I have no problem with questioning anything, I think questioning everything is good. It’s how we learn. But the method of questioning can cause problems. In this case, the tweets appeared to be a contradiction and was perceived as a *win* by the militant gay sub culture. Like Prever was on their side. Maybe he was just honestly questioning, but the damage was done.

  • Cypressclimber

    After reading both articles, my conclusion is that the Deacon has a *smidgen* of a point. That doesn’t mean he had to write the article. Maybe write a personal letter to Mr. Prever instead.

    • Joseph

      That probably would have been better, I agree. Even though he had a point, in the kneejerk, quick-to-judge, internet age, posting an article like this is obviously going to kick over the red and black ant hills and cause an ant war.

  • SecretAgentMan

    “What Joe offers, and what Russell can’t seem to stand, is a glimpse of
    what conservative Catholic discourse about homosexuality looks like to
    people who are actually gay. His words are a very uncomfortable mirror
    in which the ineffectual self-congratulation of conservative Catholic
    “outreach” to the LGBTQ community is revealed.”

    And what Russell offers, and Selmys can’t seem to stand, is a glimpse of what honest gay Catholic discourse about homosexuality look like to people who are straight, conservative Catholics.

    In other words, what we have here is a genuine example of dialogue and why no one wants it.

  • Peggy

    Public speech can be critiqued in a public forum. That’s what one opens oneself up to in public speaking..and tweeting. The tweets were rude and inappropriate.

    I read the Deacon’s column this a/m and understood his point was that personal experience with a situation (homosexual attraction here) does not make one an expert on Catholic morality or theology on that situation. One can only offer personal testimony, not authoritative expertise. There’s too much self-interest and bias involved.

    I also agree w/him that it is not clear why a practicing Roman Catholic needs to announce outside of close family, friends and perhaps a closed support group, what one’s weakness is. What is such a revelation supposed to accomplish? Are they trying to impress people or put them on edge or what? Every body has something or another going on. We deal with it in our more intimate circles, as we should.

    • Seamrog

      It’s clearly more fun to throw stones at the Deacon, calling him out for his self righteousness from a uniquely self righteous position.

      Look at Shea’s glee.

    • Because there is value in speaking about a weakness both so that others who do not have that weakness can understand it better and be more charitable towards those who do, and so that those who do share that weakness can learn that they are not alone. We already have an exceedingly difficult time telling the rest of the world that no, really, gay people are welcome in the Church and we love them and we want them to join us. Telling them that they also must keep their identity a secret and not ever ever talk about it or even mention it at all, that in effect they have to pretend to be straight, makes it worse.

      Think of it this way — do you want the only examples of gay people to be those who disagree with or even hate Catholic teachings on sexuality?

  • Tweck

    I’ve read this guy’s blog. He’s honest, and seems like a good spokesperson for gay people doing their best to live by Church teaching. It’s a touching blog. And he has a right to his feelings and expressions, and to serve as a beacon of hope for those in the gay community who are Catholic.

    I was thinking of making my own blog about celibacy, as being a single, adult, male Catholic (without a vocation), I can find exactly no resources out there except for a lot of discussion on being gay, which I’m not, and a lot of other empty and angry talk about priestly celibacy from those outside the Church who don’t understand the gift. I thought it could be a great way to start a conversation on how to successfully remain celibate when there are so little resources out there for folks like me. It would be a helpful way for me to explore it as well.

    I sure hope that when I do get brave and start the blog I don’t get called out by people who think I’m somehow doing a disservice to the Catholic community by having the conversation while not being “authorized” or “knowledgeable enough.”

    Being demonized from the secular world would be one thing, but not from the inside. We all need to practice love, charity, understanding and forgiveness. And I think those who say that the deacon is wrong to publicly admonish Prever are correct. From what I’ve read, he should be commended for being an honest witness (which we are all called to be). He could help a lot of people avoid sin.

    • Joseph

      While I agree with Prever’s blog, I think the thrust of the article was to point out how his apparently angry or frustrated tweets during the conference on homosexuality were a contradiction to what he states on his blog and showed an inconsistency that could cast doubt on his capacity at being a popular spokesperson. I’m not saying I agree or disagree, but just wanted to point that out.
      The radical militant gay sub culture wing would take his tweets as an attack on the Church and a *win* for their *cause*. I think that’s what the author was illustrating.

    • Sue Korlan

      I encourage you to do this. I’m a woman in the same situation, who even in my 50s was asked if I had ever considered the religious life. Arrgh. .

  • But you’re hoist by your own petard, as, surveying all the evils in the world you’ve chosen to criticize this one.

    • chezami

      You realize you make no sense, right?