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April 07, 2005

This is what happens when progressives ignore what women tell them

The correct phrase is "Michelle Malkin is a fascist." Calling her derogatory names based on her gender not only misses the point, it allows her to make posts like this one in which she is absolutely right to slam the way in which she is described. And I hate having to say she's right.

This is what the stuff boy bloggers deride as "PC" is about, guys. You're handing her the advantage when you lower yourselves to inexcusable sexism. Now matter how tempting it is to sling meaningless slurs, no matter how much you might want to sing "E-I-E-I-O" after reading the title of her post, you've handed her a tactical win for no good reason other than your own need to bloviate.

Posted by Chris Clarke at April 7, 2005 05:04 PM TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.faultline.org/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/1037

2 blog(s) linking to this post:

MM: Dishonest. Shill. Race-Baiter. War-Profiteer. Fascist.
Excerpt: Well, she's all those things and more. But, as Chris Clarke eloquently notes: Calling her derogatory names based on her gender not only misses the point, it allows her to make posts like this one in which she is absolutely
Weblog: Rox Populi
Tracked: April 7, 2005 05:29 PM
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Michelle Malkin is certainly not a cunt
Excerpt: "Cunt" is a precise and unpretentious Anglo Saxon term for an excellent organ system, the benefits of which we all enjoy (directly and/or indirectly). Whereas, "Michelle Malkin," denotes a pernicious race-baiting fascist who constitutes a blight upon t...
Weblog: Majikthise
Tracked: April 7, 2005 05:45 PM
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Comments

yep. perfect.

Although, she's way out of line to blame Drum for the comments. And, I think STFU is well within acceptable limits. But, that's me.

Posted by: Roxanne at April 7, 2005 05:09 PM
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I'm growing tired of hearing this. Only a minority of progressive "boy bloggers" use sexist language to demean women. Most of us find it just as offensive as you do.

I've berated people who've used words like "cunt," "nigger," "faggot," etc in comments on my blog and the blogs of others. I routinely, delete those words from my comments, although, I don't catch every one--they are the only thing I'll censor. The funny thing about it is that I seem to catch more hell from women than men when I remove "cunt."

These kinds of words are tools of oppression. They were, and are, used to keep members of oppressed groups "in their place. " I detest them, and I think most progressive men feel the same way.

If you search my site, you'll find one post where I use the word "cunt" at least a dozen times. I was satirizing the President of the University of Colorado, a woman, use of it. I was trying to make a point about how offensive that word is. I cringed every time I typed it, but it was the only way I could show how evil a word it is.

Posted by: patriotboy at April 7, 2005 06:01 PM
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I disagree. I don't think cunt is any more gender specific than saying someone's an actress. Sure, actress refers to a woman, but it's used to describe what they do. A man who behaved as Malkin does would be called a "dickhead". That's not a knock on his gender but him as a person.

Perhaps we could be more politically correct about it, though, and use a more gender neutral term such as "shithead" or "human feces", but I, for one, find "cunt" far more apt a description.

PS: My wife and I have been debating whether "asshole" is gender specific. I maintain that only men can be assholes, but my wife insists that since both genders have them, the term applies to both.

Posted by: Memekiller at April 7, 2005 06:04 PM
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I prefer the phrase, "Malkin is a fascist with shit for brains."

There's no reason for the gender loaded insults. None.


Listen, I can, and frequently am about as profane as it's possible to get, but calling women cunts is beyond the bounds. And I've read even worse lately- I've heard Malkin called a "slant-eyed camp girl" etc. etc. Not good.

Attack her ideas and her beliefs. Hell, there's enough fodder there to keep us all busy for the next 20 years.

Posted by: fourlegsgood at April 7, 2005 06:49 PM
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Cunt isn't the term I would've chosen, but it's gotten Malkin's panties in such a bunch, I'm now a subscriber. If she aspires to be a right-wing pundit, she's going to need to develop a thicker skin.

Posted by: Memekiller at April 7, 2005 07:02 PM
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I'm growing tired of hearing this. Only a minority of progressive "boy bloggers" use sexist language to demean women. Most of us find it just as offensive as you do.

Dude, chill. If you find it offensive, obviously I wasn't referring to you, OK?

If she aspires to be a right-wing pundit, she's going to need to develop a thicker skin.

I don't think this is about the thickness of her skin. I think this is about her seeing a way to take a tactical advantage, and then running with it.

Anyway, Memekiller, "dickhead" is a waaaay less loaded insult than "cunt," at least in the US. You can call friends of either gender "dickhead" and still have them buy you a beer a moment afterward. Try that with "cunt."

I mean, come on. This is elementary stuff.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at April 7, 2005 07:27 PM
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Well, c'mon, really, what is Michelle Malkin doing trawling Kevin Drum's comments? The woman's a professional loudmouth, and she again showed herself as a twit with the Schiavo memo stuff, and when that blows up in her face the first thing she does is...complain about the emails she gets?

Yeah, I wish people didn't imagine they can use words as cudgels at long distance, but if Malkin wants my sympathy under the circumstances she could call her own side out on it. She's a factor of 100 and about fifteen years behind Hillary Clinton, for starters.

Posted by: doghouse riley at April 7, 2005 07:34 PM
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You're right, Doghouse. But here's the thing: Malkin and her type fight dirty, turning irrelevancies into weapons. And we shouldn't enable that.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at April 7, 2005 07:41 PM
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I think Chris makes a good point when he says that we shouldn't give her the advantage of using this kind of thing against Lefties.

Posted by: Roxanne at April 7, 2005 07:41 PM
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It's not that I disagree, but I think part of the reason Malkin's tactic works is that it makes liberals constantly worried about whether their language is PC enough that it won't get distorted by right wing pundits. We're constantly looking over our shoulders. Quite fankly, I'm sick of the double standard. Type "hillary Clinton is a cunt" on google and see what you come up with. They NEVER have to worry about this stuff.

It's not the fact that some dork used the C word on an open forum that's the problem. She was going to find something to take out of context -- we need to provide her ammo to do that. But what we can do is stop allowing her to keep us in check and jump right back in her face no matter what she has chosen to hit us with.

Posted by: Memekiller at April 7, 2005 08:03 PM
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Type "hillary Clinton is a cunt" on google and see what you come up with. They NEVER have to worry about this stuff.

Yeah, and it's not fair that only the rightwing gets to lynch people too.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at April 7, 2005 08:08 PM
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Blah blah blah.

Yup, why are they the only ones who get to lynch people, indeed.

Chris, Roxanne, I agree with you. We have to focus on the mission.

It's pretty goddamn easy to refrain from calling Malkin and her fellow-travellers "cunts". It doesn't make one damn bitty bit of difference to me if the other side calls Hillary Clinton a cunt. We are supposed to be better than that, aren't we?

Posted by: larkspur at April 7, 2005 08:23 PM
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We ARE better than them. The mere fact that left wing boards constantly have these debates proves it. It's time to get over it and stop the naval gazing every time Malkin says jump.

If you have an open forum, you're going to get posts like that. You'll never be able to stop her from cherry picking something to turn into a scandal unless you become like them and make blogs moderated and undemocratic so we don't give her "ammunition" as you say, or we can refuse to play by her rules. We can debate the 'C' word as Malkin hopes we will, or we can say, "screw you, Malkin. We'll call you a cunt if we want! It's not for YOU to decide." And then flip her the bird as a salute and go on posting as we always do.

Posted by: Memekiller at April 7, 2005 08:35 PM
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Chris couldn't be more right on this one, folks, and I speak as an utterly impartial referee whose calls Chris has often challenged via video replay in the past. Do not give right-wing pundits easy comebacks. Yeah, I know it's unfair. Michael Moore fudges the details on an NRA rally, and it's national news. Powerline fudges absolutely everything about absolutely everything, and they're named the Bog of the Year. (No typo.) That's the hand we lefties are dealt-- but, you know, when it comes to Malkin, it's not a terribly difficult hand to play. Ignore her anatomy and her ancestry. Focus on her utter incompetence. It's not as if she won't give you more material than you can use.

Posted by: Michael Bérubé at April 7, 2005 08:56 PM
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Chris, Rox, what do you propose we do about it? You can't police every playground and scrub every bathroom stall clean, unless that's all you mean to do. And Malkin and her ilk could just make those nasty emails up if need be.

Seems to me the proper response, if we must have one, is to call people out on their thin skins and the irrelevancy of the issue. In a week's time it will still be a fact that Malkin thumped the tub for the Schiavo memo and staged photo malarky; what some bozo called her as a result will mean nothing.

Posted by: doghouse riley at April 7, 2005 09:10 PM
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Chris, Rox, what do you propose we do about it? You can't police every playground and scrub every bathroom stall clean, unless that's all you mean to do. And Malkin and her ilk could just make those nasty emails up if need be.

Yep. I agree. I just like to take advantage of teachable moments, is all.

In any event, it's not like we're suggesting people not react. But it's just as easy to write "twit" as "twat."

Posted by: Chris Clarke at April 7, 2005 09:35 PM
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OY. Where to start?
Creativity, where is it these days?

I live for more than wading through the next ten thousand F*ck Bush comments found in certain "open threads" that seem to have so many closed minds.

If we deny any humanity to our opponents, only animals will remain and we are but part of the menagerie.

Posted by: The Heretik at April 7, 2005 09:38 PM
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Besides, just think what this thread will do for my overall Google rankings!

Posted by: Chris Clarke at April 7, 2005 09:41 PM
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...Malkin and her ilk could just make those nasty emails up if need be.

They could, but wouldn't it be better if they had to?

Posted by: Allison at April 7, 2005 09:42 PM
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Heh. Pretty funny, Allie, considering the most title of your most recent post!

Posted by: Chris Clarke at April 7, 2005 09:55 PM
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wouldn't it be better if they had to?

Sure. And wouldn't it be better if she couldn't make a living as a shrill lying tool?

Posted by: doghouse riley at April 7, 2005 10:09 PM
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I think a cunt is a very nice part of the feminine anatomy, and I think that I resent the fact that a) it has been appropriated as a slur, and b) a property common to all women is considered negative. In a good and reasonable world, calling a woman that ought to be done only with flattering intent, and every woman called a cunt should be pleased to have been accused of being pretty, intensely desirable, and fun.

But since this is an often ugly and irrational world, I have to agree with you. People who use feminine anatomy as an insult are revealing something unpleasant about their own attitudes towards women.

Posted by: PZ Myers at April 7, 2005 10:14 PM
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I, for one, am for not changing a solitary phrasing to suit Malkin. She's a pundit wannabe who can't even excell at BS, and that's just sad. Why give her credibility by catering to her whims? The only response she warrants from me is the middle finger.

Posted by: Memekiller at April 7, 2005 10:36 PM
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Middle fingers are perfectly acceptable responses to Malkin. The "cunt" remarks are not, and that's not because you're upsetting Malkin. Doghouse is right: if it wasn't this, it'd be something else from her.

It's just because Malkin will happily turn around and turn your insult into a wedge between you and potentially progressive women. And if you don't think progressive women get pissed off when you use the word "cunt" as an insult, then you're not paying even the remotest bit of attention to the world around you.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at April 7, 2005 10:49 PM
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Great, memekiller. That'll show Malkin.

Fuck whatever I think about it. Fuck my sensibilities. Fuck everything except your sense of entitlement.

And now, I have some naval gazing to do....

Good jeebus, I remember why I dropped out of leftist politics the first time around.

Posted by: larkspur at April 7, 2005 10:53 PM
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Dude, chill. If you find it offensive, obviously I wasn't referring to you, OK?

My point was that only a very small minority of "boy bloggers" refer to women in that way. Your post seemed to be an indictment of progressive men in general.

Posted by: patriotboy at April 8, 2005 12:09 AM
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BlogWHORE alert...great minds think alike.

Blogger is way the hell broken tonight, or I'd link to you. Suffice it to say that there's plenty of ammunition to attack Michelle (and Jesse) besides this kind of crap.

Posted by: Auguste at April 8, 2005 12:21 AM
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Memekiller, would you call Alan Keyes an n-word? I'm guessing you wouldn't. Why not?

It doesn't have anything to do with whether the jerk in question deserves to be offended. It has to do with how badly you would like to make yourself into another jerk.

Heh. Pretty funny, Allie, considering the most title of your most recent post!

I consider it my life's work to be a walking non-sequitur. I think it's working out well for me. Also, you just increased my number of visits by an astonishing amount in only three hours.

Posted by: Allison at April 8, 2005 12:36 AM
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Chris, thanks for writing -- not only this entry but in general.

Posted by: Cervantes at April 8, 2005 12:36 AM
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Chris, I've come to very much enjoy your blog, but I think you're way off base here. The issue is not the use of a word that gives Malkin ammunition, the issue is her ridiculous obsession with commenters on a blog.

It's fine to give a dressing down to users of bad words - I happen to disagree that this one in particular is so downright horrible. But I feel our energies would be better spent addressing the fallacy of Malkin cherry-picking a few comments and stating they represent the tenor of debate on Drum's blog.

In other words - SHE HAS NO AMMUNITION. Had she said, "There are a few bottom feeders in Drum's blog" ... that perhaps would have been truthful.

But since she lied, we should call her on it, rather than pretend she is on to something.

And here is some semi-scientific research to show she is lying.

My method: Take average # of comments for 50 recent WM posts multiplied by average # of WM posts per day over March 2005 (not sure if this is a typical posting month or not, oh well) multiplied by 365 days in a year.

By my calculations, I reckon that of the 274,604 estimated comments on Drum's blog over the past year, Malkin has discovered a grand total of 2 that describe her as a "cunt" ...

Thus:

C3PO: Ma'am, the possibility of successfully discovering you being called a 'cunt' in Kevin Drum's comments is approximately 137,302 to 1!

Malkin: Never tell me the odds!

C3PO: We're doomed!

Posted by: Demogenes Aristophanes at April 8, 2005 05:15 AM
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Chris, I've come to very much enjoy your blog, but I think you're way off base here.

Come on, Demogenes. Didn't you see the comment above, where Bérubé said I "couldn't be more right?" It's true. I tried, and I just couldn't.

I don't have a bit of argument with the idea that Malkin is scraping the bottom of the barrel for these things to a ridiculous degree. I'm not "pretending she's on to something," as a careful reading of what I actually said will reveal.

I don't have any illusions that posts from me and Roxanne and Majikthise (see trackbacks) will cure misogyny among putative progressives, nor that this is the most important discussion to have ie re: La Malkin. It's just that this is a larger issue with some heat behind it - as witness the length of this string of comments - and Malkin provides a trivial example of its importance.

And oh, patriotboy? I am a progressive man. I highly recommend a bit of acceptance of self-criticism, a bit of rejection of reflexive defensiveness. It helps in the building of a more nuanced personal ideology, and the chicks really dig it.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at April 8, 2005 07:18 AM
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Thanks for saying that, Chris. It pisses me off that you have to, though. It just ain't rocket science.

I'm amused, though, that this conversation reads like my blog favorites list-Patriotboy, PZ Myers, Michael Berube.

Your blog is wonderful. Thanks for writing-in general and in this specific case.

Posted by: Equinox at April 8, 2005 07:53 AM
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This goes to a bigger issue, which is that we in the blogosphere tend to dehumanize people on the other side (even our own side sometimes).

We'd never speak so ill of her if she were our neighbor, in fact, we might even be friends.

What is it about the blogosphere that makes us lose our humanity?

Posted by: KathyF at April 8, 2005 08:25 AM
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What is it about the blogosphere that makes us lose our humanity?

Easy: The fact that we don't always intuit that there are other, equally real people reading our words on a monitor hundreds of miles away. I don't think it's "losing our humanity" so much as it is reaffirming the unfortunate tendency inherent in humanity to dismiss others, and that is so much easier to do when you never actually interact in real time with the object of your vitriol.

Of course, I'm guilty of this too.

Posted by: the_bone at April 8, 2005 08:46 AM
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type "hillary Clinton is a cunt" and see what you get.

Actually, I googled "Clinton is a cunt" and got 3 hits, at least 2 of which referred to Bill.

Posted by: /b at April 8, 2005 08:53 AM
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without the quotes is a different story.

Posted by: /b at April 8, 2005 08:55 AM
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By the way...does anyone know the stats on blogs that allow comments versus blogs that don't? It's my impression that right-wing blogs tend to operate the way George W. stages his "town meetings", i.e. hand-picked true believers only, which is to say, no open comments section. If someone has already plotted this out, I'd appreciate a link or a point in the right direction.

Posted by: larkspur at April 8, 2005 10:20 AM
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and the chicks really dig it.

YEP.

Posted by: Roxanne at April 8, 2005 10:56 AM
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On the tactical level, I can't imagine anything that would stop people from slinging that kind of stuff -- the people with sense, that way, aren't doing it anyway.

It's a lot simpler than that for me, anyway. It's bad for your heart to call people names in malice, whether they're "deserved" or not. (& who really knows that much about any other human being? Not me. To know who deserves to be called names, I'd have to know all their history, what they struggle with, have a compleat map of their thoughts and words and deeds. And by the time I knew that much, would I still *want* to call them names? I doubt it.)

Posted by: dale at April 8, 2005 11:51 AM
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Obviously, that was a FAKE post. A real Democrat would have incorporated spelling errors.

Posted by: stretch at April 8, 2005 11:58 AM
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I dislike the word "cunt," but that's primarily because that particular combination of phonemes just sounds ugly. I'm almost equally appalled by the term "blogosphere," for the same aesthetic reason.

Posted by: the_bone at April 8, 2005 12:18 PM
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Oooh, and "blog". Ick.

We should be bothered by the insults against Malkin, though, not because the word sounds ugly ("amoral cretin" isn't exactly euphonious, but I think it is appropriate to use against her), or that it's mean, but because some people purportedly on our side think that it is an insult to use her sex against her.

Hello! Look around you! There are a whole bunch of smart lefty people working with us...who have vulvas! Is that offensive? Do you want them to go home?

Posted by: PZ Myers at April 8, 2005 12:45 PM
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Yeah, PZ, half the drivers in Berkeley have Volvos... Oh. Nev-er mind.

Listen up, me buckos. The problem isn't that you're pissing Malkin off. The problem is that you're pissing me off. What Chris has noticed, and you apparently haven't, is exactly that, and that I'm hardly alone with it.

Is your problem with Malkin what she fucks with, or what she fucks up? Say what you mean, why don't you. It's a useful exercise in skillful self-expression.

Posted by: Ron Sullivan at April 8, 2005 01:38 PM
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Many years ago, Maledicta, the journal of verbal aggression, ran an unscientific survey in which readers reported an affectionate term and a dirty term for their genitals. Terms in men's responses clustered into two groups, "dirty" and "affectionate." However, women's responses showed no general agreement. All commmonly used terms for vagina appeared in both "dirty" and "affectionate" categories in different women's responses. It is a graphic illustration that such gender-based terms are far from equivalent.

Posted by: deenk at April 8, 2005 02:34 PM
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Damn, Im late to a great party.

CC is right, BTW. And calling D Brooks a c*** over at Berube's was the correct use of the term.

I was a little concerned that PZ was about to regale us with some female squid anatomy lesson up there. He has such a hard time resisting squid sex posts.

Posted by: Desert Donkey at April 8, 2005 05:10 PM
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Around the turn of the century, the people who Bierce was defining so well in this entry made him change the preferred title of his hilarious, if diminuitive, lexicon from the name we know it as today to "The Cynic's Wordbook".


"IDIOT, n.
A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot's activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but "pervades and regulates the whole." He has the last word in everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line."

Ambrose Bierce
The Devil's Dictionary
(or The Lexicon Formerly Known As The Cynic's Wordbook)

Let's all go out and beat the tourette's out of someone.

Posted by: Al Terego at April 9, 2005 03:19 PM
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Good "google" point, /b. Try Googling "Hitlery Clintoon" for more googles of fun. I think it may be way to late to worry about lowering the level of the debate. I, for one, like to get down in the linguistic mud, but that's just me.

Posted by: Al Terego at April 9, 2005 03:25 PM
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