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July 12, 2010

Comments

Rafi

"Readers may find it odd that students are being encouraged to express solidarity with totalitarian terrorist movements that set booby traps in schools and boast of using children as human shields"

Is it a wind-up or is Judith Butler really that demented? Seriously, how can she not see...?

David

Rafi,

“Is it a wind-up or is Judith Butler really that demented?”

I’m not privy to the inner workings of her mind. Maybe it’s just what happens to people whose days are spent playing More Radical Than Thou. Eventually, with prolonged exposure, maybe they all become absurd and grotesque. But apparently that’s the “radicalism” that sells, at least at Berkeley. If you watch the video of the “teach-in” (link below, around 16:19), Butler appears to be taken quite seriously by those listening. I didn’t hear anyone challenging her assumptions or laughing at her pretensions. In fact, they applaud her.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1054740516888584797#

And that’s actually rather creepy.

Anna

Butler: "That doesn't stop us being critical of certain dimensions of both groups..."

Certain dimensions? Does she mean blowing up school buses or just the planned Holocaust?

Trimegistus

What on Earth makes you think she doesn't know or understand that Hamas is a murderous, genocidal terrorist organization. Of course she does. That's the point! Modern liberalism is a death cult. Liberals favor the death of Jews, the death of Americans, the death of men, and the death of humans as a species. The only difference between Judy Butler and a Hamas suicide bomber is that the bomber is more brave and admirable.

David

Anna,

“Does she mean blowing up school buses or just the planned Holocaust?”

Well, quite. It’s hard to miss the unrealism of it all. The “teach-in” publicity material announces a panel of “experts who will provide informed and critical perspectives.” Yet Butler doesn’t seem terribly informed about the groups she champions and whose motives she distorts. (On what does she base her claim of expertise? She’s a Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature who speculates about gender, often poorly.) Likewise, the event is announced as “an opportunity to challenge assumptions and consensuses.” Yet the air of groupthink is obvious, as demonstrated by the lack of challenge to Butler’s own absurdly misleading claims. Even the title of the event – “Teach-In Against America’s Wars” - is grossly tendentious.

But hey, at least its edgy.

Rob

Well, I've just ordered a copy of Mr Sowell's book.

David

I want my own Tyranny Day. I have blueprints and everything.

Anna

David, have you seen Tim Blair's link to you? Butler's trying to backpedal on her Hamas/Hezbollah comments:

"The editing of my response was obviously an effort to distort my view."

http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/timblair/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/what_the_butler_said/

Must be those sneaky Zionists. ;)

David

“The editing of my response was obviously an effort to distort my view.”

Heh. But of course.

Setting aside the comical notion of Hamas and Hizballah being “opposed to imperialism,” readers can view the video in its entirety and decide for themselves whether Professor Butler was “cut short,” distorted or taken wildly out of context... just before being applauded by her admirers. They may also wish to ponder the “progressive” credentials of genocidal theocrats who hijack ambulances and bomb school buses, and whose Friday sermons regularly wish “annihilation” on “every single Jew on the face of the Earth.” Readers may then have their own view of whether the professor is being entirely honest.

Rob

For the Left, reality is whatever they think it is. They really do believe that reality can be changed simply by denying it.

mlrosty

"The editing of my response was obviously an effort to distort my view."

What editing? It's one long shot. She's a moonbat and a liar.

Rafi

Rob,

"They [Hamas and Hezbollah] are "left" in the sense that they oppose colonialism and imperialism."

Judith Butler, July 2010.

"Soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered like Constantinople was conquered. The conquest will spread over all of Europe then it will turn to the two Americas and even into Eastern Europe."

Younus Al-Astral, Hamas MP, April 2008.

http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=628&fld_id=628&doc_id=647

Damn that reality!

Steve

Under the leftie warpmind Colonialism is only what whites do, not what others do. There is no evidence whatsoever in the left-drifting mind that any other race but whites have ever tried to colonise anyone else.

Imperial pertains to empires, and of course there has never been anyone but white people who have tried to have an Empire. So the Islamist "conquest" of the world is not building an empire but spreading freedom and liberation.

Yeah, riiiight...

Simen Thoresen

David,

"
(...)readers can view the video in its entirety and decide for themselves whether Professor Butler was “cut short,” distorted or taken wildly out of context...
"

Might the intended context be one where the audience adores her? Using recordings, quotes or similar out of that context, one distorts the intentions of her performance, and rather exposes her to ridicule.

-S

Karen M

"The editing of my response was obviously an effort to distort my view."

I watched the whole video and Butler is just lying. It's obvious from the context that she wants students to treat Hamas and Hezbollah as allies –"part of the global Left"– that's WHY they applaud her.

David

“It’s obvious from the context that she wants students to treat Hamas and Hezbollah as allies –‘part of the global Left’– that’s WHY they applaud her.”

That does seem to be a more plausible interpretation. It’s what the audience seems to think, anyway. (But then people who profess an interest in “radical non-violent politics” often find real violence quite titillating.) Certainly it’s more plausible than Butler’s rather sly and fanciful explanation, and her fanciful construal of Hamas and Hizballah as “opposing” imperialism. Admittedly both organisations sometimes frame their own imperial ambitions as a “liberation from sin and un-Islamic ways,” but the end goal is conquest and subjugation nonetheless. A point they state explicitly, repeatedly and at tremendous length. You’d think an esteemed intellectual – an “expert” - would notice these details.

Kellie Strøm, whose site I recommend, links to an essay by Camilla Bassi which notes that Butler was a signatory to a 2006 letter affirming her “solidarity and support to the victims of the brutality [in Lebanon and Palestine] and to those who mount a resistance against it.” Which strongly implies Butler’s political support for Hamas and Hizballah:

http://www.acme-journal.org/vol9/Bassi10.pdf
http://airforceamazons.blogspot.com/2010/07/rewind-erase.html

Perhaps Butler has recently changed her mind and no longer wishes to express “solidarity and support” for murderous theocrats with genocidal dreams. If so, she’s a little late in her realisation and her ignorance of who and what she was supporting for so long is difficult to excuse. But that’s not what Butler tells us. In her recent interview she says, “I have never supported either group, and my very public affiliation with a politics of non-violence would make it impossible for me to support them.” Which seems at best disingenuous and more likely something worse.

But we’ve been here before. This is a standard distortion of the “anti-imperialist” left. Over three years the Guardian published no fewer than 14 opinion pieces by members of, or advocates of, the Muslim Brotherhood, while being careful to omit or distort the commentators’ links with the organisation in question, and distorting the stated aims of its leaders. Seumas Milne and his fellow dissemblers tried to depict the Brotherhood as some benign, non-violent “anti-imperialist” movement. Claims that don’t quite sit with the Brotherhood’s stated goal of “the widespread implementation of Islam as a way of life; no longer to be sidelined as merely a religion.” Or their murderously anti-Semitic material, including jihadi websites aimed at young children. Or the slogan that still adorns the Brotherhood’s literature and website: “Islam will dominate the world.”

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/02/alguardian_the_.html

It takes an obstinate stupidity to overlook such things. That, or malign intent.

David

Simen,

“Might the intended context be one where the audience adores her?”

Well, Butler does seem a little too comfortable with the role of “superstar academic” and “all-round radical clever person on whose musings we must hang.” Having seen her “star” in several fawning profiles and a hagiographic documentary – complete with pretentious students and fawning journalists - she does seem a tad narcissistic. I suspect Butler, like many of her peers, is besotted by the *idea* of radicalism, not least the radicalism she imagines is her own.

Kellie Strøm

Thanks for the link David.

David

Kellie,

You’re welcome. I’m a fan.

Ian

>>

They are not "progressive", they are "Progressive".

This is my campaign to start capitalising Progressive, in the same way that Conservative was rendered to mean the exact opposite and to enable us to identify with the religious-royalist fringe those elements that actually aren't, so much so we have to emphasize the original meaning nowadays, i.e. "small-c conservatives".

How can a movement dedicated to 7th century arabic culture ever be seen as "progressive" ? Simples, make them "Progressive" and worthy of leftist support.

Trimegistus

You can tell she's sincere because she's lying about what she said. If she was genuinely clueless she wouldn't understand the need to conceal the truth.

SG

"You'd think an esteemed intellectual – an "expert" - would notice these details."
Posted by: David | July 13, 2010 at 08:02

Butler's not the only one. What al Beeb don't like to mention...

"Hizbullah has embedded its weapon caches, bunkers, command-and-control centers and missile stockpiles – and stationed its armed personnel – in and alongside hospitals, mosques, schools and homes... Hizbullah and Hamas terrorists place themselves and their weapons in the heart of populated residential areas and launch rocket fire from there against Israel's civilian population. When Israel is forced to come to the defense of its citizens, noncombatants on the enemy side, cynically placed in the line of fire by Hamas and Hizbullah, are unfortunately killed."

http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/2010/07/breaking-news-sshhh.html

Rich Rostrom

"It Pays To Be Unobvious"

Heck, that's true almost everywhere.

The bookshelves are lined with alleged revelations and amazing predictions. Look at the Truthers, the Birthers, the gold-bugs, the supermarket tabloids.

There's a new book out on the Eastern Front of WW II, by a professor Mosier of Loyola U. of New Orleans. To quote a very knowledgeable poster from
soc.history.war.world-war-ii: "Mosier thinks provocative theses can be a substitute for thought-provoking arguments."

And really, who doesn't want to try to do something new? Sometimes that's how new truths are found.

David

Rich,

“Sometimes that’s how new truths are found.”

Indeed. I do, though, think it’s interesting when the professional incentive to shun the obvious and prosaic (even when true) meets a similar personal or political urge. Especially when the result is a kind of pseudo-iconoclasm that’s pretentious, misleading and, in its own way, eerily conformist.

sackcloth and ashes

One of the ironic by-products of post-modernism can be seen in Systemic Operational Design, the doctrine the IDF adopted prior to the Lebanon War of 2006.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0KNN/is_53/ai_n31438112/

'SOD theory was greatly influenced by the writings of the French postmodern philosophers, specifically Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) and Felix Guattari (1930-1992) and, to a lesser extent, Jean-Francois Lyotard (1924-1998), Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007), and Paul Virilio (b. 1932). All these philosophers share to a greater or lesser degree a radical leftist and anti-capitalist ideology. Critics have pointed out that the literary style of the French postmodern philosophers is essentially a collection of scientific, pseudoscientific, and philosophical jargon. Deleuze's and Guattari's books contain a handful of intelligible sentences. The language is designed to be unintelligible to conceal an absence of honest thought. Baudrillard's writings are full of nonsense. Numerous scientific and pseudoscientific terms were inserted into sentences that were devoid of meaning. Postmodern philosophers had a total disregard for the definitions of various terms ...

[The Operational Theory Research Institute] had a major impact on the type of education that future IDF high commanders received prior to the Lebanon conflict of 2006. These commanders were indoctrinated with postmodern ideas, which had little or no relevance to the real education on operational warfare. This was done at the expense of classic military theory. The reading list was heavily based on architectural theory written around 1968. Students read in detail the works of architects such as Christopher Alexander, Clifford Geertz, and Gregory Bateson. The OTRI curriculum included urban studies, systems analysis, psychology, cybernetics, and postcolonial and poststructuralist theory. There was a certain fascination with spatial modes and modes of operations based on the writings of Deleuze and Guattari, who drew inspiration from guerrilla organizations and "nomadic wars." (The Israeli military also used the theories of great architects in conducting urban operations). Israeli officers studied military history and theory but reportedly believed that such studies had little practical value. Classical military thinkers became no more than names whose writings were occasionally cited but not read in depth ...

During the Lebanon conflict in July 2006, the major problem the IDF had with SOD was the new terminology and methodology. It was questionable whether the majority of IDF officers could grasp a design that [its author, Brigadier Shimon] Naveh proclaimed was "not easy to understand ... because [it is] not intended for ordinary mortals." Many officers found the entire SOD concept elitist. Other officers could not understand why the old system of simple orders and terminology was replaced by one that few could understand. For example, new terms such as strategic directive, strategic purpose, system boundary, operational boundaries, campaign organizing theme, and rival system rationale were overused in place of traditional military terms. Units were ordered to "render the enemy incoherent," make the enemy feel "distress" or "chased down," or "achieve standoff domination of the theatre." The new vocabulary was heavily drawn from French postmodern philosophy, literary theory, architecture, and psychology. Because of its cryptic character, it is hardly surprising that not every officer in the IDF had the time or inclination to study this philosophy'.

So, in short, the best service postmodernism has done for Hezbollah is to bugger up the IDF's conceptual understanding of how to fight a war. Tragically for Hamas, the Israeli military decided to shit-can Naveh's concepts (along with Baudrillard and all those other frauds) before 'Cast Lead' in 2008.

Rich Rostrom

"pseudo-iconoclasm that’s pretentious, misleading and, in its own way, eerily conformist..."

Oh, yeah. The commendable western impulse to value dissent and question orthodoxy, and criticize one's own party has become an autoimmune disorder, engendering reflexive embrace of the Other and what I call "naive cynicism".

And this current is strong enough to enforce or reward conformity.

David

Rich,

“The commendable western impulse to value dissent and question orthodoxy, and criticize one’s own party has become an autoimmune disorder...”

Nicely put. A single Butler (or Zinn or Ayers or Cloud or Lubiano) is a minor absurdity. But an academic environment in which such posturing is routine, even obligatory - and acclaimed as The Measure of Sophistication - isn’t quite so funny. It’s dreary, rather creepy and ultimately corrosive.

David

Rich,

“And this current is strong enough to enforce or reward conformity.”

As David Clemens says in Indoctrinate U, “They’re quite ruthless about their desire for a kinder, gentler world.”

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/02/what-to-think-n.html

I still find it remarkable how the less reputable parts of academia have become a kind of fiefdom for far left fantasists. Not just people with the usual range of arguments about public spending or welfare or whatever, which can be debated in good faith; but people whose worldview is censorious, tribal and intensely ideological – people who silence dissent (even statements of fact) with Alinskyite mob tactics, and who feel entitled to “groom” youngsters with the “correct” political outlook. Which is to say, an outlook like their own.

I’ve mentioned dozens of incidents where intimidation has been championed, reality inverted and projection made the norm. Professor Dana Cloud is “a long-time activist and socialist” who teaches “social change” with amateurish, question-begging courses and extraordinary partisanship. (Views at odds with her own do not feature in her teaching, except as caricature.) Cloud organised one of her “flash mobs” to prevent David Horowitz being heard on campus at all, while accusing him of being “the right-wing thought police” and of trying to “censor intellectuals and dissent.” Maybe this was the professor’s idea of academic probity and “critical thinking.” Maybe she thinks arguments are won with decibels.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124000847769030489.html

It’s becoming an increasingly common tactic - screamed epithets, threats, air horns, continual interruption, even physical intimidation – and this behaviour is often looked on as a measure of virtue and intellectual sophistication. “Hey, it’s activism, man. We’re caring. We’re politically engaged.” Yet when Don Feder tried to engage students in a discussion on the issue of free speech versus “hate speech,” he was immediately shouted down, called a racist and assailed with epithets about his daughter. Despite repeated calls for civility, Feder wasn’t allowed to speak for longer than 3 minutes without interruption or personal abuse. From people who want to show the world just how much they care.

http://tommydevine.blogspot.com/2009/03/shocking-video.html

And it’s interesting to note the involvement of faculty as instigators or participants, as if anxious to relive their youth. Think of events at Duke. Or UNC-CH geography professor Altha Cravey, who joined in with protesters who were disrupting a talk by Tom Tancredo, shortly before students started smashing windows. Just to make sure no-one got to hear opinions *they* didn’t agree with.

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2009/04/righteousness-101.html

It’s odd how the rise of ostentatious compassion and sensitivity has coincided with a growing number of speakers finding themselves obstructed, screamed at, shouted offstage, even assaulted. Or being assigned with bodyguards to protect them from supposedly “liberal” students.

mlrosty

"They're quite ruthless about their desire for a kinder, gentler world."

Liberal fascism: Do as we say and no-one gets hurt.

David

“Liberal fascism: Do as we say and no-one gets hurt.”

Or, Think As We Think and no-one gets hurt. Some on the left object to the term “liberal fascism,” not least those whose self-image won’t let them digest what the term implies; but it seems to me it describes a very real and ugly phenomenon.

Butler’s dissembling regarding Hamas and Hizballah is a fairly minor example, albeit a commonplace one. Others take their inversion of reality further and express themselves more emphatically. For instance, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - a man who dreams of global theocracy and “bringing chaos” to the infidel - receives cheers and applause at Columbia, while David Horowitz is pre-emptively booed and shouted offstage at Emory for defending free speech and women’s rights and has to be escorted off campus by armed bodyguards. A pattern repeated to varying degrees at other “liberal” campuses.

On rare occasions when Horowitz has been allowed to speak with relatively little interruption, as at UW Madison, his actual arguments are rather different from those *presumed* by his more vocal and self-righteous opponents. Though it’s worth noting how the audience laughs dismissively at the idea that their own readiness to label those who disagree as “fascist,” “racist,” “haters,” etc, has consequences for free enquiry. A point illustrated rather vividly by the subsequent disruption involving an “outraged” member of staff.

http://noolmusic.com/google_videos/david_horowitz_comes_to_uw_madison.php

Even setting aside the physical intimidation and need for security escorts, there’s still a common urge to stop others hearing views of which one doesn’t approve. Nowhere more so than on the supposedly “liberal” campus. So, under the auspices of stopping “hate speech,” what we end up with is, in effect, a territorial embargo on realistic discussion.

Franklin

My own problem with the term "liberal fascism" was that it was perpetrated by a neocon pundit at a time when ruling American neocons were practicing torture, imprisoning persons of alleged interest and often dubious combat status outside all extant legal frameworks, arguing that American law had no history of habeas corpus, hiring lawyers to justify unlimited executive powers during times of crisis that could be declared as such by the executive on a whim, pursuing undeclared wars, and generally acting like fascists in the literal sense of that word. But said pundit thought that said administration was wonderful. (Unfortunately the left hasn't cornered the market on cultivated self-unawareness.) So while it might be apt to describe a virulent and acute strain of moonbattery, I can't bring myself to use it. We came too close to real fascism in this country. What goes on in academia is galling but it hardly compares.

David

Franklin,

Well, I tend to avoid “fascism” as a loose pejorative, even for behaviour that has sinister precedents. But given some of the censorious thuggery described above, and the propagation of the assumptions behind it, maybe we need a word that’s stronger than “moonbattery.” To me, “moonbat” suggests a kind of pretentious unrealism and ideological ditzyness, which doesn’t convey just how intimidating and malign what we’re talking about can be. And where it can lead if left unchecked.

Franklin

"Liberal thuggery" works for me.

David

Franklin,

“‘Liberal thuggery’ works for me.”

Thuggery, definitely, but not liberal at all. There’s “leftist thuggery,” I suppose, which captures the basics. Or “progressive thuggery,” if said with suitable irony.

But that doesn’t convey its quasi-religious fervour or the extent to which it’s indulged and encouraged by faculty ideologues like Karla Holloway, Dana Cloud, Rhonda Garelick, Wahneema Lubiano, Maureen Stanton and Grover Furr. Or a culture that indulges such behaviour among so-called educators. Nor can the thuggery be neatly separated from broader academic trends – efforts at political grooming, groupthink, victimhood poker, the propagation of “speech codes” and other urges to control language and what can be discussed. It’s an expression of a broader phenomenon. There’s an ideological underpinning.

rv

"while David Horowitz is pre-emptively booed and shouted offstage at Emory for defending free speech"

Horowitz wasn't 'defending free speech' he was inciting race HATRED against Muslims. He's a neocon Islamaphobe and he deserved to get booed. HATE speech isn't free speech.

If Horowitz got his way universities would churn out little neocons just like him.

Horace Dunn

rv

"Horowitz wasn't 'defending free speech' he was inciting race HATRED against Muslims"

Well we don't know that, do we? He didn't get the chance to speak, to engage and to argue his case. And nor did the people who disagreed with him and wanted to argue, with civility, against his ideas. Because people like you were so sure that yours was the only point of view permissable, the opportunity to explore ideas, challenge and educate was lost.

That's the point at issue here, surely?

David

rv,

Based on your previous visits, I doubt you’ll engage with my reply. I’ll reply nonetheless, in case others are reading this thread.

“Horowitz wasn’t ‘defending free speech’ he was inciting race HATRED against Muslims.”

I realise that in some circles arguments are won just by *calling* someone a racist or insinuating such. But if you’re going to make such claims here you should at least have the decency to provide some evidence. Otherwise people might not take you seriously. You may be shocked to discover that radical Islam isn’t a racial category and I don’t recall Horowitz ever talking as if it were. Maybe you should read the third paragraph of my comment of yesterday (09:42) and watch the video linked in that comment, especially the part about the Taliban and their victims, and then get back to me.

“If Horowitz had his way universities would spew out little neocons just like him.”

Horowitz opposes hiring and firing people because of their politics and has publicly defended several far-left educators, including Erwin Chemerinsky and Ward Churchill. The insinuation that he’s calling for firings or censure based on a person’s private views, however foolish they may be, is absurd. If you read Horowitz and Laksin’s “One-Party Classroom,” or watch the video series linked below, you’ll note that Horowitz doesn’t object to the inclusion of quasi-Marxist claptrap or intensely ideological material as part of an – ideally disinterested - course of study. He repeatedly talks about the importance of intellectual pluralism and the testing of ideas. What Horowitz objects to, vehemently, is the unchallenged propagation of leftist claims as the sole, authoritative explanation for how the world is or how it ought to be – by self-styled “activists” - as if their own far left arguments were self-evidently true and unassailable. (See, for instance, Horowitz’ comments on how Women’s Studies students were *told* to respond to Daphne Patai - i.e., negatively - before even reading her work.) It’s the routine omission and caricature of contrary views, even factual refutation, that pulls his chain. As well it might.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3LE84SxTUI

As Horowitz notes repeatedly in the book and in debate, the issue isn’t just one of political grooming, question-begging and classroom impropriety; it’s also about incompetence and failure to meet basic standards of professional conduct. When global economics, geopolitics and military history are being taught, badly, by people whose only qualification is in comparative literature, then it seems to me there’s a problem. One might call it fraud.

And as I’ve explained before, this isn’t just a matter of a few dozen aberrations at fringe institutions. These are hundreds of courses at mainstream, supposedly reputable universities and the problem is systemic. The educators I’ve written about don’t exist in a vacuum. You don’t get a Ward Churchill (a department chairman) or a Bill Ayers (Distinguished Professor) or a Wahneema Lubiano or a Cornel West (Princeton, Harvard) or a Dana Cloud or a Duke Group of 88 without endorsement and approval by peers and hiring committees; and you don’t get them hanging around without people who tolerate, even encourage, distortion, narcissism and outright hucksterism. That’s why they’re promoted; that’s why they persist.

Franklin

You're right, it's unfair to saddle the beleaguered word "liberal" with the dreary baggage loaded onto to "progressive." "Leftist" is already sufficiently pejorative.

If you want, feel free to repurpose a term I coined for an analogous segment of the art world, the Cult of the Open Mind. This referred to people who would accuse you of character flaws for failing to give serious, prolonged, and ultimately accepting consideration to ostensibly progressive art, no matter how bad, while making no similar demands on themselves regarding art that didn't conform to their ideas of progress. Substitute ideas for art and you're pretty close to the attitude described above.

AC1

> race HATRED against Muslim

rv must be mindlessly recycling crap he heard elsewhere as Islam is a religion, not a race.

David

Franklin,

“It’s unfair to saddle the beleaguered word ‘liberal’ with the dreary baggage loaded onto ‘progressive.’ ‘Leftist’ is already sufficiently pejorative.”

It does irk that the term “liberal” has been appropriated by so many people who aren’t liberal at all, many of whom denounce actual, classical liberals as “conservative” or “rightwing” (meaning their every atom contains concentrated evil and newborn puppies are in danger). The language doesn’t seem to map the actual terrain. As Horowitz says in the video, “I’m conservative, i.e., a real liberal.” It’s so very confusing.

Shy

David. Are you working on a book? If not you should be. Your facility and focus for honing in on the preposterousness which passes for academia nowadays is sorely needed. You truly deserve a wider audience.

svh

And rv gets his ass kicked for the fiftieth time...

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