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Author Topic: Mother ordered by court to cease homophobic teachings
Dzuunmod
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A woman in the U.S. state of Colorado who left a lesbian relationship after converting to Christianity has been ordered not to impress the couple's eight-year-old daughter with her homophobic interpretation of Christianity. The couple has joint custody of the girl.

And those are the major details. Should this woman be prevented from teaching her daughter as she sees fit?

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froggy_dear
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(watch out, I ramble in this post)

Wow. What a complex situation. I don't believe, personally, that anyone should be taught homophobia. What the mother would be doing is essentially what happens when many couples split-the parent in custody tries to turn the child against the other parent. But in this particular case, that sort of biasing would affect the child in the future.

But then I also feel that parents have a right to raise their children in their beliefs. I should hope that the child's being around, and raised in the early years, by lesbians, and continuing to be raised by her other parent, would make her(the child) aware that people with homosexual orientations are not bad.

I guess, as you can tell, that I can't really come to any conclusion to this problem. What the mother(the one who has recieved the order) is doing is probably more limiting to her daughter, but at the same time, I guess the other mother would be able to counter those teachings by example to some degree.

If I had to be the arbitrating voice today, the one that would make a final decision, I guess (somewhat reluctantly) that I would allow the mother to continue teaching the girl as she sees fit. Not allowing one parent to teach children certain things could be used in other contexts until the judges of the courts essentially would have control of parental teachings. Theoretically.


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DC_WillowFan
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I'd have to agree on froggy_dear about the fact that people shouldn't be taught homophobia.

And yes the parents have the right to raise their children as they want, but it seems odd to me that even if the woman is a christian as well as lesbian, she would teach homophobia to her 8 year-old.

It's a hard decision to make, and yes if the "ban" on teaching certain things is kept, it would be used in other contexts. Yet, if the decision would be mine, I would keep the first decision of preventing the mother from teaching homophobia to the little girl. It's something that we can't allow in our modern society, no matter the situation, and besides, it's a decision that could have a major impact on the girl's future.

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KandyKorn17
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Why should this be treated like any other sort of conflict between 2 parents wishes?

That's pretty messed up- the mom should be able to teach her kid whatever she wants to teach her. The child will be exposed to other knowledge and contrasting opinions in her life. Yeah, the fact that teaching this child homophobic views may directly affect the child's feelings for her other parent should be considered, but then it should be considered only if we're talking about concern for the child's emotional health... Otherwise, it is a common occurance for one parent to try to turn their child against the other, and just because one parent is obviously gay isn't a reason to make a distinction from this situation and any other case where parents disagree with each other and have different opinions and values.


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Heather
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...and in those cases, a court will often intervene when one parent is constantly slandering the other to a child because it very much DOES impact a child's emotional well-being, no matter the issue.

Would we argue the matter if a court prohibted, say, a father from telling his daughter that all women are evil, succulent beasts who need to be contained (or, for that matter, reading really treacherous parts in the old testament to a young child about the evils of women)? Or if one parent said about, say, their Chrstian co-parent that all Christians are nasty, bigoted jerks? Or if a parent was telling a child whose co-parent was Iranian that arabic people are all dirty terrorists from hell?

(My apologies for the abrasive language used to make examples.)

Probably not, because we'd recognize that that needed to be stopped, both in fairness to the child and parent in the present and in fairness to the child should that child BE, say, female, Christian or gay herself. In fact, in those cases should that sort of thing continue, the slandering parent might well lose rights to their child, and that has happened.

So, I'd say this is indeed very much like how those conflicts are often resolved.

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Heather Corinna
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My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
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[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 11-10-2003).]


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Dzuunmod
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
...all women are evil, succulent beasts...

Um, is there a meaning for 'succulent' that I don't know about? 'Round these parts, it basically means 'juicy'. Just wondering...

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Heather
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I did indeed mean succulent. In other words, the view -- proferred through much of the Bible, primarily the old testament, for instance -- that women who are not saintly wives and mothers, or steadfastly watched and controlled, must be seductive, manipulative Jezebels, lush whores of Babylon, et al.

Or evil lesbians, for that matter, apparently.

(I confess I am now finding some appeal in identifying as an evil lesbian rather than queer... it sounds so powerful.)

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Heather Corinna
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My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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froggy_dear
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I just wanted to say that there was once a rather different portrayal of women in the Bible. But much has been lost to translation. A number of powerful "male" figures in the modern standard bible have female pronouns in reference to them when an older, closer to original text is examined.

The text underwent changes. Mary Magdalene was not always identified as the woman (whore) who cleans Jesus' feet in the New Testament, that change occured when one of the Popes needed a scapegoat. She was instead considered the "apostle to the apostles" and can be read as such in gospels, such as the gnostic gospels, which were not included in the bible.

I realize this is a ways from the original post, but this stuff is so fascinating, I feel the need to share.


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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
Probably not, because we'd recognize that that needed to be stopped...

Be careful though. While I think we can all agree here that it's ridiculous to try and preach intolerance and hate to a child, things like this have a nasty habit of blossoming into other, unintended things.

Where will it stop? Are we going to step in and tell parents what they can and can not teach their children from this point forward? Are we going to hold classes while women are pregnant so we can instruct them on the manner in which they man raise their offspring?

I went to school in a nasty area, and I spent my junior high school years watching people get "jumped" and/or hiding out while knife fights were in progress. One of the first things I learned was that I probably should do all I could not to dress like a thug, lest I become the next stabbing victim. Likewise, I intend to teach my children not to dress like thugs, which I hope will keep them as safe as possible. Will I not be able to stomp around the house pointing my finger to the heavens and blustering something to the effect of "People who dress like thugs are no darned good, and woe unto the first child of mine who comes home with baggy pants"? Will that be considered intolerant to the poor thugs who will no doubt harrass my children, and will a judge step in and order me to cease my "hate speech?"

Of course, I am using a hypothetical example here. I have no children, and those who know me know full well that I'm not as blustery as that may seem. But it's things like this that I worry about. I've seen the "broad brush" legal standard applied time and time again to cases which were started out of purely good intentions and which simply got out of hand as they went on. And while my conscience tells me that this judge's ruling was for the greater good, I can't help but worry how far this will one day be taken.

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KandyKorn17
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my point was simply that of course slandering the other parent is going to be emotionally damaging to the child- but then that should be the issue, not some sort of "Gay vs. Anti-gay" issue. i also think there is a difference between teaching a child that being gay is morally wrong and completely bashing the other parent. Nobody would have a problem with me telling my child that drinking is wrong if her father was an alcoholic. Not that I'm trying to compare alcoholism to homosexuality, but in this woman's eyes, homosexuality was just as bad a "choice" as would, say, drinking might be to other parents-- and while I don't think that's a correct view, and it's a shame she wants to teach her child something like that, I don't think she should be stopped. Obviously she believes in her false views on homosexuality, and she gets to choose how to raise her kid. If you take that away from the parent, then we might as well be owned by the state.
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Heather
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Certainly, I would recognize that something like this could potentially be misused, and that the borad bursh ramifications are worth being wary of, absolutely.

But in this case, we're talking about a sort of discrimination recognized by law, just the same as gender or racial discrimination. NOT the same as alcholism, by any, any stretch. That's just not a sound correllary because alcholism is a chemical addiction and a progressive disease recognized fully as such by the medical field. Sound comparisons would be the sort of thing I stated: telling a child her other parent was unacceptable due to their gender, their race, their religion, etc. and most likely (those details weren't furnished, so it's theory), using trumped up or highly inflammatory language and a religious curtian to cloak that with and justify it with.

Would objection be similar if a major religion supported the notion that being heterosexual was evil and sinful and a parent used that to do such with that to a child? Would folks not think the parent who did that was just plain whack?

Of course, in the vein of what froggy mentioned, what the Bible or Christinaity even supports about homosexuality in terms of that line is questionable, just as its view of women is. (And for that matter, slandering another parent in and of itself is pretty dodgy when it comes to Christian doctrine.)

And I agree, it's fascinating, froggy. That was one of my major interests in college in my twenties. (And William Blake's too, if you want another venue to explore those archetypes in.)

I think though, I prefer a ruling like this to reduced or denied visitation, which seems to have been the only other option next to saying it was well within this woman's rights to tell her child likely falsehoods about, at the very least, her other parent, not to mention about an entire population of us potentially including her daughter at some point.

By the way, thank you Dan for that visual image of you railing with the unto thee's about baggy pants. I so needed THAT stuck in my head today.

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 11-11-2003).]


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GrayDancer
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I've dealt with similar issues myself, both with my ex, her other ex husband, and me and my kids (you'd love to see OUR family tree) and also seeing it with my sister and her ex husband, who has joint custody of their son. He almost lost all custody or visitation rights because it was determined that his negative comments about her in fact constituted abuse.

That, I think, applies here. We do not have a right to tell the parent how to raise their child, but we have an obligation to prevent that child from being actively abused. In other words, much as I hate it, if it were a het couple, and the mother was teaching that...it would not be as directly psychologically traumatic, and we couldn't intervene.

However, that's why we need to work to get the whole damn culture more accepting and educated--so that regardless of what the child learns from the parent, like most of us (http://www.exmormons.com) we can figure out for ourselves how much of it was well-meaning bullshit.

apologies for the language.


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cupcake
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I don't see this (ruling) as infringing on ANYBODY's rights, honestly.
You can be Christian, and teach the principles of Christianity, without being homophobic.

For all the important stuff in the Bible, there's what? 2 or 3 little lines about it? Soemhow I think 2 giant stone tablets should carry a little more weight.


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Heather
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Just on cupcake's note, from the point of reference of most theology scholars, there may in fact be NOTHING about it in the Old Testament. The only thing that comes close is in Ezekiel and Genesis, and what is being referred to there -- amongst a host of other nonsexual things -- is NONCONSENSUAL male-male sex; rape, OR sex with ANGELS. I don't think we have a word for that one. Wingophila, maybe.

Even in the passages of Ezekiel most commonly used to support the view of homosexuality as sin, that's a reach, as it only loosely refers to general "abominations" which could be, based on what was considered abomination then, anything from eating shellfish to women wearing pants.

And some of the passages that can be interpreted in the New Testament as stating homosexuality is evil or sinful (primarily from Paul -- though even from him, he is often referring to behaviour of "offenders" which may, Paul's bigotry all over his words for most things aside, only even refer to pedersaty, nonconsenual sex, sex in temples, etc.) also have some nasty, though historically common, things to say about how seriously oppressing women is vital, how slavery is totally acceptable, etc. that most people would absolutely NOT in any way support, and acceptance of certain acts (i.e., incest and prostituting one's children) that I've yet to hear church leaders defend with the Bible, so it's very selective and arbitrary stuff.

Lastly, since we're specifically talking about lesbianism here, there are to my knowledge exactly NO passages which can even be interpreted as referring to that at all. Food for thought.

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 11-11-2003).]


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MarvellousPurple
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I'm pretty sure there's something to the effect of "a man should not lay with another man as with a woman, for it is an abomination" in Leviticus, sandwiched between about 10,000 other laws. I don't have my Bible w/me right now but I can try to find it when I get back home.

Anyway, not only is that statement kinda ambiguous (what, they can't cuddle?) it's also smack in the middle of lots of other laws that Christians sure don't follow, like don't eat shellfish, don't have sex on your period, don't eat milk and meat together, don't wear two different fabrics at the same time, etc, etc.

My point here is that the "no homosexuality" law (if it really is that) tends to be singled out and separated from all the others and held up. Anyway, the religion nerd is leaving the building.

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Heather
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Really, it's a cool thing to geek out on. As a lit major in college, I spent a full quarter on the Bible, and as a non-christian, I found it totally fascinating. And it is a piece of literature (albeit translated, edited, retranslated and redited so many different times in so many different versions as to be a different animal altogether -- you wanna REALLY geek out, talk to someone who can translate Aramaic. Now THAT igets interesting.) that has had a major effect on the development of western culture.

I didn't bring up that portion in Levictus solely because I think that's the most ambiguous of the bunch. A total yes on the cuddle thing, but moreover, it's assuming that male-male sex (or, let's pretend lesbianism is included, though it isn't, and say same-sex sex) MUST have the same dynamic as heterosexual sex, which it very much tends not to.

So, men have sex differently than they do with women, and it would no longer be an abomination, as logic follows, no? In a word, it's WAY too easy a loophole.


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KandyKorn17
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Ok, I think my point was entirely misunderstood here. I don't think I made it very clear.

Yeah, it's one thing to teach christianity, it's another to teach homophobia. And yeah, homosexuality being a sin is something that only some Christians believe, and those who DO believe homosexuality is a sin are interpreting the bible to mean something that it probably doesn't even mean. And no, being anti-booze is not comparable to being anti-gay or anti-black or anti-men or anything.

But (and I'm probably gonna pay for my lack of research, but it's late here) legally, I don't think this should be a discrimination issue, since we're talking about a woman expressing her discriminating views privately to her daughter, not spray painting derogatory terms on a gay person's door or making sure a gay person didn't get a job they were perfect for just because they were gay. As far as I can tell, anti-discrimination laws were created to protect people from reasonable threats to their life, liberty, and persuit of happiness-- not someone somewhere ever saying anything bad to them or about them.

My point is that people have a right to be ignorant, and people have a right to like or hate whoever they want, even if it's based on some attribute that has nothing to do with a person's personality or behavior. When I compared it to a mother speaking against drinking, my point was only that it's EASY to say "Yeah yeah, that's ok because everybody hates drinking and there's medical studies to support how bad it is and hell it was even banned from the US for 13 years" and ignore the fact that the real issue here isn't whether or not everybody agrees with the mother, it's whether or not the mom has a right to say it. It's not so easy to let a mother speak against homosexuality because there is no support that it causes any sort of harm to anybody and a lot of people disagree that it's a sin and it's closed minded and blah blah blah the point is until this woman is making her daughter to take violent action against the gay community or something that is more than just narrow-minded, but criminal, you can't just take away this woman's right of free speech.

I seem to agree with a lot of others who have posted on this topic, just nobody wants to say "go ahead and let the woman hate." I don't think this is about going "too far"... I don't like the idea that people think it's ok to keep a woman from raising her kid the way she wants if they think the woman is wrong and not when they dont think they're wrong. You can't pick and choose how to enforce a law- "you can only speak freely when you have something valuable to say, that value to be determined by whoever supports you or finds you offensive"... Doesn't work.


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Beppie
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What the New Testament does or does not say is pretty irrelevant to this issue. One thing that I do know from my Christian friends, is that views on homosexuality are not discussed in Bible studies at least until young people are of high school age. Of course, there could be some fanatical churches that do differently, but these are not the norm. This pretty much indicates that what this girl's parent is up to is co-parent bashing, rather than merely spouting a religious view.

On a scholarly note, however, I've actually been reading up on what the Bible says about homosexuality myself recently, due to some discussions with my Christian friends, and I think that while there are plenty of ways to view the Bible in a non-homophobic light, there is enough in there that was (in my opinion) written by homophobics, it isn't a great leap to say that the New Testament does not condone homosexual relationships, between both men and women (See Romans 1:26/27). My only response is to say that I think Paul's view on non-heterosexual relationships was wrong. (One interesting thing- the Greek wording meaning "unnatural" that Paul uses to describe homosexual sex in Romans 1:26/27 is the same word that he uses to describe women who cut their hair short- but I don't see any anit-women-with-short-hair movements).

[This message has been edited by Beppie (edited 11-12-2003).]


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Heather
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...and yet, she likely very much IS imposting on the life, liberty and happiness of someone with her "hate" (if that it what it is, again, I have yet to read what exactly she was saying, so): that person is her child.

And that is ultimately whose interest was likely considered most in a case like this.

I'm not even going to touch the mentions of people being unwilling to espouse or support the idea that homosexuality "hurts people." When I hear you clearly willing to back up that it would be just as okay to support that about heterosexuality or race or gender lawfully, I might be willing to give it more weight (and again, I might not, since orientation is often no more changeable than those things and I don't see verbal bigotry about them, especially to very young children, being fair nor just nor benign and harmless).

But using religion to justify hatred or the like to a child for unchangeable aspects of their lives very much IS harmful, and can be seriously so. As a personal example, my mother's mother was a very intense Irish catholic who didn't let a day go by without dutifully and vociferously reminding me, as a very small child, that my parents sex out of wedlock which created me was wrong, wrong, wrong and capital E evil, and it could NOT be righted. And the clear message it sent -- often reinforced with clear verbal prattle saying such clearly -- was that that I existed, how I existed, and both of my parents were wrong and not okay with God. That sort of thing is abusive to a small child, based on pretty much any legal defintion of verbal abuse. Lots of people think it is okay to beat their children to a pulp in rearing them, but we don't legally support that anymore ( we did used to). Lots of people think it is okay to leave their children alone for days on end to fend for themselves, but we don't allow that. And while you may find that folks inexperienced with child abuse may assume physical ause is far worse than verbal, and verbal is a tossoff, if you look at studies and listen to abuse survivors, you'll find that actualy many of us who were sexually, physically and verbally abused often feel that it is the verbal abuse which is the hardest to ever get over and let go.

Freedom of speech has limits, and it is not 'anyone gets to say whatever they want anywhere they want to no matter what it is." or even "anyone gets to say whatever they want as long as it's private." One of those limits is when that speech is or clearly can be abusive to others. As well, part of the job of the court system is the protection of children and looking out for their well-being. In this singular case, I cannot see how it could be in the child's well being to have her other parent slandered, and justified with religion, to do so.

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Heather Corinna
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My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:

Freedom of speech has limits, and it is not 'anyone gets to say whatever they want anywhere they want to no matter what it is." or even "anyone gets to say whatever they want as long as it's private." One of those limits is when that speech is or clearly can be abusive to others.

I agree wholeheartedly with the child-welfare part of your argument, but I'm having trouble with this one.

Clearly this woman, like any of the rest of us, is granted the right to be a moron. Nowhere is it written that we are not to utter phrases that may be construed as "abusive" to others. Limits to speech tend to have to clear extremely high hurdles in order to be put into effect, and without there being some sort of explicit threat involved I cannot imagine how anything she said would fall under the "prohibited speech" category.

Again, that is why I fear rulings that carry the potential to tinker with the 1st Amendment. It's all too common for us to brand speech which we despise as "hate speech" and try to do away with it. My gut feeling is that what we have here is "idiot speech," and rather than try and shut that out, it is our duty to educate others about it. While I do not agree with what this parent says, and while I'd agree with the judge as far as his child-welfare ruling was; I still find myself having a very hard time accepting the notion that silencing this woman is appropriate.

I know this sort of case is fraught with peril, because none of us want to think about how nasty it can be for a child to grow up with a parent (or two) who preach intolerance. But I know firsthand that it is entirely possible to grow up with a parent who harbors strong views on such a subject, and to come to your senses as you age and grow somewhat more mature. And for that reason, while I would have no problem with a judge trying to ensure that one parent in a divorce battle behaves herself, I'm not quite so comfortable with that judge telling her exactly what can and cannot be said. It's one heck of a tough call, that's for sure!

(And for what it's worth, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" are not Constitutionally-guaranteed rights either. The are mentioned in the Declaration of Independence as ideals which our nation was founded upon, but verbally infringing on any of those three tenets does not, in and of itself, constitute any sort of legal violation.)

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BruinDan, "Number Three," PHOM

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Heather
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I think the trouble here is that we don't have enough information to know what ws said, how it was said, how often, etc.

My assumption would be that to get a ruling like this -- especially in this country -- we weren't talking about a couple tossed off commetns. But per the media coverage, we seem to have no way of knowing.


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Dzuunmod
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No kiddin', eh, Heather? I scoured the Internet for more than this, but incredibly, this was one of only about two straight news stories that I found - and it's not like the Washington Times is one of the most reputable sources in the world, even.

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