The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

"Denounce Putin, or Be Blacklisted"

"The classical music establishment demands that Russian musicians condemn their nation’s invasion of Ukraine in order to retain jobs and engagements in the West."

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From Heather MacDonald (City Journal), a detailed article; here's an excerpt:

Russian musicians are being asked to condemn President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine to retain jobs and performing engagements in the West. Staying above the fray is not an option, and denouncing the war will not ward off cancellation. Russian musicians must criticize Putin by name or be blacklisted….

The most recent casualty of the compelled-speech norm is 20-year-old pianist Alexander Malofeev…. Malofeev has no known ties to Putin and has not defended Putin or the Ukrainian invasion. Nevertheless, the Vancouver Recital Society cancelled his contract for an August 2022 recital. Artistic director Leila Getz explained in a written statement that she could not "in good conscience present a concert by any Russian artist at this moment in time unless they are prepared to speak out publicly against this war."

In a subsequent interview, Getz claimed to have been looking out for Malofeev's well-being. "The first things that came to my mind were, why would I want to bring a 20-year-old Russian pianist to Vancouver and have him faced with protests and people misbehaving inside the concert hall and hooting and screaming and hollering?" she said. Such professions of paternalism have become standard among cancellers. Malofeev could have decided for himself whether he wanted to risk protest.

"Speaking out publicly against this war," as Getz put it, does not, in fact, prevent cancellation. Malofeev explicitly criticized the Ukrainian invasion after the Vancouver termination: "Every Russian will feel guilty for decades because of the terrible and bloody decision that none of us could influence and predict," he wrote on Facebook. Yet he was cancelled again. He had been scheduled to play Sergei Prokofiev's fiery Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) on March 9, 10, and 13. The day before his first performance, OSM pulled the plug. "Considering the serious impact on the civilian population of Ukraine caused by the Russian invasion, the OSM must announce the withdrawal of pianist Alexander Malofeev," the orchestra said. It wanted the public to know, however, that it was not biased against Russians: "We continue … to believe in the importance of maintaining relationships with artists of all nationalities who embrace messages of peace and hope." Why Malofeev fell outside of that category was left unexplained….

NEXT: "Oklahoma Christian University 'Demands' Free Speech," but Allegedly Fires Prof for Inviting Gay Guest Speaker

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  1. Denouncing Putin is not anti-Russian. It is anti-lawyer Putin, the font of evil, and the single cause of a $trillion in damage and in the mass deaths of 20000 Ukrainians and Russians in 2 weeks. Weak and timid lawyer, Biden, needs to make regime change the official policy of the US. War doctrine should change to killing the oligarchs causing war first, before any peasant or working guy loses his life. If the enemy returns the favor, we send them gifts for ridding us of our toxic pirates.

    1. Due to the effect of social learning, this war is a dress rehearsal for the confrontation with the Chinese Commie oligarchs.

  2. What Russia is going is at the far end of the evil spectrum, one step off genocide. If someone can not bring themselves to denounce that, then it says something quite bad about their character.

    1. Putin's doing the same thing to Ukraine "W" did to Iraq, just not as effectively.

      1. Was it the policy of the US to kill civilians? If it was, Bush should be tried and executed.

        1. Of course it wasn't "Policy" (I'm going to refrain from saying something mean, like "You Idiot") but it tends to happen when you're trying to take out Military targets in populated areas (see Bombing, Hanoi, hell, any bombing the US has done). And different POTUS but I seem to remember some of OBL's family getting killed in the Assassination....(and I'm all for Assassinating OBL's)

          1. "hell, any bombing the US has done...." Incendiary bombs dropped on Dresden, Hamburg and Tokyo come to mind. Civilian death tolls in the multiple tens of thousands.

            1. Japan and Germany in WWII were aggressive militaristic states that were a grave and ongoing danger to their entire part of the world. Russia attacked Ukraine just because they wanted to conquer the land. Big difference.

              1. Civilians are civilians, regardless of the aggressive or not aggressive nature of the state that rules over them. Intentionally targeting civilian populations is the same regardless. No difference.

            2. "Tokyo come to mind. Civilian death tolls in the multiple tens of thousands."

              Around 100K dead in one night. The ethics don't seem as clear to me as to you.

              We the U.S. immoral to insist on winning the war? If not, wouldn't the moral thing to do to win it at the lowest cost in lives, especially civilian lives?

              At the end of the war, we could invade, blockade, or convince the Japanese to surrender. I think most estimates are that many more Japanese civilians would have died had we blockaded or invaded than by the course we took.

              Winning a war you didn't start with the minimum possible civilian casualties seems ethically different than starting a war for no good reason, and then being profligate with civilian casualties.

          2. Putin is intentionally targeting civilians. Also the entire attack itself is a war crime. As far as I know it was never the US policy to intend to inflict harm on civilians.

            1. This is getting a bit overwrought.

              "Also the entire attack itself is a war crime."

              Can you share your opinion of the US invasions of Grenada, Panama, or the Dominican Republic (either invasion, in the latter case)? Perhaps a compare and contrast?

              My Lai was a war crime. Was the entire Vietnam War a war crime?

              "As far as I know it was never the US policy to intend to inflict harm on civilians."

              Well, the strategic bombing campaign in WWII was ... pretty accepting of collateral damage.

              FWIW, my sense is that Putin's invasion is worse than, say, the invasion of Panama, because my sense is that the people of Ukraine really, really, really don't want to be under Putin's heel, while the people of Panama don't miss Noriega at all. But I think it's worth acknowledging that we're talking shades of grey.

              And as far a strategic bombing, given that among other evils the Holocaust was an ongoing thing, I'm OK with accepting a great deal of collateral damage. But again, shades of grey.

    2. "one step off genocide"

      A pretty big step! Its a expansionist war by Russia. They have been doing them for 500 years. Shelling civilian areas is bad but were the 8th Air Force and RAF committing genocide when we bombed Berlin or Hamburg or Dresden?

      Not every thing is the worst possible thing.

    3. "If someone can not bring themselves to denounce that, then it says something quite bad about their character"

      He said, ""Every Russian will feel guilty for decades because of the terrible and bloody decision that none of us could influence and predict"

      But he didn't say "Simon says," so too bad for him.

      What petty nastiness. Also see below.

    4. ...yet Biden is enriching them so that we can also give handouts to Iran, who is literally no better.

      You pick 'em well, Molly.

  3. Such a demand seems to ignore that citizens of totalitarian countries aren't completely at liberty to publicly denounce their country's dictator, unless they are permanent emigrants with no family left behind.

    1. Exactly. I am ashamed of this sickening twist on woke behavior, profoundly ignorant of the risk to family members back in Russia.

      All Americans like this know is peace, and consider their virtue signalling, safe and sound in a powerful, free land, as a universal greatness, as opposed to, I don't know, actual fighting, or having your family disappear, or suddenly find themselves moving to crap housing.

      Is suggesting face slaps to these asses illegal? If so, nevermind.

  4. " It wanted the public to know, however, that it was not biased against Russians: "We continue … to believe in the importance of maintaining relationships with artists of all nationalities who embrace messages of peace and hope."

    Why not just be honest and say "OK, we're a little biased against Russians right now. Many people don't want to hear them play piano even if they have nothing to do the mass murder that's currently occurring. But don't worry, we are certain that this bias will pass shortly after their country stops being evil."

    1. Now do Muslims

      1. Is the orchestra biased against Muslims too?

  5. Canada less and less of a free country (or freedom-respecting country) with each passing year.

    It would be nice to be able to say the US was doing better but it’s not clear that we are.

    1. If you read the democratic party platform, it is very clear what we are to become.

      Welcome to the revolution.

  6. I denounce Putin for not employing his Military more effectively, just Win Baby!

    Frank

    1. Putin has never called Frank a racist!

      1. you either, for which you should do a "Wayne's World" "We are not Worthy!" supplementations/lamentations"

  7. Were Muslims required to denounce Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden in order to keep there jobs. Nope!

    That would have been labelled "Islamophobia".

    So again what is the justification here? This is absolutely ridiculous

    1. They sure needed to. Their salaries were often used to finance the terror.

      1. The Arabs I spoke to in the US were appalled at the weakness of the response, and wanted far more punitive measures taken against the elites funding terror. They understood the nature of the enemy better than we did, having to escape from it.

        1. I'm pretty sure Mohammed Atta would have answered the same on 9-10-2001.

    2. I was just thinking how this whole deal makes the China situation make so much since. The left can't tell the difference between the people under a government and the government itself, so they don't understand that the right can.

    3. "Were Muslims required to denounce Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden in order to keep there jobs. Nope! [...] So again what is the justification here?"

      Russians are mostly white and mostly Christian, therefore the most attractive target for the leftist bigots.

  8. So Putin is like a conservative?

  9. UK government is thinking of banning Russian pro tennis players from Wimbeldon unless they denounce The Evil One.

    That will show Putin!

    1. We managed to get rid of Djokovic because he was not vaccinated. Now we're dumping Medvedev because he won't publicly denounce Putin. If we can't beat those Eastern European tennis phenoms, we'll have to find ways to disqualify each and every one of them until finally we have an American or Western European player at #1. It may take a while.

    2. Nothing says "WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS" quite like compelling speech.

  10. Hitler invades (the rest of) Czechoslovakia. Millions of lives in peril. Ok with you? Well, goodbye then.

    1. No, nobody asked me because I'm not Russian. I can play in the symphony to my heart's content without having to denounce anything except "whiteness."

      1. I can play in the symphony to my heart's content

        What is your instrument?

          1. Damn son. You got him.

  11. This is the kind of personal boycott I am all in favor of, depending of course on whatever level of government is involved with the Vancouver Recital Society.

    Much better for individual people and organizations to boycott whomever they like, because it is a much smoother transition from governmental on/off switches. Putin and other rascals can gauge foreign sentiment as it ramps up or down rather than have to guess what happens after each election.

    Now let's extend this to freedom of association in general, get rid of the unconstitutional government-mandated affirmative racism we have had since unconstitutional government-mandated segregation, and get back to people interacting with people instead of arbitrary and capricious government diktat.

  12. The 'quote' in the headline is not attributed to anyone in the article. Probably because no organization has said such a thing. It's amusing to see so many people getting worked up over it.

    1. "Probably because no organization has said such a thing."

      Who claims otherwise? Its an accurate summary of the action.

      1. It's literally inaccurate and even otherwise facile.

    2. The "quote" in the headline is quoting the title of the article.

      1. Given I criticized it as a headline that's not much of a rebuttal, now is it?

        1. I don't know if you criticized it. You put scare quotes around the word "quote" and suggested it wasn't quoting anybody.

  13. This blog has become mostly a pile of scars, bruises, whines, whimpers, bitterness, and disaffected grievance.

    1. thats what your wife said about your Sexual skills.

      1. You are the defender this blog deserves.

  14. Are non-Russian players ordered to denounce Putin? If not, why not?

    I ask because I was under the impression that we had laws against national-origin discrimination.

    1. That was last month, Cal

  15. At this point, Russia is effectively a fascist country: Dissent is suppressed, Putin's political opponents end up dead or in jail, right wing social values are the law of the land, and elections are a sham. The Ukraine, on the other hand, is a country with free speech, free elections, and a flourishing counterculture.

    So, as between a fascist country trying to export fascism, and a free country trying to remain free, it's not difficult at all to tell who the good guys are on this one.

    1. "it's not difficult at all to tell who the good guys are on this one."

      Yes, but that is not a reason to fire some young pianist.

      "right wing social values" versus "flourishing counterculture"

      Why are you undercutting your message?

      1. Bob, I support the marketplace of ideas. If a particular area has right wing social values because that's where the population is at, I'm fine with it, even though there are a lot of right wing social values I disagree with. It's when the government steps in to legislate them that I have an issue.

        In the Ukraine, if you want to openly live your live as a right wing social conservative, nobody is going to stop you. In Russia, if you want to live a bohemian existence, someone well might.

        1. "In the Ukraine, if you want to openly live your live as a right wing social conservative, nobody is going to stop you."

          And in Canada, apparently, if you don't want to publicly denounce Putin, you don't get to work as a pianist. Which is a little different that my understanding of what 'marketplace of ideas' means. I thought it meant you can present any argument you want - 'Putin is good', 'Putin is bad', 'I have family in Russia and don't want to talk about Putin', or whatever, and people who disagreed with you would present counterarguments. Not try to make bad things happen to you, whether that is getting you fired or torching your house.

          1. And I disagree with firing pianists for refusing to denounce Putin.

  16. John Quincy Adams, Fourth of July speech, 1821:

    "...America...has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when the conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart....Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will recommend the general cause, by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself, beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. The frontlet upon her brows would no longer beam with the ineffable splendor of freedom and independence; but in its stead would soon be substituted an imperial diadem, flashing in false and tarnished lustre the murky radiance of dominion and power. She might become the dictatress of the world: she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit."

    https://economicthinking.org/john-quincy-adams-july-4-speec/

    1. Dear Quincy: Well said, but that ship has sailed.

      1. America First set sail with WWII and then NATO, and for the better may I add.

    2. Charles Lindbergh, An Independent Destiny for America, 1941:

      "We are assembled here tonight because we believe in an independent destiny for America. Such a destiny does not mean that we will build a wall around our country and isolate ourselves from contact with the rest of the world. But it does mean that the future of America will not be tied to these eternal wars in Europe. It means that American boys will not be sent across the ocean to die so that England or Germany or France or Spain may dominate the other nations."

      1. what he ("Lindy") said

        1. Poe's law in action.

          1. "Skitt's Law" personified

  17. A Russian who lives in Russia and/or has family in Russia risks everything, including his life and the life of loved ones, by denouncing Putin. It is unconscionable for someone who risks nothing to demand such a renunciation.

    1. This is the most salient point imho.

      1. let me know when a Soviet Veteran gets murdered for a peaceful protest at the Kremlin (I know the Kremlin doesn't allow peaceful protests, so let me know if it happens)

    2. This is absolutely true.

  18. The issue ought not to be whether a Russian performer or speaker or athlete has denounced the war on Ukraine or Putin. The issue ought to be whether denying that Russian an opportunity to speak or perform in a civilized country hurts Russia. I'm inclined to think that the civilized world should welcome Russians who defect in protest of their government's acts, because doing so (marginally) harms Russia, but the civilized world should ostracize all other Russians because doing so would (marginally) harm Russia.

  19. Wouldn't it be nice for a legal blog to comment on whether this is impermissible national-origin discrimination?

    What's next - religious discrimination? Catholics (and Catholics alone) must denounce sex abuse, Muslims (and Muslims alone) must denounce terrorism, Jews (and Jews alone) must denounce some bad thing Israel did.

    Or racial discrimination? Whites must denounce slavery and racist cops, blacks must denounce black criminals, asians must denounce bad drivers, etc.

    1. Do you know that they didn't evaluate others on the same grounds?

      1. Do I know that national-origin discrimination is OK? No, I don't know that, but I'd love to be educated on the nuances of these civil-rights laws.

      2. "Do you know that they didn't evaluate others on the same grounds?"

        No, I don't *know* if this quoted portion of the article is correct:

        'Artistic director Leila Getz explained in a written statement that she could not "in good conscience present a concert *by any Russian artist* [emphasis added] at this moment in time unless they are prepared to speak out publicly against this war."'

        Fortunately, I'm sure this blog will post an update if Leila Getz was quoted incorrectly and she actuall said "any artist of any nationality" rather than "any Russian artist."

        1. Did Getz say anything else here? Imagine she's the Dean of a religious school and give her a charitable reading perhaps?

          1. I guess I'll have to repeat myself:

            "No, I don't *know* if this quoted portion of the article is correct"

            If it is correct then not even a lawyer could give it an innocent reading. The best tactic would be to demand proof she actually said it.

            1. Come on Cal, do the work. I didn't say is it correct, I said "Did Getz say anything else here? "

              Again, "Imagine she's the Dean of a religious school and give her a charitable reading perhaps?"

              1. Yes, I would totally support the Dean of a religious school practicing discrimination against a Russian for being Russian.

                1. Come on Cal, do the work. I didn't say is it correct, I said "Did Getz say anything else here? "

                  1. Religious zealots have trouble seeing the best in those they are inclined to disagree with.

                    1. My longstanding bias against Canadian orchestras comes bubbling up to the surface.

                      Really, it doesn't take charity to read *my* comments in an innocent light - it simply requires a modicum of intelligence.

                    2. Lol, back at ya!

                      "Leila Getz explained in a written statement that she could not "in good conscience present a concert by any Russian artist at this moment in time unless they are prepared to speak out publicly against this war.""

                      ""The first things that came to my mind were, why would I want to bring a 20-year-old Russian pianist to Vancouver and have him faced with protests and people misbehaving inside the concert hall and hooting and screaming and hollering?" she said. "

                      Whoops!. She doesn't seem to be saying she discriminates against all Russians, or even the headline, does she?

                    3. "She doesn't seem to be saying she discriminates against all Russians"

                      Discrimination is applying standards you wouldn't apply to others.

                      So if black performers have to disavow BLM and white performers don't, that would be discrimination, even against the performers who agree to sign the relevant loyalty oaths.

                    4. She doesn't seem to be saying she discriminates against all Russians, or even the headline, does she?

                      Do her motives play any role in whether her actions constitute a blacklist? Does unlawful national origin discrimination require her to discriminate against all Russians?

              2. On the Vancouver Recital Society's Web site - see if there's any room for your interpretation.

                "Yesterday, I did one of the hardest things I have had to do in a very long time, and that was to cancel a new date we had secured in August for the 20-year-old Russian pianist Alexander Malofeev. We have now tried three times to get him to Vancouver, but again, it is not to be. We at the VRS cannot in good conscience present a concert by any Russian artist at this moment in time unless they are prepared to speak out publicly against this war. We stand with the remarkable people of Ukraine, who are inspiring us all with their resilience and bravery.

                "As you can imagine, I feel terrible and conflicted about it. Alexander is an incredibly talented young artist embarking upon what will surely be (in a sane world) a stellar career. He is now being penalized, despite the fact that he has nothing to do with what’s going on. He is in fear of what would happen to his family, with whom he still lives in Moscow, if he speaks out. Alexander Malofeev is just one the many millions of innocent Russians who are being deeply impacted by the actions of their government. It is all so very senseless. And it breaks my heart."

                https://mailchi.mp/vanrecital/bring-on-the-2019-20-season-1291725

            2. Even if she were dean of a Canadian religious school, I wouldn't like these parts of her statement:

              "We at the [Canadian Fundamentalist Institute] cannot in good conscience present a concert by any Russian artist at this moment in time unless they are prepared to speak out publicly against this war....

              "...Alexander Malofeev is just one the many millions of innocent Russians who are being deeply impacted by the actions of their government."

              I would have a bit of difficulty avoiding the conclusion that the Canadian Fundamentalist Institute was singling out Russians (as opposed to other nationalities) for loyalty oaths.

              But out of my fellow-feeling for fundamentalists, maybe I'd put out a call for non-Russian employees of the CFI to come forward if they were proffered antiwar loyalty oaths, too.

              Of course, I don't know what Canadian civil rights law allows when it comes to national-origin discrimination against musicians. Which is why I was hoping the experts could weigh in.

              Which they don't seem to have done so far, alas.

              1. Cal, you repeatedly mention "national-origin discrimination". Many jurisdictions prohibit national origin discrimination, some more narrowly than others - perhaps only respecting certain areas like employment and housing, or government action rather than private, or entities larger than some threshold.

                But nationality and national origin are not the same thing, and laws prohibiting discrimination based on nationality are less common. In some employment scenarios, the government even requires discrimination against foreign nationals.

                The British Columbia Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination in several activities on a number of characteristics. For employment the list is

                Indigenous identity, race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or age of that person or because that person has been convicted of a criminal or summary conviction offence that is unrelated to the employment or to the intended employment of that person

                Nationality and citizenship are notably absent, and contracting for a single performance won't qualify as employment, so Mr. Malofeev would have an uphill battle to press a claim on these grounds.

                1. "place of origin"?

                  I don't know, I'm not BC.

  20. Somewhere, Ward Churchill is laughing.

    1. Somewhere, *Winston* Churchill is laughing.

  21. Did we ever make such demands of Russian (or Soviet) artists after, say, the invasion of Hungary in 1956? The invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968? Or are we now even more Russophobic than we were at the height of McCarthyism and the Cold War?

    1. It was much more difficult for Soviet citizens to travel to the US at all at the time. Besides the fact that only the powerful or well-connected could spare the time or money, everyone was scrutinized for any indication that they might defect. The USSR had an emigration ban that was very harsh on anybody who was suspected of trying to leave so it would have been near unthinkable to get any Soviet Russian into the US after denouncing Soviets.

      In any case, the Soviets didn't like letting artists leave except as propaganda tools. Only if they were incredibly important did the Soviets feel comfortable letting known subversives leave.

  22. Are all artists being required to denounce Putin on pain of losing their jobs, or just Russian ones? If so, isn't that grounds for a lawsuit alleging employment discrimination on the basis of national origin?

    1. Seems like a pretty clear cut case of a violation of the Canadian Human Rights Act, section 7 (a)

      1. Prohibited grounds of discrimination

        3 (1) For all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered....

        Employment

        7 It is a discriminatory practice, directly or indirectly,

        (a) to refuse to employ or continue to employ any individual, or

        (b) in the course of employment, to differentiate adversely in relation to an employee, on a prohibited ground of discrimination.

        https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/h-6/page-1.html

  23. Three good reasons given in this post and the comments for why this ban is bad:

    1) The artists face a backlash if they speak out.

    2) There might be unlawful discrimination on the basis of national origin.

    3) There is no principled way to blacklist employees without blacklisting people for legitimate political beliefs (analogous to allowing the Nazis to march in Skokie because there is no way for the government to draw a principled line that doesn't silence legitimate beliefs, along with the viewpoint that blacklisting of employees is on par with government action).

  24. "The first things that came to my mind were, why would I want to bring a 20-year-old Russian pianist to Vancouver and have him faced with protests and people misbehaving inside the concert hall and hooting and screaming and hollering?"

    In that case, the Mounties should tell the disruptive audience members to "get oot" and find a rock concert to attend where their behavior may be less noticeable.

  25. Embrace COVID propaganda or be blacklisted.

    Get untested government vaccine or be blacklisted.

    Etc.

  26. Bow to God and admit that Jesus Christ is your savior or be exiled, tortured, silenced. Accept that Muhammed is God/his profit or suffer a similar fate. Accept that the earth is the center of a universe which circulates about earth or suffer a similar fate. Accept that the vaccine is safe and effective. Promote otherwise and have your license to practice medicine taken and your voice squelched. Take that shot or have your ability to travel, leave your home, work, go to school, get medical care, get an organ transplant, etc... taken. Accept that the New York and California coast lines are currently underwater right now as foretold by our most esteemed and prescient scientific consensus decades ago. It is truly sad that there are no more polar bears. Deny these "facts" and be censured, stripped of your position at a university, denied grants, and be put into a permanent internet "time out" and sent to the public "naughty couch" for rehabilitation.
    Where anything concerning Russia and Ukraine is in play - Accept as truth that the narrative being advanced by the U.S., its allies and the media, is true; Affirmatively proclaim it to be true. Deny the narrative or merely refuse to proclaim it as true and you will be sent to an informational interment camp where you are shut up.
    What is wrong with people these days. This is just plain wrong.

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