Great Article

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Great Article

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/19/2850137.htm?site=thedrum

Just finished reading it and it is probably one of the better pieces I've read - apparently it was an edited version of a speech Phillip Adams at the 2010 Atheist Convention.


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What's so great about it? He

What's so great about it? He dismisses Dawkins and Hitchens without addressing their substantive points. It's the old, "I don't like your tone," canard. To which I would reply: Tough shit, Adams. I don't like your tone either. Deal with it.

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I did enjoy his personal

I did enjoy his personal story and although I had heard most of his points before, something about the way he presented them was enticing.

I'm not sure where he dismisses Dawkins and Hitchens though, where do you think he does that? (hopefully I didn't completely skip over a paragraph...)

 

Though I do dislike and disagree with this paragraph:

 

"Most people who've abandoned religion have not embraced the thoughts and values we might try and articulate. They've taken up shopping. They are dulling the pain of existence in the mall, by buying things they don't need with the credit cards they can't afford. Or they're dulling the pain in alcohol or narcosis. Or they're just sitting in front of the telly or the computer screen bathing themselves in violent drama or hyper violent games. In pornography or the pornographies of violence."

 


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Adams is a classic Aussie leftie and

I think in the context of the forum, having him present his less confrontional position is valuable. Still, there's footage of Dawkins at the convention and he does not exactly tear the house down with passion. I guess there are degrees of intensity with atheism, same as everything. Adams has also been an atheist leftie commentator in Australia for about a thousand years and he's being a bit high and mighty with this. He's also trying to be different and intellectual. But that's an opinionated columnist for you.

There also seem to be personal things behind his words. He is not a Hitchens fan but Adams is a pacifist so this is no great surprise. Some of the points he makes are right. Not all the godly are evil and we won't convince the ones who don't want to be convinced. At some point we have to deal with theists in our lives. I guess he is coming at it, as he explains, from 50 years of banging his head against a wall. He is also an advocate for social change on a global scale and this stuff in the real world is a greater priority for him than yelling about god.

I prefer Dawkins the biologist to Adams the social commentator. But I prefer Dawkins the scientist to Dawkins the atheist gunslinger.

 

 

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free_thinker quoting Adams

free_thinker quoting Adams wrote:
"Most people who've abandoned religion have not embraced the thoughts and values we might try and articulate. They've taken up shopping. They are dulling the pain of existence in the mall, by buying things they don't need with the credit cards they can't afford. Or they're dulling the pain in alcohol or narcosis. Or they're just sitting in front of the telly or the computer screen bathing themselves in violent drama or hyper violent games. In pornography or the pornographies of violence."

That's a stupid fucking paragraph. First it begs the question of the pain of existence. Second, atheism isn't about thoughts and values, it's about a lack of belief in god. Third, it assumes that people aren't enjoying their lives as they spend them doing nothing productive.

Big fucking deal. As long as they're enjoying themselves, and doing their part to help sustain society, they can sit in their self-pleasuring suction chairs and receive mechanical blowjobs all day, for all I care.

"Pain of existence," my left testicle.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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free_thinker wrote:I did

free_thinker wrote:


I did enjoy his personal story and although I had heard most of his points before, something about the way he presented them was enticing.

I'm not sure where he dismisses Dawkins and Hitchens though, where do you think he does that? (hopefully I didn't completely skip over a paragraph...)
 

Though I do dislike and disagree with this paragraph:
 

"Most people who've abandoned religion have not embraced the thoughts and values we might try and articulate. They've taken up shopping. They are dulling the pain of existence in the mall, by buying things they don't need with the credit cards they can't afford. Or they're dulling the pain in alcohol or narcosis. Or they're just sitting in front of the telly or the computer screen bathing themselves in violent drama or hyper violent games. In pornography or the pornographies of violence."



Actually, I can see his point in that paragraph. I think you might be interpreting it as talking about outspoken rationalist atheists, but he's not. He's talking about the vast public that are atheist more out of apathy than intellectual conviction. Not everyone is out to dull the pain of existence, but there are a large number of folks who are.

Here's a quick zip through his article and why I think it's nothing special:

"When I was a child ..."

Whatever...

"For atheism does not presuppose, let alone impose, a set of views. "

That's a promising beginning.

"So today is important because it tells people that atheism is all right. I didn't know it was all right."

Agreed.

"To that extent we need to borrow from our enemies and have some missionary zeal."

But let's try to keep such metaphors to minimum. They tend to confuse issues....

"Whilst we should avoid messiahs we need disciples to go out and spread the word and seek converts."

... Like here. Oh dear, this is already appearing to go off the rails.

"But as I'll be arguing this morning we must also have to use our intellectual convictions to calm down the frenzies of faith."

Why is it our responsibility to calm down the faith-frenzied? They should calm themselves down. A great way we can help is to directly challenge their so-called faith and expose it for the dishonesty it is.

"But in becoming prouder and louder I want to argue that we should not be too loud."

Uh oh, here we go....

"And that we should not overestimate our importance as the tectonic plates of religion move slowly, rubbing against each other to cause mental and social earthquakes."

Wait. We "must" calm down faith frenzy, but we should not "overestimate" our importance? What?

And again, don't you suppose that a great way to reduce the reduce the danger of metaphorical tectonics would be to metaphorically *erode* those massive metaphorical plates down into insignificance?

Hey, I can do the metaphor thing too, ya know.

"By all means let us congratulate each other - but let us not fall prey to hubris."

Um. Who *exactly* is falling prey to hubris? Or in danger of it? How do we know *you* have some special ability to avoid hubris that we don't?

It's this kind of pre-conceived notions about the people you are criticizing (unapologetic atheists) that makes *you* look like the one in danger of hubris.

"The disintegration of many a previously monolithic faith cannot be attributed or credited to us. Roman Catholicism founders because conservative prelates have tried to undo the progress of Vatican II. The faithful refuse to comply with anachronistic instructions on the pill and the condom."

When *exactly* did they start doing this? It certainly didn't happen for hundreds of years after the Catholic church gained control of most of Europe. Do you think, perhaps, it could have started in earnest with the Enlightenment? Gee, maybe that had something to do with it. I don't know...

Perhaps religion is 'anachronistic' because *secular* ideals have *made* it so. Give us another Dark Ages, and religion will be just as 'modern' and 'contemporary' as it once was.

Besides, we *know* how religions handle this kind of in-fighting, and it ain't fuckin pretty. Why should we leave them to cause worldwide conflict? In the end, we'll all have to clean up the mess anyway. Best to prevent it.

"They're embarrassed by their Church's archaic stance on women and appalled by the ongoing attempts to cover up paedophilia scandals. Others bitterly resent the undermining of liberation theology - those valiant social justice campaigns. Or the stacking of the pulpits of Western Europe with arch conservative priests from Poland."

Human rights are a *secular* idea. Think about it. Seriously.

"The woes of the Catholic Church are self inflicted. We've barely laid a glove on them."

Yeah, science had nothing to do with it. Right. <puke>

"But even the foundering of major faiths doesn't necessarily swell our numbers. There's evidence that the major faiths have atomised, Balkanised into the ongoing nonsense of cults, the New Age and pseudo science. Religious energy, like energy itself, cannot be destroyed. It tends to morph into new forms."

And thankfully, science, critical thinking, rational argumentation, and evidence-based reasoning destroy all those nonsense beliefs just as well as they destroy religion.

What swells our numbers is more and more people realizing this. And our numbers *are* swelling, despite your calls for us to 'cool it' and 'calm down'.

"Twenty years ago Dick Smith and I aided and abetted the creation of the Australian Sceptics,... Far from winning, the Sceptics and CSICOP have lost ground to Millenarian and Shirley Macleanish madness."

Did you ever try the unapologetic approach? No? Hmmmmm. Gee, I wonder....

"The beliefs and behaviours that came from the Baptismal font in mainstream faiths have simply deformed and reformed."

That's what happens when you don't challenge them to the point of marginalization. Other irrational beliefs *have* been successfully marginalized to a large extent: Racism, anti-gay bigotry, sexism, etc. How did they do it? Not by wearing the kid gloves, I'll tell you that much.

"Yes, atheism is on the march in the US, according to statistics. But we're starting from a very, very low base. And we should look across the census figures at the equally dramatic growth of Islam in the US. It's not coming from immigration but from conversion. Conversion within the prison system! Malcolm X and Mohammed Ali certainly started something."

Our arguments are just as effective against Islam.

"So beware of triumphalism."

Who's being triumphalist? I'm optimistic, but the fight has not been won yet. It's only just begun! We've got years ahead of us. Years of serious struggle. Not years of polite conversation.

"Over the last half century I've learnt that my euphoria about atheism's progress, inevitable to us, about the advance of science leading to the retreat of God, was wildly optimistic."

You know what? I feel exactly the same. Maybe not a half-century, but certainly since my childhood when I first bumped up against the behemoth of religion. I just assumed people would eventually come to their senses. Give it time, give it time. Just wait a bit longer. Things will get better. ... Um.... Maybe things have to get a bit worse before they get better.... Hmmm, when is the day finally going to come? ... Holy crap, George W. Bush! Holy shit, 9/11! Holy fucking shit, Iraq! Holy mother fucking shit, Bush re-elected!?

Maybe this plan of sitting and waiting isn't such a great idea.

"Yet the triumph of science, even in the scientifically triumphant US, has failed to convince the vast majority of Americans that evolution is a fact rather than a blasphemy."

See, you're doing the metaphor thing again. Seriously, blasphemy is a totally bullshit idea, and it's the totally wrong metaphor to use to wake people the fuck out of their religion. That *is* your goal, right? You're not losing sight of that all-important goal, are you? Uh oh, I think you are losing sight of it. This is worse than I thought.

"Members of religions see atheists as their mortal enemies. Not immortal, of course, because atheists don't linger on through all eternity. We simply return to the nothingness that preceded our birth. Religions' immortal enemy is religion."

Uh, no. Religion's enemy is science. And religion is *not* fucking immortal.

"We might shake our puny fists at the Vatican, at Islamic fundamentalism, at the religious right who turbo-charge the US Republican party - but it is the ancient and modern squabbles, the murderous contests between faiths and within them, that dwarf our dissent."

[In best Cpt. Kirk impression]: Losing ... sight ... of ... goal!

Our dissent is small *now*. But it is growing, and *we* are growing it. We have the best weapons and the strongest defenses (reason and science). Our numbers are swelling.

The goal is to convince as many people as possible to adopt an outspoken rational perspective. To eliminate the taboos which protect religion from scrutiny and criticism. To wake people up to the reality of the dangers of religion. And it's working.

I get the feeling your reply is that we should stop, or slow down, or try to make nice with religion. Why? We've tried that already. *YOU'VE* tried that already, and even you admit it doesn't work. It is impotent without a strong voice to back it up.

"Hitchens, Dawkins and the rest of us are, at best, at worst, the most minor of irritants."

Oh. Here we go with the denigration of Hitchens and Dawkins.

A single bacterium can be a minor irritant to a giant multi-cellular organism. That is, until it mutliplies, and the beast succumbs to billions of 'minor irritants'.

A single litigant is a minor irritant to a giant corporation. That is, until several litigants team together for a class-action lawsuit. Then they become a serious threat.

A single atheist is a minor irritant, until he inspires millions or billions of others to speak up in unison. Then, religion is powerless.

"The ancient and recent Christian crusades against Islam, the titanic struggle of the Protestant heretics against Mother Church, the recent internecine horrors in the Balkans, the genocidal hatred of the Jews incited by Martin Luther that evolved into Holocaust - these are the big stories. Savanarola was burnt at the stake by fellow Catholics - as was Joan of Arc. Atheists neither gathered the faggots nor fanned the flames. When religions are not at war with each other they tear themselves apart."

To be replaced by *more* religion. Are you blind? When has humanity *ever* been free of religion? Never. That's when. It is only in the last few hundred years that the fever has begun to break. We cannot leave religion to self-destruct. That's even more naive than your original naivete in believing quiet atheism could finish the job.

"We cannot take the credit for the dramatic decline in religious observation in most Western nations. At last count, 90 per cent of Australian Catholics were not attending Mass. But that's not because of our arguments. It's because of their arguments with their priests, bishops and the more recent Popes, particularly those from Poland and Germany. Take us out of the equation and that rapid erosion will continue, perhaps accelerate."

This is the most *retarded* paragraph so far. I don't know of a single atheist who was not at least partially influenced by logic, reason, science, and counter-apologetic arguments. Can you name one? Before these intellectual tools, damn near 100% of the human species was hopelessly duped by religion.

Moving on....

"Nor have we laid a glove on Islam or Hinduism."

Bullshit: Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Nirmukta. And many more. Your ignorance of the global impact of this recent movement of atheists does not inspire confidence in your opinions of its likely success.

"As to trying to convert the believer to disbelief - I tried that for the last half century and found it not only a fruitless but thankless task."

I'm not surprised you have failed, considering your half-hearted attitude. On the other hand, I have seen dozens, if not hundreds, of successes. And that's just in my tiny range of vision. More people are deconverting now than ever before in history! You'd have to be a fool to think that deconversion tactics have nothing to do with this.

"A confession I must admit to is being swept up in a religion as a teenager. I became, during the 1950s, when the Cold War was at its coldest and McCarthyism at its height, a member of the Australian Communist Party."

This does not inspire confidence in your opinions either.

"I mention these parallels to dramatise that the atheist can be as susceptible to authority and dogma as the Catholic."

I agree. Personally, I cultivate the tools of reason and critical thinking to prevent myself from also falling into that trap. The same tools that help immunize me against religion help immunize me against secular irrational ideologies. What's your fucking point?

"And that's one of the reasons I differ in emphasis from Christopher and Richard."

Are you implying that Hitchens and Dawkins have authoritarian ideologies? You are, aren't you? <puke>

"Just as I differed totally from Christopher on the war in Iraq."

I disagree with him too. And the way to handle that disagreement is with rational dialogue. Are you seriously trying to imply that anyone who disagrees with you is holding an authoritarian ideology? <more puke>

"But I understand the yearning for belief. The poignancy, the wanting to believe. It is driven, principally, by the fear of death."

I understand it too. Your insight is nothing special.

"Now, although I share much of the anger, indignation and rage that Hitchens and Dawkins express I am well aware of that vastation of terror that greets anyone who considers their mortality."

Implying that neither H nor D are aware of this themselves. <extra thick puke>

"The notions of personal mortality, our denial of death or its burial in euphemism - are central to most religious belief."

No shit, Sherlock. You're a fucking genius.

"little by little, I got a sort of a dialogue going with people of faith - which I still find valid."

You find the discussions valid, or you find *faith* valid???

"Because on a vast variety of the social issues - the social justice issues that I care about - people whose beliefs I find ridiculous can become my colleagues."

And yet, their beliefs are *still* ridiculous, and worthy of ridicule.

"...Australians remained deeply racist. On that issue amongst the first people to sign up for justice for refugees were Jesuit intellectuals and Josephite nuns."

And non-religious people. You seem to have forgotten utterly to mention them in your puke-worthy list of religious supporters. Even the religious can be on the right side of history sometimes. Big fucking deal. What's your point?

"There are atheists who refuse to accept the possibility that Christians, for example, can be taken seriously as social reformers."

Who *exactly*? Name names. Enough with these anonymous accusations.

"In its crudest form, they argue that only the atheist can be truly ethical."

Where has this been argued? Stop with the smearing campaign.

"Well, tell that to the Reverend Martin Luther King"

Not that canard again! Read Letter from Birmingham Jail to see what MLK thought about his contemporaries who kept telling him to shut up, be quiet, wait, and make nice. MLK supported direct and confrontational action:

MLK wrote:
You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling, for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken .in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor. will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."


"Atheists, finally, don't believe."

Finally!

"But that doesn't make us better or nobler or finer people."

Implying that someone is arguing that we are. *Who*?! Who is arguing this? This is just a straw fucking man. Address our substantive points, asshole. Stop spreading the smear that unapologetic atheists are closet-Nazis and Stalin-wannabes.

"But when I look at these phenomena I am not moved to hate Roman Catholics so much as I am to pity them."

I don't hate them *or* pity them. I just want them to wake the fuck up. What I hate is the religion itself. I hate how it turns humans into nutbars. I respect the humans enough to want to free them from their delusion. I appeal to their deeper human nature to show them that their beliefs are ridiculous and should be abandoned.

"The atheist remains an ultimate outsider, someone to be demonised, feared and detested. But that's their problem, not ours."

Okay *this* is the most retarded statement so far. Yeah, the Catholic Church institutionalizes child rape, but that's not the children's problem, it's the church's. Um. Fuck no! In the *real* world, oppression is just as much a problem (more so!) for the oppressed as it is for the oppressor.

"Don't be fooled into thinking that we're at the edge of victory. That would be a delusion. It concerns me that by becoming too arrogant, too strident, too aggressive we will stultify rather than intensify debate."

Right. Here's what you're saying: We haven't won yet. Therefore, stop fighting!

What. The. Fuck?

When you see the other fighter teeter on his back foot, you don't back off, you start swinging faster and harder. You go for the knock-out, or you risk him getting his wind back and possibly knocking you out in the next round.

When the fever breaks and you start feeling better from the near-fatal infection, you don't stop taking the anti-biotics. You keep taking them until the infection is completely neutralized. Otherwise, you risk giving birth to a resistant super-bug.

"And Christopher remains unapologetic. Because that's the way he thinks and that's the way he writes."

Umm, Hitchens is not responsible for the Iraq war, moron. That's what he thinks, and that's what he writes, and *that's it*! He hasn't done anything wrong. He has an opinion, and there's no crime in that. He writes about it, and there's no crime in that either. He happens to be wrong, IMO, but that's not a crime either! What the fuck does he have to apologize for? What are you, the fucking thought police?

"Much of what Richard writes and says and broadcasts has the same... energy."

Okay, now *this* is the most retarded thing I've seen so far in this article.

Where!? Has Dawkins argued for the Iraq war? What the fuck is 'energy'? You mean 'tone', don't you? Yes, as I suspected, that's exactly what you mean.

You're equating *tone* of writing with being the agent responsible for starting the Iraq war, and for the torture going on in Abu Ghraib. You are a fucking idiot if you think these are even *close* to being equivalent.

"I propose, if you like, a third way while recognising how devalued that notion has become in politics."

Oh, please, do tell. I'm waiting on the edge of my seat for your profound wisdom.

"But a willingness to sit down and talk to these people who are not necessarily our enemies and who may, on a raft of issues, be our friends."

Excuse me. Enough with the fucking metaphors. We do not consider believers 'enemies'. Those are your words.

And what have we been doing *besides* fucking talking? Please, show me some of the atheist violence you're alluding to. All we do is open our mouths and criticize stupidity.

"But when it comes to human suffering, whilst I can see that much of it has been exacerbated by religion, we must accept the reality that we need 'em on our side if we are to effect social change."

When they are open to supporting the social change we seek, great. Ken Miller against creationism is a great example. But when they don't, I wholeheartedly agree, we need them on our side. So let's get them on our side. Let's show them why they should abandon their religion and become atheists.

Oh wait. You've lost sight of that goal. I almost forgot.

"But there is now a strong movement, within Christianity, to see the destruction of the planet as a form of blasphemy."

Presumably we should support that movement? How about the strong movement of soon-to-be-ex-religionists who are realizing that religion is garbage and blasphemy is a victimless crime? Shouldn't we support that movement, too? Or have you given up on them?

"People of religious faith are, in my view, more to be pitied than blamed."

I pity you more than I pity a victim of religion. I have more respect for someone deluded by highly-evolved dogma than someone who uses their own brain to delude themselves with self-defeating attitudes. You have more to be ashamed of than most theists.

"And I've done it. I've conducted little experiments along these lines by getting myself invited to some very strange places. For example, Australia's leading Pentecostal ministers - running vast churches - had me along to talk to them about atheism. I described myself as a mangy old lion in a den of Christians and got a very good hearing. And by the end of the discussion I like to think that they would not be so quick to condemn, demonise of vilify atheists in the future."

And yet, by your own admission, you've failed to influence any of these people to deconvert themselves. You've lost sight of the goal. You're hiding behind a 'harmless and friendly' mask instead of being honest and pointing out the 'harmful and dangerous' warning labels attached to religion.

"And we have yet to see what will happen when, inevitably, terrorist groups, motivated by religion, get their hands on biological or nuclear weapons. When one or more of scores of would-be Saddam Husseins really do get weapons of mass destruction."

Maybe we can ask them nicely not to bomb us harmless and friendly atheists. We can promise to give them foot massages if they'll please please not kill us.

"Yes, there are pockets of progress. But they're offset by black holes of brutal beliefs. It's a fight that's been going on for centuries, millennia. And it's not over yet."

But you're ready to throw down our strongest weapons and surrender to 'immortal' religion.

I think you need to examine your *own* fear of death and see what irrationalities that's leading you to believe.

 

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Christ natural.  tl;dr  

Christ natural.  tl;dr

 

Sad

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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mellestad wrote:Christ

mellestad wrote:

Christ natural.  tl;dr

 

Sad

 

I already gave the short version in my first comment. If you want the really condensed version, here it is:

Whatever, I think I've got some good angles of attack in there. Take what you like, leave the rest. I could shoot down this kind of bullshit all day.

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natural wrote:...I could

natural wrote:

...I could shoot down this kind of bullshit all day.

 

And are obviously more than willing to spend all day doing so!

 

Laughing out loud

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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mellestad wrote:natural

mellestad wrote:

natural wrote:

...I could shoot down this kind of bullshit all day.

 

And are obviously more than willing to spend all day doing so!

 

Laughing out loud

Key word: Could.

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