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Church's Abortion Statement and the Last Paragraph


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Scott's thread on one part of the church's abortion statement caused me to read it, and the last paragraph has left me with some questions

Go here to read the statement in full.

The last paragraph says:

Quote

The Church’s position on this matter remains unchanged. As states work to enact laws related to abortion, Church members may appropriately choose to participate in efforts to protect life and to preserve religious liberty.

So, what does it mean to "participate in efforts that protect life"?  Can a member fight for laws that make abortion legal for any reason and still be acting appropriately?  What of members that are not acting appropriately?  Is that between them and God or should the church become involved sometimes?

It seems like this last paragraph has been worded like it is to leave a lot of wiggle room for members who are pro-choice, but it also seems to be calling some pro-choice members out as well.  

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32 minutes ago, bluebell said:

Scott's thread on one part of the church's abortion statement caused me to read it, and the last paragraph has left me with some questions

Go here to read the statement in full.

The last paragraph says:

So, what does it mean to "participate in efforts that protect life"?  Can a member fight for laws that make abortion legal for any reason and still be acting appropriately?  What of members that are not acting appropriately?  Is that between them and God or should the church become involved sometimes?

It seems like this last paragraph has been worded like it is to leave a lot of wiggle room for members who are pro-choice, but it also seems to be calling some pro-choice members out as well.  

Here is an interesting assessment of religious liberty in this regard:

Quote

"To claim that my religion permits abortion, or that this statute addresses a point of religious disagreement, is not nearly enough," Douglas Laycock, a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia Law School, tells the Times. "It is not what your religion permits that is protected, but what you do principally for religious reasons."

https://theweek.com/roe-v-wade/1014555/jewish-lawsuit-against-abortion-bans

The only religion that I can think of that actually requires abortion as part of their religion is Judaism:

Quote

If you are an observant Jew, then you live by a principle that says, in Hebrew, 'Pikuach Nefesh Docheh Et HaKol,'" or "if someone's existence is in peril, the obligation to address the situation moves aside any other obligations," Cornell Law professor Sherry Colb writes at Justia. That means "if a pregnant woman is experiencing serious medical complications that can be treated only by terminating her pregnancy, then she has an obligation to expel the contents of her uterus," because under Jewish teachings, "the woman is a person and the zygote/embryo/fetus is not.

Can anyone think of any other religion that practices abortion as part of their religion?   The church of Satan is claiming abortion rituals as part of their religion and are currently fighting against Texas' anti abolition law on grounds of religious liberty.   Not sure what to think of that.   At what point does religious liberty turn all law into swiss cheese and essentially meaningless?  

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I recently made this comment on the other thread regarding over-worrying about interpretations:

Quote

 

Agree that the ambiguity is overwhelming if one is trying to slice and dice it

To earn a living, ie "money", we devote our time, knowledge, skills and life experience to earn crypto currency issued by the government, the value of which we accept on faith, even though the amount of tangible goods we get from these magic pieces of paper drops daily.

If we advocate or even comment on favoring abortion, we we devote our time, knowledge, skills and life experience, on faith,  to "pay for" and "support" abortions, according to possible interpretations.

So much for possible interpretations.

Fergitaboutit!

Stick wit them woids as they is!

Once you start messing with interpretations you enter the twilight zone ;)

 

 

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39 minutes ago, pogi said:

 At what point does religious liberty turn all law into swiss cheese and essentially meaningless?  

This is true for ALL discussions about "RIGHTS" eventually.

What gives ANYONE the obviously incorrect ;) notion that ALL MEN are created equal?   Endowed by rights of  life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?  And by whom?  Their creator?  Where is that superstition justified?? ;)

Without "religious rights" it is all meaningless- the purpose of religion itself is to give us purpose!!

YET of course Humanism, AS A SECULAR RELIGION presents these ideas, which is fine with me.

Even atheists ;) (of course) have a conscience!   And so where does the idea that women SHOULD have rights over their own bodies come from?

You start messing with religious rights and yes EVERYTHING- EVERY claim to "RIGHTS" becomes "swiss cheese"!

 

 

 

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56 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

This is true for ALL discussions about "RIGHTS" eventually.

What gives ANYONE the obviously incorrect ;) notion that ALL MEN are created equal?   Endowed by rights of  life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?  And by whom?  Their creator?  Where is that superstition justified?? ;)

Without "religious rights" it is all meaningless- the purpose of religion itself is to give us purpose!!

YET of course Humanism, AS A SECULAR RELIGION presents these ideas, which is fine with me.

Even atheists ;) (of course) have a conscience!   And so where does the idea that women SHOULD have rights over their own bodies come from?

You start messing with religious rights and yes EVERYTHING- EVERY claim to "RIGHTS" becomes "swiss cheese"!

I agree that religion gives purpose and meaning to rights in the constitution and that religious rights are essential.  The question is - what constitutes a religion?  Can it be purely secular?  What is to stop people from creating secular religions or adding new religious tenants or rituals to existing religions circumvent law and promote their version of secular activism?   Is there a way to prevent religious liberty from being abused to create loopholes in law?

Edited by pogi
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2 hours ago, bluebell said:

Scott's thread on one part of the church's abortion statement caused me to read it, and the last paragraph has left me with some questions

Go here to read the statement in full.

The last paragraph says:

Quote

The Church’s position on this matter remains unchanged. As states work to enact laws related to abortion, Church members may appropriately choose to participate in efforts to protect life and to preserve religious liberty.

So, what does it mean to "participate in efforts that protect life"? 

I think it is a reflection of the Church's doctrines and position on abortion.

Is the Church expecting members to support its doctrines/position?  Broadly, yes.  The Church likewise expects members to "participate in efforts" in other contexts that also tend to enact and reflect the tenets of the Restored Gospel.

2 hours ago, bluebell said:

Can a member fight for laws that make abortion legal for any reason and still be acting appropriately? 

I think "yes" to the first part ("Can a member fight for laws that make abortion legal for any reason").  The second part ("and still be acting appropriately") is, I think, generally going to be left to the discretion of the individual.

2 hours ago, bluebell said:

What of members that are not acting appropriately?  Is that between them and God or should the church become involved sometimes?

I think the former ("that {is} between them and God"). 

This is an interesting development, as it seems to take "a side" in the abortion debate.  But I think that "side" is not intended to be a signal that the Church is throwing its lot in with one political party or against another.  

The Church has a religious/moral stance on elective abortion, just as it does with many other topics that are regulated or otherwise hashed out the legal/political sphere, but which also have a substantial "moral" dimension.

I think the Church is trying to strike a balance between A) fulfilling its mandates pertaining to teaching , B) defending the "Religious Liberty" rights and its members, C) obeying the law, and D) accommodating, where possible, those who disagree with us.

For example, the Church has a portion of its website dedicated to "Religious Freedom": https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media/collection/religious-freedom-topic?lang=eng

This includes a collection of "dramatized videos produced by {the Church to} ... shows members how to navigate the landmine-laced terrain of the sensitive social and religious issues of the day":

I think the Church is trying to stake out its own position on these issues, and to provide practical guidance to its members.  Members can publicly advocate for same-sex marriage (even though this contravenes the teachings of the Church) and still retain their TRs, can still hold callings, etc.  I suspect the Church takes a similar tack on this topic.  I think the Church really does not want to "become involved" in how its members political choices/activities.  It wants its members' actions to reflect and be based on the basic principles of the Restored Gospel, but it also recognizes that "politics" are often exceedingly complex.  It is a big part of "the landmine-laced terrain of the sensitive social and religious issues of the day."

I am an ardent fan of the Word of Wisdom, but how I choose to proceed in the political sphere may not perfectly reflect that.  I am not persuaded that the substantial strictures I voluntarily impose on myself as pertaining to alcohol and other mind-altering/addictive substances can or ought to be legislatively imposed on the population at large.  At the same time, however, I am not so totally "hands off" that I oppose all governmental restrictions/regulations on such substances.  

Otto Von Bismarck put it well when he said that "politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best."  My political decisions will never perfectly align with my personal and religious preferences.  There will always be compromises because the "ideal" is usually unreachable, so we seek out "the next best."

In terms of political candidates, I have adopted a philosophy which I summarize by tweaking an observation made by Donald Rumsfeld, who said: “You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish you had at a later time.”  My modification of this statement is: “You go to {into the voting booth} with the {candidate} you have {whose policies most proximately reflect your political goals and preferences}, not the {candidate} you might want or wish you had at a later time.

In terms of legislative objectives, I have a comparable philosophy.  There are often many, many factors that go into a particular piece of legislation, and it will almost never perfectly reflect my preferences.  So to an extent, I compromise.  I seek what is "possible," the "next best."

2 hours ago, bluebell said:

It seems like this last paragraph has been worded like it is to leave a lot of wiggle room for members who are pro-choice, but it also seems to be calling some pro-choice members out as well.  

Perhaps.  But it sure seems to be a gentle call-out.

Politics are very messy.  And there are few portions of it more controversial and emotional and zeal-inducing than the regulation of abortion.  There are reasonable arguments made on both sides.

The pro-choice folks have some very valid points to make about the importance of bodily autonomy, self-determination, physical/emotional risks to the mother, privacy rights, proper limitations on governmental regulation/oversight, sociological and financial risks/considerations, "back-alley abortions," and so on.

The pro-life folks also have some very valid points to make about the santity of human life, preserving the lives of the unborn, balancing the rights of the mother with the rights of the unborn child, the concept of "personhood," eugenics, the adverse effects of abortion on the mother, adoption, "Safe Haven" laws, port-abortion regrets, "slippery slope" arguments, and so on.

Given these messy complexities, I can understand that the Church is looking to remind its members of "correct principles" in the doctrines of the Church regarding abortion, and then stepping back and let the members mostly "govern themselves."

Thanks,

-Smac

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1 hour ago, pogi said:

I agree that religion gives purpose and meaning to rights in the constitution and that religious rights are essential.  The question is - what constitutes a religion?  Can it be purely secular?  What is to stop people from creating secular religions or adding new religious tenants or rituals to existing religions circumvent law and promote their version of secular activism?   Is there a way to prevent religious liberty from being abused to create loopholes in law?

Just look at all of history, which always shows that all these things have happened continually, forever.

And I think they will always be there, "opposition in all things "

All the philosophy about "rights" of any kind is based on what is "sweet" to those putting forth the statement, though the author may disagree.

Alma 32 and contemporary philosophy and physics agree ! Physics cannot tell us what reality even is - it is what it is observed to be!  So we come up with paradigms-theories- about what works, or is "sweet"

The right to have control over one's body is sweet to proponents of abortion, the paradigm that one is killing a baby is sweet to the other side, saying that their belief is also "sweet".

All we have is what is in the mind of each of us to guide us.

And if we deny ANYONE their rights, we are ultimately denying our own!

This is the basis behind a democratic republic. And two parties, one representing each word, with a huge blurry ;)

As I see it we must allow all to find what is "sweet" to them and what gives them a warm feeling

Obviously hurting others can be the only line, and that is the line which raises this discussion. 

And yes, atheism is a religion imo since even the name is "No God".

What is sweet to an atheist is based on opposition to another paradigm, without which the category would not exist.  Think about "Abolitionists", a political, moral paradigm against slavery.

Since slavery doesn't exist, there are no Abolitionists left

If there were no believers in God, there would be no atheists!  ;)

Ying and yang.

You can't have one without the other!

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3 hours ago, bluebell said:

Scott's thread on one part of the church's abortion statement caused me to read it, and the last paragraph has left me with some questions

Go here to read the statement in full.

The last paragraph says:

So, what does it mean to "participate in efforts that protect life"?  Can a member fight for laws that make abortion legal for any reason and still be acting appropriately?  What of members that are not acting appropriately?  Is that between them and God or should the church become involved sometimes?

It seems like this last paragraph has been worded like it is to leave a lot of wiggle room for members who are pro-choice, but it also seems to be calling some pro-choice members out as well.  

I think the line for “not acting appropriately” would be when behavior, in this case political participation, lapses into cause for disciplinary action as currently explained in the Handbook.

I don’t see “fighting” being encouraged or enjoined in the last paragraph.

Some members may think / feel that “elective abortion for personal or social convenience” protects life and preserves religious liberty, or that there is no significant connection between these three principles however strongly or ambivalently they hold them. But clearly the Church’s hope for her members is to adopt and observe her position on the matter as representing the core principles and ordinances of the faith.

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3 hours ago, bluebell said:

Can a member fight for laws that make abortion legal for any reason and still be acting appropriately?

What if they believe abortions protect life more than they harm it (the benefit to lives of the born vs the lives of the unborn)?  Not wanting to get into an argument about that belief as that would be a repeat so won’t be responding to any challenges or other comments on that, but just wondering if this Church position is open to personal interpretation like some others are (tithing jumps to mind).

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The Church is fighting institutional headwinds, as even active members are increasingly accepting/rejecting bits of counsel or policy, and even doctrine, cafeteria-style. Coffee and tea products comes to mind, marijuana, tithing, many social issues,etc. Obviously, this impacts Church statements, which strive to placate everyone and offend no one (and in the process not really satisfy anyone, either).

Edited by rongo
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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

I think the Church is trying to stake out its own position on these issues, and to provide practical guidance to its members.  Members can publicly advocate for same-sex marriage (even though this contravenes the teachings of the Church) and still retain their TRs, can still hold callings, etc.  I suspect the Church takes a similar tack on this topic.  I think the Church really does not want to "become involved" in how its members political choices/activities.  It wants its members' actions to reflect and be based on the basic principles of the Restored Gospel, but it also recognizes that "politics" are often exceedingly complex.  It is a big part of "the landmine-laced terrain of the sensitive social and religious issues of the day."

It does bring up the question of the following temple recommend question:

Quote

Do you support or promote any teachings, practices, or doctrine contrary to those of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Does this question need to clarify that it is not talking about politics?  

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2 hours ago, pogi said:

It does bring up the question of the following temple recommend question:

Does this question need to clarify that it is not talking about politics?  

A very good point.  The Brethren are allowing members of the Church to advocate for same-sex marriage without imperiling their TRs.  It seems difficult to say that such advocacy does not constitute "support{ing} or promot{ing} ... practices ... contrary to those of {the Church}."

Fortunately, this is not an issue that I need to resolve, as it is not within my purview.  

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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5 hours ago, bluebell said:

It seems like this last paragraph has been worded like it is to leave a lot of wiggle room for members who are pro-choice, but it also seems to be calling some pro-choice members out as well.  

In this last bit,

5 hours ago, bluebell said:

Church members may appropriately choose to participate in efforts to protect life and to preserve religious liberty.

the Church seems to be granting permission. Thanks, Church, I guess.

In the Church I belonged to last week, I didn't permission to do those things. Nor did I need permission to do things that pushed back against those (seemingly anointed) activities.

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25 minutes ago, smac97 said:

A very good point.  The Brethren are allowing members of the Church to advocate for same-sex marriage without imperiling their TRs.  It seems difficult to say that such advocacy does not constitute "support{ing} or promot{ing} ... practices ... contrary to those of {the Church}."

Fortunately, this is not an issue that I need to resolve, as it is not within the purview.  

Thanks,

-Smac

I wonder how bishops will treat this question if/when people start bringing up advocacy for abortion rights beyond what the church condones - and are members expected to bring up stuff like that in the TR interview?  I am sure it will become a bishop roulette issue, like SS marriage was (some members had their TR recommend revoked), until this question gets clarified.   I wouldn't be surprised to see this question reworded in the future. 

 

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13 minutes ago, pogi said:

I wonder how bishops will treat this question if/when people start bringing up advocacy for abortion rights beyond what the church condones - and are members expected to bring up stuff like that in the TR interview?  I am sure it will become a bishop roulette issue, like SS marriage was (some members had their TR recommend revoked), until this question gets clarified.   I wouldn't be surprised to see this question reworded in the future. 

Isn't same sex marriage still a leader roulette issue? My understanding is that it isn't defined as de facto apostasy any more, requiring discipline, but that leaders can still choose to discipline over it (and homosexual acts). Where does it say that same sex marriage/ homosexuality is now off the table as far as discipline?

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33 minutes ago, rongo said:

Isn't same sex marriage still a leader roulette issue? My understanding is that it isn't defined as de facto apostasy any more, requiring discipline, but that leaders can still choose to discipline over it (and homosexual acts). Where does it say that same sex marriage/ homosexuality is now off the table as far as discipline?

That is a better question for smac97, I am just going off what he said here: 

Quote

The Brethren are allowing members of the Church to advocate for same-sex marriage without imperiling their TRs.

I am assuming that the church must have said something about this.  smac is usually pretty careful in what he says about stuff like this.  

I do know that my wife brought it up in her temple recommend interview with both the bishop and stake president and was not denied the recommend despite her political views on the issue. Maybe she got lucky. 

Edited by pogi
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I think we are ignoring that the Temple Recommend question being discussed is an evolution from a question that was originally about polygamist groups, oath-bound societies, and other break off organizations and was never intended to be about political affiliations.

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19 minutes ago, pogi said:

I do know that my wife brought it up in her temple recommend interview with both the bishop and stake president and was not denied the recommend despite her political views on the issue. Maybe she got lucky. 

I wouldn't think that expressing support for SSM would get one's TR denied (see: the OP of this thread), but I would think that in many wards and stakes (or at least some), SSM and LoC violations are still disciplined. The recent handbook changes do make it less likely that this will happen, but don't ban it. 

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7 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

I think we are ignoring that the Temple Recommend question being discussed is an evolution from a question that was originally about polygamist groups, oath-bound societies, and other break off organizations and was never intended to be about political affiliations.

The original question never specified that it "was originally about polygamist groups, oath-bound societies, and other break off organizations and was never intended to be about political affiliations." As written, and as asked in plain language, it (originally) asked:

"Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to, or oppose, those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?" I remember it being a real mouthful to ask. :) 

I can see why many assumed this included political and philosophical currents, and wasn't just about break-off groups. The current iteration also dwells on "teachings, practices, or doctrine contrary to the Church." For many people, it isn't simply a switch that can be flipped on and off to distinguish cleanly between politics, social agendas, etc. and religious belief. There is quite a bit of Venn overlap with blurry lines there. 

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2 minutes ago, rongo said:

The original question never specified that it "was originally about polygamist groups, oath-bound societies, and other break off organizations and was never intended to be about political affiliations." As written, and as asked in plain language, it (originally) asked:

"Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to, or oppose, those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?" I remember it being a real mouthful to ask. :) 

I can see why many assumed this included political and philosophical currents, and wasn't just about break-off groups. The current iteration also dwells on "teachings, practices, or doctrine contrary to the Church." For many people, it isn't simply a switch that can be flipped on and off to distinguish cleanly between politics, social agendas, etc. and religious belief. There is quite a bit of Venn overlap with blurry lines there. 

And that question was asked for very specific reasons at that time. Everyone in the Church knew what the question was about. I think it came at around the same time that they added the bit about the prophet being the only one to exercises all priesthood keys so that apostate groups couldn’t acknowledge the prophet while also acknowledging their own higher authority.

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51 minutes ago, rongo said:

I wouldn't think that expressing support for SSM would get one's TR denied (see: the OP of this thread)

Well, that's what I was talking about.  Which gets back to my original  question, why wouldn't it get denied given that temple recommend question?  

51 minutes ago, rongo said:

but I would think that in many wards and stakes (or at least some), SSM and LoC violations are still disciplined. The recent handbook changes do make it less likely that this will happen, but don't ban it. 

We were talking about temple recommends in relation to question 7 in the interview, not withdrawal of church membership.  There is no way a same sex couple are getting temple recommends without some serious changes to doctrine. 

Edited by pogi
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7 hours ago, bluebell said:

Scott's thread on one part of the church's abortion statement caused me to read it, and the last paragraph has left me with some questions

Go here to read the statement in full.

The last paragraph says:

So, what does it mean to "participate in efforts that protect life"?  Can a member fight for laws that make abortion legal for any reason and still be acting appropriately?  What of members that are not acting appropriately?  Is that between them and God or should the church become involved sometimes?

It seems like this last paragraph has been worded like it is to leave a lot of wiggle room for members who are pro-choice, but it also seems to be calling some pro-choice members out as well.  

The only way there could possibly be any “wiggle room” in the last sentence is if it would have been worded as follows: 

“As states work to enact laws related to abortion, Church members may appropriately choose to participate in efforts to protect life or advocate for the right to abortion.”

Edited by teddyaware
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30 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

And that question was asked for very specific reasons at that time. Everyone in the Church knew what the question was about. I think it came at around the same time that they added the bit about the prophet being the only one to exercises all priesthood keys so that apostate groups couldn’t acknowledge the prophet while also acknowledging their own higher authority.

I know that, but I also know that most people didn't know that. It wasn't common knowledge, and its purpose was never communicated to the Church at large. Many people found the question to be confusing, and many others assumed it was referring to people with heterodox sociopolitical views ("or agree with"). 

The Church could still be more transparent and clear with the most recent iteration. Especially since leaders are supposed to stick with the wording. As it is, you still have to explain a lot of the questions to people, anyway.

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2 hours ago, Chum said:

In this last bit,

the Church seems to be granting permission. Thanks, Church, I guess.

In the Church I belonged to last week, I didn't permission to do those things. Nor did I need permission to do things that pushed back against those (seemingly anointed) activities.

That's an interesting interpretation, but it's not what I got from it.  I read it more as a warning (not in the threatening sense but a "these are the bounds God has set and members leave them to their detriment" sense). 

But I also got from it that the church did not define "these" in my statement above but purposefully left it vague so that we each must define it for ourselves. 

I think that @Calm is correct in her post that someone could legitimately decide that supporting abortion saved more lives than not, but at the same time I don't believe that Pres. Nelson (from what he's said in other places) would agree with that perspective at all nor find it "appropriate". 

So taking all of that into account I find that last paragraph of the official statement very interesting.  I think it gives people agency to do what they believe is sincerely the best and still be a member in full standing and also (from the apostles' perspective) gives us enough rope to hang ourselves, so to speak.

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