Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Time to Get Serious About Sex Offenders

Yet another example here of what happens when liberal federal judges are asked to deal with any question that requires common sense. Michael Mullicane, a high risk, repeat sex-offender who was found guilty of child molestation, sodomy and oral copulation with minors served only 8 years of a 15 year prison sentence in California. He then moved to Florida where he was soon convicted of distributing child pornography over the Internet and sentenced to only 41 months in prison and 3 years of supervised parole. In October of 1999 he was permitted by a federal judge to return to the scene of his original crimes--Glendora, California--where he has lived with his parents in neighborhood full of children and just a couple blocks from the high school. Glendora police did everything they could within the limits imposed by federal courts--including posting flyers warning local parents of his presence in the community and keeping him under surveillance.

Even so, it appears that Mr. Mullicane has struck again and violated another child. Of course, no one is surprised but there is not near enough outrage. If such "people" are to be allowed to continue drawing breath (and I see no reason why they should) why do we persist in this madness of allowing them to return to polite society? It is obvious that the first offense of this nature should carry with it a life sentence. We don’t allow lions and tigers to walk around on the loose in our cities and towns. These predators need even stronger cages.

Discussions - 68 Comments

I was in the Corrections biz for some years (administration level, not a corrections officer). Part of my job was to assist in the revamping of our sex offender rehabilitation curriculum.

One of my co-workers put the population in very clear terms.

"Imagine if, after a lifetime of being a heterosexual, you were suddenly told you could only have sex with farm animals."

Not wanting to open the whole gay born/chose the lifestyle debate, but it really did seem to boil down to that matter.

Through "rehabilitation," we’re asking people who define normal sex as child abuse to suddenly redefine their sexuality. It’s no easier than coverting a heterosexual to an animal "lover." It also, according to many in the biz, is about as successful.

No easy answer, short of drastic measures, at this point.

That is my point. The drastic measure is the ONLY answer. The question of whether these people are "born with" this disorder or it is developed is beyond the scope of this discussion and--from society’s point of view--it is entirely irrelevant. For whatever reason, child molesters are not capable of rehabilitation. It does not work. It is an arrogant folly on the part of elite psychologists who get their intellectual jollies from mulling over these issues at the expense of our kids. I, for one, have had enough. I say we either execute them or lock them all up away from us forever. Then if these psychologists want to "study" them, let them. But don’t pay for their enterprises and ignore them when they tell you they can change these monsters.

I won’t pretend to be an expert on child molesters, but this strikes me as an unhelpful dismissal of psychological research, and a huge assumption that there’s a 100% recidivism rate among those who commit this awful crime. Also, where does the idea of punishment-fits-the-crime in this proposed solution? I was molested as a kid (2 separate incidents, one adult), but I don’t feel that the person who did it should die - or even, necessarily, get a life sentence. This hardly means I think that society shouldn’t punish him. It should. My life was definitely harmed, in a substantial,major way, but it was not taken from me. The example you cite indicates some major mistakes and incompetence, but your response to it seems exaggerated and rash. Let’s put away the torches and pitchforks and approach this problem dispassionately, shall we?

Devil’s Island. A physically isolated place with no children where neutered folk ]so they could have no more children] could live in relative freedom but under continuous surveillance. One additional felony and weld them into a cage.

Dear Liz,

I am truly sorry for what happened to you. But dispassionate detachment is precisely what has characterized our treatment of this subject for at least 30 years. It has been an unmitigated disaster. Undoubtedly there will be some cases that are less bad or less worthy of extreme punishment. But, in balance, I’ll take the harm done to these folks over and against the harm that is done to so many children and society with the extreme we have today. There will never be a perfect solution that fits every case. But let us err on the side of the innocent--not the guilty.

There is a very simple solution...a two strike rule. If you molest a child, you get a long sentence (I’d say about 25 years...long enough to let testosterone levels drop a bit)...no parole. If we let you ought and you molest again, life without parole. Straightforward and fair.

If you kill a child in commission of a sexual crime, regardless of the previous number, you die. Again, straightforward and fair.

some form of chemical castration might not also be a relatively humane option for dealing with these "short eyes," who except for their stubborn propensities to assault children and traffic in child pornography, do not typically seem to be high risks to commit serious crimes.

Could chemical castration offer a method of protecting society from these people w/out having to either lock them away forever or execute them?

Julie,
I agree that many of the psychologists have had their "intellectual jollies" long enough. But how would you propose we treat all the priests who have been accused and convicted of having sex with young boys? Should we use only the DRASTIC solutions of execution or life imprisonment? If so, the church would have a shortage of priests. Perhaps Mr. Knippenberg would also care to comment?

Liz M writes: "Where [is] the idea of punishment-fits-the-crime in this proposed solution?"

Perhaps the central question isn’t about punishment. Suppose we ask, Where is the idea of protection-fits-the-danger in the proposed solution?

It isn’t that the person who molested you should die or even get a life sentence. But you undoubtedly would have been better off if he had been prevented from abusing you in the first place.

If so, the church would have a shortage of priests.

The fact is that there already IS a shortage of priests, but I’ve seen nothing that suggests that the number of pedophile priests is so large that the shortage would grow significantly worse if they were all jailed. This strikes me as more like an anti-Catholic slur than a meaningful attempt to address the issue of appropriate penalties for child molesters.

You know, for all the protections animals have in this country, if a dog bites a child, it’s put to sleep without question. Perhaps we should look at that approach for pedifiles as well.

Dave - good point, but I don’t think that death or imprisonment are necessarily the only ways to prevent molestations from occurring, unless you’re suggesting some kind of pre-emptive action be taken before a person’s FIRST offense. Maybe some kind of arousal test that everyone must take when they turn 18 or 21? Anyone who shows signs of arousal from kids could then be imprisoned for life or executed - better safe than sorry! OF COURSE it would be better if ALL crimes (not just sexual crimes) could have been prevented in the first place, but preventing these sorts of crimes that originate in the darkest corners of the mind, and are typically realized in dark, private places are difficult to PREVENT (esp. first offenses) without extremely invasive techniques that put people’s rights at risk.

Goose - that’s so helpful equating child molesters with dogs (or, in Julie P’s case, "monsters"). You’d think that would help law enforcement catch them, what with the shaggy coats, the big floppy ears, or maybe the vampire fangs and green skin. By the way, what’s a "pedifile"?? Sounds like something to scrape foot callouses with.

Walter - And after they’re in cages, how about we put black hoods over their heads and attach electrical wires to their.... oh you get the idea!! We could also televise it live on the new and improved PBS!!

It is emotional reactions like Julie’s that render both science (Psychology) and the legal system so necessary -- even if they have yet to find a perfect solution.

I agree very strongly that the system is imperfect, and that the mistakes and their effects are awful. But, to suggest that psychologists are somehow to blame, and that they are somehow "getting their jollies" is to not only overreact, but also to focus attention where it is NOT needed.

Among other things, psychologists have recognized and reported that the recidivism rate for pedophiles is very, very high. They have also contributed to the finding that "chemical castration" is not effective.

I expect that psychologists might also be able to provide valuable information about the prevention of pedophilia: both in terms of heritability and also in terms of behavior patterns of existing pedophiles.

Please note that this is NOT a plea for leniency at all. I hate to admit it, but I find Dain’s logic fairly compelling, though in need of some equal emphasis on prevention research.

My point is, the topic is difficult enough without blaming psychologists, and without equating people with "monsters" and dogs.

One predictable effect of most "get tough" policies is that the bad guys get more sneaky. They rarely stop their behaviors, but instead, change their patterns, and get more clever. A careful, well-informed, rational response is preferable to a knee-jerk, emotional one fueled by hyperbole and scapegoating.

Julie,

I am not certain if you are serious about the death penalty for child rapists. It seems very unlikely the Supreme Court would allow that. In Coker (1977), the Court ruled that the death penalty was not an appropriate penalty for rape. Although the case dealt with a 16 year old married woman, and not a young child, I do not believe the Court would make an exception for a child rapists. The Court stated that punishments must be roughly proportional, capital punishments should only be inflicted when the crime has resulted in death (an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth).

In 1996, the Louisana high court allowed trial under a 1965 statute that makes rape of a child a capital offense. It held that Coker did not apply to child rape statutes, and to my knowledge the Supreme Court did not hear this case. I have no idea how the case turned out. If you wish to read it you may find it at 685 So.2d 1063.

The point made that "get tough policies" results in sneakier "bad guys" is not a valid argument against "get tough policies"; that is the same as saying that if you add a lock to your door a thief will just pick the lock or knock down your door, so you shouldn’t add the lock to your door. That some criminals (and terrorists) will get smarter is a fact of law enforcement (and counter-terrorism); our goal is to meet and exceed them at each step. True, there is no end in sight (or at all?) for the process, but does that mean we should just lay down and surrender? I think not.

Luke- A lock on the door is a preventative measure. I am talking about get tough policies that depend on punishment for their effectiveness. Punishment only works when the bad guys get caught, and so the predictable way to circumvent such a measure is to avoid getting caught.

By all means, let’s identify and then beef up, effective prevention and identification techniques.

Hmmm....speaking of child molesters, here’s an interesting example. He got only 18 years for molesting a 15-year-old girl at "Our Father’s House," a house for troubled girls that he ran with his wife. Do ya think 18 years is too lenient, perhaps the work of another liberal judge or, considering that this guy has been a "key figure in anti-abortion protests and violence" around Pensacola, including hanging out with the murderers Michael Griffin and Paul Hill, are there mitigating factors at work here that should allow for a sentence below Judge Dain’s recommended 25-year minimum? Maybe, all things considered, this sentence is even too harsh?? I’d also be interested to hear how this incident supports the "Christian culture makes better people" theories that have been promoted here by at least a couple people (I think it’s a fair assumption that "Our Father’s House" isn’t a reference to a human dad, and is some sort of local Christian brand name).

Fung is fond of pointing out how "emotional" my reactions to the issues are. But Fung’s own reactions depend upon his own "knee jerk" distaste for common sense and reason in favor of his own doctrinaire and irrational devotion to a "science" that has very little to recommend it in terms of outcome--at least in this arena. I’m not very impressed with his claim that psychologists have given us the ground breaking news that pedophiles have high levels of recidivism and that chemical castration does not work. Really? That’s just fascinating. What else do they have to report to us? The sky is blue? The sun is hot? Snow is wet and cold? Thanks for your efforts to belabor the obvious. In the meantime, as you struggle to "figure out" these monsters (or disturbed individuals is you prefer) they continue to wreak havoc on our kids. If Fung is as concerned about the real abuse of children as he seemed to be about the imagined abuse of children (see my past post re: spanking) then Fung, of all people, should support strong efforts to punish those responsible.

As for what happens to priests who perpetrate these offenses I agree with John Moser that the question betrays more about the one asking it than any weakness in my position. But I will say that I do not favor any special treatment or exemptions for priests over and against anyone else. If they have molested a child it is obvious to me that they do not belong in polite society and certainly not in a church!

Are the recidivism rates of child molesters and the effectiveness of chem. castration really as "obvious" as the facts that the sky is blue or the sun is hot? This strikes me as very specialized information that your average person in full possession of common sense may not be very knowledgeable about. Can anyone reference any hard facts on these matters (and yes, Dain, I already know that an Aryan Brotherhood report shows that 99.9% of all molestations are performed by blacks and illegal immigrants, so you can skip that one)?? And Julie, your insistence on use of the term "monsters" comes off as a cheap method to grind your executioner’s axe. Insist that these aren’t people who commit these acts to make it sound not only reasonable, but necessary, to kill them or lock them up forever. Everyone agrees that these are horrific crimes and we need to make every (REASONABLE) effort to prevent them and catch every perpetrator, but they are crimes committed by people, in actuality - yes, the same species as you and I!!!

Apologies in advance if I sounded too scientific (and thus, necessarily, "elitist") with that last part about "same species."

I like Dain’s idea about the 2-strike rule. Why should we give these MONSTERS (yes, that’s what they are, Chris!!!!) any more chances than they deserve. And I pose this question to Fung, Chris, and any other Liberal who is insisting that we need to be reasonable and fair about all this: How would you feel if it were your child involved? Would you be shouting about being reasonable and fair in THAT case? I would be the farm that you’d be an instant-convert to the pro-death penalty side!

Chris, it amuses me that you liberals always think that "science" is on your side, and that conservatives are just too stupid to comprehend "scientific" explanations. You folks really ought to read your own posts sometimes. How sickeningly condescending and elitist you all sound. In my experience, truly superior people never have to resort to putting people "in their place." You libs play such ape-games.

And it really doesn’t require a Ph.D. in psychology to figure out that sex offenders repeat their crimes or that chemical castration doesn’t work very well. What Julie is reacting to is the tendency of so many social and behavioral scientists to put their own political and professional agendas ahead of the public welfare..."let the whole world pay, so long as my worldview holds sway!" And, of course, it’s all in the name of good science (pass the barfbag, please).

Conservatives aren’t primitive...we are results-oriented and impatient with excuse-mongers who DO NOT have our best interests at heart. There is nothing uncivilized about dealing with sociopaths in a severe yet forthright manner. Indeed, since such criminals have proven themselves to be beyond moral instruction, their reclamation is beyond our power. In such cases, the protection of society must be our sole concern.

Before you all scream about my mistake, that last comment was by me, SANDRA, not Sanra.

Dain, another lovely performance. Instead of really talking about anything that I said, you just went into conservatives good - liberals bad mode. Ya know, if I did conservatives as a group the disservice of evaluating them based on your displays, I would consider using the word primitive. Really, you’ve made my point for me with your accusation that I’m "elitist." Why am I elitist? Because I used the phrase "same species"?? How does admitting to my own lack of knowledge on the subject qualify as "elitist"?? I asked others for some facts. Is that how elitism is defined now?

And will you please cease and desist with asking dissenters here to read their own posts?? This has to be at least the 3rd time I’ve seen you write that. We do read them. Do you read your own posts? (Yawn) Guess what? You actually seem condescending and elitist to many of us. You said "truly superior people never have to resort to putting people "in their place."" It seems too easy to reply with, yes, you’re correct Dain. Thanks for putting me in my place!

You also said "There is nothing uncivilized about dealing with sociopaths in a severe yet forthright manner" Well, if we’re talking about execution as punishment, then it’s certainly debatable how civilized that is. It actually does strike me as a primitive solution when society’s (well, one segment of society, that is) response to a difficult criminal is "well, I guess we’ll just have to kill him." It’s almost like a game (an ape-game, perhaps?) of one-upmanship, responding to one outrageous action with another.

Sandra, thanks for the pointless hypothetical. You can bet the farm if you want. I am absolutely opposed to the state policy of death penalty. If my own kid is ever molested, and I opt for my own vigilante justice, I obviously will be taking my own chances and I understand that I’d be taking the risk of getting caught and putting myself before the mercy of a court and jury.

Chris, I’m not saying "conservatives good, liberals bad." I’m saying "conservatives smart, liberals stupid." See the difference?

When you said " Apologies in advance if I sounded too scientific (and thus, necessarily, "elitist") with that last part about "same species" that says you think we 1) disrespect "science," and 2) are too stupid to understand that we are the same species. You’ve got sarcasm, pal, and that’s about all.

And you say you are "I am absolutely opposed to the state policy of death penalty," why, exactly? Liberals are great at preaching to the rest of us (moral superiority is what they crave, after all), but explaining how death penalty is 1) immoral, or 2) scientifically unsound seems beyond them. And please, don’t say the cost or the time delay...those problems with the death penalty are the fault of people like YOU.

And, btw, your sarcasm isn’t witty or charming. It makes you look like a hater.

TK writes: "Dave - good point, but I don’t think that death or imprisonment are necessarily the only ways to prevent molestations from occurring, unless you’re suggesting some kind of pre-emptive action be taken before a person’s FIRST offense."

These comments are about a repeat offender. For that category, the problem isn’t how to prevent molestations from occurring; it’s how to prevent them from REcurring. The solution seems clear enough: Repeat offenders are locked up and presumed dangerous.

Julie- Perhaps you did not read all that I wrote. In fact, I said that I agreed with Dain’s suggestion regarding 25 years for the 1st offense, life without parole after the 2nd offense, and the death penalty if a child is killed in the context of a sex crime. While I might think about tweaking the numbers a bit, I agree with the principle.

What is there to support your accusations that I am against punishment for pedophiles?

What I AM against, is your elevation of "common sense" and your denigration of psychology, as though (a) in their best forms they are mutually exclusive, and (b) psychology has some evil intent AND power in the legal world, as though psychologists somehow DON"T have the best interrests of children in mind.

When one of your supporters (comment 7) suggested chemical castration, you had no argument, because that sounds like good common sense. But, when I suggested that such methods have been FOUND to be unsuccessful, you took that as some liberal, elitist position! Then, when I suggested that psychology has actually contributed to the body of evidence regarding recidivism, you poo-poo that, as well.

You denigrate science when you disagree with its outcomes, and you denigrate it when it agrees with "common sense."

Who are YOU helping if we ignore science, and instead commit our resources and TRUST to chemical castration, expecting that to prevent future molestation? P>Part of my problem with your posting is that you are not at all precise about what you want, and how you propose to achieve it. Instead, you label people as monsters, and, as Chris L has suggested, you expect the emotional wake of such labels to perpetuate more emotional solutions.

As you have reminded us, you and I have argued before about your penchant for punishment. One problem with punishment is that it depends on the crime having already occurred. Doesn’t that seem like an inherent weakness, suggesting, at LEAST, that alternative or additional approaches should be entertained? If your only response depends for its success on further crime, then you have a very real problem!

Again, certainly put guilty pedophiles away: not for rehabilitative purposes, but rather in order to prevent reoccurrence. Punishment in this context is not a teaching device. At the same time, investigate causes, influences, preventive strategies, and identification practices that will DECREASE the number of future victims.

What did psychologists ever do to you? Why would you waste valuable time and energy scapegoating them, when you have a very real, very serious problem to consider?

This blog-post really did catch fire! I saw just one comment the other day. Well, what I notice here is that some people seem to be taking the side of the child molesters, and other folks seem to be taking the side of the children, like Julie, Sandra, Walter, Dain and Luke for instense. Anyone who does such evil deeds with a child should be fried right away, and dumped in the local landfill. Im sure our kids will thank us for it in the long run!!!!

Mack- You had me fooled with an earlier comment, but I think I have caught on, now. Is your sense of humor any less warped when it is not 3 AM?

Look here Mr. "Fung" I’ll tell you what I’ve told Hal Holst and anyone else with there conspirasy theries. I’m a proud conservative and I state what I think and I don’t hold back for anyone. I was 100% serious with what I wrote. If you take the side of the child molesters - fine. But just be warned that we know what side you are on, fella. Now go back to your playground!

Chris L.,

While your rant against Julie’s use of the word "monster" was probably deeply satisfying, it ignores the fact that the word "monster" has multiple definitions.

While the word can mean what you implied, i.e. 1) An imaginary or legendary creature, such as a centaur or Harpy, that combines parts from various animal or human forms; or 2) A creature having a strange or frightening appearance; or 3) A very large animal, plant, or object, it can also mean "One who inspires horror or disgust." I would think the we can all agree that those who molest children certainly inspire horror and disgust. One need not be a different species to be a monster.

This thread is getting crazier with each new comment. To Mack, Sandra, and any other conservative who believes liberals are "fans" of molesting children: You’re WAY off. This reminds me of the debate over how to deal with prisoners from the "War on Terror." If liberals express any doubts about chaining up terrorist suspects and frying their testicles, we’re accused of being soft on terrorism. I promise you, I loathe terrorists and child molestors. If someone molested my child, I would want to kill them. But we as a society should not respond like the mob in Frankenstein.

I’m no expert on this subject, and I don’t know what the solution is. But I do think that using a word like "monster" is not helpful in any way, regardless of what definition you’re using, Dominick. It is a word with a certain connotation that gets people fired up. Yes, we SHOULD be angered/disturbed by child molestation, but we need to try to solve the problem instead of grabbing our pitchforks.

My main point, though, is that I wish we could express our doubts about the most extreme, quick-to-judge punishments without being accused of being "on the side of the molestors." That’s actually pretty insulting, not to mention completely unfounded.

And yes, I am aware that I spelled "molester" wrong. But remember Dain, we agreed to stop with the corrections, right buddy?

Ha ha, Phil made a mistake!!! I never agreed to stop correcting you!!

Oh Sandra, you ARE a delight!

Yes, Phil, we have an agreement. Indeed, I’m willing to extend my compact with Jmont to you...no ad hominem against one another in posting. Do you agree?

Canadian Research


"The initial follow-up of the child molesters found that 42% were reconvicted of a sexual or violent crime during the 15-30 year follow-up period. Ten percent of the total sample of child molesters were first convicted for a sexual/violent crime between 10 and 31 years after release. Not all child molesters recidivated at the same rate. The highest rate of recidivism (77%) was for those with previous sexual offenses, who selected extrafamilial boy victims, and who were never married. In contrast, the long-term recidivism rate for the low risk offenders was less than 20%."

US Department of Justice news release, following a study.

The average sentence imposed on the 4,300 child molesters was approximately 7 years and, on average, child molesters were released after serving 3 of the 7 years.

That’s pretty maddening. In no way is 7 years (or 3 years average) a suitable punishment.

Specifics regarding child molestors

Approximately 4,300 child molesters were released from prisons in 15 States in 1994. An estimated 3.3% of these 4,300 were rearrested for another sex crime against a child within 3 years of release from prison.


Among child molesters released from prison in 1994, 60% had been in prison for molesting a child 13 years old or younger.


Offenders who had victimized a child were on average 5 years older than the violent offenders who had committed their crimes against adults. Nearly 25% of child victimizers were age 40 or older, but about 10% of the inmates with adult victims fell in that age range.

Chemical castration sounds like a viable option, until you realize you’re dealing with criminal elements (and I think "monster" is a fair title). Though it does lower testosterone, the molestor can counteract the effect by increasing testosterone (via injections, for example). What’s to stop them? Their sense of citizenship?

Unfortunately, once away from the clinic giving them the shot to reduce their drive, they’re largely left on their own to monitor their behavior. Clearly, they’ve demonstrated little to no ability to control themselves.

Pennsylvania is taking an aggressive rehabilitation effort. Time will tell how effective it is. The treatment is "offense-based." That is, the incest inmate will receive different cognitive-behavioral treatment than the rapist.

Like many here, I don’t have an answer to the problem. As a father, I find the hard-line rhetoric appealing. However, I’m also a Christian and still feel as though I should support an effort to help the least of my brothers...even the monsters.

So, there’s some government stats and sites to look through. Canada does an amazing amount of research in the Corrections field and many of our researchers reference their material. Thus, it’s reasonable to consider their research methodology as reliable.

One word of caution, though. Stats are funny bugs. Make sure you understand they can only give one side of a multi-faceted issue and even then it’s a "still photo."

Hope this helps.

For Fung: I guess that’s the difference between us. I don’t arrogantly assume that my superior knowledge of the human condition has any power to change it. I don’t value punishment merely for its preventive effect (though I certainly do think it has SOME effect in preventing some crimes). I am concerned with justice--something that social scientists, no doubt--will tell us is beyond our poor power to discern. And when it comes to prevention, by the way, molestation and abuse would be much less frequent if the perpetrators were put away for good and therefore could not commit their crimes again. At least then the 3rd, 4th, and 18th victim of one of these MONSTERS would be safe. Perhaps my solution will not eliminate the behavior or cleanse the world of the plague of child molestation. But your way has had far to long to do its best. It has failed miserably. It’s time for the social scientists to get off their high horse and let law enforcement and the people take their communities back for the justice and liberty of the people living in them--not the criminals. (By the way, Chris L., thanks for pointing out another fascinating "scientific" fact for me. I had a very hard time with Biology and could not figure out that child molesters are actually human beings! You, on the other hand might want to check out some John Locke.)

One last point, I never said I supported chemical castration. Any idiot can figure out that a rapist can use other weapons besides his natural one to victimize children. Any one who thinks for more than 10 minutes about the nature of a child molestor or rapist can see that what motivates them is not so much sex as power. I made no comment about it before because I was replying to you, Fung, and you had not proposed it. I was not denigrating "science" because its outcome agreed with common sense in this instance. I was laughing at your suggestion that we ever needed it to figure this out in the first place. Who was it, after all that proposed using chemical castration when it was tried? Do you think a legislature or a judge had this idea? I’m sure it was some "scientist" who thought he had some great way to overcome the problem of child molestation and rape. Good intentions--total lack of common sense. You ask: "What is there to support your accusations that I am against punishment for pedophiles?" Perhaps it is you instinctive recoiling every time the phrase is uttered. You claim to support much of Dain’s position. I’ll take that. Let’s all work together for THAT. It would be much better than the current joke of a situation that puts my kids at such risk when I am not with them.

Thanks, Mark. Quite helpful and thought-provoking. Hear, hear.

Mark: thanks for the helpful stats. I sympathize with your conflict as a Christian, so how about this: Help them in jail. Lots of people find God in jail. Help them there and keep them there. Forgive, but don’t forget.

Oh, they absolutely need to get locked up for a long time. The crime committed was horrendous (dare I say, "monsterous?") and 3-7 years isn’t cutting it, especially when research shows sex offenders are less likely to revidivate as they get older. In that sense, they aren’t unlike other inmates.

Julie- I am glad that you are not arrogant. That helps me to re-interpret such lines as the following:

"Any idiot can figure out that a rapist can use other weapons besides his natural one to victimize children. Any one who thinks for more than 10 minutes about the nature of a child molestor or rapist can see that what motivates them is not so much sex as power."

Or this:

"Really? That’s just fascinating. What else do they have to report to us? The sky is blue? The sun is hot? Snow is wet and cold? Thanks for your efforts to belabor the obvious."

Thank you for pointing out that I am arrogant, and you are not. Now, those passages sound full of humility and questionning, and a desire for truth, as opposed to some quick answer that assuages your sense of impotence.

There is nothing "knee-jerk" or irrational about my response. First, I have already repeated to you many times that I am not opposed to your (or Dain’s) cries for longer, more effective sentences.

My problem, Julie, is that you cannot seem to build an argument without a scapegoat. Can you cite a telling instance for us, in which some hard-line prosecutor, or officer of the law was prevented by a psychologist from successfully prosecuting a pedophile?

Are you really so satisfied with the status of "common sense" that you abhor an empirical test of your reality once in a while? Where is your sense of history?

At one time, it was "common sense" to beat slaves, to put children to work in sweat shops, to use DDT near children, to slap your wife for disagreeing in public, to manage her finances, to give aspirin to children with fevers, to drink beer when you were pregnant, to eat three cholesterol-filled meals a day, to smoke in a classroom, to spank your children, to expect loyalty from your employer, to save your money in a bank. All of it was common sense.

In addition, until fairly recently, most "common" people DID view rape and pedophilia as a sex crime, and not an abuse of power. Most people associated pedophilia with homosexuality. Homosexuals with transvestites, and priests with healing. Common sense often needs some help from science.

If your argument is so strong, then try offering one without scapegoats to blame for your own lack of vision. Especially scapegoats who, if you would open your eyes and your mind, are working toward the welfare and safety of children at least as hard as you are.

Fung, the long littany of past ills were mostly corrected by 1) growing affluence, and 2) a Judeo-Christian sensibility. Slavery was always a bit contentious in Christendom (being revived only for settlement on the New World), and the status of women was generally higher in the West than elsewhere. The health-related things you mention weren’t commonsense so much as ignorance...and here science did help us (but it wasn’t social science, was it?). Again, I think you are giving "progressivism" more credit than it deserves.

I don’t think social science is worthless, but it’s so politicized and so vague as to be more dangerous than useful (about half the time). The other half of the time...it’s correct but not policy-relevant :)

Fung asks of me: "Can you cite a telling instance for us, in which some hard-line prosecutor, or officer of the law was prevented by a psychologist from successfully prosecuting a pedophile?" Yes, Fung, I thought I already did that. Did you read the link? Glendora police and city officials tried mightily to get some sane accomodation for Mr. Mullicane but were thwarted in their efforts because of the concern for his rights inspired by those who think they can fix these people. All I am saying is that there are things in life that cannot be "fixed" or even entirely prevented. They CAN be kept to a minimum by dealing with them swift and hard when they occur. I have no problem with social science working as the handmaiden to rational policy makers who are duly elected by the people. What I DO have a problem with is the assumption that social science is the end all be all of every policy question. I have a problem with people deferring to this new religion of the "experts" and throwing out their own knowledge as they genuflect. Very often one needs prudence and wisdom and experience--formerly understood to be common sense--more than one needs the results of some study. If you think I meant "societal consensus" or majority opinion to be the same thing as common sense then that was your mistake and my own incoherence. The majority can be and often is wrong and uninformed. I am simply saying that the way to create an informed majority is not always or solely the job of the "experts" from the field of social science. They are the worker bees, philosophy is the queen. And yeah, I guess you’ll say that sounds "arrogant." But arrogance is not arrogance when it has something about which to be arrogant. Arrogance is when a subordinate presumes to take on a role it was never meant to fill. Social Science cannot order society’s priorities. That is the province of wisdom. She will use you where she may--as a builder uses his tools.

Julie asks

"Yes, Fung, I thought I already did that. Did you read the link? "

Yes, Julie. I did read the link, and I haven’t found mention, hint, shade, or threat of one strong-arm psychologist bending the courts to his or her devious, liberal will.

Then Julie says, :

"All I am saying is that there are things in life that cannot be "fixed" or even entirely prevented."

Julie, that is not true. Because, early on in this argument (comment 2), you said the following:

. "It is an arrogant folly on the part of elite psychologists who get their intellectual jollies from mulling over these issues at the expense of our kids. I, for one, have had enough. I say we either execute them or lock them all up away from us forever."

So, the way I read it, Julie, you write as though you DO have a solution, and you write as though "elite" psychologists" care more about their obviously incorrect thinking than they do about the welfare of children. You write arrogantly, poisonously, emotionally, making global, incorrect, stereotyping, prejudicial, hateful statements. Then, you say, ">"All I am saying is that there are things in life that cannot be "fixed" or even entirely prevented."

About one point, we almost agree. Basic science (as opposed to applied science) seeks to discover facts, and does not seek to control, or influence how those facts are used. Applied science does not make that claim. But then you write:Yech.

Something happened to my editor function! Timing is everything. It was supposed to go more like this:

But then you write:

"They are the worker bees, philosophy is the queen. And yeah, I guess you’ll say that sounds "arrogant." But arrogance is not arrogance when it has something about which to be arrogant.

Your love for authoritarianism and submission are never far away in your writing. They are as distasteful as your need to scapegoat, and your tendency to backtrack, to deny what you have said when confronted.

Yech.

Dain- I am not talking about global treatment of women or children, but rather in the history of the U.S.. And while Christians were a large force behind emancipation, and Child Labor Laws, etc,. they were progressive Christians and not fundamentalists and traditionalists, who (still) want a father figure to rule the family and society. This fits with Julie’s vision for the world full of spankings and prisons where schools used to be, and obedient women and children deferring to Daddy for the big decisions.

Also, you help me to make my point: When common sense continues AS SUCH, then it tends to enjoy the support of empirical research. When science "arrogantly" presumes to test what everyone knows already, and then finds that "common sense" isn’t so true after all, well, then that old common sense is labelled as ignorance.

Finally, while not ALL of my examples involved social science directly, many of them do. In addition, getting people to act on them always does involve social science: how do you influence people to eat more healthily, to stop smoking, to wear seatbelts, to treat their wives and children with more respect, to save intelligently, to protect their unborn babies from teratogens? It all comes down to some form of behavioral control, which makes it all political, or potentially so.

Do we wait for people to screw up, and then punish them? Do we wait for pedophiles to molest, so that we can put them away? Do we wait for children to run out in the road, so we can spank them? Do we wait for frustrated coke-head moms to shake their children to death, so that we can punish them, and then congratulate ourselves for our good work? Do we inform them, and trust that they will act on their own interests? Do we change educational curricula to reflect what we know, and what values and practices we want our children to adopt? Do we legislate acting on our new information, or deny its existence, fund further research, or starve the researchers out?

I have a friend from Singapore, who told me that the ACT of chewing gum is illegal there, because people drop it, and gum up the sidewalks. I think that if you and Julie ran the world, then half of us would be in prison, and the other half would be prison guards. Julie, of course, will be the "Queen."

"Do we wait for people to screw up, and then punish them? Do we wait for pedophiles to molest, so that we can put them away? Do we wait for children to run out in the road, so we can spank them? Do we wait for frustrated coke-head moms to shake their children to death, so that we can punish them, and then congratulate ourselves for our good work? Do we inform them, and trust that they will act on their own interests? Do we change educational curricula to reflect what we know, and what values and practices we want our children to adopt? Do we legislate acting on our new information, or deny its existence, fund further research, or starve the researchers out?" Do you really think applied social science research or the forced "education" and indoctrination you seek to inculcate in our schools will prevent any of these things? I will choose liberty, do my best to clean up the mess that creates and happily suffer the consequences. You can’t eliminate evil in the world. You create more of it when you have the hubris to try. The world you seek to create is not one of liberty, but oppression.

Hiya folks! Cammy Walker here with Your Hollywood Update!

Speaking of pedophiles, many people have noticed a disturbing resemblance between Michael Jackson and Willie Wonka as portrayed by Johnny Depp in the hit summer movie, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Depp says he had no intention of channeling Jacko for the role, but some people insist that, whether intentional or not, the character DOES evoke the King of Pop in all his creepy glory. Still, the controversy hasn’t been scaring away audiences- much to the relief of studio execs who feared parents would spend their hard-earned moola elsewhere- anything to shield their innocent tykes from the depravity of that pale-faced, high-voiced freakazoid who once introduced the nation to the moonwalk. (Seems like another lifetime, huh gang?) Instead, it looks like most moms n’ dads have decided that all the talk of Depp calling the Gloved One to mind is hogwash, or at least not worth avoiding a fun movie over.

Judge for yourselves- "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is playing at a theater near you!

Julie- I am offering these issues as examples of how social science questions tend to become political and social issues. They are questions that must be addressed as we learn more about the causes of things. This was a response to Dain, who tried to make a distinction betwen social science discoveries and "other" science discoveries. My point was and is, when we know what variables affect the incidence of shaken baby syndrome (for instance) , or SIDS, or PKU, or head injuries from auto collisions, or pedophilia, or aggression, or divorce, or STD’s, then we have a question to address as a society: How do we act on this knowledge? Apparently, your answer is to ignore that knowledge, to scapegoat and denigrate those who helped to accumulate it, wait for problems to continue, and then throw people in jail. This, apparently, is what you call "liberty."

And, let me remind you and your fans, while you "claim to "happily suffer the consequences" of equating liberty with willful ignorance, the consequences are not yours alone to suffer. Again, when you choose punishment as the exclusive, sole alternative to prevention and habilitation, then you contribute to future crimes, because punishment cannot be used until the crime is committed and then the perpetrator is caught, charged, and sentenced. While YOU may be happy with this "mess," the victims of pedophilia are decidedly NOT.

The world you seek to create is not one of liberty, but oppression.


Hahahahahahahahahahah. Gimme a break.

Mr. Fung, how many times do you have to be told that you just can’t habilitate a monster!! And anyways it’s not just about punishment. It’s about keeping these monsters OFF the streets to where they can’t do anymore harm to the children. Call it whatever you want, but I for one am darn tired of people talking about going easy on those who hurt the most helpless victims of them all. It’s plain to me that your fighting a losing battle here and you just refuse to admit you have been beaten. Give it up already, man!

Mack- I have NOT advocated going easy on anyone! Why are you and others so incapable of reading through the fuzz of your absolutist, concrete, love-it-or-leave-it, with-me-or-against-me, blow-’em-up-first-and-ask-questions-later shemata?

Show me where I argued against tougher sentences?

I have argued against scapegoating. Julie has introduced psychologists as completely fictitious conspirators in some effort to harm children and protect pedophiles. I have asked for evidence to back that up, and received nothing other than some version of "why do you love pedophiles? Or, "all I said was, you can’t change some things."

I have argued against relying solely on harsh sentences. That doesn’t mean that I am against harsh sentences! It only means that I am against relying on one inefficient solution to the exclusion of others.

If I said that you should not eat ONLY sardine sandwiches, that doesn’t mean that I am against sardine sandwiches. It only means that I recognize that your diet needs balance and augmentation. I have nothing against sardine sandwiches.

And, if you blamed Jews for WWII, or if you blamed AIDS on Haitians, or if you blamed 9/11 on schoolgirls, then I would argue against your practice of scapegoating as a means of getting your fans whipped up into a frenzy. That is what I am doing, here.

Fung, I’m sure you realize this, but it’s pretty much pointless to debate Mack. I’ve seen him on other threads, and his "debate" style is to use little more than rhetoric and insults. I wouldn’t waste any more time with him if I were you. I’ve noticed that even his compadres on the right pretty much ignore him.

Thanks, Phil-

I am certain that you are right. In fact, as my earlier comment (#29) may show, I had finally decided that he was posing as a caricature, and that it was a subtle form of satire.

But, when I find myself "yelling" about sardine sandwiches on the keyboard, it is time to stop, and cool down. Good to hear a friendly voice or two! Thanks again.

Fung, I think you need to revisit history. Was John Brown a "progressive" Christian? How about Carry Nation? If you look at the northern Abolitionists, you’ll find they were very devote. You’re conflating "progressive" with "secular," and most of the reforms you mention had little to do with secularism. Mostly capitalism moderated by Christian sensibilities account for the major improvements in this world, certainly not secularism or Leftism.

As for psychology, too often it is used to make excuses for criminals. And faddish! I mean, come on...transactional analysis, scream therapy, hypnotherapy, group therapy, Rorschach exams...mostly crap. Even academic psychology has a good bit of nonsense (e.g., theories of discrimination without reference to evolutionary theory). Don’t even get me started on criminology! I can’t think of a single think that whole discipline has done to discourage crime (although we experienced in the 1960s and 1970s how liberalism can ENCOURAGE crime, didn’t we?).

If you want some of us to take social science seriously, it would help if 90% of you weren’t Democrat dupes. We hear a lot about diversity, but Fung...I don’t see any in your discipline.

Sorry folks, I meant "devout" in line 3, "accounts" in line 5, and "thing" in line 11.

Fung and Phil, you two just don’t know what your talking about. I am getting mighty fed up with being accused of being a caricture all the time. As I stated before on this very thread, I am a conservative who isn’t afraid of what the Libs might say if I speak my opinion. If you wish to believe otherwise, there is not much I can do about it I realize. But I will continue to call you on your kind-to-criminal ways as I see fit. I am not afraid of your sarcasm either.

Dain- First of all, John Brown is not a terrific example of a religious group. He is also not a good example of a religious person, because, as we psychologists say, he was a better example of a nut. I know next-to-nothing about Carrie Nation, but generally, individuals working as such are not good representatives of entire groups. I was thinking about the Friends, who have a history of being pacifist, anti-slavery, and very progressive socially.

Also, what has devotion to do with progressiveness? Are you suggesting that a person cannot be both devout and progressive?

Then, you say:

"As for psychology, too often it is used to make excuses for criminals. And faddish! I mean, come on...transactional analysis, scream therapy, hypnotherapy, group therapy, Rorschach exams...mostly crap. Even academic psychology has a good bit of nonsense (e.g., theories of discrimination without reference to evolutionary theory). "

Now, first of all, you (as you note) provide examples of therapy, and not of research. Second, with the probable exception of scream therapy, none of what you listed is "crap." Group therapy enjoys a long, continuing, successful history. So does hypnotherapy, and even TA is pretty good stuff. But NONE of that is central to research regarding the prevention, identification, or habilitation or REhabilitation of sex offenders.

On the other hand, most psychologists differ from most right-wingers along an important dimension: We assume that MOST people come into this world as either a blank slate, or with the predisposition to be social, and therefore "good." Following that, most of us believe that it is experience that causes MOST antisocial behavior, and that, therefore, experience can be shaped and structured to teach and encourage prosocial behavior.

In the case of pedophilia, MOST of us have thrown in the towel with sex offenders as a group, because the evidence shows that they are, as a group, a special cas, highly resistant to ANY form of psychotherapy.

But, please note: (1)this is NOT in response to any pressure, but rather a rational response to empirical evidence. It is also NOT a capitulation of the "innate goodness" hypothesis for the population at large. Pedophiles are one of a few groups who seem functionally resistant to therapy. This says to me that, in this case, pedophilia is most likely NOT a learned pattern, but rather a genetically-based one.

I recognize that you disagree with the innate goodness hypothesis, but that is probably best left to another time or place???

Finally, none of that can reasonably be interpreted as providing excuses for criminals. Identifying a cause, or an influence is very different from providing an excuse.

When I fire-proof my home, it is not to provide any comfort to the fire. When I reduce standing water around my yard, it does not mean I love mosquitos. In fact, it implies the opposite! When I endeavor to identify the causes and influences of crime, it does not mean that I love criminals. In fact, it means the opposite!

Even Smoky-the-Bear is into prevention!!! Is he a wimp, too?

No, Fung, prevention isn’t wimpy, but making excuses is. I think psychology (and to a lesser extent, criminology/sociology) learned a lesson from the 1960s and 70s -- liberalization doesn’t prevent crime. Moreover, rightwingers have far better prevention programs than you folks -- married, work, clear law, and locking up hardcore scum forever (that prevents an enormous amount of crime, Fung). In fact, I would say that traditional values are the very best preventative measures...and I’ll be happy to talk research if you want.

I might also say I find your condescending attitude toward "fundamentalists and traditionalists, who (still) want a father figure to rule the family and society." The fact is, your attitude toward such people has ZIP to do with science...it’s blue-state BIGOTRY. This is what I always find so entertaining about liberals...they project their own hatreds so well, while at the same time denying that scapegoating, selfishness, hierarchy, etc. are innate in our species.

Actually, Fung, that’s the major reason social science isn’t very useful...the stupid defense of the really stupid tabula rasa assumption. And why do you defend it, despite tons of evidence to the contrary? Because if you admit that people are NOT perfectable, you’ll have to admit that liberalism is doomed to failure, and that the Right’s assumptions about the "crooked timber of humanity" is right on target. BTW, that’s the reason we do a better job of preventing crime.

Dain- First of all, crime went waaaay down during the Clinton Administration because that liberal was able to manage an economy and put people to work, and to put more cops on the street, and to prevent crime by (a) preventing the need for it, and (b) preventing its actualization through the presence of cops.

Second- I was not really being condescending about the whole father-figure thing. It’s fine if some people want daddy to make their decisions for them, and to spank them when they do wrong. My friends and I just prefer to behave as equal adults [not parents or children], capable of making our own decisions, and regulating ourselves. (Here comes that TA stuff, again. I’ll explain that to you, if you want: We can behave as Adults, or as Parents, or as Children. When we are bad children, perhaps we need a spanking!!!!! But, we need adults to spank us. Ouch!!!) So, given the TA metaphor, GWB is the great Spanker! Oooohhh! Everybody feels better, except for the adults who find no pleasure in spanking or in being spanked or even threatened with it. Remember that video of Reagan as the Governor of California during the civil rights riots, telling his minions that they had been "bad"? that’s what I mean.

Okay, you are right. I was being condescending. But, according to Julie:

"But arrogance is not arrogance when it has something about which to be arrogant."

So, it is okay.

Plus, it IS science, dude! Read Bob Altemeyer, and his great number of volumes of work on Right Wing Authoritarianism! You might not like it, but it is pretty well established.

And remember, the only way to successfully argue a point is from within the validation system. That is, theology cannot successfully argue against science and vice versa, because they don’t recognize each others’ funamental premises. So, if you want to tell me why Altemeyer is wrong, I don’t buy your "social science sucks" routine. Social science rules! You just don’t like its outcomes.

I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, Fung. Adorno? That whole construct has fleas...I’ve never met people more authoritarian than the Left (that’s why I’m not one of you).

Clinton did SQUAT. It wasn’t cops, it was prisons and the age structure that slowed crime (and abortion, evidently). And since when have most liberals been in favor of prisons and law & order. How about never! Clinton didn’t even control the purse strings -- without a GOP dominated Congress his Presidency would have been a complete flop. He himself admitted that much of what happened in the 1990s was due to Reagan’s reforms of the 1980s. Man, get a clue.

Not Adorno, but Bob Altemeyer. Adorno, Fenkel, Brunswick, et al. is pretty old stuff, based on a neo-freudian understanding of prejudice. Altemeyer has studied "Right-Wing Authoritarianism for about 25 years, now, and describes it as a social attitude, or set of values, and not (As Adorno did) as a personality characteristic

Liberals are not "in favor of prisons." Prisons are one means to an end. I mentioned jobs and police. Two influences on the crime rate. Clinton understood (remember "It’s the Economy Stupid"?) that we need a healthy economy to decrease crime, put people to work, build and maintain a strong defense, and research ways to wean ourselves away from foreign oil.

The Reagan-Bush 12 year debacle handed him a deficit and a debt, and the only time we’ve been in the black since the Vietnam war was during Clinton’s administration -- and because of it. Bush squandered that in about 5 minutes, and our kids and grandchildren will be paying that off and will still be in the red.

As for Clinton, you act like he had a free hand. Hardly...the Congress was holding his feet to the fire the whole time. The deficit is now shrinking again, and if growth continues you’ll see the same (brief) pattern you saw in the 1990s. I just love the way Democrats take credit for Republican accomplishments.

I think there are authoritarian attitudes, but I doubt they load exclusively on the "rightwing." This is the bias I’m talking about, and it damages social science. Remember, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and several smaller dictators were men of the Left (yes, even Hitler..."Nazi" stands for National Socialism). And who is responsible for 1) speech codes on campus, 2) using the courts to bully private organizations like the Boy Scouts, 3) "progressive" taxation and about a hundred other abuses I could mention? What Professor Altemeyer has probably done is create a bunch of questions about conservative issues and slapped an "authoritarian" label on it. We could easily do the same for Leftists by replacings questions about minorities with questions about rich people, religious people, and whites in general. Fung, you yourself have proven the point over and over...the Left has its own set of prejudices and intolerances.

Dain- If the deficit continues to shrink substantially (and I truly hope it does!) do Democrats have Clinton to thank, since he preceded Bush, and sitting presidents (according to your logic) are responsible only for time-released effects???

Bully the Boy Scouts? How about protecting gays, who have been bullied BY the Boy Scouts??? The "poor" Boy Scouts have been excluding gays AND equating homosexuality with pedophilia. Asking the system to intervene with those processes may be bullying to you, but I call it recourse for the victims of bullying.

According to Altemeyer, Right-Wing Authoritarianism is comprised of three interrelated constituents: (a) conventionalism, or traditionalism, (b) a willingness to submit to authorities who are perceived as legitimate, (the "Daddy" part! and (3) a willingness to aggress against targets who are identified as such by the legitimate authority.

So, for instance, if a Boy Scout Leader suggests that a particular class of people (gays) deserve exclusion and hazing, then high RWA’s (who flock to the BSA) are very likely to comply, and to commit that aggression. The same is true for other victims: children (we should spank them), immigrants (we should test, exclude, attack them, Muslims (we should attack them), wives (we should hit them, to adjust their attitudes), the homeless (we should starve them out of services), welfare moms (we should set them up as conspirators, and then starve them out, too.) and so on.

I don’t have it with me, but I will try to remember to paste a copy of the RWA scale.

Try Altemeyer’s "Enemies of Freedom," or "The Authoritarian Specter," for a good read.

So, as it turns out, there really ARE no Left-Wing authoritarians in our system. Things get screwy when the system itself is screwy, as in a Fascist, totalitarian state, such as the USSR, or the NAZI party.

That is not to say that Liberals cannot be aggressive about their own agendae. Liberal doesn’t mean weak, just as caring for others doesn’t mean stupid.

Fung, Mr. Altemeyer has a strong liberal agenda...do you deny it? Moreover, it is as I suspected...he has a scale that probably measures conservativism and CALLS it authoritarianism, but that doesn’t make it so. Check out this article:

Martin, John Levi. 2001. "The Authoritarian Personality, 50 Years Later: What Lessons are there for Political Psychology." Political Psychology 22:1-26.

Indeed, I think Altemeyer’s research is transparently partisan, and I have no doubt a rightwing researcher could do just as well with the "Leftwing malignant narcissist personality." Probably more accurately reflect the truth as well!

You claim that liberals believe in freedom, but you deny the Boy Scouts (or any other of your hated out-groups) the right of voluntary association. Next you’ll be arguing that jihadis should have the right to employment with the Southern Baptist Convention. Fung, people have rights, even the right to be wrong (at least in your eyes). And you think we are the fascists!

And Fung, how many mosques have been burned in America since 9/11? You know what, racism/authoritarianism/ fascism/traditionalism, etc...these are the bogeymen of the Left. Even we they aren’t around in any great force, you folks apply increasingly powerful microscopes to 1) find them, and 2) demand the redistribution of income to alleviant these "wrongs." There’s a word for that...scam.

I need some advise on what I can legally do to pursue a child molester.
My daughter was the victim of severe child molestation between the ages of 6 to 8 years old by her uncle.
He was arrested and after a hung jury trial he struck a deal to be released today after pleading guilty to two counts of molestation.
He had previously served two years in jail on a attempted rape charge.
I want the people in his neighborhood in Las Vegas to be aware of who they are living next to and I want to drop flyers with his name,address and conviction history.
I am unclear on what I can legally do.

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