Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Hitchens and Franklin

This is really starting to irritate me. We’ve had to correct the absurd claims of the religious right for years, but now more and more we’re having to correct the equally absurd claims of atheists who want to turn the founding fathers into images of themselves as well. Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins seem to be the major culprits here, though Hitchens may bear more blame than Dawkins since Dawkins appears to have accepted Hitchens’ distortions at face value without bothering to do any research himself. That makes him sloppy, while Hitchens, it appears more and more, is just plain peddling nonsense. Jon Rowe catches Hitchens’ latest distortion, this time about Ben Franklin:

Of Franklin it seems almost certainly right to say that he was an atheist (Jerry Weinberger’s excellent recent study Benjamin Franklin Unmasked being the best reference here), but the master tacticians of church-state separation, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, were somewhat more opaque about their beliefs.


No, no, a thousand times, no. Only someone with an enormous axe to grind and without a shred of intellectual honesty would claim that Ben Franklin was an atheist. Rowe rightly cites a letter that Ben Franklin wrote to Ezra Stiles defining his own beliefs a mere 6 weeks before he died:

Here is my Creed: I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we can render to him, is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do, in whatever Sect I meet with them. As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity: tho’ it is a Question I do not dogmatise upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble. I see no harm however in its being believed, if that Belief has the good Consequence as probably it has, of making his Doctrines more respected and better observed, especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the Believers, in his Government of the World, with any particular Marks of his Displeasure.

To claim that Ben Franklin was an atheist is to tell a lie every bit as bad as, perhaps worse than, anything David Barton has ever shoveled out. His own words clearly and absolutely prove otherwise. We don’t need a Liars Against Jesus to match the Liars For Jesus; what we need is intellectual honesty at all times, no matter how much we may want to make someone else appear to agree with us. For crying out loud, will Hitchens next be invoking fake deathbed deconversions?

Comments

  1. #1 Ian H Spedding FCD
    February 24, 2007

    Knowing very little about this period, I would be inclined to ask how many people at this time actually came out and admitted to being atheist. How risky would it have been legally, socially and professionally?

  2. #2 Jon Rowe
    February 24, 2007

    The story gets a little deeper. A commenter on my blog informs me that Jerry Weinberger is a Straussians and does make the case that Franklin wrote in “code.” Back then, being an athiest would ruin you. Ezra Stiles was a prominent orthodox Christian, and Franklin practically walks on egg shells in the letter (telling him to keep it secret at the end). There is a big leap though from letting on that you don’t believe Jesus was God while claiming to believe in God, to really trying to say that you are an atheist.

    Franklin also claims to believe in God in letters to folks who like him had a heterodox worldview.

  3. #3 Ahcuah
    February 24, 2007

    I would tend to cut Hitchins a break here. The general line that one gets if one does the usual cursory reading, or from the usual education, is that these folks were all Deists. Or at least that’s what I’d always thought.

    It’s only because of your and Jon Rowe’s research and expositions that I’ve come to realize and appreciate the “rational theism” argument. Now, if Hitchens were reading your blogs and still insisting otherwise, that would be different.

    Regarding Dawkins, since he is online, why not just point him to your research, and see if he comes around?

  4. #4 SLC
    February 24, 2007

    Re Franklin

    A letter written 6 weeks before his death (he was 83 at the time) is not exactly illuminating. The fact that Franklin was a theist at age 83 doesn’t indicate what his theological views were when he was 40. Is there evidence of Franklins’ views at a younger age? For instance, Martin Gardner was an agnostic for most of his life, after being raised in a fundamentalist environment, but has become a non-Christian theist of late (he is currently over 90). According to one biography, Franklin viewed religion as possibly a positive influence but had no particular religious views himself.

  5. #5 Pieter B
    February 24, 2007

    Having seen Hitchens three years running now at the TAM skeptics’ convention, it’s my impression that he hasn’t had a visit from the intellectual-rigor fairy in quite a while, or that maybe when she calls he’s passed out.

  6. #6 Ed Brayton
    February 24, 2007

    Jon Rowe wrote:

    A commenter on my blog informs me that Jerry Weinberger is a Straussians and does make the case that Franklin wrote in “code.” Back then, being an athiest would ruin you. Ezra Stiles was a prominent orthodox Christian, and Franklin practically walks on egg shells in the letter (telling him to keep it secret at the end). There is a big leap though from letting on that you don’t believe Jesus was God while claiming to believe in God, to really trying to say that you are an atheist.

    This is just such a silly argument not only when applied to Franklin but to the other leading founders as well. Franklin was an old man who knew he was dying when he wrote that letter; the notion that he was still worried about what the public thought of his views makes little sense. The same goes for Adams and Jefferson and their letters back and forth on Christianity. What they said to each other privately condemning the trinity, the divinity of Jesus and much of the Biblical conception of God was enough, by itself, to destroy their political careers; if they were concerned with that subject by that time, they would not have revealed what they did. And that is the problem with this Straussian interpretation – it doesn’t explain what they said, it only explains away what they said.

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    February 24, 2007

    Ahcuah wrote:

    I would tend to cut Hitchins a break here. The general line that one gets if one does the usual cursory reading, or from the usual education, is that these folks were all Deists. Or at least that’s what I’d always thought.

    It’s only because of your and Jon Rowe’s research and expositions that I’ve come to realize and appreciate the “rational theism” argument. Now, if Hitchens were reading your blogs and still insisting otherwise, that would be different.

    Except that Hitchens goes much further and claims not only that they were deist (which is not entirely implausible if you use a broad enough definition of deist) but that they were atheists; that is simply an absurd position, every bit as absurd, and quite possibly more absurd, than the David Barton “they were all fundies like me” position. And he has written a biography of Jefferson and thus ought to be well researched in the original writings. No, this falls squarely on his shoulders. He is peddling bullshit that he surely ought to know is bullshit.

  8. #8 DuWayne
    February 24, 2007

    Ian -

    Like Jon said, it would have been devastating to admit to atheism. But it is telling that many of our founding fathers admitted privately, to beleifs that would have been just as devastating. Taking a theistic, naturalist view, would be translated by many theologians as a form of devil worship. To claim that one believed in no God, would have been better than worshiping Satan – though that is totaly a matter of degree.

    The other thing that I think is important to realize about the time, is that there was little to back up, an atheist world view. There was little science to explain the origins, of what was assumed to be God’s creation. While I would imagine there were some folks who just didn’t believe in God at all, they would be few and very far between. Lack of a God, did not have any way to explain our origins – given the evidence available at the time, a God creator just made sense. It was quite rational at the time, to make claims like Paine’s, that the only revelation God need make is the world around us. Just as rational was Franklin’s disbelief in the trinity. It could be argued (certainly would have been then) that it would have been irrational not to believe in God.

  9. #9 Ed Brayton
    February 24, 2007

    SLC wrote:

    A letter written 6 weeks before his death (he was 83 at the time) is not exactly illuminating. The fact that Franklin was a theist at age 83 doesn’t indicate what his theological views were when he was 40. Is there evidence of Franklins’ views at a younger age? For instance, Martin Gardner was an agnostic for most of his life, after being raised in a fundamentalist environment, but has become a non-Christian theist of late (he is currently over 90). According to one biography, Franklin viewed religion as possibly a positive influence but had no particular religious views himself.

    There is a great deal of evidence of Franklin’s beliefs throughout his life; he was a very prolific writer, especially on the subject of himself. In his autobiography, he writes that in his mid 20s he became acquainted with the writings of the deists and switched from Calvinism to deism. But this was deism in the very broad sense, not merely a watchmaker god but a provident, benevolent God who watched over us and took a direct interest in human affairs and actions (which, by today’s standards, makes him a theist rather than a deist). Throughout his life he wrote of praying to and worshiping God, and even famously suggested that the delegates at the Constitutional Convention stop and hold a prayer for guidance (they didn’t stop arguing long enough to even consider his proposal). The letter to Ezra Stiles is perfectly in line with all of his previous statements on the subject, it is nothing new.

  10. #10 Pieter B
    February 24, 2007

    SLC, I believe Ed has posted more than once that it was Franklin who proposed that the Constitutional Convention be opened each day with prayer, a favorite factoid of the “founded as a christian nation” crowd. He also proposed a design for the Great Seal of the US, described in his own hand as

    Moses standing on the Shore, and extending his Hand over the Sea, thereby causing the same to overwhelm Pharaoh who is sitting in an open Chariot, a Crown on his Head and a Sword in his Hand. Rays from a Pillar of Fire in the Clouds reaching to Moses, to express that he acts by Command of the Deity.

    Motto, Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.

    For his view in his younger days, we might look to the 1753 edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack in which is found

    Serving God is Doing Good to Man, but Praying is thought an easier Service, and therefore more generally chosen.

    This is pretty much identical to the view expressed in the letter Ed quotes above.

  11. #11 Jonathan Vos Post
    February 24, 2007

    Benjamin Franklin was the greatest American scientist of his time and, in the terms of Fireside Theatre, “the greatest president of the United States who was never President of the United States.”

    His book “Electricity” was immensely influential, and arguably founded a field [pun intentional]. Founder can use one-word titles: think of Lavoisier’s “Chemistry.”

    But Franklin was, and is, almost universally misunderstood.

    Yes, he did to some extent write “in code” — that is a job requirement for ambassadors, let alone one of the greatest US ambassadors ever.

    The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are, to some extent, written “in code.”

    But that code is Open Source. It relies on what was once a common body of reference even among the farmers and miners and fishermen and other citizens who were a majority of the USA: the Bible (King James version), Shakespeare, English translations of Greek and Latin classical texts. That the Constitution also draws on the Iraquois Confderacy is due to the specialist interest of Jefferson et al in that obscure text. That it draws on Arisotle’s comparison of the constitutions of all Greek City states seems clear.

  12. #12 Brandon
    February 24, 2007

    Why is this such a big deal? The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are written in plain English. What does the religious beliefs of the people who wrote it have anything to do with how the country should be run? Is there any logical basis to think “Ben Franklin and George Washington were Christians/deists/athiests, so two hundred years later, the country should be run by Christians/deists/atheists?”

  13. #13 Ed Brayton
    February 24, 2007

    Brandon:

    Why is this such a big deal? The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are written in plain English. What does the religious beliefs of the people who wrote it have anything to do with how the country should be run? Is there any logical basis to think “Ben Franklin and George Washington were Christians/deists/athiests, so two hundred years later, the country should be run by Christians/deists/atheists?”

    The only ones who make such an argument are the Christian Nation crowd. They often use fake or out of context quotes to distort their views and people like me often correct them. Unfortunately, some of the folks on our side have taken to acting just like them lately and they need to be corrected.

  14. #14 Josh
    February 24, 2007

    the master tacticians of church-state separation, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, were somewhat more opaque about their beliefs.

    I don’t know as much about Madison, but Jefferson’s beliefs hardly seem opaque. He seems to have regarded himself as a Christian deist who accepted the sayings of Jesus as good moral philosophy and rejected the supernatural claims about Jesus which the apostles tried to advance. He seems to have regarded that supernaturalism as heretical, and regarded his approach as the true essence of Christianity.

    Interestingly, the idea of Jefferson’s Bible is not far from the hypothetical Q document and the actual Gospel of Thomas: a list of the sayings and moral philosophy of Jesus without the broader interpretive elements. Hardly “opaque,” though surely non-traditional.

  15. #15 Tyler DiPietro
    February 24, 2007

    I’ve been looking forward to Christopher Hitchens’ new book, God is Not Great for a while now, but as I see him making more and more obviously dishonest and/or poorly researched claims as this, that anticipation is starting to fade.

  16. #16 Jake
    February 24, 2007

    Jefferson and Franklin, and a few others believed there was a Creator, that He/She/It works through Divine Providence and could guide events on Earth. They doubted seriously the divinity of Jesus, but they liked his philosophy very much. I believe Franklin’s letter sums it all up nicely. To say they were atheists, or even agnostics is going a bit too far.

  17. #17 Jon Rowe
    February 24, 2007

    Hitchens perhaps says Jefferson’s beliefs are opaque because he recently called Jefferson an atheist but was taken to task for it on the blogsphere. He is trying to back away from that assertion.

    Jefferson may have considered himself a “deist.” His definition of “deism” was simply generic monotheism. He talks of the “deism” of the Jews in a few of his writings. But more often he referred to himself as a “unitarian” and a “Christian.” Though he rejected almost all of the tenets of Christianity’s orthodoxy.

    You are right that he seemed to reject the supernatural. However, he did believe in an active personal God who may intervene himself in human events. Putting these two beliefs together, I’d surmise that Jefferson believed God involved himself in man’s affairs, not by breaking the laws of nature or science, but acting consistent with them — like a God who plays dice with the universe.

    This is not too far off from how the other key Founders viewed God. They ultimately believed in a rational, benevolent deity. Others, like Adams and Franklin himself were more likely to accept God’s intervention in ways that seemed less probable; though they still held that God must be understood on rational grounds first. Franklin actually believed in the bodily resurrection.

  18. #18 dogmeatib
    February 25, 2007

    “Iraquois Confderacy”

    Actually the survivors tend to prefer, Haudenosaunee league … People of the Longhouse.

    Iroquois, depending on your interpretation, means snake, serpent, rattlesnake, etc. Basically an Algonkian insult.

    This nonsense about how our founding fathers were Christian, etc., is a bunch of idiocy. What these sychophants (on both sides) are trying to do is lend credence to their argument through the “authority” of the founding fathers. The fact is that they were simply men of their age. We they exceptional? In many ways yes, in many ways no. An unbiased historical look at the great men of our history finds that they all had strengths and weaknesses. Some were devout Christians, many, perhaps most of them, were, like men of today, religious when it suited them. In some areas they were “wild eyed radical liberals,” in others they were extremely conservative. At times they contradicted their own written stance on issues. Measured by todays terminology most of them would be liberal, conservative, AND moderate.

    Totally meaningless, a perfect example of why we need to study history.

  19. #19 dogmeatib
    February 25, 2007

    “We they exceptional”

    Obviously should be “were…”

  20. #20 Chris' Wills
    February 25, 2007

    It may be just that the fundamentalists atheists believe that Truth and Honesty are only required in Science.
    Just like some religious folk they think that lying is OK (ends justify means) and to be fair to the stalinist atheists they can create their own belief set and so justify it to themselves. The christian religious fundies have no such “get out of jail free” card.

    As an non-USAian I do find it interesting that your founding fathers have been raised to the level of a pantheism.

  21. #21 Jonathan Vos Post
    February 25, 2007

    Brandon: Yes and no. “The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are written in plain English.”

    Isaac Asimov wrote about complicated issues of Science, Math, History, and Literature in Plain English — inentionally, and superbly. That doesn’t make the underlying Science, Math, History, and Literature simple.

    I Am Not A Lawyer. But: In American Law, there is a 3-level hierarchy of interpreting “plain English.”

    (1) If neither part disputes what the language means, then it is taken to mean what they agree it means, on the surface.

    (2) If the dispute what the language means (often at the Appellate level) then the analysis proceeds by related laws, by court precedents in that state, by precdenets in other statres, and by Federal precedents.

    (3) If that still doesn’t decide things, then (usually at the State Supreme Court or US Supreme Court level) then one goes to INTENT of the framners of the language, as established by transcripots of legislative debates, analyses by other authorities, even memoranda of legislative aides and the like.

    Again, I Am Not A Lawyer, and it is a Felony in my state to practice law without a license. So this is only my informed opinion as somewone who has, over 15+ years, been a paralegal from time to time researching, writing, serving, and even arguing (in pro per) Superior Court, Appellate Court, and State Supreme Court motions and Writs.

    So, yes, “The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are written in plain English.” But, no, that does not make the meaning simple. English has changed in 220+ years. The culture has changed. What is “free speech” in the context of the web and Terhertz waves that allow law enforcement to literally look through walls, and satellite photos of people and cars on the ground, and so foirth. Ben Franklin could not have predicted these. And the laws of other countries have changed on, for instance, death penalties, and the UN exists and the EU, and there is an influence of foreign laws on US laws — that infleunce itself debated.

    So I reassert: even documents in Plain English can simultaneously be “written in code.” For geniuses such as Franklin, Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, and John Jay, this is often impoprtant.

    Also, drafts change. For indtance, earlier drafts read: “Life, Liberty, and Property.”

    Then the phrase “prsuit of happiness” was used to replace “property”, probably as a comproimise between delagtes representing states with differing percentages of property-owners and non-property-owners, or the like.

    Does anyone strongly agree or disagree?

    There is much debate as to what “pursuit of happiness” really means.

    A lot of these things were debated first in other venues.

  22. #22 Jon Rowe
    February 25, 2007

    I agree there can be code or implicit things written in documents. One of the great debates in Con Law is interpretation (similar to hermeneutics & the Bible).

    Most, though, agree that we shouldn’t be ruled by the secret, perhaps “code,” intentions of our Founders but rather by the original plain meaning of the text. Most conservatives now reject the concept of “original intent” for “original plain meaning.” What many don’t realize is that original intent could be, esp. as applied to religious matters, a far more subversive concept than “original meaning.”

    Indeed, it’s entirely possible that the key Founders secretly intended to de facto establish “theistic rationalism” as the religion of the United States (even though the First Amendment explicitly prohibits a national establishment). Clearly though, even if this were the case, most would agree that we are not ruled by these secret intentions but by the original public meaning of their words.

    Still, ideas have consequences, and some of the present day outcomes of original public meaning may nonetheless coincide with those secret intentions. Indeed, those founders may have been far more aware than the normal guy on the street in 1789, of the potential consequences of those ideas.

    One thinks of the recent case involving the military chaplains where the military, entirely consistent with the religious ideals of our Founders, ordered that the Chaplain not pray in Jesus’ name but rather in generic God terms.

    The Rutherford Institute responded that it seemed that the military was trying to establish unitarianism or universalism as a de facto religion. They were perhaps unaware how closely the military’s orders “fit” with what the key Founders were trying to accomplish but weren’t always so up front about.

  23. #23 Wes
    February 25, 2007

    I agree with you totally on this one, Ed. Franklin was not an atheist or an agnostic. He was a Deist, in a very loose sense of the term.

    However, I wouldn’t take the language in this particular letter too literally. You have to take into account the person he was writing to. I’m agnostic, but I sound much more Christian when speaking with my grandmother, who’s a staunch fundamentalist. Sometimes you have to tailor your language to your audience in order be able to communicate at all. I certainly don’t lie to my grandmother and proclaim to believe something I don’t believe, but I do use language which I wouldn’t normally use. For example, I might say something like “God willing”, which in my mind is just a metaphor for “nature will take whatever course it happens to take”, but to some believers has a much more literal meaning. It would be wrong to take the interpretation of those believers and say it represents what I personally believe.

    You’re right that Hitchens is grossly in error proclaiming Franklin to be an atheist. But Franklin is also pretty obviously tiptoeing around in that letter. Lots of nonbelievers find themselves doing that when talking to believers whose feelings they don’t wish to hurt (or when they just want to avoid controversy). The letter’s not the best example for trying to show what Franklin actually believed, except to show in a very broad sense that Franklin did indeed believe in some kind of deity (I see no reason to believe he would lie about that).

  24. #24 Pieter B
    February 25, 2007

    Here is my Creed: I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we can render to him, is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this.

    That’s “tiptoeing”?

  25. #25 Jon Rowe
    February 25, 2007

    I think he tiptoed on the Jesus is not God part. If there was one part where I think Franklin wasn’t entire upfront it was there. He said he wasn’t sure about Jesus’ Divinity. From what I know about Franklin, his friendship with Priestly, the concept of “corruptions of Christianity” to which Franklin alludes in that letter, he probably was pretty certain that Jesus was not God, or if Jesus were “Divine,” he was nonetheless separate from and inferior to God the Father.

  26. #26 Wes
    February 25, 2007

    Compare the effervescence of his tone in that paragraph to the extremely cautious, noncommital language when he starts talking about Jesus. His tone is very different when he starts getting into the parts of his beliefs which contradict traditional beliefs. He’s trying not to hurt any feelings, so he’s playing up the aspects of his belief which can fit in pretty closely with the general, traditional beliefs of Christianity while downplaying the aspects of his beliefs which run directly contrary to Christian dogma. You can’t read that letter of Franklin’s in isolation. You have to consider his audience, and think about how he’s going to describe his beliefs to such-and-such person.

    Like I said, I’m not claiming Franklin is lying or anything. I’m sure he really believed in God. But the tone of that letter sounds a lot like the tone I take when religious matters come up in discussion between me and my very religious family. When everyone knows you’re a heretic pretty much the only way to avoid controversy is to accentuate those aspects of your beliefs which are similar to theirs, and try not to dwell on those aspects which directly contradict theirs. The best way I can think of to describe this is tip-toeing around people’s feelings. What else would you call it?

  27. #27 Jonathan Vos Post
    February 25, 2007

    “tip-toeing around people’s feelings.” Almost a prerequisite to be an Ambassador, right?

    See, for instance, Franklin’s careful explanation of how he avoids ever saying: “You’re wrong.” He gives at least half a dozen ways of reaching the same meaning without being insulting in the least. The general principal is to establish what the two parties believe in common, and then tip-toe around the possibility of one of the two might be wrong beyond that stipulated commonality, of which it is of course I, the humble speaker, who is more probably at risk of missing the truth…

    Does anyone have that list handy? It’s lovely. It took me years of training by my wife to say “I’m wrong, you’re right” and “I don’t know.” Franklin was way ahead of that…

  28. #28 Saint Gasoline
    February 25, 2007

    Why do people even care whether well-known historical figures were atheists or not?

  29. #29 Jonathan Vos Post
    February 25, 2007

    God only knows…

  30. #30 DuWayne
    February 25, 2007

    Saint Gasoline -

    For me, it has been because of my immense respect for many of them – especialy Ben Franklin. I doubt it is much accident that my own spiritual beliefs are quite similar to his, Jefferson’s and Washington’s (mine being closest to Washington’s*). This is not to say that I am attempting to validate my beliefs, based on this. My interest is actually opposite that. I am a huge Ben Franklin fan. He has always been one of my greatest hero’s – a true renaissance man. In reading his writings and writings about him, I came to seriously question my own religious beliefs. The things he had to say about the subject, just made good sense. Likewise, when I got to reading Jefferson, I began to seriously question the differences between monotheistic religions. I got to questioning just how important is the name we give God. I began to question how important these distinctions are, in the same way I question the validity of nationalism, simply for the sake of nationalism.

    I daresay that far more often, this is a question of trying to validate one’s own beliefs, but I can attest it is not always the case. Personaly, I think the major idiocy of this sort of validation is that we live in a very different world now. It is absolutely ridiculous to try to presume what their deep felt beliefs were. I find it easiest to presume they were fairly honest about what they believed. All of them reached a point in their lives where it wouldn’t have mattered what they said about it. And many of them espoused beliefs that were patently unacceptable to most of the people of the time – if they wanted to hide notions that were unpopular, they probably would have hidden those they espoused as well – a little dancing about the severity of their feelings, to avoid upsetting friends aside.

    *I should note that I am basing that assumption on other people’s charectorization of his beliefs. I have not read much that he wrote, as he has never excited my interest the way others of the time do.

  31. #31 GH
    February 26, 2007

    I think B. Franklin was a politician and certainly was mindful of who he was speaking to in the letter. I think he was a lukewarm deist who had he lived today may not even have been that, but it’s simple conjecture.

    That said Hitchens may deserve a small break here. He is likely wrong but this ‘theistic rationalist’ position is virtually unknown and may fail under closer inspection by others. I see value in the view but I think it needs to be vetted much more outside of this blog before we can blame people for not agreeing with it.

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