Thailand’s Shame

 

The news is peppered with stories of Thailand’s deadliest mass killing by a single individual, one perpetrated by an ex-policeman at a children’s daycare center. Apparently, this former cop was dismissed from the force last year after allegations of drug-dealing,** for which he was facing imminent trial.

According to Reuters, he had been in court in the morning, then gone to pick up his child at the day-care center. Upon not finding his child (why is not clear), he started a stabbing and shooting spree.

By the time he was done (accounts vary), at least 33 people were dead, some 24 of them children between the ages of two and five.

The suspect fled and — according to police accounts — then killed his wife and his stepson, before taking his own life.

Heartbreaking. And awful. And — in the annals of Thai history — an uncomfortable echo.

On October 6, 1976, Thai police massacred somewhere between 45 and 100 demonstrators at Thammasat University. The country had been in turmoil since 1973’s popular uprising, which was widely viewed as bringing a new generation of university youth to the forefront of leftist political power in the country.

All that changed 46 years ago Thursday, when the newly-acquired political power of the “communist” youth was obliterated, authoritarian politicians reigned supreme, and Thailand shifted sharply, and perhaps not-all-that-desirably, to the Right.

And it continues. Some months ago, the Facebook auto-translator made a rather absurd and insignificant faux-pas that offended the Thai Royal Family. Facebook’s automated translation was suspended for months, causing considerable annoyance to people like myself who follow many Thai Facebook accounts, and who are quite capable of recognizing that automated translation bots don’t always get it exactly right. This is even true in IRL interactions, most notably in my own case when I realized, not all that long ago, that a dear Thai woman friend (whose English is quite good) didn’t actually mean “I am afraid for him,” (which were her actual words) but rather, I am afraid of him” (which is really what she was trying to convey). It’s a tricky language, as — sometimes — is English. And all we can do is our best, while we — assuming patience and goodwill, sort out the inevitable mess. Which I try to do. (Not always helped by native speakers of either language whose agenda might depend on stirring the pot.)

Just as we’re capable of recognizing that accusations of lèse-majesté (on the books in Thailand since 1908) generally say more about the paranoia of the majestés involved than they do about the intent of the “lèsers,” it’s entirely possible the two massacre events, 1976 and 2022, have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

As it’s entirely possible that the decision of one of my former employees — a Pakistani national — to murder four members of his family — his wife, his sister-in-law, his father-in-law, and his two-year-old niece on September 11, 1999, had nothing to do with the date, either. (That man is still == 23 years later — on death row in Ohio.)

Still, I cannot help but note the date correspondence, as I do with today’s events in Thailand.

Gibbs’s Rules:

Gibbs Rule #39 | Rule 39:; "There is no such thing as coincidence." | image tagged in leroy jethro gibbs,rule 39,no such thing as a coincidence | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

Prayers for Thailand. A beautiful country full of beautiful people. (I visited there in 2018). May it, and they, soon get themselves sorted out.

https://rightwingknitjob.com/2022/07/11/suwanees-cooking-school-chiang-rai-thailand-revisited/

https://rightwingknitjob.com/2022/08/05/fifteen-lives-my-thai-soccer-boys-story-not-a-movie-review/

I have so many more lovely memories.

And yet.  Perhaps there is such a disconnect between that which I value, and that which other cultures, and some on my own end who’ve been damaged beyond repair find important, there can be no resolution. I hope that’s not the case.  But perhaps it is.

**IDK which is worse, the ongoing issues WRT to “meth” trafficking in Thailand, or those of “human” (read ‘young, desperate, women’) sex trafficking, often at the whim of what (for now) I’ll refer to as “elderly Western gentlemen.” Perhaps this current event will bring the first to the fore. The second? Here’s hoping it won’t take such a disastrous, and soul-destroying story to bring it to the West’s attention.

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  1. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    She: Prayers for Thailand.

    Absolutely, and especially for the families of those slain . . .

    • #1
  2. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    Oh, that is awful! 

    • #2
  3. Dotorimuk Coolidge
    Dotorimuk
    @Dotorimuk

    What a horrendous story. There was a mass shooting at a Russian school a couple of days ago as well.

    I saw a story recently that the Thai government was providing marijuana plants to citizens, which seems pointless. Like the action of a country in a major funk.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2022/05/11/asia/million-free-cannabis-plants-to-be-distributed-to-thai-households-intl-hnk/index.html

    • #3
  4. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Awful.

    • #4
  5. American Abroad Thatcher
    American Abroad
    @AmericanAbroad

    Sadly, like in America, gun violence is common here.  This most recent mass shooting was particularly awful because it targeted children.  But a mass shooting in 2020 at a shopping mall in Korat killed 30 and wounded 58.

    It is interesting to me that the school shooting was done by a policeman and the mall shooting was done by a soldier.  Both the Thai police and Thai military are well-known for their hazing and outright abuse of those serving in the lowest levels of these institutions.  With such pressure and poor treatment, it doesn’t surprise me that some of them snap.

    • #5
  6. She Member
    She
    @She

    American Abroad (View Comment):
    It is interesting to me that the school shooting was done by a policeman and the mall shooting was done by a soldier.  Both the Thai police and Thai military are well-known for their hazing and outright abuse of those serving in the lowest levels of these institutions.  With such pressure and poor treatment, it doesn’t surprise me that some of them snap.

    An interesting insight, thanks. I have to say that my short encounter (I was on my own) with the Thai Police at Bangkok airport in 2018, when they were very insistent on knowing exactly where I was going, and at exactly what address I would be staying, and for exactly how long (I didn’t exactly have every jot and tittle of that information to start out with) put me momentarily in mind of that movie where the guy gets thrown in a Turkish prison and left to rot.

    I think much of what goes on in Thailand is unfathomable to Westerners.  If Russia is a “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” Thailand is an incongruity wrapped in an inconsistency inside a contradiction. Hard not to believe that there won’t be a monumental collision at some point between East and West, young and old, Buddhist and Muslim, old and new.  I hope it all turns out OK, and without too much meddling from without.

    • #6
  7. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    I’m confused.  Is Thailand’s shame the fact that it put down a Communist uprising?

    And isn’t this country, supposedly the home of such lovely people, the top tourist destination of the world’s pedophiles?

    • #7
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I’m confused. Is Thailand’s shame the fact that it put down a Communist uprising?

    And isn’t this country, supposedly the home of such lovely people, the top tourist destination of the world’s pedophiles?

    They might be on the lookout for journalists or NGOs investigating that very thing.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Over the years, I’ve come to love Thailand. (We’ve made several trips.) But I’ve also discovered there is a dark side that is seldom discussed: the gambling, cock fighting, treatment of women as second class citizens, prostitution. (My husband and I ordered massages to be given in our rooms and he found the masseuse would have been perfectly happy to provide him with more.) I must say, though, that almost all of the people we have encountered have been friendly and warm. 

    I’m not saying that my observations have anything to do with this horrible act. To me, there is no explaining it.

    • #9
  10. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    She (View Comment):

    American Abroad (View Comment):
    It is interesting to me that the school shooting was done by a policeman and the mall shooting was done by a soldier. Both the Thai police and Thai military are well-known for their hazing and outright abuse of those serving in the lowest levels of these institutions. With such pressure and poor treatment, it doesn’t surprise me that some of them snap.

    An interesting insight, thanks. I have to say that my short encounter (I was on my own) with the Thai Police at Bangkok airport in 2018, when they were very insistent on knowing exactly where I was going, and at exactly what address I would be staying, and for exactly how long (I didn’t exactly have every jot and tittle of that information to start out with) put me momentarily in mind of that movie where the guy gets thrown in a Turkish prison and left to rot.

    I think much of what goes on in Thailand is unfathomable to Westerners. If Russia is a “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” Thailand is an incongruity wrapped in an inconsistency inside a contradiction. Hard not to believe that there won’t be a monumental collision at some point between East and West, young and old, Buddhist and Muslim, old and new. I hope it all turns out OK, and without too much meddling from without.

    Midnight Express, written by Oliver Stone and based on a true story chronicled by a book of the same name. It was 1978. @she, your vast interests and experiences amaze me.

    • #10
  11. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I’m confused. Is Thailand’s shame the fact that it put down a Communist uprising?

    And isn’t this country, supposedly the home of such lovely people, the top tourist destination of the world’s pedophiles?

    Hey, we can’t all be perfect.

    • #11
  12. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    She (View Comment):
    momentarily in mind of that movie where the guy gets thrown in a Turkish prison and left to rot.

    Wrong movie.  Yeah, prolly Midnight Express.  Before I was really paying attention, being in second grade and all.

    • #12
  13. American Abroad Thatcher
    American Abroad
    @AmericanAbroad

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I’m confused. Is Thailand’s shame the fact that it put down a Communist uprising?

    And isn’t this country, supposedly the home of such lovely people, the top tourist destination of the world’s pedophiles?

    The shame was the army and police bringing right-wing militias into Bangkok to massacre university students for having the gall to question authority in 1976.  The students were not communist rebels.

    Please don’t paint with too broad a brush.  Yes, most Thais are lovely people.  But there is no doubt that sex tourism is still a problem.

     

    • #13
  14. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    BDB (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):
    momentarily in mind of that movie where the guy gets thrown in a Turkish prison and left to rot.

    Wrong movie. Yeah, prolly Midnight Express. Before I was really paying attention, being in second grade and all.

    Yea, I wouldn’t rate the movie PG. I was 30.

    • #14
  15. She Member
    She
    @She

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I’m confused. Is Thailand’s shame the fact that it put down a Communist uprising?

    Oh, Jerry, I don’t know which is worse–to be “confused,” or to be “disturbed.”  If you figure it out, let me know.

    And isn’t this country, supposedly the home of such lovely people, the top tourist destination of the world’s pedophiles?

    I’ll take a wild guess, and suggest that I might know more about that subject than you do.  And also that you might be surprised–should you do a bit of research–to discover some of the countries that give Thailand a run for its money on the pedophilia front, as well as on the matter of sex tourism more generally.

    What Thailand does have are plenty of Western visitors.  Some tourists and expats find the country pleasant and appealing and have perfectly normal vacations (Oh, the food!  And the scenery!  And the flowers!) and live perfectly normal lives there.

    There’s also a substantial contingent of Western visitors, many of them sexagenarians (I do not think that word means what they think it means) and older, both tourists and expats, who roam the country like horny frat boys  looking for easy sex.  Those I met aren’t pedophiles (they might/do have other issues), and I think that’s probably true of most of them.

    I can’t think anything other than that you were so determined to say your bit that you didn’t read my post all the way to the end (from the tenor of your comment, it looks like you stopped right after I said Thailand was “a beautiful country full of beautiful people.”) If you’d kept going, you’d have seen I actually mentioned the issue of sex tourism, and certainly not in glowing terms. Apparently you must not have read my comment #6 either.

    Why do you think I referred to Thailand as a “an incongruity wrapped in an inconsistency inside a contradiction?”

    American Abroad (View Comment):
    Please don’t paint with too broad a brush.

    Excellent advice.  For an informed perspective, see @susanquinn’s comment #9.

    • #15
  16. She Member
    She
    @She

    cdor (View Comment):
    Midnight Express, written by Oliver Stone and based on a true story chronicled by a book of the same name. It was 1978. @she, your vast interests and experiences amaze me.

    LOL, thanks, @cdor.  It doesn’t take much.  All one has to do is stay on this side of the turf long enough, and keep a mind open enough, to let in new experiences and new ideas, but not keep a mind so open that one’s brains fall out. 

    It also helps not to be too terribly certain one has all the answers, all the time.

    • #16
  17. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I’m confused. Is Thailand’s shame the fact that it put down a Communist uprising?

    And isn’t this country, supposedly the home of such lovely people, the top tourist destination of the world’s pedophiles?

    The shame was the army and police bringing right-wing militias into Bangkok to massacre university students for having the gall to question authority in 1976. The students were not communist rebels.

    Please don’t paint with too broad a brush. Yes, most Thais are lovely people. But there is no doubt that sex tourism is still a problem.

    How do you know that the students were not communist rebels?  There was a long-standing communist insurgency in Thailand, right?  In 1976, communist insurgencies had just succeeded in Vietnam and Cambodia, right?  It seems to me that student uprisings were a common feature of such communist insurgencies.  Idiot university students are consistently led astray by radical Marxist professors, aren’t they?

    Communist insurgencies are tough to deal with.

    I know nothing about the uprising that you mention in 1976.  Your explanation — that students were massacred “for having the gall to question authority — strikes me as a probable oversimplification.

    This is coupled with your continued insistence that a country notable principally for the horror of pedophilic prostitution is full of oodles and oodles of “lovely people.”  Well, at least according to you, “most” of them are “lovely.”

    Have you met most of them?  I really doubt it.  You tell me.  How many Thais have you met?  There are about 70 million of them.

    My own conclusion is that a country notable for peddling it’s own children to pedophiles is probably a dreadful place, with a wicked culture.

    • #17
  18. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Well, at least according to you, “most” of them are “lovely.”

    Have you met most of them?  I really doubt it.  You tell me.  How many Thais have you met?  There are about 70 million of them.

    My own conclusion is that a country notable for peddling it’s own children to pedophiles is probably a dreadful place, with a wicked culture.

    Now do lawyers.

    • #18
  19. She Member
    She
    @She

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment

    I know nothing about the uprising that you mention in 1976. Your explanation — that students were massacred “for having the gall to question authority — strikes me as a probable oversimplification.

    This is coupled with your continued insistence that a country notable principally for the horror of pedophilic prostitution is full of oodles and oodles of “lovely people.” Well, at least according to you, “most” of them are “lovely.”

    Have you met most of them? I really doubt it. You tell me. How many Thais have you met? There are about 70 million of them.

    My own conclusion is that a country notable for peddling it’s own children to pedophiles is probably a dreadful place, with a wicked culture.

    Arguing from a position of invincible ignorance, when you are conversing with at least a few people who have some and—in at least one case—considerably more experience of the matter  than you do yourself is a losing proposition. Every time. Not all questions have the sort of monolithic answer or solution you insist on (yours), and sometimes questions have more than one correct answer, or no clear answer at all.

    A little humility might be in order, as might the recognition that you’re not dealing with fools and the morally unkempt.  Who knows, you might learn something.

    • #19
  20. She Member
    She
    @She

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I know nothing about the uprising that you mention in 1976.  Your explanation — that students were massacred “for having the gall to question authority — strikes me as a probable oversimplification.

    And yet.  Those who have actually lived under authoritarian or dictatorial regimes (as opposed to those who mewl about how Trump is literally Hitler, or those who pretend that the torment of  life in Britain’s 21st-century constitutional monarchy is tantamount to subjugation in seventeenth-century France) know that it is, often, exactly that simple, and that awful, repressive measures are often undertaken for little or no reason, in order to send a message to anyone who may be hoping to overturn the status quo and upset the lives of those who benefit from the current state of affairs.

    Thailand is a country where “questioning [the] authority,” or even saying anything deemed insulting of the monarch can get you 43 years in jail. (This woman is in her mid 60s.  Likely not an “idiot university student.”)

    The Bangkok Criminal Court on Tuesday found the woman guilty on 29 counts of violating the country’s lese-majeste law for posting audio clips to Facebook and YouTube with comments deemed critical of the monarchy, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group said.

    Violating Thailand’s lese-majeste law – widely known as Article 112 – is punishable by three to 15 years’ imprisonment per count. The law is controversial not only because it has been used to punish things as simple as liking a post on Facebook but also because anyone – not just royals or authorities – can lodge a complaint that can tie the person accused up in legal proceedings for years.

    That changed during the past year when young protesters calling for democratic reforms also issued calls for the reform of the monarchy, which has long been regarded as an almost sacred institution by many Thais. The protesters have said the institution is unaccountable and holds excessive power in what is supposed to be a democratic constitutional monarchy.

    Hell, in the face of a great deal of pushback and even some threats from the Thai government, Facebook shut down–for months on end–the auto-translator for its Thai pages after the machine mistakenly translated the royal family’s “Happy Birthday” message for King Maha Vajralongkorn (worth Googling in his own right) into best wishes for the “King’s Memorial Day,” which was taken as a deliberate and monumental insult** implying that His Majesty had passed on. 

    Thailand’s not a Western country.  It’s not even a Christian country.  If those two facts, combined with a singular interest in what is by no means the most prevalent aspect of life in Thailand (if you actually know anything about life in Thailand) puts you off, then so be it.  But I suggest you not insult the rest of us by repeatedly stating that we’re too dumb to understand nuance, or that we must–somehow–be showing uncritical support of, and sympathy for, a devilish, perhaps even Satanic, people. 

    If you’d like to criticize the regime to excess, please go ahead.  But the people?

    No.

    Just.  No.

    **Nice little article, with a bonus if you make it all the way to the end.

    PS:  Oh, Lord.  One of Mr. She’s and my dearest friends was an officer,  a scholar, and a gentleman (he’s dead now), who was a Navy Lieutenant during the Vietnam War.  His tales (he was a Joseph-Conrad-quality storyteller) of the bars and other places he and his men frequented in the Philippines–and what went on in them) fascinated me, and totally prepared me for the Star Wars Cantina scene, which I recognized immediately.  But it wasn’t until my trip to Thailand that I really understood how bizarre things could get.  One of these days…the post which begins:

    So there I was, in the tranny bar, drinking beer and watching my gracious host and a remarkably beautiful and charming, and kind, kathoey, code-named Yoni (LOL, didn’t get it at the time, had to look it up), shoot some pool……

    (Cue exploding heads.  On cue.)

    As is often the case in authoritarian regimes, there’s a lively and transgressive (to coin a phrase) subculture in Thailand, a country which in June of this year became the first country in Asia (and only the third country in the world) to decriminalize cannabis nationwide, but where it has been widely available for years, nudge nudge, wink wink.

    I don’t have to know every Thai to understand that most of the folks in that country are decent.  That millions of them are living, and struggling through, lives of difficulty and poverty most of us can’t imagine, and that they are just doing their best to survive.  That they don’t have the same frame of reference that we do.  That their Buddhist beliefs lead them down paths I might think are bizarre, unproductive, and sometimes really unfortunate. (I may have my own set of prejudices there, but that is another story.)

    I wish them, and their beautiful country, the very best.

    • #20
  21. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Look, She, you’re the one who put up a post bemoaning the suppression of a “new generation of university youth” that had come “to the forefront of leftist political power in the country.”  About 36 years ago, at essentially the same time that the Communists seized power in neighboring Cambodia and slaughtered millions.

    You write that as a result of this action, with an apparent death toll of less than 100, “Thailand shifted sharply, and perhaps not-all-that-desirably, to the Right.”

    Not-all-that-desirably?  Would the Killing Fields have been better?

    Then you sing the praises of a pagan culture — acknowledging that “their Buddhist beliefs lead them down paths I might think are bizarre, unproductive, and sometimes really unfortunate.”  Well, you would know better than I.  You acknowledge that they’re a hotbed of pedophilic prostitution.

    Oh, and then you write about an apparently wonderful “transgressive” culture and marijuana legalization.

    You can like all of this if you want.  I don’t see how you consider yourself a conservative.  What do you think that you’re conserving — Cheech and Chong go to Sodom and Gomorrah?

    But hey, that’s a picturesque ramada.

    • #21
  22. She Member
    She
    @She

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Look, She, you’re the one who put up a post bemoaning the suppression of a “new generation of university youth” that had come “to the forefront of leftist political power in the country.” About 36 years ago, at essentially the same time that the Communists seized power in neighboring Cambodia and slaughtered millions.

    Look, Jerry:

    I said in my OP that the massacre of 1976 (that’s the one that you’re talking about which occurred “about 36 years ago” and about which you’ve previously said you “know nothing”) was a result of  the 1973 popular uprising.  That’s the one I said was “widely viewed” as bringing a new generation of university youth, etc. etc. etc.  Please stop misrepresenting what I said was the conventional wisdom of the day (I’ve read some history) as though it is something I myself (19 years old in 1973) somehow brought to the table as incontrovertible fact. You do this all the time, when you’re not pretending to be “confused” or “disturbed.”  Knock it off, and lay off the straw men, please.

    You write that as a result of this action, with an apparent death toll of less than 100, “Thailand shifted sharply, and perhaps not-all-that-desirably, to the Right.”

    Yes.  And I stand by that, given subsequent developments.  If you actually read and processed what I and others have said, and if you did a bit of research, you might agree with me.

    I can hope.

    Not-all-that-desirably? Would the Killing Fields have been better?

    Deflection.  Good try.  We’re not talking about Cambodia.  Which is the country that usually takes the prize (in close competition, along with South Africa, the US, India, Brazil, and Mexico  WRT what country should be regarded as the world capital for pedophilia (your original question, BTW)).  I can only assume (trying to follow your own meandering “logic” here) that you think what happened in Cambodia is better than what happened in Thailand.

    Right.

    Then you sing the praises of a pagan culture — acknowledging that “their Buddhist beliefs lead them down paths I might think are bizarre, unproductive, and sometimes really unfortunate.” Well, you would know better than I. 

    LOL.  Yeah.  I expect I do know better.  And yet.  You have a funny interpretation of “sing the praises,” since (as you acknowledge yourself) my words were “their Buddhist beliefs lead them down paths I might think are bizarre, unproductive, and sometimes really unfortunate.” Singing the Praises? With friends like me, etc. etc. etc.  LOL.  What on earth were you thinking?

    Daftness.  And determined and invincible ignorance.  That’s what.

    You acknowledge that they’re a hotbed of pedophilic prostitution.

    I acknowledged no such thing (please show me where I did do so).  You–apparently–can’t distinguish one from the other.  Both might be undesirable.  But they are–indeed–different.

    Oh, and then you write about an apparently wonderful “transgressive” culture and marijuana legalization.

    Oh, grow up.  Are you so invested in your own omniscience that you can’t actually see what I said WRT the inevitable outbreak of transgressive counter-culture in an authoritarian regime?  Surely you’re not that dumb.  Although perhaps I have been misoverestimating your intelligence for the past many years.

    You can like all of this if you want. I don’t see how you consider yourself a conservative. What do you think that you’re conserving — Cheech and Chong go to Sodom and Gomorrah?

    “Like?”  Once again, you’re confusing fact with emotion.  Your emotion.

    BTW, who are/what is, Cheech and Chong?  I don’t remember them from the Bible.

    But hey, that’s a picturesque ramada.

    Wut?  Are you talking about this?

    At least this is real.  It’s on the old airstrip in Chiang Rai.  Where the Thai SEALS landed after playing their part in rescuing the soccer boys.

    I’ve seen it, been there, and lived it.

    You?

    • #22
  23. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    She (View Comment):
    Oh, Jerry, I don’t know which is worse–to be “confused,” or to be “disturbed.”  If you figure it out, let me know.

    I’d vote for “troubled”.

    • #23
  24. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):
    Oh, Jerry, I don’t know which is worse–to be “confused,” or to be “disturbed.” If you figure it out, let me know.

    I’d vote for “troubled”.

    “Fuddled.”

    • #24
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